Wikki Stix In Malaysia

August 18, 2012

We are proud to announce that Wikki Stix is now available in Malaysia.

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Please visit us at http://www.wikkistixmalaysia.com
Hope you will find tone of fun with wikki stix


No More Extra Classes

December 27, 2006

One more week, JS will start her new school term at a new school and I have also made up my mind to stop her extra night classes for Maths and Mandarin that she has attended few months ago.

I enrolled her to these classes during my “school hunt expediture”  and after I have pulled her out from her former pre-school (due to the dissastifaction I have with that school and how much she hated to go school and didnt enjoy much). When I pulled her out from school, I did home school with her but I know that homeschooling itself is not that healthy for her social growth, she still needs to learn to work in group and interact with others and be less dependent on me. Another reason for sending her to the Mandarin class is to build the foundation for her so that when she goes to a Chinese medium K1 next year, she won’t feel lost at not understanding bits of the language. Third reason being that she’s still acustomed to being away from me a couple of hours a day, three times a week, hopefully when the new school term starts she won’t find it hard to readjust to being away from me again. There’s no quarantee though..as she’s still very attached and clingy to me, but at least I made it not too long a gap for her to be solely with me during this period of time and the next school term. She left school in Oct, if she would to stay home with me for 3 months , I know by Jan she will find it hard to cope leaving me behind and go to school. Just want to make the transition less traumatized to her.

Now that my purpose has been served, I’m happy that she learns to speak some basic Mandarin and can understand the language, I see no reason for her to take extra classes at this young age anymore. I think the normal school hour will be just sufficient for her.

I wont say there’s no struggle for me to made up my mind. I never denied that I’m a kiasu mum. Inside my heart I tend to compare her with other kids and feel proud if she’s better than others (which mum doesn’t do that anyway?? Every mum does that!!) and I do have expectation from her. Of course I know it’s wrong for me to have this kind of expectation and comparison…especially I see her progress in Maths and Mandarin in this short period of time, I can’t help to feel a pity to let go instead of continuing.  Even when enrolled her for these classes, I didn’t had a clear thought of how long to go on. It’s 50/50. 50 said that I will not continue after the new school term start, another 50 was thinking to see how thing goes and will decide later and maybe will carry on with these classes on top of her normal schooling.

Anyhow I have made up my mind. It’s too high a price to pay, not in monetary term but her childhood.  I know I’m kiasu… I know I want her to excel. At the same time I’m also been intoxified by the comment that if one let your child have a relaxing early childhood and pre-school years, it would be hard for the kids to adapt when they enter primary 1 especially to a Chinese medium primary school. (There’s really such non sense). I’m also one super worried mother…worry that she would feel left out because we are going to enrol her to a very competitive Chinese school in the urban area where most her peer will be attenting many of these enrichment classes. (It’s so wrong for me to have worry like this, I shall be the one to encourage her and motivate her and support her instead of pushing her in the rat race like other kiasu parents)

Anyhow despite all my worries and kiasu-ness, I still get my senses back that these extra classes is really unnecessary and it’s putting a lot of stress on the young child. Though children have an absorbent mind and constantly thriving to learn, but the learning process shouldn’t be carried out in such way. It should be fun filled and stress free. It shouldnt just be school , tuition classes and home work and no time for other leisure.

I was reading Sunday NST on “Fun and books? Pre-schoolers just don’t have the time” , it’s such awakening article that pull me out from making such a big mistake of taking my kids childhood away with endless classes and homework. I really dont want to be part of the kiasu mum circle. I reminded myself that since the birth of JS, I had made a promise that I wont sent her for any tuition classes, at least not during the primary school years and I told myself that I want to coach and teach her myself. (there are people who said that it’s hard to teach your own kids, I wont deny that, sometimes JS do really drive me up the wall, but overall she’s still very good, but if my mum can tutor us herself, I strongly believe I can do so too). I had never gone for any tuiton classes during my primary school years, I had a stress free childhood, which is what I want my kids to have too.  I almost broke my own promise due to the influence of the environment. During Xmas dinner while SILs, JS’s godmother and me were having a casual chat, SILs related how stress free it was during their school time that MIL would say “no need to study so hard…go sleep early…bla bla bla” and yet both SILs are very successful now. With these I’m taking a step aback, to a more relaxing approach to JS’s learning pace.

