Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reflections for 2006

The kidsREAD programme is taking a break until school reopens in 2007. It is timely to reflect on what has transpired and for me to examine how kidsREACH has touched the lives of those in my class.

Our objective has been to inculcate in the children under our care a lifelong love for reading. The non-academic nature of kidsREAD has made it less stressful for the children and so far the general enthusiasm level of the children in my class has been all right. I am fortunate in that my class is populated by well behaved, bright and promising children.

In terms of improvement, we have not measured in a very scientific basis, the incremental levels of interest or reading proficiency. Anecdotally, I have noted in the case of one or two children who were weaker that at least they were more enthusiatic about wanting to read when it came to their turn.

Those children who were already strong in reading impressed me with some of them reading very well for their age. The small class size of 9 children and 2 volunteers meant that my class generally had a ratio of 1:4.5 when both myself and K were around. I aim to increase this ratio to 1:3.5 by trying to invite more potential volunteers to try out kidsREAD in my class. So far, I have some success as a JC student and some of my toastmasters acquaintances have expressed in interest in the program. Of course, I have a vested interest in that each new volunteer to my class also frees me up to look more into volunteer development and skills enhancement as I empower more volunteers to be trained in reading and story-telling skills. The capacity of our kidsREAD classes is largely dependent on the breadth and depth of our volunteer base.

Some ideas that I am mulling over include more regular kidsREAD volunteer sharing and training. A book donation drive is also on the cards as I think it will be something useful to help boost up the book resources for our kidsREAD programme without having to strain CDAC's budget. I for one have many children's books in my cupboard that I have hardly touched since I became an adult. :-) The recent CDAC kidsREAD volunteers training also generated a number of interest ideas for us to take forward in 2007.

kidsREAD has allowed me to pour a bit of myself into our future: the children! I am very grateful to CDAC for this opportunity to practice my toastmasters skills to read and communicate with children. The potential in us to touch lives for the better is tremendous, I am starting to realise the power of giving and it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

Here is a collage of some of the kidsREAD images that will stay in my memories for eternity.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

CDAC kidsREAD Volunteers Training

20-odd volunteers from CDAC's kidsREAD programme converged on the basement of the National Library on 3 December 2006 @ B1 Multi-Purpose Room along Victoria Street on an early Sunday morning to learn and share experiences about their kidsREAD volunteer journey.

It was a learning journey for myself too although I was also the trainer for this event! :-)

I learnt that within the CDAC family, we have kidsREAD programmes running at five locations spread out in the student service centres located at Jurong, Redhill, Tampines, Woodlands, Punggol.

Being the trainer, I was mortified when my alarm clock failed to buzz me at 7.00 a.m. and I ended up waking up at 8.33 a.m. and needing to be at Victoria Street by 9.00 a.m.! Fortunately, my national service experience helped me wash up, grab my gear and call the cab all the same time and the relatively clear roads allowed me to reach NLB at 9.10 a.m. - phew! - only ten minutes late. There were still some volunteers who had not arrived yet so my tardiness was not overly evident...Lesson learnt though.. always set 2 alarms for important events when one is the trainer or facilitator. It's not too bad to be late as a participant but a definite no-no for a trainer.

I covered the following areas in the training from around 9.20 am plus till 12 pm.

- Icebreakers
- KidsREAD Jurong SSC Experience Sharing
- KidsREAD fundamental skills
- Discussion and feedback from kidsREAD volunteers/HQ staff
- Ideas Generation – Going forward

We had a good mix of volunteers from the different centres and we got warmed up by introducing ourselves by writing our names / centres / 3 things about ourselves on post-it pads and then got to know three other persons and exchanged tags with them. I got the participants to then introduce the person whose last tag they had and I think it got the crowd going a bit.

