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The coolest mums know that the secret to an awesome vacation is finding the best spots that cater to her families needs as well as her own. With just a 4-hour flight away from Kuala Lumpur, Asia’s World City is definitely a good choice for a mum who wants it all for her family! From the creative arts scenes to activities for family fun, and from foodie adventures to lush outdoor trails, let’s see what Hong Kong has to offer for you and your kiddos:

Explore the Great Outdoors

1. Dragon’s Back

With beautiful coastal scenery and easy-accessibility from the city, the Dragon’s Back is a popular escape that gets regular mentions in travel guidebooks. A relatively easy nature hike that is achievable even for young children, the Dragon’s Back hike promises stunning views of Shek O, Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam and even the South China Sea. Kids will be entertained by the little streams along the hiking trail and will enjoy the hike which will require some scrambling at some areas.

2. Sai Yuen Farm at Cheung Chau

It’s not all bustling city life in Hong Kong – how about a camping trip in its outlying islands? Cheung Chau offers family fun activities like cycling and camping, and a visit to Sai Yuen Farm is definitely worth your while. Besides the lush greenery, there are also outdoor activities like the Tree Top Canopy Walk, craft workshops, goat feeding and more. Families can also top it off with a night’s stay at one of the outdoor camping tents at the farm. There are 4 camp concepts to choose from, including the African or Mongolian native culture camps. For a magical night, pick the Star Gazing Geodesic Dome that has a transparent ceiling so you can literally sleep under the stars. Makes a perfect story-telling moment for the children!

City Sights

1. Harbour City Mall

Harbour City is the place to be for all fashionista mums and bubs! Besides being the largest mall in Hong Kong, Harbour City boasts a kids shopping paradise of more than 40 branded children’s apparel. It is also home to Asia’s largest Toys R Us flagship store. After shopping, families can head over to the Ocean Terminal Deck – a rooftop observatory deck surrounded by the ocean view. This offers a 270-degree panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and breathtaking views of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It’s the best vantage point to enjoy Hong Kong’s sunset views!

2. PMQ at Old Town Central District

Beneath the stunning skyline of Central, history, arts, food, and culture coexist in one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. Plan your trip to visit PMQ for a deeper look into Hong Kong’s creative and entrepreneurial scene. The creative arts and design venue houses more than 100 local designers, craftsmen and entrepreneurs selling creative, quirky and handmade items. This is where Hong Kong’s contrasting elements blend and collide – it’s a feast for the eyes.

Gastronomic Foodie Adventure

1. 9 ¾ café

As the name hints, this café is inspired by everything Harry Potter! From décor and display of memorabilia, Harry Potter fans will be magically transported to the wizarding world of Potter. You can relive that Wingardium Leviosa moment as you chug down some tasty Butter Beer!

2. YUM CHA

YUM CHA showcases contemporary Chinese cuisine in a vibrant East-meets-West atmosphere. It brings you a glimpse of old traditional teahouses, yet adopts a playful twist on Chinese cuisine. Dining at the restaurant is made memorable with a number of ‘camera eats first’ moments – certainly something for the more Instagram-mad mummies out there! The best part? The culinary team emphasises the use of fresh, seasonal and quality ingredients and only serves food with no added MSG. That’s good for the tastebuds and better for our ease of mind.

Adventure Tour Rides

1. Ngong Ping 360

The longest aerial cable car system in Asia, Ngong Ping 360 offers an exciting opportunity for guests to experience a unique natural and cultural experience. The Ngong Ping Cable Car stretches 5.7 km from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping. It offers a visually spectacular 25-minute journey with panoramic views of the flora and fauna of North Lantau Country Park, Tung Chung Bay and the Hong Kong International Airport. Guests can visit the Ngong Ping Village, where they can enjoy a wide range of dining, shopping and entertainment options. Families can also be entertained at culturally-themed attractions, including the Stage 360, Motion 360 and Walking with Buddha.

