Vee just turned 4 years old! Here’s his learning progress update…
Right Brain Education
He’s now in Shichida’s 4-year old class, which covers more advanced activities. We’ve adapted our home practice accordingly.
Image play: He tends to peek when covering his eyes with his hands, so now he wears an eye mask. Followed by relaxing on the mattress to visualize coloured balloons and scenes, according to my descriptions. Every time, he raises up his hands to indicate he can “see” the relevant image.
My personal experience with imaging: I believe in the power of image play. During my junior college days, my sports coach taught our team this technique. This helped us in visualising play strategies and preparing for competitions.
I went on to use this technique for other areas of my studies and managed to achieve somewhat of a photographic memory. “Somewhat” here means I’m unable to memorise at a snapshot, but after I spend time reading through the contents of my books / notes, I can capture each page as an image in my mind.
Then when I require any particular piece of information during an examination, I can simply “open” up the page in my mind and recall it accurately. Through imaging, I was able to remember a humongous amount of content in my University course while having more time to read up beyond the given texts and doing deeper-level thinking.
Heightened Sensory Perception (HSP): On certain days, he gets 3/3 shape cards correct. Usually, he’s good at prediction and telepathy.
Eye Training: This is the preparatory exercise for memory games and speed reading. He’s learning to move his eye balls according to the line patterns while keeping head still.
Flashcards: I bought a new ink-saving printer (Epson Inkjet Photo L800) to print flashcards. This is the world’s first printer series with in-built Continuous Ink Supply System (CISS). Very suitable for high-volume printing. Worth checking out if you plan to print thousands of flashcards like us. I haven’t used it long enough to judge its reliability though, so far so good after about 400 flashcards. Seriously, I’m creating and printing much faster than I can cut and glue them onto paper cardstock. Too bad, few printers can print directly on thick cardstock.
Anyway, Vee likes flashcards and games sessions. He’s starting to retain a lot of what he sees in a flash, though our main objective of flashcards is for activating the right brain rather than enhancing knowledge. For instance, after seeing the cards for 3 rounds, he can recite very quickly the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs in sequence (鼠牛虎兔龙蛇马羊猴鸡狗猪), just in time for Lunar New Year celebrations.
Memory: He still enjoys photo-memory of his favourite topics, all related to vehicles. I guess Vehicles will be our year-long homeschooling “theme” to maintain his high level of enthusiasm. His favourite now is doing Flash Memory using pictures of MPVs. He’s able to recite quickly all 23 models in the set, including spotting them on the road, even if they’re really far away. To me, most of the MPV models look similar and I can only confirm when I read the name on the car’s body. Even hubby is no fight for Vee!
In case your child has the same interest in cars, here’s the list:
- New Toyota Wish
- Stream RSZ
- Peugeot 5008
- Chana Era CM8
- Avanza 1.3
- Avanza 1.5
- Livina 1.6
He’s ready to recite even more items for flash memory, so we’d be stretching his limit by adding several new items every time he succeeds. This is a fun way of boosting memory power.
His new love for Flash Memory has completely taken over his previous love for Linking Memory. When I play the audio tracks (of the set that sinsei is covering for the month), he’ll listen, follow the pictures and repeat their names. But he isn’t interested in reciting them from memory or arranging them. So I just let him be. Perhaps when we’re at completely new LM cards, he’ll be interested again.
Mandala: This is a new activity for the 4-year old class. (In contrast, I read that Heguru covers it even in younger than 3-year old classes.) Vee’s able to consistently identify the positions of the 4 colours correctly. As expected, he isn’t interested in colouring the shapes.
He finds it tiring after colouring 1 area, and doesn’t like to colour outside the border by accident. If this happens, he’ll insist on me erasing the mistake. I’ve shown him how to draw thick borders before filling in the centre.
Audio memory: By listening to the Multiplication Tables CD and singing, he’s able to recite from x1 to x12, except for a few misses such as 6 x 7 and 11 x 12. Sometimes, he even asks me to recite 13 to 19! It was challenging as I’d to work them out mentally on the spot. Yet we enjoyed it. 🙂
He recently showed interest in reciting Addition +1 to +10 equations. They’re all quite jumbled up for now, so I’m quite stunned when he tries to sing them to Jae. 2+2 is 6, 3+2 is 13… Oh dear, wrong input to Jae?!?
Speed reading: I started recording audio files for speed-listening (at x2 to x4 speeds) while speed reading story books. Vee loves it and I no longer get tongue-twisted! As promised, there’ll be a post detailing how to do this.
After reading Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius*, I’m even more convinced to carry on with Montessori preschool education in our home.
Practical Life: On his birthday, I placed a round children’s table with a small stool next to our regular dining table. Since then, Vee has been having his breakfast, snack and supper at this table. Because he can move easily, he’s able to bring his tray with utensils to the table, bring the milk carton out of the refrigerator, fill up his glass, and return the milk carton. He loves his new-found independence and I should have done this much earlier.
With this set-up, he can start practising many other food-related Practical Life activities.
In the schoolroom, he was on a cutting and glueing frenzy for a while.
