Monday, September 22, 2008

How am I coping as a mom of a preschooler? :)

The week went by so fast...I was living one day at a time. I can barely think in the morning as I went pass through the daily routine of getting my Benedict in his school in time for his 10:00am class. I am a night-owl by nature and am so grouchy in the morning before I have my brunch, which usually would mean around 10am na. But all for the love of my son, I have to drag myself up...literally! I look so funny in the morning light :) What the hell am I doing?!!!

But then again, I just have to remember that every mom went through this stage and as my own Mama said "it's payback time!" hahaha. We (my siblings & I) must have really given her a headache in our student days.

The upside in this set-up is that I get to eat breakfast too. No choice, I cant stand not having any meal coz my lunchtime will be sometime around 1:00pm na as I would let Benedict have his lunch in school together with his "classmates". No, this is not for bonding! But merely for practical reasons...the little guy promptly sleeps once he is in a car (i guess the rocking motion still soothes him ^_^) so having him take his lunch first ensures that he is full before going home.

I went inside the 'classroom" with my little boy on his first day. And I was able to take a few photos & videos (with the directress' clearance beforehand) of him doing his first "work" as what Montessori practice termed their activities. I had fun witnessing him eagerly getting his hands into different kinds of wooden educational materials such as puzzles, blocks and the likes... I have to admit that I got so eager and excited myself the night before his first day. So much so that all out outfit for the following day were carefully laid out in the closet. hahaha... told you i am overly excited! Mental note:I have to remember to still do the same for Benedict's sibling/s if & when we will be blessed with more kids and when their time comes).

I am getting the hang of being a preschooler's mom now. Oh well, not quite...totally. But at least I can now wake up ahead of the alarm clock and now have a system working for me. I just have to jot all my To Do's down the night before I'd retire for bed...or else I'd promptly forget about everything in the midst of my new morning routine.

But I am totally enjoying seeing my Benedict enjoying his new school set-up...and meeting new friends. Surprisingly, he is easily adaptable. I mean I didn't quite expect this from him since he is so used to our "baby-ing" him most of the time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is my Benedict ready for Preschool?

I still am not decided if Benedict is better off in a preschool environment or at-home with me. In the academic arena, I am more than satisfied and greatly honored that he has learned so much earlier than his milestones books normally say. And he is consistently achieving 'em too earlier than the average kids his age. Relying on those textbook facts, I temporarily rest on my laurels trusting that I must be doing something right because my child is thriving and learning in my care. But on the other hand, I wouldn't want to be smug and claim all the praises myself, bec. I've always believed that it takes a village to raise a child. Perhaps, we are just lucky also to have been blessed with a smart child from the beginning, now it's just up to us to nurture that gift.

Honestly, I am torn between letting my child go or holding him back. And for quite a while I had been closely reading on homeschooling and even joined a parent forum to learn more on how to properly do it. But out of fear that I may not be able to diligently do it, I choose to go the traditional way of sending my child to least for now. In as much as I relish the idea of being the teacher of my child, I also fear that I may be selfishly depriving him of a good school experience too and enough knowledge to be able to be a well-rounded student.

I have somehow gained an insight into my own thoughts as well as assess my child's capacity and capability (at least rom my POV) through this articles I have read from Parent Center...

Preparation and planning, plus plenty of TLC, will help ease your child's transition from at-home toddler to preschooler.

Have I put my 2-year-old in preschool too soon?

Expert Answers

Penelope Leach, child psychologist

If your child wants to go to preschool, separates from you with only momentary sadness, and enjoys playing with the other children, she's likely to be ready enough for the experience that it won't do her any harm.

While you're thinking it over, remember that stress isn't always a bad thing. It may be that preschool is a challenge for your child, but one that, with lots of support from you, she'll gradually get a handle on. Perhaps the most important question is whether her regressive behavior persists all day, every day, or whether she tends to regress only after school, when she's tired and overstimulated. If it's the former, you may want to scale back her hours at preschool or find a homier, more relaxing setting for her. If it's the latter, she's probably fine where she is.

How to tell if your child is ready for preschool

by Patricia Shimm with additional reporting by Sarah Henry

Most preschools will start accepting children at around age 2 1/2, but that doesn't mean your child is magically ready for preschool when he reaches that age. Readiness for preschool has more to do with where your child is developmentally. Is he socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively ready to participate in a daily, structured, educational program with a group of other children?

Though it's tempting to look for a quick answer to this question, to read a list of skills for instance, and say, "Yes my child can do these things, he's ready," that method isn't foolproof. The best way to decide is to spend time thinking about your child and to talk to other people who know him well, such as your partner, your pediatrician, and your child's caregiver. The following questions provided by Patricia Henderson Shimm, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in New York and co-author of Parenting Your Toddler, will help you think about the most important factors for preschool readiness.

Is your child fairly independent?
Preschool requires children to have certain basic skills; most will want your child to be potty-trained for instance. Your child should also be able to take care of some other basic needs, like washing his hands after painting, eating his lunch without assistance, and sleeping alone.

Though he is not yet potty-trained, the preschool we have chosen does not see it as an issue, and it will be good also to be a venue for him to learn to be a little more independent, as I fear that with our kind of parenting, we will never know how to let a child be on his own to be able to stand on his own feet.

Has he spent time away from you?
If your child has been cared for by a babysitter or a relative, he'll be better prepared to separate from you when he's at preschool. Kids who are used to being apart from their parents often bounce right into preschool with hardly a backward glance. If your child hasn't had many opportunities to be away from you, you might want to schedule some — a weekend with grandma, for instance, or a day with your sister and her kids. But even if you can't work out your separation issues up front, don't worry too much; many children leave Mom or Dad for the first time to go to preschool and they do just fine. The trick is to help your child adjust in short doses. Many preschools will allow you to drop off your child for an hour or two during his first few days there; as he gets more used to his environment, you gradually work up to a full day. Some experts believe that preschool may even be more important for kids who've been at home with their parents, to help get them ready for the move to kindergarten.

Honestly, he has not spent a day away from me (save for an overnight trip I once took) or his Daddy. But we have tried leaving him in a play center in malls together with his Yaya. And he seems happy to be left on his own for a 30-min. period initially til we have gradually lengthened it to an hour, then 2. There was even an instance when he was reluctant to leave inspite of being there for almost 3 hrs. already.

