The Gifted Education Programme (GEP) in Singapore - Part 2 of 4


My first post on this topic is here.  You may like to click on it and read it too.

The GEP Screening Test is happening soon, it's next month, 26 August. It will be held in the students' respective schools during school hours. The subjects tested are English (1 hour 15 min) and Mathematics (1 hour 30 min), basing on what they have learnt from Primary 1 to 3 but the questions are far more difficult than those usually assigned in schools. There will be multiple-choice and open-ended questions. After the Screening Test, about 10% of the top performers in the cohort will then be invited to participate in the October Selection Test. That would be about 3000-5000 students, depending on the size of the cohort.

As you can see from the subjects to be tested - English and Mathematics, in order to even get through the Screening Test, the child needs to be strong in these 2 subjects. Yes, it is a bias test as some may say. If your child is strong in Science only, I'm sorry. If your child is strong in Chinese only, I'm sorry too. Do bear in mind that the GEP scheme is for the academically-gifted kids in English and Maths, it is not for those gifted in other academic subjects or gifted in other domains like sports, arts, or music. 

The GEP tests only sieve out the more academic intelligence ones in English and Maths. The rest of the the intelligence factors are not taken into consideration. It is important for parents to recognise this fact so that we do not put down our children or discount their abilities if they did not get selected for this programme eventually. Not getting into the programme is no BIG deal, the BIG deal is your child's emotional needs and psychological needs.



I have seen mothers in AJ's previous school who expressed their dismay openly to other parents and to their children when their children did not get into GEP. They don't know the hurt they have created in their children. Please don't do that. Don't put down our children. It is not the end of world not to get into GEP.




So what would you expect on 26 August 2016?



With that advice to you, I now get on to the core of this post. The 2 tests (English and Mathematics) will be conducted on the same day, with a break in between the 2 papers. 

The English Paper is 1 hour 15 min and the areas of coverage include Vocabulary, Cloze Passage and Comprehension. The Vocabulary questions are purely multiple-choice questions, and there are 4 choices to each question. However, the available choices have identical meanings and it really takes a child with strong language foundation and ability to decipher the right answer.

The next section is Cloze Passage. There could be 2 or 3 passages, depending on the length of each passage and there are no helping words. Yes, there could be a few answers to each blank.

The last is Comprehension. It is also a multiple-choice section. The tough part about this section is the length of the article. If the child loses his/her focus in reading lengthy article easily, he/she could miss some important points. At this screening stage, there are 4 choices to each question.

The Mathematics Paper is 1 hour 30 min, it is broken up into 2 sections.  Section A is multiple-choice questions, there are 4 choices to each question. Section B is short problem sum questions, and the child only needs to write the answer on the blank, there is no need to show working. It may be good to know some questions thrown in are higher level questions. I guess the intention is to sieve out the advance learners.




Ok. Don't get too stressed up. As you cannot really help your children in preparation for it, just do what you need to do - feed them well and let them have sufficient rest. Remind them to proceed on to the next question if you cannot solve the current one. Time management is important in this test. And remember, they are the best regardless they pass this test or not.



I will write about the GEP Selection Test in October. Do stay connected via my Facebook Page or Google+ for updates. For more information about GEP, please read up on MOE's website.



Stop Look Wave - Volvo Trucks Road Safety Programme


AJ scoots to school, and I jog along. There are 2 major roads we have to cross every school day, and this provide ample opportunities for me to educate him on road safety.

Many children are taught in schools to raise up their hands when crossing the road, but when I surveyed a few of them if they know the reasons why they have to, they either were not told or have forgotten what was told.

Children are generally shorter than adults. When they cross the road, many bus and truck drivers may not be able to spot them because they are short. By raising their hands when they cross the road, they raise their height by about 20cm. It increases the chance of being spotted. However, I also noticed that these children, when crossing the roads, though raised up their hands, didn't raise them fully. It is usually an L-shape raise, which hardly served any purpose. Thus, it is our role as parents, to explain to them the reason for this raising of hands. 



Now, Volvo Trucks' road safety programme takes this raising of hands a step further, they encourage the children to STOP | LOOK | WAVE. This is far more effective, I believe. 



