Financial Literacy For Children at Every Age

money lessons for children

Having basic financial skills is crucial as it helps our children navigate through life as an adult. Not only will they be able to plan ahead for the future, they will also be aware of the importance of keeping their spending within limits and make wise spending decisions.

While it will be years before our children get to experience first-hand the complexities of managing their finances, there are lots we can do right now to teach them the concept of money and savings. Here are some hands-on activities to start off with during your children’s early years:

5 Years Old and Below

Introducing coins and the piggy bank

During the early years, our children’s brain soaks up new concepts and information like a sponge and it is during this time that learning takes place at a rapid rate. As they learn best by observing others and repeating their actions, you can make the most of this by introducing the various coin denominations and putting money into a piggy bank. The more they practice this, the concepts of “money” and “saving” through the piggy bank will become second nature to them. However, do bear in mind to introduce this exercise once they are past the stage of putting things into their mouths.

Create “Saving”, “Spending” and “Sharing” jars

Here’s a fun activity to teach your children the concepts of saving, spending and sharing. Set aside three jars (or plastic containers) and label them as “Saving”, “Spending” and “Sharing”. Each time your child receives money – i.e. during his/her birthday or major celebrations such as Chinese New Year or Christmas – get him/her to place the money in the jars. The money in the spending jar can be used for simple treats such as sweets or stickers, while the sharing jar can be used to help someone in need or donated for a worthy cause. Lastly, the saving jar acts as the most basic lesson in saving – your child can accumulate the money in there for bigger purchases, such as his/her favourite toy.

Play “Supermarket” at home

Set up your very own supermarket at home by preparing DIY grocery items (think, plastic fruits and vegetables, and empty sauce bottles) and giving each item a price tag. Arrange them neatly in rows and give your child a basket and paper notes to “shop” for groceries, while you play the role of the cashier. When their basket has been filled up, count the total amount and get your child to give you the correct notes and coins to “pay” for their purchases. For older children, you can take this to a higher level by giving them a shopping list and introducing discounts and offers on selected items.

 

6 to 10 Years Old

A lesson on allowances and savings

Most children receive allowances when they start primary school. At this age, they understand that money is used a means to exchange for goods (i.e. food or stationery items from the school book shop). To establish good spending habits, you need to set down some ground rules such as to inform you what they spend their money on. This is also a good opportunity to encourage them to save, instead of spending all the allowances. You can keep them motivated by offering to match the amount saved so that they can see their money “grow” over time.

Get them involved in real-life purchase decisions

You can now include your children when making real-life purchase decisions – starting with the weekly grocery trips. Start by setting aside a budget for a set of items (e.g. $10 for milk, eggs, bread and fruits). Here, you can carry out price comparisons with them by choosing items that are on offer while keeping to the set budget for the items required. Through this exercise, you are essentially teaching them simple budgeting skills that will definitely come in handy later.

Encourage them to give back

There are many ways to teach your children to give back at this age by sharing their blessings with others. This can take the form of donating a small amount of their savings to a worthy cause (i.e. there will be plenty of opportunities to meet people with donation cans on the streets) or clearing out their toy boxes every now and then to give away their toys to children from needy families. Through these exercises, you are also inculcating important life lessons to your children, such as the value of compassion and gratitude.

Discuss needs versus wants

While you are shopping with your child, you can include them in the process of making wise financial decisions by getting them to weigh the importance between a need and want. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Do we really need to buy these buns? Or can we skip it since we are going out for dinner soon?
  • Is this bowl the best we can get, or would it cost less elsewhere?

 

11 to 13 Years Old

Teach them banking concepts

You have started a savings account for your children since they were little, so now’s a great time to introduce the more complex banking concepts of ATM, online banking and interest rates.

To show them that “digital money” will run out the more they spend, you can set up an excel sheet to record their spending and keep track of the amount saved. As for explaining to them about the abstract concept of interest rates, Beth Kobliner, author of the New York Times bestseller Get a Financial Life, recommends that we use specific numbers and simple terms such as, “If you set aside $100 every year at 14, you’d have $23,000 by the time you turn 65. But if you start saving at 35, you’ll only have $7,000 at 65”.

Introduce long term saving goals

By now, your children might be well versed with the concept of saving up for the things such as their favourite snacks and toys. You can take their saving efforts to the next level by getting them to set a longer-term goal for big ticket items and holding back on their regular purchases. For example, if your child has the habit of buying snacks and stationery from the school bookshop, he/she might want to hold back on those and save up for a watch instead. By setting long term goals, your child will learn about the concepts of delayed gratification, trade-offs and opportunity costs – which essentially involve giving up the things that they like in order to save money.

