Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reese's First Self Constructed Sentence

He wrote : A quail peck (at first he spelled it as 'pak') on dad in a house. Mum is at work rkeseseseh (Nonsense)

Our First Lapbooking Experience

We have started our homeschooling lessons. I just couldn't wait till Monday! We did some reading for both the core subjects and science. As for our read-aloud sessions, we started on 'The Boxcar Children'. It is a chapter book with very few illustrations. At first I was a little doubtful whether Reese would understand and enjoy the book. After all, we live in Malaysia and has a vastly different culture and environment as compared to America. Boy! was I surprised. Reese understood the chapters I read and actually asked for more.We are reading 1-2 chapters a day.

Yesterday night I started to research on lapbooking as part of our homeschooling experience. After an hour or so, I have roughly drafted our first lapbook's contents. We are incorporating our lessons from Sonlight on Creation (Readers 2 Regular) and Science (Grade K). Reese started reading The Beginner's bible and naturally Creation will be an important topic for him to remember. So for a start, we did a table with flaps on creation. I prepared the basic materials and Reese pasted, did some cutting and labeled all the necessary pictures.

He really enjoyed the lesson. After completing it, he proudly show it to daddy!

A table on creation

Simple flaps for some fun

He wrote the text with my help in spelling

I wish I had a colored printer! It would be so much more interesting with colors.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Purpose of Education

"The single most important contribution education can make to a child's development is to help him towards a field where his talents best suit him, where he will be satisfied and competent. We've completely lost sight of that. Instead we subject everyone to an education where, if you succeed, you will be best suited to be a college professor... And we evaluate everyone along the way according to whether they meet that narrow standard of success. We should spend less time ranking children and more time helping them identify their natural competencies and gifts, and cultivate those. There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to succeed and many, many different abilities that will help you get there."
- Howard Gardner 'Multiple Intelligences'

Planning ahead for the next 12 weeks...

After spending close to 2 hours, I finally finished assembling the Instructor's guide for Science, History, Geography and the Readers. Then I slotted Math and English that I have been doing with Reese. Now I have a complete curriculum for the next 12 weeks. Monday will be our first official day of homeschooling using Sonlight as the main curriculum. Very excited.

Our books and guides for the next 12 weeks

Weekly Schedule

Mapping activities

I like this, significant events in history are recorded in this Book of Time. It shows the time line where things occur. It comes with figures that we can stick onto the book. This book will be used many years to come.

Reward System Again...

Yesterday I could see that Reese really made an effort to behave at school except for 1 little incident where he shed a little bit of tears (probably false). I also made an effort by being extra nice to him and control my temper and not scold him at all (I have been impatient and constantly raising my voice, scolding him for the past few months! Bad mummy!).

I called school once to check on Reese and reminded him to be good. On the phone he said, "Mummy, I am good!". I was so happy. Then less than an hour later, a call from school came! I was fearing the worst! When I answered the call, I can hear Reese's cracked up voice. He said, "Mummy, I am sad. Aunty XX took away my toy. *sniff sniff*. I asked him what happened and he said, " I was naughty. I cried." *Smile* He was afraid that I will take away his reward for the day! That is why he called me!

Before going to school, I told him that from now on, each day he will be rewarded with a star for good behaviour at school. These stars will be converted to 'Mickey Mouse coins' for him to buy Minnie Mouse and some other toys at Hong Kong Disneyland (Going for a short family vacation end of February).

So far, yesterday was a good day. He was happy throughout the day and actually did not whine at all. In fact, whatever I told him to do, he did it with a cheerful 'OK'. I was in a good mood too. He was also rewarded with an ice-cream from my aunt! What a pampered child. :)

Even the teachers at school were happy that he behaved. It was really a good day.

So... I hope today will be equally good! If things don't work out well in the next 2 months, I will take Reese out of school to avoid further stress on him.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Should I take Reese out of School?

Reese has been in play school since last year. It was not a smooth journey. He has problem co- operating with his teachers at school. Throughout of last year, he hardly did any work (academic) with the teachers... in fact less than 10% of work. He refused to sit down with the teachers. At the end of the year, every child went home with a folder filled with books and worksheets they did but my son's.... hardly anything.

He also has a problem with group time. He just refused to join the children during this activity. Only occasionally joining or when a story caught his attention. He was constantly sent to the corner and that upsets him alot with lots of crying and scolding from mummy too.

He has this tendency of disturbing his friends like sweeping things off their table, destroying their building blocks or just throwing things up in the air while at play. He is not a destructive person. When he does those things... to him it's all part of play. He loves to pretend that there is an earthquake or tornadoes....etc... He did not do it with an evil intention, if you know what I mean. He is not the type that snatches or being violent. In fact when others bully him, he doesn't know how to fight back.

