The March School Holiday is upon us, and both parents and their children are all set to enjoy this short break from the usual school routines and homework marathons. To help you make the most of this week-long break, we have put together a list of activities that are happening during the holiday week – ranging from enriching school holiday programmes to must-not-miss theatre shows and exhibitions.
Check them out now:
Stage and Theatre Productions
1. A Peter Rabbit Tale
Based on the much-loved Beatrix Potter children’s classic, A Peter Rabbit Tale follows the musical adventure of Peter as he discovers the importance of family and the value of being true to yourself by exploring new places and the people he meets along the way. In true Peter Rabbit style, he gets up to all sorts of mischief and lands himself in a web of troubles – the last straw came when he breaks the rules and steals from Mr. McGregor’s garden. Worried about what his beloved mum might say, he decides to leave his comfy rabbit hole and run away into the “big world”.
This show is recommended for children aged 4 to 8.
Date: 24 February to 14 April 2017
Time: Weekdays 10am, Weekends and Public Holidays 11am & 2pm
Venue: KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT
Ticket Prices: Starts from $25
2. The Ant & The Grasshopper
In the original fable by Aesop, the ants were a hardworking bunch who worked all day while the grasshopper did not understand why one should work hard. With unexpected twists and turns to the tale, there are many lessons we can learn from this interactive musical which revolves around friendship, rewards for hard work, generosity and judging others.
This show is a must-watch for the whole family!
Date: 18 February to 19 March 2017
Venue: SOTA Drama Theatre
Ticket prices: $32 (For both adults and children)
3. The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice
Join Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy as they take you on a walk down memory lane to relive the wonderful Disney moments through your favourite films. From diving into the East Australian Current with Dory, Nemo and Marlin to discover the true meaning of family to prowling the Pride Lands of Africa with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, there’s something magical for everyone in the family to enjoy during the school holiday.
Date: 15 to 19 March 2017
Venue: Singapore Indoor Stadium
Ticket prices: $25 to $120
Check out the holiday programmes that are on-going during the break, and enrol your children now – before seats run out! More on the next page…
From Facebook to YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, the options for social media networks on which children can stay connected and share their views are plentiful. Despite all the plus points which social media brings to our lives, there are also dangers which we should be wary of as they put the safety of our children at risk.
Trying to shield our children from the dangers of social media has proven to be challenging, as technology plays a key role in the way we live, work and play today. But how much should a child be exposed to social media, and at what age should they be allowed to open an account of their own?
What do the law and experts say?
According to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, it is illegal for commercial websites and apps to allow children below 13 to open an online account without verifiable parental consent.
“The law was created to keep companies from collecting data about kids and marketing to them,” says Stephen Balkam, the founder and CEO of the non-profit Family Online Safety Institute.
However, most children are able to find their way around this rule by using a parent’s email and a fake date of birth without consent. Apart from the legal implications involved, there are also concerns about whether or not children have the maturity to keep their online interactions under control.
“At ages 7 to 11, children are still thinking very concretely, and they haven’t yet developed the ability to consider hypothetical situations,” Dr Lisa Strohman, the founder and director of the Technology Wellness Center explains.
“So an 8-year-old girl posting a video about how to do her hair is just thinking, ‘My friends will see this and it will be great!’ She can’t take that next step and think about who else might watch that video and write mean comments or even report it and use it to sell hair products.”
While it is challenging to generalise the right age for children to start using social media, Dr Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at the Boston Children’s Hospital states that parents are the best judge of whether their child is ready for social media usage.
“Some kids may be ready to handle social media under the legal age of 13, but most probably can’t,”
To help you narrow down your decision, Dr Rich suggests that parents ask themselves, “Can [my child] use it in ways that are healthy and respectful of others?”
Tips to keep your children safe while using social media
While you have decided to give your child consent to use social media, it might be a good idea to venture together at first and keep a close watch on your child as he/she finds his/her own way.
Here are some things you can do:
Be part of the crowd
It is important that you stay one step ahead of your child when it comes to social media. Dr Rich recommends that you join the site yourself (if you are not on it already) and get familiar with the safety issues and its potential uses. With this, you are able to advise your child on the features that he/she should avoid while using the app.
