Sunday, January 20, 2019

Phonics - It Helps!

I usually adopt the happy-go-lucky type of parenting style and felt that children should not be given too much pressure just to conform and do well in class but I tell you this so much easier said than done! Imagine having to deal with teacher’s remarks that your primary one child is lagging behind everyone because she cannot even read the most basic of words? Well that was what happened to us, when Stacci got into primary school because we took the very relaxed approach.

We were given feedback by the teacher that she cannot catch up with her classmates about 3 months after she entered primary school. I totally understand that teachers have many students to deal with in class but at the back of my mind, I was thinking that should it not be the teacher who should help to bridge that gap? Our jobs and the basic needs of the 5 kiddos have already taken up a good portion of our time, so much so that free time can only be described as a luxury. It would be almost impossible for us to concentrate on Stacci without giving up time for other stuff.

I knew I needed help but what type of enrichment would be good for her? Group tuition may be more affordable for us but I have heard a lot about their effectiveness, but yet getting a private tutor is going to cost a bomb and still dependent on luck at times! In the end, keeping our fingers crossed, we took the plunge and ended up sending her to a English Reading Mastery course at The Serangoon Community Club since Mar 2018, on the recommendation of a good friend.

Stacci with Teacher Fiona.

The one tutoring students for this particular Montessori Phonics module at the Community Club is none other than Ms Fiona Tan, a trained Montessorian, and the brainchild behind Intelligent Minds Learning Center that holds various enrichment classes for students aged 4 to 12 years of age across a few centers.

Copying the words onto her exercise book.

I shall be honest, Stacci doesn't fancy homework from the extra classes and would even throw a tantrum at times when I ask her about it. Sensing her "hate" for doing homework, I even asked her at the start of this new school term if she liked the classes she attended, to which she only gave a "ok lah, don't really love" kind of reply. At the back of my mind, I was thinking if she really dislikes it, maybe can stop liao lor. I can also save the trouble of having to send her to the class while the rest of the siblings can go out for fun on Saturdays.

But guess what? When I probed a little more and told her that she can choose to stop if she wanted, she actually said, "No, I want to learn more." I guess her resentment lies in having to do extra homework as compared to her siblings, and also having to miss out on outings but I am sure glad she wanted to continue learning more. Like they always say, "no pain, no gain!'.

Before Starting The Classes

I am feeling kind of ashamed blogging this down, but the truth is, we hardly made any effort on familiarizing Stacci with alphabets or words, nor did I read along with her before she started primary school. At the back of my mind, I had always wanted my kiddos to enjoy childhood and play, rather than bog them down with enrichment classes and what nots.

I had assumed that she will catch up with her peers but had my hopes were dashed when we received feedback and requests from school teachers to supervise and guide her. I was also not that concerned when she wrote alphabets "d" as "b", or "q" as "p" because I read that they will grow out of it. But what really jolted me was that at the age of 7, she was still not able to make out the simplest of words such as "cat" or "dog" when pointed out to her.

9 Months into The Classes

It was nothing short of a miracle, that I can actually walk into her reading storybooks these days. Like really READING and not flipping through the pictures! I even got her to read out the sentences from the book just to test and prove to me that she can totally read now! In fact my wife told me recently that her teacher mentioned that her reading ability is that of a 9 year old now.

Stacci outside the classroom at the community club.

Having a one-on-one session with Teacher Fiona.

Can you imagine just a couple of months back, she was only looking at the illustrations when she browses storybooks! The only thing is, even though her reading, spelling and pronunciation had all improved by leaps and bounds as compared to her previous self, she still do not understand the meaning of many words. Totally understandable though since it is phonics classes that she attended, and not exactly English language enrichment classes (which the center provides too, along with the rest of the other primary school subjects).