To really think about it, it really make no sense and not worth to attend these classes besides it intellectual and academic benefits. Her normal school hour will be from 8am to 11.30am where we have to leave home by 7.30am in order to make it to school on time and by the time she comes home it would be likely 12pm already. I want her to have proper lunch and sufficient nap and also time to play outside in the evening. If I were to continue with these extra classes 3 times per week, I will be rushing like mad to cook early dinner and rush her to take her early dinner which she will definately miss out play time during the evening and family time with daddy. I personally feel that it’s important to have family meal together for dinner as bonding time.  And not forgetting there will sure be endless homework to be completed from school and extra classes, which will left her with no more play time. It will be too hectic for her if I keep sending her to these classes as she will not be able to have enough rest, spending more time on the road, rushing through her meals and having endless homework to complete. On top of that , if I keep sending her to extra classes, it will defeat the purpose of me doing my diploma course in Montessori, which my aim was for her to learn through play.

With these extra time free from extra classes, she will be able to learn through play which I’m going to apply what I’ve learn in Montessori on her. That will be more meaningful.

The music class will remain. Music is an extra skill and also it helps to develop posture and style.

Will reserve one more day for physical activity either self defense class, dance or swimming lesson. These are the activities that I’m not able to coach her and not equipped to do so.  Physical activity is important, not only for fitness and health, it will also make the young mind more alert, improve dexterity, posture, self esteem and concentration. Will look for a suitable class and location for physical activity for her, might not start next year, it might be later when the timing is appropriate.

Quality Of Pre-school Teachers In Malaysia

December 23, 2006

Pre-schools are blooming everywhere at each corner of the housing area in Malaysia. Sometimes at one housing area, there are as many as 5 pre-schools all near by to each other just a block away or next to each other. Simply because there is a demand and the business is lucrative.

With the booming of these pre-schoolsdoesn’t mean that their teachers are all qualify in early childhood education. In Australia, to be a pre-school teacher, one needs a 4 years bachelor degree with Hon. But its a sad and petetite case in Malaysia, resources are hard to get. Though the early education is a lucrative business but the teachers are not highly paid. It’s just not any glam job that attracts young people to venture in. The demand of teachers is always higher than supply and hence almost every tom dick and harry can apply a job to be a pre-school teacher as long as they posses a SPM (equvailent to O-level) cert.

Flip through to the classification site of the newspaper , especially Chinese newspaper, almost all year round , there is advertisement on vacancy for pre-school teachers. The overturn of teacher in each pre-school is high. No doubt there are genuine qualified pre-school teachers that hold at least a diploma in early childhood education or up till master degree but these teachers are very rare and hard to get by.

What make up of all these vacancy then? Housewife that they kids had grown and they fill that they need to have job to pass time and are usually in their 40s to 50s that has been lost touch with working culture for many years and some might not even speak accurate mandarin and english.  Their true interest often might not be of the passion with working with kids, but a job that give some pocket money and kill time. They think what they know is enough and barely had the open mind to accept new teaching method and change and more often do not have the passion to do the job wholeheartely. They often think that teaching pre-school for 1/2 day is the most easy and relaxing job.

Another group of people that fills in the vacancy is students that are waiting for their public exam results (O-level or A-level) Very fresh school leavers without knowledge in child development and once their result is out and being accepted into higher learning instituition, they will leave their teaching job. These group of people again treat pre-school teaching job as a pass time activitity and a part time job that brings in income while they waiting for their results.  Some of these students are even given job as class teacher instead of assistant teacher. (No doubt they could have the love for kids in order to choose this feel , but they are lack of the understanding in early childhood education and child development in order to help the child to develop)

What happen to the poor children that has developed trust and accustomed to the teacher when the teacher decided to leave after they get offer in higher learning institution? The child have to go through the whole process of getting adapt to a new teacher where the new teacher basically knew nothing about them and it takes time to build the trust with the child.

Another group of people that fills in the vacancy is uni grad that treat pre-school teaching job as stepping stone. They say “sayonara” to the school once they found a better highly paid job in another field.

Non of these three categories are expert or even have a very basic knowledge of child developmentbut yet they are given such important job to bring up the next generation of our country. How many of these pre-school teachers have actually heard about John Dewey, Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, Vygotsky, Plato or Rousseau, Froebel and even bothered to find out. And not many pre-school teachers are motivated enough to read up books on child development and child psychology. (Reading is not a habit of most Malaysian) and certainly not many pre-school teachers are motivated to go for any courses or seminars during the school holidays…even going back to in-house training also many teachers complaint.  They treat teacher as a job and most do not do it with passion.

