Archive for the ‘Progress’ Category

2nd Week of School

September 12, 2017

Second week of school started without a hitch. Little C has begun to make new friends and he likes his new teacher. Their grade/ school seems to have decided on not having homework so we’ll probably spend our time practicing Chinese. I’ve got a new bunch of books delivered from China!


Moving on to Chapter Books

May 6, 2017

Little C is starting to read more complicated chapter books that don’t come with pictures on every page. He devoured two Geronimo Stilton books the day they came back from the library. I inducted him into the series via the graphic novels before moving on to the chapter books. For a while, I was wondering how I could help to encourage him to move on from picture books and graphic novels and the dreaded Captain Underpants series.  He seems fully capable of reading and comprehending the more verbose books but showed little inclination to read them. He really enjoys audio books of the classics like Roald Dahl and the Narnia series but never picked up any of the books. I guess reading stamina isn’t something that happens all at once. Hopefully, this will open up a wider range of books for him to enjoy.

I remember when I was young and at that stage. I was reading mainly Chinese at that time since I barely have 10 English books in our house at that time. It was my brother who introduced me to the first interesting novel – 侠客行 by 金庸. It is a martial arts novel but it had ‘funny’, crude, curse words which appealed to me then.  Kinda like potty humor that my son enjoys >.<

My Little Projects

September 23, 2014

This school year, I have been feeling much more energetic and purposeful with the feeling that with my sweet loving family, I can weather anything that come my way. Now that Calvin seems to be learning how to socialize in school and is showing improvements in his gross motor and fine motor skills, I can embark on my other little projects with him. He is still behind his peers in many skills but as long as he is showing progress, there isn’t a point in stressing about it. That’s what many of my projects are about anyway, to help him build up skills in interesting ways.

Writing Skills

Objective: To be able to write comfortably with a tripod grip by the end of the school year.

He generally prefers to use the immature digital pronate grasp which is supposedly typical of 2.5 – 3 year old kids. I’ve been coaching him to try using a tripod grasp instead with varying success. He has tried it when I correct him but still generally reverts to the more comfortable immature grip.

He often reverses his letters. Though that is supposedly common till age 6, it’s disturbing when he inverses every single letter in a word =_=

Most mornings, he’ll do a little handwriting practice while I prepare breakfast. I have some tracing sheets in a file with pictures and letters that he can trace.

We work on fine motor activities like opening clothes pegs, play doh, baking alphabet cookies etc. He plays with Lego all the time so that should help too.

We also do cutting and craft. His cutting skills are surprisingly good. Perhaps from all the car magazines he used to cut out. Having sharp left handed scissors certainly seemed to have helped too. We’ve been working on his skills like cutting zig zags and right angles. After a few tries, he seems to have grasped it. Looks like we should be doing shapes soon?


Reading Skills

Objective: To be able to read simple books with comprehension.

We are working on both Chinese and English languages. For Chinese, we are going through the 基础汉字 books I bought on our Singapore trip. We are now on book three and he can recognize at least 45 words. We used another book before (四五快读) but the material is more dry and pictures not attractive so it was hard to get him to practice enough to remember the words we learned but the main objective then was to introduce new vocabulary to him because our spoken chinese is still pretty much like 3 year old level or worse? These set of books repeats the words in different settings and he seems surprisingly willing to work on it. I’ve also tried a few games to help him revise the words we learned like word treasure hunt, secret code stuck at the front door, pointing out familiar words as we read and word bingo. He finds it discouraging when he does not remember too many of  the words and would sometimes be reluctant to work on our lessons, so I’m providing some scaffolding by offering to read over the sentences one time so he can repeat after me. I’ll need to think of some novel ways of helping him revise.

I’ve been putting in more chinese audio stories during his quiet time music. I rotate them out every 2 -3 days. With repetition, he seems to be getting familiar with the stories and will sometimes talk to me about them or ask me the meaning of the words. I’m surprised at how much he was able to understand. We are also resuming our 巧虎 videos in the morning for greater exposure to spoken chinese.