 

Read also: Social Skills for Children – An Age-by-Age Guide

MindChamps Academy helps to prepare your child for the challenges of the future with effective learning techniques, thinking skills and more. Find out more and book a complimentary personal coaching session for your child now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

8 Amazing Reasons to Hug Your Child Every Day

hugging children

Author and family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth”. Indeed, the benefits of hugging are boundless as it does wonders to a child’s cognitive and emotional development.

Research has shown that children thrive in environments where they are showered with love constantly – and this starts from as early as the day they are born. In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of hospitals today, parents are encouraged to practice “kangaroo care” by holding their premature babies as this has been shown to lead to improvement in vital signs (i.e. weight gain and minimal breathing complications) which leads to earlier discharge.

Now that we are aware of the scientific benefits of hugging, here are 10 amazing reasons to gather your child in your arms for a soothing hug, every day:

1. It helps them feel safe

As children begin to learn about how things work, they need the loving gestures of their parents to feel emotionally secure and be assured that they are accepted into the family. The nurturing touch of a hug helps to establish trust and a sense of safety in them, which allows them to take in the sights and sounds of the world around them without worry. With a deep sense of security, hugging also leads to an openness to learn new things and promote open and honest communication between parent and child.

2. It makes them smarter

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that children who were showered with love by their mothers during the early years have a larger hippocampus, the key part of the brain that is vital for learning, memory and response to stress. While this may not imply that hugging leads to higher IQ levels in your children, it is worth noting that providing them with a loving and safe environment to grow up in does wonders for their learning and development. In the long run, they will continue to reap the benefits of your loving affection as they grow up into confident and well-adjusted individuals.

3. It’s a natural stress-buster

Physical contact such as hugging releases a chemical in our brain called oxytocin, which is often called “the love hormone”. Made primarily in the hypothalamus in the brain, oxytocin is known to reduce depression and anxiety, and may have an effect on attentional disorders. Thus, cuddling and hugging your child helps to melt the stress away and put them (and you) in a better mood. So, the next time you find yourself having a rough day or if your children seem to be pushing your buttons, do take a moment to breathe in and reset the atmosphere with a simple cuddle.

4. It promotes a healthy self-esteem

The hugs we give our children from day one helps to reassure them that they are loved and develops a sense of self-confidence and positive mindset in them. These associations of self-worth stay with them from childhood right up to adulthood and we can boost their confidence with a simple hug. As a whole, hugging your children helps to provide a safety net for them whenever they need to take a breather from “the real world” and builds up their ability to love themselves for who they are.

5. It helps in discipline

In our efforts to discipline our children when they misbehave, we often resort to methods such as putting them in the time-out corner. However, giving them a hug could be what we need to start off the discipline process on a positive note, and this can be followed up with a firm explanation of what they did wrong.

While your child might resist the hug initially, he/she will soon give in and allow his/her body to relax, which brings on a feel-good effect. Children are more willing to listen to what we have to say when they feel good, so do encourage them with a hug to reassure them of your love – over time, you just might notice a change in their behaviour.

6. It teaches them to develop empathy

Hugging allows you and your child to be completely present in the moment and connect with how both of you are feeling on an emotional and physiological level. With this exchange of energy, hugging teaches your child the value of empathy as he/she develops an understanding of how you might be feeling. In addition, hugging also teaches your child that love is a two-way street and that he/she can show love to others by giving hugs in return. In short, a hug is a powerful lesson itself to show your children what it means to love, and be loved.

7. It promotes better health

Medical case studies have proven that hugging goes a long way to boost our immunity. The gentle pressure applied to the sternum (or better known as breastbone) and the emotional charge created while hugging stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates the body’s production of white blood cells. The combination of all these processes helps to improve the immune function and keep you healthy.

In addition, a 2015 study conducted by researchers from King’s College, London found that oxytocin (the hormone that is released as a result of hugging) has analgesic effects, which leads to lower pain ratings and intensity. So, do make it a point to hug your child often to keep him/her in the pink of health!

8. It keeps both of you happy

Gathering your child in your arms for a hug helps to uplift both your spirits and keep you both happy. Hugs function in a similar fashion to meditation and laughter. Apart from teaching you to let go of all negative vibes, they also encourage you to “go with the flow” and relish in the feel-good feelings of the moment.

Children benefit greatly from being cuddled, as it provides them with a safe place to which they can turn to when they feel scared or nervous. On top of that, hugging is also a great remedy for us, as parents, to eliminate the frustrations when dealing with our children while letting them know that our love for them remains unchanged.

