Wednesday 29 February 2012


Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: TV Time Under Two

Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: TV Time Under Two: image source You may have noticed that I have been focusing on On Becoming Babywise Book Two this month. I was re-reading the chapter o...

What to Do If Your Child Does Not Like to Do Homework?

Recently I returned from Singapore and was amazed at the depth of the nusery and kindergarten curriculum. They have homework to bring home too. I think the children in the States do as much too, but not the children in Denmark. The children here basically play the whole day and they have never heard of what homework is!

I do not know what is the best - the Singaporean's way of approaching learning that has the tendency of choking the appetite of the child's love for learning,  or the Danish way of approaching child development and learning that brings the child 3 years' behind other nations, but seems to have the advantage of nurturing creativity in its population.

By the age of 15, the Straitstimes dated 18 February 2012 reported an Australian study's findings that children in Europe, USA and Australia are in general 2-3 years behind their peers in Shanghai in Maths.

I am vexed... I am confused... I am a Singaporean Chinese living in Denmark. One way to solve this is for us to move back to Singapore or Shanghai, but I am very happy here in Denmark.

So what is the most important?

I read the book "On Becoming Pre-schoolwise" by American authors Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, and I agree with the book that one of the most important roles of parents is to ensure that their child acquire good attention span and concentration skills. And the daily habit of doing homework is actually one of the best ways to acquire attention span and concentration skills. I want Joshua to start young in developing good habit of self-control, discipline, attention span and concentration skill.

Recently, Joshua doesn't seem to be interested in doing homework. While I was back in Singapore, I noticed that my 4 years old nephew wasn't too keen in his workbook either.

I have to find ways to keep the good side of the Singapore system of discpline, and at the same time, retain the good side of the Danish system in nurturing the passion and interest of the children towards learning.

How am I going to do it?

I don't know. But I am going to jot down my progress along the way and what worked for me here.

Here are some ways which I have experimented that worked for my 3 year old Joshua and my 4 year old nephew:

1. Start Bedtime Routine Earlier

Start the bedtime routine earlier, so that it leaves you enough time to squeeze in colouring activity and homework, before your child goes to bed. Most children would not want to go to bed and sleep. So I will give Joshua a choice - Do you want to go to sleep now or do you want to do your homework? Given only these two choices, normally, they would prefer to do homework than to go to bed. This worked with Joshua and my nephew.

2. Invest in Colourful Activity Books

The Singaporean kindergarten books are of very good material in terms of content. They contain a lot of information and knowledge, and explain in a step-by-step way. However, they are black and white (to keep educational cost low) and very boring. My nephew loses interest in them. I bought colourful activity books for my nephew that contains similar lessons, and I was surprised that he took to it very well, and even completed more pages than I can keep up to mark! Initially, I thought that my nephew just isn't motivated to learn, but this success has shown otherwise. We have to work harder to find ways to make learning a worthwhile and fun pursuit for our children.

I did the same with Joshua. Above pictues showed one of the colourful and interesting activity book which I bought for Joshua from the Singapore Popular Bookshop ( It teaches pattern recognition, logic, shapes, matching, etc.

However, I do buy the black and white Singapore kindergarten books just to keep abreast on what is taught, and learn about milestones that children at those ages can reach and to get inspired on what I can teach Joshua.

Having said that, I acknowledge that this method do cost money and may not be affordable to many families. I hope my blog will provide the free resources and ideas from the books that I have invested in and benefit others.

3. Turn the Academic Kindergarten Textbook Curriculum into Montessori-style Activity

Most children and especially boys learn best by playing. One way is to make the textbook come alive using real tangible materials such as beads that the children can touch, rather than showing pictures of them in the textbooks.

Here are some examples of the activity I have created, with content inspiration from the Singapore kindergarten textbooks:

It is a challenge that requires creativity, thinking and time, which are not always available to us working parents. One tradeoff is that I do not really have time outside work, as my time is invested in turning textbooks into fun activities. It helps that I enjoy doing it. This is a sacrifice that I make. Long gone are the days when I get to go shopping for myself, pedicure, manicure, planning vacation, etc. - they are all tossed out of the window.

4. Incultivate Discipline and Endurance at a Young Age, Not with Homework, but with Play

What do I mean by that? Do you need discipline to play?

The answer is yes.

Have you ever seen some children jumping from one play activity or one toy to another? This child may have the same habit and approach to homework, when he grows older.

How to overcome this?

Hard as it is, introduce Blanket Time, when your child is only a baby, and then Room Time, when your child is a toddler or pre-schooler. I am still working on this with Joshua. I have not succeeded yet. But I am pressing on.

Good enduring habits developed at a young age will stand your child in good stake, when he has to start school. Time flies, and the day will come soon, when he has to start school. It would be too late to work on attitude, when the time comes.

5. Pray

Lastly and most importantly, pray and put your trust in God. Ask God to give you creativity, ideas, energy, perseverance and for turning into good any mistakes that you make along the way, as you embark on this. Looking back from the past 2 years, I saw the fingerprint of God and his faithfulness. I will continnue to trust Him to enable me and equip me as I embark ahead on this challenging role as a mom.

What to Do If Your Child Does Not Like to Do Colouring?

Colouring is an important pre-schooler's activity, as it helps them to practise pencil grip and control. It is precusory to learning to write. It also teaches patience and determination. The book "On Becoming Pre-Schoolwise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam wrote that colouring and puzzles are some activities that would teach a child attention span and concentration skills, which are very important skills, when starting school. And it has to be developed from young.

Recently, I am vexed that Joshua doesn't seemed to be taking any interest in colouring activity. I have been trying to find ways to encourage him, and today I have made some head way. I hope it will continue, and I will add to this post more strategies on what to do, if your child does not like colouring.