I’m still quite unsuccessful at speaking chinese to him more frequently. I find that my grasp of chinese is much poorer and I am not able to express myself well. No big surprise since it has been more than 15 years since I actually read a chinese book and I’ve rarely spoken chinese for the past 12 years. I can read and comprehend but the right words do not always present themselves when I need to. I guess it all boils down to practice too and I’m not sure reading manga in chinese is of great help. On the bright side, he has been making effort to use chinese to communicate to me. It is usually in a single sentence like “我爱草莓优格” (I love strawberry yogurt).

For English, since he is familiar with the alphabet sounds, we’re now working on word families, beginning with the easier consonant -vowel-consonant  types like -an, -at, -ig etc. We do word sorts and talk about how the words are the same or different.  Calvin is also learning sight words every week, using some of the activities I found online e.g. sight word mazes, sight word search, mini books with sight words. We also did sight word bingo before. He also loves to play with his magnetic letters and pretending to make “Word World” words that looks just like the word they spell i.e. a sheep made out of the letters s-h-e-e-p. His speed at sounding out words has been improving though he still gets ‘a’ and ‘e’ sounds confused. I’ll try to have more word sorts that help to differentiate that. I’m still constantly on the lookout for fun games to make practicing more fun.

It’s funny, before I read the books on motivation and the growth mindset, I kinda thought things like reading would just come naturally without much intervention from me but now I’m acknowledging that we need lots of practice before we’ll become good at it. I guess that is a good change and helps sets us up for success a lot better, plus it gives me better perspective on the things as I see them as essential practice and inevitable mistakes rather than failure.





Calvin Making Friends

September 18, 2014

For some reason, I have many unfinished drafts sitting around but I seem more interested in starting new posts because I worry that I will forget my new ideas. Somehow my old ones are all neglected and dying a slow death by neglect. It’s ironic that I’ve wanted to be a writer when I was young but I haven’t been putting effort to do actual writing or even reading for a long time. Anyway, enough of the ramblings.

I am very pleased to see Calvin’s social skills beginning to blossom. Everyday, he has been playing with his best friend, Cy. The teachers have dubbed them ‘inseparable’. He comes home telling us about how they play ‘mixy-mucks’ out in the school yard by mixing up the brown and white sand and also having the occasional stone; they play with blocks in the Bird room pretending to drive boats. Calvin has become better at listening to others and playing cooperatively. In fact, he has also been conversing with some other children. I saw him talking to L**m and D****n while waiting at the wall or having lunch. I am glad to see him venturing out of his comfort zone of playing by himself.

The funny thing is, just as he is getting comfortable, we start to worry about the time when he has to say goodbye. With a possible big move looming up ahead, I especially feel the need to make wonderful memories. Sure, they will attend different schools next year even if we stayed but if we moved away, chances are they may never see each other again. It’s a little sad to think that our choices will affect him in such a big way. Which reminds me that I should bring my camera along to school next time I co-op so I can take some pictures of them together. Maybe we’ll put together a memento when we leave. I laugh to see my hallmark preemptive thinking in action, always preparing for the negative things that might happen but hopefully for a good cause which is to sharpen our appreciation for the present.

Calvin with his best friend at the last day of school May 2014

Calvin with his best friend at the last day of school May 2014

Goals for the Mama – 4/18

April 27, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building
– Tried to play with the other children at easter egg hunt
– Climbed up and down rocky paths by himself while his parents watch in consternation as he was close to the cliff
– Went to look at new apartment surroundings to get him used to the idea of moving.

Goal 2: Chinese
– Started talking to him in Chinese again. Have been lapsing back to English. He understands  大, 小, 热, 冷, 高, 矮
– Started putting in Chinese audio books in his quiet time playlist

Goal 3: Math
– Completed space themed patterns

Goal 4: Reading
– Unscrambled planet names by sounding it out. Used magnetic letters I picked up from the library sale.

