20 Ways to Instill Good Manners in Your Child

little girl with good manners

Manners are not hard to come by, as long as we start inculcating them in our children when they are young. Just take the example of Japan, where it is reported that in Japanese schools, manners come before knowledge. It is generally known that the objective for the first years of school focuses not on knowledge or grades, but on inculcating manners and fostering character development in students.

While we may not have a similar case like that of Japan, we can still be effective in teaching our young ones on ‘how to have manners’. Having manners leads to positive aspects in other areas, including being grateful and developing patience. You can see how this is achieved through the following list on ‘manners for kids’.

1. Say good morning and goodnight, or find creative ways of greeting at rising or going to sleep: ‘Love you Dad’, say good morning with a kiss, hug, peekaboo! and more.

2. In the old days of the Cantonese culture, children are to greet all adults seated at the dining table before eating. Perhaps this is a good culture to reinstate. Say ‘Grandpa, Grandma, Dad and Mum, let’s eat.’

3. Eat your meals at the dining table, not in front of the TV.

4. Avoid talking with your mouth full.

5. Do not take the best foods for yourself. Take your designated portion, and leave the other portions for others.

6. When the meal is over, say thank you. This is so that we do not take food and its preparation for granted.

7. Say please when requesting for items and thank you when receiving them.

8. Receive presents with both hands.

9. When queuing up, don’t jump the queue; wait patiently for your turn to come.

10. Don’t interrupt others; let them finish talking or if you really need to interrupt, raise your hand to request to speak.

11. While on the bus with Mum, move to the back and don’t block the exit. This is courtesy to everyone who, like you, wants to go home.

12. Be a good listener when others are talking to you. Do not look to the right or left or past the speaker as you’ll appear disinterested, or rude.

13. Knock on the door that you wish to enter.

14. Close the door behind you.

15. Don’t leave things lying around. Pack up when you have finished playing.

16. When you are at home, keep noise levels down. Bear in mind that Dad and Mum may be resting after a long week or Grandpa and Grandma may be sleeping in during the weekend.

17. Greet others, whether they are relatives or Dad and Mum’s friends when you see them. A nice ‘Uncle’ and ‘Auntie’, or gege (big brother) and jiejie (big sister) for the younger people, will make their day.

18. Refrain from plucking flowers from plants. By doing this, you are destroying someone’s labour of love, as flowers do not grow overnight. So, do leave the flowers there for everyone’s admiration.

19. When your friend lends you her toys or books, play or read them with care. Don’t return them in a dilapidated state.

20. Remember to wear a smile. A smile is positively infectious, and the recipient of your good manners will indeed be joyous with your act of kindness – and happiness.

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

The Ultimate Parenting Tip for A Great Start to the Year

Happy Family In Red

With highly packed schedules for work and school in addition to a myriad of external commitments and other social activities, years pass by in the blink of an eye. A typical Singaporean family has a variety of activities and gatherings to attend, from music and swimming lessons to tuition classes – the list goes on.

As parents, we might have a clear idea as to why we choose certain activities over others. However, these motivations also need to be communicated to our children, which is why there is a need to come up with a family mission statement and vision.

A family mission statement and vision may sound contrived to some, but it is an effective way to keep the family focused on undertaking meaningful activities while setting the family up for a purposeful year ahead. Here are a few ways to get started:

Think like a visionary coach

As parents, we have to resist the urge to talk down to our kids. We can’t dictate a family mission statement to our children. We must communicate in an affirming manner like a visionary coach – one who has a clear idea of what she is aiming for with his or her team. This type of coach communicates his or her vision and owns it. This is where a mission statement can be really powerful.

How to write a family mission statement

Set a date for a family meeting. Write up “Family Mission Statement” on the agenda.

As a family, discuss what values you are going to live by and what character traits you aim to show.

The list of words below might be helpful:

Celebrations are valued

Community focused

Creativity is valued

Generosity

Learning is valued

Healthy

Hospitality

Loving

Loyalty

Music is valued

Obedience

Respect

Responsibility

Time together

Brainstorm these questions as a family when coming up with your family vision and statement:

  • What will the atmosphere or flavour of your home be?
  • What do we hope our kids will treasure as memories when they grow up?
  • What words would your family like to use to describe the relationships between family members and those outside your immediate family?

Then, organise the ideas and analyse the suggestions. Decide which ones gel best with the family and come up with a final draft of your family mission statement. The following statements might help.

Our family is about ___________.

