Why did i enrol my 7 year old in Preschool Heguru?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Big K turns 7 this year! Gulp! Did i say 7? Yes, another milestone has been achieved as she blazed into primary school. Currently, she is coping pretty fine at this level but i know that she has much more potential and that she is always taking her own sweet time when it comes to completing a task. No more spoonfeeding and nurturing like in a preschool. She has to face reality where things are fast paced, like it or not.

Since she was about 20 months old, she had been enrolled in an established right brain school. She was there for probably 2 terms but i got pregnant again and had to stop. It was way too tiring for me to carry her for lessons with a big tummy of mine. It was parent accompanied and sitting in class with her, trying to pin her down onto a chair, behind a small table, was quite a feat. My extremely patient dad tried once and he came out telling me never to ask him do such a thing again! It was not that she is a terribly active child. In fact, under normal circumstances, she isn’t. She is reserved. But somehow, during lessons, she would wander from one end of the classroom to the other, distracting other kids. There wasn’t any physical segment to expanse the kid’s energy hence making sitting down throughout a little challenging. As such, she holds the title of an Indian chief and all other toddlers would follow suit. If i could, i would dig a hole and bury myself there and then. The teacher assured me that it wasn’t that she wasn’t paying attention but she was and that probably already knows her stuff! Wow! Are you serious? Do you mean I’ve got a genius here?

Fast forward several years later, after seeing how right brain training at Heguru is doing Small K good, I decided to let Big K have a go. Due to her long hiatus from such training, i decided to start slow and after speaking to Principal J, we decided that Big K should start at a Preschool 2 level. According to her academic age, she should be at the Primary level, but at Heguru, it really is about the process which they are trying to mould.

Details on Preschool 2 program

Duration: 90 minutes
Child's age: 5 to 6 years old
Number of classes: 42 per year

Highlights of this programme:
  • Enlarging the brain capacity and achieving connection between the left brain and the right brain.
  • Nurturing high-speed processing skills.
  • Nurturing the power of expression and ability of comprehension.
  • Promoting cooperation through group interaction activities.
  • Further development of the left brain and enhancement of right brain power through the use of prepared worksheets
This programme is designed to effect a superb balance between the right brain and the left brain. With lesson lasting 90minutes, it helps their concentration powers to flourish. Moreover, cultivation of the left brain will be at a higher level than in previous classes, so a foundation is built for the children to utilise when they become primary school pupils. This foundation is absolutely necessary to let their right brain bloom at primary school. 

Big K’s thoughts
The initial start was tough. It wasn't about the brain training but she hated the idea that she had to wake up early for a weekend class while her little brother got to spend time with me. Small K still had the luxury of going for a weekday class back then you see. In addition, she wasn’t used to the fast pace and the due to the small enclosure, she was a little disturbed by the voice of the trainer reverberating. It was thunderous as she put it. Coming from a very nurturing preschool, she was always pampered and wasn’t used to such settings. Welcome to the real world, baby! It is cruel and education in Singapore is rigorous.

A month into the lesson, she wasn’t complaining as much and would hurry me for class as the early birds got to sit on chairs and according to her, that cushioned the voice a little. I’m glad she figured a way out. Today, 4 months into the programme, she is looking forward to her lessons every week and would in fact ask incessantly if there was going to be lessons that week. It does help that now the little brother is also going for a weekend class at approximately the same time.

Right from Preschool 1, the children will be assigned homework. Yes, you heard me right. Homework! Students are given three booklets during lessons. One (Booklet C) to be used during class, another Booklet R, where the questions are more or less similar to those done in class to be used as revision, and lastly Booklet H which is the homework booklet to be handed in during the next lesson. At the beginning, Big K needed quite a bit of handholding. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy doing it. On the contrary, she looks forward to it and would badger me to let her do them over my ‘activities’. Ok Heguru, you win! However, there were a few visualising questions which were rather challenging and I had to make use of manipulatives to assist her.

Due to her prior training plus the games we play at home, she caught on rather quickly and right now, i simply assign her a few pages and she will do them all after school each day. Most of the time, she goes beyond and attempts more than required! This is such a motivation as it clearly shows that the child is enjoying every bit of it. It is with much regret that every week, we are only able to complete booklet H and not able to attempt booklet R which we should, for reinforcement. Should we still be in Preschool where time wasn’t so tight and there were minimal homework, we would probably do them all. 

Mummy’s thoughts
I love it! Anything right brain is fascinating for me right from the start! We all know that the brain is divided into the left and the right. The right brain is able to absorb, at high speed, large amount of information. At a Primary level, students will master Hado reading which works on instantaneous memorising. Sounds unbelievable i know! When I saw the promotional video, my mouth was agaped the whole time. I was in disbelief but it has been tested and proven! In Japan, where their headquarters are, if you read 10000 books a month, you will be able to join their Ichimankai club. With consistent training, students are able to draw out their inner genius and be in special education, top their class and pass entrance exams for Tokyo university which we know is quite a feat.

