Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tackling Bully Woes & Foes

Remember the pep talk about a bully we had with Isaac last year? I had wanted to do a follow-up post after that... as... more stuff happened after that... yes, so drama, right? 

After his birthday party last year, I checked in with Isaac and found that The Boy was still terrorising him on a daily basis, and decided that I should have a chat with his teacher about it. I mentioned to Teacher Joranna that The Boy was saying mean things to Isaac, and she was appropriately aghast. She was very concerned and asked how come he did not mention this to her before? I told her that Isaac told me that she said that the kids were to handle their own disputes and not bring them up to her. She laughed and explained to me that that was because the kids often quarreled about very trivial matters such as "He say my picture not nice!" "She say I eat so slow!" but that she viewed name-calling very seriously as that constituted as bullying.
The kidzes a couple of years ago. So cute! :p
Upon questioning Isaac, we realised that The Boy slyly does his name-calling when the teachers are not around, or not within ear shot, as The Boy knew that this behaviour was frowned upon. Teacher Joranna then spoke to the boy and warned him again that this behaviour would not be condoned. We also told Isaac not to pay him any heed. We suspected that The Boy liked to tease Isaac in particular as Isaac tended to rise up and give a big reaction when taunted.

The thing is, The Boy seemed bent on irritating Isaac, and one day, said something very mean to him. Isaac was so bothered by it that he went to the toilet to try to hide himself while he struggled to control his emotions. Seeing him so upset, Teacher Jannah (a teacher from another class), spotted him and asked him what was wrong. Isaac told her what The Boy said, and she immediately went to class to tell off The Boy, and told Teacher Joranna (Isaac's teacher) what happened. Teacher Joranna immediately spoke to The Boy and gave him a stern scolding, for what he had said to Isaac was verbal, mental and emotional abuse - it was clearly bullying, though it was not physical.

Teacher Joranna must have handled it quite well for Isaac didn't even tell us what happened. In fact, I didn't even know about it until I had a chance to talk to Teacher Joranna a week after the incident took place. She updated me about it one day when I wasn't in such a rush while dropping off the kids one morning. She told me exactly what happened, and how they handled the incident - Isaac, and The Boy. I was quite pleased that she bothered to update me as I thought most teachers/centres would try to gloss over such unhappy incidences if they could. And, if Isaac could live through it without mentioning it to us, it shows me that he is not bothered by it anymore - which means that the teachers have handled it very well. Excellent! Maybe Learning Vision trains their teachers to handle such bullying cases: to be able to discipline the bully, as well as to be able to pacify the victim and ensure that the victim feels okay and not traumatised. 

I wasn't looking forward to such bullying issues that we knew were even more likely to take place in a primary school setting. Since last year, whenever possible, we tried to brace Isaac for more of such negative behaviour he can possibly encounter from other boys in school, or on the school bus. It was not an easy thing to do, for we hesitated to give him any "quick fix". 

For example, we didn't want to tell him "Anything happen, just go and tell your teacher." For kids often quarrel about many trivial matters, and we didn't want him to develop a reputation of being a tattle-tale either. We also refrained from telling him to haul our names into it, as in "My Mummy say cannot do that." or "My Father says so." - for we didn't want him to be called a "Mummy's boy!" or "Daddy's boy!" either. Dilemma dilemma. It was very hard to give him a general guide. In the end, we could only brace him in general (that there may be other boys who will misbehave), asked him to behave himself ("learn only the good things from other people, don't learn bad things!!!"), and told him to tell us if anything happens.
Things were simpler when they were all in childcare, all in the same school. But as with all babies, they have to grow up... How my babies have grown!
I learned early in the year, that asking "How was school?" gets you the answer "Fine" or "Okay" most of the time, and no useful nor interesting information at all. Thus, I usually ask "Did anything happen in school today that made you happy?" or "Did anything make you sad or unhappy today?" Isaac usually gave me fairly interesting replies to these questions, which would open up to more conversation related to what he does in school, and how he feels about school, information which we were interested to know.