Sensorial: I didn’t introduce new materials, so no progress here.
Writing: The sandpaper method is wonderful. Vee already has good fine motor skills and can write the alphabets. I made the Sandpaper Numerals, he worked on them once, and started writing numbers on scraps of paper the following day. (Nope, we don’t buy 4D using the numbers! Ha…)
He can remember the correct strokes, recognise and correct his own mistakes (for example, number “4”) and his handwriting is rather neat for a newbie to writing. Coincidentally, recent Shichida worksheets require him to write numbers, so he’s enjoying them.
Next up, I’ve finished making Sandpaper Chinese Strokes and flashcards (all 36 of them!) and will be sharing the files for download after final amendments.
Tough work, yet I believe this is currently the most effective tool to practise handwriting with ease.
Language (English): He continues to work on the Large Movable Alphabets and reads simple 3-4 letter words.
Language (Chinese): He’s keen on recognising Chinese words and can read simple sentences. I’m starting to incorporate these into our Montessori shelves.
Mathematics: I haven’t bought the Math materials yet. He’s definitely ready to move into this area. From Shichida practice, he’s able to recognise small quantity by sight most of the time. Nowadays, he’s keen on counting, so he counts after recognition by sight, to confirm his answer.
He’s becoming more interested in big quantities such as hundreds and thousands, so we arranged 200 recycled bottle caps to visualise the quantity.
Behaviour: Recently, he became a lot more sociable, chatting non-stop with friends and relatives during Lunar New Year (even if they meet once in a year). He chats with people from any age group, with a preference for those older than him.
He also started avoiding activities that need some hard work, especially those that he has less interest in. So for these areas, I must prepare materials that can attract his interest to work with them.
Other Learning Activities
Language (Bahasa Malaysia): We currently learn BM with audio files, including nursery rhymes, Siri Buku Pantas Membaca, and those from EuroTalk. Vee shows initiative and interest in the language. Sometimes, he speaks to me in some BM and I don’t how to reply him! Moving forward, I’m engaging help to record our BM reader series into audio files, for more effective learning.
Music: Vee’s progressing well at the Harmony Road Music Course. Every day, we practise on the digital keyboard right after breakfast. I’ll try to figure out the notes for songs he enjoys singing. After I start playing, he’ll watch and try playing on his own, correcting himself if he played the wrong note. He’ll stop me from giving any help unless he asks for it, and I respect that, in line with the Montessori method.
So far, he can play some songs from the course plus his favourite nursery rhymes such as Ten Little Indians, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Happy Birthday.
His listening skills are more developed than his finger muscles, so he usually plays with 1 finger. Recently, he’s more keen on playing with all fingers and looks forward to playing with both hands someday.
For ear training, we play “Guess the Notes” game where he hides, I play a few notes and he has to sing the solfege. He’s good with Do to Sol. Then we swop, where I hide and he plays.
He likes pretending to be the teacher and “teach” Jae and I. Below, he drew the musical notes, the same way as the teacher did:
Since I’ve no background in music, I bought Complete Color Coded Flash Cards for All Beginning Music Students*. After a few flashcard sessions and some games to revise what we learnt, he can identify the basic notes from Do to Sol, several beats and rests.
Art & Creativity: He draws when he feels like it and has finally showed some interest in coloring, all thanks to a fabric colouring book (a Christmas present). This is the ONLY colouring activity that he’ll eagerly bring out to colour nicely within borders. From this observation, I know that he’s able to colour within borders, just that he needs the right material to attract him to put in the effort.
At long last, his craze over LEGO DUPLO has dwindled. Daddy and MIL bought the entire miniature Ferrari LEGO sets, which I completed with a bit of his help. He loves playing with them when Jae naps. He should be ready to play with regular LEGO but for safety reasons, I can only introduce that to him when Jae is no longer mouthing small items.
Sports: We finally got the punctured tyres on his balance bike fixed and I attached the pedals. Within 1 hour, Vee successfully pedalled on 2 wheels while barefooted. The following day, he could pedal with his slippers on. After that, he could cycle all on his own, without needing me to hold the bike while he tries to step on the pedals. Whoever invented the balance bike is a genius!
Cycling a 2-wheel bike is his latest craze and he does that for up to 1 hour a day outdoors. Excellent workout!
He also started attending swimming lessons with his cousins. Thankfully, he warmed up rather quickly to the instructor, even without Daddy/Mummy right beside him. (This is his first non-parent-accompanied class.) He learnt to kick his legs in water and blow bubbles. Great start for a boy who hates getting his face and hair wet.
Others: One recent obsession is over this Lamborghini remote control car, meant for children 6 years old and above. It’s a Christmas present and he has already waited 1 year before being allowed to try it out.
Initially, he was too young to maneuver the car. If I simply let him play with it, he’d end up banging furniture, banging people walking in the house, and potentially damaging the car. So I used the Montessori style to teach him one basic technique at a time. He has to practise and master the technique before I’ll show him the next. Eventually, he learnt to control the car rather well. (And I had fun playing with it in the process too!)
Hope our birthday boy will have fun learning and playing for the rest of the year!