See below video and be enthralled:

I shan’t deny, I do harbour thoughts that one day, my children will reach this stage. Who doesn't want a bright child right? But i know it takes a lot of consistency and discipline to achieve. And sadly, given the current situation, my hands are pretty full. 

When i first saw the programme outline, i was ecstatic.

There were a lot of visualizing involved which is extremely apparent in today’s test papers. Here are some examples taken off 2017 Primary 6 Singapore Chinese Girls' School Math paper:

Education has evolved in such a way that questions are no longer expressed in a straightforward manner like in 1+1. Rather, it now involves a lot of higher order thinking from the child. Not easy. Not easy at all. Even for an adult, it isn’t easy. Students cannot learn such things through rote learning. You either ‘see’ it or you do not. With such exposure, I believe it will value add when the child is faced with, for example, Math questions on the topic of Circles where students have to use the cut and paste or overlapping method. Something which requires visualisation. Let’s not even go so far. At Primary one level, the Math syllabus includes shapes and patterns. The exposure from the various Heguru puzzles like the pelican puzzle, magic cubes, tangram and plate puzzles would definitely aid visualisation. 

An example of one of the puzzles used during lesson -- Magic Cubes

Another puzzle -- IORITA

The part which i particularly like is the energy in class. Students will participate enthusiastically, shouting out the answers the moment they have completed. The time limit for each activity is typically 60seconds. This is an excellent way to push my little one who, since young, has no sense of urgency and is way too meticulous for my liking. In other words, Slow. Why rush the child you ask? Well, if she keeps up with this nonchalant attitude thinking that she has all the time in the world and that the world will stop just for her, sorry baby, but you wouldn’t survive the vigorous system. This is especially apparent where students need to complete 30 question Math questions in 50 minutes in Paper 1 and 18 gruelling Math problem sums in 1h 40mins for Paper 2 during the Primary 6 examination. It not only tests on speed, but understanding and stamina. Society is cruel.

On average, each Heguru activity has to be completed within 60 seconds while in class. This trains the child on speed. It is not about getting the right answer but rather the process and the willingness to try. Big K has an avoidance issue. Whenever she isn’t confident of something, she will not attempt in front of you. Typical of most kids I think. That said, when you are not looking, she can be often seen practising hard, trying to perfect things. A perfectionist, this little one. Wonder where she gets this trait from. 😅🤔

On stamina. Children in general lose focus easily. I mean an exam paper is on average 2.5hours. Expecting them to sit down throughout and focus is really intense at a young age. They do not have stamina and some may be deemed as being ADHD etc. Society has coined so many new terms that for everything a child can or can’t do, there is a psychological explanation which i am honestly skeptical of. 

Kids are like animals and they can be trained. Likewise, for stamina, at Heguru, they train it through various activities. One of which are featured above.

I have recently attended their parent preview for the Primary Programme and am tremendously inspired and motivated that this is the right course for my children. However, the jump is rather huge for Primary as the class can hold up to 40 students. Imagine a huge class with everyone shouting the answer out in less than 60secs. Big K isn’t ready for that transition so her trainers and I have decided to go at her pace and for her to get accustomed to the preschool system first. To build her confidence and allow her to grow. Child-led — in line with my motto. 

In my next installment, i will share with you in more details, what are the various activities done at a Preschool 2 level. 
So stay tuned!

Do also follow Heguru Citysquare mall on Facebook or check out their website for more details. Do give them a buzz to book your slots or speak to their friendly trainers for further insights!

Disclosure: We were invited by Heguru CitySquare mall to review their courses and attended complimentary lessons in return. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services.

Big K goes Primary One

Monday, January 8, 2018

It is Week 2 of Primary One life and I finally found the compelling need to blog this milestone down. Yes, my firstborn is now in PRIMARY ONE! It has been quite an emotional ride with my eldest turning 6, with me throwing her an epic Alice in Wonderland party and then moving on to Primary school. While she has been very chirpy about the whole transition, mama here is feeling she is growing up too quickly. CUE: #Emo

She has learnt to tie her own laces! She was reluctant to learn back then. I didn't force her and she took it upon herself to self-learn. The making of a perfectionist indeed.

Our weekends now are extremely precious. It is an opportunity for us to catch up on revision as well as outdoor play. Not to mention more cuddles after sleeping in a little more. I have to up my game in the kitchen on weekends now given that what is served during recess isn't fantastically nutritious. Think: $1 pasta without ingredients. How to grow lydat?? It's going to be tougher contrary to what I've heard. Logistically, Big K goes to school in the morning whilst Small K goes to school in the afternoon. Thankfully, Dad is stepping in to assist a little on the pickups. Week 1 had been a killer for me. What with sending Big K to school and then coming home to bond with Small K, settling lunch and off we go to pick Big K up again before sending Small K to school. Then running errands with Big K in tow and finally picking Small K up! Life of an uber driver?

