Monday, 28 October 2013

The Lesson of the Sword! aka Make Your Own Sword Today!

We have a house rule: we never buy swords nor guns for the kids as toys. This is because we felt that we don't need to encourage violence. So when Isaac was just a baby and hubbs and I heard of this house rule my cousin had for his kids - we thought it made a lot of sense, and so we adopted it too.  

It was fine for Isaac - he wasn't really into swords nor guns, and on the rare occasion where he expressed any interest in having a sword or a gun for a toy - he was easily dissuaded or distracted by some other stuff. Asher was a different story. Since he was very young, he would love, absolutely lurve, playing soldiers, using other toys as his make believe gun or rifle or sword. Always. It was really very odd, as we hardly exposed him to such things since Isaac wasn't really crazy about such things, and Asher started showing these preferences before he went to childcare. 

It is just like him liking the colour green - we didn't expose the colour to him at all, and yet he likes it. All this has caused me to think that perhaps colour preferences, and even him liking to play with swords and guns - are really quite innate preferences.
The kids love the good swords I made them! They're really hardy!
Top left hand picture by Orange Studios
Isaac has fun playing with swords and guns too, but not with the amount of passion Asher has for it. Correspondingly, since Asher was quite young, like age 2 or so, he started to use items and pretend they were his sword/gun/rifle - let's just call it his 'weapon'. When he learnt to play with link cubes or Lego, he would use them to make his weapon. When he realises that Mummy dearest is handy at making stuff, he started to ask me to make a weapon for him. And because of our house rule... I resisted for the longest time. Using all manner of delay tactics, and excuses, I have up my sleeves, I kept saying no, or later... But he is very persistent.

Another reason why I procrastinated is because I was trying to think of a way to make A Good Sword.  I didn't want to make a two dimensional one like the one below - it was too flimsy and would go to pieces in no time at all. I wanted to make one which was very solid, that you could really have a mock duel with. One which would really hurt, if it hit you. So ironic, isn't it. Here is my inner child, wanting to have a real sword duel, fighting against the grown up mummy, who is supposed to dissuade violence and prevent the children from hurting one another.

Then one day, a friend mentioned to me that she had read an article that kids playing with weapons don't necessarily mean they become more violent, something like that. And suddenly, with that mind barrier removed, I had a fantastic idea for making A Good Sword!

So, how do you make A Good Sword?
If you look at the tip of the sword Isaac is holding (in the picture on the left of the collage above), you can see a tiny triangle. This is because the sword is simply a strip of corrugated cardboard about three inches by fifteen inches long, folded along the lines of the cardboard to form a triangular cross section. Use duct tape in the colour of your (child's) choice, and tape it all up. Make two short one and a half inches of the same cardboard triangular cross section for each side of the 'blade' for the hilt. Use duct tape again to join and secure the small pieces to make the hilt. Voila! Good swords above. Really hard too. It really hurts if you get hit by them, so do tell the kids (and adults) to be careful with where they swing them.

The kids loved the good swords. They were very solid and are still in use. My fear that the kids will become very violent and start hurting each other with the good swords didn't materialise either. Shawna even tried to stand on the hilt of her good sword as she was trying to pretend that it was a pogo stick?! 
Shawna & Asher with their classic 2 dimensional sword, designed by Isaac kor kor! :)
Then one day, a few months after we made the good swords, Isaac came to me to say that he wanted to make a new sword for himself. Apparently he wanted to make a good 'ol two-dimensioned sword like the ones in the picture above. I was a little disgruntled.

Me:"Why do you need to make another sword? You still have the one Mummy made for you, isn't it?"
Isaac:"I know, but I want to make another one."
Me:"Okay okay, you go and draw it yourself, I will help you cut it out with the penknife, but you draw it."
Isaac:"Okay Mummy." and he happily started drawing on the cardboard I provided.
Me, muttering under my breath as I watched him:"The one I made for you is a very good sword you know."
Isaac glanced at me, came over to hug me, looked me in the eye and said:"Yes, Mummy, I still like the sword you made for me very much. It's just that I want to try."

