Lessons Without Walls My Other Projects

XYZ Learning Journey

This project was done last year. I love that my boys’ kindy incorporate simple Science experiments for the students to do at home over the holidays. As this is close to my heart and I have a weakness for Science experiments, I dug out the materials needed for the experiment. I read through the instructions and preparations with my eldest boy, and got him to pose unwillingly. He was impatient to start the shaking!

It was a good 5 minutes and more worth of arms exercising, with the daddy roped in to help solidify the mixture. The butter was a success! We poured out the excess liquid and quickly put in the refrigerator to chill. We forgot to take the final result though. Just as we were about to dig in to taste, my helper told us she forgot to sterilize the glass bottle. We had to dump the creamy gold with the boys protesting. We will try it again!

Lessons Without Walls My Other Projects

My Parenting Journey – Shirleen Tan

Name of respondentShirleen Tan
BioA mother of two energetic boys and one more boy in the pipeline (due in November), Shirleen is thankful for her mother-in-law’s help so she can continue her passion to teach and sow seeds in her students’ lives. You can find out more about her work at

What influences your parenting style?
Parenting is a life-long learning and every child is special and unique. As my husband and I walk through parenting for our boys, it is indeed not easy. We have to navigate suitable ways that work for our children, and not what that worked for me or my husband before. However, traditional methods like “spare the rod and spoil the child” is still effective for us to mete out discipline when we need to. I read a lot of parenting books, especially on raising boys and these give me insights on how to manage an all-boys culture. We embrace both traditional and western parenting styles, and we learn by “trial and error”. One thing that we are strongly against is to show any form of bias among our boys, which was largely reflected throughout my growing up years.

How do you develop close relationships with your children?
With discussion and support from my husband, I quit full-time teaching and turned to private tutoring for the flexibility when my husband needs to work late. This is to ensure one parent is with the boys to tuck them to bed every night. I make it a point to ask them about their day in school, to show them I care. This is tough, especially on some days I just need to hit the sack but they still insist on sharing their stories! But I enjoy these moments as that is how much time they will be young. I free my weekends lessons currently to walk my talk too. It is my desire to witness every growing phase of their lives while I can.

What is the best piece of parenting advice or guidance you have ever received?
No one child is the same, learn to live the “let go” life. I liken it to flying a kite. When I control the kite (child) too much, the string (communication) breaks and I lose hold (trust) of the kite (child). Learn to rein in and release the strings of the kite at the right place, at the right time, and the kite will soar high and confidently. That opened up my parenting perspective to a new level.

When I control the kite (child) too much, the string (communication) breaks and I lose hold (trust) of the kite (child). Learn to rein in and release the strings of the kite at the right place, at the right time, and the kite will soar high and confidently.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in parenting? How do you deal with them?
One of my biggest challenges is teaching my own children. I confess I need a lot of sharpening in this area. I used to think being a teacher has its advantage, i.e. no need to spend on extra lessons! Yay, right? Nay! The hard truth hit me in my face when my then four-year-old eldest boy told my mother-in-law he did not want to come home. I am not a tiger mom (yet, I hope) – I merely insisted that he writes his name and simple letters correctly and properly. He could not differentiate between my role as a teacher and a mother. He was confused and he did not like it when I slipped into the teacher role. That made me reflect and in the end, I left the teaching to his kindergarten and focused on being a mother to support him in his learning. As and when he needs me to teach him to read or count, I will gladly do so, but at his pace and time. This is like the Kite Theory I shared above. It works!

As a parent, what is the one thing that you want to do better or be better at?
As a parent, I do have my blind spots, and my children can be my best teachers to help me reflect and re-align my parenting style.

What advice do you have for parents who have kids of the same age?
Listen to them. Kids of this generation are more vocal in their own rights, and they do deserve our time and attention. However, do draw a line between disciplining and listening. They are also smart to know whose heads they can climb over. My husband and I make it clear to our boys that while we listen to what they want, we make the final decision within reasonable boundaries. Set rules and stick to them. If the rules are not working, reflect and amend. Start over again till what works. For older kids, give them a chance to set rules so they have an ownership and will tend to abide.



Full Story:

Lessons Without Walls

2018 – Ble5sed Birthday, Kai!

The clock strikes midnight, you turn five

A precious baby, from the One most High

A gift for me, I shall not deny

Sharing the same day, to my delight!

God is indeed good! It’s the time of the year, where I am reminded of His faithfulness to me, once again. It’s no secret that Kai shares the same birthday as me. I believe it is God’s sweet birthday gift to me, as I miscarried once before Kai. The bad news then was real, the denial was real, the grief was real, the hurt was real, the anger was real, the resentment was real. But one thing stands real. God’s true love. His healing is real. His grace is real. His patience is real. His compassion is real. His power is real. Above all, His promise is real. He heals the broken hearted. His burden is easy, and His yoke is light. I am glad I chose to believe in who my God is. 