Can he work on projects on his own?
Preschool usually involves lots of arts and crafts projects that require concentration and the ability to focus on an individual task. If your child likes to draw at home or gets engrossed in puzzles and other activities on his own, he's a good candidate for preschool. But even if he's the kind of child who asks for help with everything, you can start getting him ready by setting up playtimes where he can entertain himself for a half hour or so. While you wash the dishes, encourage him to make creatures out of clay, for example. Gradually build up to longer stretches of solo play. Your goal here is to keep yourself moderately preoccupied with an activity so that he'll get on with his own without too much hand-holding from you.

Not much practice in this area. I hate to admit it but our over-protectiveness is damping his independence. I hope it's not too late to change our style. And I certainly pray that no permanent damage has been done yet to our little boy.

Is he ready to participate in group activities?
Many preschool activities, like "circle time," require that all the children in a class participate at the same time. These interactions give children a chance to play and learn together, but also require them to sit still, listen to stories, and sing songs. This can be very difficult for kids under 3 who are naturally active explorers and not always developmentally ready to play with other children. If your child isn't used to group activities, you can start introducing them yourself. Take him to story time at your local library, for instance, or sign him up for a class such as tumbling to help him get used to playing with other children.

If it is any indication, he loves to be around older kids. And a couple of times, in a kiddie party he is more than willing to participate in games and other activities. And he does take simple instructions from me. Although occassionally the stubborn streak appears and my requests would fell into deaf ears.

Is he used to keeping a regular schedule?
Preschools usually follow a predictable routine: circle time, play time, snack, playground, then lunch. There's a good reason for this. Children tend to feel most comfortable and in control when the same things happen at the same time each day. So if your child doesn't keep to a schedule and each day is different from the last, it can help to standardize his days a bit before he starts preschool. Start by offering meals on a regular timetable. You could also plan to visit the park each afternoon or set — and stick to — a bedtime ritual (bath, then books, and bed).

This I am quite confident. He has an establised routine. He wakes up at about the same time every morning, takes his milk at almost a precise time...prompting us if we would forget, eats meals, takes a bath...He is used to doing same things everyday. The only variation is his free play where he pretty much do as he pleases. And we also respect his choice of educational videos to watch, as well as the books he would want me to read.

Does he have the physical stamina for preschool?
Whether it's a half-day or full-day program, preschool keeps kids busy. There are art projects to do, field trips to take, and playgrounds to explore. Does your child thrive on activities like this, or does he have trouble moving from one thing to the next without getting cranky? Another thing to consider is how and when your child needs to nap. Preschools usually schedule nap time after lunch. If your little one can keep going until then or even all day like a wind-up toy, he's set. If he still needs a mid-morning snooze, it might not be time yet to go to school. You can work toward building his stamina by making sure he gets a good night's sleep. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, you might also want to start him off in a half-day program to ease him into the hustle and bustle of preschool life, and gradually increase the length of his school day as he gets more comfortable.

The 10AM-12NN sched. is just perfect for us. It wont require him to wake up earlier than his usual 6 or 7AM sched. And it will take just enough time for us to be able to prepare for preschool. We will just bring lunch to eat inside the school premises since he might go hungry. I have already made arrangements for this with the school directress too.

Why do you want to send him to preschool?
Think carefully about what your goals are for sending your child to preschool. Do you just need time for yourself or daycare for your child? There may be other options if it seems he isn't ready yet for the rigors of school.

Are you worried that if you don't enroll him in preschool he won't be ready for kindergarten? Most experts agree that there are plenty of other ways for children to develop the skills necessary to be successful in kindergarten, including attending a good daycare facility or spending quality time at home with you or another loving caregiver. A study by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development found that children do best if they're cared for by someone who is genuinely concerned about their well-being and development, and who makes sure they're doing a variety of age-appropriate activities. They needn't be enrolled in an organized preschool for that.

If you find that the main reasons you want to send your child to preschool are that
he seems eager to learn new things and explore, he isn't getting enough stimulation at home or daycare, or he seems ready to broaden his social horizons and interact with other children, chances are it's the perfect time to start school.

Perhaps my primary consideration is my inability to give more free reign to my child. I fear that my over-protectiveness might be cramping his natural curiosity that in time he might not be inquisitive nor interested enough to learn new things. If left to decide on my own, I am inclined to even choose homeschooling for my little boy, with my primary consideration of being able to teach him better values at home. But in the end, I dont want to be doing the "blind man leading another blind man" mistake. I am no expert in teaching, and it is a great burden to know that my child is solely depending on me to provide him ample knowledge. Perhaps I have not gained enough confidence yet. But I am not totally closing my doors on the idea. I still am in the process of getting myself more information so that if I would choose to go this route, I would not make the mistake of not being prepared.

All that being said, I am so looking forward to tomorrow...

a new beginning to my preschooler...

a milestone!

and a new activity for me as the mom.

This chosen career is extremely exciting!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What To Expect for my Preschooler (Age 2)

I am quite overwhelmed with the write-ups I have read regarding my preschooler. (which I actually shared down this from Parent Center) Yey! I still can't get over and still feels thrilled whenever I would murmur the word to myself....Benedict is now a "preschooler"!

I may just be me, but I am sooo excited for my little munchkin. I guess every parent must have felt this way with every child. I am excited for him to experience life....but I am more excited for myself, for experiencing life alongside my precious little boy. I am realizing it more & more each day, being a parent is such a lovely gift from God.

Oh well, before I get carried away, here are some nuggets of wisdom I have found on the web.

Age 2

Child development: What to expect...
Child development milestones Are you eagerly awaiting the major child development milestones your 2-year-old will hit this year? The good news: There are several. She's making great leaps in her ability to use language and, in many cases, showing signs of readiness for toilet training. (hmmm, i still dont think Benedict is showing signs of readiness) She's also determined — sometimes too determined — to do things for herself, such as dressing and undressing (especially undressing). And while your child's fiercely proud of her emerging independence, at other times she's still a baby, making your job one of juggling multiple personalities. To learn more about the milestones your little one will master this year, read on.