We always value _____________________.

To those within our family, we will _______________________.

To those outside our family, we will ______________________.

A family mission statement will be a helpful reminder to the entire family throughout the year. It can influence the way we allocate our family’s resources, in terms of time, energy, finances, and the many talents and gifts that each of our family members has been blessed with. In this way, instead of mindlessly rushing from one activity to another and chasing individual goals, each year is spent meaningfully in ways that would draw the whole family closer together.

©2016 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

5 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with the Family

cny

As the 2017 Lunar New Year is fast approaching, with 28, 29 and 30 January declared public holidays, we’ve prepared a line-up of activity ideas to help you usher in the Year of the Rooster  right here in Singapore, plus some tips  should you choose to travel during the period.

Importantly, Chinese New Year (CNY) is family time too, so check out the list to find out how you can enjoy a meaningful time with your loved ones.

1. Food Galore

Essentially, CNY does not arrive until a fortnight later, but you can begin to prepare for the feasts now. As most Chinese celebrations involve abundant amounts of food, the most important celebration on the Chinese calendar is no exception.

Head down to Takashimaya Square B2 now and select excellent quality seafood and delicious pastries as well as snacks. Check out their gifts with purchase and cooking demonstrations that are sure to delight the whole family. And lo and behold, lohei, the quintessential Singaporean (and possibly Malaysian) concoction that lets you toss a selection of vegetables, sweet condiments and raw fish together is available here too. So, if you hope for some auspicious blessings, bring a pack home, toss your way up with the family and loudly proclaim Chinese idioms for promotions, health, providence, provision and more.

CNY in Singapore essentially excludes no one. Among colleagues and friends, you will find our fellow citizens baking pineapple tarts, peanut cookies, love letter rolls and cornflake cookies for sampling and purchase. Some elderly get into the act too, so this really is a time to shower blessings on the folks.

2. Chinatown

What is CNY without a visit to Chinatown? The markets are up, offering locals and tourists alike goodies and accessories to dress up the home, including couplets written out in red paper and calligraphy, CNY plants, bak kwa, Chinese sausages and more.

Usher in this Year of the Rooster with the Chinatown Countdown which is happening on 27 January 2017. In addition to performances by celebrities or wushu (martial arts) performances, there will be a lighting of firecrackers after which the night will come alive with fireworks.

3. River Hongbao

A favourite for the whole family that will be taking place from 26 January to 4 February 2017, take a walk down River Hongbao surrounding the Floating Platform @ Marina Bay, where lion dances, yummy treats and one-of-a-kind hand-crafted lanterns  designed by artisans from China are on display for the whole family.

4. Dress Up

CNY is also referred to as the Spring Festival in China, because it does indeed hail the arrival of spring. This means that winter clothes can be put aside to make way for attire with vibrant colours, and one can look forward to family gatherings with happy chatter, lots of food and the exchange of angpows (red packets filled with cash).

Red is the most popular and auspicious colour, although it’s not unusual to see pastel and other bright colours in Western wear or cheongsams. Do avoid black ensembles though, as the colour is associated with bad luck.

Metro department store at Paragon and Centrepoint are popular places to get Chinese styled clothes or cheongsams for CNY, or head to Chinatown’s Yue Hwa.

5. Travelling Time

 If you choose to travel during the festive season, regional countries make a great choice. However, you may want to do some research and avoid places that close almost entirely during CNY. This includes Hong Kong and some parts of Malaysia, where you literally see shutters everywhere; the exception is if you are celebrating with friends or family who reside in these countries.

And yes, there is a ‘thought-provoking’ question on most people’s minds, and that is “Do we still need to give out angpows during CNY if we’re away?” Well, since you are physically not in the country, it proves acceptable to not give them out. However, as the saying goes ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive’, you might want to prepare some and hand them to a family member to give out to your parents or a close friend. They will be comforted that you’ve thought of them, and with this, you can truly say ‘Happy New Year!’

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

Play is Important in More Ways than One

Boy on a swing

For children to enjoy an enriching childhood, it is essential for them to be given sufficient time to discover both the world and themselves in a fun and age-appropriate way. If we deny children the time to play, we stifle their ability to learn later in life by inhibiting the development of essential neural networks related to association, problem-solving and even the recognition of ’cause and effect’.

The ‘play gap’ is a result of our society becoming preoccupied with merely measuring instead of truly educating young people – but it is important to realise, as Einstein once wrote, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that be counted counts.”

