Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Green School

I've read various articles about this before but was not as inspired as after I watched this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Neglect

My blogs have been neglected quite a bit lately. Somehow my time and thoughts have been distracted and taken up by other things, mainly those concerning C. It started in mid October with her school exams, then her birthday party, then other school activities like Children's Day and Speech Day and last Friday, her drum exam. In between there were the routine things like household chores, errands, writing assignments, sending her to various classes and playing catch-up with her Yamaha JXC homework/practice (this seems never ending, not until March next year at least when she sits for the Grade 9 exam).

Since blogging is of low priority, my blogs have been on the backburner. So too has my Cooking Thurdays adventures. In fact my daily cooking of meals have also reduced significantly the past month. Dashing in and out of the house leaves me little time to plan and cook meals. So most times, it's been a mish mash of cooking one or two dishes myself and buying the rest from outside to make up complete meals.

The school hols have just started and this means less personal time again to blog.

Coming up will be a short trip to Hong Kong for ACE. The decision was a spontaneous one. I had saved up over a few years and decided that it'd be a 'now or never' deal if I didn't use whatever little that's been accumulated for a holiday. Being the year-end and school holidays to boot, the flight times and dates were limited but nevertheless, we managed to get dates, times and accommodation that are acceptable.

So the rest of this week will see ACE tying up some loose ends before going on holiday.

I wonder when Cooking Thursdays can resume. The year is coming to an end. Next year, C will be in Year 3 at school (yikes!).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Educating our children

I read a fellow mummy's post here. It's a short post so if you can, please read it to follow my thoughts below.

So why is everyone still adamant about sending their kids to Chinese school? It's no better than the kebangsaan schools or any school that does not teach English or any other subject correctly the way I see it. What's the big deal about 'good to learn Mandarin', and 'Mandarin is a must because China is the future'?. You can learn Mandarin without going to a Chinese school.

"But one can only speak and write well if you're immersed in a Chinese-speaking environment," they say. Yes, of course, that goes for other languages too but is it worth the detriment of losing one's identity, confidence, ability to explore and think independently, and ability to speak/write good English, the lingua franca of the world, which Chinese schools often do not provide?

For parents like the writer of this blog, she has to 'supplement' so much more on her own to develop a more well-rounded child in terms of character, personality and academic ability, especially in the English Language subject.

While it's a given that parents should supplement by putting in personal effort to develop their kids in all areas of life - morals/values, life skills, talents, etc, regardless of what schools their kids go to - Chinese, Tamil, Kebangsaan, private, international - I would think starting right from the very beginning would make the work easier for parents compared to starting wrong and then having to correct and change them later. Our education system is way behind and just so very wrong in everything that's been done so far. I'm no education expert and what I write here are simply my feelings and thoughts. I could be biased or narrow in perspective.

Whatever the choice of school is, since there's no 'perfect' one especially in this country, parents should be aware of what is lacking and do as much as possible to curb the negatives and build the positives. Based on this premise, I believe the homeschooling concept is a good one where you start on a clean slate and the world is yours to explore. You are not dictated by what the school syllabus limits you to, and you can progress as fast as you wish or go slower if you need to. Teachers don't brush you off when you ask a question and don't treat and turn you into a robot. Education should be holistic (it's cliched by now but seriously, it should) and not just academic...

And if socialisation is a concern, I think there are ways around it. Some kids still don't get proper socialisation even if they go to school. It starts with the parents. If parents don't teach their children how to relate to the world outside, are you sure they will be able to learn good socialisation skills from their teachers and peers? If parents don't take their children out and expose them to the world around them and arouse their curiosity and interest in things, how will the kids come to know, discover, explore?

We may say it's too hard to do all these, it's just too much work, or my plate is already so full being a working parent, I have three active kids and they're such a handful, etc etc...I can't even take them out to a restaurant because they just can't keep still, I'd rather stay at home than take them to a mall, otherwise they'll want to buy this toy and that toy....I'm not good at Math or Science to homeschool, I don't have the patience, I want to avoid additional hassles so that life is easier for me. I've been guilty of these myself.

I need to look into the mirror and ask "What do I want my child to learn and what kind of person do I want my child to be now and in the future? What can I do about it?" Will you look into your mirror too?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

DIY or pay others to DIFY (do it for you)?

This question refers to children's school holiday activities. The school holiday's are coming and all the children enrichment centres around town have started peddling their programmes. Some parents sign up their kids for not only one but many various programmes. Some go for one or two while some don't at all. Some parents prefer to plan and conduct the activities for their kids by themselves while some say they don't have the time, are not knowledgeable or skilled enough, or 'just can't teach' their own children.

Paying others to DIFY is convenient but you must consider what you want to expose your child to, what you want them to learn, whether time and money permits, whether the programme you sign up for is suited to your child's ability and interest. We know our kids best so we should have an idea of what is suitable or good for them. A 'good' programme may be effective for one child but not another, even if they are of the same age and go to the same school etc. Don't look at the programme's objectives and contents in isolation but consider it with your child in mind.

Some questions I would ask when evaluating a programme:
Can I draw up a programme that is similar myself, since lots of information and resources are available from the Internet and books nowadays?
What value-added benefits can the instructors and the programme give my child?
What non-tangible side-effect benefits can the programme give my child, such as independence, socialisation, values, character development?
What is my budget?
What are the reasons for signing up my child for the programme?
Is it going to be fun? The last thing you want for your child is to attend yet another 'tuition' class when their minds and bodies need a rest and in their minds, 'holiday' equals 'fun'.
Would my child be interested in it?

Aah, parenting is hard work right? Pregnancy, labour and delivery seem like a breeze now compared to a lifetime of caring, nurturing, guiding and teaching.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Can't wait

Wow, it's November today. I can't wait for the school holidays. The last day of school is November 19. That's also the day of C's drum exam. October has been an extremely busy month for us. E had to travel more than usual. C had her year-end exams at school and needs to really buck up with her drum practice for the exam. Then last week, I had to organise a Halloween-themed birthday party for C.  This Wednesday, I need to go to school to offer moral and probably physical support for Children's Day celebration. Of course, as the 'home manager', everything that affects them affects me. Plus I had additional writing jobs (read deadlines) and they're still ongoing while the rest of the daily routine stuff like household matters, errands, and Caitlin's school and extra-curricular activities need the usual time and attention.

Needless to say, I am stretched mentally and physcally. We hope to go on a holiday during the holidays but even that needs work. It's quite an irony, that you need to work (to earn money and work on planning) for a holiday, but that's reality. Nothing can appear with just a wave of a wand or a snap of a finger.  But I do wish I have a magic lamp and a nice capable genie right now who can:

cook tasty delicious meals
clean and tidy up the house
do laundry and ironing
go grocery shopping
drive the kid around everywhere
supervise school work, piano and drum practice
run errands
write amazing articles that pay tons of money
feed and care for Rusty our pet dog (it's his second birthday today!)
and give me nice spas and massages all in the comfort of home....

Okay, I have to get back to writing stuff that pay and not stuff that ramble nonsense, like this blogpost.