I was startled as I realised how silly I was behaving, and how Isaac had picked up on my unhappiness, thinking that he didn't like nor appreciated the sword I made for him. And I realised I was doing something contrary to what I usually try to do - I was preventing him from learning from his own mistakes. With his assurance that he would still like my sword, my negative feelings about his latest craft venture dissipated and we happily got on to making a good old fashion two dimensional cardboard sword. 

The twins saw his new sword and immediately wanted one for themselves too. Thus I replicated the design that Isaac drew out, and cut out two for Asher and Shawna. Isaac and the twins got to experience for themselves how flimsy this sword was after awhile. And now, months on, these two dimensional swords have been thrown away, and they still have their Good Swords to play with.

And Isaac says:"You were right, Mummy! Your sword is better! :)"

All is well in Tan Camelot ;)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

How to get your bookworms kids to stop reading after lights off?

Now, remember my earlier post on Start Reading Young aka The How To Get Kids To Love Reading Since Young post? Well, if you succeeded in making your kids love reading and love books, you may have a happy problem on your hands! How to get kids to stop reading when it is time to sleep?! One of my close friends just asked this question in a group chat that was filled with mummies of young children, yours truly included. My friend's child is very young, just about 22 months old. I have tried the following ways with my three children, and my eldest is currently 6 years old.
Set a Limit - know your child's habits!
As mentioned in the Start Reading Young post, we often have to go through a "bargaining process" with the kids. Do this at the beginning, before you start reading to the kids. Look at the time, gauge how many books you can read, and propose a number. This number depends on how much time you have, and on the character of your child/children... 

For example, when Isaac was young and we still read books to him, he would be fine if we said 3 books. A short bargaining session later, we may end up agreeing to 4 books. We read the 4 books, say lights off, and he is okay, because he understands that we had an agreement, and he abides by it. Same for Shawna.

But Asher is another kind. He would smile and beguile you with his mesmerising eyes to get you to read one more book, and one more book, and one last book - and all this is after you already read to him the agreed 4 books! So, now we know how to deal with him... Say we have time for 5 books:

Me:"Okay, let's read 3 books tonight! Then we switch off the lights, and sleep!"
Asher:"No! Read 5 books!!!"
Me:"It's late! 3 is enough!"
Asher:"No! 5 is more enough!!!"
Me:"Okay, let's compromise at 4 books!"
Asher:"What is compromise?"
Me:"Er, that means we both give in, and agree to a middle number. 4 is enough."
Asher:"Hmmm okay 4 is enough."

After reading the 4 books, Asher puppy-eyes us and begs for one more book...
Me:"One LAST book ah... then we sleep!"
Asher:"Yes, 5 is enough!"
Me:"So one last book, correct?"
Me:"Are you absolutely sure?!"
Asher:"Yes, Mummy! Just read!!!"

And so you know, yes, I sometimes start bargaining at 1 book - when we only have time for 3... Or at zero books, when we only have time for 1 or 2....

Pre-empt! Pre-empt! Pre-empt!
Remember how, as a child, you're reading some exciting novel, and mum comes in, says "Bed time!" and just switches off the light? That is just plain annoying. And similarly, the kids don't like to suddenly stop whatever it is they are doing either - be it reading, or doing a craft work or playing a game. So what we found very useful to us, is to pre-empt the child/children. We tell them things like:

"We're leaving soon!"
"When you're done playing this round, we have to stop!"
"I'm going to bathe now, when I come out of the bedroom, we have to go!" 

We start to tell them such things as early as half an hour before we need to really go. And we say it repeatedly. It's naggy, yes. But this gets them mentally prepared to go. And it's easier to get them out of the house / or stop their activity, when it is time to do so.

In particular with books and reading, we say this:
"Okay, end of book one. Two more books to go!"
"Now, we're going to start reading the LAST book! After this book, lights off, sleep!!!"
And during the reading of the last book "After this book, sleep ah?" for like at least 5 times!!!