I really believe he is immature for his age even though his intellectual knowledge is way beyond his peers. Another sign of a gifted child. Sometimes I pity my dear son. People don't see Reese as a 4 year old child but more like a 6 year old because of his size and intellectual knowledge and thus expect him to behave like one. He is a hyper active boy. So much so a Montesori lecturer who was at school one day evaluating one of the teachers asked whether Reese has ADHD?

I know he doesn't have that because he can sit with me for 20-45 minutes to do math or other work. When it comes to his drawings, he can spent up to an hour drawing and fixing puzzles... with the 108 pieces... he sat there for almost an hour to finish it.

At home he is a very different child. He behaves well at home. Maybe because he is alone. I realized that when he is around other people, he gets very very excited. When he plays with other children, he always want them to play his way! He is always the leader leading the play. He gets upset when they don't play his way. (This is normal right?)

Since school started few weeks ago, everyday Reese was send to the corner for the same old reasons. Almost every school day he will cry at least once or twice because he was sent to the corner. It created stress in him and me too! I have to keep reminding him to be good, to behave... and yet the next day I will get a complaint from the teacher. Barely a month back to school and he is already saying that he doesn't like school.

Yesterday was bad, I scolded him again and felt bad afterward and that also got me thinking, should I just pull him out of school. It's not healthy for him to be reprimanded by both teachers and me all the time. I want him to be happy. I want him to have a wonderful childhood.

I homeschool him and going to play school 4 times a week is merely for social interaction.

He will be attending the performing art Saturday school in April and after Chinese New Year we will be sending him for football fun at Little League. That will give him social interaction with other children. These are activities that do not require him to sit down and do work!

Should I take him out of school? :(

Box Day!

Our books have arrived! I have been tracking the two packages since a week ago and finally FedEx man came to my aunt's place. I think I am more excited than Reese! :) After checking the contents... I knew the decision to homeschool him is right. The materials are wonderful. This year's theme is 'An Introduction to the World: Culture'. What is nice about this program is that learning is through life books and not text books! Instead of reading from boring text, we get to read stories and more stories related to the theme and learn in a natural way with some supplementary worksheets.

Reese was so excited when I took out all the books!

Checking what else is in the box

'Reading' a map in the box

Our loot for the year!

Checking out the books...

Can't wait to read! This was taken when it first arrived at my aunt's house

**Luke, if you are reading this, you are most welcome to post it on your boxday blog. Thank your mom and dad for me for coming up with such a wonderful program! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Outing with an Anti Climax...

The night before, planned to go Kiara Park in the morning and have our first picnic there.

Today I woke up at 5.15am (Bio clock refuse to let me sleep any longer....)
Checked my email and surf the net a bit (Found this really shocking video of some 'Guru' teaching baby yoga.... she was holding the baby's hands and swing her up and down and around and over her head.... crazy!) Anyway... after that went into the kitchen and realized that I put 3 eggs to boil and was so engrossed by the shocking video online that I forgot about it. One of the eggs flew out of the pot and splatted all over the window and the whole pot was black! So my thought was my pot is gone for good! After cleaning up the mess, pot was ok, so I continued to prepare egg sandwiches and sausages for our picnic. We were all excited except hubby who was still blur!

We reached the park at 7.30am sharp. We had a nice walk where Reese got to show his daddy the fungi and shaky bridge (We went there last Monday without daddy).

The bridge



He talked non stopped throughout the walk and many aunties that walked past can't help but commented that Reese was cute and some were interested in his conversation with us. After half hour we completed our walk around the park.

Our view from our picnic spot. It's a small stream.

Then we headed to a nice spot by the stream. Lay out the mat and had everyone on the mat. As I unpack the food.... buzzzzzz....... mosquitos! Splat! one down... next came more buzzzzing.... fleas! can't be bothered... time for food.... guess what? I brought everything except the filling for the sandwich! My egg mayo! Ok..... no egg mayo.... fine... we still have the croissant and saugages, mangoes and drinks.....

Our breakfast minus the egg mayo

As we eat...the fleas just can't stop bothering Reese... hubby was not comfortable either... I was trying to be positive and told them it's ok..... I can tell you that both hubby and Reese didn't enjoy the whole picnic experience! much for outdoor fun. After awhile... I was irritated by the fleas too....

Our so called picnic....

My view while lying down on the mat. Haven't done this for many many years...

Note: Reese needs to have more outdoor fun. He was afraid of the ants, didn't even want to sit on the ground even with the mat! 100% city boy....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Waiting for Box Day!

Last week, we finally ordered Reese's homeschooling books from Sonlight. I am very excited. Can't wait for Box Day (The day the boxes of books arrive). Just to give you an idea how much we spent on materials for homeschooling this year.