Ever since our return from our long holiday, we took opportunity of the jetlag situation and trained them to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. We succeeded. Only problem, Small K seemed to be the more excited one and had been waking up earlier than his sister. The other problem, he doesn't nap and is in the afternoon session! *face palm. Yes, it will of course be a better option for me to have him in the morning session so that logistics is in sync, but that would mean no quality spent with him. By the time I am home, it will be bedtime. I will not be able to hug and kiss him more. I will not be able to read him more stories. 

it has been a challenge to cook for only two!

I will not be able to cook for him and fatten him up. I just cannot. Letting Big K take the school bus isn't an option too as that will mean waking Small K up to escort Big K down. A problem if Small K is still sleeping. My kids have security issues. They need to see ME when they wake up. Plus, we are just 10 minutes away from school! Things generally are pretty manageable when the Mister is in town. Problem is, he isn't always around. I'm a veteran at #soloparenting remember?

The entire routine hasn't been well-received. Of all people, I'm probably feeling the most heat as I have never been a morning person. Not even when I was a student. Waking up at 6am is rendering me knackered by noon! No doubt, I seem to be able to complete more tasks in the morning, but I really need to keep up my stamina in order to survive the day of work. Ningxia had been a very big help here.

I need to replenish my stock!

It's Week 2 and the lethargy is rubbing off Big K. It had been quite difficult to wake her up for the last couple of days. Today, especially, was a pain. Literally. She woke up complaining of a headache. She had been having headaches ever since our trip. We were up in the skies for more than 6 hours and screen time was more than nap time. As such, upon touchdown, she vomited. I dismissed it as altitude sickness. Next, we went up the mountains to ski. We went round and round the windy road and upon arrival, again, she vomited. The next day when we were supposed to ski, she was pale. We dismissed it as motion sickness this round. Something which her mother, me, has it as well. It wasn't a surprise as this happened during our roadtrip last year. Peppermint oil seemed to work momentarily and once on ground level, she was fine. Jumping and having fun. We didn't think much until we came back to Singapore. Her giddy spells turned into headaches. Two attacks since school started. Too many for my comfort level. I had been wanting to bring her to the doctors but the hubs was vehemently against it. Questioning me why would I want to spend money for the doctor to tell me that it could be stress or Primary school jitters or that she isn't having enough sleep. The mil wasn't on my side too. She puts the blame on the fact that Big K's head had a "shock" due to the cold temperatures at where we were holidaying. We had her well covered and she did not have any sniffles whatsoever. 

Today was the last straw. 


Big K woke up complaining of a headache. To put things straight, she was dragged out of bed. She was reluctant to take her breakfast too. Hence we thought it could be that she wanted to escape the Monday Blues. But what does a 6 year old know? It could also be due to the fact that she cried a whole lot before bedtime the previous night. You see, the night before, I had gotten her to count her pocket money. I verbally asked her a few addition sums which she failed to answer. Seeing her wandering eyes on the tv screen, my pressure heightened. I told her she needed to do 10 questions before she was allowed to watch her favourite show. She was reluctant but relented. However, once again, the focus was not there as the eyes were roaming around. Papa saw and instructed -- NO TV FOR THE NIGHT. A good call by any judgement, but if you were in the court of kids, you will know this isn't the best as it is likely to trigger a tantrum. Indeed it did. That night, she wanted only me. She cried and I asked if it was because of no TV tonight. She replied "no mama, i am upset because i couldn't do those questions, all wrong". With that, I broke down too. I was too harsh on a highly emotional perfectionist. I had forgotten that she needed a lot of love and more importantly, I wasn't mindful enough and let my job hazard take the upper hand. This had been a topic covered in school hence I had my expectations. To say that one shouldn't and doesn't have expectations is a lie. No matter how small, it is an expectation and it is inherent. What's worse, this is a job hazard for me. Whether or not it was an excuse to escape from the blues, I will probably never know. It is a thin line as this age, they do know about deception. But I chose to believe my child. I brought her to the pd who suggested we monitor with some medication and referred us to a Neurologist whom we will see in 2 weeks. My heart is heavy now. Very heavy. 

Review: Jamming with Artgrain

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Big K has always been keen in art. Be it painting or drawing, she displayed an interest and talent ever since she was a toddler. We don't really have the luxury to go for regular art classes due to logistics and time but have been going to Artgrain for holiday workshops. We had been their paying customers since a year ago. Their array of workshops is really wide. Ranging from Food Art Design, Pixel Clay Structure, Fundamental drawing, pen drawing, Digital drawing to thematic drawing. There are so many workshops, it is sometimes very difficult to choose.

This round, we have been very honoured to be invited for their Frosty Christmas painting.