Young children learn by experiencing the world ‘hands-on’. They are sensory/emotional learners, whose stage of cognitive development is unsuited for the misguided ‘tutoring’, drilling and cramming to which too many children are subjected. It’s unfortunate that in our society today, children are deprived of the important pleasure of play because adults, with the best of intentions, seek to provide them with a ‘head start’ to education by sending them for various ‘enrichment’ classes. Sadly, many of these programmes attempt to treat children as ‘little adults’, with methods that leave the child bored, frustrated and stressed – and these emotions can colour all later learning experiences and affect the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being and personal growth of children unfavourably.

It is important for kids to have enough time to play

Some say, ‘Play is the real work of childhood.’ If we grasp this simple concept – if we understand that what many adults see as a ‘waste of time’ is actually Nature’s way of building the cognitive capacity and intellectual frameworks upon which all later learning is built – then we would not even ask the questions above. Rather, we would make as much time as possible available for play – both ‘free’, unsupervised play and what we at MindChamps call ‘crafted play’ (play activities into which certain essential learning concepts have been subtly included).

As long as the child has sufficient time for other necessary activities, such as sleep, having meals, etc., parents should not introduce a cap on playtime.

Is there an age where kids should switch their focus from play to study?

Perhaps it is good to ponder the question, ‘What is the purpose of study?’ Is it to pass exams, or is there a more fundamental need to learn to control the mass of information and the demands of a competitive, globalised society? If we think it is the former, then we are living in the past, and our children will struggle to cope with the ever-more-complex world which confronts them. If we see education as preparing children for whatever world they will face in 15 or 20 years’ time, then we will be more interested in making sure that foundation skills and learning strategies are in place, and the foundations for all these skills and strategies lie in play – not in rote learning and drill.

It is essential for parents to first ensure that their children develop an internal framework that makes them ready to learn, want to learn and love to learn before they are compelled into a regime of study. And the ideal age for children to develop this internal framework is during their time in pre-school and before they start primary school. This is the reason why MindChamps developed a unique preschool curriculum which nurtures all the key foundations of learning and out-of-school programmes for young children, focusing on creating the fun, experiential, active and ‘hands-on’ foundation activities that children enjoy. Thus, children will be able to develop the love for lifelong learning, possessing techniques to cope with their studies when they enter primary school.

What are some appropriate play activities for pre-schoolers?

Young children are ‘sensory-emotional’ learners. Their brains have not yet developed the complex neural networks required to process abstract concepts. They make connections (literally) through what they can touch, hear and see – and through how they feel, emotionally.

This is what we, at MindChamps PreSchool, call ‘Crafted Play’. Essentially, there are two types of play:

1. Free Play – Where children, while supervised, are left basically to their own devices in a space which ideally has many sources of stimulation (toys, balls, blocks, drawing equipment etc.) and physical activities (climbing frames, mats, slides etc.), and learning is random and wide-ranging.

2. Crafted Play – Where the activities, while allowing the child the latitude to Explore, Experience, Experiment and Enjoy, are given just enough structure to lead towards a particular learning outcome (numeracy skills, language/literacy skills, social skills, or perhaps a new ‘understanding’), without removing the all-important ‘play’ elements. In numeracy skills, kids take part in ‘real life’ money exchanges where they buy bananas as a snack, for instance.

Both forms of play are equally important, and both should be encouraged.

At MindChamps PreSchool, we employ Crafted Play in every key learning area, from literacy and numeracy to age-appropriate scientific concepts and even social/communication skills. Using our unique ‘Play-Stations’ (not the electronic kind), we can introduce children to a range of experiences and lifelong learning behaviours that the ‘drill and kill’ approach to teaching can never match.

Book a visit @ MindChamps PreSchool today!

Article contributed by Brian Caswell, Dean of Research & Programme Development at MindChamps.

This article was first published in the MindChamps blog.

Top Ways to Encourage Your Child to Learn Chinese

MindChamps Chinese PreSchoolHow do you encourage your child to learn Chinese? The learning of Chinese has myriad benefits. First of all, in Singapore, it is an academic requirement for children to study and do well in a mother tongue for PSLE. And since Chinese has long been, and is increasingly a language for business expansion, trade, engineering, tourism and cultural understanding, the learning of the language transcends academic achievement to wide usage in many aspects. In fact, it is a known fact that Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world.

Some children may not enjoy learning Chinese, especially when some perceive it to be the more difficult of the two languages (the less difficult being English) and because Mandarin is an entirely different language altogether, with different intonation and writing system.