Before crossing the road, the child stops and wait for the vehicles to pull their breaks. Then the child looks to confirm these vehicles have stopped and it is safe to cross the road. Finally, the child raises his or her hand to wave at the drivers, while maintaining eye contact with the respective drivers, to get the non-verbal cue from them to allow the child to cross.


In most traffic accidents, the human factor plays a decisive role. The Stop Look Wave training programme focuses on how important it is for children to be attentive and to make eye contact with drivers. The children learn to stop, look carefully around them, and make the driver clearly aware of their presence by waving at him or her before crossing the street.


Standing at the right spot to be seen by the vehicle drivers while waiting to cross the road is important. Educate your children on blind spots on the road 

Pay attentive attention when crossing the road. Avoid doing other things on the go.
Do not take road safety for granted.

This is a wonderful initiative by Volvo Trucks. I hope parents like you could share this video with your children and further educate them on road safety measure. It is everyone' s responsibility to make the roads safer for our children. We empower our children today so that they, too, can in turn be advocates among their family and social circles.




Natural Healings Through Chiropractic - Part 2 of 4

[Sponsored]


You may be aware that my husband has recently visited a Chiropractor at Natural Healings. Here's the first blog post.

Well, he was advised to do x-ray to better examine his condition. Good thing he did. The x-ray showed clearly his condition. Boy! How glad we are to have come to Natural Healings for natural healing!



The blue lines trace the ideal curve of our spine, the red lines, the actual condition of the spine. From the X-ray slides, you could see his neck has obviously lost its natural curve (ideally 40-45 degrees) and has straighten too much. This off-alignment is largely due to long hours of the head tilting down looking at the computer screen and handphone! If you sit slumped in front of a computer, television and handphone for 3-4 hours in a single day (which most of us do!), we are likely to suffer this loss of neck curve. 




His lower spine has also been compromised, possibly because of long-hours of sitting down (woes of office workers!). His shoulder is slanted due to habitual load-bearing with the weight unevenly concentrated on one side.



These years of ill-treating our spines costs us dearly, I tell you. When we were young, we ignored our health, ate highly processed food and junk food, then we suffer in our 40s and 50s. When we were young, we didn't pay much attention to our posture, and it slowly becomes a habit, then we suffer at 40s and 50s.



The Chiropractor does some adjustments to the husband's neck, shoulder and lower back twice a week. The husband has been enjoying this chiropractic adjustments for close to 3 weeks now and he is looking forward to every treatment. As the treatment continues, he feels his bones and muscles feeling less stiff and he is now more conscious of his posture

As I research more, I've found out that if our spinal bones are improperly aligned, it will cause our nervous system to get stressed up and that will adversely impact the body's ability to heal. Poor posture degrades the health of the spine and consequently degrades the health of our brain and organs. So don't wait till you experience discomfort or pain to receive chiropractic care. Living a healthy life is highly dependent upon reducing subluxation, improving posture, maximising our nervous system and preventing diseases.

Now you can enjoy spinal screening and posture analysis with adjustment at $38 (worth $180) when you SMS <JENN_NAME> (eg. if your name is 'Tony', then you key in the sms text as <JENN Tony>) to 8138 6088. Promotion is valid till 30 July 2016.


Baby Shopping Site: Mummybebe.com

[Sponsored]

I am big on shopping online, in case you just started to read my blog. From books, shoes, meals, household stuff, even groceries, whenever it be possible, I will try to buy them online. In situations when I can't, then only will I visit brick and mortar. Online shopping saves me time (on travelling), in the sense, some money as well (transportation). So when I do come across trustworthy shopping sites, I stick to them.

Recently, I was introduced to Mummybebe.com, an online shopping site for busy mummies with very young children. Mothers these days are multi-taskers. We have so much to manage in our to-do list and most of the time, we would prefer to devote our precious time for our children or have more me-time for ourselves. In case you wonder, no, I'm not pregnant. I am merely sharing with you this website that could possibly saves you time because I was once a mom with young kid. I know how challenging it is trying to micro-manage many things regarding our babies.

Mummybebe.com makes shopping for our babies’ necessities easy. As an established importer, exporter, wholesaler and distributor of some of the leading brands, you can find a wide repertoire of safe and interesting products at Mummybebe.com. The company has earned a strong reputation as a reliable business partner in the South East Asia region.

