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

 

Manuka Honey: Amazing Uses and Benefits You Need to Know

manuka honey

Produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush, Manuka honey is highly regarded as the “miracle honey” that comes with a host of health benefits.

While honey has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, what differentiates Manuka honey from regular raw honey lies within its rich nutritional profile. Researchers at New Zealand’s University of Waikato discovered that Manuka honey contains a considerably higher level of enzymes compared to regular honey. The combination of all these enzymes create a natural hydrogen peroxide which comes with antibacterial properties.

The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF)

It is also found that some strains of New Zealand honey are rich in three key components – hydrogen peroxide, methylglyoxal and dihydroxyacetone. This medicinal trilogy makes up the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), a global standard used to identify and measure the antibacterial strength of the Manuka honey. Stable and not easily destroyed by heat, light and enzymes in the body, the UMF of Manuka honey acts as a guarantee that the honey is of medicinal quality.

When it comes to the UMF rating, there are some standard guidelines that you should know when it comes to its usage and benefits for health:

0 to 4: Non-therapeutic

4 to 9: For general maintenance of good health

10 to 14: Supports natural healing and good bacterial balance

15+: Contains superior levels of phenols that are highly therapeutic – do not take more than 1 tablespoon at a time

The minimum UMF rating recognised is UMF 5, but it is not considered to be beneficial for health unless it carries a UMF 10+ level. Ratings that fall within UMF 10 to UMF 15 is great for health, while honey with UMF 16 and above is considered to be of superior quality.

The Amazing Uses and Health Benefits

Manuka honey is highly raved for its many uses and benefits for health and life, which includes soothing a sore throat and using it as a natural facial mask. Here are some top uses to take note of:

1. Sore throat and inflammation

Research conducted in 2011 revealed that Manuka honey plays a role in halting the growth of the Strep bacteria that causes sore throat. In recent years, it has also been approved by the National Cancer Institute to heal inflammation in the throat from chemotherapy.

To get the most of the Manuka honey benefits, all you need to do is to take one to two tablespoons a day. You can choose to take it neat, or add it to your cup of tea or warm water. Alternatively, you can also add one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to your cup of Manuka honey – research has shown that the combined antimicrobial properties of these two ingredients are so powerful that it helps to speed up the recovery process.

2. Oral health issues

Studies conducted by New Zealand’s University of Otago have shown that the superior anti-microbial properties of Manuka honey help to cure oral health problems such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. The results revealed that chewing or sucking on a Manuka honey product – be it in its original form, mixed in food and beverage or candy form – can lead to a 35% reduction in plaque and bleeding gums for people afflicted with gingivitis. What’s more, nutrients in Manuka honey such as calcium, zinc and phosphorus are beneficial in the healing process.

3. Eczema and hives

Problematic skin conditions such as eczema and hives are a result of allergies and autoimmune issues. With symptoms such as skin dryness and scaling, eczema can be aggravated by scratching, which causes the skin to peel and bleed.

Manuka honey is one of the key natural ingredients that can be used to manage eczema and prevent further complications. When mixed with Manuka oil and beeswax, this mixture acts as a moisturising shield on damaged skin and helps to repair and keep the layers intact. It also helps to hydrate skin, protecting it against infections.

4. Dandruff and scalp problems

Apart from benefiting your health internally, the healing properties of Manuka honey can help to improve your scalp health and manage hair issues such as dandruff. A result of scalp dryness and shedding of dead skin, dandruff could lead to other issues such as scalp acne.

Manuka honey, when applied to the scalp, helps to expel the dirt and grime from the pores of your skin and keeps your skin hydrated by drawing in water from your environment. The anti-microbial properties work against various bacteria and fungi that causes dandruff.

5. Better sleep

Just went through a long, eventful day? Manuka honey can help you enjoy a deep, restful sleep at night. This is achieved by slowly releasing the glycogen (a type of glucose that serves as a form of energy storage) needed for essential bodily functions. Having a manuka honey drink at bedtime helps your body release melatonin into the brain, which is essential for a good night’s sleep. With better sleep quality achieved, your risk of health problems associated with poor sleep such as heart disease and diabetes is also reduced.

 

Take charge of your health with tips and resources validated by research and medical professionals. Visit the MindChamps Medical website or book an appointment at our clinics now.  

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

Lying in Children: Why It Happens and What to Do About It

lying in children

Children are bound to tell lies at some point in their lives. While this may seem worrying for parents at first, you can rest assured that it is all part of the learning process that they go through during the growing up years. On top of that, it also doubles up as a teaching opportunity to help your children differentiate between the real world and a make-believe one, and emphasise on the consequences of lying (yes, even if it is a harmless white lie) and why it is important that they tell the truth.