Thank you, abba Father, for a birthday present that will stay with me, for the rest of my life! 

Lessons Without Walls

Festive. Fun. Fellowship. 

While celebrating Christmas, let us not forget the real reason for this season, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam who came to save us all. Believing that our children will grow to understand that the greatest gift of all is Him. For now, they are contented to eat, play, enjoy. 🙂

Lessons Without Walls

Lion 姑姑(Aunt)?

Taught my 2 darling nephews when E1 was in p2 and E2 was in K2. I was apprehensive to tutor them as I can be quite strict in fleshing out my expectations. Had a few private messages from my brother that I was a tad harsh on the boys, not in terms of scolding, but in terms of work requirements. Yes, I’m a stickler for neat work, workings, presentation of answers and checking of work. But he sees the results at the end of the day. ‘Nuff said. My brother and sil were proud that E2 had 3rd in class, something they had not thought possible. E1 is smart too. I joked that E1 should start with me when he was in p1. Anyhow, I am sure E1 will do well in his p4 next year, under the claws of his Lion 姑姑. 😎

Satisfied with E1 sa2 results. His subjects all improved, pity the English in sa1. His carelessness caused him a lot of marks lost, but he picked himself up at the later part. My nagging reaped rewards, at least. I am happy with his Science too, that he has met my expectations. Math was unexpectedly exceeded my expectations. If he had done equally well in sa1, he would have gotten a position too. Keep it up!

E2 math was a resounding success. He did not like math at all and he did not like to count. Got to think of ways to engage him and get him interested. Efforts paid off too, as he hit the bull’s eye of full marks. 

Overall, both boys are smart in their own rights, just got to find the right angle to help them develop their strengths. My sil told me to continue to set the bar high for them. What do we have when a Lion Mum and a Lion Aunt add up to? 🤣 Kidding, we all have to find a balance to manage children stress levels too. Praying for wisdom to instil the right values for all my students. 

Lessons Without Walls

I ❤ Reading

Reading is part of me and I really love to read. I used to spend hours reading at home and in libraries. With this, I hope my children inherit this trait. For K, he wasn’t an avid reader when he was younger and I almost lost hope in him. 

K also told me my tuition room also looks like a mini library. Most of the books displayed are children books, which I hope he will read. Fast forward to now, he seems to enjoy reading and my hopes are high again. S follows what K does and it is a positive synergy as S has K as a role model.

Lessons Without Walls

Let There Be Light!

K told me my tuition room is like a Science centre. I’m proud to hear that and yes, I do like alot of hands on materials for my students to play around. There must be connection when learning and the best way to bring the lessons across is by sharpening their 5 senses. 

A simple tool, which I can use for several topics, like Energy, Light, Electricity. 

Too abstract to teach them heavy stuff, so they were contented to treat that object like a toy and imagine they have super powers to power that ‘glass ball’. Clean fun.

Lessons Without Walls

Spending Time With Me 

So Kai kept nagging at me to do an Oreo Milkshake, Which I did for my Lower Primary Writing Enrichment. Had the time to do today, and he was very excited. 

Look on his face shows it all.

Crush, Crunch, Chuck!

Blitz away!

KnS (not the hokkien vocab, in case you are wondering) enjoyed their Oreo Milkshake! Simple no brainer recipe to whip!

Lessons Without Walls

5 Loaves, 2 Fishes

Today is a special day as this marks the official day I am not opening my Saturdays for lessons. Feeling bittersweet. Bitter, as for those who are fellow tutors, we know weekend catchment is the best to earn, as most parents send their children for lessons, which was what I have been doing for the past 10 over years. Sweet, as I know as a mother, I am called to be there for my young hearts, to spend time with them, and to nurture their needs. It has been a struggle as personally, I am reluctant to give up my ‘黄金时间’, and besides cutting off my Saturday classes, I have to even cut down my weekday night classes so my boys can sleep early and wake early for their morning classes next year. Which means, a definite drop in income. I am prepared to earn lesser, as in the working world, you work less, you earn less. 

But God is really amazing. In His world, I found I actually work less, and earn more! Before you cast stones, let me explain. My tuition services extended from individual to small groups ever since the day I decided to keep to a certain time for work and certain time for family. Calls, enquiries, word of mouth, referrals, etc started coming in. Some come and go. But the actual numbers on hand are more than enough to match the current amount I am earning. This is my first time banding small groups of lessons too. But I am confident and prepared to take on, unlike previously. I believe God is preparing me for my next phase of journey.
Really love that God does make use of what we have in our hands and multiply them, so much so we have more than enough. Exceedingly, abundantly. Also, the courage to decide what to let go of, so He can give us more. For me, it’s the decision to let go of my night classes and Sat classes. I am blessed with more! Glory to God!

Looking forward to a great 2018 ahead!