Explore nature with kids at Pulau Ubin

17 Jun 2017 We have been wanting to visit Pulau Ubin, which is also known as Granite Stone Island, and thought June school holiday would be a good time for our family to explore and experience nature there. I was expecting rain in the afternoon, as forecasted by the meteorological service. Thankfully, the sky was… Continue reading Explore nature with kids at Pulau Ubin

{Product Review & Giveaway – Closed} Toddibox – enriching minds, enriching lives

Last week we received a box of goodies from Toddibox, which is packed with Christmas themed crafty, experimental, thinking, musical and reading activities. It is suitable for children from three to six years old. All activities are pre-packed, except for the story book, in the box and are made up of these components: Ten Fingers… Continue reading {Product Review & Giveaway – Closed} Toddibox – enriching minds, enriching lives

Organizing space for our toddler

Toys and books were all over the house! Such a mess! New member in our family means more storage space to keep her stuff which accumulates as she grows. Though at only one year old then, she has already quite a handful of toys (mainly gifts and hand-me-down) and children books from friends and I.… Continue reading Organizing space for our toddler

Dot, my little scientist, is curious about everything that captures her attention. Her inquisitive eyes sweep across quickly and spot things that we do not see – so sharp is her sight. She lays her hands to touch and feel things that stir her curiosity. She hits something with another object to hear what sound it produces. She smells some of the leaves like mint, pandan leaves and basil.

Dot is out and about every weekday morning. We travel by bus to my parents’ place. Then we walk about 15 to 30 minutes to her place – this is the time where my little keen scientist is at work.

When she is on her feet, she runs off to examine anything that captures her interest. She is allowed to roam freely within certain range with minimum intervention, unless safety is compromised.

Along the way, she will pick up some berries, flowers, dried leaves and branches that fall by the wayside. With the berries in her hands, she will say, “Feed the birds” and she will go lookout for the birds. Sometimes she will pick the branches and hit the metal structure to produce sound and happily says, “Drum.”

Top: moth cocoons, bottom left: a live beetle on the ground, bottom right: a dead dragonfly

Children see the world on a different level from us. Get down to your children’s level and take a look at what they see. A fresh and different perspective.

She loves to share her exciting discovery with me and I will take the opportunity to share with her more about what she has discovered. I will also point out familiar and unfamiliar things around. “Look at the tree, flowers, leaves!”, “Dot, can you see the cocoons?” or “Wow! Look at what we find here. A beetle.”

Recently we spotted a few insects along the way. These were our unexpected finds. (see images on the right)

As I learn to slow down my pace to adjust to Dot’s, I rediscover the sense of wonder through her eyes. Here I am, learning to learn again.

Our family of three jogging weekly. We hope that by including Dot in our weekly exercise, she will grow to love exercising and makes this part of her life as she grows up. There are many health benefits associated with physical exercise and do you know that exercise can also keep us young?

It’s still possible to exercise when we have a baby. Dot first joined us at the sports stadium near our place when she was about 5 month old. She would stay in her stroller as she could not walk yet. J and I would take turn to jog so that one of us could take care of her.

Here is a video we took when Dot was about 17 – 18 month old at the sports stadium climbing stairs and doing warming-exercise.

httpv://youtu.be/5pdr_zr2q90

When Dot started to walk, we let her explore around at the stadium. There are so much to do at the stadium for our little active toddler – she climbs stairs, follows us or others do warming-up exercises, picks grasses and throws them in the drain, picks up little stuff on the floors, plays with the sand, plays and kicks the ball, runs around, chases after birds on the field…limitless. It’s up to her imagination.

2-year old: Her latest action @ the stadium!

Dot enjoys the outdoor play and gets to have more personal time with each parent. We get to burn the extra calories and keep fit too. Win-win!

 

We are people of habits – young and old alike. Naturally, we are inclined to do something whether it is beneficial or detrimental because knowingly or unknowingly habits are weaved into our lives. Whether we intentionally train our children habits or not, they will still form habits which will determine their success in life.

Sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

Since the day Dot started walking at about 12 month old, she starts to bring things around the house. A neat and orderly place turns into a mess in no time when she explores around. It is a stage where we will have ensure her safety while having more mess to clear!

We started bringing her to the library when she is about 13 month old.  She is always so excited by the large collection of books and the big space. She liked to run to and fro the book shelves and stacked the books on the table, many times without spending much time reading. It came a point where it became a bit out of control.

Dot's first visit to the library when she was about 13 month old

I told Dot and signed with my hands, “Mei, take only one book at a time. Ok?”

Dot replied, “Ok.”

Self-control and order do not come naturally to her – such habits are undeveloped and we thought it was good to start training her when she can understand basic instruction. It took us several occasions to supervise and remind her that only one book is allowed to and fro the book shelf. Now that she is two years old, she is able to exercise more self-control and most of the time takes only one book at a time.

Recently, I was surprised to see Dot picked up a chair that fell off at the read-aloud corner. In the similar occasion, she saw a torn book on the shelf and brought it to the librarian.