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Built lots and lots of Lasy vehicles/ robots and knick knacks. He still needs me to take some parts off some times but some of those parts give me trouble too.

Goals for the Mama – 4/11

April 18, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building
– Cycled to the park nearby
– Helped me make watermelon popsicles
– Had a picnic at the park
– Attended his friend’s party at the park and enjoyed himself playing
– Had to give him another time out. He was hitting me when feeling angry or frustrated and started throwing his toys too. He had been having little outbursts the whole morning which he managed to held back many times, so this is probably the final eruption since we are in the comfort of our home. Being sleepy from waking up too early in the morning didn’t help at all.

Goal 2: Chinese

Goal 3: Math
– Counted and found matching items (like clocks) in his counting book
– Compared two pictures on the book and told me what was different about them

Goal 4: Reading
– Sounded out some words while reading

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Decorated cards for his classmates.  He dictated and I wrote the message and I got him to sign his name at the end by holding his hand.
– Lots more cars being cut out

Goals for the Mama – 4/4

April 11, 2014

I missed last week’s update but most of it was what we did in spring break so I’ll put whatever I still remember in here too.

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building

– Rode on his tricycle down many ramps at the park and at a ramp near our house. Ended up falling down both times but was brave  and managed to endure it. He has a cute tiny clawmark like scab on his nose now, which looks like a little kitten scratched his nose.

– Had quite a few tantrums last week when he didn’t get his way and tried to hit us or deliberately defy us. E.g. throwing things on the floor after I told him not to. So he got a time-out for both of those occasions. Doesn’t quite understand the concept of timeout yet so he was mainly sitting in my lap so I could restrain him while I try not to speak to him or look at him until he calms down.

– Learned to tie a knot


Goal 2: Chinese

– Asked me why it was so dark one day and I told him “因为外面下雨 (because it’s raining outside)” He understood though he replied in English. I guess understanding comes before communicating >_<

– Listened to chinese music during quiet time. Added some new songs for variety because he seems to pick up words from songs much easier probably due to repetition.

– Watched 巧虎 x4

– Unfortunately, I haven’t found more interesting books to read to him recently. Probably need to work harder on that.

– He corrected his dad when he got 粉红 and 彩虹 confused.


Goal 3: Math


Goal 4: Reading

– Not really related to his literacy skill, but he enjoyed the story time at the library immensely. He was like the typical kid, always wanting to answer all the questions. The next week when we went for story time, he quickly ran off because he was ‘tired of the story’. So it was either the novelty effect or he only likes it for certain books.


Goal 5: Fine motor skills

– Cutting confidently with his scissors. He loves that pair of ‘fire-body’ scissors as he calls it. That’s the only one he looks for now. The others right handed scissors are now ‘mama’s’ scissors. I remembered how apprehensive we were when he started using that new sharp scissors. I was practically hovering over him, warning him not to point the scissors at his own finger when he cuts.

Goals for the Mama – 3/7

March 14, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building
– Climbed up the playground’s rock wall. I’m glad that he even tried especially after the not so successful try at another playground where the foot and handholds were much smaller and slippery.

– Pedaled his tricycle. He can pedal a little bit on his own but not too well yet. I pushed him most of the way to the park though I let go on the easier downward slopes to give him some confidence in his pedaling.

Goal 2: Chinese
– Read 巴巴爸爸的火星,小兔子去散步, 巴巴爸爸建新家, 失落的一角

Goal 3: Math

– Completed the patterns on an activity sheet

Goal 4: Reading
– Read a couple of words in library books when I point it out to him.

