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uBook - Your Part-time Helper For The Daily Household Chores

Monday, 10 April 2017

Picture this: Laundry lying around, toys thrown all over the house, sink that always seems to have some dirty dishes in it and there is always a layer of dust on some shelves and cabinets. To be honest, our house is not in a spick and span condition most of the time. In fact, if anyone wants to visit our house, we will be busy doing some last minute hiding clean up before welcoming anyone. 


Furthermore, with two young children at home, it is really difficult to keep things clutter free and tidy. You know it! Just minutes after tidying an area, a kid comes along bringing out his toys and starts playing on the floor, often forgetting to keep everything back after playing. Sometimes, I could be in the midst of doing housework when one of the boys decides to ask me to read or play with him.

'Please excuse our messy house, our kids are making memories.'

At times, I wish I could just drop all the housework and just spend time with the boys. Of course, that is not possible. So how do we manage everything? My tip is to close one eye, occasionally, both eyes. I do not want to spend my precious time and energy on housework, so I make do with things just being ok. It is ok to have laundry lying on the sofa for a few days when I am busy attending to sick children. It is ok not to vacuum the floor every day when we have a busy schedule to keep to. It is ok to leave some dust on the high and difficult to reach shelves and cabinets when the kids can’t reach these dusty areas. 



An easier method to tackle the housework is to engage external help. However, getting a stay-in helper is not something that we, as a single income family, can afford. I also do not feel comfortable to have someone else living together with us. Furthermore, if I am staying at home, I should be the one cleaning up the house, isn't it?

Another alternative is to engage a part-time helper! About half a year back, I got to know about uBook and was offered an opportunity to review their service. I was so happy because that really took a big load of my housework load and I got to spend more time with my little ones.

What is uBook?


uBook is an online portal offering part-time cleaning services. You can choose to book a cleaner on an ad-hoc or recurring basis. For a fee from $20/hour onwards, a cleaner will come by your house for some basic cleaning. These include wiping and dusting of surfaces, vacuuming and mopping of floors, cleaning of toilets and shower stalls, making of beds, washing dishes, tidying clutters in a simple manner, etc. You may also add on additional cleaning hours for the following extra services: ironing, cleaning interior windows, fridge, cabinets, oven, etc. For more information on the services provided please check here



How to book?


It is very fast and easy to book a uBook helper online! Just go to uBook’s website, click on ‘Book Maid’, fill in the form and submit it. Payment is done securely online via credit card and payment will only be deducted after the cleaning job is done.


Three days before the cleaning day, a reminder is sent via SMS and E-mail to remind you of the cleaning appointment.


Service review


Every alternate week, a helper from uBook will come over to our house to help out with the housework load.

Of all the housework chores, ironing is something I don't really enjoy, especially hubby's working shirts. I have a tendency to pile up the clothes until hubby starts saying he has no clothes to wear. Oops!! I'm so blessed that I have help from uBook for these couple of months and I'm able to take a break from the ironing.



Apart from ironing, which is an add-on service, uBook also helped me with the basic cleaning, such as washing the two toilets, vacuuming and mopping the floor and wiping of surfaces. I'm surprised that the helper can finish all these within 3 hours, sometimes even earlier! If it were me, I am sure I will not be able to finish all these within the stipulated time, because I will be distracted by the kids and social media.

Having someone to help with these regular cleaning means I can use the free time to clear some of the long outstanding tasks on my to-do-list. For example, I managed to declutter our home learning cabinet, clean out the medicine box, packed away the clothes which the boys have outgrown, etc. It also gives me the motivation to put in more effort in maintaining the tidiness in the house, such as our dining table which more than half of its surface was used as a drop-off area for all kinds of stuff we brought in. Now it serves as our real dining table and work area for the boys.

While the helper is here, I use the time to play and learn with the boys. I'm really grateful that uBook helps me with my housework so that I can spend more time on things that matter more.


When it was near the Chinese New Year period, I requested for another add-on service, cleaning the windows. In past years, I will be slogging to declutter and clean the house up till the last minute before the festival. This year, I had the help from uBook, which makes spring cleaning so much easier and faster! Since they had taken care of the regular cleaning, I was able to concentrate my efforts in decluttering!


