I’ve been bitten by the baking bug these days and extra time at night has been spent baking rather than uploading photos. I’m sorry. I’ve also been hit by a persistent dry cough and a stomach upset from eating the very popular tom yum sliced fish noodle on phillip street, the coffeeshop next to the equally popular duck rice place. As a result I’ve been exhausted. And I haven’t bought a present for Sophia’s cousin whose birthday party is this weekend. I better come up with something good quick!
On a happier note, Sophia has been growing so well. She can now stand and walk holding on to things very well. And Gong Gong apparently has been showing her the animal flashcards a lot because she keeps pulling them out from the bookshelf. She can now identify the common animals (common as in apearing frequently in her books and toys) like lion, giraffe, bear (favourite), dog, cat, rabbit etc. And she screams really loudly when she sees the koala bear. Now I can’t imagine bringing her to the zoo. She’ll probably be noisier than the monkeys.
I really can’t wait for her to start speaking in proper words. She’s still stuck at bear (clearer than before, sounding like bea rather than bar), mum-mum (which is not technically a word and which she says only when she’s really really hungry), ma ma (only when she really wants something from mummy) and bird (which sounds like “boar” but we know she means bird because she says it animated whenever she sees a bird). There’s also ‘ta ta ta ta” which apparently has no english equivalent but is an expression of excitement, like when she sees a video of all the dogs at K9 campus. I wonder whether I should start her on baby sign language but I think she has already used up the most important one (milk) for “twinkle twinkle little star”. And grandma is trying to teach her “smelly” to indicate that she has pooped but it looks too much like bye-bye to me. Oh and her “come over” and “hello” looks like bye-bye too. Its all in all too confusing for me.
Anyway, it may be good that she can’t express herself properly yet. Then I can pretend not to know that she wants a share of the ice cream we’re happily eating!
When I was a kid I read all the time. On the bus, while walking, while eating and during the long afternoons after school where I was all alone at home. Nothing too heavy, of course, just random books from the library. None of the cool stuff that I can claim to be a fan of and collect collectibles for either, like Tin Tin comics or something. The only books that I can talk about and people would recognise are the Roald Dahl books, and to Singaporean children of the 80s, “True Singapore Ghost Stories”. Remember those? I used to huddle under blankets and read those under a torchlight with friends and scare ourselves silly.
Somehow all that reading never gave me a writer’s proise, or a wild imagination or encyclopedic knowledge. But I think enough of it went in by osmosis to give me an instinctive sense of “correct” use of the English and Chinese language. So I say reading never hurts.
And so I endeavour to cultivate a little reading machine in Sophia and initially it all seemed promising. She would sit in her rocker for as long as I am willing to read to her and not make a squeak. Then all of a sudden her attention span shortened dramatically and she was no longer content to sit and listen. She would grab the book this way and that, close it then open it and tap on it. Which I take to be a good sign, because she only taps things that she likes. Like mummy. Whenever I carry her she taps my chest. That’s the “love love mummy” action. Or so I say 🙂
I’m probably going to offend the baby spa operators and the thousands of mother who bring their babies to them and the thousand other mothers who bought a tub and a neck float for their babies by saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I think putting baby in a tub of warm water with a float around his/her neck is a bright idea but unproven and probably does not live up to its claims. For me, I would prefer seeing my baby like this:
to like this:
anyday. So no more neck floats for me. In fact, I gave away the one I stupidly bought for free to another mummy.
Went for a Bibinogs trial. It was not too bad. The english portion was run by an indian lady and a malay lady, both of whom speak good english and were very animated. Like playnest, it started with playing of toys, then a song and dance session which was quite lively. The teachers then read a book. It was a normal sized board book unlike those extra large books meant for teaching at JG but its probably fine since there are so few children (just 4). The storytelling was very animated. After the story was the art session. The teacher produced a carrot cutout and actually pretended to be upset that the carrot was white, the other teacher comforted her and they started talking about painting it, then was dismayed there was no orange paint but no worries, there was red (squirted some on carrot) and yellow (squirt) and they started mixing it up with their fingers singing “when you mix red and yellow you get orange” to the tune of “If You’re Happy”. Children then wore aprons provided by the school and mixed the paint on their individual carrots. At the end of it there was a pretty decent piece of work, unlike the popcorn on the letter p from Playdays which never came together for any of the children or even the teacher. The carrot was then dried on a rack and would be returned next week as I saw the teachers giving out last week’s artwork – some butterfly with swirls of paint. Sophia got hers back in a plastic bag since she was there for a trial.
After art was snack time. The puffs given out look like gerber star shaped puff and had a banana flavour. The brochure said snack time was “organic” so I assume it wasn’t really gerber because I don’t feed my girl those rubbish. But I suppose a treat once in a while is ok. She ate it all up when she sometimes even reject things like waffles which I think is delicious.
Thereafter there was a numbers and phonics session where they went through a to z chanting calsie camel c c c etc, the teacher pulled out cup, cat, camel from a clown’s bag and quite a bit of other fun but educational stuff. How much the children absorbed is another matter. After this they counted to 10 and called for laoshi. 2 PRC chinese teachers came in. More sing and dance, this time in mandarin. They also read a chinese story and this time I did have an issue with the size of the book / words – too small!
The session ended there. All in all pretty good. All teachers were animated and seemed to genuinely like children.
