Hello fellow MCO/circuit breaker buddies!
This blog post is gonna be very parenting focused ok so for those who are not parents and are not interested, sorry. D:
So you know how due to stay-at-home orders, parents are now also teachers? Yes. *prays for our lives
Fighter and Penny’s schools have been sending out quizzes and worksheets, and videos and activity suggestions – on Google Classroom, on Whatsapp wherever. Even Penny’s ballet teacher is sending us music and assignments to practice at home.
Some kindergartens and private schools have taken it a step further – by holding Zoom classes, where teachers and students gather to …well, have class.
Fighter and Penny’s schools haven’t gone to that extent, and the other day, some of the parents from Penny’s class decided to take it up in our group chat. They talked about other schools doing it and why weren’t we doing it? It would be better if the kids had engagement with their teacher and friends, even if it was through a Zoom call.
If this was Instagram Stories, I’d put a poll right here wtf. Would you want a Zoom class for your five year old? Hahahaha.
I’m not against Zoom classes in general. I think it should work very well for older children, or if the teacher is demonstrating a dance or a song or something very visual.
But Penny and her friends are four or five years old. Don’t even say attention span, if they say they want engagement, what is so engaging about a Zoom call with their teacher? Mind you, those parents demanding online classes want a class, not just social engagement and chatting with the teacher and friends yo.
Our teacher has already sent over activity sheets and project suggestions. If the kids were actually in school, Teacher would be going around guiding and working with them personally. That’s not going to happen on a Zoom call. Us parents will still need to be there to guide them and watch over them, so what difference will the teacher make on a kindergarten level?
Now there are lots of schools currently running online classes and I applaud them because a Zoom class can’t be easy! It’s a different way of teaching and different planning and techniques are involved I’m sure. If schools are running video classes because they believe the value they carry is substantial, then yes by all means.
But if schools are doing it because they feel pressured by demanding parents who feel they’re not getting their money’s worth, well, that’s not the right reason to do it then is it? Are we then doing something that has negligible benefit, for no other reason than for the sake it?
If schools are running online classes because they feel the need to justify their fees to parents, that’s a whole other debate. Schools come with its own costs, not least teacher’s salaries. I recognize the dilemma behind it; teachers are workers who need their wages after all. They wish to earn their worth, and if online classes is a means for teachers to engage and teach effectively, why not right.
But for our family, personally I don’t believe that a Zoom class is necessary, or even especially important.
A “formal classroom setting”, which is what our school parents were asking for (O_O), is not the only way to learn. Zoom class is not the only way to learn either in this stay-home environment, and definitely nowhere near the best.
Learning literally can take place anywhere!
It can happen during play time, during chore time, and yes it can definitely take place at home.
Okay so during the first week of MCO, I whipped out their activity books. I printed out additional worksheets that I’d found on the Internet cos you know, I’m all about learning wtf.
Fighter is an extremely obedient and focused child so it went brilliantly. He knocked off worksheet after worksheet, even completing whole activity books. Concepts clicked so easily for him. I was so impressed. I patted myself on the back for having birthed such a committed, high achieving child.
Then I looked to my right. And there Penny sat, in full concentration with her pencil gripped in her right hand. Her tongue was sticking out, she was focusing so hard. Focusing on the very very crucial job of…. rolling the corner of her paper.
She looked up and saw me staring at her in consternation. Her eyes alert, she opened her mouth and said, “Mommy, can I do only one line and do the rest tomorrow?”
And it went like that for the rest of the week T____T hahahahaha. Me struggling with Penny every damn day. She got increasingly resistant to the idea of activity sheets, and “activity time” became a daily tug of war between us where she would try negotiate her workload, come up with excuses not to work, and basically just whined and grumbled her way through. Meanwhile, I’d alternate between threats and bribes.
After a week, I realized that we couldn’t go on this way! Our relationship was getting affected, and I didn’t want her to sour on the idea of school and learning.
So instead of focusing on learning using only books and pencils, I decided to “cheat” her into it. Over the next few days, I researched and pinned printables online.
I thought hard about what the kids liked to do in their free time, and how they played. Even coloring pages and connect the dots wasn’t going to cut it – by now she had identified those with work already cos they came in books and on sheets of paper.
Here are the “activities” I’ve come up with so far:
This was the most obvious idea! Penny is just only learning how to read, so for this I made two sets of words – simple three letter CVC words for her, and a longer, more difficult batch for Fighter.
Guess which pile is Penny’s wtf.
They had to read each word they were given and draw it out. If the other one guessed correctly, they would win the point.
We’ve played three rounds of this so far, and Penny’s reading has actually become quicker! She used to sound out each individual letter, now she can at least combine the first two quite quickly before stopping at the third letter lol.
Fighter on the other hand demanded for “harder words that are easier to draw”. Okayyy.
Their drawing definitely improved though wtf. Although that green animal near the top is Fighter’s rendition of a horse HAHAHAHA.
Penny’s drawings are all on the right and she really nailed them all. Especially the pic of the chicken, lower right!
Skills they worked on: Reading, art, math (cos they add their points up)
They call it Bakery Game, but really it’s more like Bakery slash Restaurant slash Cafe.
So one game my kids love is playing shop. They’re always trying to make me their customer and they take my order and run back to their toy kitchen to whip up whatever food and bring it to me. So I thought I’d take it a step further.