Gain full access of your child’s account
Make sure that you have full access to your child’s account by taking down details of his/her username and password. You should also follow him/her with your own account, so that you are updated on the things that he/she is posting and sharing.
Set the ground rules
To manage your child’s usage of social media and devices, do lay down the rules from the start which specifies when and how he/she is allowed to use it and the consequences of breaking any of the rules.
It is also important that your child knows that he/she can talk to you about anything bad or peculiar that happens online. This can involve being bullied by another child or when a stranger tries to contact him/her or ask for personal information.
“It’s a conversation you have to begin before you give him the device or let him join the site, and you must keep the discussions going,” Balkam says.
There are security settings in your social media apps which could compromise your child’s safety while using them. More details and the next steps to take on the next page.
A happy, well-balanced child is one who feels safe, both physically and emotionally. He/she is also valued for who he/she is, and not what he/she can do. Parents can raise their children to be happy, well-rounded individuals by surrounding them with love, happiness and encouragement, for it is the combination of all these factors that helps them feel confident about themselves and motivates them to reach their goals.
“The goal as a parent is to help your child feel competent and confident, and to help her develop a sense of passion and purpose,” says Susan Stiffelman, MFT, an educational therapist and author of Parenting Without Power Struggles. Indeed, it is the education that happens before a child starts their learning journey in school that empowers a well-rounded development.
Thus, if you are looking to raise a child who is well-balanced, healthy and happy, do consider these 10 tips and strategies to help you get there:
1. Celebrate and praise efforts
Studies conducted by Dr Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University and leading researcher in the fields of achievement and success, revealed that a person’s mindset has the power to influence behaviour. She suggests that parents praise their children for their hard work instead of using labels such as “smart” or “talented”. This may lead to them having a fixed mindset, and people who are categorised as such are usually reluctant to take on challenges as they believe that their achievements are a result of their innate abilities. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset are usually more willing to face challenges with hard work as they believe that learning is a life-long process.
2. Respect and acknowledge different learning styles
You might find that you work best in complete silence, but that does not mean that your child should study in a noise-free environment too. Most of us tend to lean towards one or two types of learning style, so it may be worthwhile to take note how your child learns best so you can identify his/her learning style.
For example, if your child is a visual learner, using flash cards and drawing charts might help him/her learn better. And for kinaesthetic learners, turning a learning concept into a fun, hands-on game could be what it takes to help them study better.
3. Keep their curiosity alive
Children are born with an innate curiosity about the world around them, and it is important to leverage this trait to raise life-long learners. This should start with parents creating an intellectually safe place, where a child is free to ask any question or express his/her opinion – as long as it is respectful.
Meghan McCormick, an American elementary school teacher and research associate at MDRC, a non-profit education and social policy research organisation, says that children should be encouraged to ask questions while parents should refrain from just feeding them with answers or use phrases such as “Because I said so.” For instance, when a child asks, “Why are the leaves falling off the trees?”, she suggests that parents probe further by asking, “What do you think?”. This not only provides insights into the child’s opinion, it also doubles up as a teaching opportunity and sends the message that we value the opinions of our children.
4. The power of reading
It is never too early to start reading to your child!
Starting a good collection of books at home and reading to pre-schoolers comes with great benefits as it encourages language development, reading skills and their future success in school.
“Even if your child is still too young to understand everything you are saying, he will learn to notice the rhythms of language, which will help him build a listening vocabulary,” explains Susan M. Heim, author of It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence.
In fact, a study conducted by The Institute of Education in the United Kingdom found that 5-year-olds who were read to daily by their parents were less likely to develop behavioural problems in school.
Want to know your child’s reading and writing level? Find out now with a complimentary literacy assessment and learn how MindChamps’ Reading & Writing programmes could help your child!
5. Allow some free time
“Play is the major way in which children learn,” says Dr David Elkind, a child development expert and author of The Power Play. He emphasises the fact that children “learn social skills through games and playing with other children”, and that it is important for parents to allow their children time for both play and academic work.