2. TramOramic Tour

Take in the sights of Hong Kong in a different way – discover its rich history with a one-hour sightseeing journey aboard a unique 1920s-style tram. With an open-top upper deck and a vintage cabin lower deck, Hong Kong’s past and present are brought to life through authentic tales of local life delivered through personal headsets in your choice of eight languages. The tour package also includes a two-day pass offering unlimited free access to Hong Kong Tramways’ regular service to let you further explore Hong Kong Island.

Enchanting Family Fun Attractions

1. Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort offers unforgettable Disney experiences for guests of all ages and nationalities. In the magical kingdom theme park —filled with your favorite Disney stories and characters — explore seven diverse lands that are home to award-winning attractions and entertainment.  In May 2018, the brave heroine Moana will sail to Hong Kong Disneyland and appear in an all-new atmosphere stage show. “Moana: A Homecoming Celebration” is an 18-minute live show set in an entirely new exotic outdoor venue in Adventureland. Jam-packed with inspirational music, dancing, puppetry and storytelling, it recounts Moana’s adventures after returning to her home village of Motunui.


2. Ocean Park

Not only can you see marine animals up close in Ocean Park, there is also an amusement park with over 80 attractions and rides. One main attraction that really does the trick is Mine Train, which is Hong Kong’s first VR roller coaster. Experience a whole new multi-sensory and immerse yourselves in the natural world through VR effects.

3. Madame Tussauds

Meet your favourite celebrities at Madame Tussauds with more than 100 incredibly lifelike wax figures spanning up to 11 interactive zones. Get up close and personal as you visit the K-Wave Zone, Kung Fu Zone and Yayoi Kusama Zone. Take those obligatory selfies with some of the world’s most respected historial and political figures!

4. sky100 Observation Deck

Hong Kong’s highest indoor observation deck, sky100, is located on the 100th floor of Hong Kong’s tallest building. It offers a dizzying 360-degree views of Victoria Harbour. Take the high speed lift and get from 1st to 100th floor in just 60 seconds! Explore the observation deck’s interactive exhibition or snap a photo at one of the photo booths. They are equipped with advanced augmented-reality technology and 3D effects, turning your photos into dynamic ones!

5. Noah’s Ark

Built to resemble Noah’s Ark, it boasts 67 pairs of life-sized animal sculptures. This venue also includes 5 interactive attractions, a nature garden, an expo offering multimedia experience and a 4D theatre. Located on Ma Wan island, the waterfront ark is a fun-filled attraction where entertainment, conservation and education combine delightfully.

 

Families can take advantage of attractive airfare deals to Hong Kong offered by Air Asia, or discoverhongkong.com for more details.

Information from the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

 

In September 2017, the Royal Malaysian Police revealed that 4 children go missing every day in Malaysia. Against this backdrop and other frightening statistics, should our kids be learning self-defence?

Makchic speaks to SEN Master Academy‘s Master Eric Khoo (Principle Instructor) and Master Mohd Khaldun Redza (Chief Instructor). Khaldun is a 7th Degree Black Belt with 40 years of experience in Taekwon-Do, and Khoo is a 5th Degree Black Belt, with 25 years. Makchic is collaborating with Me Books Asia and SEN Master Academy in a Kids’ Self-Defence 101 workshop, which will be held on the 29th of April, 2018.

Some would say children are too young to be taught self-defence – what is your view?

Khoo:  In my opinion, toddlers may be too young to understand self-defence. Older kids, say from 5 onwards, will begin to understand the concept of danger and will appreciate self-defence training to some degree. In any case, self defense is not just about physical techniques but soft skills as well. It is hard to imagine a child fighting off an adult, though it is not impossible. Therefore it is important to learn awareness of their surroundings. They can learn to identify what constitutes as danger in order to avoid a possible threat.

Khaldun: We strongly believe that everyone must learn self-defence and be aware of how to keep themselves safe, regardless of gender, age and condition. Learning how to keep one’s self safe is one of the most critical life-skills that we can inculcate in our children.

The question however arises, what would be the most conducive age for us to instil self-defence and safety awareness? It is my firm belief that it should be at the earliest possible opportunity when the child has developed self-awareness. This is when they have an understanding of their environment and surroundings. It is also as soon as they begin interacting with others beyond their immediate family. As Eric had mentioned, toddlers may be too young to understand complex self-preservation concepts. But we should already try to instil some safety notions.