Maintain Your Stand!
If you have a real stubborn bookworm on your hands, he or she may start throwing a tantrum and demand for more books when you stop reading. A particularly tenacious one I heard of even got down from the bed, took books and started flipping the pages - in the dark! Some go on milk strikes - refusing to drink if you didn't continue reading. Sorry guys, I'm afraid you'd just have to maintain your stand, and stop reading after the promised number of books. The kids are merely trying to test your limits and push their boundaries. Tell them firmly:"Mummy is very happy that you love to read books, but if you don't sleep, your eyes and brain cannot rest, and then you won't be able to read any more books! Let's read more tomorrow!"

Tell a story - in the dark!!
Fortunately (must look on the bright side, you know), I have kids who really love reading. So one trick I get them to settle down and not throw a tantrum during lights off time - is to promise to tell them a story after lights off - provided they lie down and close their eyes. Just use any fairy tale you're familiar with, and tell an elongated version of it. Usually, the kids are really tired and after listening with their eyes closed - they drop off pretty quickly. Sometimes, when I am tired, I will sing to them in the dark instead - it's easier to autopilot sing a song than to tell a story, I've found! 

Leave it to them
I have found that you especially need to maintain your stand, when the kids are very young. Nowadays, the kids are bigger, and so I tend to reason with them more. And I give them the choice of reading on their own if they want to. I will switch on a small light (ours is a desk lamp seated on the floor in a corner), and say "You can continue reading, if you want to. But don't read for too long, or you will be very tired tomorrow morning. It is your choice. Switch off the light when you're done." Usually, they will read for awhile, switch off the light, and come to bed.

Of course, inevitably, Isaac once read too late into the night and pay for it the next day. He would be tired and lethargic from lack of sleep. I will take this opportunity to remind him the entire day that he feels this way because he slept late the night before. This happened once or twice, and it seldom ever happens now. 

If the kids have a big day coming up the next day, be sure you remind them about it. "It's your choice. If you want to stay up late reading, you may wake up late tomorrow and miss going for the party... or worse, go there, and be soooo crankly and shout at all your friends, because you're tired. Oh no." *shake*head" "But of course, it's your choice. You decide." these are my tricks to get them to sleep. What about you? Share your tricks! :)

This post can hardly be sponsored by The Groovy Giraffe - probably the cheapest online bookstore you can find in Singapore - since they presumably wouldn't want kids to stop reading?! But since we have a coupon code to share anyway, we'd just plonk the badge here, for easy reference, you fellow parents of bookworms! :)

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Story of the Stationery Bento (revised!)

@@ My original post was apparently a little confusing when people thought I was talking about whether kids brought stationery to school, and about their interest in mathematics. Thus, I have woken up at 6am on a Sunday morning to revise and add on a bit more on the crux of this blog post... and will move the last bit on adhoc volunteering to another post which I will write this week.

Earlier this year, when we were at our nearby heartland mall, browsing in the book & stationery store, I saw my husband holding many rulers in his hand. Like 20 rulers or something. 

Me:"Why are you buying so many rulers?"
Hubbs:"Oh, for my class to use."
Me:"Oh. Got project ah?"
Hubbs:"Oh, no. For daily use..." and he picked up some pencils and was looking at the price tags...
Me:"Huh, pencils too?"
Hubbs:"Yeah. Some of the kids come to class without anything, so when we ask them to do work, they say they have no pen, no pencil. And will start borrowing from their friends, which irritates them and disturbs them."
Me:" They're soooo poor that they can't afford stationery?"
Hubbs:"Hmmm... not exactly... more like they can't be more bothered... actually, some of them can do the questions... if they try, I know they can do it."

And if you're wondering... these are 15 year old students in a mainstream school we're talking about. 

