The New Age Parents Jun Jul 2016

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JUN / JUL 16



Play Special WHAT’S NEW THIS JUNE 6 events not to miss!

How to engage in meaningful conversations with your child: 5 simple ways

GET YOUR PLAY ON Why play isn’t a waste of time PLAYING IT SAFE Why children need exploratory play HABITUALLY HAPPY: Cultivating habits of happiness in our children

table of contents


CONTENTS 04 Editorial Note 06 Pregnancy Signs of Miscarriage

08 Health

My Baby’s Vaccination Shots

10 Dental

Brushing Baby’s Teeth

12 Growing up

Not Just Small Talk From English to Chinese: Making the Switch

16 Heguru Special Oh Happy Heguru Days!

20 Play Special

Playing It Safe Get Your Play On What’s New This June

30 The New Age Parents Coverpage Contest

32 Special Needs

Can Children With Special Needs Play Like Other Kids Too?


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36 Father’s Day Special Forget-Dad-Not

38 For Parents

Habitually Happy: Cultivating Habits Of Happiness In Our Children

editorial note

YAY TO PLAY During the June break, my mother would take time off from work to bring me and my siblings out. Whether it was a trip to Sentosa, cycling at East Coast Park, or a meet and greet session with our favourite cartoon characters at a mall, I can recall those memories vividly not only because I had so much fun, but also because it was time spent with my family. This June, we want to encourage parents to discover the truth about play. There are over 50 fringe activities happening in this island, but we singled out these 6 events in our feature What’s New This June. How can we find the right balance between the freedom to explore and ensuring our child’s safety? Hear more from our expert in Playing It Safe. Play isn’t a waste of time. If you aren’t convinced, read about the benefits of play in Get Your Play On and how play creates learning opportunities beyond the walls of the classroom. What about children with special needs? Can they play like their ablebodied and normal peers too? They certainly can and need to play as well. Our expert sheds more light on this in Can children with special needs play like other kids too? I hope this issue will inspire you to spend more time to play with your child, not just during this June break, but throughout the year too! Better yet, why not combine your Father’s Day celebration with your June holiday activities? To all fathers and grandfathers, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day. To all parents, I say, ‘Play hard and play on’! My best,

Editorial Team EDITOR Michelle Ang WRITER Dorothea Chow CONTRIBUTORS Michelle Hon, Gan Hui Ning, Nicolette Abigail Yeo Wei Ling, Priscilla Tan Yan Ying, Cindy Peck Xin Ying, Lim Shi Rui & Lin Yanjiao

Art & Design ART DIRECTOR Michelle Ang COVERPAGE MODEL Kenji Kobayashi PHOTOGRAPHY Yew Kwang from Photography By Yew Kwang

Marketing & Advertising MARKETING HEAD AND ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Elaine Lau For advertising enquiries, email us at

Web Administration WEB DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Seow Poh Heng

If you wish to contribute to the magazine, email us at For past issues, go to

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While every care is taken in the production of the magazine, the publisher, editor and its team assume no responsibility for any inaccuracies and omission, which might arise. Opinions by the contributors and advertisers are not necessarily those of the publisher and the editor. The articles in the magazine are for references only. If you have any queries on any health condition for you and your child, you should seek professional medical advice.

OBSTETRICS & GYNAECOLOGY Dr Ting Hua Sieng is an Obstetrics & Gynaecology specialist at The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre (TOGC), a Singapore Medical Group clinic. She is one of the few gynae-laparoscopic surgeons in Singapore to be accredited with Level II and III Minimally-Invasive Surgery (key-hole surgery), accredited by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore.

PAEDIATRIC MEDICINE Dr Christina Low is the Medical Director at Lifescan Medical Centre, a subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group. An experienced physician in health screening and general medicine, Dr Low believes that the lack of understanding and fear can be hazardous to your health. She strongly advocates for her patients to take charge of their own health with the first step of health screening.

DENTISTRY Dr Stephanie Yap is a Dental Surgeon at The Dental Studio, a Singapore Medical Group (SMG) clinic. Dr Yap is an experienced dental surgeon, specialised in all aspects of general dentistry and aesthetic dentistry.

EDUCATION Charlotte Wong is a Senior Manager with Kinderland Educare Services in Singapore. Her rich experience in education and training energizes her passion for language development and metacognition - learning how to learn. She works closely with children, parents and teachers to communicate effectively by understanding themselves and others better. Huang Ying was born and raised in Beijing and worked as a kindergarten teacher for 10 years before moving to Singapore in 1997. She joined the Julia

Gabriel Centre and worked in a variety of teaching roles before becoming the Head of Chengzhu Mandarin Centre, a subsidiary of Julia Gabriel Education, in 2011. She is now the Principal of Mandarin Programmes for Julia Gabriel Education in Singapore. She enjoys sharing her expertise and experience on how parents can support their children’s learning of Mandarin through public events and articles.

SPECIAL NEEDS Chu Lee Thean is an Occupational Therapist currently working at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THK Therapy Services THK Children’s Therapy Centre). She graduated with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Cumbria, U.K. She joined THKMC in March 2015. Lee Thean enjoys working with children with special needs, enabling them to maximise their potential.