Some of the brands you can find at the e-boutique include:
• Farlin Baby (from Taiwan)
• Bright Bots (from Australia)
• Bubba Blue (from Australia)
• Galipette (from France)
• Farlink (from Singapore)
• HopZalong (from Singapore)
• Karibu (from Hong Kong)

These brands are also available at various participating retail outlets.

I was invited to review Farlin Baby Clothes Wash and Farlin Baby Liquid Cleanser .

Farlin Baby Clothes Wash


There has been discussion on the web whether babies need separate clothes wash. My answer is 'Yes'. I have seen many young children having eczema or very sensitive skins. Certainly, it has greatly to do with the mothers' diet and subsequently the children's diet. What we really need is to minimise irritants. So yes, we need baby clothes wash for these dedicate skin.

Because of the above, we should attempt to get detergents which are:
fragrance, dye, chemical and residue free; and
- organic and hypo-allergenic


There are a few things in Farlin Baby Clothes Wash that I like: 
- It is made from plant base cleaning agent and thus an eco-friendly cleanser;
- It has organic and natural grease remover extract so it is safe and gentle for daily use; and
- It is effective and efficient on all the possible stains like milk, food, crayons, etc

The natural plant formulation is perfect for baby's soft and tender skin. It has anti-bacterial properties and leaves behind no dirt on the clothes; despite not having harsh chemicals. It is fluorescence-free and is non-stimulating. It leaves no unwanted stinks on the clothes and is safe to use. If you are thinking of getting clothes wash for your babies or opting a change of brand, do try give Farlin Baby Clothes Wash a try. You can get it from Mummybebe.com here.


Farlin Baby Liquid Cleanser



The other one that I have tried is Farlin Baby Liquid Cleanser. It is formulated with food-grade natural plants thus it is mild and non-irritable. It is also in compliance with safety requirements of FDA. It is not only safe enough for cleaning baby care products, it is safe for cleaning vegetables and fruits too.

Although it is without harsh chemicals, it cleans and rinses very well, there is no slimey residues. And since it is pH5.5 (mildly acidic), it is kind to our hands too. It is no wonder that the little boy didn't mind cleaning his own water bottle when I asked him to.


video

You may get Farlin Baby Liquid Wash at Mummybebe.com here.

Hey, wait! Here's your chance to win $50 e-shopping vouchers at Mummybebe.com so that you can get Farlin products for free! The giveaway is open to all Facebook fans of Mummybebesg and Farlinbabysg. Do drop me a comment if you are a fan of both and let me know your Facebook profile name, ya! I will update you if you have won after National Day.


*******************************************************
Congratulations to these winners who have won a $50 e-shopping voucher each:
1. Matthew Mah
2. Pauline King
3. Sherry Tan

I'll contact you via email.

Uncovering The Covered (and Coveted) Alfero Gelato

[Media Invite]


I love ice cream but I only leave it to occasional treats. Because of that, I am pretty selective of the ice cream I buy. Frankly, I would rather pay a premium of $5 a scoop than $1 a block from the ice cream man on the street. The truth is: the difference in price is due to the sugar content, milk content and the preservatives used.


Durian Gelato. Made with real Mao Shan Wang or D24. I am not a fan of durian but I know how to distinct real fruit or artificial flavouring. This one not only pass my critique, I believe it will win the hearts of many durian lovers.

And if you really don't mind paying premium for quality treats, you should try Alfero Gelato.

Marco Alfero, founder of Alfero Gelato, came from Turin, Italy to Singapore in October 2009 to deliver us “il paradiso” (“heaven” in Italian). Recently crowned the Best Ice Cream Parlour by RAS Epicurean Star Award Singapore 2015, Alfero Gelato is made using only the finest quality ingredients imported from Italy and other parts of Europe.

When you visit their stores in Macpherson or Orchardgateway, you don't see their gelato on display. Alfero Gelato is stored in pozzetto cabinets where exposure to light and air is greatly reduced, thus ensuring the smoothness and quality of the ice cream.


Look to the right. Alfero Gelato are stored in pozzetto cabinets. Gelato are not display in full glory because that will compromise the taste and texture! I learned something that day!