Thus, I helped  my husband put together a Stationery Bento Set for him to bring to school. 30 plus pencils, 20 rulers, 10 plus erasers and 3 sharpeners. The last two items can be shared, so I didn't provide as many. I questioned if so many rulers were necessary, but hubbs is a maths teacher, and says he wants the kids to each have a ruler so they can learn to measure stuff themselves. Going by the number of rulers he was providing, it seemed like more than half the class needed this stuff.

I wondered aloud how come secondary school students weren't using pens, and used pencils instead. Hubbs sheepishly replied that pencils were cheaper than pens to replace. And he was going to loan the kids the stationery each lesson, and collect it back. Not only because of the cost, but because if he gave the stationery to the kids, they would not bring it back the next lesson to use them. So that did not suit his purpose, he wanted it to be that they could at least do work while they are in class, at school. What happened outside school, was, unfortunately, out of his control.

So apparently, some of these kids are so indifferent and uninterested in school that they simply do not bother to come for class prepared. Not just the math class. Every class.

This really blew my mind. I never expected something like that to be happening in Singapore.

Me:" Huh, serious? Wah nowadays kids so jialat ah? In all the years of my education, I have never encountered any student who would not even go to school without a pencil case."
Hubbs gave a scoff and said:"That's because you went to good schools."
Me:"Where got? My secondary school and junior college can hardly be called one of the best schools in Singapore."
Hubbs:"Your secondary school is definitely above average, and the fact that you can make it to junior college puts you at the top 30% of your cohort..."

Oh yeah, I had often heard that only top 20% of a cohort gets through to junior college in Singapore. I'd always thought that statistic must be wrong as at least 80% of everyone I know went to a junior college in their studying years...

Hubbs:"And it's not "nowadays kids like that" my time also have. My school."
Me:"What?! Your school was like that?! But your school was a very good school!"
Hubbs:" My school didn't have a lot of kids like that, but there were. And even back then, the neighbourhood schools were just as bad as the ones now in this regard."

Still a little aghast at this info I now had, and a bit incredulous to boot, I tried to "verify" this information by "checking with" my other teacher friends and relatives (I have tonnes of friends and relatives who are or were teachers!) I specifically made sure I asked the ones who are teaching or have taught in secondary schools in the local school system. Many of them shake their heads in dismay and told me "Yes, it's like that. In some of the neighbourhood schools, it's like that. Very sad." So, apparently, it is not unique to the school my husband is teaching in. 

It finally started to sink in that what hubbs said is true. Not that I thought he was lying... Perhaps I was hoping against hope that this cannot be... For amidst the conversations that I had with all the teachers, a picture started to emerge... It appears that there is a segment of our population, the bottomest bunch if you will... where kids have parents who are working jobs which take many many hours or have one or more parents who are in Drug Rehab Centres, in and out of prison and/or on probation... or are otherwise occupied such that they are unable to give their children any guidance... and/or a positive role model. And because of that, it's the children who suffer and get sucked into this vicious cycle, as they often end up being disinterested in school, hence, not very educated, get low paying jobs, be disgruntled and unsatisfied with life and gravitate towards undesirable behaviour which may land them in jail, drug rehab, or pregnant before they turn 18...

To make matters worse, I hear true stories of how the Ministry of Education in Singapore grades / ranks / remunerate their teachers and principals, such that it is sometimes actually in the school's interest to expel the student to get the student off their records so that the student's performance or non-performance (as the case may be) would not drag down nor hinder the school's performance. To be fair, I understand that some schools may be so far off the ranks anyway, that they don't really care about the exam results these "problem kids" have, but they too have given up on these kids and figured that with their resources already so stretched, that they should "save the ones that want to be saved" - to use their precious time, effort and resources in helping those who are at least interested enough to turn up in school.

I am speechless. In the past decade, my husband and his colleagues have had to make tonnes of house visits to the home of kids who do not turn up in school, to persuade, convince, and cajole them to go to school. And there are schools trying their best to kick the students out of the school to get them off their responsibility?!