Talking milestone
What to expect your child to achieve by the end of the year:

• Can point to an object or picture when it's named by someone else (oh this is so true for my little one who named all the animals in a chart I have mounted overnight when he was only 17 months old)
• Understands names of familiar objects, body parts, and people
• Can talk in two- to four-word sentences (his fave currently is "I want eat cha-rus (cheerios), hehe)
Child development milestones

Talking what to expect when
Talking is inextricably linked to hearing and understanding speech. By listening to others, your child learns what words sound like and how to put a sentence together. As a baby, she discovered first how to make sounds, then how to make those sounds into real words ("mama" and "dada" may have slipped out as early as 9 or 10 months). By the time she was a year old, she was trying earnestly to imitate the sounds around her — you probably heard her babbling away in a lingo that only she (and maybe another 1-year-old) could understand. Now comes a period of extraordinary growth, as you watch your child go from speaking a few simple words to asking questions, giving directions, even telling stories she's made up.

What you'll hear
Since your child has a bigger vocabulary, she'll begin to experiment with modulation. She may yell when she means to speak normally and whisper when answering a question (he does this all the time, whisphering his answer when we ask him something...he has a sense of humor!) , but she'll soon find the appropriate volume. She's also starting to get the hang of pronouns, such as "I," "you," and "me." (he's learning now how to use "that" in "that's Daddy!...That's Mommy!...That's" haha, so cute!)
Between ages 2 and 3, her working vocabulary will increase to about 300 words (though she'll understand up to 900 words). She'll string nouns and verbs together to form simple but complete sentences, such as "I go now." She'll even get the hang of speaking about events that happened in the past, although she won't understand the concept of irregular verb forms and may come out with expressions such as "I runned" or "I swimmed." You may smile, but this is actually quite an achievement. It means your child is picking up the basic rules of grammar — that you add an "-ed" to a word if it happened yesterday (or "yesterdaynight," as she might also say). Similarly, mice will be "mouses," and so on. At this age, your child should also start answering simple questions, such as "who" and "where" questions. If she constantly echoes your question rather than answering it, this may be cause for concern and is worth mentioning to your child's pediatrician.

By the time she turns 3, your child will be a more sophisticated talker. She'll carry on a sustained conversation and adjust her tone, speech patterns, and vocabulary to fit the person she's talking to in a particular situation. By now, other adults, including strangers, should be able to understand almost everything she says, which means you'll have to do less translating. She'll even be a pro at saying her first and last name and her age, and will usually oblige when asked. (My Benedict at this point will answer "(My name) is Vince Ey-yo (Leo) Enedict (Benedict) Ong" with matching smile pa when asked for his name..hehe. Although, when asked a few times too many, no answer na.)
What you can do
Reading to your child is a great way to boost her language skills. Books help a child add words to her vocabulary, make sense of grammar, and link meanings to pictures, says Desmond Kelly, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who works with children with learning and language difficulties at the All Kinds of Minds Institute in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Likewise, simply talking with your child helps. Lots of parents find mealtimes and bedtime are a great chance for talking. These may be the only pauses in a busy day when you have a chance to chat with and really listen to your kids.
Oh this reminds me that I have to make time for 'bedtime stories' in our routine.
What to watch out for
You're the best gauge of your child's speech development. If by age 2 your child rarely attempts to speak or imitate others, doesn't react when you call her name out of her sight, or just seems totally uninterested in talking, she may have a speech problem or a hearing problem. If by age 3 your child can't say vowels ("coo" instead of "cow") or if she talks using mostly vowels, omitting whole consonants ("a" for "cat"), she may need speech therapy (talk to your child's pediatrician to rule out a hearing problem first, though). Other warning signs: She avoids eye contact, has difficulty naming most common household objects, or hasn't started to use two- or three-word phrases.

It's normal for a child to go through a phase of stuttering especially when she's rapidly growing in her ability to express herself. The problem occurs when her brainpower outstrips her verbal dexterity. She's so excited to tell you what's on her mind that she sometimes can't get the words out easily. But if she continues to stutter, or becomes worse to the point where she's tensing her jaw or grimacing in an effort to get the words out, you should talk to her doctor.
I am quite concerned with Benedict as I would catch him stuttering or having difficulty getting out the right words at times. He would also pepper his sentence/phrase with "e-ne-ne" which I thought means Benedict but then again maybe not. So just to make sure, we made an appointment with a Developmental Psychologist in our area. I hope he won't find anything unusual with my little boy.
What's ahead
As your child grows, she'll become more of a chatterbox. You'll enjoy hearing about the projects she did at preschool, what her friend had for lunch, what she thinks about Cinderella's wicked stepmom, and anything else that pops into her mind. You may occasionally long for those peaceful days of speechlessness, but you will never be bored. I am so looking forward to these days. I think I can see them coming, as my Benedict can get so animated now when he is in the mood to talk. And even gets so excited at times that he would stutter & utter words which we will need to decioher to be able to comprehend.

Record Your Little One's New Skills and Discoveries...


What were the first dozen or so words your child said that you could understand?

eyes, hands, Dad or Daddy, baby, apple, book, cow, horse, eat, go, pray, red, blue, eight, one, nine..

What are some of the most delightful mispronounced words your child has used?

"ish" for fish, "we-wow" before he learned to say "yellow" correctly. =D And til now he has difficulty saying Mama Mel, it comes out as "mama mew!, hahaha

What's the most embarrassing thing your child has said in public to a stranger?

hmm, i cant seem to think of one. We dont normally allow strangers near our kid anyway.

Child development milestones Separation and independence milestone
What to expect your child to achieve by the end of the year:

• Demonstrates a desire for independence — she may insist on wearing her purple pajamas five nights in a row (oh! this explains his preference for his PJs with the airplane print...or the one with a firetruck)
• Begins to show defiant behavior to test her limits (coloring on the walls, for example, even if you tell her not to) ah, this i find so frustrating...i personally take offense coz he would really look me in the eye and defy me anyway. So strong-willed! I hate to think of what lies ahead if I dont set limits on this kind of behavior.
• Decreases separation anxiety. It's easier to leave him in the care of his Ah Ko now while we go out for groceries or quicj trips to the malls.
Separation and independence: What to expect when
When your child was a baby, she was completely unaware that you and she were two separate beings. But over time, as she develops various physical, mental, and emotional skills and grows more confident, she'll start to figure out that she's her own person (with her own body, thoughts, and feelings), and she'll increasingly want to do things her way. Of course, as a parent of a 2-year-old, you're probably painfully aware of this. It's a bittersweet process to realize your baby's growing up — sad, but also cause for celebration. (hay, exactly my thoughts...i had been lamenting on this fact a few posts ago, but then again...i should celebrate the fact that my little chick is slowly learning how to spread his wings.) Parenting trully is not for the faint of heart.
What you'll see
When your child hits age 2, the adventure of self-discovery truly begins. This is a time of astounding transformation from infancy to independence. As a result, it's also a period of challenging behaviors. But understanding the reasons behind your child's actions can help you get through this tumultuous and exciting time.

