At 3.5 years old, Vee’s abilities are showing every day, perhaps what Prof. Shichida refers to as output. I’m glad to have listened, focusing only on input in the first 3 years without expecting any output. Output will come when the child is older and the foundation is set right.
Right Brain Education
We’ve been rather consistent with home practice except the past month, when Vee had been ill and we travelled.
Vee’s hand reading skill is very good, often getting 4 out of 5 correct. I usually get only 1 correct (sometimes zero!) and need to practice a lot more.
HIs prediction ability is excellent too. We watched some London 2012 Olympics matches and let him guess the winner. His guesses were all correct! No, this skill is not to be abused in gambling, ha…
We do dots practice using Shichida dots workbook. On one occasion, when he got many answers correct, I asked him how he did it. He said he could image the dots jumping about.
Doing Math using intuition: We revisited the concept of odd and even numbers, without any visual aid. (I was washing dishes after breakfast one morning.) I gave examples such as, “Share 4 o-cereals between 2 persons means 2 for Vee and 2 for Mummy, with 0 as remainder, so 4 is an even number.” and “Share 5 o-cereals between 2 persons means 2 for Vee and 2 for Mummy, with 1 as remainder, so 5 is an odd number.” After a few examples, we played a game where he guessed whether a number (e.g. 19) is odd or even, he got about 90% correct.
He has been helping to choose topics and images for new photographic memory and eye training materials. This motivates him to practice regularly and he’s doing very well. Currently, up to 7 objects in correct positions for instant memory and space memory.
In Shichida class, his new favourite activity is “flash memory”, where the students try to recall a sequence of flashcards.
Vee continues to enjoy “linking memory”. We’ve covered all the sets bought from Shichida, and have started repeating them to match what’s covered in class for the term. When he gets bored (because he’s already knows the materials), I’d skip home practice for a while and resume later on. In future, I’d have to create new materials.
He enjoys doing mazes and dot-to-dot activities, so after the usual home practice, he gets to do these. This keeps him motivated!
While I’m hopeless at directions, Vee amazingly remembers the road names that hubby has taught him. Great, he shall be my future chauffeur.
Some Mummies have asked how I get Vee to do home practice for 1 to 2 hours a day. I don’t have to make him do it. Keep a high positive energy level during lesson time, include activities / themes that the child enjoys, and use a child-led approach. Often, he’s the one who wants more activities while I need to stop lesson for lunch break.
“Currently, no conventional preschool (including Montessori) teaches a child to do Math using intuition. Only right brain educators do so — this is one of many reasons why we homeschool.”
Ever since I became busier with Baby Jae’s 3 meals, we’ve been moving on very slowly with the activities in Karen Tyler’s albums (review here).
Practical Life: We tried some water activities involving sponge and syringe. It was a little messy, so we’ll revisit this when Vee is more ready.
Sensorial: We’ve learnt the shapes in the geometric cabinet and geometric solids, and practised spotting similar shapes in the environment. One afternoon, after settling Baby Jae for his nap, I was surprised to see 4 completed towers with knobless cylinders. Vee felt very proud of his hard work!
We briefly touched on knobbed cylinders, still a lot more to explore.
Language (English): Vee’s familiar with the letter sounds and started asking me where certain words are in his favourite Read at Home* reader series. So we finally started on simple phonics. The first words that he was looking for were “Dad”, Mum” and “Jan”.
Besides the albums, Karen gives very practical ideas for handling a child’s behaviour. I use her tips throughout the day.
Having 2 children means a multi-age environment, which is one great feature of a Montessori classroom. For our homeschool to be more effective, we need at least 1 more student, which means another baby. God-knows-how-I-can-manage-that.
Anyway, over the months, Vee has been learning to:
- be gentle with people and things
- wait for his turn — especially Mummy’s attention and a toy that Jae is holding
- teach younger child — I was impressed when he patiently taught Baby Jae to use hand signs instead of fussing.
- watch out for baby’s safety — when they play together, he’d remind me to remove the small items
- learn to manage his emotions when baby tries to disturb him or his work — In a good mood, he’d say, “Mummy, please tell Jae to leave others’ work alone.” In a bad mood, he goes, “HEHHH!!! Stop doing THAT!!!”
Other Learning Activities
Language (Chinese): We’re a bilingual family, so Vee speaks fluent English and Chinese. One recent day, he suddenly “decided” to speak Chinese to me and English to Daddy. So in the car, he switched between the 2 languages depending on who he was talking to. He did it effortlessly while I felt very “strange”!