“There’s this idea that education is a race, and that’s false. We want to go so quickly, but you stunt things when you go too fast,” Dr Elkind added. Although adding playtime to crammed study schedules can be tricky, there are simple ways to work around them which is worth a try, as this helps to maintain a good balance in your child’s life.
Giving your child a hug helps to ease the tension and improves his/her concentration. More on this and other tips for raising a well-rounded on the next page.
As we celebrate Singapore’s birthday this August, you might want to take a walk down memory lane and paint a picture in your child’s mind of how our Little Red Dot progressed from its sleepy state to the bustling city it is today.
These books will definitely come in handy to help your little champs learn and discover more about Singapore, its founding leaders and to see for themselves how different life was back then.
1. The Timmy & Tammy series
In this book series for pre-schoolers, young readers are taken on colourful adventures all over Singapore – from popular spots like the Singapore Flyer and Chinatown to everyday places such as the food court and MRT. Through these stories, young readers will get to brush up their reading skills and have fun with the activity at the back.
Author: Ruth Wan
2. A Boy Named Harry: The Childhood of Lee Kuan Yew
The late MM Lee spent his growing up years doing what other kids his age did in the 1920s: playing with spinning tops, marbles, kites, and fighting fish. Playtime aside, he was also a hardworking student who worked his way to earn a scholarship at the prestigious Raffles College.
Parents, you can use this picture book to share the values and contributions of our founding father with your kids, while encouraging them to work hard towards their goals and dreams.
Author: Patrick Yee
3. Danger Dan Tackles The Majulah Mayhem
Get ready to go on a time-travelling adventure with superheroes Danger Dan and Gadget Girl. Here, they are faced with the challenge of stopping the composer of the Singapore national anthem from giving up on music. But the time warp is a whole lot more than Danger Dan expected, with riots, spicy noodles and a flood standing in their way.
Authors: Lesley-Anne and Monica Lim
4. Secrets of Singapore
Danger Dan and Gadget Girl are back, this time to uncover our nation’s past – all the way from the Sang Nila Utama era in 1299 right up to the glory days of independence in 1965.
Join this superhero pair as they investigate intriguing areas seldom found in history books and unearth facts such as:
- How long was the very first MRT ride?
- Which animals have escaped the Singapore Zoo?
- Where can one see a tiger car? (What is a tiger car, anyway?)
Get your answers to these questions in Danger Dan and Gadget Girl’s guide to Singapore’s past!
Authors: Lesley-Anne and Monica Lim
5. Makan Time!
Sarah looks forward to going out with Grandpa because it always means that it’s Makan Time!
Join Sarah and her grandfather in this bilingual picture book as they discover local cuisines such as Nasi Lemak and Roti Prata. If there’s one lesson to be learnt from these foodie adventures, it’s got to be that every day is a new journey waiting to be unveiled if we open our hearts and minds by trying new things.
Author: Sharon Ismail (Translated by Rilla Melati Bahri)
Have you heard of the tale of a “Peranakan woman who lived in a shoe”? More on this and other stories about our little red dot on the next page.
Studies have linked the benefits of reading to children from birth as one of the key factors that determine their success in school as this builds up their ability to read and comprehend. In fact, numerous studies conducted over the years have shown the impact reading can have on a child’s brain development.
An excerpt from The Child Trends Data Bank cites this:
“Children develop literacy skills and an awareness of language long before they are able to read. Since language development is fundamental to all areas of learning, skills developed early in life can help set the stage for later school success. By reading aloud to their young children, parents help them acquire the skills they will need to be ready for school.”
In our bid to raise our children to love and enjoy reading, we try various ways to keep them interested and engaged while reading to them. However, in the midst of building their interest, some of the things that you do might result in the opposite direction by ruining your child’s love of reading.
Here are some common mistakes parents make while reading to their child:
You think that every page needs to be read
Most parents read to their children with the expectation that it is mandatory to read every single page and that their aspiring readers would sit through while the story is being told.
In reality, young children do not “read” in this manner. They are at the stage where patience runs low and probably would not mind if you miss a few consecutive pages and get right to their favourite part of the story.