What are these ‘safety notions’ – how necessary are they?

Khaldun: A good and appropriate age to broach such complex concepts such as Stranger Danger, Good Touch and Bad Touch, and Situational Awareness would be from 4 to 5 years old.

A major point to note is that statistics reveal that at least one in 10 children in Malaysia have been, or continue to be sexually abused. One in four have been physically abused. Children today are vulnerable and exposed to all forms of danger. Teaching a child self-defence and safety awareness at a young age is no longer an option. Along with music classes or language classes, it has now become a necessity.

Another point to note is as Eric had explained, self-defence awareness and skills goes beyond physical know-how and aggressive techniques. The common misconception is that self-defence training is for the rough and tough. That it involves exposing children to violence and aggression. Self-defence is a mindset. It is an outlook, an attitude, an approach. Knowledge of soft-skills can be even more vital to one’s survival over physical prowess, or proficiency in super-cool Bruce Lee moves.

What are the other benefits of teaching children self-defence?

Khoo: Most people, even more so children, will not know what to do when faced with a dangerous situation and will likely freeze. Training in self-defence will help you to identify the threat and learn how to deal with it, and give you an opportunity to minimise danger to yourself.

Khaldun: It has often been said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Self-defence involves strategies, mental as well as physical conditioning. Consistent and continuous practice empowers the child with the presence of mind, know-how and confidence to avoid danger. They will also know how to respond appropriately and minimise harm to self. This is the core philosophy behind our A.R.M. Self-Defence approach.

Would it be better for parents to enrol their children in regular classes like taekwondo, karate or some martial arts to better defend themselves?

Khoo: Yes, as martial arts instructors, we are of the opinion that children will benefit from martial arts classes, whatever the martial art may be. Besides self-defence, they will also gain the benefits of health and fitness, better focus, team-playing and self-confidence. We have students who have gone on to improve academically after being involved in martial arts training. Also, in a traditional and classical martial art like Taekwon-do, we emphasise the teaching of life-values through our tenets – ‘Courtesy, Integrity, Perserverance, Self Control & Indomitable Spirit’ – which the child will carry on to adulthood.

What is the most important thing parents need to do to ensure their children’s safety?

Khoo:  Parents need to talk to their children and develop a bond of open communication. A child will always look to his or her parents for protection. Parents should be able to find out who their friends are and what they do on social media (if they are old enough to have an account). Asking how their day went will give the parent an idea of what the child is going through. They will be able to pick up signs if their child is in distress, for example, if the child is being bullied in school.

Parents will have to talk to their kids about dangers they might face, whether it is strangers approaching them or about being alert or not distracted by electronic gadgets in public. They could also imbue aspects of physical self defense through playtime.

I’m afraid of introducing more ‘violent’ concepts like fighting, hitting or attacking to my child. How can I navigate this area carefully?

Khoo: It is normal for parents to think that learning martial arts will make their kids more violent. But nothing can be further from the truth. In our classes, kids are always reminded that the skills they learn should never be used to harm others unless it is to defend themselves or their family. With our students, we emphasise that we do not condone the use of their skills to bully or to show off. If they are found doing so, they will be expelled from class. Children do understand what is right and wrong. We are glad to say that our students have adhered to our advice.

Khaldun:  It is important for us as adults to keep indoctrinating into our children that violence is not-acceptable. It is never a solution or an option. But we must not sugar-coat the fact that there are bad and violent people out there. That violence can happen to us or our loved ones if we are not careful. Awareness and avoidance is key. Teaching this to pure, innocent and trusting children especially those aged 4 – 5 years will of course require tact, gentleness and creativity. But you’ll be surprised – children these days can have a higher level of empathy and comprehension that we think they are capable of.

This depends on the quality of instruction.

Khairun: A good and responsible teacher will coach their children that the best way out of danger is to avoid it, or to walk away from it. It does not mean that we are cowards. It means that we are smart and brave. We learn how to fight so that we do not need to fight. In every class we will always stress that the skills they are being taught are strictly for the protection of self, family and loved ones. As the child progresses in their self-defence or martial arts training they will become stronger and more capable. They will realise this and it will boost their self-confidence.