Marco believes in serving only the best-tasting gelato to his customers, which is why he insists on keeping his gelato covered while on display (unlike other ice cream cafes which display their products in full glory while compromising on taste and texture of their creams). This brave move and unique concept will certainly delight customers, as the difference is certainly unmistakable and almost impossible to miss. One taste of Alfero Gelato, you’d never want to keep it uncovered again. Seriously.


Keep calm. Be Happy. Enjoy your gelato from Alfero Gelato.
This is probably the best you could have in Singapore.
Seen here are Bacio (best seller) and Black Sesame (my fave)

Marco is fearless and unapologetic of the time and effort required to make a single tub of gelato so that you can be sure of its mind-blowing taste and creaminess. Alfero Gelato, as strictly administered by Marco himself, is made using premium ingredients imported from Italy and each process of the gelato-making is done painstakingly without missing a step. This ensures the smooth and tasty texture of each scoop of Alfero Gelato.


Gelato with pandan waffle. The auntie at the Macpherson outlet personally squeezes the juice from pandan leave to make these waffles. Absolutely no additives or colourings!

Alfero Gelato made their gelato with only 2 - 9% fat and with free-range milk, you can definitely indulge guilt-free. Some of their signature staples and most popular gelato flavours:

• Pistachio
• Bacio
• Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
• Durian (Mao Shan Wang or D24)
• Mango (sorbet)


Prices of ice cream:
$4.50 per scoop (in a cup)
$6.50 for 2 scoops (in a cup)
$8.50 3 scoops (in a cup)
Additional $0.50 per scoop for premium flavour such as Pistachio

Mango smoothie. Made with real mangoes from India

Alfero Gelato serves smoothies too! These smoothies are thick and definitely very filling.

Avocado smoothie with Gula Melaka. Craving for one now?

Alfero Gelato is conveniently located at:
• 81 MacPherson Lane 01-37 (12nn to 9pm)
• 277 Orchard Road #B2-06 orchardgateway (12nn to 10pm)

Macpherson outlet 

Orchardgateway outlet


Alfero Gelato
Website: www.alferogelato.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alferogelato/
Instagram: @alferogelato (hashtag: #alferogelato)










Garden Picks - The Dried Fruits and Nuts Company We Like

[Sponsored]


We are BIG on nuts, especially walnuts, almond nuts and cashew nuts. Occasionally I do buy peanuts (peanuts are not nuts) and other variations of nuts. Nuts help me add colours, texture and taste to our usual family consumption of chia seed pudding, oatmeal and yoghurt. Sometimes we eat nuts for snack, sometimes I packed some nuts for AJ to bring to school. When properly selected, nuts can be a nutritious snack.

When I sent AJ for choir practice, I did pop by Garden Picks' push cart at Raffles Exchange to pick up some nuts (they have moved out now). Truth be told, their 3 packets for $10 offer is very hard to resist, so I usually bagged 3 or 6 packets back.

Maybe these guys from Garden Picks came to notice that I patronised their push cart often, they decided to send me some samples to try which I have not bought before.



Needless to say, the most delightful person in the household has to be the little boy as he saw some of his favourites displayed on the table. Are you able to guess what he likes?



While the mom here scrutinises every ingredient listed in the packaging, the little boy, being a child, chooses what suits his taste bug most. Yes, he prefers BBQ Rice Crisps, Honey Mustard Soya Crisps, Chilli Corn Nuts (not spicy), Salted Caramel Peanuts, Dry-Roasted Green Soybean and Crispy Lotus Seeds. In . That . Order.  The mom here, on the other hand, has almost her preference in reverse order because the last two has the least ingredients.

Now you can have the convenience of having wholesome nuts at your fingertips as well. Garden Picks offers free delivery with every purchase of $50 and above. You can combine orders with your colleagues or neighbourhood, here's how you save your leg work! To order, please click this link here.


From The Stacks: Highlights Of The National Library

[Media Invite]




This is a new exhibition currently still showcasing in National Library Building (Bugis) till 28 August at level 10. The exhibition curates over 100 rare artefacts dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, it will let you rediscover Singapore like you have never known before. These rare materials are largely drawn from National Library's 11,000-strong Rare Materials Collection. The exhibits cover a diverse range of material, from politics, history, sociology, language and religion to current affairs, nature, travel and food. 

