Archive for September, 2016


September 23, 2016

Since Calvin doesn’t have homework from school, I can happily do other things with him when he comes home. Most of the time, he just dives into his Lego building after having a snack.

I still assign him a short daily homework that he can finish in about 5-10 minutes. It helps to teach him to put in time for homework. He seems to enjoy the work I assign to him since they are at the right level for him and I usually sit with him through it. Some of the homework he got from school sometimes feel more like busywork…. like coloring…… It takes a long time and not always satisfying, especially when your hands are tired and the picture isn’t interesting. I sometimes help him fill in some of it so it can be over and done with.  I think my mum used to help me with my coloring homework too.

Language Arts: Copy work and narration. The copy work is how I’ll be teaching him about punctuation and grammar. I think 1st grade grammar is about learning what are nouns, pronouns and verbs?  His handwriting has improved a lot recently. They are actually within the lines!!!!! Maybe all that practice over summer has paid off.

Math: We are working on improving his arithmetic fluency. Practice is via card games like “Addition”/ “Subtraction” war or some math apps. He has been working on math problems on too which I thought were pretty interesting.

Chinese: He is learning to read using the 基础汉子500 to learn the basic 500 chinese characters. I need to borrow more Chinese books and read it to him!

Reading: We were taking turns reading Captain Underpants together and he could read the passages quite well. That particular book was rated level R which is 4 grade I think.  He hasn’t moved on to reading chapter books on his own though I’m sure he is technically able. I won’t let him read these Dav Pilkey books alone because of all the naughtiness. I felt it was better if we read it together and talked about the behaviour of the characters in the book. Me and Johnny don’t like the books but stopping him from reading it will only make him want to read it more, so we make do by reading it together.

I’m not too worried about his reading since he is a book lover like us. I think it’s more about finding appropriate series of books that he enjoys. I look for a wide variety of books that might be of interest to him. He also picks out more at the library when we go.

I saw in the forums that many parents might do more than that, but I’m just happy that he actually enjoys the work. And if there are other things that he needs to work on, we can put in more time into it. Otherwise, I’m happy to let him enjoy playing after a long day at school.


Crafting Time!






September 14, 2016

It’s so hard to see my little guy disappointed in himself and giving up on trying to master a skill. I’ll wonder if I am pushing him too hard but I think he lacks persistence especially when it comes to physical activities. I just want to get him to have small successes so that he will have the confidence to believe that if he puts in effort, he will be able to do it. All those skills like dribbling, climbing a tree and jumping from high places are not important individually. It’s fine even if he’s not good at it though I’d rather he has a basic level of competency so he can keep up with his friends if he wants to. My job is to keep challenging him and move him out of his comfort zone, try new experiences.

I guess I’m pretty sedentary too so we are both happy to just sit at home and read. I’m motivated to get out and get some exercise though. Spare tires are not nice….. But I guess the most important thing is that we both have fun in the process. Especially when I’m tired or frustrated, I have a tendency to focus only on the outcome and stubbornly insist that he keep trying. He can definitely sense our frustration and feel upset that he has disappointed us. Except, I am more frustrated with my lack of teaching skills and how helpless I am at guiding him.

Yesterday, we went to the park and practiced his dribbling again and it has improved greatly compared to Sunday when he was worn out and feeling down. So hopefully the small success will fuel him on and help him master this new skill and then next time I can use it and say “Remember when you were learning to dribble …..”. Now I have to quote “Remember when you climbed up that tree…”, in which I bullied him into persisting to climb up by refusing to leave until we tried it out a few times. He stopped on the first try when he slid and got a scratch on his belly. Eventually, I climbed up myself and then told him which hand and foot holds to use.


Sometimes, I worry that I’m motivated by my comparisons of him and other kids who seem better at XXXX or YYYY. I forget my original plan of getting him to improve incrementally and in an enjoyable manner. He has so much more to learn that I’d hate to stress him out at the beginning of his learning journey. And I remember too that when he was born and still in the ICU, all I hoped for was that he would be healthy and I am really grateful that he is.

First Week of School

September 9, 2016

Calvin just had his first 2 days of school. His best buddy is in the same class  and he got the teacher he was hoping to have (because they visited the classroom at the end of kindergarten). Of course, he also has the two Terrors in his class. One of whom is sitting at his desk and been ‘bothering’ him. He enjoyed school nonetheless and has been taking the school bus to and from school.

This year, his school has a no homework policy for all grades because of research that shows that homework for elementary students are not beneficial. I’m not sure I totally agree that they should go without homework, though I’m glad we won’t have to finish those time-consuming and hand-wearying coloring homework. I’ll probably assign him some daily work like we did in summer. He’s supposed to be reaching the end of P1 in Singapore so we are trying to keep up with the work there. His math is pretty ok in that he understands the basic concept of what is going on but he still makes mistakes when adding because he still has to count to add up to numbers bigger than 5. At this age, I’m not so concerned about teaching him to do well in tests but more about getting his foundation strong for the more challenging concepts and problems ahead. Sometimes, I feel that with the prevalence of testing, many teachers end up asking the students to rote learn to get good test scores and it gets in the way of their understanding of the math concept. Kinda like how his other K teacher taught them a song to learn counting by 10. For the longest time, he would sing that song to find out what the next 10 is instead of learning that 30 means 3 tens etc.