When our words become their inner voice 

My not-so-little Sophie just turned 8 years old last week. Even though she’s more than capable of tucking herself into bed, the realisation that my baby is growing up too soon makes me want to hit that slow motion button to savour her remaining childlike years before they slip by.

So one thing that Sophie and I look forward to at the end of the day is bedtime. Besides the fact that I still read with her, (we just finished Sherlock Sam and we both rate it 5 stars), we like to snuggle in bed together where I’ll lie next to her as she recounts her day to me.

It’s no wonder Sophie still prefers mummy to put her to sleep as she gets hushed to sleep if she so dares make a squeak by Daddy’s army like style when he’s in charge.

Among our many bedtime conversations, what she said just last week got me reflecting about how my words became her inner voice.

 

“Mummy, today the teacher teach us to think positive thoughts and to be positive.” She went on, “Miss Chow said that when her daughter didn’t do well in her test, she’ll not scold her. But Miss Chow will tell her not to give up and try harder the next time.

When she said that, I was pondering if it was her way of telling me what she needed to hear from me when she didn’t do as well in school. So when I probed and asked if I should learn from her teacher, she grabbed my arm, gave it a big squeeze and exclaimed, “You always tell me positive things and to try harder next time already. Thank you mummy!

 

Thankfully, the lights are out and she didn’t see the tears that rolled down my cheek.

Tears that affirmed my role as a supporting mum.

Tears of joy that she sees my heart and how I’m always rooting for her to be the best she can be.

The silent reinforcement that with constant encouragement she can be shaped to be a confident young lady.

The Power of Our Words

Hearing this was a reminder that my words have the power to build or crush her. And while I’m not proud to admit it, there were countless times where hurtful words were blurted out in the heat of the moment and I said things that made Sophie feel awful about herself. But I’m trying and I’m still a work-in-progress. 

 

Reading this status update from my Facebook post a year ago made me realize just how my words have become Sophie’s inner voice and thank God that it’s an encouraging and supportive voice where she knows she can do what she sets her mind on.

Though parenting is the toughest job in the world, but it’s times like these where I know it’s all worth it.

How are you shaping your child’s inner voice?

As parents we have a tremendous responsibility on how our children view themselves.So let’s speak kindly to our kids. Let’s support them and remind them that they are loved no matter what happens.

Let’s encourage them and motivate them so that they can be resilient and have the courage to take on things greater than themselves.

 

Think positive thoughts and be positive!

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may like these posts where I share my heart about parenting.

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Scoring in Primary Two English Composition

One of the notable differences when Sophie progressed to Primary 2 is having more graded written assessments. With a greater emphasis on writing for both English and Chinese, I began to wonder how I can guide Sophie to score in her Primary 2 compositions. It’s no wonder parents often feel stressed when trying to help their kids with their studies when they feel helpless and unfamiliar with the school syllabus.

Despite being an English speaking parent, I am sometimes at a loss when Sophie approaches me for guidance because writing can be so subjective with definite methods or answer. But at the same time, it’s also what I like about compositions as kids are not confined to a fixed answer and where they can exercise their creativity.

While there’s no doubt that the enrichment centres or tuition centre may do a much better at teaching my child how to ace her compositions, I like to be more involved in my child’s learning.

READ ALSO: English Composition Writing for Primary One

I scoured writing resources, blogs and forums and picked up some very helpful tips and here are a few things that I’ve learnt along the way while has helped Sophie. In fact, her writing has improved over the months where her recent essay got selected by her English teacher to be published in her school’s budding writers publications which was a much needed morale booster.

Understanding Primary School English Compositions Format 
  1. Picture composition – Four pictures in a sequence

This is one of the most common formats used in Primary 2 composition where students have to write a story based on the pictures provided.

Pupils are encouraged to be as detailed as possible when describing the events in the pictures while ensuring that they stay relevant to the pictures.

