Thursday, October 27, 2011

EV is having a little brother!

After EV was born, darling hubby and I knew we wanted a second child. We decided to let nature take its course and not stress ourselves out. With both of us so preoccupied with work and EV, we were pleasantly surprised to find out in July that I was pregnant. Everyone was obviously happy for us. At the same time, when we did a financial forecast for the new baby, we were shocked to realise just how expensive it was to raise kids in Singapore. We knew it somewhat, but the coming of the second kid cemented that knowledge. Still, we were determined to provide our kids the best we could, and at the same time, strike a balance with our financial capability. Because really, kids are a blessing and EV is our pride and joy. So will our new baby.

So now I’m five months pregnant and just went for the gender scan. Little EV is going to have a little brother! Everyone were extremely thrilled. Especially hubby and myself. Now we have done our ‘duty’ and can stop at two!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Exposing EV to phonics

I started exposing EV to what I had learnt at Jolly Phonics to help increase her awareness of letter sounds, and the way I did it was to include the Finger Phonics Books (complete set contains seven books) as one of her bedtime story books. I first started on the first group of letter sounds – s, a, t, i, p, n. Beginning slowly, I gradually introduced the six letter sounds in book 1 to her, as well as words associated with them, like ant, apple, snake and so on. Because this range of books was full of pictures, I also used it for a 'treasure hunt' game. I would name an item and ask her where it is. To help her, I would sometimes draw finger circles in the air around the item to draw her attention to it, or discreetly point to them. I would also use directional words like 'next to', 'under', 'above' to help her and expose her to such words at the same time. Gradually, she knew more words and could easily point out the items. I've also started showing book 2 to her.  Using letters from these two books, simple three-letter words can be made, like cat, hat, pen etc.

Though she did not seem to respond at first, after a while, she could identify the sound for 'T'. Outside, when I see things that she is familiar with, like c-a-t, I would break the word into their respective sounds, as a way to help her understand that words are made up of letters and their sounds. I would also sometimes write down the words and break them up to highlight the written word and its sounds to her. It may seem early to introduce phonics to EV, but my purpose is not for her to immediately know the phonics or know how to use phonics to blend words together. Rather, my aim is to expose her to it and to increase her phonemic awareness of letters and their sounds.

The Finger Phonics books also had raised letters for finger tracing. EV is still too young to trace the letters correctly. Again, I exposed her to it by showing her how the letter is traced, guide her to do it, then letting her do it on her own. Obviously, she can't follow it and her finger goes in all directions except the correct one. But I let her be, so that it becomes more of a fun game for her. She enjoys it and often reaches her finger to the raised letters, which shows me that she is enthusiastic about it, rather than put off by it.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Recommendation: Kumon First Steps Workbooks

We all know that developing fine motor skills like folding, colouring, cutting paper and pasting is an important part of learning for our young ones. But, the issue many of us, especially full time working mothers, face is thinking of creative ideas that also allow them to develop in other areas, like learning various fruit and vegetable names.

The Kumon First Step Workbooks solves that by providing lots of fun and colourful mini projects for the young ones. Kids aged two onwards can start with the 'Let's Fold', 'Let's Sticker & Paste', 'Let's Colour' and 'Let's Cut Paper' books. 

'Let's Fold' begins with projects on folding horizontal lines (eg, folding an apple so that when it is 'unfolded', a cut apple is revealed), before advancing to diagonal lines and basic origami activities. The 'Let's Sticker & Paste' starts with several sticker projects, followed by those that require pasting with glue (eg, pasting a square face on to a picture of a horse), including simple puzzles and pasting parts of an animal's face to make a mask. 'Let's Colour' begins with projects that allow children to colour the whole picture, before more advanced ones that require them to colour a white dot in the middle of an object, eg a tomato. The projects feature different things, such as fruits, vegetables and animals, allowing parents to teach their names at the end. A good way to reinforce what was learnt during the activity. The 'More..' books feature even more of these activities.

EV is having lots of fun with the beginner books, often able to finish around five mini projects at one go.

Once these beginning books are completed, it will be time to move on to the more advanced books like 'My First Book of Tracing', 'My First Book of Uppercase Letters', 'My Book of Easy Mazes' or 'My Book of Colouring'. Here is a guide that illustrates this.