El and Gar’s Photo Shoot

This photo shoot was totally random and a spontaneous decision, sort of. Gar and I were walking around the building, waiting for El to finish his art lesson. A guy stopped us and told us about his photo studio, and the head photographer from Australia was here for a day only to take pictures. I was sort of interested, as I had been thinking about getting professional photos for the two boys for a very long time.

After that, we walked past the studio, and we went in when the Australian photographer beckoned us in. I thought Gar would not be interested, and would not be cooperative, but she said she had a way with children. True to her words, she was really able to engage the children.

She asked Gar to stand on a box. I was pretty afraid that he would run away, but he just stood there shyly.

Gar 4

In the end, it was the first guy who took the pictures, while she entertained Gar. She used a ball to play with him, and he smiled. She tickled him, while the photographer took the pictures.

Gar 2

I was quite amazed with how interested Gar was, as he posed for the pictures. He gamely did everything the lady asked him to do, such as sitting on a chair, standing, crawling and more. Despite the numerous flashes, he was fine.


Gar 3 Gar 5

Then, she asked us to wait for a while while she edited the photos. We walked around, but when we came back, there was another customer. It was time to pick up El from his class, so we went to get him.

I asked El whether he wanted to get his photos taken, and he said yes. We went back to the studio, and I expected to pay double for the shoot, but the head photographer said she would just add on to the package.

El 1

El went in to pose, and she took a few photos, before Gar ran in and wanted to take more of his own photos. She switched tactics, and got them to pose together.


Now, these two children would be like Tom and Jerry on most occasions. They would chase each other, jostle for attention, scream and cry, and Gar would bite his brother. However, they turned into the most loving brothers under her instructions.
They posed together, smiled together, held hands and had their pictures taken. This was really great.


She then finally asked El to take some photos alone.

El2Someone pointed out that the biggest difference between the two were their eyes. Never noticed that! The round light was reflected in their eyes.

Their father was very pleased with the results, and perhaps we might just get some acrylic photos done for decoration. I think these photos were more natural compared to those makeover photos I had spent lots of money on when I was a student.

Ben 10 Obsession

El’s current obsession is Ben 10. I had somehow improved my street cred with him when I asked him about Kevin 11. I had read up some wikis on the whole omniverse of Ben 10. He memorised every single alien. I can remember a few because I had read up on them. Apparently this boy picked up an item that looked like a watch. Whenever he was threatened and had to fight the bad guys, he would tap it and turned into an alien with special powers.

The other time people were telling me not to let him get hooked on this show, as the characters are quite violent. He doesn’t really watch TV, so he found his sources from youtube. He made me sit through a couple of videos recently.

We got him colouring books, two omnimatrix (fake watches), and a water bottle. I wanted to get him some things from Toys R’ Us, but I found very few items. The other time when I bought his classmate something, there were many toys. The sales assistant told me that the items were either sold, or recalled, and the company was not stocking up on them anymore.

Recently, he had taken to drawing pictures of the aliens on paper, and then cutting out to stick on his face and body.
el ben 10


If you had been on Facebook, you might have seen a series of photos where this girl, Mayhem and her mother comes up with paper dresses and costumes. A colleague’s daughter tried a few costumes, and both girls looked great. However, El looks creepy! Hope this current obsession ends soon.

El’s new school

It has been nearly a term at El’s new school. 9 weeks had flown past very quickly, and he has settled nicely into his school. He seems to like this school a lot, because he has more friends. I do not get to pick him up from school, so I do not have a chance to speak to his teachers. They do not bring any assignments home, so I have no idea what they are doing in school.

Recently, they held a meeting for the parents. We went there and I am mixed about the school. They are still working on very basic topics, such as family, learning phonics and still learning numbers 1-10. I wonder whether El would be very bored, since he is way beyond that. As for the Mandarin lesson, think the curriculum is not too bad.