Another important thing to note is that during the early years, the aim of reading should be to expose them to words, rhythm and tone – as well as the fact that books are fun as they take our minds on a creative learning adventure.
You don’t always have to be the one who “reads”
Reading sessions with your child are not only for you to read to them and ask questions along the way.
Once children are able to sit down and grasp a book, they also develop an interest in “reading” the story aloud. This usually involves them mumbling a string of words while turning the pages. As their vocabulary grows, they will progress to “telling” their stories through the use of words, inflection and by looking at the illustrations in the book to figure out the storyline.
There should not be a limit on books
On certain days, your child might surprise you by bringing 10 books for you to read, despite your instructions of “one book at bedtime”. Depending on your schedule, do try your best not to discourage or deprive them of their request.
By letting your child decide on how many books to read at that time, it helps to give him/her a sense of control while developing his/her independence. But above all, complying with your child’s request goes a long way to instil a love of reading in your child when he/she sees that you love books as much as he/she does.
Reading their favourite book repeatedly may not be such a bad thing
Once your child finds a book that he/she just can’t seem to get enough of, be prepared to have him/her insist that you both read it every single time. While you find this monotonous, do give in to their wish and take note that there is a reason why this book happens to be their favourite.
Perhaps it’s the pictures, colours or rhymes that excite them. Or maybe it’s just the way you read it to them that they love. Either way, this helps to extend your child’s attention span and build his/her enthusiasm for reading as he/she would know the story word for word after a while.
MindChamps Reading and Writing programmes instil the love of reading in your children from 3 to 8 years old. Find out more here and book for a complimentary literacy assessment now!
Children start learning about language from the moment they are born. As they grow up, their speech and language skills become more complex as they learn to understand and use language to bring across their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, as well as to communicate their needs to others.
During this stage of early speech and language development, children pick up skills that set the stage for literacy development. Giving your child an early head start in reading and writing comes with a host of benefits, and studies have found that working on one area (reading) leads the development of the other (writing).
Here are 8 ways your child will benefit from learning to read and write during the early years:
1. Reading helps your child’s brain to keep growing
During the first six years, the speed of your child’s learning development is at its fastest compared to at any other time in their lives. Vital connections in the brain are formed very early in life and a healthy baby is born with approximately 200 billion active brain cells (also known as neurons). With the right kind of stimulation, each of these brain cells is capable of developing up to 20,000 connections – a direct result of stimulation your child receives through early experiences. All these connections eventually form the basis of all future learning.
As you read to your child, existing links among brain cells are strengthened and new links are formed. When your child learns to read independently, the process of learning is greatly influenced by the functioning and development of the brain as a whole. You can help him/her along in this journey by encouraging the efforts put in and instilling a lifelong love of learning and reading.
2. Early reading leads the way to academic success
Reading has the power to inspire a love of learning in your child which will eventually lead him/her towards early academic success.
Studies have shown that strong oral language skills form a strong foundation for literacy development. When children learn to read at a young age, they have greater knowledge of things around them and their vocabulary keeps growing which helps them to become more fluent readers.
Early readers have the ability to recognise a larger collection of words by sight, and this enables them to learn more from and about their environment. As they grow up, early readers also become competent researchers who are able to study effectively and extract relevant information from various sources of information such as books and websites. Longitudinal studies have shown that early readers continue to get better results than their peers in school, which leads to a love for learning within them, for life.
3. Early reading sparks your child’s curiosity and imagination
When your child reads from a young age, it ignites his/her curiosity and imagination. You can use interesting illustrations and word patterns to get your child talking about what he/she is seeing and thinking, and help him/her understand the patterns of language. Reading also sparks your children’s curiosity about people, places and things around them, and gives them the answers through explanations of how things work.
Reading promotes maturity and higher order thinking skills in your child. When you explore stories together with your child, he/she learns the difference between what’s “real” and “make-believe”. Over time, this will help him/her develop his/her own ideas which inspire creativity – a tool which could come in handy in the future for problem-solving.