From Sonlight:

USD364.99 - Core K Program
USD108.77 - Grade K Science
USD65.66 - Grade 1 Math
USD26.99 - Science Kit
USD64.92 - Miscellaneous like world map and other books.

Total USD 568.197 (After 10% discount)
Shipping is 22% of total cost and a few dollars more for fuel surcharge.
So our grand total came to about USD696.70

From Barns and Noble:
USD39.00 Critical thinking books and activities for Grade 1-3

From Scholastic:
USD12.00 Various E-books (Sale at USD1 per E-book until end of this month!! Go check it out)

So as you can see, we have paid over RM2300 plus on Reese's books for this year's homeschooling. Crazy isn't it? Shipping cost is really expensive. We haven't factor in other costing like playschool fees, enrichment classes (intend to enroll him for football and Performing Arts) and miscellaneous.

So homeschooling is not cheap but if done right, it's even better and so much cheaper than the best international schools available in Malaysia where you have to pay more than RM60k a year!!

108 Pieces and a Success!

So after discovering that Reese has an interest in puzzle and successfully completed the 64 pcs 3D puzzle, I decided to challenge him with a more difficult puzzle.

After browsing all the wonderful puzzles at Puzzle World, we bought Reese a 108 pieces glow in the dark Disney puzzle. I was a little skeptical whether he can do it. After all, this puzzle did not come with a board (makes it easier for kids to fix the puzzle). The pieces were really small. Reese was very excited though.

After his nap, we immediately went to work. We had to teach him to sort out the similar pieces into groups. Then work on the borders of the puzzle. So after completing it for the 4th time with our help, he can now fix the puzzle on his own in less than 1 hour. He really loves his puzzle. Will at least do it once a day! I did tell him jokingly that he needs to do the puzzle at least 20 times so that it's worth the money we pay for it! The puzzle was RM50.

Maybe next time we can attempt a 200 pieces puzzle.... hehehe... then probably in a year's time, I can buy a 3000 or 5000 pieces puzzle to fix with Reese and hubby! I actually love fixing puzzles. It can be quite addictive. In our home, we have quite a few puzzle sets nicely framed up and on the wall as part of our interior decoration.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Read Aloud Books

This is one of the read-aloud that Reese can read on his own very well

2 years ago I bought our first homeschooling materials for Reese. It came with many wonderful read aloud books to be enjoyed with little ones. Now Reese can read some of these read-aloud books on his own. He not only reads them but will read them with lots of expression! It's really funny.

I have two kinds of books at home. We have readers and read-aloud books. Readers are books appropriate for Reese to read on his own with my help. It's for reading practice. Read-aloud books are meant to be read by us to him for enjoyment. Stories are more elaborate and reading level is way beyond his level.

Needless to say, he prefers read-aloud books because it does not require any effort on his part! :)

I am glad he is beginning to enjoy reading on his own without me prompting him. Usually I will take his readers and have to point at the sentences for him to read, at most time he prefers to just browse the books! He loves read-aloud the best.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A gifted Child

A couple of days ago, I wrote to a Professor Emiritus in Art Education from the University of British Columbia about Reese's art and general behaviour. This is what he wrote:

Dear Florence Wong: Thanks for the wonderful introduction to your son's drawings and paintings. Yes, he is certainly gifted and I would assume this simply by reading your comments about his drawing behavior. But the drawings are certainly advanced for his age. It just happens that I am writing a Drawing Network pamphlet on preschoolers just now. Would you and your husband be willing to let me reproduce one or more of his drawings to illustrate this pamphlet and, as well, perhaps quote you now or in a future Drawing Network publication?
From your description, you are doing exactly what should be done, that is, providing a warm and loving atmosphere for his explorations with drawing tools. You are also wise to keep a record as you...

I finally have confirmation from a professional. No more guessing Reese's ability in Art. Now, will just wait another year for him to take SCAT and see whether he will accepted into Centre for Talented Youth (John Hopkins University) or Education for Gifted Youth (Stanford University).

Exciting times ahead!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reese's Art Gallery and is He Really Gifted?

Reese's very own gallery!

Picture on the left shows a very tall Christmas tree next to some buildings with flags and some hot air balloons in the air, fireworks in the sky. Picture on the right is Mickey Mouse Castle in Hong Kong Disneyland with fireworks display.

A hotel and some buildings and fireworks display.

Bangsar Shopping Complex (BSC). You can see lots of ornaments and lanterns with lots of trees. Quite close to the real thing except that he as way too many ornaments..

A construction site according to Reese. Building a hotel and you can see scaffolding with workmen everywhere. Safety helmets included.


This one quite interesting. It's a flood! With lightning and heavy rain, buildings being swept away and bridge broke into halves!