We were just a few days into the new school year when Isaac told us about This Other Boy who has been saying mean things to him. What happened was, on the third day of school, Isaac couldn't find his homework diary in his bag (it was in there some where) and thought he didn't bring it. The teacher scolded him, and as it was his first scolding by an unfamiliar teacher, he teared. This Other Boy started his nonsense the very next day. He would go to Isaac and whisper in his ear "Cry baby!" and run away. He kept doing that the whole week even though Isaac didn't cry any more. It was starting to be very annoying.

To his credit, Isaac said he didn't really react, and simply told This Other Boy to stop. But of course, This Other Boy didn't stop. SIGH. Hubbs told Isaac that he had to get This Other Boy to stop though. We didn't want This Other Boy to tell other boys what he was doing, and it could all get out of control if a bunch of boys start doing the same thing. Yet, it was a fairly trivial matter, we felt it would be inappropriate to tell the class form teacher as well.We didn't want to step in prematurely. We wanted to give Isaac a chance to solve his own problems. One night, after dinner, we had the following conversation...

Hubbs:"So, Isaac, what do you plan to do about This Other Boy who keeps calling you names?"
Isaac:"I know! I have a plan!"
Me:"What's your plan?"
Isaac:"When This Other Boy's father comes to pick him up from school, I will go and tell him what This Other Boy is saying to me."
Me:"Oh! Okay, that sounds like a good plan, you can try that. But, let me teach you, first you must say "Hello Uncle, my name is Isaac, I am This Other Boy's classmate. This Other Boy calls me names and I told him to stop, but he didn't." Can you remember that?"
Isaac:" Er, okay, I try."

The next day, when Isaac came home from school...
Me:"So did you talk to The Other Boy's father?"
Isaac:"No, but I spoke to his mum!"
Me:"Really?! Wow. Did you say "Hello Auntie, I am Isaac... etc" like I taught you?"
Isaac:"Er, no. I forgot."
Me:"Oh. So what did you say?"
Isaac:"I just pointed to The Other Boy and said "He keep calling me cry baby!""
Me:"Then what did the auntie say to you?"
Isaac:"She didn't say anything..."
Isaac:"She just turned to The Other Boy and said "Don't do that! You shouldn't do that...""
Me:"Ah... okay..."
Isaac and his friends when he was still in Nursery level in childcare... "school" was much simpler then!
And after that, The Other Boy did stop... Then he started saying other things ("You're soooo lame!!!" - roll eyes. Where do they learn such things?!) And doing something else... Last week, The Other Boy crept up behind Isaac and "Boo!" him. I asked if This Other Boy was trying to play with Isaac, but Isaac didn't think it was funny. In the same breath, Isaac started telling me about how he and his buddy kept trying to creep up on each other to scare each other, and he had loads of fun with that friend. Sigh. I think it could be bad blood also? I'm not sure what the problem with This Other Boy is. He sounds mischievous and perhaps socially inept to me? Perhaps he doesn't know how to read non-verbal cues from people. Then again, he doesn't seem to take verbal, explicit instructions well either.

Just today, Isaac says that This Other Boy, came to him and said "I opened your locker and I saw what is inside." and walked away. I was like "Huh? And then?" But Isaac said "Nothing, he just walk away after saying that." Isaac has been asking for a lock for his locker, saying that the boys in his class takes his ball without his permission. Then I asked him "Did you tell them that they need to ask permission before they take your ball?" "No..." "Oh, then you SHOULD tell them..." 

And so this is the lesson of the day. " Isaac, you must tell your classmates clearly, that you do NOT like it that they take your things or open your locker without your permission. Or if they do something to you that you don't like, you must tell them to stop, that you don't like it. If you don't tell them, they will think you do not mind." "Oh, okay Mummy." It baffles me that he never actually expressed his displeasure to his classmates about having his things taken without his permission.So I explicitly tell him "Remember, you MUST tell your friends that you don't like them to take your things without your permission. You don't need to shout at them, nor scream at them. Just say it calmly and seriously. Because if you don't, they don't know that they have done something which is not proper."