Teacher Wina started the lesson by showing Big K a series of Christmas / Winter scenes. 

They started strategizing various elements of winter. Big K brainstormed with Teacher Wina and came up with Snowman, Penguins, Santa, hut, snow, sleigh, Christmas tree, reindeer and bridge. She was asked which characters she wanted to incorporate into her painting.

With a step by step guidance, Big K was able to sketch out a Christmas scene. It wasn't all easy as her sense of proportion was still weak. The teacher had to start it off with the snowman for her and work from there. Can you spot Santa? 

A discussion on the colour scheme ensued. It was suggested to Big K to do a night scene with the Northern light illuminating the sky. I loved that idea and feel. Unfortunately, Big K opposed it vehemently, stating that it was scary looking. She insisted that her favourite colour purple was to be used for the sky. I was horrified! Purple? I held back my tongue as I didn't want to impede her creativity. Who is to say that an orange has to be orange in colour or an apple has to be red? 

Beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting. -- Winston Churchill

As she started painting the skies purple and pink, I couldn't help thinking how is this going to work out nicely? The blending was nice, but a purple and pink sky? Later on, Teacher Wina suggested adding orange and yellows and that magically translated the skies into a sunset scene! I was awed.


She was then taught how to add details to the various elements. When the teacher told her to use short strokes for the leaves, Big K immediately linked it to Claude Monet! Say who? I wouldn't have known about him if not for the Heguru lessons I have attended with Small K. Monet is an impressionist who has a thirst for natural lighting, hence the use of shadows and dark tonal shades. Hmmm...shadows? this looks kindof Monet doesn't it?

The teachers at Artgrain have a degree/ diploma in Art and above are some of the pieces the teachers have painted. WOW! I am inspired and so was Big K! It is said that art can benefit a child tremendously. It builds up the function of the right brain. Fostering creativity will not only up your child's chances of being the next Picasso, but also help him to develop mentally, socially and emotionally. Neural connections and fine motor skills are enhanced. If children are engaged in art, they learn better in all disciplines.

It took Big K three days of hard work and she finally completed the massive piece of canvas painting! The Santa and reindeer surprisingly took shape nicely. During the draft stage, I was wondering what mutated character that was. To a large extent, many centres will help the child significantly in perfecting their drawing or painting. However, I found that over here, the teacher encourages them to do it themselves by showing them how it should be done on a separate piece of paper. So all those blending and details that you see in the final product is done primarily by Big K! I think this girl has my genes and I am mighty proud of her!

Thank you Teacher Wina for being so patient with this girl who was a tad grouchy as she had to wake up earlier than usual. Something she just has to come to terms. Thank you for boosting her self-confidence. Big K was so proud of her works that she stood along a walkway of a mall and "showed off" her painting to the passing crowd! She is normally not so daring but I guess the pride in an artist gave her a booster. 

Artgrain is a studio which provides quality art education for children, youths and adults. ALL AGES! Perhaps one day, just one day, I might go try them out an rekindle the love for the arts. They run regular classes for preschoolers as well as adults. You may check out the deets over here or follow them on Facebook for more inspiration!

Disclaimer: We were given a complimentary workshop for the purpose of this review. No additional monetary compensation was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written to my experience in using the services.

Review: On to the next stage at Heguru

Sunday, December 10, 2017

In a matter of weeks, Small K will be embarking on a new journey with Heguru. As if having Big K en route to Primary school isn't emotional enough, now they are telling me that my younger baby is being promoted to the independent class! Meaning, mummy need not sit with him in class anymore! GASP! Cue: Cry. Time really needs to slow down!

Heguru has several classes:
1) Infant toddler class (for toddlers aged 6months to 3years old)
2) Preschool class (for children age above 4 years old)
3) Primary class (for 6 years old and above)
4) Hado reading (I will talk more when we get there)

This was my baby when he first started Heguru! OMG!!!! Where has this baby gone? I. just. cannot! The shirt is now a little tight and the pants a little short. The shoes can't fit him anymore and I am pretty sure his brain is expanding exponentially!

So Small K will turn 4 in 2018, hence he will move on to the preschool class. Heguru does not necessarily promote a child just because of his age. They do see if the child has made such a progression. For example, we had a classmate from China who just joined us and even though he is ready for the next stage, age wise, he will still remain in the infant toddler class for a term or two, lest the shock be too great for him. I appreciate this as I have seen certain enrichment centres who push the student up to the next level just because it is time. 