There were a few occasions when I need to leave the house to run some errands and I am assured by uBook that I can safely leave the house to the helper and run along with my errands. Frankly, I was quite worried about this. What if something goes missing or something happened? uBook assured me that stringent checks are conducted on their helpers - they interview them in person and must pass criminal records checks. This is to ensure a safe and reliable helper for their clients. Indeed, when I came home from my errands, the house was tidied up and nothing valuable was missing.

Over the past 6 months, we were assigned with different cleaners to let us have a feel of how different cleaners worked. I really like a few of them and I requested if I can have the same helper for future cleaning. 'Sure!' was the reply from uBook. Since each cleaner is different, their working style is also different. Some like to do the ironing last while some like to do it first. Some like to clean room by room while some like to do the same chore for the whole house first. Some are very detailed with the cleaning while some try to get as much cleaning done as possible. It was entirely fine for me as long as they can finish everything.

Overall, the whole cleaning experience was great. My house gets cleaned and ironing gets done. There were a few issues with punctuality due to bad traffic conditions. I am ok with that since I will be at home anyway. However, this could be a problem for customers who have a very tight schedule. The helpers are friendly and reliable. I only need to brief them what need to be done, provide them with the cleaning tools and they get started right away. After the cleaning session, uBook also contacted me to ask if the cleaning session was fine and if I have any feedback so that they can improve their service in the future.

I am fortunate that uBook has offered to help me out on the housework chores front. This has given me some relief from the daily never ending housework. At least, I do not need to do heavy cleaning on that particular lucky day when uBook comes by.


uBook

Operating hours: 8am to 7pm
Contact/SMS/Whatsapp: 9898 7339
Email: enquiry@ubook.com.sg
Web | Facebook


Disclaimer: We were sponsored cleaning sessions with uBook for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was involved. All opinions, texts and photos are mine, unless otherwise stated.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to share it with your friends. I would be glad if you could follow me on Facebook or Instagram


Eye Level Math - Learning From The Child's Level

Sunday, 26 March 2017

If you have been following me on Instagram, I have been sharing that Big J has been going for math lessons at Eye Level



Big J's learning development is slower than most of his peers. Math is one area that is challenging for him. I have tried looking for a suitable learning centre for him but it is not easy. Most of the typical classes group the students by age and lessons are conducted based on a 'one-size-fits-all' curriculum. Since Big J did not have a strong foundation, he is not able to keep up with the class. Being an active and curious boy, paying attention is not something that is easy for him. The big class size of typical enrichment centres is thus not suitable for him.

When I received an invitation from Eye Level to review their programme, I was quite hesitant because I wasn't sure if it would be suitable for Big J. I took a look at their website and realised that they offered an individualised curriculum catering to children of different abilities. This is something that I have been looking for! So, that is the start of our journey with Eye Level.


The Environment



Eye Level currently has 19 learning centres in Singapore. Coincidentally, there is a centre near where we are staying, the Jurong West branch. Apart from the waiting area, there is a reading corner filled with lots of books. The students are welcome to read the books while waiting for their parents. They could also borrow them home if they wish.


Behind these colourful doors, are the classrooms where the students will be learning. Eye Level @ Jurong West has just underwent an expansion. The center and classrooms are now bigger.


Individualised Programme


Big J's journey with Eye Level started with a Diagnostic Test. The diagnostic test serves to understand the child's ability and learning needs. This determines the suitable level where the child will start on the Eye Level curriculum. The centre manager shared with me that this test allows the child to learn at a comfortable level - weaker students will start at a lower level to build up their foundation, while more advanced students can learn at a faster pace. Children with learning difficulties will also benefit as the program is catered to their learning pace.

After Big J is done with the test, the teacher explained to me about the results. He was recommended to start from level 2 which focuses on numbers up to 20. I thought he will be at a higher level because he has no problem counting and recognising the numbers up to 100. However, the teacher explained that his foundation for the 'teens' numbers is not really that strong, and having a strong foundation is important for more advanced math concepts.