Loretta Ho is an occupational therapist currently working at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THK Therapy Services – Development Support Programme). She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Occupational Therapy from Queen Margaret University and a Diploma in Occupational Therapy from Nanyang Polytechnic (Singapore). Loretta joined THKMC in 2015 and greatly enjoys working with children with special and mild developmental needs. Sid Hamid is a Consultant Occupational Therapist and Founder & Director of Oxytoseen Pte Ltd. He has more than 10 years of clinical experience as a consultant occupational therapist and is a transformational coach, author, speaker and trainer. He has dedicated his life’s work to unearthing the hidden potential of children with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning, behavioural and performance challenges.

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Signs of Miscarriage A miscarriage refers to the loss of pregnancy during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, this is quite common in Singapore, with approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies resulting in a miscarriage. It usually occurs during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy because of genetic or chromosomal disorders.


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Expert: Dr Ting Hua Sieng, Gynecologist/ Obstetrician, The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre Practice address: The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre (A subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group) 290 Orchard Road #16-07/08 Paragon Tower 1 via Lift Lobby F Singapore 238859 Tel: 6238 1000

According to a study by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and Duke-NUS graduate Medical School in 2011, the risk factors for miscarriage increase exponentially for: Parents above 35 History of miscarriage Low blood progesterone (hormonal) level during early pregnancy However, there are other risk factors like body weight (under or over), diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and excessive drinking. SIGNS OF MISCARRIAGE Bleeding This symptom often sends every pregnant woman to panic mode when it occurs. However, it is not a surefire way to determine if it is a miscarriage. Approximately 30% of women experience some form of bleeding or spotting during their pregnancies. It is best to seek immediate medical attention from your doctor to check yours and your baby’s health. Pain Usually located around the abdomen, pelvic area or lower back, the pain can be dull to cramps. As such pain and cramps can be very common during early pregnancy due to your body’s expansion for your growing uterus, it may be difficult to determine if the pain is normal. Change in Pregnancy Symptoms A less conventional way to check for miscarriage signs is to keep a lookout for a change in your pregnancy symptoms. For example, if you notice a sudden change in your morning sickness and nausea, you may wish to speak to your doctor about it especially if it occurs before your second trimester.

There is no specific indicator to determine a miscarriage. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms or have concerns on miscarriage. MISCARRIAGE DIAGNOSIS Your doctor or health practitioner will first perfom a pelvic exam, ultrasound test and then, bloodwork to determine if it is a miscarriage. Blood work can check and monitor the progress of the miscarriage. It may be necessary to follow up with blood tests, genetic tests or medication if two miscarriages occurred consecutively. PREVENTION There is no way to stop a miscarriage once it has started. However, there are some steps that you can take to try to prevent it from occurring. Things that you should avoid doing include: Binge drinking Consumption of large amounts of caffeine i.e. coffee Consumption of unpasteurised dairy products Consumption of uncooked food or food not cooked thoroughly Excessive smoking Intense and strenuous physical exercises/activities Hot baths Stress Lifting heavy objects It is crucial to give yourself time to heal emotionally, mentally and physically after a miscarriage. One miscarriage does not necessarily equate to a fertility problem. More than 85% of women who have once experience miscarriages, subsequently undergo normal full-term pregnancies and births.

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My Baby’s Vaccination Shots Expert: Dr Christina Low, Medical Director at Lifescan Medical Centre Practice address: Lifescan Medical Centre (A Subisdiary of Singapore Medical Group) 290 Orchard Road #07-18 to 20 Singapore 238859 (via Tower 2, Lift Lobby C) Tel: +65 6235 3253

What if my baby misses a booster jab?

If your baby misses a booster jab, you should make a new appointment to give your baby the vaccinations as soon as possible. Your baby can continue their immunisation schedule without having


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to start again. It is also very important to note that your baby may be unprotected until they get all the vaccinations that they missed.

Should I proceed with the vaccine if he has a fever? If your child is feeling unwell or sick with a fever, then it is highly recommended to delay the immunisation. Otherwise, it is fine to go ahead if he has a simple cold or other minor illnesses.

Is the 6-in-1 vaccine better than the 5-in-1 since it costs more? What is the difference? The 6-in-1 vaccinations are not better than the 5-in-1 vaccinations as they

are different vaccine formulations. These vaccine formulations combine vaccines against 5 or 6 diseases into one single injection depending on the vaccine. The 5-in-1 injection combines vaccines against Diphtheria/Pertussis/ Tetanus (DPT), Polio and Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) into 1 injection. On the other hand, the 6-in-1 injection combines vaccines against Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DPT), Polio, Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) and Hepatitis B into 1 injection. nSince the 6 in 1 jab is combined with the hepatitis B vaccine, it is more costly. However, if you have opted for 5 in 1, your baby will need two additional hepatitis B injections.


Brushing Baby’s Teeth

Most people have two sets of teeth during their life: a set of primary or “baby teeth” and the permanent or “adult teeth”. A baby’s first tooth typically appears around 6-10 months of age. Even though for most people, baby teeth would eventually be replaced later on, the last of the primary teeth is to serve their function until your child becomes 10-12 years old. It is important that your child’s baby teeth are well-taken care of so that they can fulfil their function well.