Sample Picture Composition. Source from http://scholastic.asia

  1. Picture composition – Three pictures in a sequence with a question mark for the 4th picture

This is another common format where the ending is open-ended. This allows students to exercise their creativity for the conclusion of their story and where they can inject surprises in their writing.

I feel that this format gives a chance for students to differentiate their piece of writing from other kids where original ideas will have an upper edge.

  1. A topic or theme

Broad topics like, friendship or an act of honesty, are sometimes given where students have room for penning an original story as long as the content is relevant to the topic.

Other times, proverb such as, Honesty is the best policy or a dog is a man’s best friend, are given and pupils have to expound on it and write a story based on it.

READ ALSORecommended list of assessment books for Primary Two

 

Tips for Primary 2 English Composition

I don’t claim to be an expert in writing, but these are my top 5 tips that has worked well for Sophie’s writing in getting her from good to great.

1. Show. Don’t tell

Show, don’t tell is a technique to get kids to think about how they can use their word to allow the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings.

Here are 2 examples.

Tell      Ryan was feeling sad.

Show   Ryan was feeling so upset that tears started flooding his eyes as he hung his head low and walked away from his classmates who were laughing at him.

Tell         Sonia was terrified of the wild dogs.

Show     Sonia’s legs trembled at the sight of the wild dogs and she slowly inched from the dog house.

See how the second sentences have the ability to paint a vivid imagery with just words.  Here are some other examples from Pinterest.

For similar resources, head to Pinterest and search for, “Show. Don’t tell.”

Source: Jennifer’s Teaching Tool, http://jennifersteachingtools.blogspot.sg

2.Expanding their word bank

In Sophie’s class, she’s encouraged to have a word bank that helps them build their vocabulary with different ways of saying the same thing. For example, thought can be replaced with words like wondered,  imagined,  dreamt of, etc.

Here’s another example on the possibilities you can come up with for said.

3. Start with an impactful opening

A typical start of a composition begins with, one fine day or one sunny day. While there is nothing wrong with this opening, it is painfully predictable and boring to say the least.

To have a more interesting opening, you can get your child to consider using the following:

  • Sound – Ring…. the alarm clock woke me up from my slumber and I leapt from my bed.
  • Dialouge – “Have you ever been wrongly accused as a liar before?”
  • Idioms or proverbs – It was raining cats and dog and I was drenched from head to toe.
  • Question – “Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could have super powers?”
  • Flashback – Whenever I see a bulldog, it would remind me of the time I was chased by my neighbour’s dog.

4. End it well

Starting well is important but you have to end it well in the conclusion of the writing too. Here are a few formats of how your child can end their writing.

I’m not so sure about the cliffhanger ending as it may give the impression that it’s unfinished.

The printable for the above can be downloaded here.

5. Editing checklist

Last but not least, kids should be encouraged to edit their writing to ensure that they spot any mistakes they might have made in the course of their writing before handing it in.

The few areas I’ll remind Sophie to check are:

  • Tenses
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence Structure
  • Storyline relevance to the picture

Here’s an editing checklist that you may like to use with your child after he/ she completes their writing.

Editing Checklist Source: http://www.upperelementarysnapshots.com

 

I hope this has been helpful for you to guide your kids in their composition to the next level.

Don’t let it be just about the grades

As I write this post, I have to remind myself that it’s a learning journey both for me and my child. There were many times when I’ve lost my cool with my girl when I felt that she wasn’t putting in effort in her writing. It led to a lot of needless frustration and tears and at the end of the day, I questioned if it was worth if if she aced her writing at the expense of having her feelings hurt by my harsh words?

So do be patient with your kids as they slowly embark on more wring  and don’t expect overnight changes. I’m a believe that we need to equip our kids with a Growth Mindset and let them know that they can and they will improve with time and we should also encourage them and praise them for the efforts and progress they’ve made.

 

Here are some other useful links on primary school learning that you may be keen to read too.

