Monday, August 29, 2011

Coming to Five...

In a month, Reese would be five. 5 wonderful years with my little boy. It feels surreal. I remembered how fragile he was and how much protection he needed from us. He is growing up to be a fine young man. Mild in temper (to me) and an obedient boy at most time. I miss carrying him and have him rely on me. He is getting so independent and I can hardly carry him.

Yesterday was one of those days that he wanted to be carried because he was sleepy and also just wanted to 'manja'. It felt so good carrying him with him hugging me tight. Of course it's no easy feat carrying a 25kgs plus!! I was amazed that carried him from 1 end (old wing) of 1U to the other end(new wing). My boy is growing up so fast.

In my eyes, he is a handsome little boy. I always asked my hubby, is your son still handsome? Hehehe... I always wonder whether he will grow up a handsome boy or not. We were at the cinema yesterday and saw this advertisement of a nerdy looking young man in it. I told hubby, I hope Reese will not grow up to be a nerd and hubby said, eh! that is the latest fashion for men! mmmmm.... Well, whatever it is... I want my son to be a fashionable, attractive, confident young man! ;) Hubby then said he will most probably be a 'bad boy' and I was like... never mind, as long as he is smart and give himself a good life....oklah... terrible me isn't it? :)

Then we headed to Salvation Warehouse to browse at some CDs. I was looking at some kids' worship songs for Reese. Then we tried a few popular ones. Both hubby and I felt that they were too adult! Then I asked hubby....could we be a little outdated? hehehhe...

We are really like hermits. Hardly go out and socialize. Got to do more of that.

I should be thinking about his birthday party! What to do this year? It's going to be his last year at school (I have decided to pull him out after all). Presents.....what to buy? I am thinking of a microscope. He has been asking about it because he wants to see tiny things. Paternal grandparents want to get him Dandy and Beano Annuals. They said those are good comics for Reese to read.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Field Trip to The KL Bird Park

Reese and a classmate

My very active cheeky boy

Making faces

Pouting Lips

This boy has no fear until he got clawed by this big bird

Feeding the Lorries. At first very excited until... he got bitten!

Happiest when feeding the ostrich and Emu

Yesterday we went to KL Bird Park with his school and playgroup kids. We were there from 8.45am-1.30pm. It was fun for Reese and quite a good experience being near birds. Fed the Lorries but they became quite aggressive and Reese got bitten on the finger. Cried so much. So for those of you intending to feed the Lorries, please be careful. The birds are like vultures. 5 to 6 birds will go for the food the moment you offer them.

Reese got to feed ostriches and Emus, pat baby chicks, watch the bird show and walk a lot. Good place to bring kids. It's very cooling as well. Entire place is shaded because of the netting around the aviary. Toilets are clean and snacks and resting places are everywhere.

At the end of the trip, Reese declared that it was a good trip. He enjoyed it very much despite the biting. :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Boys


I thank God for giving me these two insanely wonderful creatures. Yeah... creatures they are. They are the centre of my life. Sometimes they are a pain in the a** but I love them to bits. I felt so blessed. Everyday I am showered with kisses and hugs and my favorite, hugging them like bolsters! Especially the younger creature. He is so meaty and gladly lets you hug him in anyway you want. Ah.... Thank you God.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Teaching Math and Great FREE Resources

When I was young, the way math was taught to me was pretty straight forward. For addition and subtraction, use your fingers as part of your counting tool. There aren't many manipulative used. I was never very good at math. In fact, I think I was quite slow with counting because 10 fingers were not enough and I have to use alternatives then!

A few years ago, I attended a short workshop on how to teach math to young children. The first rule I learned was never to teach your child to count using fingers. Yes, no fingers. Use manipulative (beads, blocks and anything you can think of) for visual understanding and learning of concepts. In the early years, children learn about addition and subtraction facts. How do you teach them these concepts?

For me, I started introducing the concept of addition with manipulative like beads. Ones the child understand the concept, I go on with the introduction of symbols like '+' and '=' and what they mean. Next we work in a systematic approach with addition of 0,1,2,3 and so on. Once the child mastered addition facts, subtraction would be easier and I teach him the relationship between addition and subtraction. Reese never use his fingers for counting. It's counting with number lines or by heart.

There are many math programs out there in the market. These programs boast of teaching math with critical thinking skills, mental arithmetic and many many other big words thrown into their marketing. If you do careful research and with patience you can find books, free worksheets and know-how to do all of the above. :) Don't need to spend so much money sending your children to enrichment centers.

