Thursday, July 1, 2010 ;
11:23 AM
Just before the June hols, ds1 told me he would have 4 whole weeks without school.
I said, yeah, so good right? What do you plan to do with those 4 weeks?

He thought and said, you mean I have to stay at home for 4 weeks! I'd be so bored, I can't play with my friends?!?

After some discussion, I agreed to let him have 2 weeks of camps and 2 weeks at home. I thought he would have holiday homework so that might occupy him during the other 2 weeks at home. I said I might bring them to the zoo or museum but no promises, since DH is not in Singapore and we have to work around dd's nap schedule.

The problem with dd is she is easily excitable. If we go out, she remains highly alert and stimulated by all kinds of things, even if the noise is not loud. When there are loud noises, she is even worse. She would not sleep at all.

So she'd be increasingly cranky as the day wore on and cry and fuss. Hence, I usually prefer to go out for only short stretches.

ds1 was excited at the prospect of camps. I surfed and asked around and saw some good recommendations on some parenting forums. So I gathered all the info and placed it in front of him. He finally picked the Discovery Vacation camp, Tien Hsia Chinese camp and a 1-day Sg Buloh Young Naturalist camp.

For Tien Hsia, he had gone in Dec before and enjoyed it thoroughly. That time, it was his first time so I didn't sign him up for the full week. Since he liked it so much, this time, I let him go for the week of 14th to 18th June.

On the 1st day, they went to Sentosa to sit on the sky ride, ride on the luge and walk the nature/ jungle trail and dragon walk. Everything was conducted in Chinese, but in a fun way. By taking them out and using the language in a meaningful way. I feel that is a more natural way of learning a language rather than memorising the grammar rules or writing thousands of words to practise the strokes. For kids, of course, they learn better when they see it is useful and when it is hands on.

2ndd day they went to the Malay Heritage center which was something like a museum. I am not sure if this is new cos I've never heard of it till he visited it. The teachers gave us photos and they do look good. They learnt a lot about the Malay culture, in Chinese. I thought that was pretty interesting.

On the 3rd day (16th June) they were brought to the Orchard Tien Hsia center where all the kids did craft together (making a beautiful photo frame) and then recited poems to each other, like a performance. They also have half a day of language learning indoors, with emphasis on speaking/ oral skills. Unfortunately that day it rained so heavily that the entire area in Orchard road was flooded (yup, when the boutiques were rained in and the Hermes Birkin bags were damaged). So the kids ended up back in Jurong late cos they were stuck in the horrendous jam there.

Day 4 was so fun for ds1 cos they went to Pasir Ris Farm to pet and see lots of animals including mice, hamsters and so on, then they could try their hand at fishing. Whatever they caught, they could bring home and ds1 caught 17 small fish! When us moms were there to pick them up, one of the other moms was horrified and asked if she could leave the fish with the teachers, she did not want to bring them home!

The last day, they went to Genius R Us (apparently it is famous but I haven't been there or heard of it) and had a baking workshop. They played around with fondant and decorated cakes beautifully. This is the pic. Each slice was so big I couldn't finish mine. ds1 was very sweet, he said one for ds2, one for me and one for waipo (my mom) but can he share with us, please? Of course my mom let him have hers.

The camp at Sg Buloh Wetlands was incredible. It was sponsored by HSBC and organised by NParks to create awareness and love in kids for their natural surroundings. They learnt so much about mangroves and the flora and fauna within.

Best of all, it is almost free. We just paid fifty cents for a passport where they can collect stamps once they complete an activity. They get a day's meals, a tee shirt and lot of fun. However, they did ask if we would like to make a donation to the Garden City Fund, and most of the parents did, it was just $5.

This is for kids aged 6-10. This is ds1's group. He's the only P1 kid there.

But apparently he was so forthcoming with his contributions that the group leader and organiser came up to me and asked me his age, and told me he is really very smart and good in science.

I just smiled and said thank you, cos I didn't know what they were referring to, but I asked ds1 in the car later and he said he answered many Qs correctly, including one which was thrown open to the whole class but no one could answer. It was "What is the longest snake in the world?" or something.