But I think it is a good start, that he thought of the idea himself to go talk to The Other Boy's parents. We like that he thought of that idea himself, and he even executed it pretty well. And best of all, it did work to a certain extent. This gives him the experience of tackling his own problems, instead of replying solely on us. And the fact that it did work to a certain extent (The Other Boy did stop whispering "Cry baby" in his ear.) lends credence and gives him confidence that his plan to help himself does work. We continue to encourage him to think of his own solutions and executing them, while guiding him on the sidelines.

On our end, I have already obtained The Other Boy's mother's mobile number, just in case The Other Boy goes overboard and I need to talk to his mum. We have also introduced ourselves to The Other Boy's parents when we happened to see them, and have made the necessary small talk, so we are not total strangers. But while we are ready to step in and take action if the need arises, we are deliberately hanging back... we want to give Isaac the chance to resolve this himself, for there are some lessons, you have to learn yourself. So far, he has taken some baby steps, but we shall see how it goes.

SIGH. Good luck, Isaac!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tips for Reading to a Toddler

You know how we love reading, and how we've been reading to the kids since they were very young. So I love to take pictures of the kids reading, or of hubbs reading to the kids. Last night, I saw Shawna laying her head on hubbs' shoulder, and that's quite a rare sight, so I quickly snapped this picture below, and posted it on my Facebook wall last night. Attracted a whole bunch of Likes, and this question from my friend Patrina "When I read to my 2 yr old, she pay attention for a while and then start flipping pages or go play other stuff, how?!?!?" If you know me and my usual long-winded fashion, Facebook is not the place for my reply, this post here, is my reply :p
Love this shot of hubbs reading to the twins! :)
What do we know about toddlers?
Toddlers have short attention span. Thus, it is fairly normal for a 2 year old to pay attention for a short while, then lose interest and walk away. So what can we do about this?
  1. Choose appropriate books.
  2. Engage the child in the book by providing some "reading activities"
  3. Dramatise! Read with expressions!
  4. Set an aim and let the child agree and commit. 
  5. Persevere!
Appropriate books for Toddlers
Given their short attention span, choose books with short stories, more pictures and less words.Some kids like pop-up books. And books with flaps for the kids to flip, and books that intentionally feature different textures do lend a tactile feeling which is also good for engaging kids.

If your child picks out a book for you to read which is fairly long, just summarise on the spot to give her a gist of the story. For example, just use a sentence or two to describe the 'action' in the pictures, to summarise that page. 2-sentence summaries of a 10 page book will make a 20 sentence story for a toddler. Good enough. There is no competition to read long books to toddlers, what you are interested in is to have them concentrate for a length of time on a book. If the book is meant for an older child, then it is normal that a younger child may not sit through it entirely.

Also, if the child is resisting reading, you may wish to choose books with topics or characters which you know will interest the child. For example, many children love animals, so books on animals are popular. Or perhaps even books which have certain cartoon characters which they like. Use these books to interest them in reading for now. You can introduce books with different topics later.

I don't personally go hunting for specific books, and the only author recommendations for toddlers' books off the top of my head would be Dr Seuss, Julia Donaldson and Eric Carle but here's a blog post from LittleBlueBottle that has lots of recommendations :) Mum in the Making has tonnes of recommendations over here and at her Facebook album. Oh and if your child likes fish and sea creatures, check out these titles laid out by Princess Dana Diaries.