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Expert: Dr Stephanie Yap, Dental Surgeon, The Dental Studio Practice address: The Dental Studio (A subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group) Paragon 290 Orchard Road #13-01 to 06 Singapore 238859 Tel: (65) 6836 0050

WHY DO I NEED TO CARE FOR MY CHILD’S BABY TEETH WHEN IT’S GOING TO FALL OFF? Naturally, baby teeth are needed for proper chewing and are important in the development of speech and normal oromuscular function. However, the most important role of the baby teeth is actually preserving space for our adult teeth until they can grow up from underneath the gums. If a baby tooth is removed early because of cavities, some of the space needed for our adult teeth in the jaw is lost and this can lead to crowding of teeth when the rest of the adult teeth emerge later on. This can sometimes delay the eruption of the adult tooth that is growing beneath. In addition to the important functions of baby teeth as listed above, the health of your child’s primary teeth can affect the eruption of the developing adult tooth. BEWARE OF CAVITIES A cavity essentially is caused largely by the bacteria living in the dental plaque on your child’s teeth. As the cavity progresses deeper to the vital tissues of the infected baby

tooth, your child may experience a toothache or a dental abscess due to an infection of the vital tissues of the tooth. The episode of the toothache or dental abscess is not only a painful experience for your child, but it may also affect the eruption of the underlying adult tooth. HOW CAN I BRUSH MY BABY’S TEETH? There are many cleaning aids to assist you in caring for your baby’s teeth. You may find it easier to clean your baby's teeth using a piece of clean gauze or muslin while your baby is young. Simply wrap it around your finger, put a tiny smear of toothpaste on it, and rub it around your baby's teeth. Or you may purchase a silicon baby toothbrush where you can wear on your index finger like a finger glove. Both tools can achieve the goal of keeping your baby’s first teeth clean and healthy. Start introducing toothbrushes with soft nylon bristles and a small head as your baby grows older and starts having more teeth.

This allows you to reach all parts of your baby's mouth easily and comfortably as each new tooth emerges. Look at the packaging to see what age range the brush is designed for. Replace your baby's toothbrush regularly as soon as the bristles start to spread out or fray. During tooth-brushing, you may use a smear of toothpaste on the bristles of the brush. Encourage your baby to spit after a tooth clean. BRUSH TWICE A DAY Get into the habit of brushing your baby's teeth twice a day. Do it once in the morning, at a time that fits in with your usual routine. The second clean should be before bed, after your baby's had his last drink. As soon as the first tooth emerges Remember to take your child on their first dental visit as soon as their first tooth emerges from the gums. You may also take your baby along to your own dental appointments prior to their own. That way he'll get to know the sights, sounds, smells and routine of your dental surgery.

Brushing tips You may find that sitting your baby on your lap, facing away from you, helps you reach his teeth more easily. This position will work well when your baby is a toddler too. Brush with small, gentle circular movements, concentrating on the area where the teeth and gums meet. Remember to brush gently as your baby's gums will feel tender during the teething stage.

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growing up

Not just small talk Looking back at your childhood days, can you recall any meaningful conversations that you shared with your parents or an adult? Cindy Peck Xin Ying, Lim Shi Rui and Lin Yanjiao show us five steps how to engage in meaningful conversations with our children.


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The hectic pace of modern living has reduced time for family interaction. A report by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) revealed that people today are spending lesser time with their families. More than half of the participants surveyed indicated that they spend less than 10 hours with their family members.

If you observe your child at play, you will realise that every action that they do is a learning experience; an opportunity for you to start a conversation with them. You can spark their interest by simply starting with the sharing of your childhood experiences. All of us have our own set of experiences. There are no conversations too dull when we share about our own stories to our children.

HOW TO ENGAGE IN MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS 1D o not assume; talk about what you see As adults, we tend to make assumptions of what children are doing based on what we see from our perspectives. Inaccurate assumptions will have a negative impact on children’s emotional aspect, causing them to lose their self-esteem. While it is never easy to look at the same situation or object from different perspectives, we can talk about what we see instead. Talking about what we see encourages conversation as we appear interested in their work.

help facilitate their thought processes and keeps the conversation going. OPEN-ENDED QUESTION “Tell me more about your drawing.” CLOSE-ENDED QUESTION “Can you construct a car for me?” 3 Steer Clear of Jargons When conversing with your child, use child-friendly, simple words and avoid the use of jargons. When adults string a series of difficult words together, it makes it difficult for children to understand. It will not be long before they become disinterested in the message because they have difficulties understanding the content of the conversation. However, it’s important not to ‘baby-talk’ to your child. INSTEAD OF SAYING “Let us use our sensory skills to explore the environment!” SAY THIS: “Let us look around, what do you see, smell and hear?”

INSTEAD OF SAYING “That is a nice cat, I like how its tail is drawn. SAY THIS: “I see that you drew a circle here, tell me more about your drawing.”

4 Transform the Negative to Positive The selection of words we use affects our children behaviour. Words that are affirmative act as a model for children. It aids in reinforcing positive behaviours; encouraging children to focus on the positive. Before making a negative comment, think of how the negative words can be replaced with affirmative words.

2 Ask questions to know more Ask questions to better understand what your child is thinking. A good mix of open and close-ended questions can

INSTEAD OF SAYING “Stop it, it is very rude of you to snatch.” SAY THIS: “Let us share the toys with your friends.”

5 Use “we” messages instead of “you” messages Your child will be more than excited when you want to join them in their play. Parents should keep in mind not to dominate their child’s play, and let children take the lead. Using “we” instead of “you” makes them feel that you are participating in their play with them. The use of “we” messages also lead to connectedness; opening to more meaningful conversation opportunities. INSTEAD OF SAYING “You can build this.” SAY THIS: “We can build this together.” There is no wrong question or time when it comes to talking with your child. You will be able to see that every conversation is a moment for you to understand your child. To empower your child to thrive as a resilient individual, use words of encouragement when you talk with them. These words may seem unimportant but your language makes an impact.