Let’s find some ways to encourage your child to learn Mandarin, so that he/she becomes inherently interested in the language and culture, not just because you told him/her so.

1. Lay the Foundation by Being Positive about the Language

Show your child how Chinese can inspire, especially in that it is a modern language of tremendous relevance.

Bring your child to Kinokuniya and show her the comic books that she can read. If you are taking Singapore Airlines on your next holiday, flip open the KrisShop catalogue that is choc-a-bloc with latest gift items for children, drawing her attention to the descriptions for the products that are written in English as well as Chinese. Read them together, possibly replacing some difficult words for her and to encourage her, buy her the right gift.

2. Teach Your Child About the Culture as well as the Language

The Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Dance Theatre Limited, SHHKD, for example, seeks to cultivate an understanding and appreciation for Chinese dance by developing Chinese dance as an accessible art form for the larger community of all age groups and abilities, from toddlers to adults.

Learning about dance is a fine way to introduce your child to the language as well, as the instructions will point her in the right direction, literally.

While we could devote hundreds of pages to Chinese cuisine, we will leave that to you and your child’s culinary pleasure. Instead, we suggest that you bring your child to authentic Chinese restaurants pertaining to different dialect groups, to enjoy delicious steamed fish with shallots, fried noodles, Hakka abacus dish and more.

To teach him the art of Chinese cuisine, you can also indulge in dim sum, from learning to use chopsticks to pick up dainty morsels to the unique way of tapping two fingers as a way of saying ‘thank you’ when the waiter pours the tea.

And since Lunar New Year is round the corner, why not let him be a vital part of lao yusheng (raw fish tossing)? Prep your kid to recite auspicious words as the family tosses away, teaching him to say kwaigao zhangda (to grow up quickly) and dajia yiqilao (let’s do it together!).

3. Help Your Child Develop Natural Literacy Skills

Research from Professor AE Cunningham, University of California, Berkeley shows that children who come from homes where parents have dedicated time to giving them regular, enriching reading and writing experiences have significant academic advantage over children who have not had these experiences.

It’s important to point out here that some parents believe that making their children memorise characters and isolated words (or ‘phonics’) is the way to introduce reading to their children. This is monotonous to the child.  In addition, this kind of learning simply makes children ‘decoders’ of what they learn, not a ‘reader’ who understands what he is reading or one who is excited about reading.

Consider this: “Research does in fact show that preschoolers who have better letter naming and recognition skills tend to become better readers later on [and] these skills are best developed through ‘natural literacy activities’, not drill and memorisation. There is no evidence that memorising alphabet letters out of context predicts later reading skills.” (Raver & Zigler, 2004)

Here are the top natural literacy activities that create the best readers and writers:

I. Read to your children every day – this exposes him to multiple language structures, a wide vocabulary and the sheer joy of language.

II. Engage in conversation with your child frequently – this expands her spoken vocabulary. Research shows that strong verbal skills are linked to strong reading skills.

III. Point out written language in your environment – For example, point out writing on things such Chinese shop signs, packaging and posters. This connects the written word with useful and important information.

IV. Arrange play dates with friends – This encourages social interaction and will expand your child’s Chinese vocabulary through negotiation, discussion and role play.

V. Ensure your child observes you reading – When you read in front of your children you are being a strong role model, communicating that you value reading.

VI. Make your home a ‘literacy rich environment’ – Ensure you have plenty of reading materials available at home such as a bookshelf of age appropriate books, in addition to other forms of reading materials such as magazines, newspapers , brochures and on computers, as e-books.

VII. Have a set of magnetic characters on your fridge – This encourages your child to spontaneously manipulate letters and begin forming words.

If you are not a fluent speaker of Chinese, why not take this opportunity to learn the language together?

According to Brian Caswell, MindChamps Dean of Research and Programme Development: “At MindChamps Chinese PreSchool, we cultivate the necessary skills within our pre-schoolers so that they can become enthusiastic life-long speakers, listeners, readers and writers. We also develop their confidence in both written and spoken Mandarin and English. Our approach is based on the latest scientific research into language acquisition and the importance of a child’s engagement with language, rather than the discredited “drill and kill” approach.  As such, we have incorporated age and developmentally appropriate fun and engaging activities and programmes such as MindChamps Reading & Writing, The Love for Chinese Language and Chinese Cultural Appreciation.”

