Sunday, September 17, 2017

Make These 7 Changes For Better Grades

When studying for the exams, quality trumps quantity. To face any exam with confidence, your child needs a sense of purpose, as well as an effective way to grasp the material. Find out how you can make this happen.
15440717 - girls willing to pass exam
1. Exam targets should be verbalised, and written down.
study showed that doing this could give you a 62% chance of fulfilling your goals, while sending a weekly progress report to a third party could increase your likelihood of success to 76%. Note that self-awareness is crucial to goal setting; children should know why achieving their goal is important, and understand exactly what they need to do to meet their targets.
2. Plan study sessions in 30-minute spurts.
Students are thought to learn best during the first 10 minutes of a study session, followed by the final 10 minutes. Despite one’s best efforts, the time in between is usually less efficient, which is why some experts recommend keeping study sessions to 30 minutes at most, followed by a short break. As an example, your child could spend 25 minutes reading a textbook and 5 minutes reviewing the material—i.e. asking questions to ensure one has understood and remembered what he or she has read—before taking a short break.
3. Use a timer.
Unlike a parent, a timer is a neutral and accurate timekeeper. Relying on a timer to track study sessions and breaks can help you avoid additional tension and disagreements during the stressful revision season. An occupational therapist tip: let your child choose a pleasant alarm tone, as some tones can be loud and jarring.
4. Create a cue or routine that is unique to studying
Many children study in their bedrooms and have problems focusing, as the bedroom is also a place of rest and play. One way to counter this is to turn on a study lamp only for work purposes, so it signals to your child that it is time to focus. The same effect can also be achieved with a classical music or instrumental playlist that is played only during study sessions.
5. If your child feels isolated, let him or her study in the family room.
You can lend moral support and help your child feel less alone by working alongside your child, be it on your laptop or by completing house chores. There is no real need to maintain consistency in terms of a study venue; in fact, a change in environment has been shown to improve a student’s retention ability.
6. Embrace stress.
Stress can be an energising force—if you are not afraid of it. Explain to your children that feeling anxious during a test is normal, and that stress could help them to stay alert and focused, thus improving their performance. One study has shown that participants who believe stress is beneficial are likely to score better during tests.
7. Sleep can boost grades.
At least one study has shown that better sleep at night translates into a better academic performance, especially in maths and languages. Children aged 7 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, on average. To ensure that your school-going children are properly rested, aim for a bedtime of 8:30 p.m., or 9:30 p.m. at the latest.

Avoid These 15 Mistakes During The PSLE: Tips From The Learning Lab

Every mark counts during the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination), so it pays to find ways to minimize errors. We spoke to educators from The Learning Lab about common PSLE mistakes and how to address them. Read on for their advice, and be sure to go over this list with your Primary 6 children prior to the exams.
24284925 - group of middle school students studying in classroom

Common Mistake
What Students Should Do
English Composition
1.  Lack of a clear story curve.
2.  No clear link to the theme or picture(s) featured in the question.
Plan your story and content points on a narrative story curve before starting on the actual composition.
Draw a mind map to help you brainstorm as many story ideas and points as possible for each individual picture.
Boost your story by implementing writing techniques and appropriate vocabulary phrases that amplify and express your story well.
English Comprehension
3. Incomplete answers.
4. Imprecise answers, or lifting without paraphrasing to answer the question.
Analyse the questions closely, read the passage, and source for clues.
Cloze Passage
5. Inaccuracy of answers due to poor clue-sourcing.
Practise your clue-sourcing skills. This can help you understand the passage better, and point you towards the appropriate answers that will make sense in the blanks within the context of the paragraph.
Multiple Choice Questions
6. Carelessness in calculation.