With this, we present to you some facts on why children lie, and what you can do to set them on the right path to honesty:

When and why do children lie?

According to a developmental model of lying proposed by Victor Talwar and Kang Lee, children typically start telling lies between the age of two and three where they blurt out statements that are untrue on purpose, without considering the consequences.

By four years old, children get better in telling lies as they have learnt how to match their facial expression to their tone of voice to make you believe that they are telling the truth. However, upon further questioning, they will eventually own up. Needless to say, they will perfect their lying ability further in primary school, where their lies get more complicated and frequent.

The reasons that lead children to tell lies vary, and may include the following:

  • To conceal their mistakes and avoid getting into trouble
  • To avoid hurting other people’s feelings
  • To see how you respond to their lies
  • To jazz up their stories and make it sound more exciting
  • To get your attention and/or to get something they want

How to encourage children to tell the truth

Around the ages of 6 and 7, your children will begin to understand the difference between lies and the truth, which gives you the perfect opportunity to emphasise the importance of honesty in your family.

Here, we have outlined some age-appropriate tips to help you go through this process with your children:

1. Draw it out

Younger children are extremely imaginative and may have a hard time differentiating between what’s real and make-believe. When your child makes up a story, you can respond by saying, “I love how you came up with your story – let’s draw and turn it into a beautiful picture.” By doing this, you are inspiring him/her to be creative without giving the go-ahead to lie.

2. Praise them often

Telling “tall tales” may be your child’s way of getting attention and praise from you. To avoid this from turning into a lying habit, do make an effort to praise your child for his/her accomplishments – no matter how big or small they are. This can work wonders in boosting his/her confidence and self-esteem.

3. Read books on lying and honesty

Read books that emphasise on the importance of telling the truth – an all-time favourite is “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, which gives a great example of what would happen when the same lie is told repeatedly.

4. Acknowledge their efforts to own up

Do praise your child when he/she owns up upon doing something wrong. You can respond by saying, “I’m glad you told me the truth – it makes me really happy when you are honest”. This assures your child that you will not get upset when he/she owns up to something that was done wrong.

5. Set the rules

Make sure to be clear on the rules and guidelines on what constitutes acceptable behavior in your family, and the consequences of breaking those rules.

6. Address the issue calmly

For older children who seem to be lying frequently, do talk to them calmly about the issue and help them see why lying does not constitute acceptable behavior. You can rationalise the issue by telling them how their lying makes you feel, how it affects the parent-child relationship and what it feels like when the people in their life no longer trust them.

Read also: 20 Ways to Instill Good Manners in Your Child

Find out how the MindChamps PreSchool curriculum helps to nurture the love of learning in your child and instill positive values such as gratefulness, compassion and more. Book a visit to your preferred centre now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

Dads Matter! How Fathers Can Help their Children Succeed

the important role of fathers

Every parent desires to see their children grow up to be confident, resilient and successful adults – and this comes from giving appropriate affirmation to build up their self-worth and esteem. Every child needs to feel and believe that they are loved. And as parents, we need to give that message of affirmation regularly, through the stages of development in our child’s life.

While both parents play equally important roles in this endeavour, mothers are often more inclined towards the role of giving care and affection to the child, while fathers take on the role of “play buddy” or the disciplinarian. While each parent should play to their strengths, it is good to share these tasks, and not segment their parenting roles strictly. In fact, in the case of fathers, research[i] has shown that children who have involved fathers tend to have better cognitive ability and are better problem solvers.

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

Dads, these are some self-esteem boosters to try with your child today:

  • Celebrate your child’s milestones together as this keeps a celebratory and encouraging atmosphere in your home (E.g. diaper-free day, first word/book read, first tooth dropped)
  • Apologise when you make a mistake
  • Help your child become an “expert” on a topic he cares about
  • Give your child the chance to make simple decisions (E.g. what she would like to wear for an outing)
  • Show enthusiasm about your child’s questions;

Parenting sons and daughters also requires very different approaches – here are some tips to adjust your parenting style accordingly:

Raising Confident Sons

  • Don’t praise your son only when he is tough, strong or brave. Be sure to compliment him for being sensitive and kind, for taking care of friends and siblings, and for being curious and asking questions.
  • Encourage your son to pursue activities he likes and is good at, and don’t force him to do things he does not enjoy. Take an interest and participate with him in those activities.
  • Comfort your son when he is sad, upset or hurt and let him know it is ok to cry. Don’t laugh at him or shame him. This will encourage him to be himself, and to understand his emotions and express them appropriately.

