Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Month 9 Week 2: No right brain left behind?

A fellow mom friend invited me to a trial Glenn Doman class last weekend. Curious, I took B along for a 1:15 hour fun, fast and furious "right brain" lesson at Gymnademics. Affiliated with Doman's Institutes For the Achievement of Human Potential, the bambino class (5 mos - 1 year) mainly covered bilingual language (English with a little Mandarin, conversational and thematic words), psycho-physical (visual tracking, lifting, twirling, balancing, pull-ups, backflips, group interaction) and music and movement activities.  Flash cards were a key tool as they believe the right brain functions at a high speed, registering input as images and processing them all at once, so the faster the stimulation, the more the brain is activated. This was a new experience for us and I was somewhat skeptical that the babies remembered, let alone understood what they saw at the pace the cards were flashed - surprisingly though, most did pay attention. I was also informed that the class basically introduces a set of prepared activities which parents are then equipped to replicate daily at home. Overall, B managed to stay focused, even enjoying some of the stimuli.  More importantly, it got me thinking about the merits of engaging a child's "full brain" esp. in the early years, plus ideas to incorporate at home, e.g. building up his vocab with real, beautiful pictures and big clear words, using slides or my iPad to make homemade flashcards.

There seem to be three main right brain schools:  Glenn Doman, Shichida Method and Heguru.  In Asia, success - be it academic or work - has typically been associated with left brain abilities such as analytical and critical thinking, and right brain abilities such as conceptual and creative thinking have largely been the domain of a niche group (artists, designers, consultants, etc.).

No surprise that these rational, competitive based skills are dominant in local formal education from 6 years on.  However, even kiasu Singapore has acknowledged that this system could be outdated in the future and possibly marginalise or minimise the potential of talented children at present.  While encouraging, the bigger the change, the bigger the resistance and it'll probably take years for the local education system to truly evolve.  Meanwhile as parents, we could also reflect a more wholistic brain approach at home with our kids under 6 years (or enrol them in preschools that support this).  I'm not yet sure about joining further Gymnademics classes as I have questions about Glenn Doman's approach and results.  It would be good though to supplement the open ended Reggio inspired play that B's been exposed to at the Blue House until he starts Pat's toddler program next year. Maybe we'll check out Shichida next....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Month 9 Week 1: Going going going

B is 9 months old!  At 39 weeks, he's officially "outside" mommy longer than he was inside (he arrived early).  We just had a regular check up where B got his final pneumoccocal jab, which leaves one more jab for the year i.e. MMRV sometime in November, after his 1st birthday. Reminder to self: feed him eggs (yolk, then white) beforehand to test for allergies


What's new:
1) Weighs 9.7 kg, 73.5 cm long, 47 cm head circumference, tracking at 90+ percentile among his peers. Still our big headed tall boy :)
2) Crawls faster, pulls up to stand, cruises and climbs.  Unfortunately, all this newfound mobility doesn't quite make him sleep more soundly but rather he's up practicing day AND night!  We've caught him standing up in his bed and calling for us many times =0  Meanwhile, we continue to find new areas to babyproof as he's on the go
3) Celebrated our first national day as a fully Singaporean family.  B got his first passport and mugshot, and I officially renounced my Malaysian citizenship for Singapore
4) Eating finger foods and mashed (not finely pureed) meals

In addition to tagging along with mommy for errands and weekly home playdates, we've also started going to Blue House parent-and-baby discovery programs. Their Reggio Emilia inspired early childhood approach and infant and toddler atelier is quite remarkable, quite a contrast to the dime-a-dozen care centers / indoor playgrounds in Singapore.  We may also check out baby signing, music (bounce & rhyme meetup, Our Music Studio) and right brain classes (Gymnademics - Glenn Doman, Shichida).


Lastly, we registered B for Pat's Schoolhouse Baby Haven for when he turns 19 months (June 2013, toddler group). After finding out that 2 other preschools on my shortlist were already fully booked with a 2-3 year waitlist, I decided I needed to be kiasu and register him ASAP!  If you can't beat em ....