putting on shoes is a self help skills

Self-Help Skills in Preschoolers

Self-help skills are the day-to-day tasks that people engage in as they are crucial in our daily lives. Such skills include cleaning up after oneself, self-feeding, carrying one’s own belongings, and the list goes on.

As much as these tasks are usually done by young children with much support given by adults, the term ‘self-help’ suggests that these skills are expected to be acquired independently to sustain their very basic needs in their daily lives.

But how can we be so sure that our children will eventually get there? How was it like for us when we were growing up? When was the last time your parents put on your shoes for you? How is it like for our children now that we are parents or caregivers ourselves? What can we do as caregivers to help children get better with such tasks?

Nature VS Nurture

These everyday tasks are things we, adults, often take for granted as those tasks are so in our nature. However, to children, these tasks require skills that need to be nurtured, giving them the opportunity to learn, practice and acquire.

Thinking back on our childhood days, can you recall when was the last time your parent put on shoes for you? Probably not, as most of us may not have any memories of our childhood before the age of 3. And if we cannot recall our parents doing some of the everyday tasks for us, this would probably mean that we have been accomplishing these tasks independently at a really young age. Because we were given the exposure and opportunities to learn, practice and acquire these self-help skills, we can accomplish the everyday tasks so confidently that all these daily routines just become so natural.

Overdoing Vs Supporting

Don’t be surprised that we, the caregivers, are sometimes the biggest thing standing in their way. We are so often in a hurry and it is so much easier to do things for our children, and this is a sign of caregivers overdoing it. When we overdo it, we unknowingly take away the precious opportunities for children to learn, practice and acquire these self-help skills.

Instead, support them, by slowing down and giving them your trust that with gentle encouragement and bite-size guidance, they will be able to do it on their own with you around them and eventually, being able to do it independently.

As children approach self-help skills, it’s given that they will do things differently, messier and longer than what is expected from them. But as children gain finesse through trial-and-errors, they will achieve mastery.


Benefits of Supporting Children with their Self-help Skills

Most young children like to feel independent and will start taking pride in what they do when they can accomplish tasks independently. More often than not, they still need our constant encouragement to be reminded that they are capable, and we believe that they CAN do it.

Having said that, the caregiver’s patience and gentle guidance will mean a lot as the children need to be given plenty of time and opportunities to take on and practice on accomplishing different tasks on their own. But this choice of yours will definitely benefit them in the long run as it encourages independence and self-confidence in our children.


Let’s consistently encourage our children in acquiring their self-help skills,


Capella Preschool team

alien mr wuffles

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner – Children’s Book Recommendation #7

We hardly encounter wordless picture books for children, but when we do, it is so excitingly challenging! Wordless books are boundless in terms of possibilities depending on the readers and the audiences.

wordless books mr wuffles


When recommending or reviewing wordless books, it is best NOT to define the story in one or two synopses as it will be limiting the different interpretations and possibilities. On another side, wordless books are so “opened” even the young children can tell their versions of the story following the pictures, can name each and every character according to their interpretations and can put the familiar vocabularies in the right context following the pictures in each page. It can even be told in different languages, not necessarily in English.

mr wuffles david wiesner

“Mr. Wuffles” is so special NOT ONLY because it is a nearly-wordless book, but also because it is a sci-fi children’s picturebook. It features a cat, extraterrestrial beings and bugs in a single storyline. It is also packed with adventures and actions. It involves the concepts of trouble-shooting, cooperation, universal language and gesture of friendships.

mr wuffles

science fiction for children mr wuffles

Because it is (nearly) wordless, it sparks creativity and imagination in terms of storytelling. The story can be pitched differently depending on whether the story is read to younger or older children.