At this age, the kids love repetition and crave familiarity. Thus it is good to have at least a some books of your own as the kids love to read the same book again and again. Often, parents buy more books not necessarily because the children want them. It's more for the sanity of the parents to not have to read the same book over and over again that they buy more books! :p You can check out books at Groovy Giraffe, a local online bookshop. Key in TanFamilyC to get 5% off your cart anytime of the year. Go register an account, if they have better promos, they'd email you! 
Isaac, Asher and Shawna when they were toddlers! I like that bottom left picture of Asher at the bookshelf with his pants half worn! hahaha...
Involve the child through reading activities!
Having a book being read to you can be quite boring if you can't quite understand what is being read to you, or if it is monotonous and boring. This is how reading may appear to a very young child who doesn't know many things and cannot relate to many things they see in books. Thus, one way to get around this, is to INVOLVE the child and ENGAGE him in the book through simple activities like the following
  • Counting - whenever you see a number of similar items in the pictures, ask your child to count. "Count the penguins!" "How many apples are there on the lion?" Count in English, count in Chinese, count in dialect! Use their fingers to point at each item as you count. Children this age can often rattle off their 1 to 10, but they don't know how to count properly. Thus you not only read to them, but can also let them learn their numbers and counting too.
  • Colours - let them learn colours by pointing out colours to them, or asking them what the colours are. "Who is Tom? The boy in a red shirt? or the boy in a blue shirt?" "What colour is this? Blue? Yes, it is blue! Good job! But you know what? It is also a special blue called CYAN!" 
  • Alphabets - Toddlers are also in the process of learning the alphabet. So every now and then, you can point to one of the key words that keeps appearing in the story and spell it out to the child, letter by letter. Often, I will spell the title too, as a precursor to reading the book. There is no need to spell every single word in the book. Just a few would do. If the child knows his alphabet, get him to spell the word to you. Use this opportunity to practice phonics too. "Fireman Sam Saves the Day. Fireman starts with? F! That's right! What sound does F make? Ffffff.... yes! Come, let's spell Fireman "F.I.R.E..."
  • Ask questions - ask many questions. "What a nice dress Cinderella has! Do you like it? What colour do you want YOUR dress to be?" Ask questions which the answers are in the book and pictures, say for a book on going to the park "Do you like to go to the park? What can we do in the park?". You can even express disapproval and negative behaviour and reinforce your approval for good behaviour in your questions   "Uh oh, was that a nice thing for the boy to do? No, right? He shouldn't snatch, isn't it. That is not a good thing to do. Do you snatch? Yes, sometimes you snatch from Cheh Cheh. But I like it that you apologised and hugged her. That was nice. Did this boy in the book apologise? Yes, he did! That's nice of him, isn't it? "
Yes, if you have an elder child, you can encourage him to read to the younger ones.
Dramatise! Read with expressions!
Read with expressions! Growl like a wolf. Make squeaky noises like a mouse. Talk with a deep voice like Papa/Grandpa. Squeal in delight like a princess. Make the story come alive! Your children are the best audience in the world, and they would love it when you dramatise stories to them. 

Set an aim, and get them to agree!
Before you start reading, set an aim, communicate this to your child, and get them to agree. "Mummy read this book to you, then you can go and play with your dolls, okay?" Get her to agree. So if midway the book, she starts to wonder off, you remind her "Remember, you agreed that we finish this book before you play with your dolls? Come on, 3 more pages only." and when she sits through it all "Well done! Good job! You agreed to read the whole book and you did! hi-five!" 

Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!
Remember! The child is only a toddler! It is normal for them to have a short attention span. It is your job as her parent though, to lengthen that concentration span. Reading is one way to do this. (Playing boardgames is another hehehee...). Take note of the timing when you read to your child. Today, she may have concentrated for only 3 minutes, but persevere! tomorrow, it may have improved to 5 minutes. Persevere! Read everyday! And slowly, but surely, the child's concentration span will get longer and longer. 

My drawing of Magneto
On this note, I end off with an anecdote of my dear Asher.

Last night, Asher asked me to draw Magneto. I didn't know how to, so I took out my X-Men book and attempted to draw the picture of Magneto above. As I was drawing, I muttered:"Asher, Mummy dunno how to draw Magneto lah..." Immediately, Asher replied "Then you must PERSEVERE, Mummy!" I said "Woah, where did you learn that big word from?" "From my school teacher from Learning Vision lah." "Do you know what it means?" "Yes, it means to try and try again." wah.... steady lah Asher. And so, with encouragement from my four year old, I persevered and drew the above Magneto!!! Not too shabby, eh? :p

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

How we stopped the cries of "SO UNFAIR"!