Here are some ways that worked for me:

1. Start Bedtime Routine Earlier

Start the bedtime routine earlier, so that it leaves you enough time to squeeze in colouring activity, before your child goes to bed. Most children would not want to go to bed and sleep. So I will give Joshua a choice - Do you want to sleep now or do just one more page of colouring. Given the choice of going to bed and colouring, he would choose colouring anytime.

2. Use Oil Pastels

I gave Joshua colour pencils and wax crayons, but he didn't like it. The colours were too bland and not rich. He lost interest. Actually I lost interest too. Joshua never did complete his colouring. Below is one such incomplete work.

Then I remember that when I was a child, I used oil pastels to paint, and I really enjoyed it. Thus, I bought this for Joshua from Singapore. I tried it today, and it was an instant hit. For the first time, he completed colouring his sheet (of course, the fact that I timed it just before bedtime helped).

This is what he coloured today. I started him off by helping him to colour the mother duck. Joshua (2Y11M24D) coloured the duckings, the water, the grass and the flowers. It was the first time, that he actually completed colouring the whole picture!

Joshua clearly prefers oil pastels to wax crayons or colour pencils. Oil pastels' colours are much more vivid and blendable. It has inspired Joshua to sit and colour. I highly recommend it, if you want to encourage your child to enjoy colouring activity. You can also buy it from Amazon below:

3. Do Colouring Yourself

Lead by example. Initially, I was simply giving instructions to Joshua, "Joshua, please colour this. You should colour here, etc." This is because I wanted him to be independent and do things himself.

It suddenly don on me that maybe, I should start doing it myself, and hopefully it would inspire him. So today, I started by first colouring the mother duck with the oil pastels. In the process, I wanted to teach Joshua that colouring can be fun, and that it gives great satisfaction to see your completed work. It seemed to have worked. When I handled the oil pastels to him, he began to colour it with more attention and care.

4. Discipline

The book "On Becoming Pre-Schoolwise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam recommends that if your child is not happy about doing a proper job by colouring a sheet properly, but simply scribble the picture in 30 seconds and jumping on to the next picture or activity, give him back a new sheet with the same picture and ask him to colour it nicely. Set the timer to 5 minutes, and tell him that he cannot leave, even if he has completed the work. He has to sit there until the timer goes. After a few rounds of repeated sheet, he would know that he won't be able to get away. The child would then sit down and take the time to colour properly. I tried this method with my 4 year old nephew in Singapore and it worked. Upon giving him back the sheet with the same picture to colour again, he did a perfect and beautiful job, colouring the picture fully and within the lines.

5. Pray

Lastly and most importantly, I always believe that you can have a plan, but pray hard to God to change the heart of your child from the inside. You must do your part to encourage and pray and ask God to do His part too. Pray also for wisdom from God to find strategies that would work for your child. Pray also for patience and His peace to surround you. I have been praying for a week, and today, I had a break-through with colouring with Joshua.

Sunday 26 February 2012


Montessori Activity: Fun with Teaching Pattern Recognition through Fanta-Colour Peg Board/模式识别

Age: From 4 years

Activity Duration: 10-15 minutes

1. To get the child ready for Maths.
2. To teach logic and number pattern recognition.
3. To train the child’s fine motor skills.

1. Fanta-colour peg board
2. 1 tray

1. Make a pattern using the fanta-colour peg.

2. Encourage your child to peg a square by following the pattern you have just set.

Or you can vary the game as follows:
1. Peg a rectangle with a embedded pattern.

2. Take away some of the pegs and ask your child to peg the missing pegs, following the pattern.

Additional Information:
Recognizing patterns is part of the pre-school kindergarten curriculum in Singapore, and I saw such a problem sum from the Singapore pre-Maths book. I am getting some inspiration to turn it into a fun and educational Montessori activity, by getting my inspiration from browsing the Singapore Maths books. This activity is too advance for Joshua, but I am just recording it down, before I forget it.

You can buy fanta-colour peg board from Amazon:


Montessori Activity: Fun with Teaching Pattern Recognition through Stringing Beads/模式识别

First make a pattern for your child to follow when stringing

Age: From 4 years

Activity Duration: 10-15 minutes

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

1. To get the child ready for Maths.
2. To teach logic and number pattern recognition.
3. To train the child’s fine motor skills.

1. 1 container containing 4 beads each of 4-5 different colours
2. 1 string.
3. 1 clip as stopper (optional)
4. 1 compartmentalized container with 4-5 compartments for sorting.
5. 1 tray

1. Tie a knot in the string with a last bead or clip it.

2. Ask your child to sort the beads by colours in the compartmentalized containers.

3. Demonstrate by stringing 1 set of pattern.

4. Encourage your child to continue to spring the beads following the pattern by asking what should the next bead be? See if your child can pick the correct beads to string.

Additional Information:
Recognizing patterns is part of the pre-school kindergarten curriculum in Singapore, and I saw such a problem sum from the Singapore pre-Maths book. However, I make it more fun by translating this pre-Maths problem sum into a Montessori-style activity for Joshua. Joshua (2Y11M21D) tried this today, but he wasn't interested in following any pattern, but insisted on randomly stringing the beads. At some point, he purposely strung the wrong colour bead to see my exasperated reaction. However, he completed stringing all the beads though. It looks like he is not ready nor interested in recognizing patterns yet. Perhaps the pattern I have made is too complex. I will try again with a simpler pattern. If not, I will put this aside and return to it later.

You can buy beads from Amazon:

Saturday 25 February 2012


Creamy Sweet Corn Soup

Adapted from
Serves 4

Preparation & Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1. 1 onion
2. 2 cloves garlic chopped
3. 1 TBS cooking oil
4. 1 TBS graham flour
5. 1 TBS corn flour (to thicken the soup)
6. 2 cups milk
7. 2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
8. 2 cans whole kernel corn (340g each can)
9. 1 slice cheese (optional)
10. Salt & pepper to taste

1. Puree 1 can of corn and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large pot, fry garlic and onion until golden.