4. Early reading boosts your child’s confidence
When your child starts reading as a baby or toddler, he/she is unlikely to succumb to peer and psychological pressures than if he/she were to pick up this skill later on.
As your child has yet to start school, you will have the flexibility to teach him/her to read a few pages each day in a relaxed mode. Because there is no rush, you can stop before he/she gets tired. Through this, you are building the love of reading in your child from the start, and the both of you can treat reading time as an exciting adventure, rather than a drilling process. Over time, your child will gain confidence in reading, especially when he/she is able to catch up and participate in reading activities in school.
How does your child’s early reading efforts pave the way towards writing success? Find out more on the next page.
We all want to give the best to our children and raise them up to be bright and smart. To ensure that they get a good head start during the early years, we spend much time and effort in picking the right school and enrichment programmes for them.
But do take note that as a parent, you have the power to boost your child’s learning potential by developing a love for reading from young. While the benefits of having both mum and dad read to their children are plentiful, a recent study by researchers from Harvard University in the United States reveals that children benefit more when their father read bedtime stories to them.
As reported by The Telegraph, the study found that dads lead their children to “imaginative discussions” and are more instrumental to their children’s language development during the early years because of the way they read to their children. Dr. Elisabeth Duursma, the study leader, found that girls benefited more when read to by a male. “The impact is huge – particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two,” she explains. “Reading is [often] seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them – it’s special.”
However, a poll conducted among 1,000 mums and dads by Book Trust, an independent British literacy charity, found that young parents are reading less to their children compared to the older generations. Among the respondents, 19% of dads under 25 said they enjoyed a bedtime read with their children, while 78% of older fathers said it was their favourite part of the day.
To bring up the numbers, author and comedian David Walliams has led an initiative in the United Kingdom to emphasise the benefits of fathers reading to their children for just 20 minutes a day. Here are some reasons why more dads should take heed and snuggle up with a good book with their children:
1. They get their children to think further
Having mum and dad take turns to read bedtime stories has been found to improve children’s language and cognitive skills. While mums often focus on the characters’ feelings and ask factual questions, dads tend to link the narrative to something which their child can relate to.
“Dad is more likely to say something line, ‘Oh look, a ladder. Do you remember when I had that ladder in my truck?” Dr. Duursma explains. “That is great for children’s language development because they have to use their brains more. It’s more cognitively challenging.”
2. They help to develop a love of reading in their children
Children learn best from mimicking the words and actions of their parents. So, if you are hoping to nurture a love for reading from young, it would be helpful if you put this good habit into practice yourself.
A research published by the British Journal of Educational Psychology on the role of early father involvement and its impact on children’s educational attainment showed “a positive relationship between the amounts of literacy fathers engage in for their personal use and their children’s reading test.” In this case, dads who are seen reading a lot during their free time send out positive signs to their children that reading is a beneficial and enjoyable thing to do.
3. They share a special bond with their children
While the Harvard study pinpointed the positive influence of dads’ reading – particularly on their daughters – previous research have shown how reading strengthens the bond between fathers and both their sons and daughters.
According to a study by the National Literacy Trust entitled ‘Why Fathers Matter to their Children’s Literacy’, dads who do not get to spend a lot of time at home with their kids due to work reported reading as a major way to develop a unique relationship with their children. Reading to children opens up a world of opportunity for dads to get to know their children on a deeper level and to find out what they think or feel about various topics. This special activity also creates a sense of security in children as they snuggle up for quality time with their dads – and a good book.
Dads who read to their children regularly feel more relaxed, and this in turn creates a perfect balance in parenting. More details on this on the next page.
What parent doesn’t love to praise his or her children? When a child does something praise-worthy, from accomplishing a difficult math problem to creating a piece of art, a proud parent can’t help but be enthusiastic.
Yet, parents should be wary of over-the-top, glowing praise that focuses on stroking a child’s ego. Over time, hollow phrases like “Good job” become white noise, either not heard or ignored by your child.