I found some really great worksheets on the internet that teach children addition/subtraction/multiplication and division facts. I love it. It is systematic and it trains the child to remember the facts (mental math). Once a child remembers these facts, the child would have mastered half of the syllabus in early math (Pre K-Standard 3).

Addition/Subtraction Facts Worksheets
Check out free math worksheets by John Woodward . These worksheets are systematic, repetitive (drills) and the author suggest working on the worksheets daily. For me, we only do these worksheets on alternate days. So work with your child and see how much he/she can take it. It is really good!

Math Books
I am using Horizons Math by AOP publishing from the U.S. It is a very colorful workbook and uses the spiral method of teaching. Generally more advance than most math programs in the U.S.

What is spiral method?

"Hands-on learning is included in every lesson through the use of manipulatives suggested in the teacher's guide. All material is presented in a 'spiral-learning' format. This is where a few concepts are introduced at a time as the material is reviewed and previous concepts are reinforced."

"Fundamental concepts previously obtained in earlier units are reviewed in subsequent grade levels for true mastery. Every math concept follows a general pattern of gradual development in all seven grade levels." (Taken from the Publisher's website)

I really love this program because it's colorful, each day Reese works on a few different concepts and boredom is eliminated. Concepts are repeated but spread over a few lessons and the child don't even realize it.

Do you know that one of the best math programs/books is from Singapore? Concepts are introduced first with visuals and gradually to abstract form. Critical thinking plays a big part in Singapore math. It uses the mastery method where 1 concept is introduce at a time until mastered before moving on to the next concept. It usually comes with a text book (full color) and workbooks (black and white). It is so good that it even has a US edition selling just for the US market. It is one of the top 3 preferred math programs for homeschoolers in the US and here. We can easily get Singapore math from local bookshops like Popular bookstore.

I have seen some of these books but I didn't like it because they are dull and black & white and I don't like mastery method. We are so used to the colorful workbook from Horizons Math. This is my personal preference. Singapore math is still one of the best around.

Educational Videos
You can also check out Khan Academy for some pretty neat videos on teaching math. In fact, at Khan Academy, they have educational videos that teach almost anything you can think of! It free.

If you find my recommendation helpful please share your experience with me and others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reese the Author

Reese drew some of the characters of Mr. Men and Little Miss.

Reese is really into Mr. Men. So much so he decided to create new characters. His first is Mr. Faint. He made a little booklet about him in less than 15 minutes. Did the entire thing all by himself (except mummy cut and stapled the paper for him).

Mr. Faint by Roger ....(he is trying to write cursive) Book 51
(Picture of Mr. Faint which does not exist in the collection. It's entirely a new character by Reese Matthew Kam )

One sunny day, Mr. Faint went to Washington to wash his
(See Mr. Faint holding a lot of jellies)

Jelly. Plop! Plop! Doom! Doom! Rumble! Rumble! Bbboommm!
(Plop!Plop! means jelly dropping and picture shows Washington with fireworks)

and he fainted. Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleven he said.
(Picture shows balloons, flags -streamers, a party is going on)


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rant for the day...

At times, I just want to relax and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Sounds familiar? Or is it just me? :)

When I do nothing, it gets addictive. The more I don't want to do anything, the more tired I become. Does it make sense? I can spend the day just playing iPad, surf the net, read a little and sleep.

No homeschooling for a few days, house left uncleaned, no cooking, sometimes eating out too, I am lazy... and I am too lazy to entertain Reese. During such time, my body and mind just refuse to work together. My mind will kept thinking about the dirty floors, pages of worksheets to be done with Reese, eating too much outside food - bad for health....etc and yet my body just refused to budge.

Guilt will slowly crept into me. Haunt me for days until I return to my usual self. :) I guess this is considered battery discharging and recharging.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Drawing in 3D

Yesterday Reese drew this and told us that it is Sienna, Italy. At first it looks like his usual drawings until hubby pointed out that this was drawn in 3D and aerial view of Sienna. His sense of depth and perspective is getting really good. He drew this in less than 15 minutes. It's all spontaneous drawing. I am truly amazed at his ability. A couple of days ago hubby and I were casually talking about our talent in art. Hubby said that when he was in primary, he would draw robots and sell them to his classmates! Apparently he was really good at it and got lots of requests! As for me, I was quite good at art too. I love drawing cartoons and designing stuff. I was the head of art in the editorial board when I was in secondary school. So I guess Reese did inherit some of our artistic talent? :)

Aerial view of Sienna, Italy

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reese wrote...