3. Add the flour, stirring well, to make a pasty mixture.

4. Whisk in the milk and water or vegetable stock.

5. Mix the corn starch with some water or milk.

6. Add the corn, corn starch solution and heat through.

7. Add cheese, salt and pepper and stir well. Then serve.

Additional Information:
I amde this today, and Florian and Joshua like it. It tasted good and not much difference without the cream and cheese. Next time, I will skip the cream and cheese. I used water from blanch broccoli as vegetable stock.



J Summary (2Y11M20D) - Favourite Toy

J's favourite toy for this week - yellow Lego bus from farmor. He had been playing with it everyday. He drove the passengers to the football court and let them sit around to watch football. The carpet from Ikea contains the roads and the football court. Last week's favourite toy was Lttile People aeroplane, when I was travelling, according to Daddy.

J also loves Hide-&-Seek game, and has been hiding under the comforter many times last week, whenever I looked for him. However, he wasn't very good in keeping quiet, and his giggles gave him away!


Montessori Activity: Fun with Mixing Colours

Full set

Simple set
Yellow + Blue = Green

Purple + Orange = Brown

Age: From 3 years old

Activity Duration: 15 - 30 minutes

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

1. To teach colours.
2. To train the child's fine motor skills.

1. 1 large clear transparent bowl
2. 2 clear transparent glasses or bowls filled with water.
3. 4 different food colouring
4. 6 plastic colour toy plates (yellow, red, blue, green, orange and purple) for benchmark (optional)
5. 1 jug for pouring water (optional, but Joshua found this fun)
6. 1 stick for stiring (optional)

1. Pour the colour you want to mix into the glasses.

2. Ask your child to pour water into the glasses.

3. Ask your child to pour the first colour solution from the glass into the big transparent bowl.

4. Before asking your child to pour the second colour solution the big bowl, ask your child to guess what the colour in the big bowl would become. Use the colour plates and ask, "Does it turn into this green colour? Does it turn into red colour?" Encourage your child to guess.

5. Instruct your child to pour the second colour solution from the other glass into the big transparent bowl and watch the colour transformation.

6. Pour away the water from the big bowl, and repeat with other colour mixing.

Additional Information:
Joshua (2Y11M20D) played with this yesterday and this morning. He enjoyed it a lot and played for 30 minutes. He was curious what colour he would get. if he mix in blue and orange, or purple and orange. He found it funny and kept laughing when I said, it gave dirty colour, which he mixed and saw the dirty colour for himself.

Yellow + Blue = Green
Red + Blue = Purple
Red + Yellow = Orange
Orange + Blue = Dirty Green
Green + Blue = Green

Tuesday 21 February 2012


How to Teach ADHD Children Concentration?

Researchers recognize that ADHD doesn’t impair the ability to pay attention, but rather the ability to control what one pays attention to. ADHD children have to work harder than most children to focus on one thing at a time, but it is not impossible to learn concentration skills given the right strategies. According to SPARK, some ADHD / ADD children will have extremely good attention span for things that interest him and they overcome their attention problem by hyper-focusing on the activities they are interested in. The good news is that modern research is showing that ADHD symptoms can be managed and controlled using the right strategies.

After putting in place the basics, training the support team, spending time with my nephew face-to-face and gaining an understanding the needs of my ADHD nephew, my mission continues on back home in Copenhagen. I am now working on finding ways to help him concentrate and develop longer attention span.

I read somewhere that concentration is an activity like any other. Clearly the more we practice, the better our concentration will become. We wouldn’t expect to be a strong runner without doing some training. Similarly, concentration is like a muscle, the more we exercise the stronger it becomes. There are specific concentration exercises we can do, such as focusing on a small point of an object; but life itself presents innumerable opportunities to sharpen your concentration. The key is to always take opportunities to heighten our powers of concentration.

We can train longer attention span and concentration by doing the following which are compiled wholesale from my research:

1. Training the Concentration "Muscles"

Having poor concentration skill is like having weak muscles. ADHD children have very weak concentration "muscles" that are very difficult to develop. As with muscles, frequent use will result in stronger muscles (while over-use may result in muscle damage).

According to SPARK, it is possible to train the concentration "muscles" and develop longer attention span by slowly increasing the period of lesson/homework from 15 minutes to 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 minutes, with 5-15 minutes breaks in between.

2. Making Lesson/Homework Fun & Interesting

According to SPARK, the ADHD child's interests often do not include homework and academic classes unless these are intrinsically stimulating enough to cross his higher threshold of need to “feel alive”. However, creating homework and lessons that are intrinsically stimulating are not easy and this is the challenge the teacher/parent has to address.

My Swedish colleague, Julia (much thanks to her), who introduced me to Khan Academy, an on-line education "school" started by supported by Gates Foundation that offers free on-line lessons on maths, science, etc. It has a library of over 2,600 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 303 practice exercises. The child can learn what he wants, when he wants it and at his own pace.