This greatly distresses me. It is clear to me, that it is in the interest of the child and of the society in general, that the child be kept in the school system as long as is possible. This is so that, even if the kids have no positive parental influence, that by at least coming to school, there are teachers around to try, try, TRY their best, to bring the child back to the straight and narrow by giving them at least a minimum education. With a minimum education of at least an 'N' Level cert or an 'O' Level cert, they would be at least able to attend ITE or even a polytechnic. This could, would, should, presumably pave their way to a regular paying legal job and give them a semblance of a normal life.

And as long as the child is physically in school, he/she is not out there stealing, vandalising, taking drugs, and not committing any other undesirable behaviour teens can indulge in when they're out of control. At least when they spend most of their waking hours in school, the school teachers and administrators can at least make sure that none of these is happening - at least during school hours. The aim should be to keep them physically in school as long as you can! Not to kick them out!!!

This is sad. So, so sad.

This really affected me and I kept thinking about it. I keep trying to think of how, of what we can do in order to help this situation.

Firstly, I want to say this to the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development of Singapore:
For the sake of our country, please work together to study this problem and find solutions for students coming from severely disadvantaged backgrounds. Please make allowance for such schools to keep these students in the system and not penalise the school for it. The objective of schools with such students should not be simply to provide them an education in language, maths and science, but also to educate them and guide them in ways which their parents have failed them. If the existing mainstream schools are unable to do this, perhaps we should establish institutions which can perform this role. This is easier said than done, and yes, it will definitely require more resources. But this is important and immediate and urgent attention should be lavished on this.

This is what I call "early intervention". If nothing is being done to help these teens out of their dismal backgrounds and unfortunate way of life, a good portion of them are well on their way to becoming the drug addicts and petty criminals of the future - because those are the role models they see in their lives. To them, it's the norm. The norm!? I have heard of an extreme case where a grandmother had three different grandchildren in her care staying at her flat, because the respective three sets of parents of the three children were all either in jail or drug rehablitation centre. I am not exaggerating. This is true.

Which brings me to my second suggestion. I wonder if it would help that the children had positive role models? You know how we hear of stories and see movies where kids did good for themselves because of an inspirational teachers, or an adult who kind of guided them? What if we have a kind of mentoring system available? Such that families that are whole and stable can offer to mentor students. Not so much like adopting nor fostering (though I think it is very admirable!!!) a child as these come with heavier responsibilities, but mentoring - maybe meet the child once a week at least? For a meal, or just to spend time together etc. Be a positive role model to guide the child, root and cheer the child on, be there for the child. Somehow, I feel that this would be very beneficial to the child. Especially children in their teens, where they are already in the throes of puberty, the time in their lives when they need the most reassurance while they build up their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. 

Now, let me get this straight. No amount of mentoring can solve the many problems the worst of these families have. Mentoring can't get the dad out of jail, or the mum off drugs, or stop the father gambling, or bring the mother back from the dead... what it can possibly do, is to provide kids and teenagers with some moral support and positive role model - to show the kids that life need not be as bleak as they have known all their lives, that it is possible to pull themselves out of the depressing downward spiral, to give them just that bit of impetus to bother to attend school, to at least study enough to make sure they get their 'O' Levels. To inspire and show them that it is possible to live simple. Work honestly. And resist walking in the same exact footsteps of their parents. ...
After writing the above, I found out that there is such a scheme called Enable A Family Volunteer - but I think this is for children in cases of child abuse, neglect and family violence. I think there should be a similar mentoring system for all "latchkey children"! Because sometimes, it isn't only the children in these extreme cases that need attention...

System or not, we should help if we can. If you know of anyone in such severely disadvantaged backgrounds, take the time to talk to the kids. Don't need to get too preachy, just talk, be a friend. Provide some moral support. Be a positive role model. And pray, pray that we have made a difference in their lives, pray that they will see the light and help themselves out.

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post. All thought and opinion belongs to me, Pamela Tan, the Chief Chronicler of Tan Family Chronicles, the family blog.

