Ever wonder how mums do it all? Kids, chores, work, plus home learning – and more! We believe that having a “tribe” that shares the same beliefs helps – especially if they are good friends with similar values and at the same lifestage. We speak to 2Mamas4Kids and find out how these two Singaporean moms are going about pursuing home learning and spurring each other on through the years.
For both Mamas AND kids, 2Mamas4Kids has also compiled a list of resources and experiments to engage the young regarding the outbreak as well as reinforce good hygiene practices.
Interview with 2Mamas4Kids
Little Day Out: Please tell us more about yourselves and 2Mamas4Kids?
2Mamas4Kids: The Instagram handle 2Mamas4Kids is owned by Tiffany, a mom to two active children, Chloe, 5, and Joash, 3, and Sylvia, mom to witty Alison, 4. We first met in NAFA, when we were both studying Music.
Social media and work (we both used to teach in secondary schools) kept us connected over the years, and it was only when we both became parents, and realised how similar our parenting views and approaches were, that we started to reconnect as friends over our new roles as moms.
We started 2Mamas4Kids back in 2016 as a means for us to track and document the home learning activities we attempt with our children. We set it up together to be accountable to each other and to cheer each other on as we grow and learn on this crazy journey of motherhood.
Sylvia has been a stay-at-home-mom since her daughter was born, and Tiffany recently left her job to contribute more on the home front.
We love your passion for home-learning. Tell us how you do it, on top of chores, career, family life, caring for the kids?
We certainly don’t do all of what you listed, not at one go! There are days when our homes are a little messier. After all, we can only do so much with the finite amount of time and energy we have!
We are both really thankful to have very hands-on husbands who help out with housework, and also very supportive of our home learning plans for our children.
Be it trips to the nature reserves to hunt down the lighthouses in Singapore, buzzing through crowded Chinatown before Chinese New Year, or helping us make one too many trips to purchase materials for the activities, they are the reason why we can do what we plan to!
It helps too that 2mamas4kids has always been an avenue for us to be creative. We do not see it as work and we do not have targets we must meet. Conversely, we find it highly satisfying to research and plan learning activities our children will enjoy. That mindset gives us positive energy to fuel us on.
How have the home learning activities evolved according to the development of your children?
Some time early last year, we both agreed that we should steer clear from trying to do too many academic-driven activities at home. As educators ourselves, we believe it is more important for us to support our children as they learn in school, and supplement their academic learning based on the feedback we receive from our children’s school teachers.
Many of the activities we do at home now are largely literature-inspired, with lots of creative play and opportunities in the kitchen for our children to acquire and develop life skills so they can better appreciate the world we live in.
Most importantly, we want to make our home a positive and safe environment for children to ask questions, for them to know that mummy and daddy may not always have the answers to everything, and that we are always willing to explore and learn together as a family.
Now that your children are slightly older, what kind of activities do they prefer?
Open-ended play is always welcome at home. Sensory bins and playing with playdough, and more recently, slime, are top on our list all year round. Such play time allows them to build their own narrative, come up with their own rules, make believe and open up their creative minds.
During such play, we usually supervise and try not to interfere with what they are doing. That means we get some down time ourselves to clean the house, prepare dinner or just sit down for that cup of tea and watch them play. It’s very fascinating to watch!
Other open-ended toys we love include PlayMags (magnetic play tiles), LEGO and board games.
Apart from open-ended play, our home learning activities are often based on our children’s sensitive periods. Right now, Chloe (5) is into writing, Alison (4) is learning how to read, and Joash (3) loves matching and counting. This is probably influenced by what they have been learning in school, and we supplement their keenness to learn with fun activities at home.
Can you share with us some of your favourite home-learning activities?
It really depends on the learning theme for the month, but generally, our children will read books related to it play with a thematic playdough setup, explore a themed sensory bin and get involved in the kitchen.
For example, for month of January, both families read a lot about Chinese New Year celebrations had two playdough set ups related to the festive celebration. Tiffany put together a dumpling pompoms sensory bin. Sylvia got her daughter to help fry some niangaoand make dumplings, while Tiffany’s family made dumpling soup on the 15th day of Chinese New Year.
What advice do you have for busy parents regarding home learning?
Firstly, start small.
It can be rather overwhelming to kick start homelearning with a thematic learning that covers all the domains of learning. We have to remember that we are not running a school. Begin with one area that you would like to support in your child’s learning. – it can be an area of strength or area for improvement, observe how your child responds to your planned activity and decide what you should do more/less of.
If child cannot sit still at the desk for paper and pen activities, parent should consider adapting learning activities that require the whole body, bring learning outdoors. Does your child love building blocks? Use them in learning activities! Be sensitive to their interests and work with them. A child who is keen to learn, learns better!
Secondly, make learning authentic and relevant.
Both of us try to follow the calendar as we plan our monthly learning themes. For example, we have just done the thematic study on Chinese New Year. With the Coronavirus outbreak affecting the children’s school routines (eg, no more assemblies and excursions for now), we started introducing some simple activities to learn about germs and viruses. Come August we will definitely be doing a theme on Singapore. Working along current affairs and the festivities on the calendar taps on the natural curiosity of every child to want to learn more about the world the live in.
Lastly, if time is not on your side and you do not have time to work on activities, read with your children! Bond over stories, learning about the world together, immerse yourself into their world of imagination!
We really appreciate the recent posts on teaching the children about hygiene, germs, viruses through literature, life skills and experiments! Could you share some of your favourite resources and where to find them?
Always use facts and reliable sources such as newspaper articles, official infographics e.g. from Ministry of Health or World Health Organisation. Resources that Tiffany used are compiled and made available here.
One of our favourite books on germs is “What are germs” by Katie Daynes. Our local libraries also carry quite a number of books about maintaining personal hygiene. As for learning activities, we often get our inspiration from other educators and parents who actively share their learning activities on social media. We do come up with new activities on our own too and share them with our Instagram community. There is so much we can learn from each other!
Has the coronavirus outbreak changed your habits and lifestyle?
Our regular activities generally still go on as usual. Visits to parks and playgrounds to clock outdoor hours for the kids still go on.
We do think twice now before heading to crowded spots – we missed visiting the River Hongbao this year. We do hope to be able to catch Chingay next year! We are definitely more diligent in maintaining personal hygiene: more frequent washing of hands especially upon returning from school and outside. We also take this opportunity to encourage the family to eat more fruits and vegetables to increase our vitamin intake and keep ourselves healthy.
Thank you, 2Mamas4Kids!
Thank you for sharing, Sylvia and Tiffany! We love how your friendship and home learning effort has also inspired many others to conduct the activities at home. For more on 2Mamas4Kids, head to their Instagram page.