As a child I learned how to play the piano. My parents kindly agreed to my request, so I started at 7 years old. I had 3 different piano teachers and I enjoyed my piano lessons immensely. I took the Grade 3 and 4 examinations and learned the value of hard work, while fighting my fear of official assessment. While I continued to love music, I made a decision to stop official lessons when I reached secondary 3. The piano stayed at home for a few more years, being my sturdy companion, before it was eventually sold to another family with a young child starting on her music journey.
Despite the arguments that we had over the piano (it wasn't cheap, clearly) and my neglect of the piano in the months before it was sold, my mother shared with me that she agreed to my request because she felt, in her words, it was important that I had a hobby. She had no idea what I would come to love, but she knew that her children needed something to spend time fruitfully on. So she let my sibling and I go for art lessons and music lessons. She bought us books whenever we could afford them, or she carted home preloved books from our older cousins. I did not think much of these actions as a child. I simply enjoyed the opportunities to experiment and grow organically.
Now as an adult and a parent, I see the value of letting our children learn different things, formally or informally. Our older daughter needed lots of help with managing her emotions, so we found art became a useful outlet for the storm going on mentally. The younger daughter found that art allowed her to express herself. She bemoaned how she could not draw and frustration mounted. It has been much easier as they use art forms to speak to us, to vent their frustrations, to air their grievances, to tell jokes, to show the day's events, etc.
Dear children, learn art because a picture paints a thousand words.
Dear children, learn music because a climb in the octave matches the swelling of emotions.
Dear children, learn dance because the quick footwork represents your happiness.
Dear children, learn a sport because you will learn a lot about the way our human bodies work.
Dear children, learn anything you'd like to learn. Don't worry about whether you are talented. You don't have to be talented to learn something.
Sometimes in Singapore, talent is a bad word, especially if it comes with the word enrichment. It's often tied to controversial debates about Direct School Admission, elitism, social class, and poor mental health for kids. But if we return to the real reason for engaging our children in these activities, it is to help them find a friend for life.
My good friend is music. When I am stressed, I look for it. I sing, I play, I listen. I learn to appreciate what it means to be loud (forte) or really soft (pianissimo). I make links between music and stories that tell me "Her life was a minor key". I don't have a distinction in ABRSM Grade 8, but it doesn't negate my love for music.
Dear children, learn to live life well. If you discover a talent, hold it dear to you. Let what you learn help you understand life and its wonders.
Happy Teachers Day to all our teachers, teaching in all capacities and designations. Thank you for helping our children appreciate life in various ways.
"I was told to take notes. But I don't know how to do it." Our students and children often share this with us.
Doesn't it seem easy to adults? "Just write down what you hear and understand, it's not hard." As adults we tend to give a murky answer, forgetting that children are, after all, new to almost everything.
When I teach, I believe in explicit teaching of notetaking skills. While I don't see a need to conduct a full course on notetaking (I'll leave that to other experts), I weave instructions while teaching the content. For instance, I say:
I will use blue to write sample sentences in the empty space on the right.
Shall we circle this apostrophe?
Let's draw arrows to link the words.
Here's a symbol to show the word meaning.
Can you draw a picture for this sentence?
Students, especially younger learners, need us to tell and show them how to make notes. They become more empowered in self-directed learning as they do annotation on a regular basis. Eventually, they will develop their personal annotation styles for more effective learning. This is a key part of their executive functions - organisation. Hence it also benefits them in daily life.
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Some students read extensively and they love reading. This is a wonderful activity which helps you learn about the world. Don't lose this habit! It might seem frustrating that reading isn't contributing to your ability to answer Cloze Passages, but rest assured all the reading is not in vain! You are building a treasure chest of vocabulary knowledge.
The key is to link this treasure chest to the other texts you are reading.
Look for the theme or topic of the passage. Is it about dinosaurs? Singapore history? The Olympics? Use your existing knowledge about these topics to help you better understand what you are reading.
Next identify the text type. Is it a story? Is it a set of instructions? Is it a news report? At primary school level, students do not always have to use the specific terms; knowing that it is a story will suffice, though if they identify a narrative, this will be fantastic. This will help you decide which grammar items to use. For example, you will encounter more past tense and past participle verbs in a news report of an accident that happened the day before.
At times, language learners feel confident and they go with 'what sounds right' in the passage. However, remember that you still need to rely on a good foundation in grammar and vocabulary to know 'what sounds right'. Seek the meanings of words - if you have a tinge of doubt, check the dictionary no matter how familiar you are with the word. Notice how a change in one short word can change the meaning entirely - 'back up' is totally different from 'back down'.
Language learning requires application of skills and knowledge. Keep up your effort at reading - every piece read counts.
#grammar #vocabulary #NIE #trained #online #bukitpanjang #singapore #workshop #courses #primaryschool #secondaryschool #english #language #teacher #tutor #coach #storytelling #ideas #composition #essay #lessons #getitrightsg #MOE #creative #writing #psle #esl #efl #olevel #nlevel #writing