Since the students in a class can be of different abilities and age, the teacher to students ratio is kept low to ensure an effective learning environment. Instead of teaching the same concept to everyone in the class, the teacher is able to provide more attention and guidance to each individual student. For students between 3 to 6 years old, the ratio is kept at 1:5 and for students from 7 years old onwards, the ratio is 1:8.

Systematic and Progessive Curriculum


The Eye Level Math Programme adopts a systematic and progressive approach to help students master math and critical thinking concepts. The curriculum is divided into levels and each level will have a number of booklets focusing on different math concepts. During each lesson, the student will be required to finish these work booklets. As the student advances through the booklets, there are subtle increases in difficulty. At the end of each level, there will be an assessment to gauge if the student has fully understand the concepts before advancing to the next level. In some cases, students might be asked to repeat the level if the foundation is still not that strong.


The Math curriculum consists of two parts, the Basic Thinking Math (BTM) and Critical Thinking Math (CTM).

BTM focuses more on understanding the foundation of mathematics and covers the following areas: Numbers, Arithmetic, Measurement, and Equations. The picture below is the first Basic Thinking Math booklet that Big J did. It started with cute pictures to capture the child's attention and get them interested in doing the booklet.


As the booklet proceeds, the pictures are replaced with dots. The activities in the booklet tend to be quite repetitive. Some students might be turned off by the repetition, but practice makes perfect.


Each new booklet adds on new concept subtly. There are also plenty of opportunities to review concepts learnt in previous booklets.


Next is the Critical Thinking Math. CTM helps to develop problem-solving skills and covers the following areas: Patterns and Relationships, Geometry, Measurement, Problem Solving, and Reasoning.

This is the portion that Big J really like because he thinks that it is fun work rather than the boring counting and numbers. So far, he has been doing quite a bit of patterns, matching and visual perceptions activities.



Learning manipulatives, such as this blocks and shapes, are also used as a teaching tool.


The students are expected to finish one booklet of Basic Thinking Math and one booklet of Critical Thinking Math during each lesson. For homework, students are given another booklet to complete at home. You can take a look at the samples of the worksheets here.

Self-directed Learning


Another philosophy of Eye Level is they encourage Self-directed Learning. A typical day at Eye Level begins with the student arriving at the centre and getting his own personal folder from the shelves. Inside the folder, the teachers had already prepared the booklets that the child will be doing during the lesson.


The child will then find a seat and hand in his homework to the teacher for grading. The teacher will then explained the concept of the day's booklet and the child will have to finish the booklet independently. Of course, the teacher will be nearby to guide and answer any questions the child has.

This is how the class layout looks like for the lower level group. Since these students usually need more attention and guidance from the teacher, the students are seated around the teacher.


For the higher level group, the students are expected to be more independent and disciplined. They will be seated at their own workstations to complete their work. The teacher will be at the table nearby and students will have to approach the teacher if they have any difficulties.


Eye Level has a reward system to encourage the child to learn. Once they have collected all the flags, they will be able to exchange it for a present.



A normal lesson takes about 35 to 45 min. But that doesn't means that the student will have to leave if he has not finish his work when the time is up. Similarly, if the student is able to complete his work quickly, he will be allowed to leave earlier. The student will be responsible for how fast he wants to finish his work - finish faster means more time for play, finish slower means having to stay on longer.

Two Months On... What We Like


Big J has been with Eye Level for close to two months. Although I do not see very huge improvements in terms of his independence and self-learning, I do see improvements on his math knowledge. I believe that to nurture the child to become a motivated self-learner, is a long process and requires lots of help and guidance from the parents and teachers. It is not something that can be done in a short one month plus period. Although he still talks a lot while doing his work, he knows he has to complete his work when we guide him back. Previously, he needs to ask if he is correct after answering each question. Now he knows to finish his work before asking me to check through.


As for his math skills, he has improved a lot on his critical thinking and reasoning skills. I attribute this to his love for the Critical Thinking Math. When he is interested in something, he can learn it very fast. For his Basic Math skills, he is now faster in counting. In the beginning, he really counted the dots one by one. Now, he could see it as rows of 5s and 10s and count much faster.