Adopt a checking system by working backwards after you have attempted the question.
Short-Answer Questions
7. Transfer errors—selecting the wrong options despite showing the correct workings.
Fill in the answers for the missing variable(s) in the question and match the final answer to the correct option.
Word Problems
8. Omission of units.
Identify and circle the unit of measurement used in the question. List out the working and number sentence required. Check that you have included the unit of measurement (convert if necessary) in the final answer.
9. Omission of number sentences and workings.
Adopt the habit of writing out full number sentences, and show all workings on the right side of the page.
10. Omission of final answer or answer statements.
Ensure you fill in the final answer on the given blank, or write out the full answer statements as your final step.
11. Presentation errors.
Be especially careful when dealing with fractions and percentages. Develop a good habit in the presentation of your solutions while doing your daily practice.
Multiple Choice 
(Section A)
12. Spending too much time on this section and on each question.
Manage your time wisely and spend only about 45 minutes on Section A.
13. Not reading the question carefully and identifying what the question is asking for.
Read the question carefully. Ensure not only that your answer is correct, but also that the other options are wrong.
Free Response 
(Section B)
14. Incomplete answers, e.g. not answering in context, or not making comparisons.
15. Misconception/carelessness, due to not reading questions properly.
Where questions are split into parts, you must ensure that your answer for each subsequent part is consistent with the earlier parts of your answer.
Minimise careless mistakes by reading the question carefully and ensuring that you are answering the question. Your answers should always relate to the question and be given in the positive.
Carefully analyse all data given in the question, paying attention to trends in data and axes of graphs. Your answers should relate to the data provided in the question.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Rules For My Son

1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down.

2. There are plenty of ways to enter a pool. The stairs ain’t one.

3. The man at the grill is the closest thing we have to a king.

4. In a negotiation, never make the first offer.

5. Act like you’ve been there before. Especially in the end zone.

6. Request the late check-out.

7. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

8. Hold your heroes to a higher standard.

9. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.

10. Don’t fill up on bread.

11. When shaking hands, grip firmly and look him in the eye.

12. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.

13. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.

14. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her.

15. You marry the girl, you marry her whole family.

16. Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.

17. Experience the serenity of traveling alone.

18. Never be afraid to ask out the best looking girl in the room.

19. Never turn down a breath mint.

20. In a game of HORSE, sometimes a simple free throw will get ’em.

21. A sport coat is worth 1000 words.

22. Try writing your own eulogy. Never stop revising.

23. Thank a veteran. And then make it up to him.

24. If you want to know what makes you unique, sit for a caricature.

25. Eat lunch with the new kid.

26. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.

27. Ask your mom to play. She won’t let you win.

28. See it on the big screen.

29. Give credit. Take the blame.

30. Write down your dreams.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Starting Primary School: What every parent should know

Big day, big feelings. Find out how you can help your child get school-ready for their first year.

 The first day of school is a big occasion, not just for your little one, but for mum and dad too. That initial step into ‘’big school’’ can be extremely nerve-racking but with the right approach, you can help make it, and the days after, enjoyable and memorable for the whole family.
In the first five years, 90% of brain development occurs1, making it an incredibly important time to lay the foundation for learning. When your little pioneer starts primary school, they benefit from years of good nutrition and stimulation in their earlier childhood. Starting primary school is when they can put everything they have learned into practice, and you should start to see rapid development as they are exposed to an entirely new environment. Nutrition and parental stimulation are as important as ever at this stage, and you can play a crucial role in supporting your child’s learning journey.
Read on to find out how you can help your child ace their first day at school and beyond.
The First Days: Overcoming Separation Anxiety
Clinging, crying and screaming. It’s a common scene when pre-schoolers enter school for the first time. For first-time mothers, don’t fret! Separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development2. Young children form a strong bond with their parents, so it’s natural that they will be reluctant to let go of feelings of familiarity, particularly when they enter an entirely new environment like a classroom.3
To help your child prepare for this big change, try taking your child to visit the school they will be attending before the first day of school. Let them choose their own school bag and water bottle to get them excited about school and set up a school-style play area at home to ease them into a school routine4.
Nutrition Tip!
5Did you know constant snacking prevents your child from recognising their own feelings of hunger and fullness? Help get your child into a healthy nutritional routine before they start school by following a few simple steps!
  1. Start transitioning your child into a new nutritional routine at least two weeks before they start school
  2. As school approaches, try introducing a healthy breakfast routine, ideally at the same time each morning
  3. Cut back on fruit juices and introduce protein into your child’s diet to set them up for the day ahead
  4. When school starts, implement a regular dinner and bed-time routine
This will ensure your kids are eating familiar foods and follow healthy eating patterns!6

The First Weeks: Learning New Lessons
Your child’s first few weeks at school is a key period for their cognitive, motor, emotional and communication development to evolve. It will be an exciting time for the whole family as your child starts their education. The skills and subjects learned over the following months will set your child up for a lifetime of learning7.