The presentation proper was divided into 3 major segments. Firstly, I shared with the participants what I learnt from my Jurong SSC experiences. Secondly, after a break, I leveraged on my toastmasters experience to share about fundamental kidsREAD skills in story reading and story telling. :-) Yes, there is a difference between the two. We wrapped up the session by breaking into 4 groups and brainstormed about:

- Things you like about kidsREAD (Which we should reinforce)
- Things you think works for your centre/class (Which we should share with each other)
- Things that help you achieve objectives (Which we could share with each other)
- Things that hinder you (Which we would need to avoid / mitigate)
- Ideas / suggestions / complaints

Overall it was an interesting session as I learnt more about the other kidsREAD centres within CDAC and got to make contacts with like-minded volunteers.

I will be compiling and submitting the points raised by all the groups as well as sending a report on what is the action plan based on a SWOT analysis of the ideas and suggestions raised.

Onward to kidsREAD 2007!

Monday, November 20, 2006

SMRT Read-n-Ride StoryTelling Train : A Volunteer's Tale

Date: 19 November 2006 (Sunday)

The penultimate event in the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) Jurong Student Service Centre's kidsREAD programme was the SMRT Read-N-Ride Storytelling Train that was jointly organised by the SMRT, National Library Board and supported by the various kidsREAD centres all over Singapore.

17 of the children plus volunteers from Jurong Junior College as well as the regular kidsREAD volunteers came together early in the morning at 8.00 am for the bus that would take us on this story-telling journey on an express MRT train. Hogswarts Express this was not but the experience was similarly magical!

I was made the "In-Charge" and I promptly employed the skills taught to be in my reservist to empower (aka delegate) the volunteers to take care of 4-5 children among 2-3 volunteers. Our ratio of volunteers-to-children was adequate for command and control and off we went with 2 parents and an elder brother of one of the participants in tow.

The children were reasonably enthusiastic at the start of the program, but as we had arrived early at the staging area - Jurong East MRT station and had to wait for the other groups to arrive as ALL were taking the same train.

In the harsh rays of the morning sun, the children inevitable asked, "Why must wait? Who are we waiting for," as they fidgeted and sighed for the journey to begin.

Before long, most of the other groups had arrived and we did something we had never done before. Gettig a free ride on the mrt station without tapping the farecard! :-) The SMRT staff facilitated our entry through a permanently open fare-gate and we got up onto the plaform level and waited for the "KidsREAD Express".

Unlike the Hogswart Express, the KidsREAD express was a regular MRT carriage and did not sprout any smoke as it did not have any chimney and run on electricity. We were ushered into the train and the children were arranged to sit with Woodlands kidsREAD children and the magic began.

Roving teams of story tellers from the NLB and SMRT staff took turns to do story reading as well as enacting some of the stories being read to the children. The acoustics for the MRT train was abysmal. As a result, portable microphone and speakers were issued to the story-tellers to overcome the loud background noise that is common on the subway. Most of the children were engrossed in the stories because there was nowhere to go but also due to the novelty of the experience.

The express nature of the train took us from Jurong East to Expo in less than 45 minutes as we did not stop anywhere for anyone. Before the 3rd story could begin, we had arrived at the Changi Expo.

We disembarked from the train and trooped to the Asian Children's Festival that was happening. The organisers had arranged for the children to have their lunch, view the performances which included story telling as well as Sudanese Silat. The children also tried the heritage games and asian costumes that were available at the Asian Children's Festival.

Time flies when you are chaperoning 17 children and it was a relief that we were able to account for all the children and volunteers at the end of the program. The same bus that took us to Jurong East MRT fetched us back from the Expo to Jurong SSC.

It was an enjoyable experience as I managed to capture (in a MTV-jerky style) on video on my Treo 650 most of the performances by the two story tellers as well as photos of the event which I have uploaded via flickr!

Next week, kidsREAD graduation and the end of the program and I'll have to say goodbye to some of the children that I have grown fond of. Some of the children who joined us half-way will get to carry on another year with us but I will see new children in the kidsREAD class next year.

SMRT Read-n-Ride StoryTelling Train : Pictures on Flickr


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Character Development Workshop

Date: 11 November 2006
Class Attendance: 8/9
Volunteers: YQ and friends + me

This character development workshop was organised by YQ and two of her friends who came down to help out with a combined two hour session for the classes for the older children.