 

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Review for Red Riding Hood Musical in Mandarin 小红帽 by SRT

Like many parents in Singapore, I often find ask myself what I can do to help my child develop a better appreciation and love for Chinese. Here’s what I’ve discovered that has always work.

The performing arts.

Red Riding Hood Musical in Mandarin 小红帽 by SRT

We caught Red Riding Hood in Mandarin by SRT when it opened last weekend and the musical was a delight to watch for both kids and adults.

Now Red Riding Hood may be an all too familiar tale for everyone but the performance was filled with catchy songs, unexpected plot twists as the story unfolds with witty and humorous dialogues that even had the adults in stitches.

Sophie’s favourite character was the woodcutter whom Red Riding Hood on her way to Grandma’s home. His funny antics had the kids so tickled that they roared with laughter whenever his memory fails him. Sophie was both impressed and challenged by his 绕口令 that she decided to learn it from YouTube after we got home. Talk about having a positive and immediate impact.

Red Riding Hood Musical in Mandarin by SRT

Even though Sophie’s Mandarin was challenged when she tried to comprehend and make sense of some of the fast moving songs and dialogues, she enjoyed every bit it and even correctly predicted the plot twist at the end.

In my opinion, such engaging performance are a great way for kids to be pick up Mandarin the fun way outside of the classroom. I’m a firm believer that in order for kids to master their Mother Tongue, they must be exposed to the language frequently be it through reading, speaking or listening. I’m so glad that we have such quality Mandarin plays and musicals catered to young audiences to help them appreciate their Mother Tongue.

Get your tickets for Red Riding Hood Musical  

Red Riding Hood is recommended for kids from 5 years and up. The musical will be staged from 20 July  to 1 September 2017, so bring your whole family down for a fabulous time to watch the Red Riding Hood musical in Mandarin where they can learn the importance of family and learning from our elders!

Ticketing Details

Tickets start from $25 onwards and you can book via Sistic.

Dates
20 July to 1 September 2017

Show Timing
Weekends & Public Holiday : 11am & 2pm
Weekdays : 10am

Venue
KC Arts Centre Home of Singapore Repertory Theatre
20 Merbau Road
Robertson Quay
Singapore 239035

 

 

Don’t miss these posts where I  share resources on learning Chinese

 

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*A Juggling Mom received complimentary tickets to Red Riding Hood. Images used with credits to SRT.

Getting to Johor Bahru from Singapore by Bus

If you’re fed up with the frustrating traffic jams when driving up to Johor Bahru, here’s another alternative- why not take the bus to JB?

We head up to JB a few times a year simply because we find that it’s a more economical “staycation”. With our favourable exchange rate, about S$1 to Rm$3, a family can certainly enjoy a fair bit of savings for entertainment and dining. 

READ ALSOAustin Heights Water and Adventure Park in JB 

On our recent visit to JB, we decided to take the public bus. I had my reservations initially and stared hard at hubby when he suggested that. 

Can we manage with our luggage? 

Are the buses clean?

Will it be very crowded and will we be stuck in a jam with the rest of the cars? 

But surprise, surprise, it was not too shabby a ride.

Taking the bus to JB from Singapore

There are two route you can use to take the bus to JB either from Singapore Woodlands Checkpoint or Tuas Checkpoint. 

We went with Woodlands since we were staying at Doubletree by Hilton, which is close to JB Sentral. 

READ ALSO: Where to stay in JB

At Singapore Woodlands Checkpoint

We took an Uber to Woodlands Checkpoint from our home. Upon arrival, we proceed to the Checkpoint building. We tried our luck to purchase last minute train tickets but the next available ride was half a day later at 4pm.

We made our way up the lift with our luggage which we kept to a minimum since we were only going for 3days. It took us 20 minutes to clear Singapore immigration and this was considered fast since it was still the second Hari Raya weekend.

After that was done, we took a quick toilet break because you don’t want to turn blue from holding in your pee while you’re in a bus on the causeway.

Here you want to make sure you queue for the right bus. There a separate queue for the SBS bus and CW bus.