Early math training provides big benefits. According to studies, it creates changes in a child’s brain, enabling children to become adept at wider problem-solving8. But did you know that you play a key role in your child’s attitude towards math? Psychology studies have shown that children are more receptive to learning when it’s associated with play, so you can help expose your child to math in fun ways9. Try introducing math into your little one’s daily routine like counting steps as you walk10.

The World Around Them
Science is another key subject to encourage your child’s natural curiosity. It teaches children about the world around them and nurtures skills like building patience, perseverance and communication with others11. You can take advantage of your child’s sense of wonder by introducing simple scientific experiments. For example, teach them how to use soap to power a toy boat or understand how a cool and dry day can result in static electricity12.

As easy as A, B, C
Reading is one of the building blocks for your child’s learning. Did you know that children who have strong linguistic intelligence when they are young tend to become better learners in their school years and beyond13? In fact, according to research conducted by National University of Singapore (NUS), children who learn more than two languages are more able to recall locations or find hidden toys, than those who just learn one language14. You can help build your child’s language skills in almost any situation. Take grocery shopping – describe to your child the different things they’ll see and use at the supermarket, like “aisle”, “cart”, “vegetable” and so on15. These will show your child that what they learn at school is connected to the things they do in daily life16.

Getting Creative
Kids are natural innovators with a powerful imagination. Creativity helps them become more confident, develop social skills and learn better17. It’s not just essential for science and math, but also extends to artistic and musical expression18. Music can help with math and reading; dance boosts physical health and builds self-awareness; whilst acting enhances vocabulary19. All these require a great expense of energy so they require a nutrient-dense diet from fresh fruits and vegetables to whole grains and calcium, to maintain proper growth and brain development. Calcium is particularly important, as an adequate calcium intake promotes optimal bone density20, which is needed to help children mature into adulthood21.
Added Tip!
22For the first time in your child’s life, they have a small amount of money to spend on whatever they want at school. Although most primary schools have stopped selling junk food – think potato chips and unhealthy drinks – your child still ends up buying the types of food you would rather they avoided. It’s crucial that they consume the right nutrition at home. Make sure they receive essential nutrients which will help to provide a nutrition supplement on top of their current food intake.
Helping Your Child Overcome Obstacles
What if my child is a slow learner? What if he’s not good at math or takes a longer time to read? One key source of poor performance is when a child experiences discouragement early on23. It’s important 
that parents remember patience and positive reinforcement, instead of being ashamed if your little one is a bit behind24. Not every child learns at the same pace or in the same way. They may have trouble concentrating, difficulty retaining information or take a longer time to reach milestones like speech and vocabulary25. Try to avoid making comparisons with other children, constantly encourage and reassure your child, and help your child find fun in learning26.
Nutrition Tip!
Did you know that giving your child a good breakfast is vital for growing children27?
Research shows that a nutritional breakfast can beneficially impact the way your child grows and performs at school. Make sure you’re giving them the right nutrition to set them up for a day full of learning! There’s a reason why we like our kaya toast with a side of eggs – eggs help keep children fuller longer, sustain their energy and allow them to concentrate for a longer period of time28. You can also supplement your child’s diet with milk formula which contains important nutrients like DHA, vitamins, minerals and prebiotics to help support your child throughout his learning in school.

The First Year: Excitement, Energy and Enthusiasm!
Friendships form an important part of your child’s development at school, especially when children play together29. This helps develop your child’s social and emotional skills30 which are essential for future relationships. It is important to provide opportunities for your child to play with their new friends outside of their school environment. Setting up playdates is one way to help your child foster new friendships. Look out for key names your child often talks about and invite that favourite friend over for dinner31!
By the end of the first year of school, your child will now be well on their way to forming their own identity. Through independence, your child will develop their personality, learn the ways of life and grow up strong and ready to take on life challenges32.
Fueling Brains For School The more your child is learning at school, the more energy they need to support their progress. Hungry, growing minds need the right nutrition to fuel your little pioneer’s continuous learning and give them essential energy throughout the school day. DHA, found in milk formula and seafood sources like salmon and sardines33, is a primary component of brain tissues, and is key to effective communications between brain cells. It is an important building block for the brain and eye development. Together with other nutrients such as Vitamin B, Iron, Zinc and Iodine, these help support your child’s overall mental and physical development as they enter primary school. This combination of nutrients help shape and enhance your child’s cognitive, motor, emotional and communication skillsets – integral for your little pioneer’s overall continuous learning.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

11 Magical Phrases Every Kid Needs to Hear

Among the thousands of words that we say to our children, there are several that make them stronger, smarter, kinder, and more self-confident.
Bright Side collected 11 phrases that contribute to the harmonious development of children and make them happy.