Once completely dependent on you, your child now has the physical and mental capacity to wander off on her own. She embarks on this whirlwind voyage of mobility believing she rules her world. All too quickly, though, she learns the limits of her powers as she tries new experiences, whether it's climbing up on the couch and then not knowing how to get down, or trying to put on her coat and getting hopelessly tangled in it. When she realizes she doesn't have everything figured out just yet, she becomes frustrated and frightened. But throughout this process of trial and error, she's painstakingly developing her own identity.

Along with this newfound self-awareness comes a fear of abandonment, otherwise known as classic separation anxiety — sometimes she'll walk away from you, and other times she'll come running back. "Separation anxiety is an absolutely normal stage of development," says Donald K. Freedheim, a child psychologist and director of the Schubert Center for Child Development at Case Western Reserve University. "All children go through it; it's just more visible in some than in others." According to Freedheim, the condition tends to wax and wane, usually peaking at 18 months and tapering off by 30 months.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, your child continues to struggle for independence. She tests her limits any chance she can (coloring on the walls, for example, even if you tell her not to). "I can do it myself" is probably her most common refrain. Her newly discovered autonomy is linked to her sense of self, and she flaunts it in many ways. She may insist on wearing her purple pajamas for the fifth night in a row, eating only certain foods, and climbing into her car seat (this he does now..hurray!) by herself.
What you can do
Despite the temptation to rush in and rescue your "baby" when she gets into a bind, try to encourage your child's growing independence. At the same time, be sure she knows you'll be there when she needs you. Your 2-year-old's trust in you is growing now, and this feeling of trust gives her the confidence to venture out on her own. She may still get upset when you leave her at daycare or with a sitter, but she'll recover more quickly now because she's more secure. Experience has taught her that you'll always return. Of course, knowing you'll come back and accepting your departure are two different issues. So although she's well aware that you will return, she may put on a bigger show when you leave her. Be sure to give your child the attention and reassurance she needs along with a kiss accompanied by a promise that you'll return. Pay attention to the signals you're sending to your child too — are you lingering at the door when you say good-bye?
What to watch out for
If she's like most kids, your child will conquer separation anxiety by her third birthday. But don't be surprised if, once she's cleared that hurdle, temporary episodes of separation anxiety continue to recur from time to time. The road to maturity is riddled with separations: the first day of preschool, the first time at sleep-away camp, and even the first year of college. But helping your child cope with separation now will make future separations easier.
What comes next
With age comes greater independence and self-confidence. Each year will bring more things that your child will want to do on her own. As she gets older, she'll get to know herself better and will be more aware of her limitations. Future developments include the ability to help prepare simple snacks and meals, make friends, and go to school. Before you know it, your clingy 2-year-old will grow into an audacious preschooler.

Record Your Little One's New Skills and Discoveries...

Separation and Independence

What's the funniest thing your child has done to assert her independence?

He would normally insist on brushing his teeth nowadays. I have found a solution to end our toothbrush squabbles, I brought out 2 toothbrushes...handed him his own toothbrush while I keep another one. Now the problem is taking turns. It seems like "Mommy's turn" is shorter than his turn. =D

What's the most ambitious thing your child has ever tried to do on her own?

Taking off his shoes and socks...for the longest time he had been fumbling over this specific tasks. But he finally figured out how to do em right...and there's no turning back ever since. Now he takes off his shoes (those w/o shoelaces only) and would insist on doing it himself if we would forget and start taking off his shoes.

What's your child's proudest accomplishment?

I would say it is his learning to take off his shoes for the first time. He had this twinkle in his eyes and proudly showed me his pair of shoes telling me "Look Mommy! shoes off" and I cant help but feel so proud of my little boy's one small step forward in his milestones.

Self-care milestone
What to expect your child to achieve by the end of the year:

• Can undress herself (not quite yet, I still have to help him a bit, holding the sleeves of his shirt so he can get his hands through and then finishing off by getting it through his head)
• May show an interest in toilet training as early as 18 to 24 months, while others aren't ready until age 3 or 4 (aside from holding my hand and telling me "Mom, wash bum-bum!" he's otherwise not showing signs that he is ready for potty-training, and I am holding my ground of not rushing him in any way)
• Can feed herself (but will still get so messy)
Child development milestones

Self-care: What to expect when
When your child was a baby, you did everything for her. You changed her diapers, wiped her face when she spat up, and burped her after meals. But as she gets older, she'll learn to do more things for herself, from pulling off her shirt to getting her own bowl of cereal. This is the "I want to do it myself" age. Watching your child grow increasingly independent can be bittersweet, but learning to take care of herself is an important part of your child's personal and social development. I have to constantly remind myself this. Haay, unfortunately, we were brought up in an overly protective and sheltered environment that it is agonizingly difficult to encourage independence in Benedict as the OP mom in me would surely surface. Upbringing has a way of creeping up when we are not looking. I guess it's not so easy to switch it off once it's already in our system.

Skills she'll work at
Undressing: While your child may already know how to undress herself, around now she's likely to go through several clothing changes a day (just because she can), and that's fine — 2-year-olds are notoriously messy anyway and often end up with their clothes streaked with food or finger paint. On the flip side, though, if your child resists changing her clothes when you want her to, consider giving up. This is the time to relax your expectations a bit.

Catching a sneeze:Your child can start to follow some basic rules of hygiene. An important one: sneezing into her elbow, (really? interesting! i only learned of this here =D) as opposed to her hand or the air. Preschools teach this technique to keep children from spraying germs everywhere and passing along germs by touch.