Some building with lots of flags and next to coconut trees.

A temple with lanterns.

Fireworks and with trees decorated with flag lines. See how he tried to show the flag lines curled round the tree and a building?

Pirate ship with lots of cannons complete with a chain and anchor. Right below the surface of the sea you can see corals, jelly fish and fishes. You can also see islands with trees!

He never likes to draw people but after watching Peter Pan, he is beginning to draw people. Can you see John with a hat and umbrella and Peter Pan with his cap and feather? Cute right?

He is also into drawing leaves, flowers, trees and even roots!

Reese started drawing sometime in May 2010. It's been 9 months and he has improved alot in his drawing skills. All self taught. We never interfere. We supported him with lots of praises and supplying him with all the necessary art supplies and workspace. He draws an average of 4 to 6 sheets (both sides) a day. In his drawing now, we can see he is exploring proportion and perspective of the things he drew. For example, he will draw things smaller when they are far away.

Can you see what is in this picture? He drew Mr. F's house floating behind a big tree! How clever is that? I mean for a 4 year old to do that? Amazing right?

I have someone telling me that my son's drawing skill is equivalent to a 7 year old. I also have a parent who thinks that my son is gifted in art. I have been searching the internet for comparable art work by 4 year olds and indeed most 4 year olds do not draw like him and he does show signs/ characteristic of a gifted child.

Not only is he good at drawing, he is also very advance in Math (almost completing Grade K) and Language (Read at Grade 1+ level and can spell very well, his memory is superb. He is not even 4 and half years old yet.

I have been thinking alot. Should I have my son tested formally to confirm whether he is really gifted? Or should I just wait and see. Testing is very expensive and it won't change anything anyway for now. Probably next year I will let him take SCAT and see whether he will be eligible to take a distance learning course offered by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth or Stanford University's Education for Gifted Youth. Because I am homeschooling, it is good to have support from reputable institutions and it also add weight to Reese's portfolio for University entrance in the future. I still don't know whether I will be able to homeschool him all the way. I am taking it one step at a time.

***Do you think Reese is gifted in art? You can see more of his work under the Art Category on the left. Do tell me what you think. Oh, do you know any psychologist friends/ qualified art teachers who can give us some advice? Do refer Reese's art to them yeah! Thanks***

Pretend Play involving Nature...

Having fun making ice-cream

Plucking buds and flowers with a kid he met at the playground

Reese decorated this bowl of ice-cream

More ice-cream with flowers and buds

I wish I could bring Reese to the playground more often. There are so much fun to be had. He enjoys the company of other children. Reese has become very friendly towards other children. Any children he meets, he will claimed that they are his friends and will go up to them and ask them to play. About a week ago, while playing at Borders, he met a girl and became instant friends and they played for a good hour or more together. They were pretending to be Wendy and Peter Pan flying in the universe! Then they requested to go to Curve's children's playground and after that together with the girl's grandaunt we accompany them to E@Curve..... They were so sweet. Holding hands and playing together and refused to part at the end! Exchanged contact no with the girl's grandaunt! Crazy eh?


Reese started to use bamboo/plastic sticks as guns. He will pretend to go hunting, shooting at me and at things with sound effect. So I told the daddy about it and suggested we get him a toy gun some 2 months ago. Daddy said NO. Doesn't want to promote violence and the possibility of Reese becoming more naughty were his reasons. I didn't think of it that way but I agreed anyway.

So indirectly I tried to persuade hubby to reconsider and sometime in December, while shopping for Reese's Christmas presents, we bought a toy gun (Nerf series) by Hasbro. What do you know, Reese was delighted and had a blast with his daddy playing with the gun. Then daddy got 'Shiok' and said he needed to get another 1 or 2 to play shooting games with Reese. So I ended up buying another 2 guns that came with vests and glasses! There were no violence at all, we taught him to shoot targets and it was fun. At times, we were seen running around the house shooting each other and all of us will be shouting, laughing and giggling. :)

Magna 3D Puzzle

Reese is never a big fan of jigsaw puzzles. Recently Reese's grandpa bought him a 64 pcs 3D Magna Puzzle. It is not easy. They are all in the shapes of squares and in 3D. It is meant for 8 years old and above.

Reese's grandpa did the puzzle and Reese observed and help with a few pieces. Then he wanted it wrapped and put under the Christmas tree. So after Christmas, he opened it and started to show an interest in doing it. First attempt with daddy. Did half and went to bed. The next day did the rest with a little help from me. Later in the afternoon, he did the puzzle again. This time entirely on his own and he did it under 20 minutes. Don't know about you, but I think that was really amazing!

Now, he can do it under 15 minutes. He doesn't even have to refer to the completed picture.