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growing up


Making the Switch Expert: Huang Ying, Principal of Mandarin Programmes for Julia Gabriel Education


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Learning Chinese can be challenging. Parents feel pressurised to raise their children’s ability to a certain standard before entering primary school and children often find themselves having to attend tuition classes that they may not enjoy. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Learning Chinese can, and should, be fun. Most importantly, it should feel natural

Be prepared for the language explosion Research tells us that language development is dependent on the early neural connections in the brain (synapses) that are stimulated through responsive interaction with others. These early experiences appear to be linked to certain optimal periods for particular aspects of language learning to occur. For example, by the end of the first year of a child’s life, if certain sound patterns are not heard with regularity, it is very difficult for them to construct new pathways; pathways that will never be as easily formatted as they are in the first twelve months. This is why it is so difficult to learn another language when we get older, and why a child’s first word usually arrives at the end of their first year - because it is the beginning of a language explosion!

A mix of baby and adult talk If you are a Mandarin speaker, talk to your baby from day one. Use a mixture of baby talk and adult language and a wide range of words, incorporating them into daily activities. When language is meaningful and part of everyday life it is absorbed naturally. No hard work involved! An infant and toddler’s vocabulary is strongly correlated to their experiences and how much interaction they have with others. When words are linked to real events, particularly pleasant experiences, connections are made and the

memory kicks in, so one thing you can do at home to help your little one learn words is to label their favourite toys, food, books and so on.

Exposure to Chinese print Surround your child with things that become part of their everyday enjoyment and stimulate their natural curiosity to explore. Create a language-rich environment at home. If one or more members of your family speak Mandarin for example, your child already has the advantage of being able to absorb the language naturally. Now go a step further and immerse them in a world of books, magazines and print media in Chinese. Let them listen to Chinese songs and nursery rhymes, in the car, playroom or bedroom. And though television time should ideally be limited (make sure it is not simply passive entertainment) appropriate TV programmes can be very instructive. Children love anything to do with animals, nature and food and can pick up everyday words and phrases about the world around them by watching nature programmes, for example.

Make it interactive Children need to feel involved and experience language to assimilate it. There are so many activities you can enjoy both at home and outside that reinforces language learning. Outside, go on nature walks in the park, gardens, along the beach or simply around your local area. Talk to

your child naturally about what you see and do along the way. Ask them open ended questions to activate their neural connections, as they search for the right words to use. At home, involve your child in practical tasks that help them learn a variety of skills, such as baking. Cup cakes and cookies are always a favourite. Let your child help sift the f lour and weigh the ingredients. Have everything prepared so you can ask them to pass you each item as you need it, helping them to connect the meaning of what they hear to what they see. Don’t worry about the mess because tidying up can also become a language learning opportunity. Make up a clean-up song with your child that the whole family can use for different activities. Repetition reinforces learning.

Focus on the Process Focus on the process of what you are doing, rather than the results, encouraging and praising your little one every step of the way. The more relaxed and nurtured your child feels, the more they will enjoy what they are doing, and the more likely they are to succeed.

Your enthusiasm As your child’s first teacher, your own enthusiasm is key. Perhaps your experience of learning Chinese as a child was not a positive one, but try to change your perception of that. When you make it a natural part of your child’s development, it may still be challenging but just as enjoyable as learning to ride a bike!

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Heguru Special

Oh Happy Heguru Days! To celebrate her 10th month at Heguru Education Centre at One KM Mall, Michelle Hon shares funny and joyful moments with her two girls during class.

While on the way to Heguru class…

Me: Lauren, today mummy goes to class with Georgia and you go with Amor (our helper), okay? Lauren: Mmmm mummy, can I go with Georgia and you go with Amor? Me: …

Teacher: Mummies, you can name the tangram as they complete the puzzle. Me: Triangle, square… Georgia: I do! I do! Me:…. Georgia: Quare... I don't know (it was trapezium)... twiangle..


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After Georgia has completed the tangram…

While doing tangram…

Georgia: I deed it. Well done, wittle Georgia. (Pumps both fists in the air) She turned around with a proud smile on her face and walked straight into…another parent's arms. It seems in her excitement, she had forgotten where her mummy was.

During the clairvoyance activity…

After Georgia picked the right card during peg memory…

(where children are supposed to "see" through the cards and pick the right one)

Teacher: Which is the yellow one? Georgia: This one! (Pointing at both cards) Teacher: Pick only one. Georgia: *peel open and look under the cards*

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Heguru Special

During dots counting‌ Teacher: There are three dots here, how many more makes five? Lauren: Two! Teacher: There are four dots here, how many more makes five? Lauren: One! Me: *feeling smugly pleased that my child is so smart* Teacher: There are five dots here, how many more makes five? Lauren: Five! Me: ‌.

Imaginary storytelling is something that both the kids and I enjoy very much. The lights are dimmed,

and the stories involve the kids going through a chain of events. Every week is different. So far, they've been to the food court,

witnessed the national day parade, evolved from a caterpillar and become a butterfly.

Other activities:

Learning through song and dance is always a hit with the kids!


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One of Lauren's favourite is getting out of the class and do some physical activities.

Hear what other mummies say!