Early childhood education is as important as university education. We are bringing up the future leaders in our country and it starts from young.  If university’s need a professor qualification to lecture, the pre-school as well need better quality teachers. Teachers that which are not only having a love for children, but also have the basic foundation in carrying out the job and have understanding in child development.

Waiting for a day that our education ministry will impose a standard on pre-school teacher’s qualification. It’s still a long way to go to be in par with developed countries like Australia.

Each time I go for a school hunt, I asked about the teacher’s qualification, preferably a cert shown to me and also the turn over rate of the teacher. The management or principle have to be good enough to retain and motivate it resource, if the teachers are motivated, they will be more dedicate to their job. It’s off parent’s own discreetion when come to choosing a pre-school for their kids and also to look into the teacher’s qualification.

When There’s No Internet Access…..

December 20, 2006

The only good thing when there’s no interent access at home was that I actually spent less time in front of the pc and more time with the kids.

Here are some of the activities we have done among the many others.

 WH doing spooning activity of transferring peanut from one container to another while JS doing some writing work.

 JS’s turn to do spooning activity of transferring peanuts to 2 equal containers.

 Transfering of water from one container to another using sponge

 Transfering of water from one container to another using syringe

 Transferring of sago to 2 equals container.  (it wasn’t easy for WH to do that without spillage). Look at WH carry out the work with full concentration.

WH having his turn with the sponge

 Tranferring of nut with tongs

 Pegging activity.  Seems a easy task for the kids and they cant wait to have their turn, but my presentation to them was that I peg it in a certain colour sequence. I actually want them to observe and copy what I did.  Initially WH just pegged the way he likes, but the following time , he can actually get what I have done earlier.

 Tumbling tower. JS favourite family game. She’s actually quite good at that.

My kids actually treat this activity as fun thing.  After the first day of doing, the next day JS would asked ” mummy, what fun thing we doing today”

I like to observe them when the doing it. It’s fun , kids being kids they really explore around and when they discover something, they become excited. Like WH would say “Cold , mummy” when he touches the water. They were amazed by the sound made by the dropping peanuts and sago when they spoon over to another container and also JS would go “mummy, do this way can get bubbles!”

WH is able to choose the activity he wants to do the next day by going to the place I keep the things. Of course they love the activity involved with water the most.

OK…now have to thing of more activities for them and prepare more materials…

Why There’s No Full Montessori School In M’sia?

December 20, 2006

The other day after I got home from the open house of the new kindy and told hubby about it, he asked if I’ve planned to enrol JS there ( he didn’t know that I’m actually surving it for WH instead of JS) I told him No. As much as I have strong believes on the montessori method of teaching, I know it wont work for kids age 5 and above in M’sia. JS will have to go to a conventional school with chinese medium to prepare her for primary one.

Many people who have no knowledge of Malaysia education system and also my hubby will have the misconception of my remark. “Huh? You mean montessori is only for 2 1/2 to 3?” and my hubby will think that after spending so much money on sponsoring my course, it’s a waste  as I can only apply the method on a 2 – 3 yrs old.

Many people have this misconception about Montessori method always end up thinking that it’s  lousy because there are parents remark that the kids who attended montessori are not able to pick up when they enter public primary school in malaysia. Parents only see the result and never really look into the root cause and parents who make that remarks surely do not have the appreciation and understanding of the method and philosophy. (By the way it’s almost impossible to find a full montessori school that caters to K1 & K2 in Malaysia, the school cleary understand our public education system and that a full montessori will not prepare the kids to meet the standard due to many factors and restriction of our education system)

In the US, a Montessori school can go up till the kids in 15 yrs old. There’s where the teachers go for advanced diploma or degree in the montessori method of teaching. So it’s not just limeted to toddlers. 

Before hand, I naively thought that I can find a full montessori school in M’sia, but as I know more, I know they are basically non existent.

There might be school that applys the montessori method of teaching maths and languange in K1 and K2, but it will not be full Montessori. Why is that so?  The rules and regulations stated that all kindy have to strictly follows the NPC ( national pre-school curriculum) and K1 and K2 is the vital prepatory years for the kids to enter to primary one. The KBSR is still a very conventional way of learning and it’s very much teacher’s oriented. If a kids is attending a full montessori pre-school, it’s very likely he will be left behind when enters Primary one.