Here is a testimony to Khan Academy from a student from Singapore:

"Hi my name is Paesan and I'm a second year student in the University of Western Australia (UWA) majoring in Physics and Maths. I was originally from Singapore where I spent the first 15 years of my life failing school, day after day I would not understand a word the teacher was saying as they said, "you must remember this or you won't get a job in your future." and every year I would fail school. When I was 14, I started failing pretty badly and fell into a world of drug addiction. When I was 15, my drug addiction got so intense that it affected my grades so badly that I had to be held back a grade in my high school in Singapore. Finally in January 2008 (the year I was 16), my parents decided to move to Perth in Western Australia. They had me enrolled in a private school where within 8 months I was expelled for fighting and drugs. At the end of that ordeal and closely evading arrest, they had be enroll in a local public school where I was faced with the worst problem of my entire life. The final exam of high school that determines if you go to University or not was coming, and I had no idea what to do as I never listened in class since I was 13. All I could do was expand a bracket and that was it, no factorizing, solving an equation or doing trigonometry. I first met the Khan Academy in 2007 where I stumbled on his videos on Complex Numbers on YouTube. I had a whole load of heavy weight subjects like Literature, Physics, Advanced Maths, Chemistry and Biology. Everyday when I came home from school, it would be a 4pm - 10pm study session driven by my own fears. With 5 years of work to catch up on and only Khan Academy helping me, it was a grueling experience. I failed every test and exam that year, thankfully none of those tests and exams contribute to your final University determination grade. I struggled through the Khan Academy playlists on Basic Algebra, Trigonometry, Physics, Chemistry and Biology before moving on to the "higher level" things like Calculus and Differential Equations. Thanks to Salman Khan for quitting his day job as a Hedge-fund Analyst, he has allowed a drug addict whom the public would look down upon to persevere through his A levels and come out on the other side with a result good enough to get into Western Australia's best University. I hope and pray that the Khan Academy will expand to do subjects like Modern Physics and Maths topics like Topology, Differential Geometry and so on. In any case, I thank you Salman Khan, and the effort you have put into the Khan Academy. You've opened doors for us that we would have never been able to unlock alone."

3. Highlight Key Points

According to SPARK, teach the ADHD/ADD child how to use highlighters (circle key words, underline text, draw connecting lines, draw vertical guiding lines, cancellations etc) and summaries (lists, notes) effectively.

Highlight key words in the instructions on worksheets to help the child with ADHD focus on the directions. Prepare the worksheet before the lesson begins, or underline key words as you and the child read the directions together. When reading, show children how to identify and highlight a key sentence, or have them write it on a separate piece of paper, before asking for a summary of the entire book. In Math, show children how to underline the important facts and operations; in “Mary has two apples, and John has three,” underline “two,” “and,” and “three.”

4. Play Attention-boosting Games to Develop Attention Skills

To help your child develop attention skills, encourage activities like games, blocks, puzzles, and reading. Below is a list of games. Find one that would interest your child:

4.1 LEGO

One of the best toys for training concentration, if your child is interested, is LEGO. It builds concentration skills, when the child learns to follow the manual. It builds spatial skills when the child builds 3-dimensional models. I have seen kids with ADHD being very absorbed when they play with LEGO. So encourage your child to play with LEGO.

4.2 Crossword Puzzles and Picture Puzzles

According to Empowering Parents, crossword puzzles and picture puzzles are games which improve attention for words and sequencing ability, while picture puzzles—in which your younger child has to look for things that are “wrong” in the picture or look for hard-to-find objects—also improve attention and concentration.

4.3 Memory and Simon Game

According to Empowering Parents, children’s games such as Memory or Simon are great ideas for improving memory and concentration. They are quick and fun. Memory motivates the child to remember the location of picture squares and Simon helps them memorize sequences of visual and auditory stimuli. Through repeated playing, brain circuits are “exercised” and challenged, which strengthens connections and thus improves function. Also, there are some free computer games on the internet that also improve concentration or memory such as Memory and Mosquito Killer. For older children and adolescents, check out the cognitive exercises provided by Lumosity.

4.4 Coin Game

According to Empowering Parents, another way is to play the Coin Game. This game improves memory and sequencing as well as attention and concentration, and kids enjoy it because it’s fast-paced and fun. First, you will need a small pile of assorted coins, a cardboard sheet to cover them, and a stopwatch (or a regular watch with a second hand.) Choose five of the coins from the pile (for this example, we’ll say three pennies and two nickels) and put them into a sequence. Now, tell your child to “Look carefully at the coins arranged on the table.” Then, cover the coins with the cardboard. Start the stopwatch, and then ask them to make the same pattern using the coins from the pile. When they are finished, mark the time with the stopwatch and remove the cardboard cover. Write down the time it took them to complete the pattern and whether or not they were correct. If they didn’t complete it correctly, have them keep trying until they can do it. You can increase the difficulty of the patterns as you go, and include pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars. You’ll see your child’s concentration and sequencing improve the more they play, which is a great reward for both of you.

4.5 Champion Distractor Game

According to Additude, in a game called Champion Distractor, one player focuses on completing a task, while the other tries to distract him. To win the game, a player needs to be a good Distractor, and must be able to avoid being distracted.

As you do all of these “brain exercises,” you should work together with your child serving as his or her “coach.” Provide them with encouragement and track their progress as they improve. This is a win/win solution, because it also strengthens the relationship you have with your child.

4.6 Board Games such as Chess and Checkers

According to, board games that require concentrated thought might be one of the better ways of working on a young person's ability to concentrate. Instead of forcing them to work on a problem, you are simply encouraging them to have fun. Kids love to play games, and they must focus their concentration on the rules and how to proceed through a game. Games such as chess and checkers are good options for building concentration if the child is interested, but any game that he is able to understand and enjoy by following a set of rules should help develop his ability to concentrate.

4.7 A Round of Tongue Twisters

According to,
While they enhance the clarity of your voice, with each word spoken clearly, they also improve your concentration. This is because it requires a lot of attention to speak them out clearly. 