Small K has been attending Heguru on a weekly basis for about 1.5years now, below are some things which I have noted of his progress:

1) Flashcards
At the very beginning, he wasn't too keen in flashcards. He fidgeted a bit. I was a little worried but the instructor assured me that sometimes it may be because the child already knows the topic hence is reacting this way. Give them some time and they will be all good. So each time the segment Super Flash came along, I bounced him on my lap, in sync with the rhythm. This worked! He thought it was fun! Now, I no longer need to bounce him. At a young age, the child lacks discipline hence it is up to the parent to instil it into the child. That is also the reason why the infant toddler class is an accompanied one. So that parents can go home and practise what they have learnt in class with the child. Once they are used to the system and routine of things, everything will fall in place and they are better equipped to enter the preschool classes. At home, Small K used to run away each time I ask him to do an activity. However, these days, he is able to sit through. Especially if the sister is also doing "homework" for me. Many mummies have shared that it is a boy thing. That they will run around and not sit still. However, I hope that Heguru can "tame" him. 

2) Memory
This is one aspect where I think Small K has shown significant progress! Linking memory together with peg memory are primarily the segments to train children's memory. For linking memory, the instructor will place a series of picture cards and narrate a silly story to link them up. Each child is also then given three cards to make a story with. Small K now not only is able to shout (ok, say) out the three cards that he has (without prompting), he is also able to verbalise some other cards in the story. I believe he remembers more than he says. His memory is also evident in our everyday life and I find his observation skills excellent, probably due to the fast pace of the class.

3) Number memory
I had been trying to get him to remember the last number of each line. So far, he is able to. However, there were several times when he refused to cooporate and help me with memorising the numbers. Hence, I had to rely on my old brain! There were many occasions where he was also able to remember more than one numbers. This further validates that his memory is developing very well. 

4) Dot bar 
The dot bar system is essentially teaching little children addition and subtraction. All this while, I have been going through the motion of repeating after the instructor. Never had I expected that one day, Small K decided to shout out the answer to 3+1! A simple sum to most but for a 3 year old, I think it is quite a feat. To be honest, even though I do activities at home with him, they are mostly fun stuff. I do try to incorporate elements of Math, English, Chinese and Science however, being a second born, he is often shortchanged. Mostly, I would pass him a tub of playdoh and he would be entertained for minutes. So when he was able to shout out the answer whenever the instructor says out the equation, I was impressed. It all came naturally. 

5) Abacus training
I noted his interest in this gadget when he was playing with a smaller abacus at the play area. While other children were busy with train tracks, this boy took more interest in pretend play and the abacus. I didn't think much of it but took out the abacus we had bought some time ago. I left it aside and one day, I heard Small K reciting the 10 times table! 10, 20, 30, 40..... Towards the end he was a little shaky, but this is still a moment to celebrate! 

6) Mandala
Mandala is an activity where the child is given a few seconds to view an image filled with colours and then mark down the colours on their empty set. Most of the time, this activity is done by the adult. And even for an adult, it is challenging! Of late, Small K was able to independently mark down some colours accurately! Albeit a little slow (we are only given a few seconds to do that), it is progress nonetheless. Hopefully when he progresses to Preschool class, he is able to work faster with peer pressure.

7) Dancing & Singing
Ok, this is definitely lacking in Small K. I'm not sure why, but it is difficult to cajole him for a dance! He can be dancing and singing non stop at home but somehow at Heguru and school, he is hesitant. Not that he doesn't enjoy. You can see the twinkle in his eye. He really wants to do it and join in the fun, but somehow, he still has his reservations. Slow and steady baby, mommy isn't expecting you to be a dancer anyways. 

8) ESP 
This is a pretty bizarre segment which I was skeptical of at the beginning. How is a child be able to see through a card and guess what is the picture behind it? How is a child be able to know what I am thinking of? Apparently I have heard several success stories and it is beginning to show for Small K. I honestly don't think getting an answer right 8 out of 10 times is attributed to purely luck. You can't be that lucky all the time right? At times, the moments when he got the answer wrong is because he was choosing the picture he likes rather than what he "sees".

9) Iorita & Tangrams
This must be Small K's forte. He does it with ease, using both his left and right hand. Apparently, we should be encouraging that as it is working the left and right brain. An important skill for future learnings. Many a times, even though it isn't a competition, Small K would finish the task first! So proud of my baby!

It is interesting to note that Heguru gives a 5 minute debrief to parents after class. They will suggest various activities for parents to practise at home with the child. They also put up the list of things they aim to do on a monthly basis. Things are very transparent and I feel as a parent it's important to know how to help our child further.

Below is a video summary of some of the activities done during lesson. There are more, but it's so fast, I couldn't record all down! 

Many a times, I am hit by mummy guilt for leaving my secondborn to his own devices. I do not teach him his ABCS as much and am not even as hardworking in the areas of homelearning as compared to the times when I only had one child. It is tough to juggle especially with work. The late nights sucks me dry. So much so, I will always simply throw him a piece of paper and pencil for him to doodle. And we have to balance it with outdoor play as well! But he surprises me every single day. Hence, I am really thankful for the exposure Heguru has given Small K. Given the lack of supervision from me, it seems that his outputs are primarily due to Heguru and school. 

