Review: Activities at Heguru and how to conduct home practice

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Did you know that to encourage creativity in children, you could draw with your eyes closed/ draw with your non-dormant hand/ encourage your child to be bored/ daydream/ engage in word games? Well, those sound simple enough but to go a step further and to stretch that right brain, we have been attending Heguru at Citysquare mall. A centre which encourages right brain training. I believe through such training, I am igniting creativity which will be useful in his future. Right brain education opens neural pathways and it is best to be completed by age ten. Through this programme, I am not hoping that my child will become an overnight genius but the constant inputting will enable him to absorb new information quickly and easily. This has been quite apparent from my observation of Small K who is like a sponge! During each lesson, there would be over 30 activities done. Excellent deal to condense the week's worth of learning into just one lesson isn't it? Something which, if left to me, would not have been achieved in a mere 1 hour. I will be sharing with you the activities in two parts. There are simply too many to squeeze into one post! I will also share with you how we DIY at home to complement our right brain training. After all, the child would benefit more if we are able to follow through with home practice. So without further ado, here are some of the activities: 

1) Math
What's included: Abacus; Dots Programme; Multiplication table; Addition Table; Dot Bar; Nummer Kaisten; Number memorisation; Perfect Intuition 

The Dots programme introduces the concept of quantity and sequencing. We are familiar with some aspects of this. The Dots programme is very much similar with The Shichida 63 Dots programme and the Doman Method of teaching Math. They all have the same rationale which is that it is to help he child in mental calculation using dot imaging or intuition. Back when Big K was about 3yo, I had used this method and was pleasantly surprised by its results. We are able to conduct this training at home back then using pre-packed cards and was supposed to do it every single day without fail. However, as a busy mom, most would know that this isn't possible and we would end up missing some days. Hence, I am really thankful that the dot programme is included in Heguru and that Small K is able to benefit from it. 

The Dot Bar is another aspect of Heguru which is unique. This is used to complement the Dots programme. Each time, the trainer would demonstrate a few concepts like addition and subtraction using grids and dots. As we are in the toddler class, typically a 3 by 3 grid or a 5 by 5 grid would be used. 

I managed to DIY something similar at home using a magnetic board and round magnets bought from Daiso. 

The Nummer Kaisten is an in-house manipulative which allows children to learn mental arithmetic in a visual way. Concepts of addition and subtraction is demonstrated here.

Abacus training is used at almost every lesson. At this stage, the giant abacus is used to teach the child how to count. From counting in ones, to counting in tens, the abacus is a great tool to capture attention. In fact, Small K loves it so much that I frequently caught him "teaching himself" using the small abacus we have at home!

Number memorisation
At the very beginning, this is my most hated activity. Yup! You heard right! I actually dislike something in the class! Why? Because sleep-deprived mommy here has to be attentive and try her best to memorise a string of numbers in a mere few seconds! I found it really tough to recall a long string of numbers, but strangely, after a few terms of training, I actually found myself pretty good at it! Acing it most of the time! So how is the child involved for this activity you ask? We basically have to whisper the number to the child. In time to come, the child will use his peg memory (which will be discussed later) concept to link up with the numbers and be able to recite them out. For now, Small K has wowed me by being able to say out the last digit once in a while. He isn't able to write out the numbers as yet, but I think to be able to say out the last digit, whether it is by a stroke of luck or not, is amazing!

Apart from the above, Heguru also strives to introduce concepts like mass, volume and density through interesting experiments. At a young age, children are inclined to learn visually, hence, such presentation of concepts will benefit the child tremendously.

2) Flash cards

Super Flash
Young children have a natural love for learning and they absorb like sponges. This is why over at Heguru, there is a segment called Super Flash. This comprises of more than 15 themes each time. Don't ask me for exact figures, because things happen so quickly, I can barely keep up! This works out to approximately over 400 cards flashed each time! Some examples of the themes include: amphibians, hazard symbols, flower arrangement tools, flags, types of dresses, types of chairs, Numbers 1-10 in Hungarian; types of burrowing animals; bones and so on. I am a strong believer in this and have a great volume stashed in my cupboard. Mostly were homemade by yours truly back in those days when I only had one child. They really aren't that difficult to make. We just need time. These days with the advent of technology, I can even do them on my iPhone! Once home, all I need to do is to proofread and send to print. The painful part is cutting them into A5 size which even then, isn't too big a deal with a cutter. 

So what are the benefits of Super Flash? 
  • For starters, it is great to input as much information to the child. Even if it seems too advanced at this moment. In the future, when he/ she does touch on this topic, it will somehow be easier. 
  • High speed flashing of cards activates the right brain, needless to say and will develop the child's photographic memory function. This is especially important before the age of 6, after which, right brain development will see a dip. The cards are all picture cards and as far as possible, they try to use real life images. Names of the pictures are verbalised at the same time, hence helping to create a connection between both the right and the left brain. The left brain would process language whilst the right processes images. Don't worry if the child is not paying attention. Take a break. Even if he is moving around, he is absorbing. The strange thing for Small K is that he sits attentively at Heguru, whilst at home, he is always monkeying around! 
How to DIY?
  • Decide on a topic and start googling for pictures. Have them printed out on A5 cards, preferably of 300gsm. The words should be printed behind so as to facilitate flashing. I used to laminate my cards (adding to the time and cost), however, I realised that if I use a thicker cardstock, it would go a long way too. Furthermore, by laminating, at certain angles, there may be reflection which may not be good for the child's eyes.
  • To flash, one needs to be fast. The teachers over at Heguru are all professionally trained and examined. 1 second per card is preferred.
  • As many topics are to be covered each time and the same topic should not be repeated twice at a time. It can however be repeated on a daily basis, but to prevent memorisation, the cards should be shuffled and changed after 1 to 2 weeks.