5. Use the Beeper System to Stay on the Task

According to, you can use a beeper system to help the child stay on the task. So how would you use the beeper management system to get an ADHD student to stay on task? Start by setting a schedule with the student. Say for example your student has trouble completing an assignment in a set amount of time. First, discuss with the student how much time she has for the assignment. When you are programming the beeper, it will go off at certain intervals to remind the student to stay on task. Figure out at what time the student needs to be reminded. Does she get distracted after five minutes or 10 minutes? Some of the beeper systems have particular messages that you can choose as the reminders. Explain to the student that when the beeper goes off with a reminder, she should check if she is staying on track. Make a note if the student becomes distracted way before the beeper goes off. If it is set to go off every 10 minutes and she becomes distracted much earlier, you may need to set the beeper for lower intervals. As the student's attention gets better, try lengthening the intervals. If the student is able to stay on task, provide a reward as positive reinforcement — talk to the student about a reward she would like if she can stay on task. If the student is still having problems, talk to her about what is working and what is not working with the beeper management system.

6. Teach Self-monitoring

According to Additude, you can help your child become aware of the things that distract her. With time and practice, she’ll get to know what being distracted feels like, and will recognize when her attention is drifting. ADDers benefit from positive affirmations, such as “I will pay attention to my work.” Teach your child to repeat these to encourage herself to keep going. Concentration takes a lot of energy for kids with ADD. A five-minute break every 20 minutes helps them recharge.

7. Allow Your Child to Fidget

According to Carol's Web Corner, she used to assume that when she was speaking to my son, if he turned upside down in his seat or began to grab frantically at imaginary flies, then he MUST not be listening. Wrong. Not only is he listening, if she required that he sit perfectly still and look at her intently while she spoke, he most certainly could not listen. In fact, he might implode. He NEEDS to be moving while listening.

8. Music

According to SPARK, background music also helps to improve the attention span of the ADHD / ADD child (although it may be distracting for some people); Music keeps the right active/creative brain occupied, while the left brain focus on detailed and analytical work which requires attention

9. Physical Activity Outdoors

A hyperactive child feels driven to keep some part of his body moving all the time, so let him do it! Physical activities are essential to your child's well-being and also help his brain "normalize" in a way that allows him to focus, remain calm, and stay on task.
According to SPARK, heavy physical activities / exercises also help improve concentration but this last for only about 2 hours (one ADD adult attained his PhD through 3 1-hour exercises each day!). Regular healthy outdoor exercise is always beneficial to the well being of any child and could be particularly helpful for the ADHD child who experiences problems getting to sleep.

According to Additude, recent studies link time spent outside, especially in natural environments, with improved concentration. Try to give your child time to play outdoors before she sits down to do homework.

10. Relaxation

According to SPARK, teach your ADHD/ADD child how to relax (e.g. through progressive relaxation techniques, meditation, music, praise and worship to God, etc.). These also help to improve concentration and attention span.

11. Sleep

According to and SPARK, insufficient sleep can make anyone less attentive, but it can be highly detrimental for children with ADD/ADHD. Kids with ADD/ADHD need at least as much sleep as their unaffected peers, but tend not to get what they need. Their attention problems can lead to overstimulation and trouble falling asleep. A consistent, early bedtime is the most helpful strategy to combat this problem, but it may not completely solve it. Adequate sleep is another factor that may helps to increase the attention span.

Many parents of ADHD children say their kids also benefit from a daily quiet time, even after they've stopped napping. This can be an hour or so for resting or reading. After school is usually a great time for this. During this time, make the room off-limits to others, draw the curtains, keep lights low, and try to keep noise down. Light background music can be soothing, but make sure the TV isn't blaring from the room next door.


Thursday 16 February 2012


How to Teach Children Financial Management?

Idea adapted from Lisa Tong

Now that we have implemented the Children Chore Chart for JN and his siblings and the corresponding Coupon Reward System, what do we do with the coupons that are being exchanged for money? We teach them to save... not just with 1 piggybank, but with 5 piggybanks.

The 3 "S" Lesson:

This provides a very good opportunity to teach the children early in their life the good habits of prudent financial management – what I call The 3 “S” Lesson about Life – namely, Sharing, Saving and Spending.

I am going to give each child 5 piggybanks with the following percentages:

1. S is for Sharing - 30% with the following breakdown:

a. 10% to God – As Christians, this teaches Joshua to honour God with his “first fruits”.

b. 10% to parents – As Chinese, this teaches Joshua in an early age the Chinese concept of filial piety, something not many Europeans could comprehend.

c. 10% to charity – This teaches Joshua the concept of sharing with the less fortunate.

2. S is for Saving - 20% – This teaches Joshua the concept of being thrifty and saving up for rainy days.

3. S is for Spending - 50% - This teaches Joshua the enjoyment of spending within his means after taking into account the other two “S”s.

Additional Information:
You will notice that I have arranged the piggy banks in a row in the order with God first and Spending last. This is in accordance to what the Bible teaches and commands us to do:

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. - Proverbs 3:9-10

This is a personal testimony that I have experienced since I started my working life some 12 years ago. And God has always kept His promise with giving me enough to share with others. Not one day do I have to go out to beg or borrow money from others. I want to share my testimony with Joshua and the children, that they will always grow up trusting God to provide financially, if they honour God and put Him first in their life.

Now that Joshua is older and started wanting me to spend money to buy things for him, it is also a good time for me to introduce this activity to him, when I am back home in Denmark.

If it is too overwhelming with 5 piggybanks, you can also start with 1 piggybank, and work it up, instead of trying to achieve this lesson overnight.

Btw, I have found a brilliant piggybank that compartmentalizes it into different compartments:


Activities for 4 Years Old

I am trying to compile a list of activities for 4 years old:

- Letter Portraits

Draw a large letter on a piece of paper, then give your child colored pencils or crayons and have her turn the letter into a portrait of something else. A lower-case "m" might become a camel, for example, or an upper-case "B" could change into a butterfly. For extra credit, tell older kids they can draw only objects that start with the letter on the paper

- Alphabet Scramble

Print each of the 26 letters of the alphabet on a separate sticky note and help your child stick the notes on a wall in order. Have her close her eyes, then switch the letters around. When she opens her eyes again, see if she can put the letters back in the right order. (If she needs a hint, try singing a round of the ABC song.) When she's ready for a new challenge, encourage her to place each sticky note on an object whose name starts with the letter, such as "c" on a cabinet or "d" on a doorknob.