A more recent photo of my baby and Teacher Mandy, who is always so cheerful and patient! Look how much he has grown! *emo again.
There are going to be slight changes from the toddler class to Preschool 1 class. For one, the duration will be slightly longer. From 50 minutes to 70 minutes. I do not think this will be an issue since he is often engaged during the lesson. He will start to be more independent and do more worksheets. Something which I like to instill lest he distracts his sister who is moving on to Primary school next year. I am sure going to miss accompanying him for lessons. I can't believe how fast my baby has grown. Let me bask in my emo state for a bit here. *sobs

To find out more about how Small K progresses at a preschool level, stay tuned in 2018! Do also follow Heguru Citysquare mall on Facebook or check out their website for more details. They are now opened for registration for 2018, so do give them a buzz to book your slots!

Disclosure: We were invited by Heguru CitySquare mall to review their courses and attended complimentary lessons in return. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services.

Review: Cognitive Whizz Science Escapade

Monday, December 4, 2017

Big K has been complaining that mama here doesn't do Science with her. Truth be told, we do, but on an ad hoc basis and she basically doesn't know that is Science. More importantly, we seldom go beyond the usual baking powder and vinegar experiment. Oops. When we were invited for this holiday Science Escapade by Cognitive Whizz, I was thrilled as she would have an opportunity to conduct experiments without messing up my house. 


It was a morning camp and it was quite tough getting Big K in the mood initially as she doesn't wake up early. (good luck to me next year!) During the ice-breaker session where children were supposed to introduce themselves, Big K was huddling with a teacher in a corner. I was worried that Science may not be her cup of tea. Next, I flipped through the worksheet and was stunned! JAW-DROPPING to be honest. The topics which were going to be covered were electricity, centre of gravity, surface tension, protons and neutrons just to name a few. Would these 4 to 8 year olds understand? How are they going to communicate such big topics to these little children?

At the start of each day, our facilitator, Denise flipped flashcards on emotions. It isn't your usual happy, sad, angry and sad. To expand the little sponges' vocabulary, they covered words like ecstatic, downhearted, alarmed and jealous. After which, they asked students to describe their feelings and to give a reason. Surprisingly, many students were able to quote a suitable example to match their feelings. I was convinced then that it is never too young to beef up a child's vocabulary. These days, with creative writing being more creative, one way to score is to use a variety of words and work on your sentence construction. 


A story on Cinderella followed suit. At this point, I was wondering if I was in a Science or English lesson. In actual fact, it was a clever use of Cinderella. They incorporated the feelings which were taught earlier eg. Cinderella was ecstatic when she learnt about the ball. She was however downhearted when her unkind stepmother did not allow her to go, despite how hard she works. Her stepsisters were jealous of her, as she was very attractive. When she finally got to go to the ball, and met the prince, she was ecstatic and got carried away. She was alarmed when the clock struck 12. By incorporating the words into the story, it makes it more interesting and imprinted it into the children's minds. To make it less dry, they included a role-play section where students acted out the story. Many volunteered to be Cinderella and no one wanted to be the stepmother. A student donned on a Cinderella costume and started pretending to sweep and mop the floor whilst wearing a beautiful light up shoe. Now, this was a clever move as the lesson was about electricity! To introduce the concept, the little children were told that they were going to be transformed into little fairy Godmothers, each holding a colourful wand, saying the magic word out loud "Static electricity! Static electricity!" 
Such a clever way to engage students!

Following that, some experiments were conducted. Cinderella was exhausted after all the chores and she found a rainbow duster which cheered her up! She became downhearted when she realized that the duster was unable to trap the tinsel. The children were asked to think of solutions but they couldn't. Finally the teacher revealed that if the children rubbed the tinsel with cloth, the action actually got the tinsel to attract to the static duster! That got all the children excited!
To further excite the little ones, the children were asked to rub the balloons on their hair to create a new hairstyle for themselves! The underlying principle was that when the atom has the same number of protons and electrons, the atom is neutral ie. no charge. Rubbing causes friction and enables the electrons to be transferred. When there is an imbalance of protons and electrons, the atom is 'charged'. When the balloon was rubbed on the head, electrons moved from the head to the balloon. They piled up on the side of the balloon near the hair. The hair has not less electrons (-) and more protons (+), hence is positively charged! WOW! What a mouthful right? If these children were simply told of the facts, I doubt they would understand. Hence, the team illustrated the concept through visual representation. They had 3 teachers standing inside a hula hoop (nucleus), pretending to be protons. Another 3 teachers were the electrons moving around the nucleus (containing the protons). They represent the atom of a hair. Similarly, there were 3 students standing within a hula hoop, pretending to be protons of a balloon and another, moving around the nucleus, pretending to be the electrons of a balloon. As the balloon is rubbed on the hair, one of the electrons (a teacher) moved to the balloon, now the number of protons and electrons are not balanced anymore. The balloon has more electrons and the hair less electrons. Both atoms now have opposite charges and will attract! To illustrate this, the teachers and children hugged one another!