"There's a series of activities with very fast pace. This is able to capture my children's short attention span. The joy of attending Heguru classes is I'm able to watch their growing moments and the little surprises when they answer questions during the times when I least expect them to!" - Christine, mum to Adele (4 years

"The reason I keep coming back is because my son likes the classes. The activities are interesting enough to capture his attention." - Tina, mum to King Xi (4 years

"I like the hands-on activities, guessing games, and the physical activities conducted each week." - Melissa, mum to Jaeven (2 years old)


old) and Kaysha (6 years old)

Michelle Hon is a mother of two, writer and founder of The Chill Mom Baby Planner & Maternity Concierge. A certified early childhood educator, she has helped many busy mothers-to-be plan and manage the arrival of their babies. Michelle has been featured on The Asian Entrepreneur and Harper’s Bazaar Kids. Besides being a contributing writer at The New Age Parents, Michelle shares her motherhood tips and experience on her website at This is the fifth part of The New Age Parents and Heguru Education series. In the next and final part, find out how Michelle’s daughters have progressed since starting the program a year ago.

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play special

Playing It Safe

How do you find the right balance in giving your child the freedom to explore, yet ensure they stay safe while doing so?


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Expert: Charlotte Wong, Senior Manager, Kinderland Educare Services Pte Ltd

BENEFITS OF EXPLORATORY PLAY Infants and toddlers learn through meaningful relational interactions. Once born, babies make crucial neural

connections in their brains through their daily experiences, to learn and develop their understanding of what is around them. Every experience, whether it is playing peek-a-boo with a parent, or being fed a new fruit, excites the neurons or brain cells. Recurring experiences will develop a “neural synapse highway� which helps infants comprehend the world a little better.

Exploratory play allows infants to learn about things which interest them, in a purposefully created environment. The intention is to create a curiosity in the infants to reach out and discover new information while ‘investigating’ his surroundings. Exploring their physical environment comprises a great deal of the learning for mobile infants and toddlers. For example, a 7 month old baby is placed on a mat with a shiny reflective bowl and a soft velvet cloth near him. As he reaches out to the bowl with his finger-tips, he will soon realise that it moves away easily. Conversely, the experience when he reaches for the velvet cloth will be quite different and provides a new experience for the infant. An older infant who is figuring out how to use a spoon to feed himself will soon learn what motion is required from him to get the delicious food from the bowl to his mouth. Another toddler who is learning to climb up and down a play structure will also ascertain after a few tries that it is safer and less daunting to descend legs first.

area like a corner in the living room or the children’s room. Parents may provide a padded area with a mat or carpet to cushion falls, not to prevent low-level falls, like while the toddler is learning to walk. Sharp corners which may hurt or cut should be removed. Encourage independent play by providing sensorial and frequently changed resources for learning. Resources need not be expensive toys and parents may use recycled materials such as empty milk bottles, household items such as baskets, scarves and spoons. Parents do not have to spend too much money on this. Outdoor soft areas such as grass in a park or a playground will also be safe for exploratory play. In Kinderland, exploratory play includes the use of mats, soft-gyms, wall bars, cruiser boxes and climbing lofts. The well-designed spaces are to encourage children to discover their environment and their own physical capacities when they crawl, stand, climb and slide. Specially selected toys, including teachermade resources, stimulate their sensory learning in a safe space.

Exploratory play promotes:  Stimulated brain connections  Early cognitive development  Problem-solving skills  Good self-esteem  Self-confidence  Critical thinking ability, and resourcefulness

B. Shifting our perspective on exploratory-play


A. Prepare the Environment For immobile infants, a small mat area will be sufficient for the play. For mobile infants or toddlers, define a play

Infants and young children get their worldview and perspective of what is good or bad from adults. Research has shown that most children have an innate perception of depth from as young as 5 months old, although they may still look to adults for guidance. It is important for the adults to allow children the opportunity to learn how to overcome obstacles and to differentiate from a young age between what is safe and what is harmful.

When parents are overly anxious about a child’s safety, the same vibes are quickly picked up by the young ones.

C. Facilitate Play alongside the children. Besides providing the vocabulary, introduce discovery questions like Who, What, Why, When, What if and How? For the pre-verbal younger children, you may need to provide the answers after a short pause. This helps your child find meaning in what he is experiencing and for parents to provide respectful, responsive and relational interactions.

CREATING A LANDSCAPE FOR LEARNING The area has to be age appropriate, highly functional and aesthetically appealing. Furniture and layout should provide infants with various opportunities to challenge them through what they see, touch and feel. Such an environment allows infants to safely explore their environment independently, to learn how to navigate, and finally master it. Well-designed spaces contribute appropriately to children's development and supports parents in their role as facilitators of children's learning and self-directed play. According to renowned architects Louis Torelli and Durrett from America, “a well-designed environment is, of course, safe for infants and toddlers but, more than that, it supports their emotional wellbeing, stimulates their senses, and challenges their motor skills”.

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play special

Get your play on

By Gan Hui Ning, Nicolette Abigail Yeo Wei Ling & Priscilla Tan Yan Ying


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Play isn't a waste of time. It creates a window of opportunities for learning beyond the walls of the classrooms. Here are ideas how you can play meaningfully with your child.