You know how it goes, especially in families with more than one kid, the older one inevitably needs to give way to the younger one/s at times. And there would be cries of "SO UNFAIR!" from the oldest child, whether it really is unfair or not. Of course, we try to educate Isaac, that life is not always fair. That he should try to look at things from a different viewpoint. That "fair" is not necessarily equal division. That some things are very trivial and not worth being upset about etc... In fact, as the eldest child, he does sometimes get benefits that the younger ones don't and we do not hesitate to point that out to him.  However, being a 6 year old boy, emotions do get the better of him, and what we say to him just doesn't seem to sink in. 
Isaac's first journal homework he had to do for school.
So we had this string of circumstances December last year, that was the perfect set up for me to educate Isaac and stop the cries of "SO UNFAIR!". You see, Isaac was attending Learning Vision which is a childcare centre that is also a kindergarten with a very sound curriculum that prepares the kids for primary school. For some reason (unknown to me), the childcare/school's end of school year, is in November. Thus, with Isaac in K2 last year, he technically graduated in November, and hence we had the choice of withdrawing him from childcare with his day in end November. I was in a dilemma for awhile. On one hand, I wanted to have him at home in December, as I thought that'd be his last days of relative freedom from homework stress before he commences his 10 years of formal schooling. His last days of play play play. On the other hand, I understand that the childcare had interesting activities to further prepare the kids for primary school for those kids still attending childcare. Also, it would be quite a nightmare getting the twins to go to school while their big brother didn't have to. In the end, I succumbed to fun. We withdrew him and he could stay home in December.
Isaac spending time with hubbs, playing a 'war' game, and ice-skating!
Another reason why I wanted Isaac at home was also so that hubbs and I could spend some time alone with him. Having three kids, our attention is somehow always divided amongst them. So we cherish the times when we can have one-to-one with each kid. The December hols last year was a good opportunity for us to spend time with Isaac, especially since hubbs would have his hols then too.

As written by Isaac in his very first journal entry homework he had to write for school, he had a very eventful December holidays. He didn't have to go to school (whereas the twins had to). We signed him up for one of Science Centre's Family Programmes, an Adventure Camp with Dinosaurs overnight camp that he had to attend on his own (parents not allowed!). He got to go ice skating with hubbs, just them two. He came with hubbs and I to karaoke one afternoon. And I organised playdates for him with his friends at our home. All these, just for him, while the twins were in school.
Playdates for Isaac and his friends during the December hols
So, in December, once the twins were in school and/or out of earshot, I would keep needling Isaac about how UNFAIR it was... I would say:
"Isaac, it's SO UNFAIR! How come you can stay at home while the twins need to go to school?! How come you can go ice-skating with Papa, but the twins cannot. How come?! WHY!? So unfair so unfair!!!"

"How come you can stay at home and have your friends come over and play while Asher and Shawna have to go to school? Why? So unfair. SO UNFAIR. I think we need to send you to school. This way, it's more fair. Isn't it?"

"Why is it that you get to go out with Mummy and Papa and come karaoke with us? So unfair leh. You go to school lah. Go go. What? No?! BUT THAT IS SO UNFAIR!!!"

"Wow you have so much Lego, but this who has so little... SO UNFAIR! We must give them some of your Lego! Oh and board games too! So many board games! Give away!"

"You so lucky! You have one brother and one sister! This (insert name of only child friend) don't have! SO UNFAIR! We must give away Asher or Shawna to him/her!"  - Thankfully he goes "No!!! Cannot give away Asher or Shawna!!!"

So on and on I went. Everything and anything that Isaac had a slight benefit over, I would milk it for all it's worth, pointing out the unfairness of the situation. And finally Isaac said:"Okay, okay! I get it! I won't say "SO UNFAIR" ever again!"

We're already into April now. And for the last 4 months, he hasn't said it, not once. So he remains true to his word, he has stopped saying "SO UNFAIR!".