Here are 6 specific ways to constructively compliment children:
Encouragement is effective because it:
a) Allows you to select a characteristic or behaviour you want to develop or foster in a positive and constructive way
b) Lets you call attention to their process
You support the process and help build your child’s confidence. When she comes home with a poor grade on a test, you might say: “I like the effort you put into studying. Maybe a bit more next time, you think?”
You are complimenting the process, not the outcome. You are making her responsible.
If you are consistently responsive, your child is more likely to be confident. It can be a trick on a skateboard, a gymnastic feat, a piano piece mastered or almost mastered, a tennis match won or almost won. Let her know that you see her and recognize her accomplishments, large and small.
Ask to see her collection of dolls, or rocks, or something similar. Observe and talk about how orderly it is, how well she’s protecting it. Or ask, “Where did you find all these things?”
Your undivided attention is worth more than platitudes shouted from another room. Showing an interest in what’s he’s interested packs more of a punch than simply saying, “What a fabulous collection.” It positions your child as an expert — what a confidence boost!
Most of us are overscheduled and distracted, often too distracted to give children what they need. Acknowledge them and give them an honest assessment of what they’re doing. Take time to listen and make sure your children know you’re listening. Listen to complaints and be empathetic. Don’t immediately take your child’s or the teacher’s side, for instance. Hear his point of view.
Allowing your child to explain tells him you value his point of view and observations. Being heard is a powerful motivator.
Focus on the direction your child is moving in. You might say: “You improved so much since your last report card. Aren’t you proud of yourself? You should be.” When your child is memorizing a poem or words for a spelling test, you might say: “You almost had it. You’ll get it.”
And when your child succeeds (a grade improvement or a sports milestone, for example), you might say: “You got an A! You just proved to yourself that you should never give up.”
You are teaching your child to internalize her abilities and to eventually be able to evaluate herself accurately.
You might say: “I like the song you sang for grandma and grandpa. Would you sing it for me now?” Or, you might ask your child to retell a joke or ask for instruction: “The dog seems to respond so well to your training. Show me how you get him to do that, please.”
Reliving bright moments reminds children of their “strong suits”. You are telling your child she has something worthwhile to offer and share with you. Showing a genuine interest allows a child to relive accomplishments, and this kind of response can cultivate diligence and determination.
You might say: “How did you choose the colours for that picture? What did you use to make those lines? It’s so unusual, interesting, real, pretty, cheerful…”
You’re asking about the process, making your child think about how he created his work or tackled a project and what he might do next time.
When you combine these techniques and use them regularly, you put your child on a direct, merited path toward self-confidence. Isn’t that what compliments are for in the first place?
Suggested Reading: 5 Lessons Kids Can Learn from Losing
Republished with permission from Dr Susan Newman, social psychologist, parenting expert and best-selling author.
It gives us great pleasure to share with you that The Business Times has featured the MindChamps ChampionGOLD Standard and the appointment of our Chief Academic Officer, Mr Steven Andrews, in their paper on 29 March 2016.
As a progressive and innovative education institute, we do not believe in resting on our laurels and will continue to raise the bar for education with the development of our ChampionGOLD Standard, which is a comprehensive array of educational, operational and service-oriented benchmarks. This will allow us to implement our standards organisation-wide and ensure that the quality of our education and service is solid and scalable. Importantly, as MindChamps is already the mark against which other organisations measure themselves, the Champion-GOLD Standard is now the mark against which we, at MindChamps, measure our own performance.
We are also pleased to introduce to you, Mr Steven Andrews, who has joined us as our Chief Academic Officer. Steven’s distinguished career include his appointments as the former Senior Education Advisor to the United Kingdom government under the Tony Blair administration, former CEO of Tanglin Trust School, Singapore and the former Director of Education, Leicester City. Steven will play an important role in the implementation of our Champion-GOLD Standard and help us achieve the very highest standard of quality.
Lastly, we are proud to share with you that our Founder, Chairman and Group CEO, Mr David Chiem, was amongst the 56 out of 2,000 business leaders from the top Singapore 1000 corporations and SMEs who were featured in the Business Times (see below and attached) yesterday as well.
Thank you for your continuous support and we look forward to sharing with you more of such exciting news in the near future!