This does not show that Montessori method is slow, but because majority of parents in malaysia only start to sent their kids to school at age 5.  Many M’sia parents will think that by sending a kids to a playschool at the age of 2 1/2 is too early and a waste of money. I use to have a mindset like that. Why take away their childhood by sending them to school so early. Even some parents think that by sending their kids to school at age 4 is early.  I will agree so if the kids is sent to a conventional school which is so stressful, but if there is a chance to be in a true montessori school, it’s best to start as early as possible.

There are so many didantic materials in a montessori curriculum. If parent only start to sent the child to a montessori school at age 5, the child wont be possibiliy having enough time to go through all the materials.  Take for example language, if sanndpaper letters is only introduced to a kids of age 5,  it might take half a year for the child to master all the phonetic sound of the letters before the child is ready for word building activities with LMA.  There are so many levels in the pink series and then later the blue, grammers and the green. That’s why it’s impossible to finish off till the green series in just a mere 2 years time of education. If a child is only reaching a basic level in pink series at age 6 , certainly he will be left out when he enters primary one.

Montessori method emphasized alot of individual development and according to the kids own development phase. There is no pushing and rushing. The child is given a chance to master an activity before moving on to the next higher level at their own phase.  If a kids only start school at age 5, there is certainly no time for the kids to master and work with all the materials in all area. With the short period of time frame (2 years), it’s impossible for a kids to developed to a phase in a montessori way that he’s able to cope with the Malaysia education system in year one.  ( of course if given a chance of exposure at age 2 1/2 and consitent teaching of montessori method till age 6, the kids will go beyond the level of our primary one standard)

Pre-school time in M’sia is short. Only 3 hours per day and 5 days a week. Each day minus off 1/2 snack time. And there are so much other things in the NPC to be added in like moral, islam studies, computer, art & craft , music, mandarin, malays, physical activity, circle time …there seems to be not much time left for montessori materials (which consists of 5 areas and many levels and activities) . Not to forget about concert and sports day preparation…. 4 times a year of exam (yes, even in pre-school there’s exam and that lasted almost 4 days each time). Class size in M’sia is usually big. Added on with the limited hours it’s almost impossible for the teacher to have individual focus on the kids and to give the kids time to progress on their own phase.  That’s why conventional teaching is applied in K1 & K2, which is like a crash prepatory for the kids to enter primary one.

During the training, the materials at the training centers and that we have learned is actually caters for children from age 2 1/2 to 6. When we reach the almost last stage of the materials, the lecture would say ” by the time the child reach this stage, they would have left school already” It clearly shows that our school system just wont allow and dont have the time to go through with all the materials.

I have a kindy teacher friend that told me , if the kindy has a kid that enter K2 in a new school year and prior to that has never attended any pre-school before, the kindy teacher will start to worry for the child. They worry that the child not able to catch up in primary one and crash course and alot of drilling and pushing is given in that K2 year. Isn’t that more stressful for a kid?

Sadly this is the fact of our education system where it’s like a rat race , the kids is expected to be on a certain level and perform accordingly. What a stressful life to have schooling in M’sia that we are not developing a wholistic individual of the next generation.

With that I give up hope on JS ever to have a chance to be in a Montessori school.


December 20, 2006

I personally disapproved of grading kids at the very young age. It’s so discouraging to the kids.

Recently JS was given some writing homework from the Mandarin class and at the end of the day , she got a C.

She was asking “mummy, why I write so nice, lao shi still give me C”

It was a tough question to answer and I can only tell her to do better the next time.

To her she has put in the best effort and the end result to her was good enough. In fact I actually sat beside her while she was doing that writing and ensure that she has all the stroke sequence correct.  She had tried her best and there’s nothing I can asked for as long as the key strokes are right and it’s in the box.

Teachers these days tend to impose their own standards and expectation on the kids. We as adults have written the words for so many years , there’s why we can write it correctly, but for a kids to write it the first time, we really cannot expect them to write as propotionate as what we adult do.

Another thing that is so unfair for my girl is that, the chinese words given are not simple word and before hand the teacher has not taught and reinforce the basic strokes to her. The teacher very well know that we dont speak mandarin at home and JS is not attending a chinese school yet, and heck where can she know about strokes. (Maybe the teacher expected the mummy has done the job)  Yes.. I have taught her about strokes and she just merely write it without understanding that the strokes are the foundation to form words. It’s something very abstract for a kids to understand. I didn’t push because I know once she is ready she will be able to do so.