The other parents there were generous and friendly though, surprisingly given the location, very local. Parents at JG seem more sophisticated but somewhat less friendly. Bibinogs allow both parents to be in the class while JG was quite strict about allowing only 1 parent, though they did make an exception for Kenny during the trial. I guess there are plusses and minuses of both.
The student to teacher ratio is much better at Bibinogs (at any time 2 teacher to 4 students for this particular class while JG was 2 teachers to about 10 students) and its billingual. Bibinogs’ art also seems more thoughtful in that they provide apron and at the end of the day the art work is something presentable. JG’s advantage stems from it being twice a week which works out well for Sophia, nicely breaks up her week into alternate days of activity (tues and thurs school, weekends daddy and mummy bring her out). Also there is priority entry into Chiltern House which is another consideration.
One last trial at GUG before finally settling on one of the 3 – Bibinogs, JG or GUG.
I finally managed to attend one JG class with Sophia and I must say indeed it was very similar to Playdays and both were pretty good, but because JG is more accomodating to grandparents with not very good english bringing Sophia, I’m more inclined to go with it. On weekends we can always find activities to do with Sophia but I would like grandpa to bring her somewhere to be stimulated on a couple of weekdays if possible. Grandparents are more inclined to go with Playdays because they think its cheaper and its once a week (so even cheaper). The husband and I also feel that lead teacher on both sides both speak good english, with the Playdays teacher being slightly better but the JG teachers seem to genuinely love children more. And at the end of the day we placed more weight on the genuine show of love than the other factors going for Playdays.
As grandpa told me many times, the session started with free play among toys laid out and when most parents have arrived, the toys are put away while singing the “everybody do your share” song. Thereafter, I can’t remember the sequence but they did things like song and dance, bring out a monkey puppet and letting the monkey go round playing with the babies, hand out homemade playdough for the babies to pat and squash then add coffee in to smell and feel the grains, cornflour play, snacktime (teddy puffs) and ended with a music session where babies lie down and look for stars to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star and sing bye bye bubbles.
All in all quite enjoyeable. There was a lot of queueing for hand washing which wasted a lot of time (once after playdough and once after cornflour). The cornflour play was not very suitable for Sophia as she was still too short to reach. The other babies can stand on the side and play as they are all over 1 (ok, they’re not babies, they’re toddlers). The teachers were well trained and hence generally spoke good english but once in a while lapsed into singlish (very very occasionally, not a big problem at all). I would have much preferred it if they could include a mandarin portion too. So all in all not perfect but nevertheless good for Sophia I would think.
Next up time to try Bibinogs and GUG, both have the advantage of being bilingual programmes but JG has the advantage of priority entry into Chiltern and, for Evans road, outdoor play. Hmmm…
Much as I think spending the whole day showing flashcards to babies is not a good way of teaching/learning, I do agree with the books that say babies need to concontinually stimulated. That is to say, they need to be given the right environment for learning and exploring.
I used to be skeptical of teaching babies/toddlers and believed that they will learn naturally by observing but even my own experience seems to indicate otherwise. I’ll always be very laid back until its time for a major milestone (like rolling over, crawling, sitting unsupported) and for rolling over and sitting unsupported Sophia quickly picked them up after I put in effort to train her on them. Now it may be that she was going to be ready soon anyway since she is of age but still it does seem to me that unless the opportunity is created for her to try, she wouldn’t.
I am quite worried about my baby who’s being taken care of by her doting grandfather. He carries her all the time and picks her up the moment she cries. he also spoonfeeds her everything. Now, instead of using her hand to reach for things, she sticks out her mouth to reach towards food!
I really hope that I will have the perseverence and wisdom to provide the very best for my daughter in her formative years.
Of course you did, you just didn’t think of it.. your baby can get books from the library. I brought Sophia to the library for the first time today and got her her very own library card. She probably thinks its a piece of chocolate the way she keeps putting it in her mouth I suppose its ok, babies put everything into their mouth and this is a brand new card so its not dirty and its plastic-y so wouldn’t disintegrate.
We borrowed 6 board books for Sophia (yes, kiasu mummy here maxed out the bottowing limit) which I have been reluctant to buy because I feel they wouldn’t last. She wouldn’t re-read baby books whereas hardcovers or paperbacks have longer shelf life.
Its true! Now I sort dissed Glenn Doman’s book in my previous post, not diss his content but rather the presentation (which, now that I think about it further is rather ironic because he advocates presenting concise information to babies for them to absorb but yet his book is anything but concise). Now that I’ve started his method, I’m starting to really appreciate his method. I haven’t seen results yet of course, but Sophia loves the 15 seconds flashcards sessions. She always smiles sweetly and kicks her legs around when I’m showing her the flashcards. Its true that babies love to learn!
I am suddenly overwhelmed by how much there is for her to learn and how little time there is. I’m also feeling guilty that for the first few months I’ve lost so much time just struggling with feeding her. Though I suppose the first 3 months or so is indeed too early to teach her anything.
I think for my next child, if there is one, I will also do direct breastfeeding for 3 months then switch to scheduled bottle feeding so he/she has a regular routine and can learn things in between feeds. A baby’s life should not just be all about feeding and sleeping and being shown toys. Unless, of course, he/she is an efficient feeder who can last 3-4 hours between direct latches and doesn’t demand to latch just for comfort all the time.