Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ashley's end-of-term performance at Scottish Opera

I was sitting with another 30-40 proud parents. Yes, we were all proud because our younger ones were about to perform a wee musical, Pirates Of Penzance. It was the first time Ashley performs in front of a large audience. I was a proud father as usual, and I was sure the person sitting next to me, Bonnie, was a proud mother too. It is this little creature, sometimes shy, is now able to sing and dance in front of a bunch of strangers. There she was running from one end to another, scrubbing the floor, climbing a rope, then she also lined up straight and sang with other kids of similar ages as she. Aren't those things amazing? She may only be playing a small sharing role with all the other 3-5 years old kids. It is the confidence that they gain from this little show that counts. Good luck to all of you! Some of you may shine in the international stage one day.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Literacy skill for toddler?

Maybe we are too keen to transfer the literacy skill to Ashley, who is not even four. But who can blame us for trying too hard? Being literate is a critical survival skill in the modern world. When Ashley was just over two, we used to write a 'letter' to her every morning and slipped it through her room. Each letter would have a a big Chinese character in the centre. She enjoyed receiving a letter therefore was happy learning those characters. After she has learnt 20 to 30 words, we would randomly pick up some 'letters' to test her if she could recognise those characters. She usually got about 70% correct.

When she was three, Bonnie used to play Chinese reading cards with her. The cards are similar to our 'letters' - big Chinese characters in the middle. Ashley was able to recognise at least 30 of them. At a later stage, she was even able to put a few together to form a complete sentence. However, I feel that these activities did not create a context for her to read, i.e. the characters that she learnt did not create the flow of an idea like that in a story book. Therefore, she was only able to capture scattered concepts, not real reading.

In the last couple of weeks, she has developed an interest in words. She would point to words that she saw on a book, menu or road signs and asked us the meaning of those words. We would then spell the letters (which she has already recognised most of them), speak the word and explain the meaning to her. She seems to be genuine interested in learning to read.

Tonight, I was trying to make her start to read. So, when we had our bedtime story, I taught her a few words e.g. 'Who', 'You' and 'See', which appears on the front cover of a book, and asked her to memorize those words. Then while we were reading the book, I stopped each time when we came to the same words. Slowly, she was able to pick up those words and was able to start to read the book. I picked up another book where she could find those same words. She was very excited because she recognised those words. She is probably thinking that she can really pick up a book and start to read from now on. It is a tremendous step for her. I am thrilled.

One would probably ask, however, whether it is necessary for someone not even reach four to start to recognise words and read. To me, however, if he/she is really excited and happy, then why not? Once they have acquired the literacy skill, only the sky is the limit of their future development.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Some of Ashley's interesting laundry lists

Just some of Ashley's interesting laundry lists:
1. Her personal carers / aupairs / nannies / mentors / role models ... whatever you call them:
- Dai Ping from Shanghai, China (Oct 2003 - Jun 2004)
- Anna Spik from Wroslaw, Poland (Aug 2004 - Oct 2004)
- Someone from Brazil (Oct 2004 for two weeks)
- Cecilia Wong from Newton Mearns, Glasgow but originally from Hong Kong (Jan 2005 - Feb 2005)
- Lynn from New Zealand (Feb 2005 for two weeks)
- Irene Cuevas from Zaragoza, Spain (Feb 2005 - Sep 2005)
- Ewelyna Kolodziejczyk from Wroslaw, Poland (Sep 2005 - Mar 2006)
- Nina Rasmussen from Ribe, Denmark (Mar 2006 - )

In between that, Bonnie's parents was in San Francisco for 3 months since Ashley was born. They were in London for 6 months we moved to the UK. They have also looked after Ashley in Hong Kong for two months (Oct and Nov 2004)

2. The second list is the places that she has been to in the past 4 years.
Places that she has lived:
- San Francisco (Jun - Nov 2002)
- London (Nov 2002 - Oct 2004)
- Hong Kong (Oct 2004 - Dec 2004)
- Glasgow (Jan 2005 - Jun 2006)

She also went to:
- Toronto (Sep 2002 for 2 weeks)
- Paris - Oct 2003
- Hong Kong - Jun 2003, Oct 2004, Dec 2005
- Esslingen (near Stuggart), Germany - Sept 2003
- Milan - Dec 2003
- Venice & Rome - Aug 2005

She has also been travelling around England including Manchester, Bath, Bristol and Windsor, and also Scotland including Loch Ness (twice), Edinburgh (so many times that it has lost track), Isle of Skye, Loch Lomond, Glen Coe, Oban, Isle of Bute, Ben Nevis, Cairn Golme and so many other beautiful places.

One of the things that she has done proud of herself was to climb up to the submit of Ben Lomond (over 1000 metres high) last March when she was not even 3. It took us eight hours to complete the trip. She walked about 2.5 hours up and 1.5 hours down. It is such a tremendous achievement for her.

For a 4 years old girl, this is quite a resume.

Complaint from a proud dad

Ashley will be four in June. How fast things have happened in the past few years. She is a good communicator and a happy girl. As a parent, if ever I had to complaint, I would grumble about her waiting up too early every morning. Once she wakes up in the morning, she would come straight to our room and climb on our bed, eyes wide open with a big smile. Can't you sleep just for another hour please? I thought. But in a second, that does not matter any more. OK, if you are already awake, let's play! Then her laugh continues. It is another beautiful day.