I don't even know. Even though I am a Biology teacher, yes, but I don't know every single fact like that.... Anyway, that's just cos he reads and absorbs such facts. Not a real measure of smarts. If anything, it would be just that he loves such stuff and likes to talk about it. And probably has a good memory.

(Why I say this is : my mil helped me drive and pick ds1 up together cos after that we were going to her house for dinner. And she heard the organiser praise him. She went back and told my fil other people said he is so smart etc etc and he heard it, and his head swelled very big....)

This is the passport and the badges they all earn at the end of the camp. He had 2 friends at the same camp. Mx and Py. But they were all split up into different groups cos they wanted a good mix of ages in each group.

ds2 as well as Mx's sister and Py's brothers also managed to have a walk around Sg Buloh thanks to their elder siblings going for the camp. It was a great outing.

In the morning, after dropping him off, we passed by Hay Dairies on the way back, and we stopped to let ds2 see the milking of the goats (just nice, from 9am to 11am). We bought fresh goat's milk and pineapples home. Yup, somehow they were selling organic pineapples too.

7th to 11th June
Discovery camp

Coincidentally, Dh and I had volunteered, together with the rest of the BSc group in NIE, at this camp. We were all undergrads then and were organising the graduation dinner for our seniors. We saw this as a chance to raise funds, so all of us signed up for 2 weeks to teach at the camp (assistant teachers cos the main tr has to be a trained qualified teacher with MOE).

When I was helping out as a student, I remember thinking that the camp was priced too high, and that the activities could be done at home. I remember thinking even, that, when I had kids, I would do these at home with them and not spend money unnecessarily.

So it was really funny that ds1 should choose to attend this camp. Although I managed to get a discount by forming a group with other parents, I do still think that I can do those with him at home. However, he would lack the interaction with others, and he would lack an opportunity to perform.

The final thing that convinced me that the money was well-spent was that it sapped his energy during the day, making him far less able to use it at home to jump on the couch or think up one of his messy experiments... It allowed me to have gatherings with old friends peacefully and catch up on housework. It also gave me free time to relax and not constantly think of how to entertain him or what lunch to give him. And hey, to buy me time, effort, energy and sanity, the price or cost would be in the millions. So the $300 for 5 full days, 3 meals, lots of activities and social interaction is very very worth it.

And honestly, with dd so needy now, I wouldn't have done all those with him during the June hols.

They went to the Botanic Gardens/ Jacob Ballas Children's Garden on Tues and a mushroom farm on Thurs. The rest of the days they did science experiments and crafts. On the last day, at the end of the camp, they put up performances that sum up what they have learnt.

This is ds1's group's performance. They are all in P1.

I happened to meet my ex-colleague there. Priscilla's son was in the P2-3 group. However, she has quit her job to homeschool him so she sent him to these camps for social interaction and to conduct some experiments she might not have the equipment at home for.

After ds1's group performed, ds2 had no patience for the rest of the items. Since it was held in Raffles Girls' Pri, he decided to try their playground which was right beside the performance venue in the canteen.

After the performances, the camp commander gave out prizes to the group with the best performance and Priscilla's son's group got it!

Then they announced the best group in terms of behaviour and learning attitude and ds1's group got it! So they both are very happy boys...

There was a girl who was extra nice to ds1 and she lingered behind to talk to him and say goodbye, so we exchanged addresses. I told her she can be his penpal, if she liked. She didn't know what's a penpal. I think that term belongs to my generation huh???

Nowadays there is no need for snail mail. I guess our kids would understand better if I said, ok, exchange Facebook profile names, you can FB after this to keep in contact!

So anyway she was such a sweet girl and I was so taken by her that I asked them to pose for a pic together.

I don't know what's their relationship but ds1 was so gentle and nice to her too. She is taller than him though.... haha.

Then some boys were playing on the piano (can see in the background) so ds1 stayed back to listen to them before we all headed off - ds2, my mom (who helped me drive cos dd wailed non stop in the car), dd, myself and ds1.

I am glad ds1 enjoyed himself so much. I would keep quiet for the next hols though. Unless he asked for the camps, I would not volunteer to sign him up... Hopefully by that time, I can bring them out more often too, since dd would be older then. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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