Reese is a seed.
He can grow big.
He needs a brown branch.
Soon cherries grew on the tree.
Then the leaves begin to die.

He did this yesterday afternoon. He can spell quite well except the word 'cherries' and 'leaves' Reese wrote 'cherrys' and 'leav'.

Reese's First Comic...

Two Sundays ago we went to MPH and saw an interesting comic series. It's produced by Gempak, a popular local comic publisher. The comic is originally from Korea. It is a science comic series. Illustration looks good and it's really cheap. Only RM10.90 and supposedly sold more than 8 million copies in Korea!

So I pick one that talks about Survival During An earthquake and show it to Reese who instantly found it interesting. So after reading it for some time, we bought one for him. Thinking it would be nice learning more facts through fun reading with lots of illustration.

Reese was somewhat obsessed with it. Day and night he was reading the book. Then a day later, Reese suddenly exclaimed to me... "Mummy, I wanna PUKE!" I looked at him with disbelief and asked him whether he knows what puke meant and he said vomit. Wow! honestly, I didn't like the word puke...sounded rough. Then another day or so he came to me and said "What THE..." Gosh, that irritates me because I find that very very rude! and where did he learn all these? from the comic book. He also learned to make/write dramatic sound effect like Drrrrrr, Arrggg, Whooh, Doom...when he talks/writes his stories/drawings. Did he learn any new facts about surviving an earthquake? Only heard him talk about 1 survival tip.....

Influenced by the comic. Reese added sound effects to his drawing. Here is a picture of a tsunami. A huge wave approaching a town with people (stick figures) running and people shouting Tsunami.

So is it a good idea to expose him to comics? Maybe I should have waited a little longer before doing so as I felt the phases and expressions in the book are not meant for a nearly 5 year old! Plus I don't think he really understand some of the humor and he constantly bug me with questions about it. Ha..ha..ha..

This series touches on many subjects and they do look educational but it's for children 8 and onwards

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paris and Italy Invasion!

Reese is crazy over Paris and Italy. He is so excited about his trip next year February that he will read, draw a lot of pictures, watch documentaries, talk about them and even practice saying French and Italian names! If you have a chat with him, he can tell you a lot about these two countries. You might even think that he has been there! :)

City of Rome burning

City of Paris with a lot of birds surrounding the Eiffel tower

The old city of Rome with the Colosseum being the main feature

Paris with Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame (with clock??)

Unrelated but for the record...

Neuschwanstein castle, Germany


Inca City, Peru

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What is your Child's Learning Style?

When we were in school, we were expected to learn in the manner in which material was presented, often in textbook form with a lot of repetition, drill and pencil-and-paper test. Many parents including myself never encountered the idea of learning styles when we were in school.

If a child had difficulty learning, the child was assumed to have been at fault. Some of those children may have been underachievers, or felt as if they were failures because they didn't learn concepts the way the teacher presented them.

Today we know that how we learn has a big impact on whether we learn at all, and that the same material can be presented and evaluated effectively in a few different ways. Mismatches between a child's learning style and the learning environment are a frequent cause of learning difficulties.

There are 3 types of learning styles

Visual Learning
Chileren learn best by seeing things. They benefit from diagrams, charts, pictures, films and etc.

Auditory Learning
Children learn best by hearing things. They benefit from read aloud, information is presented and requested verbally.

Kinesthetic Learning
These are children that learn best by experiencing/doing things. They benefit from total engagement with a learning activity. They learn faster through drama presentation, science lab, field trips and etc.

Another way to approach the idea of learning styles is to ask whether we learn best by seeing (visual) or by hearing (auditory) and whether we arrange things and ideas best in space (spatial) or in time (sequential). A visual-spatial learner will be able to 'see' patterns and connections in space. People with this learning style often excel in art, architecture, physics and etc. An auditory-sequential learner will be able to 'hear' patterns and connections in the realm of time. Writers, musical composers and lecturers must have strong auditory-sequential skills.

The traditional school model favors an auditory-sequential style. Children are expected to learn in a step-by-step sequential manner. In school, children are usually surrounded by words rather than pictures as the primary information source. In school, the emphasis is on rote memorization and reiteration of details.