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

The Right Dairy for Your Growing Child

benefits of dairy for children There are many benefits of dairy for children that far outweighs our reliance on processed food and sugar, salt and fat, which could lead to obesity and diabetes. Even children without such issues need access to chemical-free, organic and biodynamic foods.

What’s more, as your child is growing right now, it’s important to get them to eat the right foods to support their growing bones and teeth, eyesight and other vital functions. One key area of nutrition lies in the importance of dairy foods in a child’s diet.

Researcher Malcolm Riley from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation(CSIRO) in Australia pointed out that “Dairy foods contain a package of essential nutrients including calcium for strong bones, protein for growth and development, riboflavin for eyesight, iodine for brain function and more”.

The CSIRO research also found that over 60% of children between the ages of two and 16 years did not meet the minimum dietary guidelines for dairy foods in Australia, despite being a country with relatively high dairy consumption (approximately 231 kilograms per person per year). In many Asian countries, including Singapore (whose average annual consumption is only 32 kilograms), the per capita consumption of dairy among children is observably lower.

Give Your Child Quality Dairy Products for Better Health

By giving your child the highest quality milk, yoghurt and low-fat cheese, you are ensuring that he/she gets the best possible start nutritionally.

Not all dairy products are of the same quality. It is important to avoid exposure to chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and artificially-introduced hormones. It is also advisable to avoid UHT (or long-life) milk, because the ultra-high temperatures used in the UHT process can destroy vitamins and produce a particular taste that your child might dislike.

It is not difficult to source high-quality organic and biodynamic dairy products from a reputable source. There are organic shops totally devoted to such products, or supermarkets that have sections reserved for such products.

If you prefer low fat versions of such foods, do source for them, as this helps in the management of total fat intake which can decrease the risk of associated obesity and chronic health conditions.

As not all school canteens provide such items, be sure to pack it for your child, although some portions may be eaten at dinnertime. Include an ice-pack if you are packing them into your child’s breakfast or lunch in our tropical climate. Know the amount of such dairy foods that children should consume of every day.

 

Article contributed by Brian Caswell, Dean of Research & Programme Development at MindChamps

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

5 Ways to Ease Pre-school Separation Anxiety in Your Child

Ease Preschool Separation Anxiety in Your Child

Starting pre-school should be a time of immense joy and anticipation as your little one will be taking his/her first steps into the school setting, and forging meaningful relationships with teachers and classmates. However, this could prove a challenging time for both you and your child, with some toddlers even developing separation anxiety. Nonetheless, give your child a boost of courage, as you tread the positive path of having confidence in him. As the saying goes, “70% of success is about turning up”. So go ahead, let your toddler take the first steps to education and lifelong learning.

Check out our five tips for effectively easing your child’s pre-school separation anxiety:

1. Attachment Theory

Quite the opposite of separation anxiety is “Attachment Theory”, and according to world-renowned psychologist John Bowlby, children who form a secure attachment with their parents at an early age have the following characteristics in common, among others:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Increased ability to manage their impulses
  • Increased ability to cope with difficulties
  • Positive relationships with parents and other care-givers – and with authority figures

Such children are less disruptive, less aggressive and more mature. They are better able to concentrate, and therefore learn more effectively and more successfully. These are all vital aspects inculcated in a toddler who will prove to be a Champion at the start of school, as well as beyond. So what’s their secret?

Bowlby’s extensive research reveals that the best way to achieve a strong attachment with a child is through “bonding experiences”. The acts of holding, rocking, singing, feeding, gazing, kissing and other nurturing behaviour involved in caring for infants and young children are all bonding experiences.

In terms of “how much bonding is enough”, authors Brian Caswell and David Chiem say in Talking with the Sky that “different children require different amounts of bonding time, and besides, the quality of the experience is rarely time-related”. They add that precious moments occurring “every half-an-hour a day will make a world of difference to your child, and to you.”

If you want to ease separation anxiety in your child when school starts, start those bonding moments now!

2. Communicate with the Teacher

The central figures in school are certainly the teachers. If you missed your child’s pre-school orientation, fret not. You can still get to know your child’s teacher, drawing her attention to your child’s personality and other important information that she should know about. For instance, if your child had recently been ill, inform the teacher so that she can understand your child’s bouts of discomfort or challenges in acclimatising to the new environment.