Unfortunately, something which I am very particular about is their main weakness. Both the teachers were not strong in their languages. The English teacher had grammar errors in her speech. Her pronunciation was good, but I was very distracted by errors such as “One of the game” and “Although…but…”. The Mandarin teacher had pronunciation problems. She mixed up ‘s’ and ‘sh’ and other type of ‘qiao she’ sounds, and ‘n’ and ‘ng’ sounds. The last time I discovered a Mandarin teacher had such errors, I withdrew my son from the enrichment centre.

While they are kindergarten teachers and I do not expect them to be university graduates, the least I expect is to have a good grasp of the languages they teach in. El’s previous teachers made grammar errors in their writing, but their spoken language was good.

Despite having a large vocabulary, El still makes mistakes in subject-verb agreement. If his teacher makes such mistakes frequently, he will not be able to improve them. His Mandarin is totally weak, and he speaks in a singing tone. I wonder whether I need to send him for Chinese classes.

I was a little perturbed when the teacher told me how worried she was about the children cutting off part of the artwork, and she would trim to make their work better. Could we accept what the children produce, or do we push them to do better, or even improve their work on our own? She also mentioned something about how busy she was, and she might not have the time to put the labels on their work. While I appreciate her honesty, I could not help but wonder whether she could have done more.

They gave feedback that El was easily distracted in class. I wonder whether it is because he is bored in class. During the Mandarin class, which was right after break, he would continue eating, or hide at the library corner. He was not interested in Mandarin lessons.

The teacher also mentioned that he would write in a very untidy manner, and he did not colour pictures properly. I told her that at his drawing class, he would colour very well, and fill the entire printed drawing with crayon colouring. He also enjoyed the classes very much. She was surprised and did not seem to believe me. Then when my husband mentioned that he did not like to practise piano, she immediately jumped to the conclusion that he had a lot of activities. Heck, these activities take no more than 2 hours in a week.

The teachers mentioned that he was quite assertive, and would demand in a loud voice what he wanted. He also was quite stubborn. While I acknowledge that he could be a handful, she seemed to suggest that the family environment was the main cause of the problems. I agree with that, as his grandparents are spoiling him. However, after being a parent for some time, and observing various teachers teach my children, I have come to a conclusion that teachers play an important role.
In the past, I used to think that children misbehave in class due to their own upbringing or own issues, but now, I know that the teacher plays a large role. It is really hard to be a great teacher. I constantly do self-reflection to improve my teaching and my classroom management. There are a lot of things I still have to improve on, but with experience, it gets a little easier each time. Hence, by simply suggesting that El was exhibiting a lot of problems in class was largely due to the family, I beg to differ. If his art teachers could get him to colour and draw properly, why couldn’t his school teachers do that?

Was it due to class size?

His former class was very small. With less than 8 children, and 2 teachers, they had lots of attention. With 1 teacher and 20 students, they do not get much attention. I am concerned that if he continues to stay in his previous school, with dwindling class size, he will get a rude shock when he goes to primary school.

Do they belong to the old school of teaching?

Towards the end, after telling them about the other issues El faces, the Mandarin teacher actually asked me whether they could pray for him. I was taken aback. We do not share the same religious affiliations. I am not opposed to her praying, but what was I supposed to say? Thanks but no thanks? I told her she could go ahead, but if that was her way of solving the problems, then I think that is not enough. I need real concrete suggestions on what I could do for my son.

With my previous post on how teachers could talk to parents, I went to tell my colleague that when we meet the parents of the students in our class, we must really provide a balanced view of their children. They need to know that despite not doing well in certain subjects, there were a lot more to them as teenagers, as CCA members or leaders, as friends, as students.

I know the teachers mean well for my son. They are very caring still. I was probably over reacting about their language skills (though as a language teacher, I know how hard it is to change the mistakes that have been accumulated from young). My son enjoys going to school. My parents-in-law are happy. My husband is happy.

But I am not. Is there anything I could really do?

Nobody could fully understand the pressure I face from my parents-in-law, or the pressure my husband face, about which school to send El to. I also wonder why I am not a stronger person to insist on what my child requires. I feel alone at times, when I feel that I am struggling against so many voices, and it is just easier to give in. His previous school was very expensive, even more expensive than a university education. I do agree with them that the money could be been better spent or saved.

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