They started with the reading of two stories, interspersed with doing worksheets with questions based on the story given in the books. The questions were fairly straightforward for the children but some were unable to answer them because they were not concentrating on the books. It was a larger class and given the classroom sitting arrangement, some of the children who sat further away from the volunteer who was reading to them had some problems following the story.

YQ and friends spent time preparing and selecting the two stories as well as drawing out large pictures from the stories on vanguard sheets to help the children visualise the scenes in the story books. It is gratifying to see young people being so enthusiastic about helping the children in the kidsREAD programme without any tangible reward! This is what I call passion! :-)

There were also some role playing given to the children to act out circumstances about helping a friend and so on. Some rabbit brand milk candy plus ferraro roche chocolates were given to those who participated. The children also completed the worksheet which had some english questions e.g. good ______ best, beautiful ______, _______.

Jigsaw puzzles were the last activity for the children as they were challenged to work cooperatively to help complete a picture of a teddy bear and scene of a house.

I think the children emjoyed the session though I believe the story reading was a tad too fast for some of the children to follow. I applaud the spirit and enthusiasm of YQ and friends and encouarged them to come down to help out at kidsREAD more often. :-)

Next week, 19 November - SMRT Ride and Read activity!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Peacock and the Coucal

Date: 4 Nov 2006
Class Attendance: 6/9
Volunteers: 2/2

The children have all finished their examinations and we see more of the children back at kidsREAD this session. Six (YX, R, YZ, J, LM, C) of them turned up made up of three boys and three girls matched equally of 1 male and 1 female volunteer (myself and K).

I continued with the Judy Ling series of big books and today I did a story with the children on a Peacock who mocked the Coucal. It turns out from Wikipedia that the Coucal is a type of cuckoo bird and it was interesting that all the children thought the peacock was a male bird! Perhaps due to the fact that with all its beautiful tail feathers, the children associated the peacock with female characteristics i.e. beauty = female.

The children said that liked the story after I had gone through it with them. This book teaches us about not being proud just because we have some talent/attribute such as beauty. In the book, the peacock mocked the coucal and made him feel small because the coucal had the colour of mud, tree trunk and the forest floor - brown while the peacock's tail feathers were as beautfiul as the rainbow. However, the peacock gets him comeuppance when a hunter shoots the peacock's tail feathers while the Coucal survived because he was able to camouflage himself and blend in with the forest without being spotted.

After learning the moral of the peacock story, we divided into two groups with K taking the girls when I led the boys in group reading. The boys were back to their boisterous and active ways moving from chair to table and back to the chair during the group reading. I sometimes get tired just looking at them..haha.. R has musical inclinations as he sang out the book "Joseph and the Jacket".

Next week we will be having a character development workshop led by one of the enthusiastic volunteers (YQ). Can get to take a break from our reading and do something different for a change.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Who said "BOO" to the Kangaroo?

Date: 14 October 2006
Class Attendance: 6/9
Volunteers: 1/2 (me)

There were some attritions to the class as some parents decided to let their children focus on exams while others were concerned about the haze.

This session was better than the previous one as 2 boys (YX, R) and 4 girls (LM, S, J, Z) turned up.

Judy Ling's big print books are nowadays my staple for the first 20-30 minutes of reading. She collaborates with many illustrators and I chose the book, "Who Said BOO to the Kangaroo" which was illustrated by a well-known person (his name escapes me for now...).

It is a simple story about the Kangaroo being scared by something and all the animals such as the rat, cat, cock, cow, crow being asked by the kookabura for the reason Kangaroo was running away. It allows each of the animal sounds to be read out by the children who get to learn to associate what sound does each animal make.

As a toastmaster, reading children's books trains one's vocal variety or the ability to vary one's pitch, volume, tone, speed and to articulate cleary the rhymes and rhythmic words used in the book. My class allows me to practice my vocal variety as children are very good at picking up sounds and imitating you. So if you can pronounce the word correctly for them, there is a high chance they can pick it up correctly through listening and reading it out themselves.

