Thursday, July 21, 2016

Voices under the Rising Sun - Fiona Hodgkins

This is not your usually children's story. It is written in the form of dairies, letters and factual texts. Not only that, this is a World War II (WW2) story about how  the life of  3 children were being changed during the war.

Being a history buff, naturally, I am attracted to the book. This book is suitable for children 10 years and above. It was written as a companion piece to another book, From Syonan to Fuji-Go, by the same author, Fiona Hodgkins. Both books are based of her research into the settlement of Bahau. It was a settlement for the Catholics in Negri Sembilan (a state in Malaya, now known as Malaysia) during the Japanese Occupation.

The characters and events are based on true stories. Most names and some events are being altered. One of the children, Mary ( an Eurasian), was in fact based on the life of the author's mother. The story started on describing how life of like when the British were in power in the region. Very soon, WW2 began and eventually, the fall of Singapore.

With Kempetai (Japanese secret police) watching and food shortages in Singapore became critical, many Catholics decided to go to Bahau where they could grow their own crops and probably send some supplies down to Singapore.

However, the crops failed and the people had to survived on snails and pets, which were pretty traumatising. To add on to the misery, the people fell sick with malaria and typhoid!

Of course, the story ended when finally the war was over.

Personally, I think this is a good read for children and adults likewise. Definitely a must read for history buffs. It is simple to read and there is a lot of facts describing the life in those days.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Little paintings using acrylic

 Little One had been requesting to paint a rain scene. Last Saturday, we had some free time and hence, we painted. I had some leftover acrylic paints and some paper clay which were made by yet to be painted. So I used the opportunity to let her have some fun making her own art. The canvas were bought from Daiso at a pack of 3.

Painting in progress

All of these are painted by her. I only touched up the 'Hello Kitty" and part of the rain clouds
Linking with~

Friday, July 1, 2016

Life of a P1 student and all you need to know as a P1 parent

In a twinkle of an eye, half a year had gone by.

This year is an important year for Little One as she enters the Primary School. This marks the beginning of formal education. So far, she had been doing fine although personally I think she has been not doing good enough for her Chinese.

For the first half of the year, I had adopted a rather relaxing attitude with her. I did not ask much from her except to expect her to do her school work as well as to learn her spellings diligently. I focus more on the aspect that she learns to be self independent like reading her time table, packing her bag and getting dressed without prompting all by herself.

Most days, she would be home at about 2pm. Once a week, her school will be released half an hour later due to CCA activities in the morning. For P1 and P2s, they do not have CCA activities, so they would be having enrichment classes instead.

Below is her usual time table

6.30am Wake up + get ready for school
6.45am Breakfast
7.15am Leave for school
2pm Reach home, shower and lunch
3pm Revision/Play/Outing
6pm Rest
7.30pm Dinner
8.30pm Shower
9pm Bedtime Ritual
9.30 pm Sleep

Understand that it is the time of the year for Primary One Registration. I shall share briefly how we chose the current school Little One is studying in. We have chosen a neighbourhood school, A, located within our neighbourhood. It is not an elite school. Neither was it our alma maters. There is another neighbourhood school, B, in our area too. Both schools are more or less the same to me except that the other school has newer facilities than the current one Little One is attending. Personally, I prefer School B. In the end, the major reason I chose the school A is that it is nearer to our home. I know Little One would prefer to sleep rather than spend fifteen more minutes to travel to school B.

What to expect?

This section of the post is meant more for the parents who are going to send their child/ children  to school next year on.

Prior the start of school, there is actually orientation. In the orientation, the children will be brought to their class and they will have a get-to-know-you kind of session to familiarise with the teachers and environment. Meanwhile, the parents will be in the hall while the principal will conduct a speech about the school values and a brief guidance as to what to expect when the children start P1. Such activities were unheard of in the past. We were only introduced to our school during the first day of school. How fortunate are our children these days!

Holistic Education
The current education focus on holistic assessment.

What is holistic education? I have a vague idea. During my time, our results were all academic driven. The new system seeks to create a more all-rounder rather than academically driven student. This, I am entirely unfamiliar with. It seeks to create a thinker, inventor or probably a leader.  I like the idea of developing a more well rounded person but questions such as these following run through my head. How does a school measure how well a child performs holistically? How do I help the child on this?  Do I have to register the child for enrichment classes that he/she is interested in? (This sounds kiasu, isn't it?) Am I adding pressure to his/her schedule by requesting him/her to perform well especially in the area he/ she is interest in? I am sure the answer to this question is yes. I am afraid if the child is under pressure, it may kills his/her interest. So, I am still in the exploration mode.

