Thursday, September 29, 2005

Need to teach manners? Call the Super Heroes!

My little girl has a spirit of a leader. She also has a spirit of a wild horse. What I mean is she likes to tell people what to do but puts up a fight when told what to do. When we advise her on proper behavior, she would answer with screaming, scolding and sulking. Unfortunately this ugly scene was played out in church last Sunday involving two good friends of mine. We've had our lesson on manners but we know how quick such lessons are forgotten. After last Sunday's display, it was definately a time for a repeat lesson on manners.

Monday nights are our Family Home Evening nights. It's a time we come together as a family to discuss important issues, formally have a family lesson, play games and then eat treats. Well, I discovered somewhere in my files a cute lesson on manners. Let me share it with you.

Picture of Super Heroes as below (unfortunately I'm missing the other three Super Heroes). You could try making your own as well. Put them on popsicle sticks if desired.

Don't you just love super heroes? Wouldn't it be a great world of every one would act like a super hero? It would be easy to love one another if everyone acted like one. Well, we can't control the world but we can control ourselves.
Now, a super hero doesn't have to be large or strong. He doesn't have ot know how to fly or shoot webs from his hands. He only needs to treat others like Jesus would treat them. Having good manners shows others that we love them and that we believe they are special.
There are six special rules we can learn to help us have good manners. These rules are like super heroes too. So, meet the GREATEST Super Heroes of ALL TIME!
Hold up each super hero and read their descriptions.

Super Hero descriptions:

  • Electric Excuse Me. Here is an exciting guy who is like a light in the darkness. He comes to your rescue when you have sneezed, burped, passed gas, bumped into someone or need to interrupt someone.
  • Thunder Thank You. He is called Thunder because his effect is load and penetrating. He will rescue you when others have done nice things for you and leave everyone feeling good.
  • Cool Can I Help. He is called cool because he always knows when someone needs help and he is always the first to offer his assistance. He will come to your rescue when someone is in need.
  • Super I'm Sorry. A most powerful super hero. Super is alert and aware when an offence has been made. She is quick to correct and make amends. She will rescue you when you have made a mistake and come with the greatest rewards of peace.
  • Power Please. She is always around, always close, for she is like a good habit. She will rescue you when you need help form others and if you do as she says you will get more than you ever needed.
  • Yankee You Go. Here is a generous guy who feels free to let others go first and gives everyone a chance. He will come to your rescue when it is best to sacrifice for the joy of others.

Read each situation and have them pick which super hero they would be.

Situations: (Make up your own to suit your circumstances)

  1. Your mom bakes your favorite cake for no reason. Which super hero should you be?
  2. You are sharing a bag of M&M's with a friend. There is only one M&M left in the bag. Which super hero should you be?
  3. You mom is busy cleaning up the house. She looks tired running around. Which super hero should you be?
  4. Your dad is talking to his friend but you have something important to tell him. Which super hero should you be?
  5. You are thirsty but can't reach the cup on the top shelf. You need help. Which super hero should you be?
  6. As you run past your brother, you accidentally bump him and he falls. Which super hero should you be?

I got this terrific lesson from one of my yahoo groups. Unfortunately I think that group is no more. I would love to give credit to the person who came up with this but I don't know who that person is. If you are the one who created this beautiful lesson, thank you very much.

Karina enjoyed this lesson. But I know one lesson is not enough. There will have to be plenty of follow ups. So is it a plane, is it a bird, NOOOOO... it's Super Hero Princess Karina.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The MORE Important Lessons

Just contemplating on Min's comment on how as parents we can get so caught up in the world of "KIASU" education. The world is flooded with messages that we must engage our children in well researched, proven, sure-to- succeed educational methods before the age of 4 if we are to produce genius children. It is easy for us vulnerable, confused, high achieving parents to be taken in by their message. It is not an uncommon practice these days for parents to be shauffering children from one activity to another. But who can blame parents for trying to provide the best for their children.
With that said, let us think for a minute and ponder on this question... What should we do to provide the best for our children?
  • Is it really essential to spend RMxxxx on such programs? Or could simple things like taking time to read to your child , sing and dance with them, play ball with them or enter into their world of make believe enrich them just as much?
  • Does it make YOU proud to be able to say my 2 year old child can read? Are you running a non-existant race of whose child can do what first?
  • Do you believe that play = learning or do you think playing = waste of time?
  • What do you consider important lessons in life?
    Language, maths, science, music etc.... OR
    Values such as kindness, compassion, manners, forgiveness, love, sharing, imagination, optimism etc.... In short, lessons to groom a beautiful spirit.
    Children learn what is important by observing where we place our emphasis.
  • Have we properly equipped our children with the foundational lessons of learning such as listening, focusing, concentrating, and following instructions. Oh, and how dare I miss out a most important ingredient... have we reinforced the idea that learning is fun? Or have we killed that desire already?

Please don't get me wrong. I have no intention of critisizing parents who embrace the expensive, busy way of education. I just wish to make aware IF the MORE IMPORTANT LESSONS in life are being taught. Don't miss out on it just because we are too busy making our children's life busy. So let us take a step back to see where we are headed. Are we sacrificing something of greater importance as we usher them towards achieving worldly success? Are we so busy rushing out of the house trying to make the next activity we have no time to to really, really look and listen to what they have to tell us? Take note that communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Are we allowing their spirit to grow or is it being stunted by a heavy load of activities?

I vote we take extra effort to teach these MORE important lessons NOW when our children are still young and mold-able. The world needs more people gifted with understanding minds, loving hearts and helping hands.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Mother's Dilemma On Preschool Homework.