The CW bus or Causeway Link bus is a cross-border service operated by Malaysian bus operator and it picks up passengers from Kranji MRT Station, Queen Street, Newton Circus and Jurong to get to Woodlands Checkpoint. For more information, you can read about it here.  

If you didn’t take the CW to get to Woodlands Checkpoint, then queue for either Bus No. 160 or 170 as both buses will have to stop at JB Sentral Checkpoint. Bus No. 160 starts from Jurong East Interchange (beside the Jurong East MRT and Bus No. comes from Kranji MRT .

Bus fare: S$1.93 (With EZ-Link card); $2.50 (Cash).

 

Sophie saw the above poster of prohibited items and joking told me, Sorry no ninjas on the bus allowed.

At JB Sentral Checkpoint

When you arrive at JB Sentral Checkpoint, proceed to the immigration counter to get your passport stamped. For Singaporeans, no immigration card is required for entry into Malaysia. Here it took us another 30 minutes to clear the Malaysian immigration.

TIP: We discovered that the queues tend to be shorter at counters 3,4, 7,8, 11,12 as they have 2 counters to serve one queue. 

Travel time from Singapore to JB by bus

So how long did it take us to get from Singapore Woodlands Checkpoint to JB Sentral Checkpoint? A little more than 2 hours. 

And the best part? Buses have their own bus lane so we were zipping by the cars that were stuck in a jam on the causeway. Travel time was minutes and may have been faster if the cars kept the bus lane clear when we were exiting the causeway.

After we exited the immigration, we made sure to get our pre-pad data which allows us to Uber and Grab our way around JB too. We went with DIGI and got 7G of data for 1 week at 20 RM. 

Don’t pull your hair out in frustration the next time you get caught in another insane traffic jam to JB. Try the buses or train and don’t forget to look for Gong Cha at City Square Mall too!

Comparing ticket prices

Here’s a quick price comparison between different modes of transport

Tickets for KTM – S$5  from Singapore to JB and 5RM from JB to Singapore.
Tickets for bus – $2 from Singapore to JB
Hired car – $150 return trip from Singapore to JB

 

Kids tickets still exits in Malaysia! S$17 for a family of 3 on Saturday.

If you’re heading to JB, don’t miss these posts where I share some of my shopping finds and places to go cafe hopping across the causeway as well.

Enjoyed reading this post? Do like my Facebook page to get more family friendly travel updates. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Susankoh) or Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for more travel and parenting posts.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil in Singapore

Cirque du Soleil is back in Singapore once again to thrill and delight audience with their spectacular circus acts with KOOZA. As Cirque du Soleil fans, hubby and I we wouldn’t miss it in the world and we attended the premiere last Wednesday for our date night. The event was graced by many media personalities and Sophie was so envious when we told her we saw the folks from The Smart Local.

The show was at 8pm and we arrived at the trademark blue-and-yellow big top, right next to the Marina Bay Sands, half an hour in advance. Since videography and photography are not allowed during the performance, we snapped some photos outside the Big Top and at the M1 booth where we did a GIF video and received a print out of it which doubles up as a coaster.

 

KOOZA Seating Plan

Many friends have wondered how the stage inside the Big Top looks as it doesn’t appear very big from outside. As you can see from the seating plan, you’ll get a 360 view of the stage from almost anywhere you seat. Almost…

This was my view for Category 5 and I was 6 rows from the back.

For those of you who are contemplating to buy your tickets, I’ll recommend that you go for Category 6 and below and do avoid the seats near to the gray sections on both extreme corners as your view may get blocked by the beams.

Kooza Singapore seating plan. Image credit: Sistic

Kooza Singapore price table. Image credit: Sistic

For Category 6, ticket prices are at $98. If you’re taking the Family Package,  you’ll enjoy 20% discount where prices are at $78/40. Otherwise, you can also enjoy 15% discount as a Watsons Member. Do note that these prices only apply for the Tuesday to Thursday evening shows and Friday matinees shows only. Since it’s a family friendly show, children are welcome and kids aged 2 and above must have a ticket for admission.