 

We hope that you will be inspired to spread the love and fill your child’s day with bear hugs and cuddles after reading this article.

Read also: 5 Things You Can Do to Bring Out the Best in Your Introverted Child 

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

How to Motivate Your Child to Be Successful

coach your child to success

It’s no secret that we live in an achievement-centric society, where it feels like there are insane expectations on us and our children just to keep up. In the frenzy of trying to give our children holistic childhoods and seek the best from them, we can end up placing incredible demands on them. How can we then encourage our children when it comes to academics? How do we continue to affirm them while they may not be doing well?

Here, we offer you the following tips to help you coach your child to attain success in school and in life.

1. Have a vision for your child

When coaching a child, it is tempting to focus solely on academics – particularly if he or she struggles in specific subjects. Take a moment to step back and consider your child’s abilities and personality. What is your vision for your child? What sort of person do you hope they will be? What core values and attributes do you hope to see in your child? If you hope to raise an independent thinker who will be resilient and confident, incorporate that training into your academic coaching too.

2. Focus on the everyday achievements

While we tend to find fault with the things our children do, it is crucial that we focus on the positive. For example, when your child brings home a Mathematics test with an average score, you could say, “That’s a good improvement, you got six marks higher than your previous test!” In the same vein, when they do well in a test, praise their effort, not just their intelligence. Notice what they are doing well in or trying hard at, and praise them for that.

3. Create bite-sized goals

Children respond well to clear and specific instructions, rather than vague concepts. Instead of repeatedly telling your child “You need to study harder for English!”, break your feedback up into small, measurable tasks and goals – such as aiming to do an extra hour of English revision daily, and setting a target grade to achieve in the next class test. This will help your child to clearly understand what is required to improve their academic grades and stay focused when they revise their work.

4. Ask questions

Coaching is a two-way process – be careful not to turn it into a monologue of instructions and warnings for your child. Take the opportunity to ask them how they are coping with school, friends and life in general. By asking open-ended questions and listening closely, your child will feel empowered to openly share their thoughts and feelings with you. This will give you insights on suitable methods in guiding them effectively in academics and other areas of life.

5. Be encouraging when the rubber meets the road

Some days, children find it tough to pick themselves up when they have failed, especially if the failure is repeated. In spite of your disappointment, let them know that failure plays a big part in learning. Most achievements in school occur because of one key character trait – the ability to persevere through difficult and discouraging circumstances.

By encouraging them to be disciplined, put in the hard work and have a hopeful attitude towards challenging tasks, we can help our children develop perseverance. Make the effort to first empathise and understand their feelings by saying things like, “I’m sorry. You must be disappointed that you failed your Chinese test.” Then, encourage and coach them by saying, “Don’t give up, let’s try and think of ways to help you improve.” You can’t do the work of developing perseverance for your children, but you can be their greatest cheerleader, especially when the going gets tough.

With constant guidance and affirmation, your children can be motivated to overcome challenges and meet their potential – at school, and in life!

© 2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Article contributed by Judith Xavier, Focus on the Family Singapore.

Read also: 8 Ways to Encourage Curiosity in Children

8 Strategies to Get Your Children to Listen When You Talk

child discipline

When it comes to raising children, one of the most challenging areas involves learning how to talk to our children in a way that they will listen. Although it can be frustrating to repeat your words and instructions to your children numerous times, know that they are trying their best to take in the various stimuli from their surroundings – thus it won’t be surprising if they seem to blank out or switch off every now and then.

At the end of the day, we hope to find the right balance in nurturing our children as this will reflect in the way they communicate with others. Here, we offer you some tips to help you get your message through to your children when you talk to them:

1. Connect with them at eye level

When you talk or give instructions to your child, do get down to his/her height level and maintain eye contact to get his/her attention. You can teach your child to focus and direct his/her attention towards what you are about to tell him/her by saying, “Kate, I need your eyes.”

Do the same thing when your child is trying to talk to you to assure him/her that you are listening. However, be sure not to make your eye contact too intense as your child might see it as you being commanding rather than trying to connect with him/her.

2. Keep your words brief and simple

It is common to get sidetracked and long-winded when you are talking to your child about an issue. However, the longer you ramble, the easier it is for your child to slip into a dazed state and ignore everything that you have said.

The secret to retaining your child’s attention is to keep your sentences short and brief. Do take note of how children communicate with each other to get some inspiration. It is also beneficial to observe their facial expression while you are talking to ensure that they are paying attention to what you are saying and that they understand your instructions.

