My top life skills besides academics, for children, are
- Languages and reading aloud
- Swimming and other movement
Languages including Mandarin
I’m doing my darned best to learn back my mandarin, collecting pieces of the knowledge I threw back to my teacher the minute the final exam bell rang.
My experience of mandarin was so appalling at school, and my mother spent so much tuition money on me just to get a B, and I’m keen not to land the same fate for Nat.
I borrow books with Hanyu Pinyin, and try to read it to him as much as I can, but I’m ready to Zhng this process. I’m on the look out for a mandarin speaking nanny to help with childcare once a week, and will check out Bibinogs playgroup fairly soon!
If we send him to the Casa Dei Bambini on 43 Newton road, he might even join Hindi classes. We would love for him to learn Italian for the sole reason he might be able to take us around Italy which by far is our most favourite travel destination.
I use english and mandarin flash cards too, some second hand Glenn Doman (Excruciatingly heavy bloody things!!)
Flash cards and right brain training elaborated in another post.
If there is only one thing you have time for, make it this.
Kids read aloud to for a minimum of 20 minutes in total a day have a better command of language than those that don’t hear those words read to them. Use audiobooks to help you, but bonding with your baby is so important so read personally to them too, and always include cuddles and love! (Alpha waves, some scientists call it).
Nat loves to watch me read and animate the words! Sometimes he likes to peer into the books and words, and sometimes he wants to eat the book, and 1-2 times he ripped a page off but this was due to my inexperience.
I use Tweedlewink DVDs for 10 minutes a day, from 6 month onwards as not only does it enable parents do right brain training in a non-kiasu and loving way in the comfort of our own home, it includes musical notes and pitch which no other program I’ve found does. I considered printing my own DIY notes on cards, for like a total of 1 second.
Since 5 months prenatal, I’ve been using this amazingly crafted app called Nuryl, to introduce complex chords and musical structure. I continue to play it to him today at 6months old, and the pieces update every month to include new songs. They are fairly complex and include some modern jazz pieces so more often than not I’m putting on my birth playlist on Spotify, and he loves all the songs in there!
See the effect of using Nuryl, as evidenced by the producer’s son!
Those of you who know me will know I have an “eclectic” taste in music. This means Nat has been well exposed to Drum n Bass, Classical, Post rock, Progressive rock, heavy metal, Hip hop, and the trashy yet rewarding produced chart music.
Other than that, I play the piano and before Nat was born I took much trouble sourcing a good condition second hand grand piano as an asset to the generations to come.
This is how important I think music is. It is another language and not giving a child an opportunity to appreciate it is like blocking one of their five senses and means of communication, and access to their own human soul.
Swimming for babies
I had wanted him to start as a newborn, considering babies have an innate breath holding ability and begin to lose it at 6 months. Alas, classes in Singapore are only taught from 6 months old. I needed to put him in classes the minute he hit 6 months.
I found Swish, Happy Fish and Aquaducks. My sister has visited a few and vouched for the professionalism and gentle confidence of the instructors at Swish, and I stuck with it. Be sure to make your interest known way earlier than when your bub is 4 months old as they have this impossible waiting list for weekend dates!
We absolutely loved our first lesson with Kirsten, passionate owner of Swish Swimming, and it seems Nat is a natural in water! He has already done the full immersion under water, and didn’t bat an eyelid. Worth every penny, and a beautiful family day out for us afterwards, lunching in the greenery of PS Cafe @ Dempsey Hill.
We put him on the floor to sleep. This is called a floor bed, and is a very Montessori thing. This means when he wakes up, he explores the surroundings with his eyes, and by the time he’s able to move, he knows where everything is and has already pre-planned where he’s going to go, and how he’s going to do it.
Nat is 6 months old, can crawl, sit up, and loves to stand by the window looking out at the rain drops. He loves our chrome coffee table as he pulls himself up, bangs on it, and looks at his distorted mirror image in it too.
He also is learning how to fall gracefully.
I believe allowing them free reign in the environment within reason, is the best default for them, instead of being cooped up in a cot or playpen all the time, at the mercy of adults to bring them down.