There will be a separate post on adhoc volunteer organisations like A Packet of Rice , Chope Food for the Needy "Suspended Food Revolution" Pay It Forward, and Project Act of Kindness (PARK). Please email me at emailpamela(a) or fb message me if you know of any other adhoc volunteer movements. Thanks! =)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Start Reading Young!

For those of you who are my personal friends, you have probably seen the following pictures on my Facebook and/or Instagram. And the question I get very often after posting these pictures is "How do you get the kids to read?!" And so, this blog post here will teach you how to inculcate the interest to read in young children! :)
The twins, Asher & Shawna are three years old and Isaac is six. They love reading! Yay!!!
Start reading young
To get children into the habit of reading, you have to start them young. Since the kids were very young, hubbs and I would read to them. "How young?" I hear you ask. Well, preferably from birth, really. In my first pregnancy, I even remember reading to my tummy, well, I mean, to Isaac who was inside my tummy. It's a good way of parent child bonding as the child hears your voice, recognises it and grows to love it. But I do recall that the very first few months after a child is born, were very tiring months. Thus, I think a good time to start reading to your child is when the your child is able to sit up right, propped. If you have not started reading to your child yet - no fret! It's never too late to start! And all children love being read to, so start today!!!
These were some of the earliest pictures I could find of the kids reading. Asher and Shawna were just over a year old.
Read constantly
We read everyday. It is part of the bedtime ritual: read, brush teeth, sleep! Seriously, insist on the bedtime reading. In any case, it is a good activity to calm the kids down to prepare them for bed. Set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes to read at night before lights off. In time, the kids will come to associate the time before bedtime as reading time and they will look forward to it.

When Isaac was young, we would read him a few books before we go to bed. As he got older, we would need to bargain with him on the number of books to be read, if not, we would never get to go to bed.

Me: "Okay Isaac, three books and we sleep."
Isaac:"FIVE books then sleep"
Me:"Three books! Very late already!"
Isaac:"FIVE! FIVE!"
Me:"Oh alright, let's compromise at FOUR books." 
Isaac:"Okay, Mummy..."

Isaac is quite true to his word. If he agrees on four books, four books it is. He would be satisfied with his four books and allow us to switch off the lights without complaint, and go to sleep. Same for Shawna. But Asher... 

Me: "Okay, three books and we sleep."
Shawna and Asher nods.
After reading three books...
Me:"Okay, I'm gonna switch off the lights..."
Asher:"No!!! One more, one more! Four books is enough! Four! Four!"
Me:"One more? After that, sleep?"
Asher:" Yes. One more."
After reading the fourth book...
Me:"Lights off now!!!"
Asher:"No!!! FIVE books is enough! FIVE!!!"

Nowadays, we just keep to our said amount and try not to give in, unless it's still early and we actually have the energy to read. Some nights, we're so tired that we fall asleep while reading and the kids would go:"Wake up! Papa! Read!" or "Just continue reading, Mummy! Don't sleep! "

On the bright side, I am glad we have this bargaining session every night as it means that the kids really like reading :) and in a way... it kind of makes the kids yearn for more! ;p
Hubbs will usually read to the kids first, and then go to sleep since he needs to wake up early. I'd then take over and read to the kids. Hubbs is supposed to read them Chinese books, and me, the English books.
Have fun reading!
You want the kids to enjoy reading? Then you should make it fun and interesting! Animate your voice. Change your voice for the different characters in the stories. Make the wolf sound like a wolf! Make the princess sound like a princess! Intonate your voice. Read like you're having fun, read as though you're signing a song, read like you're being filmed, read as though you're a radio deejay! Don't read in a monotone that will make the dead snore! Make it fun! Use your imagination! Bring the words to life! This way, the children will grow to love the written word!
Surround yourselves with books!
We have a few bookshelves in the bedroom where most of the kids' books are kept. When we go out for meals, I make sure to bring some books along as well. Anywhere we go where I know there'd be waiting to do - I bring books. Books for reading, activity books for Isaac, or colouring books for the twins. We usually bring the doodle notebooks and colouring books for places where we need to keep quiet, and can't read to the kids - like in church, or if we're attending a church wedding or ceremony.