3. Be Positive About the Time When Your Toddler Gets Home

Perhaps on a given day, the time that you dropped off your child at pre-school coincided with your busy schedule and the episode of separation anxiety, causing some words intended for good to come out the wrong way. For example, when you mean to say, “Don’t worry, it’s all okay. Your teacher and friends will be with you, and Mum will pick you up at the end of the day.” But somehow, at the spur of the moment, you say, “Don’t worry, it’s okay. Think about what a fine time you’ll have at home when Mum picks you up,” in a matter-of-factly tone.

If communication had been unclear, and your toddler is now having separation anxiety with a meltdown, reassure your child immediately. Time spent at home is meant to be positive and fun, a time for the whole family.

Thus, when referring to time spent at home, keep conversations about it positive, even more so when everything seems to happen haphazardly at once. Rise above it, and set a role model for your child.

4. Don’t Deliberately Leave without Saying Goodbye

Now you see Mum, now you don’t. This may sound a little amusing, but not to your child. She may be shocked at the sudden disappearance of Mum, and separation anxiety is sure to set in. Instead, find a special way to say goodbye to your child, a method that is fun or even better, let her think of one, like “It’s never goodbye but see you later!”

Once she’s done that, let her enjoy the fun yet engaging activities, and that’s a cue for you to leave.

5. Prepare for the Second Week

If the first day of school turns out splendid without any signs of separation anxiety, don’t let your guard down the second week.

As your child is still very young, there is the possibility of separation anxiety setting in even after school has started for a few weeks.

Ease your child out of it with the points mentioned above, and remember that “young people are not built as adults to cope with stress, because the pre-frontal cortex of their brain is still developing. They are more likely to respond with their ‘unthinking’ emotions than with logical faculties when challenges arise,” say authors David Chiem and Brian Caswell in The Art of Communicating with Your Child.

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

Top 5 Best Spots to Catch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks (2016 Edition)

Fireworks visible from the Fullerton Hotel Singapore and its vicinity.
Photo by The Fullerton Heritage
Fireworks visible from the Fullerton Hotel Singapore and its vicinity.

An eventful year, 2016, is going to exit with a big bang. As we bid farewell to 2016 and usher in 2017, New Year’s Eve will be a sight to behold here on the shores of Singapore. Without doubt, Singaporeans and visitors alike will enjoy the spectacular fireworks display and a myriad of other exhibits even more as space for revellers are designated as ‘vehicle-free zones’.

Head to the Marina Bay precinct and join in the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2017, Singapore’s annual iconic New Year’s Eve celebration.

From this focal point, you can find spots to catch beautiful views of the fireworks and other exhibits on display. Check out our suggested venues for an awe-inspiring night, including some practical tips on what to do if your child becomes nervous at the loud celebrations happening all around.

1. Fireworks from the Benjamin Sheares Bridge

It really pays to know one’s bridges and the history of a fine President. The Benjamin Sheares Bridge is named after Dr Benjamin Sheares, a distinguished obstetrician and gynaecologist who became the second President of our Republic.

Incidentally, the bridge is the longest and tallest in Singapore.

The Benjamin Sheares Bridge offers pedestrians a splendid view of the fireworks on Marina Bay. Here, you can celebrate the arrival of a New Year with your family, with a prominent historical landmark as the backdrop.

2. Fireworks from The Lawn @ Marina Bay and the Promontory

The Lawn @ Marina Bay and the Promontory are not smack in the middle of action, but you can still catch decent views of the fireworks.

The Lawn @ Marina Bay is where you can catch fireworks from ground level, while the waterfront Promontory looks directly onto the Bay.

3. Video Mapping on The Fullerton Hotel’s façade

The special light display at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.
Photo by The Fullerton Heritage
The special light display at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

 

View of the fireworks from the Clifford Pier, in the same direction as One Fullerton.
Photo by The Fullerton Heritage
View of the fireworks from the Clifford Pier, in the same direction as One Fullerton.

As part of the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2017, the spectacular 3D projection show ‘A New Dawn’ will light up the façade of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore from 26 to 31 December 2016 at the following times: 8pm, 9pm, 10pm and 11pm.

On 31 December 2016, the extra show at 11:54pm will be followed by splendid fireworks display. These shows can be viewed from Cavenagh Bridge across The Fullerton Hotel, and at One Fullerton.