They can cause hurt to others if they do not control their actions. We constantly remind them that the ultimate goal of all martial artists is to learn self-control, and to have control over their weaknesses and circumstances. They will be taught to control and bridle their power, impulses and reactions. A responsible and conscientious instructor will ensure this.

What will parents and children come away with after attending this workshop?

Khoo: They will learn to a least be mindful of possible threats out there and have some knowledge in dealing with particular situations. Will the lessons learned keep a child out of harm’s way 100%? No it won’t. But the child will have presence of mind to identify threats and be able to do something about it, at the very least. Parents will have learned some useful information and physical techniques to practise with their children. Self-defence is not something you learn one-off in a workshop and remember forever. It takes continuous practice to refine.

 

By Laych Koh


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You get an inkling that Maria Montessori’s legacy in early childhood education is special indeed, when you consider some facts. Both of Google’s founders – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – went to Montessori schools.  And look at some of the schools’ other famous alumni – there is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and legendary author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Music megastar Beyonce’s first talents also emerged in a Montessori school.

What’s so special about the Montessori education that produces these unique personalities and talents? The philosophy is now well known and frequently lauded. But do you really know what the early education approach really is about?

Observations from The children’s house

We take notes from The children’s house to highlight 7 Things About the Montessori Approach that Produces One-of-a-kind Individuals. TCH was the first place in Malaysia ever to introduce Montessori education in 1986. As it has been teaching tens of thousands of children for 30 years, some of its talented graduates also offer their fond memories and thoughts about the teaching method.

1. Each Child Is a Unique Learner, and a Useful Teacher

It is commonplace to compare kids – parents worry about their child’s grades, learning and sociability! But the Montessori approach is a child-centred approach, emphasising that each child is unique. As such – why compare?

The children’s house says it has always strongly advocated that the Montessori approach of learning is to provide the child an education for life. Not to be an A-star student, but an A-star individual.

Josh Lim, a 33-year-old social media expert and entrepreneur, said he definitely had memorable moments as a Montessori child who felt unique. “One of the little details of my happy memories in The children’s house – things like how they would dispense tomato sauce on your plate in the shape of your initials!” It is perhaps not a surprise that Montessori graduates develop a confident and strong sense of self.

The Montessori method also sees multiage groupings that allow children to foster peer learning. The younger children learn from older children, and the older ones reinforce their learning by teaching what they have mastered. They get uninterrupted blocks of work time, and a guided choice of work activity.

2. Make a Difference

Many of the Montessori schools’ alumni credit the free-flowing classes that allowed them to think differently. It made them feel like they could change the world. Dr Montessori always emphasised the importance of presenting a whole view of the world to kids.

She was also possibly one of the best advocates for sustainability in decades past. The pioneer developed a new and advanced curriculum for older children, termed cosmic education. She repeatedly stressed about the great interdependence of everything – the sun, water, atmosphere and the earth, a prelude to the sustainability projects of today.

3. A Strict Self-Discipline

The classes may be free-flowing, but they are actually imbued with a strong sense of self-discipline. The Montessori method believes that children have an inner need for consistency and repetition. This means that its environment of learning is always an orderly place. Schedules are clear and well adhered to. Children have an inner need for consistency and repetition – they feel calm, secure and able to learn as a result.

The Montessori environment is an orderly place that has ground rules. But this sense of discipline and orderliness can be fun, as Fleur Civel remembers. The 19-year-old student of hospitality, currently living in France, says her preschool years in TCH from 1997 to 2001 gave her a sense of ease. “I used to look forward to setting the table every day and I still love setting it now!”

Fleur Civel and Aunty Nan of TCH

4. All About Those Golden Beads!

Farhan Shafee, an alumni of The children’s house, is currently practicing law at his father’s firm Shafee and Co, but he jokes that he “still (uses) those golden beads to do my math!” He attended TCH from 1991 – 1995. Those Golden Beads he is talking about?  It’s a Montessori math material used to give a concrete introduction to the decimal system.