Children unconsciously test us with their bad behavior. It’s as if they’re saying, “Will you love me even like this?“ The answer must be unambiguous: ”Of course I will! I’m happy I have you. If I could choose from all the children in the world, I would choose you." This way you develop a healthy psyche in your child.


These 3 magic words are crucial for the healthy development of your child. It is also important to back your words up with actions: spending time together, playing, laughing and fooling around, blowing bubbles, hugging your baby, discussing his problems, and supporting him if necessary.


“Ah, your room is clean!“ ”Wow! The bed is made!“ “You’ve folded your clothes so neatly! Well done!” Such phrases help your child feel your support and faith in him. They make it clear that his efforts are appreciated. Also, any ”positive reinforcement" causes pleasant feelings and positive emotions, which causes the approved behavior to repeat.


We all are human, and all of us can make mistakes. It is important to have the courage to admit them and ask forgiveness from your children. This way we let them know that we value and respect them. And we also teach them that if one isn’t right, he should ask for forgiveness and not repeat his actions.


Suppression of negative emotions leads to neuroses and psychosomatic diseases. A child has a right to be angry. He should be allowed to grieve over a lost toy or cry when it hurts. A ban on negative feelings, on their manifestation, is a ban on being yourself, being spontaneous.
Our task as parents is to teach a child to express his emotions without harming anyone.


It is important to let the child know that fearlessness is impossible. Everyone in the world is afraid of something, and bravery is just knowing how to overcome fear or act despite it. If your child is afraid of something, share with him your own memories and experiences of how you learned to cope with your fear.


By giving the child a right to choose, we teach him to listen to himself and not be afraid to reject offers that are contrary to his beliefs, desires, or interests. Children who constantly have things chosen for them grow up passive, dependent, and easily manipulated by someone else’s authority.
When demanding unquestioning obedience from your child, think 20 years ahead. Do you really want him to become an adult who obeys everyone and doesn’t try to defend his position?


By reminding your child about his past successes, you convince him of his strength and help him realize he can achieve even more.


“It’s okay! Try again.“ ”I believe in you!“ “Nobody gets it right away.” This is what you should say to your child in case of failure, even one that seems serious (like an F or losing in a contest).
Your child should realize that every successful person has made mistakes and that mistakes help develop perseverance, patience, and other important qualities. Most importantly, though, show that his failures will have no bearing on how much you love him.


“How are you feeling?“ ”How was your day?" Such questions contribute to emotional closeness between a parent and their child. They also train him to formulate his thoughts. Finally, they allow the child to be sufficiently sensitive and attentive to himself.


Parents often use the pronoun “we“ in relation to their child: ”We have already crawled!“ “We go to kindergarten.” ”We will soon start second grade.“ In infancy, the sensation of the mother and child as one whole is useful for the development of the baby and even necessary for its survival. However, in the future, it hampers development and hinders psychological separation.
The possibility of self-reliance is important to understand. Psychologists are convinced that the goal of education is to teach the child to be a good enough parent to himself. And the first step to this is the pronoun ”you."
Illustrated by Yekaterina Ragozina for

Thursday, May 4, 2017

'My house is like a prison. I want to go to school.' A story in collaboration with UNICEF EspaƱa.

Suicide Games and Online Media: What Should Parents Do?