Friday, 4 April 2014

Kidz' Lessons from a Flea Market Stall

Hey everyone! Today, we welcome on Tan Family Chronicles, my sister Petrina Tan! She is an ex-banker turned full time mum, now working from home on a marketing/franchising job. Petrina & Chris have three beautiful girls named Rebecca, Isabelle and Natalie. Recently, they participated in the Sentosa Kidz Flea market which we went to show support. It seemed like such a fruitful experience for them that I asked my sister if she would like to guest post on their experiences, on Tan Family Chronicles. And she agreed! Yay!  ~ ;)pamela the chief chronicler! ~

In the words of Petrina Tan: 

2 weeks of preparation, 3 families, 8 kids, 5 hours – learning the value of hard work and perseverance - PRICELESS

The hubby and I have always been worried about the kids growing up too spoilt, not being able to take hardships when they grow up, not knowing the value of money, etc. I mean, most Singaporean kids have it pretty good. They are well-fed (when you tell them not to waste food because there are lots of hungry kids in other countries, their eyes kind of glaze over), well-clothed, well-educated and many are also well-travelled. The biggest hardship in their life would probably be the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), but that is another story for another time.

Sentosa Kids Flea 2014
So when a friend mooted the idea to enroll our kids in Sentosa’s annual Kidz Flea Market for little “Play-treneurs” , we thought it was a great idea. “Let them learn how hard it is to earn some money”, “finally an opportunity to get them to overcome their shyness and approach strangers to sell/explain their products”, “good way for them to learn about perseverance, and rejection…” - were some of the thoughts we had. It also appealed to us that part of the proceeds of the flea market would go to charity, an excellent way to encourage the kids to give back to the less fortunate.
What are “Play-treneurs” and what is the Sentosa Kidz Flea Market about?

Someone in Sentosa (or their events company) came up with the idea to organize a flea market catered for kids and operated by kids. They coined the term “Play-treneurs” which was (no prizes for guessing) derived from combining the words play and entrepreneurs. The idea was to teach the kids to be little entrepreneurs and have fun whilst doing it.

The Sentosa Kidz Flea Market is organized annually during the March school holidays. Three weeks prior to the event, the kids were given a ‘training’ session on how to be a “play-treneur”. This involved giving them some tips on costing, pricing, sales techniques and product display. Basically breaking down the 4 Ps of marketing into kids lingo. It was brief, but good enough to give the kids an idea of what to expect/do and a starting point to get them thinking on their strategy for the flea market.

The preparation

We had ‘joined forces’ with two other families to start up a stall. We were close friends with both families and our kids played well together. We brainstormed and came up with these final products… (most of which were made from recycled materials or were donated).

I regretted not having the foresight of taking pictures of the ‘production’ process. It was very labour intensive but turned out to be a good bonding experience for all of us. Kids, Mums and Dads were mobilized. We toiled over the various tasks of cutting, sorting, laminating, weaving, amidst cries from the kids about ‘how tiring it was’. To which, the mothers would typically respond, “Yah lah, you think it is so easy to make money?”

Many days and late nights later, plus one heartfelt bedtime prayer the day before the event for good sales and good weather ….we were ready to rock and roll.

Products and services the kids were to hawk at their Kids Flea booths

“It was really hard work!”

God must have heard our prayers as we were blessed with fantastic weather on the day of the event. That meant a pretty decent crowd at the flea market. We started setting up the stall at 1 pm and by 2 pm, we were welcoming our first customers.

To be honest, I had low expectations of how the kids would perform. In fact, the hubby had a premonition that it would be the parents who would be left manning the stall whilst the kids would be running off to play, getting distracted by the various stalls and activities at the flea market. My only brief to the kids before the event was, “Don’t be disappointed or give up if people reject you. You will likely face many rejections before you get a sale. And don’t feel bad about it.”