Apart from Super Flash, flashcards are also used to teach words in both Chinese and English. There is also a segment called the Encyclopaedic Baby Programme where flashcards are used to teach things like ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd)  This is complemented with songs and manipulatives used by the assistant teacher. 

3) Photographic memory
Linking Memory; Peg Memory; Chic Chak Time; Spatial Memory; Mandala

Once a child enters Primary school, it is a constant challenge to cramp as much information as possible, in the shortest possible time. Therefore, it would be great if the child is equipped with techniques which will help him in memorisation.

Peg Memory
This is a system of associating numbers to images. For example:
71 - Nun
72 - Shampoo
73 - Cemetery
74 - Store
75 - Housewife
For a few weeks, the child will be taught ten peg numbers before moving on to the next ten. In order to help the child with recollection, a silly story is made. For example: I saw a nun put shampoo on her hair at the cemetery.

Below is how we DIY. I managed to find a printable over at mummyshymz. I have yet to complete cutting as you can see, but we'll get there!

Linking Memory
This is more random. Picture cards are presented and the trainer would narrate a story to connect the pictures. This is a method which even the cave men used! The story doesn't have to make sense. In fact, the more ridiculous the better it is. Put things in unbalanced positions and don't be afraid to make things do what they don't usually do, e.g. A pig flying over the sea. The class would then each use 3 cards to form a story. You can't expect to develop an extraordinary memory overnight, but by learning useful techniques and learning them periodically, one can be more proficient in it. 
The key to linking memory is to use your IMAGINATION and PRACTISE!

Below is what we use at home to aid linking memory:
photo credit:

While most of the time in class, it is the me who is doing all the memorising and Small K is the one who is doodling, it is it is great that he is participating. In fact, when practising at home with fewer colours, he is mostly able to get them right most of the time!

At home, using the Everyday Mandala for Children series

This activity can be done on the go too! While I don't advocate too much screen time, I do allow the kids to have a bit of exposure on weekends. So, rather than watching senseless cartoons, this, is a great alternative! Some apps to consider:

4) Physical Activities 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Heguru recognises that children need to let their energy loose. At around midway through the lesson, we will go out for some physical activities. These activities varies but the overall aim is to train the child's gross motor skills. This is vital for the child's development and lays the foundation for a healthy life. Physical activities establish connection between different parts of the brain. Whenever Small K hears the song to indicate the start of physical activities, he would be like a horse losing his reins and charge towards the door.

5) Puzzles
Iroita; Tangram

This is a favourite with Small K! Puzzles are great for cognitive development. When the eye sees the puzzle, it sends images to the brain which envisions and translate to the hand. The hand will then manipulate and get the right piece to fit. Both Iroita and tangram are pretty much the same which works on shape recognition. This is an important part of a toddler's development. Order of recognition for children includes:
  1. Colours
  2. Shapes
  3. Sizes
  4. Numbers
  5. Amount/ Quantity
  6. Spatial recognition
  7. Comparison
  8. Order
  9. Time 
  10. Money

Thrifty me wanted to replicate something similar and I did! All for a mere $8 vs a retail price of $49.90 (jaw dropped)! All materials obtained from Daiso. Am mighty proud of myself!

I am really impressed that Small K is able to identify and fit the shapes in so accurately. I haven't quite taught him shapes officially so he definitely picked up this skill over at Heguru!

For any form of enrichment, I believe that it isn't overnight success which we would see. It's through constant drilling and hard work. Whilst hard work most of the time translates to mundane and boredom, I feel that right brain training at Heguru is really fun and keeps the kids and parents alike, on their toes. The fast pace of the lesson also ensures that the child would not be bored. I really love the vibe. In fact, most of the time, I might feel a little zombified prior to attending lesson, however, the moment I'm in the lesson, my adrenaline gets pumped. School in the 21st century is no longer the same. Right brain training starts young and dips when we enter Primary school as that is when left brain activities are predominant. Academic excellence is undeniable important and the paper-chase situation worldwide is real. Heguru Program, however, is not centrally focused on a repetition of academic specific practices for children. The real focus is the development of learning abilities in the children that they teach – fundamental concentration and endurance power, memory power, comprehension and application power amongst others. If a child is equipped with the right skill, he would find his learning curve a little less steep.  

In my next review, I will share with you other activities done at Heguru and also how you can conduct home practice. Stay tune!

Follow Heguru Citysquare mall on Facebook or check out their website or more details! They have regular parents info sessions, so do give them a buzz to catch a lesson preview! Also, Citysquare mall is having an education fair on 19th & 20th November 2016 during which Heguru would be one of the vendors participating. Do drop by to find out more about their courses!

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.