The readers can name the extraterrestrial character as ‘Mr. Alien,’ ‘Greenie’, ‘The Explorer’ or even ‘K-meleon the Alien’ to make it rhyme. Mr. Wuffles is the name of the cat in the book, but of course, the reader has that “room” to give the cat another pet-name and includes it as a part of the story in his/her version of narrative.

friendship mr wuffles

Children are introduced to dialogues within the story in the form of speech bubbles. There are different ways of depicting the different languages spoken. The ‘human language’ is written in alphabets, while the ‘extraterrestrial language’ is written in shape-based symbols and the ‘bug language’ is written in dot-based markings.

speech bubbles mr wuffles

In terms of illustration, the lines used to draw the pictures are clear and the colours used are vibrant. The format is slightly different from the usual children’s picture book as some pages are drawn in comic strips.

aliens bugs mr wuffles

Happy reading,

Capella Preschool Team


Snowplow Parenting

Snowplow Parenting Explained

As parents, it is natural to not want our children to experience struggle. We tend to clear every obstacle in our children’s paths so they can get what they want and when they want it. It is instinctive to us as parents to prevent them from encountering failures, frustrations or lost opportunities.

When given the opportunity, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to make their children’s life easier? But, are we overdoing it? How can we be more supportive without actually robbing our children’s adulthood from them?

We heard a lot about being a ‘helicopter parent‘ who practices hovering around one’s children, monitoring every activity and rescuing them whenever trouble arises. We swear we wouldn’t want to be one. We want to protect without being overprotective and to be involved but avoid overinvolvement. This is when the term ‘snowplow parent’ arises.

What is snowplow parenting?

Snowplow parenting is a parenting style that constantly forces obstacles out of their children’s paths. These parents have their eyes on the child’s future success and ready to remove anyone or anything that stands in the way.

“Instead of preparing children for challenges, they plow obstacles away so kids won’t experience them in the first place,” weareteachers.com explains.

Who is a snowplow parent?

Snowplow parenting is not as aggressive as helicopter parenting and it involves much more letting-go. There are still a lot of “saving” actions involved in it.

Unlike helicopter parents, snowplow parents will let their children walk to school on their own because the research tells them it will contribute to their independence and self-esteem. They are OK with their children experiencing some failures at school or not being on the best group. However, they do put some effort into making their children’s lives a little easier, often in ways that they don’t notice.

What can we learn from snowplow parents?

It is definitely easier and happier for both children and parents when the snowplow parents successfully “removed” any failures and troubles from their children’s paths, at least for that very moment. The problem arises when the children have grown up and the parents are no longer able to be there with them, removing each and every struggle in their every day lives.

They need that resilient, that courage to take risks, those coping skills to handle failures and the maturity to make decisions on their own independently. If the road is always cleared for these children, snowplow parents are taking away those golden times when and where they can actually have the opportunity to hone their survival skills, to feel, confront and bounce back from those unpleasant feelings of sadness, frustration and being hurt.

In conclusion…

We are always trying our best as parents, no label fits any of us perfectly.

As painful as it is to admit, we will come to realize that we can’t actually remove every obstacle from every path that our children will go through. Consequences and failures are not always bad too, more often than not, they are actually blessings in disguise.

Allow the children to rough it out through the “snowstorms” to build life-coping skills they’ll need down the road to handle life. Of course on extremely “snowy” days, we can still pull out the snowplow and help move the things that block their ways 🙂


Capella Preschool Team


Read our other article here: Why, Mummy, Why? A Tribute to All Parenting Souls Out There

the paper doll julia donaldson

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb – Children’s Book Recommendation #6

We surely have lost something or someone we loved in our life. This experience of loss is beautifully depicted in this storybook. The story approaches this delicate subject of loss in a relatable and profound way.

Meet Ticky, Tacky, Jackie the Backie, Jim with two noses and Jo with the bow. They were the beloved paper dolls handmade by the girl in the story and her mother. The girl and the paper dolls spent much time together playing and experiencing a string of adventures in the land of imagination until at one point in the story, the paper dolls were gone for good.

paper doll rebecca cobb

The opening line, “There was once a girl who had tiger slippers and a ceiling with stars on it and a butterfly hairslide which she kept losing and two goldfish and a nice mother who helped her to make some paper dolls.” opens the story with a subtle hint of sentimentality. From there on, the story flows evocatively but then a very real pair of scissors threatens…

The Imaginative Play with the Paper Dolls

It is so inspiring to the readers to see how the girl had so much fun playing with simple paper dolls. She used her imagination to play with the paper dolls animatedly, such as dancing, jumping, singing, hopping in the garden, chatting with the ladybird, sniffing flowers and laying down in the forest of grass together.

paper doll adventure

She created various stories whereby they needed to run away from a big dinosaur or danced with the animals in the farmyard. Another exhilarating adventure of them exploring the house during breakfast time whereby they danced round the honey and kicked crumbs and explored an island and were chased by the crocodile.