Brushing her teeth: Many 2-year-olds insist on brushing their teeth. (my son belongs to this group). Let your child make a first pass, but follow up with a more thorough cleaning yourself. And make sure she uses only a pea-size drop of fluoride toothpaste; she's apt to swallow some instead of spitting it all out, and too much fluoride is not a good thing. Your child won't be capable of adequate toothbrushing until much later, possibly not until she's 6 or 7. It takes quite a bit of coordination for a child to hold a toothbrush and maneuver it around her mouth so she's really cleaning in there. But let her do her bit; it makes her feel grown up and gets her into a good habit for life.

Using the toilet: Some children develop the physical and cognitive skills necessary to begin toilet training by around 18 to 24 months, while others aren't ready until age 3 or 4. Your child will let you know when it's time.

Preparing breakfast: Your 2-year-old may not be capable of fetching a bowl, filling it with cereal, and pouring on the milk all by herself, and you may not be capable of watching her try. But you can break down these tasks and let her do as much as possible. For example, have her bring you a plastic bowl (from a low cabinet), and after you've poured the cereal, let her pour the milk from a measuring cup. You can also encourage your child's independence by putting healthy snacks within her reach so she can get them on her own. She may drop some on the floor, but applaud her efforts anyway. I have to try this sometime soon...Benedict loves pouring in & out of his bowl his Cheerios. Maybe it's time to let him pour in some milk.
What you can do
Encouragement is key. Whenever your child tries her hand at a new skill, tell her you're proud she tried (regardless of the result) and urge her to try again. Don't always jump in to help (this is quite difficult as I think I am programmed to anticipate my child's need); it's essential that she have enough time to master tasks on her own, at her own pace. Try not to pressure her before she's ready, either. And be flexible: If allowing her to prepare her own breakfast means you'll have to sweep cereal off the floor, go with the flow.
What to watch out for
Children develop skills differently, some more quickly than others, but if your child hasn't shown interest in doing anything for herself by the time she's 2, or if she seems incapable of handling the most basic tasks such as feeding herself with utensils, talk to her pediatrician.
What's ahead
Advances in self-care skills come fast and furious during the preschool years. Most kids have mastered the basics of self-care — dressing, washing their hands, feeding themselves, and going to the bathroom (but not necessarily wiping!) — by their fourth birthday. As the months and years roll by, your child will get better and better at meeting her own needs. You'll blink, a few years will go by, and she'll be able to tie her shoes and shower or bathe by herself. Then it's just a matter of time until she can do laundry and cook dinner, not to mention drive herself to soccer practice. By then you'll be wishing she'd let you baby her once in a while, but her refusal to give up her autonomy will be a testament to your success in teaching her to care for herself.

Record Your Little One's New Skills and Discoveries...

Self-Care and Toilet Training

What are your child's favorite finger foods? Cheerios, lately he has discovered Champola too.
What's the funniest outfit your child has insisted on wearing? hmm, he still pretty much allows me to dress him up...except for his shoes, he does the choosing now. And somehow we would always end up wearing his Mc Queen clogs all the time.
What's the quirkiest thing your child's done in starting toilet training? haven't started yet
What's your 2-year-old's proudest self-care accomplishment? in the self-care area, it must be brushing his teeth...or at least his effort to do so. He also has this funny way of reminding his Yaya or even me at times to not hold his 'birdie', as I told him a few months back to not let anyone hold his private parts. I can only stiffle my giggle the first time I heard him say this. It must mean that he understands & remembers what I had been telling him.

Toilet training milestone
What to expect your child to achieve by the end of the year:

• Able to hold urine for three hours or more
• Indicates an interest in imitating others' bathroom habits
• Understands the physical signals that mean she has to go

Toilet training: What to expect when
No magic age signals the ideal time to start the process of toilet training. Some children develop the necessary physical and cognitive skills as early as 18 to 24 months, whereas others aren't ready until they're 3 or 4 (boysare often slightly later than girls).(this is reassuring to know since my niece is potty-trained at 2.5 y/o. But I am not giving in to pressures, I dont see the signs that my little one is ready) Some children get the knack in a few short days, while it can take others a year or more.

What accounts for the wide age range in mastering this skill? Timing. Pediatricians have a saying about toilet training: If you start at 2 you'll be done by 3; if you start at 3 you'll be done by 3. "If you catch them when they're ready, it may only take a month," says Denise Aloisio, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician in Rochester, New York. "But if you miss the signals or don't wait for their cues, it can take six months or more."

Signs of readiness
Your child must be physically ready to start potty training before you have any chance of success, meaning he can hold urine and stay dry for three hours or more (this indicates that his bladder muscles are sufficiently developed to store urine). He also needs to be able to recognize the physical signs that signal when he has to go, and act on them before anything comes out (no small feat when you've never had to think about this before). It makes it easier, too, if he can pull his clothes up and down by himself. Steer clear of overalls if he can't undo the clasps.

Physical and mental readiness aren't the only factors involved. Motivation is key. If your child demonstrates a desire for independence and shows an interest in imitating others' bathroom habits, it may be an auspicious time to plunge into the process. Children may figure out how to have a bowel movement before they learn to urinate in the potty because they typically only have BMs once or twice a day, usually at the same time.
What you can do
Your job as a parent is to make the toilet-training process as natural and non-threatening as possible. Keep a relaxed and positive attitude, and encourage your child to get accustomed to his potty. Let him help pick the potty out at the store, then let him play with it, look inside, sit his teddy bear on it. Then, ask him if he wants to sit on it — with his clothes on at first — so that he can get used to how the seat feels. If he wants to take a rain check on this, don't push it. Explain how the potty is used in simple terms that he can grasp: "This is for making pee and poop in when you're ready to stop wearing diapers." (Use whatever words you're comfortable with for urine and feces, but be sure he understands them.)

By now your child has probably seen you and your partner use the toilet on many occasions. He may be more interested in just watching at this point. Role models take the mystery and fear out of new things, so let him watch. After about a week of familiarizing him with the potty with his clothes on, empty the contents of his diaper into the potty, so he sees what's supposed to go in there.

Once your child is willing to use the potty, make it part of his routine — start with after breakfast or before his bath — and gradually increase from once to several times a day. Praise him for his success and brush off accidents or no-shows.

Don't rush to flush: Kids see pee and poop as an extension of their own bodies. They may be fascinated by and proud of what they put in the potty. Some children also like to wave bye-bye to their BMs.