3. Repeat and replay

Younger children, especially toddlers, have difficulty in making sense of directives and converting them into action, which explains the constant need to repeat your instructions to them. You can help your children internalise your message by getting them to repeat your instructions and asking them on their next course of action. For example, once your child understands that playtime is over, the next thing to do is to explain that he/she needs to clean up the mess by putting back the toys and books at the appropriate places. As your children grow up, there will be less of a need to repeat and replay your instructions to them as their processing ability gets more adept.

4. Use positive words

Threatening and judgmental sentences (e.g. “You better do this, or else…”) are bound to make your child feel hurt and discouraged, which causes them to go into defensive mode. Instead of framing the message towards your child, try using “I” messages instead – for example, “I would like you to put your toys away” or “I am so happy when you helped with the dishes”. Not only does this help your child understand your expectations better, it also works well with children who are eager to please but don’t necessarily like being ordered.

5. Give advanced notice

While some children are receptive towards the instructions given by their parents, others may need some time to process the message and comply with what is being asked of them. One of the ways you can manage this situation is to pre-empt your children on what is expected of them and give gradual instructions for them to follow.

Here are some examples to help you go through with this method:

“Bedtime is in 10 minutes. So, I need you to switch off the TV and hop into bed soon.”

“We are leaving soon. Say goodbye to teddy, and bye-bye to your friends.”

“It’s homework time. So, I need you to finish up your art and craft and clean up the table.”

6. Apply the ‘No shouting’ rule

Remember the last time you tried to get your children ready for dinner by shouting from the kitchen? This didn’t exactly get them scrambling to the dinner table, did it? Here’s another method which you might like to try instead: Walk into the room where your children are playing or studying. Using your normal tone of voice, tell them firmly that it’s almost time for dinner – then join in their activities for a few minutes before declaring a “time’s up”. By going to your child, they get the message that your request is important, rather than just ignoring your shouting from the other end of the house.

7. Ask specific questions

At times, getting your children to answer your questions might be a real struggle – you’ll either get a flat “yes” or “no”, or fail to get a response out of them at all. You can turn this situation around by asking specific questions that they lead to more than a “yes” or “no”, and to stick to topics that interest your child. For example, instead of asking the broad question of “Did you have a good day at school today?”, try asking “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” or “Tell me something that made you laugh”. You might also like to check out this article on the various questions you can ask your child to get them to talk to you about school.

8. Get your child to think

If your child does not seem to want to comply with the instructions that you give, you might want to try a reverse approach that sets them thinking instead. So, for example, instead of saying “Please do something about your messy table”, try this instead: “Think of where you would like to keep your files and textbooks so that they don’t clutter your table.” By painting a clearer picture for your child, he/she might be more likely to act on it rather than to procrastinate.

Nurture your child’s early years with a cutting-edge preschool curriculum which is backed by years of research. Book a visit to your preferred MindChamps PreSchool centre now!

Read also: 5 Things You Can Do to Bring Out the Best in Your Introverted Child

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

5 Effective Ways to Avoid Power Struggles with Children

avoid power struggles with children

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the sense of power and dominance is a basic emotional need that we all seek to fulfill. The need to satisfy this craving for power begins as early as the age of two, as this is when children begin to see themselves as separate individuals from their parents. This phase of life leads children to discover that they are capable of creating or triggering various emotions and reactions in their parents – which also marks the start of a very long journey involving power struggles.

By three years old, most children have developed sharper skills in this area which causes parents to feel overwhelmed, overpowered and determined to set their child on the path of good behaviour. However, attempts by parents to overpower their children often leads to opposite results, leaving their children feeling more angry and defiant than ever.

Parents can turn this phase into a rewarding lesson for both themselves and their children by looking at this behaviour from a different light and responding to the battle of wills in a creative manner. Here are some suggestions to help you ease the power struggles with your children:

1. Side-step the power struggle

To deal with power struggles positively, one method which was shared by Karan Sims, instructor at the International Network for Children and Families, involves side-stepping the power struggle. In order to do this, you – as the parent – would need to refuse to give in to your child’s invitation to join his/her power struggle.

Here’s an example on how to side-step a power struggle situation:

When your pre-schooler gives you a flat “No” as an answer when you ask if he/she is ready for a bath, try your best to stay calm. You can turn the situation around by asking, “Can you walk to the bathroom with me or do you want me to carry you?” If your child is feeling cheeky, he/she might answer, “I want you to carry me – piggyback style – and gallop like a horse!”