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

Nurturing Secure Daughters

  • Don’t just compliment your daughter on her clothes or looks. Give her specific praise on what she is good at, (E.g. being a talented artist, smart with numbers, good at sharing, a caring big sister, knows how to tie shoe laces).
  • Many girls and women suffer from low self-esteem due to the messages they get from the media, which advocates the idea that beauty is all that matters. Praising your daughter’s inner beauty will help boost her self-esteem. Tell her that she is valuable, special and important, not because of how she looks but because of who she is.

While we can attest to the fact that parenting has its challenges, there is a great pay off when you are done raising your children to be confident and well-adjusted adults. Fathers play an important role as nurturers and confidence-builders in this journey, and we encourage you to try some of these tips and ideas with your children today!

©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved

Article contributed by Judith Xavier, Focus on the Family Singapore

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

References:

Amato, P. R., & Rivera, F. (1999). Paternal involvement and children’s behavior problems. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61 (2), 375 – 384.

Gottman, J. M., Katz, K. E., & Hooven, C. (1997). Meta-emotion: How families communicate emotionally. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Yogman, M. W. Kindlon, D., & Earls, F. (1995). Father involvement and cognitive/behavioral outcomes of preterm infants. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 58-66.

5 Ways to Help Children Identify and Express their Emotions

Helping Children Express their Emotions

The early years are crucial for your child’s development, as it is during this time that they learn about how the world around them works. Along with their new discoveries, they also learn a lot about their feelings and how to express them in the appropriate manner.

Throughout this learning journey, things can get overwhelming for young children who are trying to understand the complexities of emotions. As a result, they may vent their frustrations through emotional outbursts or have a hard time calming down. Although you may find this situation challenging, know that it is all part of your child’s learning experience in identifying and expressing their emotions.

Here are some things you can do to help your child learn and understand their emotions better:

1. Name the feeling

The different feelings that your children go through daily may be foreign to them at first, but you can help them out by naming those feelings appropriately. For example, you could say, “Mummy has to go to work, and you are sad to say goodbye” or “You were angry that your friend snatched your favourite toy”. You can also use picture books or videos to point out the various emotions of the story’s characters to your child.

When you teach your child to name feelings when they occur, your child will build an emotional vocabulary over time and get to the point where they are able to identify those feelings and talk to you about them. This will then help them learn the basics of expressing their feelings appropriately.

2. Talk about how feelings can be expressed

The best way to teach your children to express their feelings is to set a good example yourself. Start by talking about your own feelings and describe how to best express those feelings. You can also create opportunities for your child to come up with solutions for various situations, and then discuss why they are or are not appropriate.

Here are some questions you can ask to help you get started:

  • Remember how Mummy got mad yesterday because the kitchen sink was clogged up? When I get mad, I take a deep breath, count to three, and think of the best way to solve the problem.
  • Your brother bumped his head on the wall – how do you think he feels?
  • You are frustrated because you are having a hard time putting back that box on the shelf. What can you do? I think you can either ask for help or try to do it again. What would you like to do?

3. Offer a deep nurturing connection

While babies are soothed by their parents, toddlers and pre-schoolers need to bond and feel connected to mum and dad in order to regulate and deal with their emotions. Thus, when you notice your child getting upset or overwhelmed, the best thing you can do for him/her is to reconnect and try to see things from your child’s perspective. This helps you understand the reason behind their meltdowns and allows you to respond appropriately. In fact, experts highly recommend that we hug our children when the going gets rough, as this has shown to do wonders in regulating their emotions.

4. Resist the urge to punish

Discipline methods such as spankings, time outs, giving consequences and shaming are often used to correct children’s misbehaviours, but these do nothing to help them deal with their emotions. By resorting to these methods, children get the message that their “bad” emotions are to be blamed for their misbehaviours. As a result, they try to bottle their emotions until they get to a point where it “overflows” one day through a meltdown episode.

Instead of using punishment, do help your child to process and manage their emotions in positive ways until they are able to handle it all by themselves. Leading through good example (i.e. speaking in a proper tone of voice and not yelling) and giving them activities that allow them to express their emotions (e.g. drawing and shaping with playdough) go a long way to help both of you get there.

5. Praise and practice – often!

Give praises to your child whenever he/she talks about his/her feelings. This brings across the message that he/she did the right thing and that you are proud of him/her for reaching out to you and talk about feelings.

Children should know that it is perfectly fine to express what we feel, and be given ample opportunities to respond to their feelings in appropriate ways. You can play your part in this aspect by practising strategies that will help your child express his/her emotions in various situations. For example, you can talk about feelings and coping strategies during dinner, a play date or while grocery shopping. Through the series of events that unfold in each situation, there will be opportunities for your child to express and deal with his/her feelings when interacting with others. The more your children get to do this, the faster they will learn to regulate their emotions independently.

 

Part of the focus of MindChamps PreSchool’s curriculum is centred on character building. Find out how this can benefit your child during the early years – book a centre visit now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.