Financial Literacy Course At Planet J Learning Centre

Moments after attending a financial literacy course conducted at Planet J Learning Centre, I managed to save nearly $5000 by geting El to change his decision of going to Brisbane to Perth for a holiday. Previously, he had refused to consider any alternatives.

Both places are in Australia, but the cost difference is huge. He wanted to go to the Australia Zoo, operated by the Irwin family, but air tickets to Brisbane were twice that of Perth. Since the whole family and my parents would be going together, the cost would be astronomical.

There are also similar animals in Perth, so it should still be a similar experience. This would be our first trip overseas, and the children need to get used to travelling first.

We were invited to Planet J Learning Centre located at Soo Chow Walk, which was right beside Thomson Plaza. It was located on the second floor of a row of shophouses. It is nestled in a quiet private estate, yet close to amenities.

It is a new student care centre, and they offer programmes during the holidays. The place was very pleasant and was renovated. There were a few rooms for classes and students.
planet j room
planet j classroom

While waiting for the class to start, the children were playing a soccer game where they have to move around and kick imaginary balls. El was very excited by that. It is good that it was an active game.

planet j wii

After attending a preview of Raising A Financially Savvy Kid conducted by Ernest Tan, an experienced Certified Financial Planner, Master Money Coach, and Wealth Trainer, El has learnt a few money managing tips. I have also learnt a few tips to help El learn how to manage his money, which would be very important as he is going to Primary One next year.
money jar and raising financially savvy kids book

Ernest asked both the parents and children questions about money first. That allowed us to find out the attitudes children have towards money. When asked what he would do if he did not have money, I was surprised that El said he would work to earn money. I did not talk much about money to him, but I think he knows that both my husband and I work hard to earn money.

Ernest mentioned that some children actually said if they had no money, they would get the money from their fathers. Others said they would get money from the wall. The latter tickled me because my brother used to tell my mother that when she said she had no money to buy new toys for him. These answers worried the trainer as they did not see the value of money.

The children played a few rounds of a board game. It was modelled after Rich Dad Poor Dad’s Cashflow game. They had to make choices, such as to decide whether to save money, spend money or earn money. Sometimes, expenses were not compulsory.
money junior board game

To my surprise, El would spend money to buy sweets and ice cream if there were huge discounts offered. He was modelling my behaviour. I would keep saying no to buying new packages at the beauty salon, but when they start piling me with freebies and discounts, I would cave in.
spending money

There were also certain rules, such as shouting ‘Allowance Day’ in order to get an allowance. I thought it was interesting as children needed to learn rules and at the same time, not get distracted easily. If not, money would be gone.
spinning a die

Up till now, El has not seen his bank book. His father gives him $1 coins so that he could save the money in a piggy bank. However, we did not bring him to deposit this money. Hence, he did not have much of a concept of putting money into the bank to earn interest. When Ernest offered the children $5 interest if they saved $50 with the bank, all of them grabbed the opportunity except for El. He was used to seeing money physically, and thought the money would be gone if he put everything in.
saving two dollars

He also handed his ang pows to us, and my husband and I would be so busy we did not even open them until end of the year, before we put the money into the bank on our own. I think I would make a more conscious effort to take him to the bank.

At the end of the class, we were introduced the money jar system. Instead of giving them the exact amount needed for recess, and then hope that they have some money left over to save, we should pay ourselves first. This is a concept that I do, after reading countless wealth management books. Every month, I would transfer money to my other saving accounts before spending the rest.

For this to take place, parents could give children loose change, so that they can save a portion of it. I had read somewhere before that we should not give daily pocket money, but instead, give weekly pocket money for younger children, and then give monthly pocket money for older children, so that they can learn to manage money.
money jar

This is certainly something I will implement for pocket money when El goes to Primary One next year.

I am extremely pleased with the various strategies both of us had picked up, and I think that children should have financial literacy classes.

After the lesson, the children had some delicious snacks. The children attending student care here would definitely be well taken care of. The cosy centre is well maintained and clean.
planet j kitchen (2)

Serene, one of the owners, explained that the students would have supervision as they did their homework. They would also be given opportunities to go to the nearby park for some outdoor activities. They have weekly discussions on handling various situations the children may encounter in school. If they require private tuition, there would be smaller rooms for them to have their own tutors over. They could even go for their piano lessons as the staff would drive them to their destination, with additional arrangements between parents and the centre.
planet j kitchen
Since more parents work late nowadays, the centre has an Extended Hour Service where they would provide dinner and even drive the students home at 8pm if they live within 5km. Of course, additional services would require additional charges, but I believe for busy parents, the time saved in fetching their children and the knowledge that their children would be in good hands would outweigh this.

There are many other vacation programmes that the centre is holding. They look pretty interesting, such as CSI, Lego robotics, creative writing with lego (which I had seen before), on top of the financial literacy course that we have just attended.

Planet J Holiday Workshops

For more information, visit Planet J Learning Centre website. They are located at 99A Soo Chow Walk Singapore 573784 . You may park at the private estate or at the nearby Thomson Plaza. Call them at Tel: 6451 0080 on weekdays.