In this case, although your child’s answer acts as the ticket for you to join a power struggle, you can side-step the situation by not fighting or giving in. You can turn the situation into a happy and loving one instead of starting yet another battle of wills when it comes to bath time. According to Sims, when you side-step the power struggle, you are telling your children, “I am not going to fight with you. I am not going to hurt you. I am not going to overpower you and I’m not going to give in either.”

2. Give choices – not orders

Once you have successfully side-stepped the power struggle, the next thing to do is to give your child choices. For example, if your child kicks up a fuss about leaving the house right away to attend swimming lessons, you can let him have a choice of which swim goggles to use. Once that is done, let him lock up by choosing which set of keys to use (assuming you have a master set and some spare sets). With this gradual transition, you have succeeded in getting your child to go for his swimming lesson and dissipate the power struggle about leaving the house.

Do ensure that the choices you give your children are ones which you can accept. For instance, when your child misbehaves while eating out, do not give him/her the choice of either sitting down quietly until everyone has finished eating or to leave the restaurant if you don’t intend to leave so soon.

It is also important to make sure that the choices you give do not represent alternatives of punishment. Thus, when you give your child an ultimatum by saying “You either clean up this mess or go to the time-out chair”, this creates fear and intimidation rather than empowerment.

3. Use more “Do” commands

“Don’t stay up too late!”

Does this sound familiar? Most of us tend to use “Don’t” commands to get our children to do what we want them to. However, most of the times, it gets us nowhere near what we want them to do in the first place. “Don’t” commands require your child to double process (“What does mum wants me to do in the first place?”) as most of what he/she gets from your message is what you don’t want him/her to do. This can be confusing and discouraging, especially for younger children.

To turn things around, parenting expert and best-selling author Amy McCready recommends that we calmly state what we want our children to do right from the start. So, rather than saying “Don’t run”, try “Please use your walking feet” instead.

4. Find alternatives for your child to be powerful

The next time you find yourself in the midst of a power struggle with your child, do find a way to give your child more power to ease the situation. For example, if your child often kicks up a fuss about buckling up in the car, you can put him/her in charge of making sure that the rest of his/her siblings are safely secured. Apart from making your child feel important, it helps to divert his/her attention away from the power struggle over buckling up.

5. Teach your child to say “No” respectfully

As parents, it is natural for us to react negatively when our children give “No” as an answer. However, the last thing we want to do is to send the message to them that they should not give “No” as an answer, as there will be times when they need to stand up for themselves in the face of peer pressure and inappropriate situations.  What you can do instead is to teach them to say “No” or to disagree in a respectful and appropriate manner. This can involve them explaining the reason behind their disagreement to help the other party understand their point of view better.

Looking to give your child a good head start in character building during the early years? Find out how this in incorporated into MindChamps PreSchool’s cutting-edge curriculum – book a visit to your preferred centre now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

5 Things You Can Do to Bring Out the Best in Your Introverted Child

raising introverted children

As parents, we do our best to prepare our children to deal with the ups and downs in life as they work towards their dreams and goals. At the end of the day, we want them to grow up happy, well-adjusted and ready to take on the challenges that come their way.

While there are various resources that provide tips and strategies to bring out the best in your child, not all of them can be applied to children who are introverts. Often mistaken for being shy, some common characteristics of introverted children include:

  • More inclined to spend time alone in his/her room with the door closed
  • Often appear as reserved and may not share their thoughts and feelings easily
  • Likely to have just one or two friends, as opposed to a big group of friends

If it seems like your child is more of an introvert, here are some things you can do to bring out the best in him/her:

1. Avoid labels

Contrary to what most people think, introversion is not a sign of socio-emotional problems such as depression. Instead, it is a unique personality trait and people who are introverts have different social needs and preferences compared to extroverts. Giving your children labels with negative connotations such as “loner” will affect them emotionally and mentally, leading them to believe that they are what you describe them to be. The best thing that you can do for your introverted child is to accept his/her personality traits and try to work around them to bring out the best in him/her.

2. Initiate small talks

At first glance, introverts may appear to have poor social skills as their style of interacting differs from that of extroverts. They tend to listen and make eye contact with the person who is talking to them. However, when they talk, they usually say what they mean and may look away from the person they are talking to.

Parents of introverts can help their children express their thoughts and feelings to others by having simple conversations with them. You can guide them along by asking questions and teaching them to see things from different perspectives. With lots of patience and practice, your introverted child will be on the right track in expressing himself/herself confidently to others.

3. Understand their social preferences

Introverted children tend to be quiet by nature and they do not enjoy being the centre of attention. On top of that, they are more comfortable interacting with one or two people at a time, as opposed to a large group of people.