I think I'm quite relaxed with the children as I allow them to climb up onto the table during class. One of my girls was gently chided by the counter staff for clambering onto the table, "Is that the way a lady sits?" she remarked.

So long as safety of the children is not an issue, I typically allow them to stand up and clamber to be able to see the big print book that I hold out during the group reading session. As a child, I also hated sitting still and kidsREAD would be fun if children were not overly constrained by our "normal" rules of class.

It's interesting to see how my own reading skills have improved over the past year or so that I have been leading the kidsREAD class. I start to be more conscious on who vocal variety is such a powerful device one has at his disposal if we take the time and effort to train it effectively.

The classes will be ending soon with school holidays looming in the horizon. We will officially break either on 4 Nov or 11 Nov. That will be the time for me identify successors to lead the class and I am trying to see if I can bring up some young varsity or JC student who would be keen to work with children.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Mr Li and his Teapots

Date: 27 August 2006 Sunday

We changed our older class of kidsREAD to Sunday as the Jurong Student Service Centre (SSC) was celebrating its tenth year anniversary Mr. Lim Boon Heng, Minister (PMO) and MP for Jurong GRC was the Guest-of-Honour for this event.

As some of the children could not make it for the Sunday class, we had a combined class of both IIA and IIB. I was fortunate that YJ and K were also present to help with the class. We had selected a few of Judy Ling's large picture books on "Mr Li and His Teapots" as well as a couple of others. As the Minister would be dropping by, we timed our session for the children about the time he went on his tour of the Jurong SSC activities and classrooms. He popped in when I was about two-thirds into the book with the children. I think he "stayed" for a total of 1 minute :-)

Before that, to prevent boredom from settling into the children, we played games like Simon says, hunter/squirrel/tree to get them warmed up. The children enjoyed it immensely and I believe they were more than warmed up.... Hyper is the word I would use. :-)

Here are some shots of the cute children of kidsREAD.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Group Activities

Date: 12 August 2006
Class Attendance: 9/9
Volunteers: 2/2 (K and me)

We took a break from the usual format of reading a story to the entire class and instead split the class up into two groups (LM, Z, J, YZ, R) which was led by K while I handled (YX, WR, S, C). The first part was getting the children to read in turn as well as reading together. Following that, we gave the children some simple English worksheets that required them to match signs to the phrases e.g. sign of skulls and crossbones matched to "Poison!" etc.

Reading wise, I believe there is some improvement as we have been teaching them for the past year or so (from September 2005 to August 2006). The children's interest to books is getting better as I get less ugly looks and whining from them when we do group reading. The kidsREAD activity book is very popular with the children as they love to do the puzzles and games there. Children like to learn through having fun and that is an important element I need to remember.

For next week, we will read to the entire class again but also work on one or two of the children to perhaps showcase their reading skills during the open house on 26 August. Unfortunately, I would not be able to make it as there is a toastmasters contest happening on the same day and time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I Went Shopping

Date: 5 August 2006

After a one-week break from my class, it was quite refreshing to see all the cute faces again this Saturday! :-)

We had full attendance of 9 children and I was again fortunate to have K help me for this session.

HM had bought some large print picture books written and illustrated by local Singaporean writers/illustrators and I took the opportunity to use one of them titled, "I Went Shopping" to read to the children this time.

The fun part about large picture books is that engaging the children with the relatively simple sentences as well as colourful pictures was easy. Children tend to be visual and large colourful pictures help them to focus on the storyline without being over-challenged by the print. This book was about a girl going to shop for toys, clothes etc and lent itself easily to asking the childrem about the toys, hats, clothes that they have or like. I asked the children a question on what they would do if they were given $50 and the responses varied from buying cakes, to bracelets to keeping the money to the standard "I don't know" answer.