What I really like about Eye Level Math is the individualised curriculum which starts teaching from his eye level. This allows him to learn at a pace and level that is comfortable to him and not feeling too stress.

The blend of BTM and CTM is also interesting to me. I feel that this is very suitable for pre-primay level as the combination is useful for the child's developing brain. The systematic and progressive curriculum helps in building a strong foundation for learning more complex concepts. The booklets are also very colourful and have cute pictures to make the learning more fun.


Fees


Apart from Math, Eye Level also offers a English programme:

Eye Level English (suitable for age 3 to 14)
Eye Level English starts at the basic motor skills needed for reading and writing, goes onto the building blocks of grammar and phonics, and then to the more complex concepts that allow the mastery of verbal and written communication. The key language skills to be developed are listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Using a thematic and integrated approach, Eye Level provides students the confidence in learning English through its systematic language acquisition programme.


Eye Level Math (suitable for age 4 to 14)
Eye Level Math takes the student through a continuum of study areas covering basic skills, as well as advanced concepts and applications. Each level emphasises critical thinking through reasoning skills that students can apply to everyday life.


If you are interested in finding more about Eye Level, do check out their website. You may also email or contact the individual learning centres to find out more about the curriculum or to schedule an appointment to visit the centre. Find a centre near your home here.

GIVEAWAY


Thanks to Eye Level, we are giving away a One-month Complimentary Lessons (once a week for either English or Math) for 5 lucky winners. Do note that this is only applicable for the Jurong West Learning Centre and subjected to class availability.

Simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below to win! Giveaway ends Sunday, 2 April 2017, 11:59pm. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:
1. Giveaway ends on Sunday, 2 April 2017, 2359 hours (Singapore time).
2. Giftaway promotion not applicable for existing Eye Level students.
3. Subjected to learning centre's class availability.
4. Only applicable to Jurong West Learning Centre.
5. T&C subject to changes without prior notice.
6. Open to Singapore residents only.
7. All entries have to be completed. Incomplete or invalid entries will be disqualified without notice.
8. Limited to one winner per household.
9. Giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
10. We reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions without prior notice.


Eye Level @ Jurong West

Address: Blk 960 Jurong West St 92 #01-182 (Upper Level) Singapore 640960
Contact No: 6686 2328
Email: Jurong.West@myeyelevel.com

Eye Level has 19 learning centres in Singapore. Find a centre near your home here.
Web  |  Facebook 


Disclaimer: We were sponsored two months of lesson with Eye Level to try out its Math programme for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was involved. All opinions, texts and photos are mine, unless otherwise stated.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to share it with your friends. I would be glad if you could follow me on Facebook or Instagram



LOL Playland @ JCube (Jurong East)

Monday, 6 March 2017

When My Little Giant opened at Big Box, we were elated because, frankly, there were not many choices of indoor playground in the west area of Singapore. A few months later, another new indoor playground, LOL Playland, popped up at JCube. Together with the free outdoor playgrounds at Westgate, JEM and IMM, there are now so much choices for those living in the west. Cheers!!


LOL Playland is located within JCube, which is near Jurong East MRT Station. Located on the third floor opposite the ice-skating rink, LOL Playland is not those super big indoor playground. Although it is not as big as the main players in the indoor playground industry, it can still provide lots of fun for the children. Not forgetting, there are also advantages of playing in a smaller playground.


Active Play Gym



The main play area in LOL Playland is this 3-storey active play gym, which provides lots of climbing opportunities for the little ones. A problem faced by most parents who follow their children through a climbing structure is having to bend low. However, the height here is quite comfortable for me to navigate the gym.

The main highlights here are the slide and trampoline, which my boys absolutely enjoyed. They had slide down and jumped infinity times on these.







Toddler's House



Next to the main active playgym is the Toddler's House, which is a two-storey play structure catered for the toddlers. On the lower floor is a pretend play cafe / supermarket. When the area gets too messy, the staff came over to tidy up the play area. There are also some activity boards on the wall that help to develop the kids' fine motor skills.



Going up to the second level is a small ball pit and a mini slide. Do note that the steps to the second level is quite cramp for adults.