Understanding the preferences of introverts in social situations such as this can go a long way to help parents and teachers guide introverted children when it comes to group activities such as Show and Tell. Give them a chance to observe the activities at first, and once they get a good idea of how things work, encourage them to join in. Be sure to assure the children that they have many good ideas to share with their friends, and do affirm their efforts and contributions along the way.

4. Don’t force him/her to make friends

Children who are introverts prefer being in the company of just one or two others. Thus, when it comes to making friends, they prefer to do this on their own terms and are highly likely to keep the circle close-knit. Although you might want your child to mingle with other children of the same age through playgroup outings, do take note not to force him/her to interact and play with the others. Doing so will only make things worse, and your child might become resentful or have negative feelings towards social interactions. Once your child finds a friend with whom he/she can relate to, things will take off naturally.

5. Be aware of his/her emotional responses

Parents of introverted children may be eager to enrol their young ones for various enrichment classes to help them improve their social skills, but an activity-filled scheduled could be overwhelming for these children. As they do not take well to crowded places and spending time with strangers, introverts often feel emotionally drained, which causes them to be grouchy and irritable. Thus, it is important to know your child’s limits when it comes to group activities and how he/she reacts to each. With this, you can tailor the daily schedule according to your child’s needs, while keeping things fun.

 

Read also: 10 Life Lessons and Values to Teach Your Children Before They Turn 10

Discover how MindChamps’ Thinking Cap programme can help to bring out the champion in your child. Find out more now and book a complimentary personal coaching session for your child! 

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

The Value of Play: Age-appropriate Play Activities for Children

play activities for children

Whether young or old, we all love to play and we all need to do it regularly. Sadly, as we grow older, some of us have become too consumed with day-to-day errands and activities and do not get to play as much. Some of us might have even forgotten how to play.

Having a child certainly forces many parents to start thinking about playing again. Research has shown the myriad of benefits of playing from a very young age. Not only does play give children numerous opportunities to make use of their creative abilities, playing regularly also encourages a child’s imagination and dexterity to bloom. Their physical, cognitive and emotional strengths are greatly enhanced through such activity as well. Undoubtedly, play is integral to healthy brain development. Social skills are cultivated too, as children learn to engage and interact in and with the world around them through play.

The intriguing thing about play is that it makes learning happen naturally and joyfully. While playing, a child laughs, explores, wonders and imagines in the most relaxing of ways.

Here are some ideas for age-appropriate playtime with the little ones:

Birth to 1 year old

  • Hold and touch your child as much as possible; physical contact makes him/her feel loved and safe.
  • Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, learn his/her cues. This also teaches your baby to trust you. Such two-way bonding promotes attachment between parent and child.
  • Babies love looking at faces and facial expressions. Make funny faces with your baby in front of a mirror, or point to the reflection of his nose, ears, and other parts of his body – this develops self-awareness and communication.

2 to 3 years old

  • Teach your child to sing his/her favourite nursery rhyme and make up a dance or movement to go along with it.
  • Give your child blocks to sort by shape or colour.
  • Let him/her use magnetic alphabets to form words and teach him/her to pronounce them.
  • Go to the playground with a friend’s child and help your children learn to play together.
  • Play glove or finger puppets to encourage communication.

4-6 years old

  • Ask your child to put one finger on your open palm. Tell a story and have a “key” word (e.g. happy). Tell the story, and when the key word is mentioned, try to grab your child’s finger. Your child will need to be alert to avoid getting caught.
  • Make a simple and nutritious snack together.
  • Play freeze-dance (turn on the radio and dance, then turn it off suddenly and tell your child that he/she has to freeze until the music starts again).
  • Exchange jokes and riddles.

As the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Indeed, our children’s lives will be enriched if we take the time to let them play, but better yet, play with them. Nurturing the love for play and injecting a sense of fun into the most routine and mundane of tasks in everyday life will put our children in good stead. Helping our children develop the ability to find joy in all they do from an early age will benefit them greatly throughout life.

 

©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Article contributed by Elvira Tan, Focus on the Family Singapore

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

Read also: 10 Life Lessons and Values to Teach Your Children Before They Turn 10

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid in PSLE English

psle english mistakes

When it comes to English, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and its correct usage is essential for your child to do well in the subject. However, despite many years of learning the language and going through numerous practice assessments, some students may still find themselves making errors that could have been avoided and thus saving them a few extra points.

Ms Suritha Shah, a PSLE English Trainer at MindChamps, highlights some of the mistakes that students commonly make in the PSLE English paper and shares the correct usage for each.