After the book, the class clamoured to do their activity book which is the one that is mapped to the kidsREAD reading plan. K was a wee bit concerned that we were not following the sequence, i.e. we should read the recommended book, and then get the children to do the associated activity. However, I was more inclined to let the children be engaged in the word and puzzles in the book. But K has a point. I will be searching for Frederick the mice book to see if I can at least get this book for the children. There will also be an open house at Jurong SSC on 27 August and I should start thinking about getting my class to do some reading plus some "solo" performances by the advanced readers.

I tried something different too today, recorded with my Creative Zen the children reading the same passage to get an unscientific benchmark of their reading ability. Still transcribing the results into an individual scoresheet for the children for my own reference.

The results will not be posted here for obvious confidentiality issues. :-)

More next week!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Colour Your World

Date: 22 July 2006
Class: IIB
Attendance: 8/9

The children carried on with the colouring of their drawings of animals from last week. Those who had completed their colouring were given simple handout comprising a puzzle and a P2 english sentence matching exercise.

As planned, I decided to break the children into two groups. S, R, WR, YX were coached by me while K helped to take care of LM, C, NZ and J. Z was not here today. We got the children to read the book in turns this round as compared to the normal class story reading session to break up the monotony and to give the children a chance to read.

My group had only 1 good reader while the others needed more coaching. What touched me today was S's performance. She is a delightful child, full of smiles and very fun loving. Her favourite thing in kidsREAD is not reading but drawing on the whyteboard when she has the chance! Today was different, I coached her a little more intensively on her reading while alternating with the 3 boys and found she actually tried very hard to read although some of the words were beyond her. Her weak vocabulary means that she needs plenty of coaching for polysyllabic words. I could detect the interest in her to learn if it was made interesting to her!

While reading the book, I corrected their pronunciation and tried to inject life into the passages by varying my voice for the bits of dialogue in the story. It's a bit of a challenge to get them to read the story with life since getting them to read the sentences without a mistake was a big achievement at their level (Primary 1).

Once we were done with the book, I got them to do a simple spelling exercise based on the words found in the book. Interestingly enough, S was quite enthusiastic and even wanted more words to spell once we were done with the initial 5 words. That really motivated me to try to give her even more attention as I think she is starting to show more interest in kidsREAD.

The volunteer-student ratio in my class now is 9:2 with the help of K. Thanks K for going an additional hour beyond the 10.30 am class! I will approach HM to see if I can wrangle 1/2 of the JC students to help in my class!

Volunteering in kidsREAD surprises me each session with something new I learn about myself or the children. I leave you with this poem!

Monday, July 17, 2006

kidsREAD History




KidsREAD: MRT Read & Ride

kidsREAD Community in Singapore

The power of search engines and the internet!

Here are some of our counterparts doing kidsREAD in CDAC centres:

CDAC kidsREAD Links
[1] Woodlands SSC has their own Yahoogroups here:
[2] Jurong SSC's own Yahoogroups
[3] CDAC HQ's webpage on kidsREAD

National Volunteer and Philantrophy Centre Website (NVPC)
Community Involvement Program (CIP)

kidsREAD Experiences by Individual Volunteers or Institutions
[1] Republic Polytechnic's kidsREAD session in their RP library
[2] Yayasan Mendaki gets started on kidsREAD in their May 2004 newsletter article
[3] Whispering Hearts Student Care Centre kidsREAD programme
[4] Girzilla blogger's experience with kidsREAD
[5] My personal experiences with kidsREAD at Jurong Student Service Centre (CDAC)

Mama Do You Love Me?

Date: 15 July 2006 Class IIB

Today I had C to help me with the class which has now grown bigger.

The book that I chose today was "Mama Do You Love Me?" by Barbara M. Joose and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee. The more I get into the kidsREAD program and read more children's books to my class, the more I realise that illustrations play a very important role in children's reading. While adults can read a novel consisting entirely of words, words and more words, young children need to have some visual stimulation through pictures, graphics and illustrations to help give them visual cues in which to build their imaginations.

The same goes for blogging to some extent. Blogs on serious issues that are persistently non-political require the exercise of the little grey cells we have in abundance in our head. However, the blogs that literally catches our eyes more are the ones that have pictures or images that capture our attention. Human beings are for the most part visual creatures and we react to visual cues the fastest.