Experiment number 3: 
Picking styrofoam beads with hands!

Oh no! Someone spilled the styrofoam beads! They were scattered all over! How can the children help Cinderella to clean up?
Answer: Applying the concept of electron flow, the children were able to show the teachers how the beads got attracted and stayed on their hands!
Sensory + Science! SCORE!

So why should children this age learn about protons and neutrons if they can't apply? Well, the do! Think of lightning! It is due to charges being build up at the clouds. As the negative charges in the cloud build up, they get attracted to the positive charges on the ground. Lightning strikes when the negative charge from the cloud connects with the positive charge on the ground! See Application!

Next, Current Electricity was introduced to the children. They were told that "static" means not moving and when the electrons moved around, there is current electricity.

The children had a visual of it through the energy stick. When the children placed both their hands on the stick (depicting a closed circuit), it sounded like an alarm. It stopped sounding when only one hand is placed. To further demonstrate, the children started holding hands to form a closed circuit with the energy stick. They realised that when any child stopped holding hands, the circuit is broken and the alarm stopped sounding. They were further told about what a good conductor and insulator is. The children tried holding another child's clothes instead of hands, and the stick stopped sounding. Hence they discovered that electricity cannot flow through the cloth. The children were given a chance to predict which other objects allow electricity to pass through, then validated their predictions with the energy stick. They realised that the stick only sounded with metals while non-metals typically do not allow electricity to pass through. This is certain a very fun way of communicating the concept to a little child. A concept which they can apply to their daily lives and they may better understand why they shouldn't touch a switch with their wet hands.

Lastly, they applied their knowledge of close circuit and conductors to build a robot cleaner for Cinderella! I was pleasantly surprised that Big K was asking questions and trying to fix up the robot on her own. In the past, she often rely on others to do it for her, refusing to try. However, perhaps due to peer pressure (and the fact that mummy wasn't around), she tried. 


The day started with a recap of the words the children were taught the day before. The word ecstatic seemed to be etched deeply in their minds. Denise continued to input new words to describe their emotions and that followed by a story of The Animal Singers of Bremen. 

The focus of day two was on the concept of centre of gravity. Students were asked where their centre of gravity was. Big K definitely caught on this concept fast because when we went home that night, she was demonstrating what she learnt to me. I thought that was a one off, but a few days later, when her papa brought her to a playground to climb a wall, she couldn't balance and told the father ," papa, my centre of gravity has been shifted so I am falling. But don't worry, i will keep trying because nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it". I kid you not! Those were the exact words coming from my 6 year old. I was touched beyond words! All my teachings hadn't gone to waste!

Experiment: Making a Stuntsman

The children were shown a paper tightrope walker. It was unable to balance itself across the rope. How can the children help him?

There were many excellent suggestions from the children, applying and validating the concepts they just learnt. One child said "because his centre of gravity is low now"! Kids really learn so fast these days! I am impressed!

The children also tried balancing a can on the table! Big K came home asking me for empty cans and was so enthusiastic to show me what she had learnt.

For some hands-on activities, children got to make their own rolly pollies. They were asked what makes a Rolly Polly so stable that it can never fall! The children got to dismantle the Rolly Polly and discover the answers for themselves.
Other concepts introduced were forces and inertia. To help reinforce, the children had to gesture that a force is a push (move backwards) or a pull (move forward). Big K came home doing this with her little brother.

Once again, I was initially skeptical as to why my child should be taught such bombastic concepts, however upon deeper analysis, concepts like centre of gravity and inertia is applicable to our daily lives. Like when we are at the swimming pool, we could remind our children not to lean over the pool and ask them what happens to their centre of gravity when they do so. As for inertia, it is all around too! Everything around us are stationary. Once they start moving, a force needs to stop them.  WHen the child is able to see all these connections, they will appreciate their environment better, and nurture their passion in learning!


The lesson opened with a story on The Dreamy Milkmaid and as usual, Denise cleverly related the emotions to the characters of the story. 

It was shared that milk contains mostly water and some fats, proteins and sugar present in milk as molecules. The milk molecules at the surface are holding on to one another tightly. They do not want to separate. Children were engaged in various experiments which demonstrated surface tension. One of which was to add dish soap to a bowl of milk which had colours in it. The swirling of colours showed the movement of dish soap rapidly surrounding and trapping the fat. It was reinforced with the children that milk contains a lot of fats, making their cups and bottles oily. Hence, we need dish soap to wash these dirty cups and bottles.

More experiments were conducted to help children reinforce the concept of surface tension. For instance, getting the children to predict, then count the number of water droplets a coin can hold, and how surface tension can help dense objects float.