Note: El and I were invited to a preview of the financial literacy course for review.

Sisterhood Of Mothers With Gifted Children

Sisterhood of Mothers With Gifted Children

I feel as if I have been inducted into a secret sisterhood which few people dare to mention. This guild is lonely, but once a member pops up, you do your best to connect. This is the secret sisterhood consists of mothers (and perhaps fathers) of gifted children.

Once upon a time, you could just show your video of how excited you are about your young child who could type  song lyrics at age 2. After a few more videos of interesting discoveries as your child gets older, you start to notice how your friends (with children of the same age are not doing the same thing), and the crowd have strangely grown silent. This is when you realise you have ventured into unknown territory, where people think you are showing off or hothousing your child, but you are actually at a loss on what to do with your child. When you finally realise that your child is gifted, after months of googling and wondering how many of the characteristics could be checked, you start to search for parents with similar children.

When other parents reach out to you, it is almost like a lifeline. You get to share more about the issues that their children are facing, and what resources they have already found. Perhaps it could be about interacting with the gifted education branch. Perhaps it could be about sharing homeschooling materials. Perhaps it could be simply just happiness about having another person to talk to and that you can form new relationships with other parents of gifted children.

Joining groups such as Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page allows me to strike up conversations with other parents, and also tap on their vast experience on issues such as dealing with gifted friendships, advocating for gifted children, and finding reliable testers. Having this blog also allows others to reach me. Some of them are worried about their children who had teachers who could not handle their immense curiosity and incessant questions. Others have seen family members and friends downplay their children’s numerous early milestone achievements and other gifted characteristics.

Occasionally, you realise that a friend’s child is advanced, and you reach out. If the other parent speaks the same language, you are extremely happy that you have finally found a comrade. With friends who have younger children, sometimes I get to see videos of what their children are up to. I would observe possible characteristics and I raise the possibility that their children could be gifted. For many, it is the first time they are hearing this.

Most of the people I know with gifted children are women since mothers tend to discuss their children more, hence the term sisterhood, but occasionally I get to know fathers with gifted children too, and they have taken more active roles in their children’s education and interests.

Psst, are you already in this sisterhood?

This post is part of a blog hop by Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page in July on Gifted Relationships.
gifted relationships

The Day El Came Home On His Own

I was reading my book in the room, when I heard El shouting, “open the door”. Thank goodness my bedroom door was open, if not I may not have heard him. When I looked out of the peephole, he was alone and I saw that he had climbed the gate to try to reach the doorbell. He was quite upset when I opened the door.

El and Gar had gone down earlier with their grandparents to play at our little estate. They were playing at the playground, and then the fitness corner. Apparently, Gar hit and pushed El, he lost his temper, and he ran away from them. His grandparents could not chase him in time.

Rare occasion when they are not fighting with each other

Rare occasion when they are not fighting with each other

I first thought that he was smart enough to come home on his own. He knew how to get home. My place is guarded and there are only about 600 households, mainly families. Many (older) children go down to play by themselves. I am not worried about safety, and there are occasions when I leave my door unlocked. However, it was only hours later, (my reaction time is pretty slow), then I realised the potential dangers.

The four-and-a-half-year-old had climbed up the gate, which had swung out, to try to press the doorbell. Right beside it would be a parapet, where there are no grills, and any slips would be disastrous. Thank goodness the doorbell was near the door, unlike the old doorbell that is near the parapet. I told him very sternly that he should not do that. His father demonstrated to him how climbing the gate was dangerous, which he had actually taught him not too long ago how to climb it to press the doorbell. Duh!

This is Singapore, and most parents are extremely concerned about their children’s safety. They keep an eye on them all the time. My parents were like that. I had never gone out with my friends until I was 12, and even then, it was only to a nearby coffee shop, just a few hundred metres away.

When I go to the playground with my children, I watch the younger one most of the time, because I know he will attempt some stunts and may just decide to jump off the from the spiral ladder.

There was a wave of fear not too long ago, when people posted on Facebook, how some strangers tried to snatch their children away. Hence, we generally keep a very close eye on our children. Even though our country has a very low crime rate, the police warn ‘low crime doesn’t mean no crime’. Even when I take El to the washroom and leave him outside the cubicles, I will constantly ask him questions to check that he is still there and has not run away. After all, we do hear of cases where criminals do unthinkable things to children in the washroom.

People I spoke to were divided on this issue. Friends were mainly worried about strangers snatching him away. Older relatives were totally shocked. However, I had one friend who is currently residing in Germany who said that if he knew his way, and it is a safe place, there should be no problem.

I feel we should teach children survival skills.

I feel we should let children gain independence.

I feel we should not molly-coddle them.

I feel we should teach them to protect themselves from danger.

My friend brought up a very good point, which should be the main point of discussion. The main thing here is how El should handle the situation, when his younger brother makes him angry. It is important to tell him that it is okay to be angry, but he should not take rash actions.

He was scolded by his grandparents for running away.

The bottom line is I should be glad that this overly cautious boy knows how to come home on his own. He should handle his emotions better, and not run off without telling anybody, because his current reckless nature has caused him to run into a railing which caused him to get six stitches on his forehead two days later.

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