Once upon a time…

Technology offers a variety of developmentally appropriate interactive media experiences. Digital stories are a great alternative to storybooks and also encourage the love of reading. Create digital stories with your child by capturing everyday life moments with captions and narrations. This creates chances for you to monitor your child’s learning progress and development. TRY THESE APPS: StoryKit, Book Writer One, Adobe Voice and Book Creator Free

Let nature be their playmate

Do not underestimate the value of outdoor experiences. Outdoor play allows children to interact with the natural environment and provides opportunities for holistic development. Nature walks allow them to use all their senses –

encourage them to walk barefoot on the grass, observe the insects on the ground or smell the leaves and flowers. Our natural world offers beautiful sights, sounds, and textures, making it an ideal resource for the development of aesthetics for children. Singapore offers many possibilities of fun for children in the outdoors. Drop by the Children’s Garden at Gardens by the Bay for a funfilled family day with interactive play elements against a lush natural setting. The Garden is a big playground set up to enhance your child’s physical and cognitive development through sensory play features.

famous monuments and architecture around the world, or simply let their imagination take flight. You can even use materials that are open-ended, accessible and low-cost.  USING RECYCLABLES Think plastic containers, cloth scraps, cardboard boxes and tubes. Your child can add on all kinds of ‘construction materials’ to their existing block structures  PAPER AND WRITING MATERIALS Provide your child with writing materials (e.g. crayons, markers) and paper; to add signs or more intricate designs to their structures.

For more parks or gardens to visit, children-parks-to-visit-in-singapore

Remember those recyclables used for your block play? They are also great to use for Dramatic Play. The real value of dramatic play is that it increases children’s understanding of the world they live in. In the process of dramatic play, they are encouraged to use their imagination, communicate, share their ideas and solve problems. This helps them develop personal skills that will nurture them to become successful learners in life.

Stock up on blocks

Block play can create multiple learning opportunities for children that are purposeful and fun. There is so much flexibility and creativity involved in block play. You can recreate building structures that you and your child saw, show them

More than just pretend

play special

June What’s new this

Sentosa FunFest: Mega Beach Festival

Back for the second time, beat the heat and get your dose of fun with giant slides, bubbly foam pool and loads of water-oriented activities. Kids can enjoy themselves as they climb, jump and run their way through giant inflatable slides and water obstacle courses. Hot favourites include the giant sand pits and foam pools. Mummies and daddies, you can choose to join in the fun, or relax and watch from the side with delicious food and refreshing drinks, and bask in the carnival atmosphere with live DJ music. DATE: 28 May - 5 June 2016 (28 May sold out) TIME: 10am - 7pm (last entry at 4.30pm) VENUE: Palawan Green, Sentosa Purchase your tickets online at

kidZania Who said kids couldn’t do adult jobs? Offering real-life experiences through role-play, bring your kids to KidZania Singapore, and let them experience various role-play activities, earn salary in the form of kidZos (official currency of KidZania), and pay for goods and services within this kid-sized city. DATE: 27 May - 26 June 2016 TIME: 10am - 8pm VENUE: Palawan Kidz City, Sentosa Purchase your tickets online at


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Enjoy $25 off usual prices for every online purchase of 2 Adult and 2 Kid tickets with promo code <KZWS25> Valid for Mon - Thurs only. Terms apply.

Butterfly Up-close Giveaway on The New Age Parents website! More than 500 tropical butterflies have fluttered into Science Centre Singapore! Get up-close with these fragile beauties in the butterfly enclosure and embark on an immersive journey in the Centre’s latest exhibition - Butterflies Up-Close. With 5 interactive zones, the interactive exhibition also includes a “Research Pod” where you can observe butterfly specimens under microscopes and learn about their anatomy. DATE: Open from 30 Apr 2016 TIME: 10am – 6pm (Last admission to Science Centre 5.15 pm) VENUE: Singapore Science Centre Hall D ADMISSION FEE: $10 (excluding entrance admission) You can purchase your tickets at the Science Centre ticket counter.

Oceans’ Buddies This new exhibit features an immersive technology to learn about the marine eco-system. A visually stunning virtual ocean will be projected onto a giant wall where children can see their drawings of sea creatures come to life in a 3-dimensional form. KidsSTOP Educators will also be on hand to teach children how to recycle, reduce and re-use whenever possible. DATE: Open from 12 May 2016 TIME: 9.30 am to 1.30 pm (Last admission: 12.45 pm) | 2 pm to 6 pm (Last admission: 5.15 pm) VENUE: Singapore Science Cetnre, kidsSTOP ADMISSION FEE: Child (18 months – 8 years) $5.00 | Adult $10.00 You can purchase your tickets at the Science Centre ticket counter.

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play special

Hideaways - Creating with Nature Giveaway on The New Age Parents website! Following the hugely successful inaugural exhibition ‘The Art of Speed’, which attracted over 17,500 children and adults during its 6 and a half month-long duration, Playeum Singapore’s first Children’s Centre for Creativity – is back for its second hands-on exhibition for children – “Hideaways – Creating With Nature”. The exhibit features 6 interactive art installations for children age 1 to 12, offering an immersive environment for them to explore, observe, construct, reflect, innovate and engage with nature and natural materials.

Photography by Richard Kearns

DATE: 16 April – 30 October 2016 (Open on Tuesday to Sunday) TIME: 10 am - 6pm VENUE: Block 47, Malan Road Gilman Barracks, #01-21 to #01-23 Purchase your tickets at the Playeum - Children's Centre for Creativity.

