Sunday, November 29, 2009

How do the esshold knows that Christmas is round the corner? It is the sound of jingle bell ringing at the cash register at the shopping mall? Or the turkey advertisement asking us to buy tasteless meat so that your Christmas can be complete? Or the round of frantic shopping for gift to give to people who you think do not deserve it at all?

Apart from baking the traditional fruit cake in the Esshold, another tradition we follow is to set up the advent candle four weeks before Christmas.

The advent candles is made up of four candle: three purple and one pink representing faith hope love and joy. Each Sunday, one candle is lit and a short prayer is said before dinner.

This is to remind us that we have to put Christ back into Christmas. Christmas is more then a Christmas tree, log cake or even stocking hanging on the wall. We are all called to be gift to others not expecting to receive gifts at Christmas all the time.

How can we be a gift to all man? When a friend needs a listening ear, listen. When a sister needs a helping hand, help. When a spouse needs a shoulder to cry on, offer one. It is better then all the cheesy gift that you have to gift or receive.

Hand up the number of useless tie, bath soap, power you have receive. This Christmas make a simple card like a voucher that the receiver can use to redeem when it is needed. e.g One helping hand to be redeemed when required to move house, wash dishes or mop the floor.

Try it . It is worth it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You are what you eat

A father allows his young son to watch World Wrestling and then wonder why his son has a violent temper.

Another mother bought her son the state of the art, latest computer because he claimed that he need such a computer to do a class project. (Mum believed him as she thought that since his son is in a top school in Bishan which offer through train, he would not lie.) She then wonder why he is addicted to computer game.

Another mother continue to buy a range of PSPs and proceed to complain why her son could not interact with his peers and has no friends. She failed to see that his eyes are constantly glued to the PSP during diner time, on the road or when visiting relatives and friends during Chinese New Year.

Many people who encounter our children often wonder why their children could not behave a bit more like ours. Ours not only obey us when instructions are given, they obey our friends' instructions. Often our friends would use our children to experience what it is like to have obedient children.

While we do not claimed to have all the answers to parenting or how to bring up great children, (our children can be devil incarnate at times) we can share the environment that our children grew up in.

Firstly, our house is a visually stimulating environment. There is a piano, a drum set, three guitars, a garden, a working kitchen and a large library where our children get a variety of stimulating input. According to neuroscientist Martha Pierson of the Baylor College of Medicine "children need a flood of information, a banquet, a feast."

However, this flood must not come from PBP or the television which is often used as a baby sitter. Television do not give time for reflection, interaction, or three-dimensional visual development. Television is two dimensional yet the development of the brain needs depth observed another neuroscientist V.L. Ramachandran at the University of California at San Diego.

Beside television moves too fast and talks about abstract ideas that are often non existent in a child's environment. It does not allow the eyes to relax which can aggravate learning difficulties. It is a poor replacement for play time and sensory motor development time.

Our house do not have a television set in the living room. We do not have cable, MIO nor free to air channel. This allows our children more time to better develop their language, social and motor skills. On a typical afternoon, they can bake, play the piano, dig in the garden or explore the natural environment in the park or fight and playing with other children.

Secondly, our children do not spend alot of time in the fastfood joint like MacDonald, KFC or Pizza. Children nowadays already eats too much saturated fat, sugar and simple carbohydrates. They eat too few fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Because our children are home schooled, they have fewer opportunities to eat junk food and we have control over what they eat.

Thirdly, we teach our children only when they are ready to learn. This demands that we do not given in to the temptation of measuring their academic performance regularly until the joy of learning as been replaced by the stress of performance. Children often has to perform well in their exam and test so that their parents can boast at the office's water cooler how great their children are.

For example, we did not send our children to reading specialist or enrichment class when they could not read nor write when they are about 7 or 8 years old. If they were in school, they might have been labeled slow learner or worst still mis-channeled to the wrong stream. Instead they blossomed into avid reader. Now they read widely and could handle a vareity of books from Harry Potter to Narnia. As Geeenberg (1991) observed "Wait until the brain's ready to read, then you can't stop it." Once our children attained a high rate of literacy, they woudld not have problem with their studies.

Children are gifts that has been placed in our hands. It is our duty as responsible parents to bring up our children. Sometime we have to be tough to love them and not give in to everything that they want but we must be there to give them what they need. Are we good parents yet?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Season of Giving, Season of griefing

Each year around this time, many adults and parents will be agonizing over what present to buy for their children and their relatives.

Once, I gave two children from a rich family a simple gift. They opened it infront of me and when they saw that their gift they exclaimed that the gift was cheap and proceed to discard it without any thought or rgard to teh giver.

This year, one of my relative warned me that I have to buy better gift for their children as they have already bought expensive gift for mine.

A gift is not an exchange or a transaction. It is an expression of goodwill from the heart. Not all who give Christmas present are rich.

Sometime poor people sacrifice what little bonus they have to give gift fro their relatives.

We bring up our children to appreciate whatever gift is given to them, no matter how inexpensive it is, to receive the gift with a grateful heart and not to judge the gift by it momentary value.

This Christmas, let us teach our children to accept gift from our friend and relatives with grace and dignity and not to expect expensive gift especially since many of us have been retrenched or lost our jobs.