- Sound Search

Clue your child into phonetics with this educational twist on hide-and-seek. To play, gather up a handful of objects that start with the same letter, such as a banana, boat, boot, and ball. Talk with your little one about the sound that the objects start with (in this case, "buh"), then have her close her eyes while you "hide" them around the room. Now make the sound of the letter ("buh buh buh") and challenge your child to find everything in the room that starts with that sound.

- Do-the-Math Hopscotch

- Preschool Potions

- Making my book

- Hands-on Maths

- Blocks - can also help youngsters learn about depth, width, height, and length
- Spying ABCs
- Write own name
- Dictating stories to adults
- Visiting Science center
- Develop their growing interest in academic things, such as science and mathematics, and activities that involve exploring and investigating.
- Weight, height, length
- Time, week, months, days of weeks
- Introduce games like dominoes or rolling dice. Have your child roll the dice and count the dots.
- Colouring
- Cutting with scissors well
- Stringing small beads
- Button own shirt
- Zip own shirt
- Dress and undress self
- Cooking together
- Baking together
- Skipping rope
- Dance class
- Swimming
- Roller-skating
- Kick soocer ball
- Throw baseball
- Gymnastics
- Martial arts
- Soccer
- Horseback riding


Wednesday 15 February 2012


Children Chore Chart

Age: This chore chart is meant for 5 years old and above (For younger children, reduce the number of assigned tasks accordingly as fit)

  1. To equip the child with life skills from healthy daily habits.
  2. To provide motivation to the child to do the chores
  3. To teach counting in a tangible way.
  1. 1 Weekly Chore Chart A3 size per week consisting of 20 assigned chores per day (Download the excel version here)
  2. 14 reward coupons or counters (I found this from Confessions of a Homeschooler)
  1. There are 20 chores on the chart grouped into morning, afternoon and evening chores
  2. The Chore Chart starts anew each week.
  3. As the child completes a chore each day, he makes a tick for that corresponding day's chore.
  4. If the child completes at least 50% of the day's chores i.e. at least 10 chores, he receives a coupon.
  5. If the child completes all the day's 20 chores, he gets an extra bonus coupon.
  6. At the end of the week, count up all the coupons he gets.
  7. Each coupon can be redeemed for 10 minutes worth of TV/video/computer game time or SGD 20 cents. The child can redeem up to 12.60 SGD per month (0.20 SGD x 7 x 4.5).
  8. The child can choose to redeem his coupon immediately or save up for something he wishes to purchase later.
Additional Information:

Children with ADHD need to know exactly what others expect from them, and a chore chart serves as a clear and consistent way to provide them with reminders.

The chore chart and its corresponding coupon acts as a reward system for things like remembering to pack school bag the night before and completing homework before dinner. Such a reward system works best for children, especially ADHD children, because the rewards are tangible and immediate.

I made this for each of the children, and pinned it up on a wall near the kitchen. He has been very glad for it. It helps him to remember the tasks he needs to do, everytime he is going to the kitchen.


The excel chart works for me, but if you prefer something more fanciful and attractive for younger children than my excel chart, there are some nice ones from Amazon:


How to Help ADHD Children Overcome Their Challenges?

I knew I had a lot to do in these 10 days, but I don't really know where I should start. The first day I arrived, the first thing I saw, was Jeff needed a more conducive and calm environment to study.

Below quoted wholesale from my research, but ordered in sequence or priority (though many are running in parallel and kept me working day and night this period of time to establish a foundation system in place before I leave Singapore) based on my personal experience on how one can help an ADHD child and family:

1. Set up A System of Organization

• Children with ADHD may need help organizing. The child should have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and school supplies.

• Use homework and notebook organizers. Stress the importance of having the child write down assignments and bring home needed books.

• As I thought about how I should share the ADHD news to him (he hasn't been formally told, and the doctor explained it to him as if it is a disorder), we started to work on organizing the study room. The picture above is the result. I bought a labelling machine and magazine holder from IKEA to sort and organize all the study material. God is able to make use of my experience in organizing Joshua's playroom and put it to good use here.

2. Create a Quiet Place for Homework

• Households with lots of kids can be pretty chaotic. Don't expect your child to relax or concentrate well in this kind of environment. Make sure he has his own room to do homework in or retreat to when tired or distressed. Next, I started working on this after I have organized Jeff's room.

3. Consistent Routines

• I started working on Jeff's routine and giving more structure to his day. Children with ADHD children benefit from structure and clear routines and consistent rules that they can understand and follow. It should should include specific times for waking up, eating, playing, homework, chores, activities, and bedtime and they should preferably be the same everyday.

• Choose the right time for homework. Many children with ADHD will need a break after school to help them unwind before doing homework. But try to get your child to work before dinner. Evening should be a time for the whole family to wind down from the day. Waiting to do homework until the end of the day can be trying for you and your child.

• Children with ADHD should be rewarded for following these rules. Parents often criticize children with ADHD for their behavior -- but it's more helpful to seek out and praise good behavior. Parents should:

4. Chart the Day

• Post the daily schedule on the wall or stuck on the refrigerator with magnets to remind your child of what he or she is supposed to be doing at any given time. Many children with ADHD have an easier time keeping track of their schedule when someone writes it all down for them, even if they can't read yet.  This can help a child with ADHD stay on task.

• Take some time to sit down with your child to fill out the chart together, and talk about what's planned. Note regular routines, such as lunchtime or gymnastics class, including what your child needs to take with him, as well as special events such as birthday parties. You may want to use a notebook that your child can take to school. Ask your child's teacher if she'd be willing to fill in the log with school activities, including writing down daily homework assignments.