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Snipped  paper with his scissors

– Cut out even more cars

Goals for the Mama – 2/28

March 8, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building
– Noticed that Calvin has been talking more with the other kids at school. He went up to some boys to ask them what they were doing. The clique just ignored him. I had to wonder if boys in Asian countries have such cliques. In general, even when they get older, the boys I knew were rather easy going and do not have rigid cliques and do not deliberately exclude others. In fact, girls were more likely to do that. Is this a cultural difference? Calvin seemed unfazed. He also went up to another boy who was holding a space book and tried to talk to him about asteroids.

– Calvin enjoys going for show and tell. Last week, he told the other children about e World War II book. This week, it was about the planets. I’ve been trying to stop him from bringing toys (which the teachers discourage). Though for the first show and tell of the year, he was talking about his emergency jeep. I didn’t even know he was going to use it for show and tell. He just asked me to put his yellow bucket in his bag and I said it wouldn’t fit, so he asked me to put the truck in instead.

– He’s been trying hard to stop his upset emotions from showing, or as he called it ‘held it in’. I’m not sure if it’s something I should encourage him. On the one hand, I don’t want him to think he cannot share his sadness but he does get overly upset from small disruptions to his plan. Socially, it’s probably better for him to be able to not show weakness to potential bullies. I praised him for trying hard but also acknowledged that he was upset that I did not have any more popcorn in the bag and then after that we worked out a solution together – make more popcorn!

– He recognize the need to wait for papa and mama to finish what we are saying before interrupting.

– Helped me to sort and pair up socks and put the laundry away.

Goal 2: Chinese
– Read 落叶跳舞,月亮的味道,彩虹色的花, 小步走路,鲁拉鲁先生的院子,失落的一角x2, 蔬菜的化妆舞会
– Watched 巧虎x3
– Asked me what 神气 means in a song then observed that it’s different from 生气

Goal 3: Math
– Counted in two counting books. He can count up to 15 with ease.
– Played a subtraction game by pretending to at up some of the food picture and counting what is left.
– Compared two numbers to see which is bigger e.g. 9 is bigger than 6

Goal 4: Reading
– Learned the difference between past tense and present tense
– I noticed there are some words, especially if they are in big print, that he can read by sight. Like ‘Boom’. I’m still wondering how much he can actually read.
– He spelled his own name with the magnetic letters.

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Cut out more car pictures

Goals for the Mama – 2/21

February 27, 2014

Goal 1: Confidence/ Character Building
– Learned to roll up a big sheet of paper
– Learned to wind up the kite string
– Helped me put the wet laundry in the dryer
– Helped to clean up a pee accident so that ‘mama will have less work to do and won’t be too tired’

Goal 2: Chinese
– Read 巴巴爸爸和圣诞礼物,巴巴爸爸搬大树,巴巴爸爸回地球x2, 1只小猪100只狼, 落叶跳舞,吃掉黑暗的怪兽,
– Watched 巧虎
– Downloaded new chinese songs to add to his quiet time music.

Goal 3: Math
– Counting random stuff in books e.g how many arms does the alien have, how many truffula trees are left?
– Comparing snowflakes to see which one is the same and which one different

Goal 4: Reading
– Learning to spell the ‘a’ words with an app called Spellyfish. He’s surprisingly good with it
– Read simple words in familiar books like his baby books that enjoyed a renewed interest recently
– Read the title ‘The Lazy Bear’, at least I think he read it. I don’t remember telling him the name of the book. I’m starting to wonder if he can read better than I imagine, but I don’t want to stress him out by testing him or forcing him to read aloud to me. He does sometimes look through his books during quiet time so if he can read some of them to himself, more power to him. We’d still continue to read to him anyway even though it can be tiring. After he has exhausted papa with a couple of books, he’d say “How about you, mama?”

Goal 5: Fine motor skills
– Cut out lots of car pictures from the magazines. Look at the fine collection below. I’m impressed that he can cut very close to the shape of the pictures that he is cutting out, even though he left a big pile of little magazine scraps all over the carpet.

– Cut out animals for our snow lapbook about animals that hibernate