Be careful not to push your child or nag. Just like grown-ups, children are much less receptive when someone is constantly on their case than when they feel like they're in charge. Instead, watch your child for changes in posture or facial expressions that signal he has to go. If he grabs himself or grunts, for instance, let these be your cues to gently remind him about the potty. Handle accidents and setbacks calmly and kindly. Just clean up the mess matter-of-factly and suggest that next time he try using his potty. You may also want to switch from plastic disposable diapers to cloth diapers at this stage.

You're more likely to have success with toilet training if you choose a time to plunge into the process when all is reasonably quiet on the home front. As a deadline-oriented adult, it might seem logical to start training a few weeks before the next baby is due, just before your child goes to preschool, or when you're planning to move to a new house. But 2-year-olds are contrary creatures, and the more they sense your not-so-hidden agenda, the less inclined they are to go along with it. So ditch the deadline, act casual about the whole thing, and let your child "own" the experience.
What to watch out for
If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated about potty progress, or if your child seems to resist toilet training, consider it a sign that you both need to take a breather. Too much pressure to perform can sabotage the whole exercise, so wait until you've regained your patience and your child seems more open to the idea — it could be a couple of days, or even months. If you choose this battle, you will inevitably lose — toilet training can only be mastered with your child's voluntary cooperation.

You should also stop the toilet training if your child is reluctant to use his potty or becomes constipated. If your child has infrequent bowel movements (less than three per week), if he passes either large stools or hard, pebbly stools, or if it is difficult for him to pass a bowel movement, talk with his doctor about possible constipation. Address his health problem first by varying his diet (bananas are good for firming up BMs while prunes and other fruits are good for loosening them) and getting him to drink lots of liquids. Then you can try toilet training again.
What's ahead
Once your child is using the potty regularly, you'll gradually make the move from diapers to training pants during the day. In preparation for preschool, you may also need to help your child make the shift from the potty to the toilet. Most children take longer to conquer naptime and nighttime dryness. Don't worry, though, if your child is not ready to take these toileting steps. When he's ready to learn these new big-kid skills, he will (and not a moment sooner).
I am anxious yet excited over the fact that there is so much in store for my Benedict this year. Yey! I hope we will have more fun as we go along his milestones in the next few months. I am always optimistic in knowing that I have done my part in encouraging him to move forward every single step along the way. The rest, I entrust unto Him. Parenting surely is not so easy, but I wont trade it for anything else in the whole wide world.

Preschooler Learning Milestones

Been busy getting my hands on online resources about my preschooler. And I am pleased to have found this (from Parent Center). It makes me more excited to know that there are far so many milestones to look forward to...


by Dana Sullivan

One of the main goals of preschool is to teach children social skills such as getting along with peers and listening to adults other than their parents. Here are some specific social milestones you can expect from your 3- to 4-year-old. Keep in mind that children develop at different rates and that every teacher follows a different curriculum, so your child may not do everything on this list.

Separate from you fairly easily, saying good-bye without too much fuss
Adjust to new situations, especially the school routine
Trust and take direction from teachers
Express emotions verbally to adults and other children ("I'm mad!" "I'm sad") Benedict now knows how to say "(B)enedict...angry!" when he is mad. And boy is he soo cute when he says so. But of course I dont let him on that I find him adorable coz i dont catch him on time, his anger will actually evolve into a blown-up tantrum.
Show independence and stand up for herself when facing conflict. (For example, she might ask another child to stop knocking down the tower of blocks she's building.) i hope he wont be a push-over as he would normally not assert himself when playmates will take his toy away from him...but then again, i also dont want to see him turn into a bully. Just the right mixture of knowing how to stand up for himself will be good enough for me.
Follow classroom rules and routines, such as sitting quietly in a group, raising a hand before speaking, and helping to clean up after herself. he knows how to 'pack away' his toys now...ever since we came back from Gymboree last summer, we've been using their signature pack away song to signal that it's time to return his toys in their proper places na.
Play well with other children and be willing to share
Recognize the feelings of others. For example, when someone asks, "How did Susie feel when she fell off the swing?" she will be able to say, "She was scared."
Demonstrate a sense of humor, and be silly in an attempt to make other people laugh. this he does a lot now...i think he is an inborn comedian. honest! must have gotten this genes from his Ku-Ah Jayr, whose antics never fail to crack me up.
Play with other children rather than just side by side
Enjoy playing "house"
Help with chores, such as sweeping or putting toys and books away
Focus on one activity for 10 to 15 minutes (by age 4)

Preschool teachers provide opportunities for children to learn through play. To help develop social skills such as taking turns and getting along with others, they organize group activities such as building a Lego town or singing songs in a group. To foster independence and enthusiasm about learning, they set up activity areas throughout the classroom and encourage the children to follow their own interests and work on whatever projects interest them. Activity areas can include musical instruments, art supplies such as paint and crayons, books, toys for building and pretend play, plants, and even animals. Preschool teachers also encourage children to talk about their feelings and to resolve conflicts by using words instead of fists (or teeth!).

by Dana Sullivan

Learning to communicate verbally and listen carefully are the cornerstones of a preschool education. Here are some specific language milestones you can expect your 3- to 4-year-old to reach. Keep in mind that children develop at different rates and that every teacher follows a different curriculum, so your child may not do everything on this list.