Meanwhile, all schools have begun implementation of Holistic Assessment. They will do away with examinations whereby the students would be tested everything from Term 1 to the current date. Instead, they introduced bite sized tests which may or may not be weighted. These bite size tests usually focus on several topics instead of a big lump of topics. They may even conduct mock tests.

Assessments at the beginning of the year
Children are being assessed in the beginning of the year to determine whether they need to attend a separate class from the rest of the peers.

Scraping of aggregate score in PSLE
In April 2016, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that the aggregate score for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be scrapped, and replaced with wider scoring bands from 2021. This will be similar to grading at O and A levels. Hence, the current P1 students are the first batch of students, including Little One,  without aggregate score.

When everyone is getting similar grades, what will be the criteria for secondary school to select their intake? Probably the next emphasis will be how all rounded is the child. Whether or not, it will lead to a more competitive environment. it is too early to tell. I am sure it will has its consequences.

Meanwhile, I chose to focus on build up her foundation. I think at the end of the day, the basic foundations are still important.

Report Book
I am not sure about other schools, what interest me is that the report book does not reflect on the grades Little One scored. Instead, it focus more on character development.


The Programme for Active Learning (PAL) is a recommendation by the 2009 Primary Education Review Implementation (PERI) Committee to provide greater emphasis on non-academic programmes for all Primary 1 and 2 students. Students are exposed to varied and fun learning experiences in four domains: Sports and Games, Outdoor Education, Performing Arts and Visual Arts. Students also learn socio-emotional competencies such as respecting others and responsible decision making. PAL nurtures confidence, curiosity and cooperation skills in students. The programme is rolled out via a phased-in approach and will be offered in all primary schools by 2017.

I was told that teachers could make use of PAL to access the students so as to make suitable recommendation for Co-Curricular Activities (CCA). CCA is compulsory from P3 onwards. I remembered when I was in primary school, CCA (it was known as Extra Curricular Activities,ECA) was not compulsory. I used to join netball and I had to quit the team because my mom wanted me to focus on PSLE, much to my dismay.


Form Teacher to engage in quality interactions with his/her pupils and help pupils strengthen social and emotional competencies during Form Teacher Guidance Period (FTGP).  

During FTGP, there will be play activities between the Form Teacher and pupils  to enhance teacher-pupil bonding. The Form Teacher will also conduct lessons to teach social and emotional competencies as follows:
(a) Self-Awareness – To better understand self
(b) Self-Management – To learn ways to manage self
(c) Social Awareness – To better understand family and friends
(d) Relationship Management – To learn ways to work with family and friends
(e) Responsible Decision Making – To make appropriate and responsible decisions

Usually, I do not know what is being conducted during this period unless the teacher had assign some tasks for the children to do at home. My girl sometimes said she had forgotten. Sigh...


During this Parent Teachers Meeting, parents would use it to find out more about the overall performance of the children. The session is 10 minutes session per teacher. I do find that the time is short. In order to fully utilise the session, it may be better to plan ahead what questions you would like to ask.

Tips for parents of P1 goers.

1) Get everything prepare before school re-open, such as stationery, water bottle, lunch box, uniform,black hair ties for girls, white shoes, white socks and dark bag. The reason I indicate dark bag is that you do not need to wash the bag as frequent as you need for lighter coloured ones.

2) Label your child's/children's name on all stationery, include bags and shoes. In my girl's school, they take out their socks and shoes occasionally for activities such as reading corner.

3) Ask your child/children about their school life. Do not ask "How was school?" Usually, they will reply you with short sentences such as 'fine.", "not bad".  For example, what have you been doing in your XXX lessons? I usually chose to ask about the Enrichment lessons and PAL.

4) Check your child's/ children's bag that he/she had completed their homework. Sometimes, they may just forget that they have one.

5) Use your child's communication book. This is one of the ways to communicate with the teachers. Read the school's newsletter and website so that you know what is going on in school.

6) Monitor their behaviour. If you find that they have been behaving withdrawn, it is a tell tale sign that something is wrong in school.

7) Do sit through with your child/ children while they are doing their homework. In that way, you could guide and have a rough idea what the teacher had been doing. From there, you would also know you child's weakness and give some practices or think of something to help them overcome that weakness.

8) Show them how to read a time table and how to pack their bad nicely. You need to repeat this for a period of them before they remember how to do it correctly.

9) Show them how to keep their papers in files /folders properly and not crushed like kiam chye (salted  vegetables, refering to crumbled papers) in the bag.

10) Don't bother to stress yourself to teach them how to count their money. They will eventually learnt from daily dealings with the vendors. Of course, you can start to teach them now but it is a concept to be grasped over time.

11) Be patient. This is the most important part. Children their age tends to misplace stuff. You 
 would need to keep reminding. To add on, there will be mundane stuff which you would need to teach repeated and hence patience is required.

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