4. Sumptuous Dining or Glass of Champagne at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore

Dolce Vita restaurant
Photo by The Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Dolce Vita restaurant, with Harbour View Terrace just steps away

Indulge in a 6-course Italian set dinner at Dolce Vita (S$298++), and at this prime position, you will have full view of the fireworks. Seats are filling up fast, so you might want to make a reservation quickly. Otherwise, it’s walk-ins (no reservations and standing only) at the outdoor Harbour Terrace for $75 nett with a glass of champagne. Guests are welcomed here 10pm onwards, with a full view of the fireworks.

5. An Organic Wonder with Fireworks at Gardens by the Bay

Set amidst beautiful pavilions and wide open lawns, the Bay East Garden at Gardens by the Bay offers amazing views of the Marina skyline and fireworks display.

The Garden is open 24/7 and admission is free, which makes it a perfect place for the whole family to usher in the new year. Enjoy!

Not sure what to do when your child gets nervous about the fireworks display? Head over to the next page for some tips!

5 Ways to Prepare Your Child for the New School Year

Back to school

Once, a passenger onboard a plane was greeted by the air-steward who said, “Hi Sir, I served you onboard the last time,” to which the passenger replied, “Holiday’s over. A great year is about to begin!”

Like the passenger, we can certainly look back with pride as we embark on another exciting time for our children, some starting school for the first time, to achieve their milestones in the new year.

Opportunities abound with more to learn, more friendships to forge and greater discoveries to make, all through fun and engaging activities. With the Champion Mindset and the Education and Life philosophy of 100% Respect Zero Fear, coupled with the practical checklist below on how to start the year, the beginning of 2017 will prove a fruitful time for all.

1. Make Use of Your Public Holidays – especially New Year’s Day

It proves great to have New Year’s Day because after all that partying and celebration, we all need a day off to sleep well, wind down and get our children ready for school.

On this day, tell your child about school, explaining that it will be a new place filled with a kind teacher and kids that are his age. Open up his school bag together with him, and delightfully explain to him some fun activities in his text book. Once you see that joy on his face, tell him there are more to come, together with nice, yummy food, a fun time with other children, singing and art.

Remember to let your child know that you will be waiting for him to tell you all about school on the first day when you pick him up. That way, you can gauge your child’s response and experience at school, doing the necessary to balance out the details for him, such as getting him more stationery.

2. Thoughtful Orientation Programmes

As most schools offer orientation programmes, be sure you attend them because they offer you some vital facts surrounding the school, such as information about the school premises, classrooms and gyms. At times, information will be obtained from you and documented on paper or digitally during orientation.

MindChamps’ orientation for parents are superbly thoughtful and exhaustive, applicable not just for the start of Playgroup, Nursery and Kindergarten but for all Champs who are commencing classes basically. What is more, at orientation, Champs meet their teachers, with whom they will be spending a lot of time.

In addition, your child will familiarise himself with the school premises, while you gain an understanding of the key learning outcomes and what to prepare for your child through the curriculum talk/update. This usually occurs at the start of the year. This is applicable to all Champs, whether they are starting school for the first time or otherwise.

3. Play with Your Child, for a Securely-attached Kid

In the book Talking with the Sky, authors Brian Caswell and David Chiem address the secret behind “securely-attached children” who are “able to separate from parent with confidence.” The secret to such children lies in the fact that their parents tend to play more with them.

The book lists the quote from Reverend Jesse Jackson, “Your children need your presence more than your presents.”

Thus, spend quality time in playing and bonding with your child; the benefits could well be seen on the first day of school, when your child is able to enjoy school right from the start, fully aware that Mummy will be there for him when school is over.

The book continues to explore that “bonding with children is different from spoiling them,” and that bonding is “the easiest parenting task of all”, being the “least expensive too”.

And all it takes is a hug. So go ahead, plan for the first day of school with a hug!

4. Make Friends

Another confident booster for your child lies in making friends. When conversing with your child about school, throw light on how interesting it will be for her to find out about the similarities as well as differences there are to the friends around her. Nurture her inquisitive nature as a child to find out about the right things, such as cultural differences and different pets. Before you know it, your child will have good friends so that she will enjoy school in this aspect too.

5. Establish A Sound Sleep Routine

Your child will probably be highly excited with all the occurrences at school, including the new friends he’s made, so understandably, you’d have to introduce a wind down time so that your child can get the necessary sleep he needs.

In Talking with the Sky, Caswell and Chiem write about the importance of sleep, as it affects children’s concentration the following day. Indeed, at the tender age when “three- to 10-year-olds need 10-12 hours [of sleep] a night,” the authors suggest that “children spend 30 minutes unwinding with a quiet activity such as doing a jigsaw puzzle, reading a book or quietly playing with a favourite toy before starting their bedtime routine.”