The Classes

The center holds various phonics and primary school subjects enrichment classes across their centers at Yishun, Sengkang, Holland Drive and a few other satellite stations at community clubs. The phonics classes that Stacci is attending costs $100 / 4 blocks of 1hr sessions at the community club. I had a look at the other subject and classes and they typically cost around $110 - $140 / blocks of 4 x 1hr - 1.5hr depending on the level.

Going through different exercises.

Matching pictorial cards with words.

Matching words with objects.

Having had the really great experience with Stacci attending the lessons, I would not hesitate to recommend any parents looking for similar classes for their kiddos, to try out Intelligent Minds Learning Centre. In fact, I am considering sending Louie to the same class once we figure out our logistics to prevent a repeat of Stacci's problem!

Adult Learning - Be a Montessori Educator

The center recently launched an interesting class in partnership with Wings that aims to train adults in the Montessorian way of educating. I guess it would be something like train-the-trainer course targeted at grandparents who may wish to help with grandchildren's education, adults who are interested in a career change perhaps, or even parent who wants to learn how to effectively teach their children. Have a look here, the subsidized fees are affordable!

Useful Information

Their various class information and schedules can be found on their website at Or alternative you can contact Ms Fiona directly at 91995949.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Little Bakers Lab: Piggy Pineapple Tarts


We are not exactly the most hardworking parents in the world and having to look after 5 kiddos after a long day at work can take its toil on us. In fact I think sometimes we try to work "late" if possible! It so happened that we were invited to a baking class at Little Bakers Lab recently and the wife complained because she had to bring Steffi and Leroy on her own. 

The wife was really enjoying the bonding with the kiddos!

Lo and behold, I ended up receiving photos of the kiddos enjoying the session with her, and she even texted me to tell me that it was quite interesting too! With Chinese New Year round the corner, she even said that maybe she would try to bake some for friends and family. So instead of naggings from a grumpy wife, I actually heard from a very enthusiastic baker wannabe!

Rolling the head of the piggy!

Poking the nostrils!

Just before going into the hot oven!

Since they are handmade, they come in a a few variations!

I have a feeling that a lot of people will be encouraged to try baking their own pineapple tarts after going through this fun class with their kids. Why leh? Because my wife (who is usually not that on) actually went to Red Man to get all the necessary ingredients and started baking at home the very next day! Yes, she was highly motivated and actually involved all the kiddos too. Steffi and Leroy can really roll those dough very well by now!

As long as your kid is 3 years and above, he or she will be happy to learn!

So Little Bakers Lab is conducting the Piggy Pineapple Tarts Baking Workshops that are great for parent and child bonding! The classes are priced at $58 per pair (adult + child) and each duo will bring back a container of freshly-baked pineapple tarts made with love! Learn from the experts on how to make the tarts in time for this CNY on the following dates -
  • 19 Jan (Sat): 10.30am to 12pm 
  • 20 Jan (Sun): 2pm to 3.30pm 
  • 25 Jan (Fri): 4pm to 5.30pm 
  • 26 Jan (Sat): 10.30am to 12pm 
  • 27 Jan (Sun): 2pm to 3.30pm
Useful Information

Address: Little Bakers Lab, 87A Serangoon Garden Way S(555983) 
For enquiries or bookings: Whatsapp to 9389 6066.

Piggy Pineapple Tarts Baking Workshop Giveaway

How cute these little piggies are, and they are delicious too!

Thanks to the wonderful folks from Little Bakers Lab, we are giving away one free workshop to a parent + child (3 years old and above) pair for any of the 5 classes listed above! It is super fun I tell you but beware, because it may just turn your kitchen upside down after you are highly motivated by the very patient and encouraging teachers! To stand a chance to win, you must follow and complete the following steps before Wed, 16 Jan 2019 -

1) Follow Little Bakers Lab on Facebook;
2) Follow The "Perfect" Father on Facebook;
3) Like and Share this Facebook post publicly;
4) Comment in the Facebook post the reason why you should win the giveaway, and tag 3 Facebook friends too.

Thank you for having us at the workshop!