Once again, this can be applicable to our daily lives: Pond skaters and water striders are able to walk across ponds, by resting their feet on the "skin" of the water surface. Ok, looks like we need to visit some pond soon!

Transforming milk into curd and whey!

I think this is really cool. The children were showed what will happen in their stomach when fruits are taken in with milk.  First, the children had to smell vinegar (sensory), all of them do not like the smell! Then the milk and vinegar were mixed and heated. The children observed that the milk curdled, I.e. lumps started forming when mixed with vinegar, and upon heating, some shared it smelled like cheese or vomit! 

A strainer was used to filter off the solid lumps (curd) from the liquid (whey). The children were encouraged to feel the lumps and they all enjoyed it saying it felt like playdoh.

The clumps of curd contain casein, a milk protein. Of course the word 'casein' wasn't introduced to the children. It would have been too much. Milk is transformed into curd and whey when mixed with acid as protein in the milk does not mix with the acid. The curd can be moulded like plastic. 

Transforming milk protein (casein) into glue!

Add baking soda to the curd, it neutralizes the acid! Some bubbles may form - these are bubbles of carbon dioxide. AHHHHH something we are familiar with!! However, we didn't know that this could actually stick papers together. Nice discovery for Big K and I.


Big K shared with me that this was the most exciting day for her. Because, the story of FROZEN was read to her! All the words learnt during the course of this Science escapade were incorporated into the story. There was even a twist in the story hence the children were all intrigued.

The children were reminded that everything around us are made up of atoms. Atoms combine to form molecules. They were showed (both 2D and 3D) that 2 oxygen atoms combine to form an oxygen molecule. 2 Hydrogen and 1 Oxygen atom combine to form a water molecule. When long chain of molecules with complex structures combine, they form polymers.

Highlight of the day: they were showed how snow polymers look like, and that the snow polymers were very thirsty! The children were asked what would happen if we feed the snow polymers with water. Most shared that it will become a snowball! Some children asked how to get the water out after that! Curiosity had peaked!

So they progressed to make snowballs. 2 scoops of snow polymer were added and the children were awed to watch the polymer immediately balloon up! They all got excited feeling fake snow. Some said it felt cold and squishy and some said it felt like slime! What happened was that the water molecules travelled from outside the polymer to the inside, making it swell. This is a fantastic sensory opportunity for children.

It was later revealed that the snow polymer is akin to the absorbent polymers found in diapers! The children were amazed but were able to connect that their pee was being absorbed in a similar way. 

Experiment: Power of Salt Water

Some children asked earlier how to get the water from the expanded snow polymers out again. They asked the children what if salt water is now added. Will the expanded snow polymers "drink up" the salt water too?

Some salt water were added to the expanded snow polymers and the water inside flowed out! This was actually to demonstrate the concept of OSMOSIS! Another big concept for a child but look how the facilitators were able to slowly weave it in without making it overwhelming. 

It was quite a surprise how huge concepts were communicated to children aged 4 to 8. Cognitive Whizz made use of visual representations and multi-sensory experiments as well as games to engage the children.  I was very appreciative that a debrief was given after every session. We as parents should follow up to make it more fruitful. Also, Denise went an extra mile to text us the various concepts learnt after everyday. It was extremely detailed. Big K was said to be actively participating after day 1, shouting out the answers and participating keenly during the quiz. In fact, she came out proudly, announcing that she won herself a bar of chocolate! Proud of you, my baby! While I noted that some children were tired towards the end of the lesson (probably because of the influx of information), most children were bubbling with energy. Too much of it, like electrons in fact, which explained why they needed 7 teachers to control the crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday workshop and believe the children had a good time too! 

Cognitive Whizz believes in engaging young children in holistic joyful learning, to stimulate inquisitive minds and maximize their learning capacities. It is their belief (and mine) that parents are children's best teachers. Regular parent-child bonding is the key enabler for a complete metamorphosis to take place. Children are born inquisitive, and love to explore the world. Cognitive Whizz seeks to satisfy their learning desires, with visually appealing and information-rich education resources, and interactive holistic learning programs. 

A Science Escapade is professionally developed as an immersive, research-based programme. Children are encouraged to explore and inquire in a nurturing environment; hypothesize, observe then evaluate data to form their own conclusions. This helps to inculcate in the young children an inquiry mindset that will prepare them for success in life.

For more information, check out their facebook page here for more of their workshops! You may also contact 90097086 or email info@cognitivewhizz.com to find out more!

Keen to expose your children to intriguing Science concepts through holistic joyful learning, quote MMM20 for a $20 discount off the next Science Escapade in June 2018! Never too early to plan!

Disclaimer: We were invited to a 4Day holiday workshop for this review. In accordance to the company's wishes, the answers to certain questions were removed. The results for each student is subjective. No additional monetary compensation was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services.