Participate in conversations in which eight out of every ten words are understandable. Benedict tries to tell me in simple words/phrases/sentences what he wants to do or what he wants me to do, but as I have mentioned before his words are mostly peppered with syllables. I hope its just a case of talking too fast that his words gets slurred. But I am happy that he is now conversational and animated too.
Speak and understand 1,500 words or more (by age 4), though the vocabulary of preschoolers can vary dramatically. I should make a separate blog entry on the words he learned already prior to being in play school. This way it will be easy to gauge at the end of the year (or what remains of it) if he has learn more.
Form sentences of six or more words. Now he's still in the 3-4 words range..such as "(B)enedict eat Cheerios, Mom!" sometimes adding the word "please" followed by a toothy grin. Or mostly "Nene Mom, please!"...or telling his Yaya.."Oh no! (his fave expression) what happened?" which I find so cute, haha.
Ask "who," "what," "where," and "why" questions. He is currently in the "whassat?" (what's that?) stage. But he is also into where Qs occassionally, mostly asking for a fave toy or activity.
Understand and follow spoken instructions, such as "It's time to put away the puzzles and go to the reading corner" oh but he is so stubborn that i would really lose my patience many a times when i have to repeat asking him to do something such as..lying down after bath so i can lather his body w/ lotion or put on his nappy. Hay, it's such a challenge!
Link two ideas in a sentence to organize a thought — for example, "I want to go outside because I can ride my bike there"
Tell a simple story. For example, she might tell a friend, "I went to my grandma's house last night. She has toys at her house. I like the toys at my grandma's house."
Sing songs, play rhyming games, and perform "finger plays" such as the hand motions that accompany "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" or "The Wheels on the Bus". He likes Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star too and currently,
Understand the concept of writing: the idea that letters carry messages. For example, she may ask what a sign says, or copy words from a book and tell you she's writing a story.
Show some understanding of the alphabet by calling out letters she sees on signs or in books. He learned to recognize the letters very early on. The posters on the bedroom wall are a great help as well as educational videos.

By age 4, your preschooler may also be able to:

Write some letters and words
Use simpler vocabulary and sentences to suit a younger sibling or friend
Repeat her name, address, and phone number.
Explain a four- or five-step sequence — for example, "After I take a bath, I brush my teeth and put on my pajamas and get in bed"

Children learn to communicate by listening, hearing others speak to them, and speaking on their own. To promote language skills, your child's teacher will set up the classroom so the children spend lots of time at activity tables where they have to interact with one another. She will also read to the children daily and ask them questions about the story afterward. She may also ask each child to talk about something he's interested in, either during a formal show-and-tell time or informally when discussing a topic or book. Most preschool teachers also begin alphabet work. They may choose a letter of the day, for example, and encourage the students to write it and come up with words that begin with that letter.

by Dana Sullivan

The preschool years aren't about academic learning, but they do lay the foundation for later schooling. Your child will learn the basics of problem solving, observing, and discovering. Here are some specific cognitive milestones you can expect your 3- to 4-year-old to reach. Keep in mind that children develop at different rates and that every teacher follows a different curriculum, so your child may not do everything on this list.

Solve problems. For example, she may ask another child to trade toys so they can each have a turn
Observe objects with curiosity and notice differences, such as how some rocks are smooth and others are bumpy
Explore cause and effect — shaking a jar of water, for instance, and noticing how it creates bubbles
Use something she already knows to attack a new problem. For instance, after learning to use a computer mouse to navigate around a site, she may test that skill by trying to play a computer game.
Think logically. She'll be able to classify objects by size or likeness, for instance, and to recognize patterns.
Be aware of her own body in space. You may hear her say things like "I'm up high on the slide."
Understand the concept of sequence. For example, she may sort objects from smallest to largest.
Use numbers and count. Benedict can now count up to 13. I dont really know how he learned to count beyond 10 as I have been teaching him only til 10. I guess this is an offshoot of my sister's visit wherein they counted from 1-20. I guess my little one is really fast in picking up new words..and in this case eager to learn more numbers.
Understand basic concepts of time, such as "now," "soon," and "late."
Identify six to eight colors (He knows red, white, black, yellow, red, orange ("e-range" to him), purple, blue, green, brown, pink) and three or more shapes (He has learned circle, square, triangle, star, heart, diamond (thanks to fisher price website).
Take on pretend roles. For example, she may hold a doll and say, "I'm the mommy" or look in a doll's ear and say, "I'm the doctor." You may also notice that she has a vivid imagination and perhaps even imaginary playmates. He would hold up a stethoscope to his ear and let Daddy lie down so he can do a "check-up" on him. It's easy to bring him to our pedia for well-baby check-ups as he will cooperate when asked to open mouth or check his ears & nose. Our pedia would often tell us that he is her fave baby.
Understand that pictures and objects can symbolize something else. For example, she may tell you that something she's scribbled is a picture of a dog, or she may show you the "house" she built out of blocks.
Complete a six- to eight-piece puzzle. Not yet, he's still into the one-piece wooden puzzle peg. He easily gets frustrated with more than 4 pieces of puzzles, but he has no problem doing 2- or 3-pc. ones as long as they are wooden. He has not enough patience yet for the cardboard puzzles.
Notice the features of people and animals that make them different. For instance, she may see that rabbits have big, furry ears while people have rounded, hairless ones.
Understand the difference between herself and younger children
Identify familiar signs and labels, for instance stop signs and her own name. This is quite telling of our being mall rats, as he recognizes the logo of SM, hahaha.

By age 4, your preschooler may also be able to:
Ask questions about birth and death
Understand and remember her own accomplishment.
Understand the order of daily routines, such as the fact that she always brushes her teeth before going to bed
Follow two unrelated directions — for instance, "Take your shoes off, and comb your hair"

In class your child will be encouraged to do things such as arrange dinosaurs from smallest to largest, take three crackers from a bowl, and put puzzles together. These activities help lay the foundation for math. To teach your child how to relate words and images to experiences, the teacher may ask her to paint an abstract picture and then describe what it means.

Looking forward to new "discoveries" in the year ahead. It's going to be an exciting year for me & the little boy as we continue to journey through preschool. One thing is for sure, he is always assured (and I guess it shows in the way he is growing up) that Mommy and Daddy are behind him all the way. And I only pray that he will be guided by the Lord up above to soar greater heights and be what He intends him to be. After all, we are only guardians of Benedict. And his being loaned to us is already a great gift in itself.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pre-school hunting

Benedict just turned 2 a few weeks back...

and even before he did, we were already eyeing a few prospective schools for him. (di sad mi excited sah? hehe) But we only had the time (and the energy ) to go about school-hunting today.

And we were able to make a few rounds of what we think are good options for him.

