Friday, 25 May 2012

The Pig and Rabbit is back!


Right. That was a looooong break from blogging.  Since my last post was on 25 May 2011, I figured that I might as well wait a full year before posting something new.  So here we are – 25 May 2012! The year of silence is official over, and I’m ready to say hello again.

Quick updates are in order.  Emily, almost five, is midway through her K1 year in school and we celebrated Nicholas’ first birthday about two months ago. 

The past year saw us seriously bump up Emily’s music instruction. She’s still in the Music for Young Children (MYC) programme, but we switched teachers about a year ago, and now we’re doing what can only be described as “MYC on Steroids”.  Just keeping up with the programme requires Emily to practise on the piano for somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes a day.  But she has really learnt a lot this past year, including sightreading across two octaves on the staff and two-note chords for C major, G major and A minor. 

In January, we also added the violin to the mix.  After a disappointing start at a certain well-known music school when Emily was three, we stopped sending her to violin lessons and her 1/36 was left untouched in our music room at home.  However, because she kept asking us for violin lessons, we eventually enrolled her in NAFA’s violin programme and she started in their Preparatory class (with a 1/10-size violin) this year.  Violin practice probably takes Emily another half an hour each day, although she has been known to practice for up to an hour and a half on days when she feels particularly motivated.

With all this going on, it’s a wonder we had time for other home learning activities.  We have had to scale down a bit, as my time is now split between two children, but thankfully, we have still been able to get some things done. 

Let’s get Mathematics out of the way first.  We made good progress with Right Start Math (RSM) but I hesitated when we reached four-digit addition last year because Emily seemed to be struggling a bit with place value. The worksheets literally asked the child to solve "2631 + 1250 = ___ " which seemed a bit much to me. 

Thus, when other mummy friends purchased Math U See packages from the local distributor, I jumped on the bandwagon to give Emily more practice with basic concepts like addition, subtraction and place value.  We completed the Primer level programme fairly quickly, and are now working on the Alpha books.  I suspect that we’ll be in a better place to resume our RSM Level B work once we’ve completed Alpha.

Topping off the Mathematics line-up are the abacus classes which Emily does in school.  They are currently working on multi-number addition and subtraction and Emily seems to enjoy the workbook-based programme enough to keep going with it for a while.

We haven’t felt the need to work too hard on reading this year.  After Emily reached a certain level of proficiency (probably around Book 8a of Peter and Jane), we stopped formal reading instruction altogether.  These days, we just try to find time to read books together, and I ask her to read brochures, mailers, recipes, road signs, advertisement billboards and other random print.  We continued reading books listed in the Five in a Row curriculum - including The Story of Ping, Papa Piccolo, Night of the Moonjellies and The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge - but have not done a new lapbook since the New Baby one she worked on. I definitely want us to read together a lot more in the year ahead.

Emily is now reading comfortably at a second-grade level and she is enjoying the readers at that level which I purchased recently. She has also mastered all the Dolch commonly-used sight words for the Pre-Primer to Third Grade levels, which has helped her read a larger variety of books.   

Handwriting was a new challenge in the last few months, with more worksheets coming in from school now that she is in K1.  This will be something we definitely have to work on in the year ahead.  We also made a start on spelling but haven’t been working very consistently on this in recent months.

For Chinese, we’ve been depending on Emily’s kindergarten to give her a proper foundation and we also started Emily on Berries classes, which she enjoys.  I want (and probably need!) to do more here.  Along with the other one thousand things Emily and I would like to do, that is!

All said and done, it’s been a busy, busy year.  Phew! That was the catch-up post. Still with me?  J

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