Picnic at Marina Barrage!

Last weekend we went to the Marina Barrage for a picnic!

We drove there from Outram and got a little lost due to the new Marina area roads..but after a few wrong turns, we finally arrived!

The place was super crowded, with lots of people flying kites and having picnics too. We quickly found a spot and settled down. Samantha enjoyed the place because it was a nice open space that allowed her to practice walking around. The ground was covered with nice soft (and clean) grass so we weren’t so worried when she fell down a couple of times. There were plenty of little toddlers there learning to walk as well – I took the opportunity to teach Samantha how to make new friends.

barrage walking

Overall, it is quite a nice place to spend a late afternoon. I wouldn’t advice going earlier because it’s too hot and sunny, and you little one may get a sunburn.

Important: A single episode of blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles the subsequent risk of melanoma (a type of skin cancer).

One more thing to note is that as there are many kite fliers around, be careful not to have your little one walk into someone’s kite strings!

barrage kite

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round Illustrated by Annie Kubler

The Wheels on the Bus

We are now into board books that we can sing, so this was a perfect addition to our library.

The book is very colourful and bright, with cut-outs on every page. In addition to the regular song, the illustrations tell of how a bus is going around town picking up various people – a magician, a clown, a balloon artist, a face painter, and so on. Finally, on the last page, we learn where the passengers on the bus are headed – to a party!

Every page has loads of things going on, so you can even devote your time to discussing just one page if you are tired of singing.

Toy Related Injuries in Children

Last weekend we brought Samantha to a toy shop, and she was so fascinated by a fish wind-up toy that we ended up buying it for her. The toy was clearly not suitable for her – it has small parts that potentially could break off, and the box that the toy came in clearly stated that the toy was not for children below the age of three.

Have you ever bought a toy that is not suitable for your child?

fish toy
This mechanical fish toy has small parts that can drop off and become a choking hazard

In a recent study by KK Hospital published in November 2013, the authors surveyed 93 parents regarding their knowledge on toy safety.

The results were quite amazing – 92.5% of respondents admitted to having previously purchased an age-inappropriate toy for the child, and 87.1% had experienced toy-related child injuries. These accidents were caused by pieces of the toy breaking off (80.4%) and/or the child placing a toy part into their ear, nose or throat (51.1%). 37% of respondents also reported that there had been at least one incident in which  their children had been physically injured while playing with a toy.

Why? The top reasons cited for these accidents were wrong use of toys by the child (44.1%) and a lack of supervision by caregivers (37.6%). Interestingly, the survey found out that parents were generally ok with choosing toys for children under the age of 1 and over the age of 3, but fared poorly in selecting toys for children between the age of 1-3.

Here are some tips for better safety-

What to look out for before buying toys:

  • Make sure toys are suitable for the child’s age group
  • Look for warnings or other safety messages on toy packaging
  • Make sure small parts of toys cannot break off, including the eyes and noes on stuffed toys
  • Avoid toys with sharp points or edges
  • Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air

duck toy
Some soft toy animals have beads for eyes – these may also become a choking hazard if detached

What to look out for after buying toys:
  • Read all instructions included with the toy
  • Throw away all toy packaging such as plastic, cellophane and styrofoam
  • Check toys regularly for broken parts and other hazards
  • Sand the edges of wooden toys that have become sharp or splintered
  • Throw away toys that cannot be fixed
That night, while Samantha slept, the wind-up fish toy was transferred to a secret storage unit..

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

The teddy bears picnicThis book was a lucky find in a community library. We initially borrowed the board book because Samantha loves bears, and the book was beautifully illustrated with many bears on every page. The bears are shown initially walking to the woods, then having their fun and games in the woods, and finally going home. The pictures in the book are drawn in such a way that they are continuous with the page before, thus giving the impression of a very very long picture!

I later discovered that ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ is actually an old song that was first recorded in 1932. You can pick up the song quite easily from YouTube. This book is now one of our regular reads!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxFIGWm9M6w

Prepare Your Child for Primary One?

Hello everyone, this is a guest blog post by Samantha’s mummy!

After spending some time doing research about preschools in Singapore, I suddenly have lots of thoughts in my head and I would like to share them with everyone.

Samantha is turning 18 months soon so we were looking for a school for her. This led to some online research on kindergartens in Singapore. The usual names came up:

Pat’s schoolhouse, Eton house, St James, Nanyang etc…

There were also alot of articles on how some parents book their place even before their baby is born, how some parents drive their child to the kindergarten daily from their home across the island. And of course I also read Kiasu parents.sg for the kindergarten reviews. I couldn’t help but notice that most of the posts had things like

“The phonics classes are good, they teach your child to ….”,

“The classes really help to prepare my child for P1. She could do most of the spelling…”,

“What I didn’t like about the school was they did not focus on Chinese reading so when my child got to P1..”

Not too long ago, just before Samantha turned 1, we attended the early childhood education agency (ECDA) conference. There I met Mrs Puspa Sivan, who gave an inspiring talk on bringing up a happy child. She sent out a very important message:

“ Early childhood education prepares your child for life, not for Primary 1”.

It left a deep impression.

kindergarten

All parents are kiasu and we want the best for our children. But letting them play and learn is the best thing that we can do for them.

Its not wrong to say we want our child to be used to going to school with fixed hours etc, but I personally feel that we go to school to learn. So if whatever we learn in P1 is already taught in kindergarten, then what is the point in going to school? We might as well scrap P1 and then have 5 years of primary school…

So after an hour of searching, I have narrowed down my choices to this:

  • A nice, friendly, cosy learning environment (because learning climate is crucial) that is not too stressful.
  • A large play area – preferably with sand pit, water play area, grassy area etc. I remember playing in the grass and always needing to peel the burrs off my socks
  • Somewhere that Samantha feels she is going to play everyday
  • Where the people (teachers, cleaners etc) are child focused and not curriculum focused
  • Where education is innovative and creative

The best teacher is not someone who teaches you what he/she wants to teach, but teaches you what you want to learn.  He/she can also make anything a learning opportunity.