Farhan Shafee

Those memorable beads are like other Montessori materials that introduce concrete learning before abstract learning. They were also brought up by former TCH graduate Alang Aris. Alang, an enthusiastic entrepreneur who founded ‘Workidol’, an online outsourcing marketplace for digital projects, said: “The golden beads were definitely the best form of concrete material that made me understand the abstract of mathematics.”

5. The Child’s Size and Choice

Dr. Maria Montessori designed the educational materials into 5 curriculum areas, namely – Practical Life, Sensorial, Number Work, Language and Culture. In this setting she also started using a method in 1907 – scaling down all furniture, fittings and learning materials to child size. In her first class she first replaced heavy furniture with lighter and moveable tables, chairs, shelves and cupboards. She placed pictures on the walls.

The teaching materials were arranged on the shelves in an orderly way. They classified these into areas, and from simple to complex. In short, the school carefully adapted the prepared environment to children’s size and abilities. Gradually, Montessori saw that the children’s behaviour changed. If they were timid or wild before, the children were now more sociable and communicative.

In the Montessori method, the teacher, child, and this prepared and pleasing environment create a learning triangle. The teacher carefully prepares the classroom so the child has independence and freedom within limits. The child then makes use of that environment to exercise individual choice.

 

6. Positive Self-Image and Compassion

The first students in Maria Montessori’s classroom thrived on routine, tidiness and communal meals. Above all was also the freedom to move, choose and socialise in a non-competitive, calm and harmonious environment.

The Montessori method introduced the concept that children were capable of educating themselves through autoeducation or self-education. Guided and supported by an observant teacher, the children develop the skills and abilities necessary for effective learning autonomy, as well as positive self-esteem.

They observed good manners, and their social and intellectual capabilities were evident. The children in that first classroom became independent, well-coordinated, self-disciplined, responsible and sociable. These children certainly had a positive self-image and compassion, besides being able to read, write and count.

This continues in Montessori classrooms all over the world and through the ages, as alumni Sheena Siva remembers. “My time in The children’s house was very meaningful and memorable as I was given the privilege of harnessing my talents and knowledge from such a young age.”

The 18-year-old has just started her Cambridge A-levels at Methodist College on a full scholarship offered by the college. She said she wouldn’t be where she was today if it wasn’t for “the art classes, the speech and drama sessions, the sing-along nursery rhymes, and most importantly, my wonderful ‘Aunties’ who stood by me and helped me unleash my hidden potential.”

7. The Absorbent Mind

“I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life”.

No less than literary giant Gabriel Garcia Marquez said that in 1932, and this is echoed by proponents of the philosophy of Dr Maria Montessori. She believed the unique mind of the child has a real constructive energy and intellectual powers. She stressed that there is a remarkable force in humans. This force, she believed, is most powerful during the first phase of human life – the childhood phase from birth to six. Her belief was that children are endowed with the capacity to learn and they should be provided with a wealth of information to enrich their understanding of all aspects of the world.

For infants and pre-toddlers

This most powerful phase – from birth to six – is now a firm focus at The children’s house. Their infant and pre-toddler programme concentrates on the holistic development of infants in the first three years of life. The award-winning curriculum was developed by Learning Vision Singapore, a member of the Busy Bees Southeast Asia family and has proved to be highly popular in Singapore. It was also well received in Tunas Kijang, Central Bank Malaysia Child Care Centre in Kuala Lumpur when it was launched in 2011. Subsequently, this curriculum was introduced in The children’s house Ara Damansara and a dedicated infant centre in Aman Walk, Mont Kiara.

TCH’s learning environment is designed to respect, support and respond to baby’s sensorial development. There is a focus on their emerging physical, sensory-motor, perceptual, cognitive, language and sociale-motional skills. Its preschools, located strategically in Klang Valley, undergo constant refurbishment to ensure they are always aligned with the ever-changing needs of children.

With 30 years of success in Malaysia, and Montessori’s much-loved and lauded proven track record, parents can find ease and confidence in starting their child on the right path earlier. And the cherry on top? The iconic red and white schools have expanded their usual offering of half-day programme. They now have extended hours and full day programmes to suit the needs of working mummies!

By Nellie Liang

 

This is a sponsored post presented by Global Educare Sdn Bhd