While prices may sounds steep especially for the whole family, be rest assured that you’re paying for world class performance and it will be worth every dollar for an electrifying and captivating experinece that will be so memorable for everyone. Here are some highlights of what you can expect from the show and my personal favourite acts.

Highlights of KOOZA

The name KOOZA is inspired by the Sanskrit word “Koza” which means “box”, “chest”, or “treasure” and emerging from this magical box is an international cast of 50 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors from 19 different countries performing physically astonishing feats and laugh-out-loud antics to a live soundtrack fusion of jazz, funk and Bollywood beats.

Seen by over 7 million people around the world, KOOZA pays homage to Cirque du Soleil’s roots by combining thrilling, heart-stopping acrobatic performance with the art of clowning.

There were a total of 8 acts for the 2.5 hours show. In between, it was interspersed with clown acts where the clowns, a dog and king would drag unsuspecting audience up on the stage to participate in the show.

The show kept everyone on the edge of our seats from the beginning to the end. In the very first act, my mind was blown away by the 3 young contortionists who balanced and manoeuvred on top of one another while executing  mind blowing moves with such fluidity and grace. And what was more amazing was how the trio managed to do it with speed and accuracy in union that earned them thunderous applause from the audience.

The single aerial hoops and hoops act were another of my favourite acts and the performers did it so effortlessly as they controlled their hoops with great precision. I was holding my breath, each time the performer balanced herself precariously on the hoop, once with just one foot and even her neck a she was lifted and spun into the air.

The unicycle duo was another act that deserves a mention. While it may not be as jaw dropping as the wheel of death, it certainly requires lots of dexterity and acrobatic control to carry his performer while balancing on the unicycle and dancing with choreographic grace along to his partner.

The wheel of death was the highlight of the night as the pair of dare devils displayed exceptional teamwork as they leapt within and on top of the  wheel which had the audience shrieking in disbelief. In fact, there was a nail biting moment when one of the performers nearly lost his balance when he tripped on his skipping rope. Talk about a close shave.

Although the Teeterboard may sound like a classic circus act, KOOZA raises the bar with unbelievable challenges as performers are flung into the air on silts, And if that’s not impressive enough, they even attempt it with a single metal stilt! Whether of not, they managed to pull it off, you’ll have to watch it for yourself to find out.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the show for you, as I’m sure you don’t want to miss it for yourself. I’m always blown away by Cirque du Soleil’s performances and the artists dedication and commitment  to their craft and showmanship! And as the Chinese idiom goes, 台上一分钟,台下十年功. A lesson that we should impart to our kids on the importance of practice, practice and practice till it’s perfect.

KOOZA merchandise

We managed to snag a few photos with the performers of the night and they were still all smiles for the camera

These guys who worked it on the Wheel of Death

 

 

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil in Singapore

Dates : 12 July to 20 August 2017

Venue : Under the Big Top at Bayfront Avenue next to Marina Bay Sands

Duration: 2 hours 30 mins (including 30 min interval)

Ticket Pricing:

CAT 1 (VIP Rouge – First Row): Starts from S$318
CAT 2 (VIP Rouge): Starts from $298
CAT 3 (A Reserve): Starts from $178
CAT 4 (B Reserve): Starts from $146
CAT 5 (C Reserve): Starts from $114
CAT 6 (D Reserve): Starts from $88
CAT 7 (E Reserve – Restricted View): Starts from $124.50*
CAT 9 (G Reserve – Restricted View): Starts from $79.75*
CAT 10 (H Reserve – Restricted View): Starts from $61.50*
CAT 11 (I Reserve – Premium): Starts from $223.00*

*Not applicable for discounts

Book through Sistic here.

 

 

*A Juggling Mom received complimentary tickets to watch Kooza by Cirque du Soleil. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are honest and are my own. Photos are used with credits to Cirque du Soleil.