Revamped eXplorerkid playgroud The newly furbished indoor playground at Downtown East is now open. Check out Adventure Highland, their indoor rope obstacle course. The new course now has two levels, with the lower level suitable for younger children, where parents can walk alongside with them. DATE: Open from 1 May 2016 TIME: 10am to 10pm VENUE: 3rd Floor, E!hub, Downtown East, 1 Pasir Ris Close, Singapore 519599 ADMISSION FEE: $5.50 per circuit (on top of entrance fee) You can purchase your play pass at the eXplorerkid counter. There are also upcoming June Programmes @ eXplorerkid Downtown East. Visit activities_events to find out more.


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CONTEST In this issue, we took our coverpage winner, Kenji Kobayashi to the Singapore Science Centre. He had no qualms getting wet as he explored the hands-on exhibits at Waterworks!

Kenji also got up close with beautiful butterflies in the centre’s latest exhibit, Butterflies Up-Close, Singapore’s first indoor butterfly sanctuary developed in partnership with Sentosa’s Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom (BIK).


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Kenji Kobayashi

"Look ma! I'm standing on a giant caterpillar!"

With interactive touch points, and live displays, kids can learn about the stages of a butterfly's metamorphosis, and what makes them unique from other winged insects. For more info, visit www.


Ng Zhen Kai Athan

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Ethan Ng Le Kai


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special needs


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Play Like Other Kids Too? Experts: Chu Lee Thean, Occupational Therapist, Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THK Therapy Services - THK Children’s Therapy Centre)

Growing, learning and playing are primary goals in childhood. All children learn to make sense of the world through play. And this includes children with special needs too. However, some of them may present with certain challenges during play. Some examples include:  Physical limitations that make it difficult to play at the playground or

with some toys  Limited social interaction skills that make interacting and playing with peers difficult Attention problems, that make concentrating on a game or activity difficult Nevertheless, all of these children have some capacity to engage in play. Adaptations and

Loretta Ho, Occupational Therapist, Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THK Therapy Services – Development Support Programme)

support provided by adults can help them experience a wide range of play activities.

Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is stimulating and suitable for children of all abilities. It especially helps to develop gross motor and social interaction skills.

Recommended / modified outdoor play for children with special needs Hopscotch

 Draw bigger and bolder boxes to make throwing a beanbag easier Jump with 2 legs instead of hop  Have your child concentrate on the person jumping to make sure he/she does not touch the lines

‘Simon Says’

 Use simple action movements e.g. touch your nose, clap your hands  Have name tags (e.g. "leader", "follower") to help your child differentiate who he should be focusing on and listening to

Inclusive outdoor playgrounds

 These playgrounds are located in public parks and spaces to encourage children of all abilities to interact and play together.  They consist of wheelchair friendly features and inclusive equipment e.g. ramps, wheelchair accessible merry-go-rounds.  They provide a sensory rich environment filled with bells and drums for the visually handicapped and also sand tables for tactile play.  Inclusive playgrounds in Singapore: Canberra Park (Sembawang Cresent), Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (River Plains) and City Square Mall

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special needs

Indoor play

Toys can be viewed as tools for play. When buying toys for children with special needs, it is important to

choose toys that are developmentally appropriate. This means that the toys should meet their current abilities and interests, yet at the same time, be able

to provide the potential for improving skills. Hence, the toys selected must provide a “just right� challenge without frustrating the child.

Things to look out for when choosing toys Versatility

Toys that have open-ended play potential can be played with in different ways. Examples of versatile toys include stacking cups (for stacking, scooping, pouring, practising the concepts of in/out, etc); balls (for throwing, catching, rolling, bouncing, kicking, etc).


Look for toys with adjustable height, speed, sound volume, levels of difficulty to adapt to your child's changing needs.

Multi-sensory appeal

All children are attracted by toys which engage their senses. Children with visual impairments, for instance, need toys with various textures, sounds and/or scents. Sighted children love toys that are visually stimulating with contrasting colours or lights. However, be aware that blinking or flashing toys may trigger seizures in children who are prone to having seizures.

Safety and durability

Ensure that toys are made from non-toxic materials and are not choking hazards. They should also be easily cleaned.

Potential for Toys should encourage social interaction with others to improve communication skills. social interaction Children who do not seem to be interested in toys will require more support. They may have no idea what to do with the toys, or have not achieved the ability to engage in trial-and-error exploration, or have poor task persistence, or all of the above. You will need to teach these important cognitive processes by showing her how to play with the toys. Cause-and-effect toys provide an immediate response and are a good starting point to introduce to these children to play. Some examples of


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cause-and-effect toys are Jack-in-theboxes, marble runs, and electronic toys that activate lights or sounds when you press a button. Children with special needs do face obstacles engaging in play and are at a higher risk of play deprivation. This will have a negative impact on their development and overall health and well-being. It is the duty of parents and caregivers to help their children experience the benefits of play using appropriate activities or toys and joining in the experience itself.

Benefits of Play Cognitive

Play provides a safe context in which ideas and behaviours can be combined in new and different ways. Children learn how to be creative and flexible when they explore and take on different roles.


Exposure to different types of toys will give children opportunities to learn how to manipulate or play with different equipment. Children also explore and execute new combinations of cognitively guided motor behaviours through play. This contributes to their fine and gross motor development and body awareness as they actively use their bodies.


Children learn social rules through their play in games with other children. They learn how to follow rules, turn take and to communicate with peers.


Play is a means for children to express and cope with feelings.


When engaging in pretend play, children use role-appropriate statements and language to play out a scenario. When playing with others, children also use language to request, ask questions and come up with different play ideas.