But I digress... :-)

This books tells the reader about how much an Inuit mother's love for her daughter transcends all the naughty things the daughter can think of doing e.g. dropping eggs on the floor, messing up her mother's clothes etc. The setting is based on Inuit (aka eskimoes/natives of Alaska, Artic region) culture where they touch on ptarmingans (a type of small artic fowl), walruses, whales, musk-ox and the like. Good illustrations but the book is not very big so the group has to be relatively close to be able to see the illustrations clearly.

I think most of them enjoyed this book which has a simple message, i.e. 妈妈的爱是最伟大的!(mother's love is the greatest!) in a non-patronising way to the children.

After reading the book to the children, I moved on to playing some simple logic games by asking them to match the animal in the book to a phrase e.g. a puffin - eats fish, a wolf - howls at the moon. We then spent the remaining 25 minutes asking the children to draw their favourite animals that were found in the book.

Will post up some of their pictures up here once I get them scanned in.

Overall, another reasonable class though I need to ramp up my preparation for the classes more and make use of the kidsREAD volunteers' reading guide and select one of books from the guide.

Next week, I will break up into smaller groups for group reading as I have been doing a number of story-reading sessions with them. Some of the children are itching to be able to read and I think I need to spend more time on the students who are not reading as well as their peers.

Monday, July 10, 2006

kidsREAD grows!

My class has grown since the June holiday break and now I have 9 children in my class compared to 6 previously! Welcome to YZ, LM and C to Class 2B!

I took the class through the Book "Once in a Blue Moon" (can't remember who is the author). The story is about a lady auntie Floydie who forgot to plan her birthday party and felt sad but her friends the mailman, the countess and the mayor, got together to throw her a surprise party and she was so happy!

The class enjoyed the book as the illustrations of the characters in was colourful and exaggerated, like a cartoon. The illustrations allowed me to draw the children's attention to the details of the characters and allowed them to learn phrases such as "dressed to the nines", "once in a blue moon" and "foot in the mouth".

Following the story-reading, we played word games using the alphabet flash cards with alphabets and pictures of things starting with the letter e.g. A - picture of apple, W - picture of watch. We wrapped up the session by getting them to do pages 1 and 2 of the kidsREAD workbook.

I am starting to get the routine better organised as we will use the 1st half-hour to carry out the story reading followed by the 2nd half-hour focussed on activities or games. This allows the 1 hour session to proceed with very little time for the children to be bored or restless though at the starting of the book, not all the children were fully engaged in the book as some were day-dreaming.

Next week's lesson will see a change as I will get them to read now especially the newer children to get a feel of their reading proficiency. I plan to do some group work if I can snag one of the JC volunteers over to help in my class.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines...kidsREAD on 1 July 2006 11:30 am Session

Those of you who have played the arcade game "Daytona" will remember the announcer making this statement prior to the game starting.

I felt as if I was walking back into the "battleground" of hyperactive children clamouring for attention and to be fed the ultimate antidote to the illness of "boredom"!

Yes, kidsREAD! starts again at Jurong Student Service Centre and I found myself leading the neighbouring class as some of the regular volunteers were not available. HM felt that as my regular class was slightly less hyperactive than this bunch, she suggested that I take on this challenge. This class had about the same number as my class except they were more active in some aspects. After surviving 9 months of the program, I was more prepared and led them through the book, "If you Give A Pig a Pancake" by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

I chose this book partly because during one of the National Library Board's training sessions for kidsREAD! volunteers, the trainer had used this book to illustrate the techniques for reading to children. As most of the children had read the other books, I decided to use this one as I could still recall some of the elements of the story.

I gathered the children in front with their chairs facing me in a loose type of semi-circle and launched into the story-reading session. This is one of the recommended books in the kidsREAD program and I can see why. The illustrations of the cute pig and the adventures she goes through with her owner are attractive and easy to follow. How I do the story reading is to start off by asking the children - who likes pancakes or even knows what is a pancake. This gets the children interested about finding out more of the relationship between the pancake and the pig.

