Thursday, 13 February 2014

Toys From Leftover Construction Scraps

In the last days of our small renovation project, we had a lot of construction stuff hanging around.  So I asked Rex the super handyman to whip this up:

A balance beam!  I'm looking forward to DIYing a cute pattern on it.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

How I Accidentally Raised A Reader

There are a few perks in being a full-time corporate mom, and accidentally raising a reader is one of them.

There's a lot of anxiety about reading skills when you're a parent.  When I was in college, I had a part-time job teaching a reading proficiency course for grade 4-7 elementary students (Prosec).  Every first day I would ask "how many of you were forced by your parents to be here?"

Almost everyone was.

Sadly by the time they hit that age, reading is forced drudgery in school.  Sure, you can learn to be good at it -  but if you don't love it, you will lose the skill eventually.

So this post should really be titled: How I Got My Child to Love Reading.  And this is why being a working mom helped.

Reading was bonding.  When you regularly come home long after the sun is down, sometimes all you have is a book.

It became our sacred bonding activity which I threw my energies at, taking my time and doing the voices and all.  I had no choice: at this age reading was an entirely dependent activity.  And a little of that working mom guilt added fuel to the fire.

I started reading to her when she was six months.  Not gonna lie: sometimes it was a huge effort to read the inane baby books over and over.  Please tell me you understand.

Bears hug, rabbits tickle, fish kisszzzzzzzzzzz….

At two years old, the stories were more fun for me

Time was too short to learn through phonics (sounding out letters to form words).  Because I had enraptured my daughter during our special reading time, when she was two I casually started to point to the words while I read them.

I had come across mymommyology's inspiring experience with Your Baby Can Read, which was gifted to us by Ladybug Girl's ninang.   Unfortunately it needed more devoted attention than a working mom could give.  The last thing I wanted to do was to whip out flashcards at 8 pm.

But following the same principles of building familiarity of words, I kept pointing.  Pretty soon at three years old, she was sight-reading and starting to read on her own.  Her toddler school teacher said she would even read the agenda on the board.  I was amazed!


Kids have different strengths, but I really believe love of stories and learning can come naturally.  And that's what reading is all about when it's done together.

I knew we hit a milestone when one night, at three, she shushed my attempt to read a story aloud with "ssssshh, mommy, be quiet.  I'm trying to read".  It has come to that - the ingrate!  Haha.  Nowadays we quietly read at bedtime side-by-side, and then I still read her a last book.  In my teaching stint, I read somewhere that parents should read aloud to kids until age 10!

But reading has been a lifesaver.  I can leave her notes if she wakes up and I already left for work.  I set up an email account on the iPad which both her daddy and I use to send her messages during the day (while she replies with "ok" or "ffgggggggbbbbbggggg").

Reading helped my nervous Dove prepare mentally for new experiences.  Like her first plane trip at two years old:

Yes, we would plop down inside the airport and read the "Airport" book.

Or the first time she met Cinderella in Disneyland:

She's never watched any movie because she's afraid of the villains and ominous music.   Books help!

And because of reading, I get some glorious quiet time of my own now.  When things go quiet in our house, she can be found plopped down reading in a random spot.

Ladybug Girl is going through a "sensitive period" in reading now.   At five, she has started to graduate from picture books into chapter books.

Santa's gifts this year were books: complete set of Nate the Great.  These are the best beginner chapter books ever!
Ivy+Bean.  I tried them after seeing Daphne Osena's blog post, but I didn't like them as much.
It tries to be cheeky and funny, but the defiance and naughty escapades are tricks that turn me off

She likes reference books, too.  I bought a couple of books on Cooking, Art, History, Animals, Human Body - you get the picture.  I thought she would use them for her grade school years but perhaps if it's around then it's something to be curious about.

Cooking for Kids 
The Human Body (Usborne First Encyclopedia)

There are downsides to reading early, though.  Some books should have parental guidance written on them!

  • She has started to say "you, dork!".  (Ivy+Bean)
  • Had a nightmare after reading about Viking raids (Usborne Time Traveller: Vikings)
  • During prayer for a new baby sister, she asks "does daddy have sperm?" (The Human Body)
  • Running out of space and spending a small fortune on books because there are no public libraries
Our humble library beginnings
And this keeps growing!  Aack!

I guess getting to buy all those books is a working mom perk too.  We don't get much of them, so I need the self-gratification- hahaha.

If only handwriting and beginning math were as natural!