We continue to read Chinese books, and listen to audio songs / recitations. During lesson, I try to use both languages as a medium of instruction instead of only English. For instance, if the worksheet instructions are in English, I’d translate them into Chinese too. This is in preparation for attending a Chinese primary school, where the core subjects are taught in Chinese.
I bought several non-fiction books to familiarise ourselves with learning Science in Chinese. Having to teach Math and Science in Chinese is a big language barrier for me because of all the bombastic technical terms!
Language (Bahasa Malaysia): He likes the Paul dan Mary reader series, so we bought the remaining 6 books.
He even initiated saying “Selamat tinggal” to his grandparents after a Skype session! I bought a dictionary with definitions in Bahasa, Engish and Chinese, and a picture book with vocabulary in the 3 languages. Next step is to engage a home tutor to teach all of us.
Music: After 2 terms with Kindermusik “Our Time” (meant for 18 months to 3 years old), Vee is ready to advance to a higher level. This boy absolutely enjoys music. After much researching, comparison and attending a trial class, we’re rather set on joining the Harmony Road Music Course to learn solfege singing, ear training and more. After the trial class, he kept practising on his own and bugging me to bring him to the same class again. My job now is to look for a suitable centre, teacher and timing — easier said than done!
Art & Creativity: We tried painting suncatchers. He still loves painting and play dough but only gets to do these when Baby Jae is very co-operative.
He explored a box of tangram shapes and tried to use them to build a rectangle. The rectangle kept growing as he added more shapes until it filled the entire placemat!
Recently, he’s on a Lego Duplo craze (here are all the sets we have), building complex vehicles and giving them names like Arnadill and double-decker-police-car-bus-ambulance, which I don’t quite really “get it”.
TV: The 2 weeks that Vee was ill coincided with London Olympics 2012, so we watched the games together for short periods. He finally got to watch TV, learning about different sports, some rules and guessed the winners. The novelty died off after a while. Back to health, back to toys, he didn’t even ask about the TV or Olympics.
iPad: Similar to the TV, Vee doesn’t have access to our iPad. During his recovery stage, we skipped regular home practice and tried out a few Apps for fun — jigsaw puzzles, mazes, handwriting etc.
But at this age, he should be practising his three-finger grasp (an essential pre-writing skill emphasised in Montessori) instead of only his index finger. So we bought a stylus that looked like a pencil. It’s also great for writing Chinese characters and adding notes to PDF documents.
If your child plays often with Apps, I’d highly recommend getting a suitable stylus. This is the one we bought: elago Stylus*
Sports: After the recent swim, he got the viral infection and we haven’t hit the pool again. Got to do it again soon before having to rebuild his water confidence. We finally got the pedals for his balance bike but the tyres need some repairing. Hubby is teaching Vee basic table tennis (by hitting the wall) and he’s trying well at serving.
Excursions: During term breaks and public holidays, we’d go for short road trips and excursions. We’ve been to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Deerland Park, Genting Strawberry Leisure Farms (to see strawberries, vegetables, lavender & mushrooms), KL Bird Park, Aquaria KLCC, Bukit Tinggi Rabbit Farm, and Colmar Tropicale (a French-themed resort).
In Singapore, we’ve been to the Singapore Zoo, Bird Park, Sentosa Underwater World, the magnificent Gardens by the Bay, and a wonderful public library.
We rode the cable car to Genting, a monorail, a Singapore bus and the MRT. These rides are a BIG deal for the boy who loves anything with wheels. (As a side note, Baby Jae has followed everywhere we went, often napping in the baby carrier and missing much of the actions!)
It’s not easy homeschooling while handling a teething and clingy baby. Yet, bringing the kids out of the house for Vee to attend school every morning would probably give me a bigger headache. We’ll pick up speed when Baby Jae is more settled. In the meantime, no rush, just go with the flow and play more.
The rest of Vee’s quarterly update on health, potty training and sleeping is posted at Mummy’s Reviews here.
P.S. I’ve created a Mummy’s Homeschool Facebook page to share interesting info / links / etc. on homeschooling. You’re invited to “Like” our Facebook page here.
P.P.S. Coming up: I’m compiling a list of The Shichida Method FAQs based on our own experiences, since many Mummies have asked me similar questions. I’d try to share as long as it’s not copyrighted information. If you’ve anything particular to be addressed, please leave a comment.
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