To begin with, I drew out a menu of food items that I thought they would be able to make with play doh. I illustrated the foods to help Penny decipher them.
From here, there’s several ways to get them to work on their reading and writing.
With Fighter, I read out what I wanted to eat to him and he practiced writing them down from memory.
With Penny, I also read out my food. If I said ‘sandwich’, she would know which word was sandwich based on the picture I’d drawn. Then her job was to then write out the word ‘sandwich’; she can’t read the word yet but she’s practicing her writing.
And if a food was a composite of several things, for eg a sandwich would be bread + cheese + beef + tomato, they would have to write out the ingredients too.
Then using play doh, they would have to make the food I ordered, referring to the order sheets they wrote lol.
My spaghetti is done! Looks more like risotto but I’ll take it wtf. I told them spaghetti comes up with tomato and cheese so they made those too.
For dessert I ordered ice cream with a cherry on top.
To create more learning, I asked Fighter to set prices for each of the foods. Then he had to add up all the prices to tell me my total. We have toy money, so I would give him a bunch of money and he had to figure out my change.
We only played this once cos it does take quite long, between copying down ingredients to actually shaping the dough to charging money wtf.
Skills worked on: Reading, writing, math, fine motor skills
Fluency to 6
This is a game I got online. You roll a dice and the number you get, you need to find the next space that equates to that number. It lets children practice addition and subtraction, naturally. The version online is called Fluency to 5 and I think it’s meant to be played with a spinner that goes up to 5.
I planned to play this with a dice so I drew my version where the sums go up to 6 and changed it to Fluency to 6.
Skills worked on: Math
This one is a no brainer! I see parents everywhere baking with their kids this lockdown and making delicious looking things. But if you just put a little thought into it, you can really accelerate their learning.
For yesterday’s project I discussed with the kids what we could make. I thought baking cookies would be the easiest and most fun cos they could also play with cookie cutters. So I googled for simple cookie cutter dough recipes and found this sugar vanilla cookie recipe.
I rewrote the recipe in simpler language, and also reduced the ingredients a bit cos I didn’t want to make so much dough wtf.
I gave it to them and asked Fighter to read and understand it. He hasn’t learned measurement units so I explained it to him. He still didn’t really understand wtf so I had to guide them and tell them which cup or which spoon to use to measure la.
But after that, they were all on their own! They had to scoop and measure out the butter, sugar and other ingredients themselves (based on the cups I handed them). Then by reading the instructions, they figured out what order to add the ingredients.
We chilled the dough for a while then rolled it out and the kids had a lot of fun cutting out cookies!
Ok this part I totally interfered. With this cookie dough, the warmer it got the stickier and less cut-able it became. So I became Asian mom here and started yelling at them to hurry up before the dough melts wtf. They did a good job though!
Cookies came out pretty nice!
Skills worked on: Math (measuring units), reading and comprehension, patience wtf
Going with the flow
Like I’d mentioned earlier in Baking, with just a little thought, learning can really happen anywhere.
The kids are completely addicted to this cartoon called Ben & Holly. It’s by the same creator as Peppa Pig and when I asked them why, they said cos it’s for bigger kids like them, Peppa Pig is for babies. Lol okay guys.
Anyway there’s a ladybug called Gaston in it and one day Fighter asked me what a real ladybug looks like. So I took the opportunity to search up a children’s video on ladybugs’ life cycle wtf and we watched it together.
After that I asked them to draw ladybugs and their natural habitat (among plants) to sort of reinforce what they learned.
But Penny decided to draw her ladybug next to a house cos Gaston apparently lives in a house. *rubs temples wtf.
Skills worked on: Science, art
The point is! Everything can be a learning experience, and while teachers and books are very important, they are not our only learning resource when we are at home. First of all, there’s tons of educational videos and apps online. Or just even google “printables for whatever age group” and Google gives you a treasure trove of printables and ideas .
I know everyone’s situation is different, and that other people may not have the time I have to do these activities with the kids. They may have less flexible jobs even when wfh, or more housework to deal with. But I guess being on (semantics) lockdown is as good a time to try than any other.
If you insist on Zoom classes, sure it’s your choice. But even with a Zoom class, you as a parent or guardian will still have to be there to help if your child is younger. You will still have to guide or assist them with their work. A Zoom call isn’t going to babysit your kids wtf.
So even if your school doesn’t set up Zoom classes for you, it’s really okay. There are so many ways for you to keep your child’s mind active. It doesn’t even need to be anything elaborate like the activities I listed above although you can certainly try! You just need to keep an open mind and go with the flow when your kids ask you questions. Ask them back what they think. Get them to imagine further than what you guys have talked about. If you need a fact check, there’s always Google and Youtube. Get them to write or draw based on whatever topic of interest is at hand.
And even if you don’t do anything and they spend the whole MCO playing with toys or on TikTok, trust me. They’ve learned new skills. (Yes, editing videos on Tiktok and creating content are legit skills wtf.)
And you are not a bad mom/dad/grandpa/grandma/legal guardian!
If you’re looking for printables suitable for kids aged 2-12, here’s a handy site to check out from HP Malaysia! They have a nice range of printable activities for different sorts of skills.