It was encouragement to see the fruit of our labour!

 

Her grandparents went on holiday to the cold Harbin, China and bought a few Russian dolls as cultural souvenirs. They make good sensory activities for children and Dot loves to play with them as she finds it fascinating to see a doll with many dolls within. She called them, “Baby”.

It is a fun  activity for her to discover about different sizes, train her motor skills when she try to fit the head and the bottom together, logical thinking and most importantly she loves playing with them.

I will be there guiding her on how to put the small doll inside a bigger doll. She will then learn to follow my instructions. Sometimes I will just let her discover her own mistakes and then she tries again and again. When she manages to keep all the dolls as one, her face beams with pride and joy.

Sometimes she will pretend play with the dolls.

It just puts a smile on my face when I see her child-like joy.

 

18 month old - Quiet reading time in the morning

I remembered a few months back, J and I attended a series of classes on infant and toddler. I review the notes again and see how we have applied them in our parenting journey thus far. Inevitably, we still fall short in some areas, gain grounds in some and are working on some. Parenting is a process of trial and error.

Dot is at this stage of development where she likes to exercise her will and sometimes we are engaged in this battle of wills. Learning to discipline her and teaching her about limits is a new area that we are learning as parents.

Currently, we are training Dot to sit quietly on her high chair facing the greenery outside every morning while flipping and reading her book, in hope of building self-control, patience, obedience, concentration and focus. So far she can sit through for about 15 to 20 minutes, though not quietly throughout. Still exploring ways to teach and train her limits and self-control.

As much as Dot needs to learn self-control, I need to learn to exercise self-control as well as a mom who has to face her 24/7 ;p

Self-control could turn kids into successful adults according to research finds.

 How blessed is the little one whose parent prays,”Lord, open my eyes to ways of needed training that I have not seen; help me not to be blind to areas where I can be a better parent to my child”.

18 month old - Dot fed the cow bread!

At around 17 month old, Dot starts to pretend play. She will coax her plush cow toy or other soft toys to sleep by patting on it, read stories, feed and offer drink to them.  Recently she even gave her small piece of bread to the Ben & Jerry cow!

Some imaginative games we do together:

  • Stop and listen for noises – birds chirping, airplane flying, dog barking..etc.
  • Pretend that we are some animals roaring, barking etc.
  • Dot builds her own obstacle course in the room using pillows, bolsters and jumping around.
  • We pitch a tent in one of our room and pretend that we are camping.

 

Pretend play is an imaginative activity that builds her social, emotional skills, language skills, thinking skills and nurturing her imagination. It is the foundation for all future higher learning and success.

The importance of pretend play. Read more here.

Ten Things every child needs for the best start in life” is the research-based documentary that highlights the importance of seizing the golden opportunity during the first three years of a child’s life to help nurture and give them the best start in life.  They can definitely reach their full potential if we help them!

In this video, research showed that the brains of animals in the wild are usually 20-30% bigger than animals in the zoo which illustrates the importance of providing our children adequate experiences in the forms of these 10 things – interaction, touch, stable relationship, safety, self-esteem, quality childcare, conversation, play, music and reading – to help them to develop and reach their potential.

These 10 things every child needs will be shared more in depth in this video. If you are interested to watch this dvd, you can also borrow it from Singapore National Library.

At birth, an infant’s brain is only 25 percent of the size of an average adult’s brain. Amazingly, by 3 years of age, a child’s brain has grown to 90 percent of that of an adult. During the first 3 years, the types of experiences the children are exposed to impact their brain development. There is amazing opportunity to help our children reach their potential but it comes with responsibility and dedication to help shape their growth and develop healthy habits that will influence their adulthood.

Dot first visited the playground when she was about 14 month old. The first few times, she observed her surrounding and the people there. After that she is like an animal on the loose – climbing and running around. Ever since she plays at the playground when the weather is good  in the evening – the time of the day she always looks forward to.

17 month-old Dot

She is a toddler with boundless energy and the space at home is too limited for her to explore and run around. Sad to say some of the playgrounds at our neighbourhood are not suitable for toddlers – either they are too small, unsafe, dirty or not interactive enough. Thankfully the commercial Little Tikes playground at Dot’s grandma’s place is quite fun and interactive. She gets to run around, climb, turn the wheel-like object, play the slide and even get to learn how to socialize with other children at the playground.

As she is usually the youngest at the playground, I have to make sure that she is safe when she is navigating around and among the other children. Under watchful eyes, I allow her to move freely without interfering much so that she can freely explore and learn.

Sometimes I will play with her – it’s like being a child again!

 

Children who are allowed to play and explore outside are likely to be more adventurous, self- motivated and better able to understand risk when they grow up, according to Dr Livingstone.

On the other hand, children who spend a lot of time on the computer tend to spend a lot of time alone, away from reality. – Irish Times, BBC: Children playing outside laugh more

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Why outdoor play is good? Read more here.