1. Everyday vs Every Day

‘Everyday’ is an adjective. When used as an adverbial phrase of time, it should be written as ‘every day’.

Incorrect: She jogs in the park everyday.

Correct: She jogs in the park every day.

Here’s how to use ‘everyday’ correctly:

Jogging in the park is her everyday activity.

2. Issues with Apostrophes

When used to depict possession

Apostrophes are commonly used to reflect possession, such as:

Jack’s house

Today’s agenda

However, do take note of the correct placement of apostrophes in the following instances:

* If two people possess the same item, put the apostrophe + s after the second name.

Jack and Helen’s house is magnificent.

* If there is no joint possession and each person owns a separate item, add apostrophe + s to both names.

Jack’s and Helen’s houses are both magnificent.

When it comes to personal pronouns

When using personal pronouns, do not add apostrophe + s.

For example:

Incorrect: It’s leg is injured.

Correct: Its leg is injured.

Incorrect: She turned to face Helen, who’s face was pale.

Correct: She turned to face Helen, whose face was pale.

Omission of apostrophes in contractions

Apostrophes can be used to show an omission of letters, and is commonly used as part of a contraction.

For example:

it is = it’s

does not = doesn’t

has not = hasn’t

Changing a regular noun to the plural form

Do remember not to use apostrophe + s to change a regular noun into plural.

For example:

Holiday should be changed to holidays and not holiday’s

Apostrophe should be changed to apostrophes and not apostrophe’s

3. Were vs Where vs We’re

Here’s what you need to know when using these three words to construct sentences:

‘Were’ is the past tense of the verb ‘to be’.

Examples:

If I were a king, I would live in a grand palace.

They were in school today.

 

‘Where’ is an adverb to indicate ‘in’ or ‘at what place’.

Examples:

Where is the train station?

Where are we going tomorrow?

 

‘We’re’ is the contraction of ‘we are’.

Examples:

We’re going to Sentosa tomorrow.

We’re having a discussion.

4. Lie vs Lay

First of all, do familiarise yourself with the definition of these two words:

Lie – recline or assume a resting position

Lay – to put or place something in a horizontal position

Take into consideration how the past and past participle tenses would differ, when both lie and lay are taken as present tense.

Present Tense: Lie

Past Tense: Lay

Past Participle Tense: Lain

Present Tense: Lay

Past Tense: Laid

Past Participle Tense: Laid

5. Then vs Than

‘Then’ is most commonly used as an adverb. It is used in relation to time and the order in which events occur.

For example:

He ended the call, then packed his bags.

Walk straight, then turn right when you see the huge painting.

 

On the other hand, ‘Than’ is used to express a comparison between two or more items.

For example:

Tom is stronger than Aaron.

 

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

Want to know how to help your child do well in PSLE English? Find out more about our PSLE Success programme now and book a one-on-one PSLE Learning Strength Evaluation for your child.

 

Chores and Children: Inspiring Your Child to Help with Chores

chores and children

Have you found yourself experiencing fatigue and desperately needing help around the house? While most of us believe in the virtue of having children help around the home, the real challenge is getting them excited and committed to playing a role in the upkeep of the home. Furthermore, children who help with household chores have greater opportunities to learn to be accountable, independent and less self-centred.

So, here are some ideas from other parents that you might want to try out with your little ones. Feel free to adapt the ideas to suit your needs. Not only will it be fun for your children, this also allows both yourself and your spouse to get creative.

For children aged 3 to 5 years old

Colour the quilt

Encourage them to make their beds by drawing a picture of a quilt with 30 patches. Each time they make their beds, let them colour a patch. The goal is to complete the quilt.

The clean-up song

Help them get into the habit of picking up their toys – and make it fun. Make up lyrics to familiar songs and sing them while they pick up the toys. For example, sing “The Farmer in the Dell” with the following lyrics:

We’re picking up the blocks,

We’re picking up the blocks,

Hi-ho, the derry-o

We’re picking up the blocks.

You can even add in the child’s name to personalise it:

Josh picked up a toy

He’s such a wonderful boy

Hi-ho, the derry-o

Cleaning is a joy.

Caring for pets

Let them fill the pet’s water bowl using a cup and transferring it into the pet’s dish. When he sees the dog lapping up the water, praise him for taking care of his pet.

The key is to affirm each child when their actions have contributed to making things better for others around the home.