What I dislike and realize is that most teacher always jump into conclusion and sentenced the kids as lazy, slow, stupid , never do the work properly and stamped with low grading. The teacher failed to look into the root cause and find solution on it. The failed to observe the kids development, ability and most importantly READINESS. A “C” is given because the child has not do it correctly. It’s very discouraging for the child. Why cant the teacher just put a tick as indication that the child’s work has been checked without negative comment?

I have lost track on what’s the standard in primary one class in chinese school. What do the teacher teach? If difficult words are taught to kids at age 5, what about age 7? I remembered when I was in K2, the chinese words that I write were merely some simple stroke words like 人,天,花,口,月, then only we proceed with more strokes words in primary one.

This is the price I’m paying for upon my decision of sending my kids to a chinese primary school. K1 & K2 are the prepatory years for that and I have no choice of discontinuing her mandarin class. (She needs consistent exposure to the language as none of us speak mandarin at home).  I dont really have a choice…. private school too expensive…public gomen school standard too low…..I can see that my girl is embarking into a very stressful study journey. My heart aches but it’s also for her own good.

Montessori Method

December 12, 2006

We often heard the term “Learn Through Play” , I have read many books on early childhood education, prior to my workshop I have also read my course manuals and text book, but never really fully comprehend how exactly can a kids benefit through play.

It was really a humble learning experience the past 13 days. Not only I have learned so much but also realize that simple activities a kids do can have so much impact on them. Maria Montessori is really a genius with her philosphopy and the way she invented a education system in a very orderly way which will fully benefit a child.

Montessori stressed on freedom of choice, freedom of speech for the kids. Many people will not understand how can freedom displine a child, but it’s really possible.

There are 5 areas in Montessori Curriculum : Pratical Life (care of self, care of environment, development of motor skills, social grace & courtesy) , Sensorial (tactile, gustatory, olfactory, visual, auditory), Culture Studies (zoology, history, geology and geography),  Mathematics ( 6 groups) , languages (4 groups)

Each groups has a set of activities with it different aims and variation and extension and it’s all done in sequence. A creative teacher can even add on more activities to it.

It was really insteresting to learn all the activities in all these areas. There’s proper ways of handling each material and using the material where the kids will learn to have a love of orders and be discplined.  And there’s sequencing of the material where the kids learn from concrete to abstract. Alot of activities in practical lifes are things that we take for granted, but it’s so vital for the kids development.

Take for example a spooning activity for a 2 1/2 years old will train his pincer grips, wrist movement, eye hands coordination, concentration, learning about volumn and capacity in a indirect way and more.

All the activities in the 5 areas are directly or indirectly link with one another. After going through all the materials, I can see how a kid can benefit through it and learn in a fun and interesting way and also so stress free instead of the boring spoon feeding session our school system is currently doing.

But sadly, in M’sia it’s hard to apply full montessori teaching in school where the school hour is just a mere 3 hours a days and so much for the kids to learn and to cramp into this 3 hours.  Conventional method still needed to be apply when the kids is 5 and 6 to prepare them to enter our conventional primary school.

I also realize that it’s so vital for a kid to start schooling at the age of 2 1/2. Schooling as in attending a Montessori playschool which will really fully benefit the kids due to the sensitive periods of the kids. Of course again, it’s hard to find a Montessori playschool for a 2 1/2 yro in M’sia, it’s even harder so to find one this town I’m staying. I’m just glad that I’ve taken up this course and I can start my own play and learn session with WH though my materials will be limited.

I had a tiring time during the workshop which I had to remember the names, aims, age group, variation and the presentation of each and every single materials and activities and their sequence. Also to remember each single steps of the presentation of the activities. It was really tough to cramp a 30 hours lesson into 2 days lesson but at the end I still learn a lot.

By the way, during my practical exam, I have to redo the sensorial part. I was really confident in my exam, but after sensorial, I saw both lecturers in deep discussion and I knew I must have done something wrong, and I think I did quite badly after that on pratical life and language session.

At sensorial part, I had randomly picked a question on working on with the long rods and I fumbled a bit on the presentation. The redo part, I picked a topic on the binomial cubes, I was very confident on using it but again affected by the earlier bad performance, I had a mental block for a moment. But lucky I passed but with a lot of dissapointment in me.  I had high expectation on myself on this as I really want to excel to be a good teacher…. anyhow…. i guess I need more practise on the material.