The visual-spatial learner, however, often learns best by not following the usual sequence of steps, by thinking and doing in 3D - with design and construction and experimentation - rather than with pencil and paper, and by exploring 'big picture' concepts before delving into details and facts.

Understanding how children learn best and prefer to learn saves time and energy in the long term; learning is more efficient and frustration reduced. Once you know your child's styles and preferences, you can think of creative ways to introduce new subjects and reinforce previous learning.

Can't figure out your child's learning style? No worries, start with mix media learning. :) Do you realized that multimedia always appeals to children? It is because it satisfies the many learning preferences that a child may embody.

Some examples to facilitate different learning styles (reference to Creative Homeschooling by Lisa Rivero):

Visual Learning
Vides, books with plenty of pictures, chalkboard/whiteboard, paints and other art supplies for creative experimentation and play, charts, photographs, pictures- encourage the child to hang maps and posters around the house; cut colorful photos and graphics form magazines to put in scrapbook, art museum field trips.

Auditory learning
CDs - start early in allowing the child his or her own music collection bayed on personal taste books on tape are great for car rides or bed-time relaxation, musical toys and instruments- encourage children to make their own, plenty of opportunities for informal discussion - mealtime, car time and etc.

Kinesthetic Learning
Floor puzzle, blocks, chalkboard/white board, Cooking and building activities, field trips, role plays.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spelling!

Now that Reese reads so well, it is about time to start teaching him spelling! Since he was taught phonetics from young, he can spell 3-4 letter words comfortably. So it makes spelling easier for him. Honestly, I do not want to force him to memorize words because it's stressful, boring and eventually they will forget the words when not used.

My strategy was to start with common words that are used frequently in writing and reading. I casually asked him to spell 1-12 and he could spell everything except number eight, seven, eleven and twelve. We repeated the spelling of the words he can't spell and played teacher-student game. We did both orally and in writing ( on the whiteboard). We tackle 2 - 4 words at a time and repeat these words a few times throughout the week. Each time in less than 5 minutes. Every now and then, I will casually dare him to spell words he learned and give him a lot of praises. NO REPETITIVE WRITING ON EXERCISE BOOK for us.

I started this about 3 weeks ago and so far, he has covered numbers 1-12, Sunday-Saturday, the word week and month, January-June and some words that he was interested in.

I realized that because he reads extensively and coupled with his superb memory, he picks up the spelling of many words both partially and completely. It makes teaching spelling easier for me. ;) Just two days ago, he asked me how to spell the word 'delicious' and after 2-3 times of writing the word, he can spell it on his own. Awesome isn't it?

Reese loves to add speech in his drawing. Here he spelled the word 'delicious' on his own.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Impromptu Interview with My Dear Son

Here my son talks about his future. He talks about being a teacher and what he is going to teach the children and the location of his school. He also talks about his future wife and son, they taking care of us when we are old, buying a house in Paris near The Champs Elysees and he also mentioned The Arch De Triomphe. Its so funny hearing my son pronouncing French words.
Very funny. Children are so innocent!

video

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Crazy About Mr. Men and Little Miss


When I was young, I saw many of these little books in bookshops and yet I have never read any of them. About 2 weeks ago, Reese and I went to BookXcess. I casually took one of the Little Miss book and read it with Reese. We had a good laugh and since it was dirt cheap (RM2.90), I took whatever that was available on the shelf. We got 8 books in all.

Reese was one happy boy reading each one of them and laughing heartily. He loves his Little Miss books. So yesterday I took Reese to BookXcess again and we bought the box set (50 books) of Mr. Men! It retails at RM299.99 and got a 15% discount (Members' day) and RM20 voucher (buy above RM200). It's a good deal.

I love the books too. We laugh a lot and are having a good time.

video

Monday, August 08, 2011

Talking behind our son's back!

Sunday at Toys 'r' Us, Midvalley:

Reese playing at the miniplayground. Hubby and I watching him. Watching his silly antics and hyperness made us exchange eye contact and shake our heads. Then we started talking about our precious son.

Mummy: You know, his hands movements and dancing antics only happens when he is excited. He is just hyper and playful.

Daddy: But that is one of the signs of Aspergers Syndrome!

Mummy: Nah, he is just doing all that out of habit and him being silly. I don't think he has Aspergers. He is just he. You know him, your son is just WEIRD!