 

For children aged 6 to 12 years

Motivate with a point system

The goal is to instil responsibility and ownership without parental nagging. Start by determining a scale for points to be earned. Allocate more points for difficult tasks, and “bonus” points for being generous and kind. The key is to be consistent. At the end of the agreed timeframe, the child with the most points win. The winner earns the power of choice – where the next fun family outing will be, for instance – but siblings still get to join in the fun. A win-win situation for all!

Create chore charts with a reward system

Start by preparing a laminated chore list for each child, then set up magnetic charts that have their names and days of the week. Have the children pick out inexpensive items that they’d like to form a set of rewards that can be redeemed. When each child does his/her chores without being reminded, they place a magnet on the chart. Failing to do chores gets a magnet removed. Once they have accumulated enough magnets, they can pick their reward from the prize box.

Use chores to build relationships

While children do their chores, parents can help them out by working alongside, which paves the way for conversation and even playfulness.

 

With many families in Singapore relying on live-in domestic help, it remains highly important that children learn to help with basic chores so that they do not grow up with a sense of entitlement. Getting the children to perform light chores on a helper’s day off will give them a fuller appreciation of the aid that the family receives from the domestic helper. Over time, children will also learn to be more independent, increasingly confident in their growing abilities, more accountable and less egocentric.

Make helping around the home a norm for your children today, and witness the benefits your family will reap tomorrow.

©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Article contributed by Elvira Tan, Focus on the Family Singapore

Read also: What You Need to Know About Teaching Children to Share and Take Turns

5 Effective Ways to Clear Your Mind – According to Neuroscience

ways to clear your mind

We all want to achieve great things and rise to the challenges that come our way with the mindset of a Champion. However, at times, the only thing standing in your way of doing your best is a troubled mind.

Here, we present you five simple tips that can help you clear your mind and stay calm, as researched by neuroscientists and shared on Psychology Today. Through these tips, you will be on your way to getting ahead in life as you set out to achieve your goals and make a difference through the things that you do.

1. Mindfulness

A study conducted by researchers at Brown University in the United States has found that people can learn how to manipulate their alpha rhythms in the somatosensory cortex (the area of the brain that receives sensory input from the body) as they shift their attention through mindfulness training. Thus, to put it simply, mindfulness involves consciously thinking about the thoughts that go through your mind and accepting them without getting carried away. This form of “active thinking” helps you free your mind of negative and depressive thoughts and push forward to achieve your goals with renewed confidence.

2. Distraction

Our minds work by thinking of one thing at a time. Thus, when you shift your attention on one thing, you are purposefully ignoring other thought processes that might be going on at the same time.

This act of ignoring involves finding a “distraction”, whereby we forget about the unpleasant thoughts that go through our minds and rely on external sources to draw our attention away from them. Some examples of these external sources include talking to a friend who reminds you that everything will turn out well in the end, or to volunteer your time and energy towards a worthy cause, putting all selfish thoughts aside.

3. Suppression

When your mind gets overwhelmed with various things to think about, bad feelings and negative thoughts are bound to crop up amid it all. In your bid to avoid that unpleasant feeling, you do what it takes to ignore and put these thoughts at the back of your head. This thought process is called suppression, which involves us consciously ignoring something to avoid further complications.

Although this method may temporarily work to block out distractions, do note that suppression requires a lot of willpower for it to work, as we need to keep our emotions in control. At the end of the day, there is only so much that we can contain until these bottled-up feelings bring out the worst in us (i.e think of a can of carbonated drink bursting open). Before you get to the point of breaking down, another block-out method which you can consider is substitution – which will be discussed in more detail below.

4. Substitution

Do not lose hope just yet if suppression does not help to clear your mind when you really need it to – there may be hope in substitution. Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that memory substitution is supported by caudal prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain which determines one’s personality) and mid-ventrolateral prefrontal cortex which controls one’s memories. Together, these two regions work together to bring specific memories to light amidst distracting memories.

Substitution involves using your imagination to replace unpleasant thoughts with more positive ones. It allows you to create new memories by pretending you are in a different place or experiencing something new, although this may be short-lived. However, do use this method with caution, as it can cause some people to live their lives based on what they imagine that they stray so far away from reality.

5. Meditation

Lastly, meditation is another popular method used to calm a troubled mind. While there are several ways to meditate, they all share a common purpose: to observe your thoughts consciously and watch them drift by. There is no specific sitting posture required in order to meditate – all you need to do is to assume a comfortable position, sit still and focus on the rhythm of your breathing.

 

Read also: 8 Things Parents Do to Raise Successful Children, According to Research

Find out how you can bring out the best in your child through effective learning techniques and thinking skills with MindChamps’ Thinking Cap programme. Click here to book a complimentary personal coaching session for your child now! 

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog