My husband and I are pretty cautious about signing up Buddy for enrichment classes. So far, he is only attending two classes a week: My Gym and Berries. We sent Buddy to the former last year to build his self confidence (at the advice of his teacher). When that ended, we then put him in the Speech & Drama class at Lorna Whiston (also on advice) before we cut that short, and return to MG. We sent Buddy to Berries for Mandarin enrichment class. So far, he has only been to three lessons so far and it seems like he’s ok with it and may even be enjoying them. The thing about Berries is that there are no parents in attendance unless it’s a trial class when exception is made. So Buddy wails whenever I leave him behind, but he’ll calm down soon after. We hope that this will allow him to be more independent and less clingy. The reason why we are putting him through Mandarin enrichment is for him to have a good foundation in the language. Otherwise, it’ll be torturous for him in primary school when the curriculum requires a basic level of understanding. I have heard enough stories from parents whose kids hate Chinese so much that it became a nightmare for them.
I speak mainly in Mandarin to Buddy while my husband speaks to him in English. This is again on the advice of his daycare teachers who told us last year that he didn’t appreciate the Chinese songs despite being in a bilingual environment. We realized that if we didn’t want him to detest the language, we had better do something about it while there was still time. I must say it has been effective, and Buddy will converse to me in the language now. I also read to him in both English and Mandarin during bedtime.
Still, I can’t teach Buddy the Chinese language because, honestly, I don’t have the fluency due to the fact that I don’t use it much. My husband fares even worse; the only time he learned the language was at an elementary business Mandarin course taken donkey years ago, which he totally forgot not long after it ended. His comprehension level is similar to Buddy (in fact Buddy actually knows more words from speaking with me). So now that Buddy attends Berries and brings home the Chinese characters he learned in class, my husband is learning along as well. But he can’t stop griping, “why the hell is the language so complex?”
Anyway we chose Berries for Buddy after I did some online research, and found that it is the most popular Mandarin enrichment provider, and the lessons are taught in a fun manner to encourage learning. We were very lucky to get a slot in the weekend since classes are filled up rather quickly because of the high demand. The fee is non-refundable even if we terminate mid-way, but I paid for the whole term anyway, since, unlike Speech and Drama, Chinese language is a necessity, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll enjoy the classes. So I was pleasantly surprised to hear him singing a song, a couple of days ago, that he had learned in the class. I’m also pleased that he’s able to recognize most of the Chinese characters taught. He hasn’t started writing yet, which I understand will begin next year.
I know there are many kids who are going for more enrichment classes than Buddy, but I guess it’s probably because they are not in daycare, We only want Buddy to attend classes that will provide real value, and right now we don’t see any point in sending him to Math, music or reading lessons. Instead, for the past seven months or so, we provide in-house enrichment for him where we have a weekly schedule of activities that he works on almost every night after dinner, using learning products from The Learning Journey.
Like Monday night is counting. Initially we had Buddy learned to count using the match-it puzzle pieces from The Learning Journey. Now, we got him to learn addition and subtraction. However we realized that he still doesn’t really understand the concepts of add and subtract, and so we used actual objects like his toys and even fingers to show him what they really mean. But he is still a little confused, and I suspect it’s because he cannot visualize yet in his mind the concepts. We tried showing him how 1 + 1 = 2 using his dino figures and he was able to count the actual objects. But when asked, without the objects, he is lost. So we’re still working on it slowly.
We’re also working on Buddy’s spelling, which he has an easier time picking up. We also started with TLJ product but it soon became clear that Buddy was able to do it well because of his puzzle skill. So we tried a different tact, and instead asked him to spell the word with only pictures shown, while also testing his word recognition by only showing him the words without pictures.
Puzzle is Buddy’s favorite enrichment game. We exposed him to jigsaw puzzle when he was about 18 months old through the use of ipad app. We later bought him TLJ puzzles when he was 20 months old, starting with the simple 2 to 8-piece shape puzzles. It took him a few months before he could master all. We then proceeded to get more complicated jigsaw puzzles for him: 24-piece and 30-piece. A couple of the 30-piece puzzles were pretty tough like the Fire Engine and the Construction site because of some similar pieces. And Buddy is not the sort who looks at the completed picture on the box to put the pieces together, despite us telling him to do so repeatedly. Instead he looks at the patterns of the different pieces to try to figure out. Of course we had to help him out initially, and eventually he got the hang of it.
We feel that It’s important for Buddy to enjoy learning. So when he gets upset after we press him a little hard on learning addition and subtraction, we lay off the subject for a while before returning to it. So far, Buddy has been largely receptive to this little enrichment exercise at home, and sometimes, he even insisted on doing it when we suggested skipping for the night when it got a little late. To us, this is a good sign.