You may have heard of the Blue Whale game and Thirteen Reasons Why (13RW), or them trending on your social media feed. Such content have been circulating and may negatively influence our children to view suicide as a viable way to deal with their problems, or even romanticise or glamourise the act of suicide.
Thirteen Reasons Why (13RW) is a fictional story released on Netflix surrounding the traumatic events recounted by a high school student who chose to end her life by suicide. The sinister but unverified Blue Whale game allegedly incites teenage players to carry out tasks involving self-harm in a 50-day period and culminates in a final task to commit suicide in order to win the game.
While it is difficult to verify if suicide deaths are caused by online games, such games with dark themes related to self-harm or suicide are still of concern.
Viral content about self-harm or suicide is worrying and raises important questions about media influence and the power of social media. As parents, we play a very critical protective role that can minimise the negative effects of such exposure.
  1. Teach our children media literacy to discern between fake and real events
  2. Help our children discern and avoid online gaming or social communities that could present risks of suicide contagion
  3. Take stock of the media influences that our children are exposed to
  4. Engage in conversation with them to find out what they have been watching or playing online
  5. Encourage your child to post sensitively on social media so that they do not contribute to rumours or reports that sensationalise suicide
As we talk to our children, we need not by hyper-vigilant or transfer our anxiety to them, but instead communicate our concern for their well-being and a commitment to support them through any struggles they may be facing. Together, we can help them build their resilience to overcome challenges without resorting to suicide or maladaptive behaviour.
Here are some pointers on how to talk about issues related to anxiety, distress and suicide.

1. First, know the warning signs

When our children are going through distress, they send out warning signs through their behaviour. But are we catching the signals for help being sent out? Look out for these signs and read more about distress signs and behaviour .
  1. Displaying out-of character behaviour
  2. Injuries that are unexplained
  3. Sudden changes in appearance, interests or habits
  4. Temperamental changes
  5. Rebellious/ aggressive behaviour
  6. Extended absence/ deliberate social withdrawal
  7. Struggling to pay attention/ increased lethargy
  8. Sending/ posting moody or morbid messages (including expression of deaths

2. Talk about your child’s thoughts and feelings

Start with some questions to show concern for your child’s well-being, such as, “I noticed that you…. Is there anything you would like to share?” or “Is there something troubling you?”
Take your child’s comments seriously. Refrain from minimising what they are feeling or telling them that they should not feel negative about something. That could pose a barrier for them to open up further. Instead, be open and empathetic by showing that you are trying to understand what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t judge them or their thoughts. Listen, and be caring and kind.

3. Discuss what your child has seen or heard

If your child shares that he/she has watched a movie or played a game that has themes of suicide, discuss his/her thoughts and feelings. Share that while people may identify with the characters in a movie or story, there are many healthy ways to cope with the issues faced and acting on suicidal thoughts is not one of them. Most people who have distressful experiences will reach out to someone, talk to others, and seek help. They can also find other positive ways of coping such as exercising, finding ways to de-stress and doing breathing exercises.

If your child has watched 13RW in particular, check out these points 
you could use as you talk with your child.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask them a direct question about suicide

Contrary to what we may think, asking them such questions does not put the idea in their head but invites them to share what they are feeling without stigma or shame. Direct questions could include, “Are you having thoughts about killing yourself?” or “Do you wish you could end your life?”
If you suspect your child is in danger, get help immediately from SOS 1800 221 4444 or speak to your child’s School Counsellor. Ensure the child’s physical safety and explain that you cannot keep the secret but need to break confidentiality to get the help that they need. Remind them that the thoughts of suicide are just thoughts and that they need not act on them. The impulse to do so may pass after a while.

5. Use the S.P.A.C.E tips

The S.P.A.C.E tips can guide your conversation and foster resilience in the longer term.

Space Tips 1Space Tips 2(Click to download)

6. Encourage a healthy lifestyle and a wide range of coping strategies

Encourage your child to develop a sleeping routine to help them get a good night’s sleep. For example, waking up and getting to bed at the same time, avoiding caffeine during lunchtime and shutting down electronics before bedtime.
Physical activities can help relieve stress and provide a good distraction from worries. Find a physical activity to carry out together with your child if your child is struggling to get active, or play sports with friends. Eating well can also help with sleep and general health and wellbeing. A well balanced diet helps the body and brain to function well.
Other coping strategies include talking with people they trust, keeping a journal, drawing and expressing themselves through art, practising relaxation and deep breathing. It is helpful to build up a toolbox of a variety of coping strategies.

7. Encourage them to be a positive influence

You can also encourage your child to be a voice of hope and positive influence for his/her peers. Your child can play his/her part to look out for warning signs if a peer is distressed or at risk of suicide. Encourage your child to refer the friend immediately to a trusted adult for help.