Recently I had to deal with homework battles with my little girl. It was stressful to get her to finish pages of writing. I think many of you know what I am talking about. Homework that is just repetitive copying of the alphabets, words, or chinese characters. In a way I don't blame her for losing focus. Come on, all of us would agree that it is down right BORING! It got me thinking if such homework is necessary. Should I or shouldn't I push for her to do it? I must remember that she is only 4 years old. Thoughts and questions rush through my head. I knew I had to take time to sit down and think through this carefully. You must agree with me that how learning is introduced in the early years will effect our children's future attitudes in acquiring knowledge. Also our attitude will effect them. I've heard of kids who are just so turned off with formal learning and reading just because of bad experiences. Sadly those bad experiences stemmed from teachers and parents making bad decisions.

With numerous questions and confusion clouding my mind, I embarked on a mission to find a pleasant solution to my dilemma. After searching for articles on the subject, talking to a good friend of mine who teaches English to children and taking time out to ponder, I finally came up with 6 ways to reduce the homework tension in my house.
My article entitled A Mother's Dilemma on Preschool Homework has been posted to my website. Check it out.

Please share your views and your side of the story in winning the battle of the preschool homework.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Have you told your child "I love you" today?

Every night when I put my children to bed, I make sure my oldest daughter hears the following words from me:

"Good night, I love you" (smooch smooch).

I especially took effort to do this as I know Karina probably feels unloved many times during the day. The poor girl has to constantly clean up "THE MESS", even if it was Damus who did it. Plus she has to share with Damus even if she doesn't want to. Mom also has her living the higher laws as she is the older and "should know better". It would also seem to her that Mom pays more attention to Damus as he needs help with more things. With a younger sibling around, I know she feels like the spotlight has been taken from her.
Some nights it is difficult to say those words as blood is still boiling from a fresh yelling session. So on those nights it sounds more like:
(angry, curt and quick) "GOOD NIGHT. LOVE YOU"

But no matter how it is said, the important thing is to say it. I didn't realize the impact of that little ritual up until a few nights ago. I had wished the usual "Good night Karina. I love you" when not long after, I heard Damus' demanding baby voice "Love me! Love me!" Well, it was sort of garbled but I manage to make out what he said (you know us mothers and our super gift in interpreting baby talk). That made me laugh, but more importantly, it made me open my eyes to the fact that he needed that assurance too. I took it for granted that he knew I loved him as I dot over him more than his sister. Plus he sleeps with me so he gets hugged to sleep. Obviously, he still needed to hear those magical words.

When kids are younger and are still able to make you laugh over their silly antics, it is easier to say the much valued "I love you." But what happens when they grow out of their cuteness, and step into the realm of rebellion? I believe those three simple words become more difficult to utter. However, I also believe that when it is most difficult to say, that's when it's vital you say it. And that's when it will make the most difference.

Children are experts on selective listening. Throughout their lives they are going to pick and choose what they want to hear. As adults, don't we still do that to our own parents? (or parents-in-law). But I can guarantee you their ears will not be deaf to the words "I love you." Not only will you have the attention of their ears but their hearts as well.

So I am going to make a pledge this day, that my children will hear those three profound words "I love you" everyday... rain or shine, happy or sad. They need to hear it as much as they need air to breath. Will you join me in this quest? Have you told your child "I love you" today? I have.

Good night Karina. I love you.
And yes, I love you too Damus.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Not Again!!

“Mommy, I watch Lion King?” When Damus said this for the first time, I thought it was sooo sweet and cute. Full of joy and pride, I thought to myself “my little boy is starting to talk in sentences.” But after hearing the same request everyday (sometimes 2-3 times a day) for the past 2 weeks, the excitement has definitely worn off. Now my automatic response to that used-to-be cute sentence is “AGAIN ??!!!”.

Oh, don't us parents all get overkilled by repetition:

  • “Mom, can you read that book AGAIN?”
  • “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are...” (for the twentieth time)
  • “Mom, we're not done playing London Bridge”
  • “Dad, draw another aeroplane... another one... and another one....”

It can be wearisome. But however tiring it gets, we cannot run away from the fact that children learn through repetition. We cannot change that. What we can change is our attitude as parents to encourage instead of impede such learning.

So I've decided that next time my son asks “Mommy, I watch Lion King?”, I'm going to say okay BUT limit his watching to once a day. Then I'm going to rejoice in the fact that he likes to sing the opening song, repeat some of the dialogs and roar like a lion.
Another plus for repetition is the fact that our children's confidence grows when they engage in things and activities that are familiar (for example familiar songs, friends and predictable plots). I realized the more bored I was getting with Lion King, the more my son seemed to enjoy it. And why not? Compared to the first few times, he now can sing along and predict what is going to happen. Sign of increased confidence.

We are not the only once that have to put up with repetition. Our children do too. Consider how we dish out our instructions. We have to succumb to repetition as well:

  • “For the hundredth time, pick up your toys.”
  • “How many times must I say don't climb on the table?”
  • “Don't let me call you again, come and wear your clothes now.”

A good tip I acquired was to keep our instructions short and to the point.
Say: “Clothes, laundry basket, now!”
Instead of: “How many times must I tell you not to throw your clothes on the floor.”

Keeping the instructions simple does 2 things:

  1. It keeps us from getting too emotional. Repetition is necessary, don't fight it. No point draining ourselves with negative emotions.
  2. We avoid attacking our children's self esteem. Our negative comments only make our children feel incompetent. Keeping it simple allows us to focus on praise when they do it right instead of harping on what they did wrong.

There will be difficult days when you just can't handle the repetition. Breath in, breath out. Remember repetition is part and parcel of our children's growing up years. Just acknowledge it, accept it and live through it with a smile. So Baa Baa Black Sheep for the hundredth time anyone?