The book leds the readers along a journey on each step, i.e. if you give a pig a pancake, she will want syrup to go with it. That leads to the syrup - which is sticky - leading to the pig asking for a bath...and so on and so forth. It teaches the children to follow a certain sequence of events and at the same time helps them remember sequence of the facts. Of course, being a children's book, the illustrations make it fun to follow and I use the pictures to ask the children - do you see the syrup ? Who has tasted syrup before?

I learnt from my kidsREAD experience that story reading has to be interactive to children as reading to them like a newsreporter will result in a very fidgety and bored audience. By asking them questions, asking them to point out objects in the pictures and asking them to repeat certain words and phrases, they become more interested in the story and start to use their listening skills, speaking (repeating words and phrases). Also, allowances can be made for the children to interrupt as some will want to share their experience e.g. "Teacher, I have eaten pancakes at McDonalds before."

Most of the children responded well to this book and I concluded the session after spending about twenty five minutes on the book. After that, we broke up into smaller groups as there were two new potential volunteers who were helping. Thanks for your help! We played some word games with the children such as "Hangman" and "Guess the murderer" (though I am not sure how that game is played as the other volunteer was leading his group).

Pretty soon, the one hour for kidsREAD was completed and the children quickly packed up to go home. Another good session of kidsREAD where I practiced my story reading skills. Onward to next week's session on the 8th July 2006!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Return of kidsREAD! 1 July 2006

kidsREAD will resume on 1 July 2006 with MORE books, MORE volunteers and the most important element, MORE fun! :-)

We are gearing up to see the children again for the weekly hour long session of story-reading, craft activities and games. Hwee Min has informed us of the additional resources being provided for the next of 2006 which includes more big cover books, story books provided by the National Library Board as well as some young enthusiastic JC volunteers to help sustain us for the next 20+ weekends.

For the next half-of the year, I will concentrate more on story-telling once every month as well as to introduce more word games to the children so that they can associate learning reading and English as FUN and not another academic topic they have to learn. Capturing the attention span of 7-8 year olds is still a challenge without resorting to screaming at them and scolding them *sigh*. I am so glad I am not a primary school teacher!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

kidsREAD at Jurong Student Service Centre (JSSC) Takes a Break!

We are giving our children (and our volunteers!) a well-deserved break until 1 July 2006 when the program will resume at JSSC. In the meantime, we are still looking out for volunteers as our sister club at Punggol requires many volunteers (aged 15 and above, fluent in spoken English, available on Saturday mornings) given the long waiting list for children who wish to enrol in the program. Our centre at Jurong SSC also needs volunteers so that we can give achieve a better volunteer-child ratio to enhance the kidsREAD experience.

Leave a comment here and I will get back to you!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

2nd Anniversary Celebrations for kidsREAD organised on 23 April 2006

I was tasked with bringing the magnificent seven children from JSSC-kidsREAD all the way from the west to the spanking new National Library at Bras Basah for the 2nd Anniversary Celebrations for kidsREAD organised on 23 April 2006 for kidsREAD children and volunteers from all over Singapore.

The feedback from the children was that it was boring except for the bits where a magician came on to entertain them as well as the balloon sculpture given out by the nice lady. However, many little hearts were a bit sad that despite them raising their hands umpteen times, they did not manage to be picked for the free balloon sculpture.

Ms. Lim Hwee Hua came to speak about the kidsREAD programme but other than the NLB and other invited guests sitting in front, not many of the children were interested in her speech. At least none of my seven charges were keen and I do not blame them. Trying to get my children interested in a nicely illustrated storybook is already a challenge what more a full-blown ministerial speech that even adults may find it tough to listen with unbridled enthusiasm.

