Monday, January 31, 2011

Tiny feet, tiny steps

Ella has started standing by herself, and she’s slowly taking tiny steps while holding on to a support. Very soon, my little baby will be walking on her own. I better carry her as much as I can now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: Neuro Star Academy trial class

These two weeks, we've been attending trials at Neuro Star Academy at Parkway Parade. This is an enrichment centre based on what they call right brain development, where they talk about enhancing a child's memory skills, speed reading skills and so on. Hubby felt that this is worth checking out.

The first trial lesson that we attended, in fact, the moment I stepped into the lesson room, I was totally appalled by it. Basically, Neuro Star is a spin off of the hugely successful Shichida method, where kids sit in a classroom setting, with the teacher in front, kids sitting behind a row of tables. For baby and toddler classes, one parent sits behind the child. This wasn't what I was looking for for EV. I prefer a more relaxed environment where EV can learn through play. She's after all just turning 1, and I didn't want to put her in a classroom setting at all. I preferred to let her have more free play.

I was equally appalled by the speed at which the flashcards were flashed. It's absolutely stressful and tiring. I was totally against it. I told Hubby that this was not what I wanted EV to be subjected to. We decided that he would attend the next trial (there were two trials to attend as classes are conducted in English for one week, and Chinese the next) to see how he felt about it, and then decide from there.

After the next trial, Hubby's conclusion was that, the class was ok. His view was that, since we've identified her huge sense of curiosity, we need to harness on that. Also, as EV is such an active child, he felt that it is important to develop her sense of concentration from a young age, so that she can settle down for a certain period of time and focus. He felt that Neuro Star's method would be able to help in that area. He also brought up one important point - EV was reacting negatively during the two trials. In fact, she seemed contented to be in the class. So perhaps she was enjoying it?

I still stand by the play group method but we reached a consensus. We would enrol EV at Neuro Star for one term, and see how she reacts. After all, while we want the best for our children as parents, sometimes it is still best to leave the decision to them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Bibinogs Preschool trial class

We’ve been toying with the idea of sending EV to a playgroup for some time now, but have been resisting it as we felt she was still too young. Now that she’s almost two, we felt it’s time to check out some of the playgroups out there. Location was important, as was the date of the class, as we were looking for something that is convenient to get to, and also allowed us to accompany EV. And of course, the enrichment centre needed to have programmes that catered to toddlers EV’s age. We narrowed to two choices: Julia Gabriel Centre For Learning and Bibinogs Preschool. We decided against Julia Gabriel, as theirs was a twice weekly programme on a weekday and weekend. Weekends are no problem, but weekdays are. Our work doesn’t allow us to take time out so often, and also, Julia Gabriel’s two branch locations also make it difficult for either side of grandparents. While we know of Julia Gabriel’s good reputation, we had to opt for another because it didn’t fit our criteria. It’s EV’s learning and development, so we wanted to make sure we found a programme that allowed us to be as involved as possible, instead of leaving it to our parents, or even the helper, to accompany her half the time.

Instead, we looked at Bibinogs, which is located at Serene Centre and UE Square. It is a relatively new preschool, so we weren’t sure of its reputation. But we decided to give it a trial, we were curious about the Intelligences@Play curriculum outlined on its website, claiming that they adopt multiple approaches, materials and activities to stimulate various intelligences, such as linguistic, music, logic, body, spatial and interpersonal.  And of course, it is a once a week programme, so that means either of us will be able to accompany her one hundred percent of the time.

We attended the trial at the UE Square branch last Saturday. EV seemed a little unsure at first, and was a little apprehensive about playing the toys during the warm up session. It is not unexpected, since it is something new for her. Gradually, she warmed up to the toys, the two teachers and two other little friends. As it was a small class, the two teachers were able to give lots of attention to the children. The Bubbly Babes class started with some fingerplay activities, such as pulling a scarf out of a cardboard tube, lots of singing and music, and playing with musical rattlers. At the end of each activity, there would be a sing-a-long song to get the children to put the items back into the boxes, and to gather back to the centre of the room, which is indicated by a carpet. There was free play moments, during which the teacher would blow soup bubbles. It was quite interesting to watch EV’s reaction. Instead of playing with the floating bubbles, she crawled right to the teacher blowing the bubbles.

EV loved the story book time, as she usually does at home, but she was a little hesitant during art and craft time. She made a little crocodile handbag, with Mommy’s help of course.

After the snack time, during which Gerber Graduates Fruit Puffs was served and EV tried to show that she was a big girl by drinking from the cup, it was phonics time. One of the teachers role-played as an archer, and brought along ‘animal puppets’ that start with the letter ‘a’, such as ant. They also taught a song ‘Annie Ant goes marching A, A, A’, which goes to the tune of ‘If You’re Happy’. After which the teachers went through the whole alphabet, with each alphabet being associated to a living thing which starts with that letter, for example, C with Cat. EV enjoyed the song, but I’m not too sure whether she grasped the idea of the alphabets.

The last 15 minutes of the class was devoted to Mandarin, where a native speaking teacher read a story book. Due to the short time, there was not much that she could do. I think EV enjoyed it, because she was grabbing the story book and wanted to flip it herself!

It was obvious that EV thoroughly enjoyed herself. She was moving to the music, prancing around to explore the room, engaged with the teachers during storytelling time, and well, she loved her favourite Gerber puffs. However, we think that the class was too long, and the teachers seemed like they were scrambling to cover too many topics in order to fill up the 1.5 hours. The Mandarin session was too short, and at 15 minutes long, we are not sure what sort of benefits it would bring to the child. Perhaps it might be better to shorten the English session, and devote more time to Mandarin, so that there is also a change of pace.