We went for the curator's tour (link to registration of tour is at end of this post), which took us through highlights of the exhibition such as the earliest publications in Singapore; a letter from Lady Raffles to Rev Dr Thomas Raffles to declare her love for Sir Stamford Raffles; the Singapore Chronicle (Singapore’s first newspaper); the first cookbook published by a Singaporean author; and a documentation outlining plans for building Singapore’s first school – Raffles Institution.

Here are some photos from NLB:


Raffles' Letters


1 of Raffles' letters

A collection of whimsical nursery rhymes given a delightful Malayan spin 

This book is presented in a bilingual format, with the English nursery rhyme immediately followed by its Malay translation

The purpose of such book was to help readers with a rudimentary knowledge of Malay to have a better understanding of its content

This Hua Yi Tong Yu (华夷通语) - one of the earliest Chinese-Malay dictionaries



This exhibition is currently still showcasing in National Library Building (Bugis) till 28 August at level 10. It would be very interesting for children of upper primary and in secondary to attend, particularly for those studying Social Studies and Singapore History. AJ has urged me to bring him there again. We are likely to visit it during one of the PSLE exam days.

For more details on the exhibition, please visit NLB's website.
For booking of Curator's Tour (free), please register here.

Curator’s Tour Conducted in English
Weekday | 7.30pm – 8.30pm | 19 Aug 2016
Weekend (except PH) | 1pm – 2pm | All Saturdays and Sundays till 28 August 2016


****************************************************************
Update: Exhibition has been extended to 25 Sep 2016.
Yay! There is another meaningful place to visit this Sep school holiday!

Managing Eating Problems For Children With Autism

[Guest Post]


A picky eater is one of the greatest worries parents have. The food that they eat can be narrowed to a limited assortment. Some children only eat savory food while others, only sweet food. There are also others who merely eat soft food like mashed potatoes and vegetables. Picky eating in the long run is dire, as it will not only result in nutrients deficiency needed for growing and brain development, but also affects the development of oral motor skills. When we chew, lick and bite, the muscles activated around our mouth and jaw are the same ones needed for speech development. Thus speech development too, might be compromised for picky eaters. According to research, children with autism have high prevalence of picking eating. This could be due to sensory sensitivity, medical problems like gastrointestinal distress and digestion issues like constipation. With all due reason, what could our solutions be? Here are eight key factors to help.

1. Check with a medical doctor or a professional

Issues like digestive problems could be the reason why your child is selective to the food he or she chooses. Always consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and start on proper treatments if it is a medical condition. 

2. Rule out sensory issues

As mentioned earlier, eating could be affected by sensory sensitivity. When a child has oral over-responsiveness, he or she will experience discomfort when eating food of varied texture. Always consult an occupational therapist or medical professional.

3. One-bite rule

Patience, patience and more patience! Parents should keep in mind that their intention is to expose their child to a variety of food and have them try new food in the long run. If the child refuses to try, insists that he or she can just take a bite and it is ok if they do not like it. At least they tried. 


4. One step at a time

Some children are not adventurous when it comes to trying out new things. This is no exception for children with autism. Help your child explore new food by letting him or her look at it, feel the texture of it and smell it. Do it slowly. This process can take up to a few days but it is all about encouraging your child to take the first step. When your child is ready, he or she can try giving it a lick or trying a small bite. 

5. Be creative!

Instead of presenting your child’s food in the same, usual manner, try to get creative and present it in fun and creative styles. Depending on your child’s interest, parents can use different types of food and fruits to present food in a whole different manner. 


6. Get involved

One of the best tricks to encourage good eating would be to involve your child in the cooking process.  Have them join you for grocery shopping and use that opportunity to educate them the types of healthy and unhealthy food. When you are home, be sure to select skills appropriate tasks and allow them to help you in the preparation process. Kids who help prepare food are generally more willing to try what they made.