5. Provide Clear, Consistent Expectations, Directions, and Limits

• Children with ADHD need to know exactly what others expect from them.

6. Reward System

• Set up a reward system for things like remembering to bring home all the right books and completing homework before dinner, for example. Early grade-school children benefit the most when the rewards are tangible and immediate. For instance, you might give a reward ticket each time your child meets one of the criteria you've set up. These tickets can be turned in for the dessert of his choice that night or watching a favorite video.

7. Don't Let Your Child Procrastinate

• Make sure your child understands the assignment and gets started. Stay nearby so you can coach him and offer support.

8. Set Up an Effective Discipline System

• Parents should learn discipline methods that reward appropriate behavior and respond to misbehavior with alternatives such as time out or loss of privileges.

9. Nutrition

• While studies on ADHD diets have produced mixed results, some health experts believe foods that are good for the brain could reduce symptoms of ADHD. High-protein foods, including eggs, meat, beans, and nuts, may improve concentration.

• According to SPARK, proper nutrition, including supplementing with multi-vitamins, chicken essence, fish and flaxseed oils etc, also help some children with ADHD/ADD improve their attention span. This is especially useful if the child's ability to pay attention is adversely affected by nutrition-related problems.

10. Say No to Junk Food

• According to SPARK, reduce the amount of cakes, soft-drinks chocolates, sweets, etc. for ADHD/ADD children. These items may cause the child to have mood swings from very hyperactive to moody and depressed state. It might also be helpful to replace simple carbs, like candy and white bread, with complex carbs, like pears and whole-grain bread. The role of food additives is less certain. Some parents believe preservatives and food colorings worsen the symptoms of ADHD, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says it's reasonable to avoid these substances.


List of Successful People with ADHD

To build self-esteem of ADHD children, it would be good for them to have hope that they can be successful, that they are not alone and that there are many who were before them, but have done well in life, despite of ADHD. These people would be the role models to the ADHD children.

I am compiling a list of successful and famous people with ADHD who have overcome the challenges to encourage and inspire my nephew through internet research. The list below is reproduced from


Artists and artisans

  • Chuck Close is one of the nation's most celebrated contemporary artists.
  • Andrew Dornenberg, an award-winning chef, says that cooking "saved" him from his struggle with dyslexia.
  • Sculptor Robert Graham struggled with dyslexia. His wife, actress Anjelica Huston explains, "Robert didn't realize he had a form of dyslexia until his own son was diagnosed. But Robert's artistic gift immeasurably outstripped his difficulty."
  • Tommy Hilfiger is an internationally known fashion designer.
  • Robert Rauschenberg was a multimedia artist who had significant influence in the world of modern art and was even called the "Picasso of the 21st century."
  • Mackenzie Thorpe, a world-famous painter, urges people at an exhibit of his work to "stop looking with your eyes and see with your feelings."
  • Acclaimed artist Robert Toth has had paintings, sculptures, and bronzes on display in museums throughout the world, including the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
  • Acclaimed artist Willard Wigan is the creator of the smallest works of art on earth. He is emerging as the most celebrated micro-miniaturist of all time.


Business leaders

Community advocates and activists

Entertainers and celebrities

  • Princess Beatrice of England, daughter of Prince Andrew and fifth in line to the throne, speaks out about dyslexia.
  • Daniel Bedingfield, a British pop star and composer, recorded his first hit record in his bedroom.
  • Singer Tony Bennett, best known for his hits Rags to Riches, Fly Me to the Moon, and I Left My Heart in San Francisco, is a 2005 Kennedy Center honoree and the recipient of 15 Grammy Awards.
  • Orlando Bloom, a popular English actor, played Legolas, the elf warrior, in the film Lord of the Rings.
  • Cher, an Academy Award-winning actress, is also well-known for her pop music and 1970s hit TV variety show. (Source: Barbara Walters Special excerpted in Everybody Has a Song, 2001.)
  • Patrick Dempsey's 25-year acting career includes leads in the films Sweet Home Alabama and Scream 3. He currently stars in the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy.
  • Danny Glover, an acclaimed actor, has used his celebrity status to advance many community programs and worthy causes, such as AIDS awareness in South Africa and the advancement of minority youth. (Source: On a Roll — Talk Radio about Life and Disability, October 29, 1999)
  • Whoopi Goldberg is an actress and comedian who has used her stardom to raise money to eliminate homelessness.
  • Brian Grazer, a successful producer of movies such as A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, recalls his personal struggle with dyslexia. (Source: Christian Science Monitor, January 4, 2002.)
  • Actor Woody Harrelson rose to fame as Woody on the hit TV series Cheers. His movie career includes many starring roles and an Academy Award nomination.
  • Salma Hayek is a Mexican-born actress who coproduced and starred in the film Frida, about artist Frida Kahlo.
  • English film actress Keira Knightley starred in Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean and played Guinevere in the film King Arthur.
  • Jay Leno is a popular comedian and late-night talk show host.
  • Brad Little, star of the Cincinnati production of Phantom of the Opera, also works to preserve African wildlife.
  • Steve McQueen, one of the most emulated actors of all time, had dyslexia.
  • Jamie Oliver, Britain's "Naked Chef", whose programs appears on the Food Network, is known for his lively personality and easy-to-prepare recipes.
  • Edward James Olmos is a celebrated actor, entrepreneur, and activist who supports and advocates for Latino culture in the United States.
  • Joe Pantoliano, a television actor who appeared on The Sopranos, survived life on the streets as a kid.
  • Celebrity designer Ty Pennington was diagnosed with AD/HD as a teenager and now talks openly and publicly about his experience managing the disorder. He wants to "help other kids and families understand that there are people out there ready to help them and that it's possible to live a productive life with AD/HD."
  • Suzanne Somers is an actress and Las Vegas entertainer who has also become a successful entrepreneur.
  • British singer Joss Stone talks openly about having dyslexia.
  • Vince Vaughn is a movie actor who starred in The Break-Up, Wedding Crashers, Thumbsucker.
  • Lindsay Wagner, most famous for her title role on the hit 1970s TV series Bionic Woman, has dedicated much of her time to raising awareness about learning difficulties.
  • Henry Winkler, also known as "The Fonz" from the hit TV series Happy Days, is a producer, author, Yale graduate, and children's advocate.