Pretend Play Houses


Beside the Toddler's House is three pretend play houses to promote creative thinking and social skills. There are matching uniforms and vehicles to complement the different occupations.



The boys had a great time pretending to be a doctor, policeman and firefighter.


Other Activities


Apart from all the play activities, LOL Playland also has activities that are more calming. There's a small reading corner, but the selection of books is quite limited. There are also board games which you can borrow free of charge. You only need to leave a deposit of $20 which will be refunded upon returning the game.



LOL Playland also has some craft activities for the kids to do.


Baby Play


There is a playpen for the small little babies. Although there is not much toys here, it provides a safe enclosure for the babies. This makes it easy for parents who want to bring their older child to the playgound but still have a small baby to look after. Babies less than 6 months old are entitled to free entry.


There is a simple diaper changing station in the party room.


Other Facilities


Like most indoor playgrounds, LOL Playland offers party packages too. More details of the party packages here.

Free Wi-Fi is also available in the playground.


Usually when we go to a indoor playground, we usually carry our bags with us because I'm not willing to pay for the locker. The good news is, LOL Playland provides FREE locker! You only need to pay a $2 deposit for the key, which will be refunded when you return the key. How nice! I don't have to carry my heavy bag around.


Most indoor playgrounds have an elaborated cafe. Unfortunately, LOL Playland does not currenly serve cooked food as they are still in the midst of training staffs and obtaining the necessary licence. However, they are definitely considering serving cooked food in the near future.



Verdict


What I really like about this playground is its size. It is big enough for the boys to play and small enough for me to monitor them without having to go into the play area with them. I also feel safer for the boys as the area is quite contained.

The height of the climb structure is also a comfortable height for adults. I do not need to bend low while following the boys through the gym, which is a bliss for my back. I also like the provision of lockers and Wi-Fi. Together with the comfortable size of the playground, I can really sit-back and relax while still keeping a safe eye on them.

Although my boys are not really into crafts, I like that LOL Playland offers crafts activities so that children are playing and learning at the same time. They also have extra activities according to the festivities or holidays. We went during the Chinese New Year period and they had an angpow hunt game. The boys enjoyed hunting for the angpows to win prizes!

This coming March holidays, there will be a line-up of fun activities too. For more information, do check out LOL Playland's Facebook Page.


Here's a video of the boys having fun at LOL Playland. Enjoy!


Admission Rates


Children can enjoy unlimited play time during non-peak periods (Monday to Friday, excluding School Holidays and Public Holidays) and 2 hours playtime during peak periods (Saturday, Sunday, Public Holidays and School Holidays).



I would highly recommend the Family Membership as it is only $60 for the whole family. This is very worth it if you have more children. Just the free passes are enough to offset the $60 membership fee.


Promotions


For the month of March, LOL Playland is having some promotions. Do check the details on their FB Page.



GIVEAWAY


Thanks to LOL Playland, we have 5 play passes to giveaway to 5 lucky winners (1 pass per winner)! 

Simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below to win! Giveaway ends Sunday, 12 March 2017, 11:59pm. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:
1. Giveaway ends on Sunday, 12 March 2017, 2359 hours (Singapore time).
2. Play passes will be mailed to winners via normal mail. Both LOL Playland and The Js Arena will not be responsible for any lost mails.
3. Play passes are valid until 4 May 2017.
4. Open to Singapore residents only.
5. All entries have to be completed. Incomplete or invalid entries will be disqualified without notice.
6. Limited to one winner per household.
7. Giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
8. We reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions without prior notice.


LOL Playland

Address: 2 Jurong East Central 1, #03-04/05, JCube Shopping Centre, Singapore 609731 (Near Jurong East MRT Station)
Opening hours: 
Monday - Friday: 11:00 am – 09:00 pm
Saturday - Sunday & PH/School Holiday: 10:30 am – 9:30 pm
Contact No: 6904 4383
Email: hello@lolplayland.com.sg
Web  |  Facebook  |  Instagram


Disclaimer: We were invited to LOL Playland for a play session for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was involved. All opinions, texts and photos are mine, unless otherwise stated.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to share it with your friends. I would be glad if you could follow me on Facebook or Instagram



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