Reflections on education and what it means to prepare kids for their world

Problem Solving Skills

Complex Probem Solving is said to be a skill which was in demand by prospective employers in 2015 and will comtinue to be in 2020. Check out The Future of Jobs.

The challenge is for educators and parents is to provide children with opportunities to practice their problem solving skills; using the knowledge they possess.

I have watched my children progress in this area through the years. From shape sorting blocks, to wooden bricks to Duplo, Lego and games by THINK FUN and  GAMEWRIGHT.


Formally, we worked through Singapore Maths  Primary books. The scaffolding in the curriculum and problem solving type of questions exposed them to an array of perspectives in approaching a given problem.

I was delighted to find the following riddle to solve in

I think the creativity in the presentation of the problem to solve is engaging. The solution to the problem involves applying fundamental Mathematical principles. It gives a sense a greater purpose to learning these principles rather than knowing it as it might be asked in an exam.

Making Time for Play


Lego is very much of the Learning Lab.  As we homeschool, free time in between lessons are really that FREE TIME and it is usually on building a lego scene like the one above.

A child’s imagination is such a precious gift, shaped by his/her personality and experience.  Time, space and opportunity are some of the key conditions for it to thrive.  

Sadly, many education establishments inhibit this as children are made to restrict their imaginative impulse.  I am glad the LEGO Foundation and Cambridge University are collaborating to promote play in early childhood.

Language Learning

Part of a collage made from a local magazine with various languages found in it

Living and growing up in SE Asia, we are exposed to multiple languages at the Learning Lab. Both of my children attended local kindergarten and primary school while we did homeschooling focussing in English and Maths. They attended local school part time and eventually made the switch to full time homeschooling.  Local schooling gave exposed them to priceless exposure to local language and social skills.

Both have expressed desires to learn various languages.  When being a spy was one of their ambitions, one wanted to learn Mandarin and the other wanted to learn Mandarin, Spanish, Italian and German. They certainly have not been put off by language learning.

We have also experimented with learning German using the App Duolingo. We found the App easy to use and sufficiently motivating.  It’s wonderful to see a few more language learning Apps. Check this out.

Language learning broadens a child’s perspectives and equips them for a world that is increasingly interconnected. It’s not just about translating meaning. It’s about knowing how to transmit and interpret meaning meaningfully.

Recent research show that learning a second language has benefits for adults too. Click here to watch a short video clip. Check out this article to read about bilingualism.

Appreciating Poetry

We love poems at The Learning Lab. Rhymes and Rhythms were after part and parcel of their daily ‘playlist’ as they heard me sing Nursery Rhymes as we went about our daily activity.

Part of their daily screen time then was 20 minutes of video watching. The Tweenies were one of my oldest’s favourite – something he cringes about now.

Alliteration and assonance; commonly used by Poets, was something my children were exposed to rather early on. The characters in Francesca Simon’s book series -Horrid Henry were extremely helpful in helping them grasp this aspect. Not only were the characters given names with an adjective of the same letter as the first letter in their names; but they were memorable.


We have studied various poems of various forms together over the years, thanks to the excellent range of resources which we were part of our homeschool curriculum. Something I am grateful for as I certainly do not have the skills to teach poetry. Having someone plan, source and do the necessary creative scaffolding to teach poetry within the English course; is a huge help. It has given my children with the exposure to appreciate poetry.

I came across fascinating TEDEx talk by an inspiring poet, Harry Baker.

To celebrate I thought we would share this wonderful Ted Talk we watched a couple of times.

Click here if like me, could do with some guidance on helping children write a poem.

International Day of Happiness

It’s International Day of Happiness! Like any  parent,  not a day goes past without factoring in my kids happiness…..

I am no different from a parent from parents who send their kids to school. The challenges are just different.

I listened to this talk some years ago and remember being inspired by it. I am glad I watched it again. I needed to be reminded again of what is significant in the process of preparing kids for their future.

Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar

Emotional Intelligence & Technology

During our Art lesson at the Learning Lab yesterday we used the photocopier option on our printer, some paints and paintbrushes.


As we did that, I had a flashback of being in my primary school watching the clerk make copies of our test papers on the cumbersome psyclostyling machine turning the handle round and seeing the machine print our papers.  Times have certainly changed.  I distinctly remember the distinct smell of the ink and paper  smell  in the
and the smile on her face as I hanged around to chat as she did her work.

Machines in schools and in education has changed.  My children Skpye with their friends from another country during break time, watch the BrainPop video for the day  or  a TED Talk and send off their assignments  in PDF format and get thorough feedback within 5 working days.

Though technology  may have changed, the need for Social and Emotional Learning(SEL) is even greater as our world becomes increasingly integrated. The following report based on a global survey by the Boston Consulting Group shines some light onto issues which everyone involved in education needs to consider if we are concerned about preparing kids for their future. Click here

Minecraft Challenge


Minecraft is a popular game amongst children. I was disheartened to read in this article about how information thieves hide behind games such as Minecraft.

It can be disheartening to read about yet another danger out there. I take comfort though that social media allows us to help each other to be made aware of the challenges by sharing information.   Just as we need to engage in discussion with each other, we need as the above article suggests; to engage with our children and their world – online and offline.

Why Play?


Childhood is such a precious period in a person’s life. We know so much more about early childhood education now than ever before.  Yet at the same time we are being made increasingly aware of the state of children’s eroding mental health in various developed nations.

If  meeting prescribed standards and fulfilling society’s expectations are taking pleasure out of what it means to be a child; then I say “let’s make sure we do more playful learning!” If you still need convincing check this out.

GRIT for Kids

We were introduced to the concept of Growth vs Fixed Mindset in last December during a Home School reunion.  Basically a Growth Mindset is the tenacity to persevere through challenging situations. A Fixed Mindset gives up trying when faced with difficulties.

I found the kids resumed the their routines at The Learning Lab with a much more positive  attitude after that event.  Occasionally, I heard the line ‘… see I decided to have a growth mindset when doing this Maths question….’

I came across a blog on some current research on this topic when I remembered a TED Talk on a similar theme a few years ago by Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

Success in life is never a guarantee in life. As parents/educators we can only facilitate an environment which would empower children to feel its not GAME OVER when faced with difficulty.

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