First stop, MARIA MONTESSORI CDO. We were happy to know that the directress came from our own dear Alma Mater USC. And most of her teacher staffs are also Carolinians...yey! Of course, their credentials boasted of being affiliated with the Montessori Federation of the Phils. (them being one of the two schools in CDO who are actually affiliated with the prestigious group inspite of a thousand others claiming to be Montessori-inspired). They are also trained by American, Australian, Hawaiian & Japanese Montessoris. I personally didn't know there were as many. We are quite happy with the way the directress explained to us how they go about their toddler class, which by the way is only composed of 5 kids, with Benedict being the 6th if we chose to enroll with them. Another plus factor is that they have a teeny-weeny kiddie pool (if you call a 3-ft. body of water that, tee hee), but my Benedict was practically squirming out of my reach to be able to get near the splashing kids enjoying their "fun day" activity. We found out that every Friday is a free play day where kids get to swim for a few minutes. Oh wow! great news for my little fish of a son. My only concern is that being advocate of independence that they are, we might not be able to fully trust 'em to "take care" of our son the way we want. I hate to admit it but I am bordering over being sooo over-protective and Marlon is even worse. Haay! We will have to make adjustments as the directress really informed us that their students are expected to be fully independent from their parents. Waaah, there's never a time that my Benedict is not under my or his Yaya's watchful eyes. Am getting nervous just thinking that he might trip over their rocky pathway. geez!

Anyway, on to our next stop...SCHOOL FOR LIFE which is really not much to our liking. I just am not impressed with their facilities as well as their directress. It's just fortunate that Benedict was sleeping in the car at this time so we quickly got out after a quick tour of their premises.

Our last stop was at SMART START ACADEMY. This is quite to my liking although I dont understand why my hubby doesn't quite share my view. Perhaps he has his mind set on the 1st school we visited, or maybe because the structure resembles a warehouse. He used to live & hold office in one so I must trust him when he say na he thinks the place used to be a bodega...hahaha. But I am impressed with the way their teachers (or at least the toddler teacher we talked to) handled our inquiries as well as the way she gave us a tour of the premises. Most of the area are also rubber-padded...and CLEAN! and all of their materials look sanitized and new. They only opened last May, which quite explains my preference. Am i going to be faulted for thinking of hygienic facilities for my son? And facilities-wise, I couldn't have been more satisfied with their Little Tikes & Chicco playground toys. Another plus factor for me is that they also employ the Montessori method and is affiliated with Montessori Institute of America. By this time Benedict was busy checking out their playground under Yaya's care while his Dad & I were given a tour inside their airconditioned activity areas. We are actually offered a week (4 days to be exact) to let Benedict try their class for free and observe if he will like their set-up. Personally I am leaning to choose this school, but I have to discuss the pros & cons with the Daddy.

After we had lunch at my SIL's place, we left Benedict in her care and resumed our agenda. Next school on our list is ORO CHRISTIAN GRACE SCHOOL. Being of the chinese ancestry, we are expected to have our kids enrolled in a chinese school also. We are just lucky that even here in CDO there are a few good schools to choose from. And this being one of them. When we were given a tour of their classrooms, I was pleasantly surprised that their hallways mostly resemble my old alma mater in Cebu. It was like being transported back in time when all my classmates had 2-4 letter chinese surnames and I never had difficulty pronouncing the Filipino sounding ones. But I also remember the culture shock I have had in college, when I was seated alongside classmates with surnames as diverse as Pepito, Pitogo, Duhaylungsod and the likes. Pardon me but it was really not an easy task esp. since I was elected class secretary pa. Now I'm thinking ahead...will i let Benedict go through that??? I have to answer now? hehe.. As I have said, my own Dad especially hinted that he wants to see his grandchildren being brought up in the same manner we were brought up...that being made aware of discipline & hard-work even at an early age. Isn't also frugality the best trait of the chinese ancestry? And I am so sure I didn't inherit those genes and my Dad will surely disown me for saying so...hahaha. Kidding aside, I know what he means of being immersed in the chinese culture and all...I didn't particularly like being "tindera" in our provincial gen. mdse. store at that time but I am reaping the benefits now, being inherently business-minded inspite of my swearing (a few times too many!) that I am not gonna go into biz. Talk about eating my own words!

But I am swayed off my pre-school hunting story... to continue, another one of our pleasant surprise was finding out that the teacher handling toddler class is a former colleague of mine at my UCPB workplace. So I will be at rest knowing that I know the lady personally handling my son's class. And she holds my utmost respect too. The only thing is they accept students who are 2 years & 7 month old pa...and they are quite strict about age requirement. They have spacious and well-maintained facilities, I especially love their playground toys...I am finding out that I am partial to plastic-type toys the likes of Little Tikes & Chiccos. I guess I just have this fear that those which are steel-made might not be well-maintained and I hate to think of my son getting hurt in them. Hay, my being OP mom strikes again!

Oh well our last stop had been at KONG HUA, another Chinese school in the vicinity. We haven't really talked to their school directress as she is out of the country at the moment but I do like the strict security they are imposing. The security guards are really inqusitive yet polite. I can see myself leaving my child there knowing that they can be trusted to take care of him. Oh well, I'll hold off my personal opinions as I haven't really seen the place. They also accept 3.5 y/o kids pa so we have ample time to decide should we want to enroll Benedict in this institution.

Right now, we are down to 2 choices...MARIA MONTESSORI or SMART START ACADEMY. While I am partial to the latter, hubby seems fixated on the former. This will require more discussions pa. Thankfully, we learned how to "dialogue" effectively at DW (Discovery Week-end) . Now the discussions can end with a lets-agree-to-disagree mode.

But I am ready to start school with Benedict next week. Am really excited, even more so than my little one..hehe

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Benedict's birth

found a beautiful lay-out at Smilebox ( and got inspired to make a photobook of Benedict at birth.
Click to play Benedict's birthCreate your own photobook - Powered by Smilebox
These are my precious memories...looking back 2 years thereafter, I can no longer remember the pain of childbirth yet I still cry at the wonderful experience of being a newbie mom....of gazing into my newborn's eyes, caressing his soft delicate skin and taking in the sweetest smell of his baby skin. Pure bliss!!!
I invite you to take a peek at my most personal thoughts and feelings in this photobook creation... from the of a mom!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

the ONGs...

Since I have lots of beautiful pics (ehem, ehem!) courtesy of my talented cousin Mickie, it is a shame to put them to waste.

I already have a copy of it in a beautiful banana book she gave me on the occassion of my Benedict's birthday party. But since I found this free site and dont have much to do (at least for today :-D) I gave it a try...

Sharing here with you a few hours of our bonding moments...

Click to play Family PortraitCreate your own photobook - Powered by Smilebox