Explorers and adventurers

Legal and political figures

  • David Boies, a runner-up in 2000 for Time's Man of the Year, is a prestigious lawyer involved in high-profile cases.
  • James Carville is one of the most famous U.S. political consultants. According to E. Clarke Ross, CEO of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), "Mr. Carville is perhaps one of the best-known people in Washington, and he lives with AD/HD." Carville is also an author, restaurateur, and cohost of radio and television shows. Today he concentrates on international political and corporate consulting.
  • Gavin Newsom is the youngest mayor of San Francisco in 100 years and has dyslexia.
  • Nelson Rockefeller served as governor of New York for 12 years and as vice president of the United States under Gerald Ford.
  • Peter Wright is an attorney and advocate who represents children with special educational needs.

Medical professionals

  • Harvey Cushing, M.D., (1869-1939) a world renowned neurosurgeon, had dyslexia.
  • Helen Taussig, M.D. (1898-1986), was a successful cardiologist who struggled with dyslexia, which made school difficult for her. Even so, she graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School.
  • Delos Cosgrove, M.D., is a cardiothoracic surgeon, inventor of several medical devices, and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. He says, "I didn't know I was dyslexic until I was 33 years old. I went all the way through medical school without knowing it."


  • Harry Belafonte is a famous singer, actor, entertainer, and political activist who, even into his seventies, uses his position as a celebrity to promote human rights worldwide.
  • Jon Finn is active in the music business as a musician, songwriter, and engineer/producer.
  • Stephan Jenkins is a former University of California at Berkeley valedictorian and the singer-songwriter for Third Eye Blind, a rock group with two platinum albums to its credit.
  • Jewel is a young pop-music sensation who recently wrote an autobiography of her life growing up in Alaska.
  • Phillip Manuel, one of the country's leading jazz vocalists, was diagnosed with AD/HD in 2000 and says only then did his life journey begin to make sense to him.
  • Bob Weir, a guitarist and vocalist, formerly with the Grateful Dead, is now bandleader of RatDog.

Scientists, engineers, and technology experts

  • Engineer and inventor William "Bill" Hewlett (1913-2001) co-founded with David Packard the Hewlett-Packard Company in 1939, which became the second-largest computer company in the world.
  • Dr. John (Jack) Horner is a famous paleontologist, or dinosaur expert, who advised Steven Spielberg on films such as Jurassic Park and The Lost World.
  • Don Johnston, CEO of Don Johnston, Inc. His mission is to support diverse learners with proven instructional models, effective literacy strategies, and innovative technologies to help them reach grade-level performance.
  • John Roberts, CEO and co-founder of SugarCRM, is seen as a pioneer in commercial open-source software applications that businesses use for tasks such as managing sales and keeping track of customers.
  • Richard Rogers, one of Britain's most-admired architects, is known for his many stunning buildings and his pioneering views on sustainable cities.
  • Bill Wilson, a fire investigator with a "seventh sense," has a reputation for solving the unsolvable in car crash mysteries.

Writers and media professionals

  • Avi, is the award-winning author of more than 50 books for children and young adults.
  • Robert Benton, a three-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director who is dyslexic, still finds reading and writing laborious.
  • Gareth Cook is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer for the Boston Globe newspaper.
  • Stephen J. Cannell is a successful novelist and an Emmy Award-winning TV writer and producer who has created or co-created over 40 different shows.
  • Anderson Cooper is a CNN news anchor who gained public attention for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
  • John Dunning is a Denver mystery writer and a bookstore proprietor.
  • Fannie Flagg is a writer and actor who is most famous for her novel Fried Green Tomatoes, which was later produced as a movie.
  • Richard Ford is an author who won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel Independence Day in 1996 — a first in the literary world. (Source: Newsday, March 20, 2002)
  • Jackie French is the author of numerous kids' books, as well as books about gardening and Australian history.
  • Terry Goodkind is the author of eight best-selling fantasy novels.
  • John Irving is a novelist and screenplay writer of World According to Garp, Hotel New Hampshire, and Cider House Rules, a movie that recently won acclaim and award nominations.
  • Poet Richard Moore has struggled with dyslexia all his life, yet it hasn't kept him from doing what he loves. A graduate of Yale University, he has published a novel, a book of literary criticism, and 12 books of poetry - the first of which, A Question of Survival, earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination in the 1970s.
  • Patricia Polacco, prolific children's author and illustrator, didn't learn to read until she was 14.
  • Victor Villaseñor is a Mexican-American author who has written nine novels, 65 short stories, and a critically-acclaimed screenplay.
  • Art Rodriguez is a California author who documents his challenging childhood in children's and young adult books.
  • Atoosa Rubenstein, who has dyslexia, was successful as the editor in chief of Seventeen magazine. Today she has her own digital business and a consulting firm advising companies how to speak to the teen market.
  • Poet Philip Schultz, a recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, suffers from dyslexia and didn't learn to read until he was in the fifth grade.
  • Ahmet Zappa, son of the late rock musician, Frank Zappa, has authored the first book in a planned trilogy of monster stories.
Here you can read more details about some of these people:

Below are some links on successful people with ADHD:
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