(Looking at each other we had a good laugh)

Both hubby and I have been reading about Aspergers Syndrome. There are a lot of things that Reese does seem to display signs of a gifted child with Aspergers. These children are called Twice Exceptional. Anyway.... people like Mozart, Eistein and even Bill Gates seems to have Aspergers!

We too do not want to label our child and still hope that he will mature up and be able to fit in properly in society. BUT... we just can't help wondering whether he has it or not.... hubby seems to think he has but me being with him 24/7 seems to think otherwise... whatever it is, we love our only child to bits.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Finally saw the Developmental Peditrician

After 5 months wait, we finally saw the developmental peditrician. A really wonderful doctor who takes her time and never once look at the clock! We could have gone on and on except the secretary interrupted us and told her that she's got another patient waiting! In all, we were with her for a good 2 hours. Fees RM375.

She played with Reese, interacted with him, talk about his drawings and talk to us to find out more about Reese. At the end of the session, her conclusion was Reese is definitely a gifted child. He is way above average in everything except his social emotional development. She found it odd that he can draw so well and with so much details and yet when it comes to drawing human, he is drawing them at his age and he doesn't feature human very much in his drawing.

She said Reese lacks empathy, doesn't picks up social cues well and this is not normal. He is self centred and it doesn't bother him what others do or how they feel. This is not normal. At his age, he should have a best/favourite friend but he doesn't. Doesn't bother about taking pride, feeling embarrassed or shy at his age, again it is not normal.

She mentioned that Reese has a few signs of an Aspergers child. Asperger is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant dificulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. Then again, she stressed that she doesn't wanna put a label on Reese because it is not clear and there are some contradictions like his communication skills is above average. He has no problem with writing. (An Asperger child has communication problems and very often writing is a problem too). So it could just be him not maturing up to his age.

So she suggested this: Have supervised play with him. Get him playdates with kids who can converse at his level. Older kids would be good. Play repetitive games that involve taking turns, sharing, role play and etc. He needs a lot of social interaction. Read him books that shows empathy and perhaps learn to be less self centred. She thinks he is a very interesting and different boy.We are to see her again in 6 months time.

She also mentioned that going to a normal school is not going to work for him. Homeschooling is a good choice provided he has a balance in both academic and social interaction. She can see that he is a very intelligent boy. The details in his drawing, imagination, general knowledge and his verbal skills are all above average.

She wanted Reese to read with her and she showed him a book on night animals. Guess what? She casually asked him what animal was on the cover and he said Tessa (Tarsier). We were all blank including the doctor. We didn't know what it was called. Hahahha... but Reese was right except that he didn't know how to pronouce the name correctly. In the car we asked him where this animal can be found and he told us the Philippine. I checked and he was correct. Again, he got these info from reading books on his own. It's just amazing how much he knows. He is constantly surprising us.

When she mentioned Aspergers, my heart sank. But after she stressed that it is unclear, I felt a little better. It still bothers me. I know my son is not very normal in his social part. I hope he will outgrow this oddity and mature up! Please pray for us that we will be able to help him and that he will mature and be a healthy normal boy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Stories through drawings II

My dear son is drawing a lot than usual. He draws about games, landmarks, imaginary stories... below are some of his latest drawings. His habit is to draw and explain his drawing at the same time. Each picture usually takes 10 - 15 minutes to finish. Everything he draws are entirely from memory. It's just amazing to see each month his progress in drawing. This batch we saw him experimenting with fonts and also comic style dialogue boxes.

Inspired by Landmarks/Books/Movies

Japan. Sushi shop, celebration rocket, Torri gate and 20th Century Fox (decoration)

Rio - Christ the Redeemer

A city in China. See the Great Wall?

Pompeii - This time the structures are drawn in a more realistic manner

Flowers and mountains

Castle drawn in an interesting angle

China

China - temple and lion dance

Hotels and shops (see the signboards) Titanic in the background

Italy - Florence

Earthquake

Mary, Mary quite contrary...

Israelites crossing the Red Sea

Inspired by Games


Plants Vs Zombies



UFO Attack - Sim City

Tower Madness

Others

Started to write dialogues in his drawing

Check out the different fonts he wrote in. On the left, he uses dots to make out the word BtA BEV, On the right top, he wrote the word CRASH! in the lighting strikes, and below some alphabets with strings attached. He is getting creative. :)