7. Power of control

Avoid using words like “must eat”, “eat this” and other similar authoritative words. Such phrases make the child feel that they have no control over what they put into their mouth and make them feel defenseless too. They are more likely to kick a fuss than to obey your instructions in generally. Go with words like “try this”, “just a tiny bite”, phrases that are less compelling. Also, parents may try providing options for the child. For example, if they wish to have them eat vegetables, present 2-3 types of vegetables of similar texture and taste and allow the child to choose. This gives him or her a choice and makes them feel that they have control over what they eat. 

8. Be a role model

Last but not least, be a good role model yourself. This may sound pretty obvious but it is also one of the most neglected factors. Parents often forget that their child looks up to them and follow basically whatever they do. If they see their mom and dad picking out vegetables and whats not, how can we expect them to try those food? Be aware of your eating etiquettes before your child to encourage good eating habits!



This blog post is brought to you by Ling, the co-founder of Staccatopop

Staccatopop is the first center in Singapore to practise naturalistic learning for special needs children. The team comprises of experienced behavior therapist, speech educator and experienced art educator.

Children with autism often have difficulties successfully applying newly attained skills to novel situations. Naturalistic teaching are thus introduced to solve this problem using the key method of generalization. Staccatopop values the importance of naturalistic learning where teachings are conducted through music and art, and learning is fun and fulfilling. The company also recognises the lack of social skills in most special needs individuals, hence the key objective is to equip these children with the appropriate skills to cope with challenges they face socially. Every session, mainstream children will be invited to join the class where the autistic students will get the opportunity to learn & interact alongside, making learning as natural and less invasive as possible.

To find out more about Staccatopop, please visit their Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/wearestaccatopop/


SandBank's New International Lunch Buffet

[Media Invite]


We had a good experience with SandBank's Breakfast Buffet in March this year. I love the idea of having the little ones eat, drink, plunge and in repeat mode because this is really what they need to grow physically.

And now, SandBank has introduced the International Lunch Buffet at $25.90 per pax (children aged 4-12 eat at half price)! Hurray! Let's go dig in now!

The Western Corner
Going for an International buffet means one would expect East meets West kind of cuisine. It is no exception here in SandBank's International Lunch Buffet. Just look at the salad bar, it has a pretty decent spread.




If pasta is what you need, you can get the chef to cook for you to your liking.



The grill corner satisfies me most. From roasted chicken, to sausages, to grilled beef and roasted vegetables, all these are palatable to me who am on Paleo diet




And the kids-friendly fried chicken, calamari and spring rolls. We love the chicken wings and spring rolls!


If you like pizza in a lighter way, this is a must-try! The thin crust base means it is less starchy and the amount of cheese is not over powering that might cause the crust to be soggy.


The Oriental Corner
For those who prefer oriental food, this corner will be your little haven. The spread is really good, I would say.

The chicken in dishes like Lemongrass Chicken and Hainanese Steamed Chicken are very well marinated. I like the Braised Pork Belly as the meat is very tender. The test of the freshness of the ingredients is in the seafood, and the Oyster and Steam Prawns both passed the test with flying colours. 


 Mixed vegetables cooked in oyster sauce

 Fruit Rojak

Braised Pork Belly with Broccoli

Oyster

 Steam Prawns in Chinese Wine

Lemongrass Chicken 

 Hainanese Steamed Chicken

Desserts
There are only western desserts, no oriental desserts.  But there are cut fruits, if you prefer something fruits after meal. We love the Chocolate Fudge Cake for its richness.

 Blueberry Panna Cotta and Mango Pudding

American Cheese Cake 

Banana Cake 

Chocolate Fudge Cake


Thank you SandBank once again for the invite! This International Lunch Buffet is indeed very value-for-money given the spread. We reckoned that this is a nice place to go to if you can afford a longer lunch break, a small casual lunch gathering, or even having an off-site meeting cum lunch.




SandBank
920 East Coast Parkway
#01-28 Parklane Green
Singapore 449875
Tel: 62477988
Email: events@sandbank.com.sg

International Lunch Buffet is available on weekdays (non-PH) from 11.30am to 3.30pm. 
Plunge pool is available till 7pm.
The restaurant does not operate on Monday.

If you drive, you can park at Carpark C1. Sand Bank is directly opposite Parkway Parade when looking across from ECP.
If you take bus, use the underground tunnel behind FairPrice Finest at Parkway Parade vicinity.