The goodie bag distributed at the event was good though. They gave out finger puppets of sea creatures (crab, fish, seahorse), lexan type small water bottles, a story book, notepad and pencil and a kidsREAD handy bag to keep all the goodies together. :-)

It appears that this event has also generated more inquiries and parents' interest in signing up their children for kidsREAD at our centre. That is certainly good news but we also need more volunteers to help with the programme. As it is, I feel that my 1 volunteer split among my class of 5-7 children does not give them the sufficient attention.

Monday, April 03, 2006

kidsREAD Snapshots on 1 April 2006

My class was as active and boisterous as ever with the super-seven (minus 1) stupendously serving out their slice of sustainable shouts during our session!

These snapshots capture the essence of their energetic endeavours coupled with my consistently crafted comments...hehehe :-)

If you think you have what it takes the do story reading and group based english activities, leave a comment with your contact email and we will get back to you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Volunteer Now: KidsRead! at CDAC Jurong Student Service Centre

If you are interested in participating in the Chinese Assistance Development Council (CDAC) KidsRead programme that is held:

Date: Every Saturday
Time: 10.30 am to 11.30 am (Class I) 11.30 am to 12.30 pm (Class II)
Venue: CDAC Jurong Student Service Centre (SSC)
Blk 421 Jurong West St 42 #01-1045 Singapore 640421

Age: 15 and above
Commitment: 1 hour per week for 6 months
Main tasks: Reading to children aged 4-8, inculcating good reading habits and helping children discover the joy of reading

Please contact Huimin for more details if you are interested in joining this program.

Friday, January 20, 2006

How to Volunteer for KidsREAD?

kidsREAD is a nationwide reading programme officially launched on 23 April 2004 by then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. kidsREAD is a collaborative effort by the National Library Board (NLB) together with the People's Association (PA) and five self-help groups to promote the love of reading and cultivate good reading habits among all young Singaporeans, in particular children from low-income families. The target audience of kidsREAD is children between the ages of 4 and 8, regardless of race or religion.

The objectives of kidsREAD are

  • To leverage on the strengths of various partners to create a reading programme for all children between the ages of 4 and 8 in Singapore.
  • To promote the love of reading and cultivate good reading habits among all young Singaporeans, in particular, children from low-income families.
  • To provide an avenue for children from various races to interact from an early age.
  • To help enhance the quality of life of the children and their families.
kidsREAD Participants

kidsREAD is open to children between the ages of 4 and 8 regardless of race, language or religion. Priority is given to children from less well-to-do families i.e. children from families with gross monthly household income not exceeding $2,000 or per capita income not exceeding $500

kidsREAD Volunteers
Volunteers are vital to sustaining the reading programme. Anyone can be a volunteer as long as they are 15 years and above. The time commitment is at least one hour per week for a period of 6 months. The main task of a volunteer is to read aloud stories to children so as to inculcate good reading habits from young and help them discover the joy of reading. Training will be provided for volunteers on basic storytelling skills, and use of the kidsREAD Starter Kit.

kidsREAD Programme

A kidsREAD Starter Kit comprising a recommended reading list, a poetry and rhymes list, and an activities list serves as a resource guide for volunteers to use in running the Reading Clubs. Volunteers are trained on how to use the kit and other skills to work with children. Participating children can expect reading to be made more enjoyable through a fun-filled interactive setting. Word puzzles, board games and craft making are some of the elements incorporated to make reading an exciting journey.

kidsREAD Reading Clubs

Each Reading Club can take up to a maximum of 25 children with 5 volunteers managing the session. The programme is conducted for a year and each session is conducted once a week for 1 hour. For the first half hour, volunteers read aloud stories from books to the participants. For the next half hour, the children is further divided into smaller groups of about 5 according to their reading skills or age range. A volunteer attached to each group would then engage the children in an interesting variety of reading and related activities such as craft, board games, poetry and songs.

For further queries, please contact:

kidsREAD Secretariat

278 Marine Parade Road #B1-01

Marine Parade Community Building

Singapore 449282

Telephone: 63424205

Fax: 63424411

Email: kidsread@nlb.gov.sg

For those interested to volunteer with Chinese Development Assistance Council's kidsREAD clubs, please contact:

Email: rod.loh (at) gmail.com