As it turned out, they rose to the occasion. In all my years of motherhood, I can earnestly say I have never felt more proud of them. For most of the five hours, they stayed focused to the task of selling. They developed their own sales strategies and worked together as a team. The children stood at different entrances to the flea market, even stepping out of the designated areas to position themselves at places where most of the tourists and customers were.

The kids netted very decent sales revenue, we were even told by the organizers that we were one of the top donors for the day.
Pamela the Chief Chronicler says:"I love these tags and bought a whole bunch of them! Can't wait to use them!"

The real rewards …. 

Initially when we started out on the project, there were a lot of thoughts on whether we would break even, what we could sell to achieve higher sales, practical questions that any self-respecting entrepreneur would ask. But as the day progressed, it became obvious to us that more important than the money earned were the intangible lessons that the kids gained. Lessons that went beyond what the school was teaching them. Here is a summary of some of the key take-aways we felt the kids had gleaned from their experience:

1) Speaking up and communicating with strangers.
  • This may not sound like a big deal. But for my painfully shy kids, who balk at even ordering their own meals at Mcdonalds, this was a huge step. Based on the sales revenue and average dollar per sale, we calculated that they must have approached at least 100 customers between them.
  • From our own experience and interaction with people at work, we knew that it was critical for our kids to learn to speak up and pick up good communication skills. This was a good first step.

2) Value of perseverance and hard work.
  • 5 hours of standing in hot, humid conditions, to sell your wares. I need not say more.

3) Coping with rejection and failure.
  • The first few rejections were tough on the kids. They were not used to selling, much less facing rejection after summoning the courage to approach strangers. I was glad that I had prepped them mentally about this. But I was even more glad that they had learnt to take rejections in their stride as the day progressed.
4) Learning the value of money.
  • Instead of spending their hard-earned money at the flea market, they learnt to barter-trade with the rest of the stall-owners to ‘purchase’ what they wanted.
  • The older two siblings were heard reprimanding their youngest sister for ‘wasting money’ when she bought a Kinder Bueno chocolate after the event. “What? It was so hard to earn that money and you wasted it on chocolate!!” (Hahahah…)
Girl power kidpreneurs!!!

5) Assessing people/customers and adopting appropriate strategies to convince them
  • This is a critical life skill. Not just in terms of how they might apply it to their careers but in general, it is an important skill that can be applied to all aspects of their lives. A life skill not taught in any textbooks but something that they had to learn through using their own judgment and experience.
  • We were pleasantly surprised that they could share with us their takeaways on effective sales strategies (e.g. always target young girls who are with their fathers. If you convince the young kids, most parents would buy for their kids. If you see a young Caucasian female, approach her to sell the hair braid…the list goes on.)

6) Learning to be creative and finding solutions to what people need
  • When the family spent one year in Palo Alto (aka Silicon Valley) some years back, one of the things that really struck us was how ‘entrepreneurial’ everyone was. By this, I do not mean that they were all starting businesses, but there was generally a strong can-do spirit of wanting to find solutions to improve not just their own lives but the lives of those around them. From the young kids we met in school to the adults, there was a strong sense of purpose and passion. We found ourselves asking what we could do to inculcate this in our kids, so that they will not grow up complaining all the time, feeling entitled, or expecting others (i.e. the government) to provide them with solutions.
  • Through participation in this event, I can see how events like these encourage the kids to think (if I may borrow the cliché term) out-of-the-box. More importantly, it sets them thinking about what kind of products/services would answer the needs of others, and how people were willing to pay for solutions or items that met their need.
Sentosa's Kids Flea complete with businessman suit aprons and certificates!
The verdict

So the parents obviously thought it was a worthwhile event and were glad that we enrolled the kids in it. But what did the kids have to say?

“Hmmm….it was really hard work….I don’t think I want to be a business person next time.”

“I am not sure which part of it I liked most, but I just liked it. I want to do it again next year!”

And I suppose the fact that they could not stop talking about it for the rest of the night, and the next day, must mean that they enjoyed it. :)

Thanks very much, Petrina! What a ride! Can't wait for a couple more years till the twins are older, and we'd be getting a booth ourselves! :)


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