Remember how I said that reading is part of our bedtime ritual? Well, nowadays it is part of the morning ritual: wake up, read, brush teeth! We actually don't ask the kids to read in the morning, they started doing that themselves. And I think it's because they are surrounded by them! The moment they wake up, they see the books, they start to take them to flip.
Sometimes when we are otherwise indisposed, we get Isaac to read to the twins! :p Bottom left hand corner picture shows the boys reading at a restaurant while waiting for our food to arrive.
Buy the books!
For very young kids like below 7 years old, I absolutely believe it is very necessary to buy books for them - as opposed to just borrowing from the library. Kids learn by repetition you see, so I have books which they have probably read more than fifty times by now. They enjoy knowing what will happen next, they interrupt me just to tell me what is going to happen on the next page. They know the story soooo well that they can read along with me - not because the 3 year old twins already know how to read - but because they have read the book soooo many times that they have memorised it! And not just for one book, but for many! And they absolutely love it! So this can only happen if you buy the books and have it with you all the time.

There are also the books which I intentionally buy for the kids because I like the content. Say bible stories (my Alice in Bibleland series), or stories with moral values being highlighted (like the Berenstain Bears series), or books with educational content (like the Magic School Bus series of books). For all these series mentioned, at first glance, for whatever reasons, the kids did not want to read them. Not even to flip them. If I have borrowed these books from the library, I'd return them thinking "Dang! The kids don't like these titles." and I would never borrow them again. However, because I bought these books and have them with me at home, the kids took them off the shelves and just started reading them one day. Now, they love all the three series mentioned!

Hence, books that have good content is worth buying! 
Parents must Persevere!
So parents, if you want your kids to read, you must persevere! In the beginning they may not have the patience to read. However, if you persevere and do all the steps above... slowly and surely, they will start to read. Of course, you must do your part to choose interesting titles. Will share in a separate post on that. But work hard at the above, and soon you'd start to see scenes like the collage below - kids reading on their own! :) I love to see them reading on their own, that's why I keep taking pictures of them doing so! :)
Now, if I have finally convinced you to get cracking at reading to the kids... and you find that you want to buy some books... Let me introduce you to The Groovy Giraffe! They are Singapore's first official online remainder book store! The books are brand new and can be as heavily discount as up to 80% off their original prices! When I first ventured into the store, my jaw dropped and I quickly started adding items to the shopping cart before they go out of stock. The prices are fantastic, so the popular items really do fly off the shelves.

Take for example my Roald Dahl Phizz-Whizzing Collection (15 books) which I snagged off The Groovy Giraffe for S$76.90 (average of $5 per book) Hehehe... I saw with my own eyes a very popular bookshop selling this same set for S$160. I knew this because I have been eyeing that set for a very long time. Unfortunately for those of you who want this set, it's already out of stock at The Groovy Giraffe. This is what I mean! If you want something, get it quick before it goes out of stock. This is because I understand that it is not always possible to get the same title again. So must get it before it's all gone!  

Thus, in the same vein, I bought three other boxsets. know! I better stop before hubbs finds out! Within a blink of an eye, I spent more than S$200! But look at those prices?! Our most popular book store in town sells each Horrible History/Science/Geography book for S$16 each! Each?! Not to mention I'd have had a hard time looking for each title! I didn't see the Lord of the Rings box set instore (I feel like a spy!) but I did find it online, at $54 for the Lord of the Rings trilogy alone, and $17 for Hobbit alone. That works out to be $28 savings for me on the Hobbit+LotR box set alone, sweet!

And with Christmas just round the corner, looking at their Activity Books selection just makes me drool... I'm already preparing my Christmas lists and marking down who'd get what... speaking of which, I better get them before they get sold out... which brings me to the good news for you! Want to make The Groovy Giraffe's prices even groooovier? Use the code TanFamilyC to get 5% off store wide (except for the Bargains section). Have fun shopping! :)


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