Not your typical playground City Square Mall has refreshed its L1 playground, which includes a wheelchairaccessible merry-go-round and two inclusive swings. The playground provides outdoor fun and is designed for children between 2 to 12

years old. It encourages play between children with and without special needs, and encourages normal developing children to learn and accept differences and have comfortable social interactions with other children. Photo credit: City Square Mall

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father’s day special

Forget-Dad-Not Fathers do many things that may go unnoticed in the household. Dorothea Chow lists down 5 things. The role of the father is often glossed over or underappreciated, and the media tends to glorify and focus more on the role of the mother in the realm of parenting. Too often, we see the father’s role as merely one of breadwinner or disciplinarian, but a real dad is more – much more.

#1 He works hard for his family When a man becomes a father, ambition and passion often take a backseat to the need to provide for his family and eke out a decent living. For the man who has found a job that pays the bills and brings him joy, we say “Good for him!” But many fathers may not have the opportunity to land such a dream job. They may not complain about their unrealized potential, but like every homemaker has given up certain dreams, they too have made a sacrifice that is largely unseen. And so, they soldier on, day after day, for the sake of their families. Thankfully, drudgery with a purpose may bring its own special brand of joy and satisfaction with it.

#2 He sets limits for the children Granted, both parents can and should set healthy boundaries and

limits for their children growing up, and these limits shift as kids grow from toddlerhood to adolescence. Yet there is something especially powerful about the limits set by fathers. When fathers set limits, clearly and confidently, you can be sure their children take note that this is something important. During the teenage years, fathers face the challenges of setting limits for their recalcitrant children while not distancing them. Teenage children can be volatile, emotional or very hard to read. To strike that balance between showing love and grace, and speaking truth and caution, is a tricky one indeed. We are thankful for the many dads that choose to step up to the plate gamely, even though they themselves may still be figuring out how the game is played.

#3 He looks for solutions Most men are problem solvers by nature. Whether it’s something gone wrong with the oven, or a lightbulb blown, everyone’s gut reaction is often “ask Daddy”. But this means that fathers constantly have to come to the rescue of their family members 24/7. Sometimes, they may even think two

steps ahead of their family’s moves, so as to pre-empt possible scenarios and solutions. While they may be glad to do so for the ones they love, such behind-the-scenes work often goes unappreciated.

#4 He leads by example and makes his family feel secure

There’s no place like a father’s embrace. For the wife who has had a long day at work or a tough time disciplining the kids; for the son who didn’t get picked for the soccer team, or for the daughter whose favourite doll was broken. There’s a saying that goes that fathers are a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love. A father is the first picture of manhood and leadership that his young son receives, and the first male model of love and care that his daughter experiences.

#5 He encourages his children to take risks

Visit any park or playground in Singapore, and you’re sure to hear concerned mothers and helpers shouting to their children to “You will fall!” or “Too dangerous! Come down!” Interestingly, many fathers have a different take on rough play. “You can do it.” is what you are more likely to hear. “Get up and try again.” And before you know it, junior has scaled the rope wall. Our children need this balance, from their mums and dads – the caution to be mindful of danger and thoughtful about consequences, but also the courage to take risks and the resilience to try again.

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for the parent

Habitually Happy Cultivating Habits Of Happiness In Our Children


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Expert: Sid Hamid, Consultant Occupational Therapist and Founder & Director of Oxytoseen Pte Ltd

What can we do to help our children master the art of happiness? Sid Hamid shows us 4 ways how.

The Habit To Be Happy Happiness is not a result of our external circumstances but a product of our own mental, emotional and physical habits. Habits that help to cultivate happiness include: 1. How we think and feel about the world 2. Healthy actions or routines that makes you handle what life throws you with grace and ease 3. Developing character traits such as selfcontrol, wisdom, courage, compassion, honesty etc.

How to instill 'happy' habits in our children #1 Show your child how to regulate their thoughts and emotions

Being mindful about how we feel, expressing our feelings truthfully and appreciating our connectedness to each other and for life, all these are useful qualities to model for our children to learn from. For example, if you are coming home angry from a bad day at work and your child is asking you to spend time with them since exams are over, it would be

good for you to communicate the source of your frustration to and share with your child that you need your space to calm down for a while before you can be play with them. From this, your child learns to accept your emotional state and responses, instead of reacting impulsively. They will begin to learn appropriate strategies of getting what they want and develop problem solving skills in social interactions and relationships.

#2 Cultivate fun and find joy in everyday things in life The more genuine we feel about life and ourselves, the happier we are. Not to mention the moods of those around us would naturally be uplifted! Openly discuss your likes, interests, hobby, passion and joyful experiences with your children, and listen to theirs too! When approaching the weekends and holidays, inject surprises by doing something out of your comfort zone and create joy from exploring new activities and destinations to bond with your family.

#3 Support them in embracing any loss and pain Life is not always a bed of roses and

full of joy. We have reasons to grieve and be sad. As adults, we need to acknowledge the uncomfortable sensations and feelings that come with these experiences of pain or loss so that our children can learn to be open to their own sad or negative emotions. Pretending, dismissing and supressing these range of emotions and not giving time and space to grieve will only make it harder for you and your child to relate with themselves and others, develop resilience and deepen their ability to receive love and joy.

#4 Help them find ways to contribute to others meaningfully As parents, it is important to expose your child to ways on how they can make a positive impact in someone’s life. Only when they have identified their own strengths and talents, they can take this wonderful opportunity to develop their self-concept and selfworth. This develops their confidence to contribute back to the betterment of their family, community and society.