The bedtime routine takes another 30 minutes and they include wearing pyjamas, brushing teeth, a goodnight hug and then soft music.

“This way, your child will anticipate sleep at a non-conscious level.”

Indeed, that is sound advice, and your child will be ready for school the next day, all fresh and ready for more learning.

Find out more about MindChamps PreSchool, the industry leader with Number 1 market share in premium range preschools in Singapore.

This article was first published in the MindChamps blog.  

7 Christmas Gifts for Children That Will Last a Lifetime

Christmas

This Christmas, how about giving your child gifts to last a lifetime? If we take a moment to remember some of the meaningful gifts in life, we’d probably remember them with a backdrop of a peaceful family gathering or Daddy and Mummy with loving smiles.

The gifts are certainly valuable, but that precious backdrop, immeasurable in value.

This Christmas, give your child that cherished gift. In turn, he/she will have fond memories of the precious gift that only you can give:

1. Love – A Gesture

It is certainly true that some cultures are less expressive in their gestures of love to children. But if your child gets a loving gesture from you, he will be positively affirmed and loved, and these acts are remembered forever, between you and him.

Whether it’s a hug, holding his hand or a brush of his hair, a small gesture goes a long way.

2. Protect Your Child

Think of three things: a father, his daughter and a balloon while crossing the road. Dad is slightly flustered that his daughter is unwilling to cross the road because the balloon flies off. However, Dad succeeds and both get to safety.

By getting her to safety, Dad teaches his daughter about priorities and safety, lovingly reassuring her that he loves her. As for the balloon that flies off, there’s a brighter one at the store just round the corner.

Whenever your child faces these situations or some difficulties, like if she has fallen ill, take her to the doctor and ensure that she takes her medicine.

When you show concern and protect your child, your child will appreciate it, and she will learn the importance of taking care of her own well-being and health as well.

3. Love Your Child Enough to Discipline Him

There will always be moments of conflict, but the real deal does not lie in the conflict itself – what matters most is how we manage them. We can turn these situations around for the good of everyone. If your child has misbehaved and discipline needs to be meted out, carry it out firmly and positively.

Where the situation becomes hard to manoeuvre, like if you child decides to scream at you, here’s some advice from the experts. In the book Talking with the Sky, authors Brian Caswell and David Chiem share the following advice: “If you are very upset or angry about a behaviour or an incident, allow some ‘time out’ to calm yourself and regain control before ‘dealing’ with the incident.

“Emotional responses are never as effective as considered ones. Though you might feel the need to address the incident immediately, it is far better to deal with it effectively and with a positive resolution, than to take action that is fueled by unmanaged emotion.

“Send the child away on his/ her own, to think about what has occurred, and then to find a way to disperse the anger before discussing the incident. This will allow for better communication, and it will allow time for the child to reflect on his/her behaviour too”.

4. Have Peace at Home this Christmas

Christmas is all about peace, as you might remember the song Silent Night.

Make it a point to shower your child with peace this Christmas. Set your home in the right mood for peace with elements like the Christmas tree and a hearty spread that signify and contribute to domestic stability.

5. Focus on the Beauty in Others

By focusing on the beauty in others, you choose to see the positive sides of people. For some of us, this may require a change in perspective, but if we persevere, we will reap a bountiful harvest of positive thoughts, gifts for ourselves and the people around us.

Say your child is making her bed on her own for the first time, and forgets some small detail. Choose to see how she’s contributing to the chores for the first time. Teach her about the small detail, saying, “Thank you, you’re trying your best and Mummy loves it.” Your child can witness the act of positive thinking which leads to a positive outcome.

Incidentally, focusing on the beauty in others is a MindChamps value.

6. Share A Meal Together

As the saying goes, “A family that eats together stays together.” For a close-knit family that is grounded on understanding and support, sharing a meal is one of the best gifts in life. Need we say more?

7. Don’t Leave Anyone Out!

While bestowing gifts that last a lifetime to your child, ensure nobody is left out. A family member with whom you may not have much conversation or contact could turn out to have a great character you don’t know about, until you make the discovery.

If you impart values of not leaving people out to your child, it entails character-moulding and the use of effective communication and interpersonal skills.

This is possibly the best gift you can give to him.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Find out how your child can develop effective communication and interpersonal skills through MindChamps’ Thinking Cap programme.

This article was first published in the MindChamps blog.