The book actually opens up possibilities for the readers to explore and discuss different ways to play using their very own favourite toy or other simple toys.

The Favourite Objects

Everybody has their very own favourite objects.

the paper doll julia donaldson

This book can be a very good invitation to have children to be aware of the objects around them. It also encourages a sense of belonging to those objects by getting them to share what and why they like that particular item(s). Like the girl in the story, a favourite thing can be as simple as a pair of tiger slippers, a set of stars-mobile, a hairpin, or it can be a “bigger” thing like a pet or even a special person.

The Boy with a Pair of Scissors

Here comes the boy with a pair of scissors whom the authors do not elaborate on his motive or the consequences after using the scissors to destroy the girl’s belonging. This can be a very good opportunity to open up a discussion with the children on different possible reasons why the boy did what he did and also, analyze the different consequences of his doing.

snip snip paper dolls

The Loss

The readers are confronted with a moving moment of farewell where the paper dolls are cut up but this doesn’t stop them from existing. There are still Ticky and Tacky and Jackie the Backie and Jim with two noses and Jo with the Bow. They still exist, in a very special way, even though all of them are nothing but paper snow by the end of the story.

Indeed, a farewell is never easy and what we love about this storybook is how it invites a further discussion about coping with changes and loss. Children move schools, graduate, constantly have to say goodbye to relatives, teachers, and friends. In some cases, they need to deal with the concept of death at such a young age. With this storybook, they can now depend on their memories to keep their loved ones and beloved objects alive in their hearts.

reading the paper dolls

“We’re not gone. Oh no no no!”

Happy Reading,

Capella Preschool Team


More of our children’s book recommendations:

physical activity in preschooler

Physical Activity for Preschool Children

We live in a digital era where the nature of our lifestyle is more sedentary. We spend the majority of our time in front of the digital screens as technology is undebatably part of our lives. While the invention of digital screens and other mobile devices is a quantum leap of this age that brings us so much convenience, there is an increasing number of researches highlighting the negative effects of it. One of the negative effects is physical inactivity which leads to poorer body coordination and obesity.

Our Children Move Less Nowadays

A study has shown that one-third of more than 70,000 young teens lead sedentary lives, spending more than three hours a day watching television or playing on the computer. (Gruthold et al., 2010). This is supported by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) study done on global health in September 2018, stating that one in three Singaporeans does not get enough physical activity.

With this trend on a rise, Singapore’s government bodies have worked together to ensure that sufficient physical activities are catered to children to counter the negative effects that people are facing in this digital era.

Why Physical Activities are Important for Children

Physical development is one of the initial fundamental skills that is largely focused on because these are essential skills that will help them to gain strength and flexibility in the movement of their body.

physical activity soccer playroll the ball physical education

In order for children to be more skilful in controlling and coordinating their body movements, it is important that physical education is in place to provide them with opportunities and experiences to enhance their fundamental movement skills and increase their movement competencies. Given sufficient time to explore and practice, children will become more competent in demonstrating motor skills and applying these skills to prepare them to take on sports in the future.

On top of that, it contributes to the holistic development of the whole child, such as promoting mental alertness, creative thinking, decision making, physical fitness, better physical coordination, self-esteem, self-confidence. Children who are competent in fundamental movement skills are proven able to participate successfully in a range of sports and more likely to assume leadership roles, as they perceive themselves positively (Teo-Koh, 2018).

physical activity ball Physical activity win

What We Can Do as Caregivers

While it may seem like children are naturally progressing in basic movement skills such as walking and running, the fact is they need guidance and practice to acquire many other movement skills, such as leaping, galloping, hopping, throwing, jumping, catching, kicking, etc. Without proper demonstrations and opportunities to practice, these movements may not be “encoded” in their brain and they may not be able to use these skills to manoeuvre in their physical environment.

physical activity jumping

It is also good for caregivers to be actively involved so as to keep the children motivated. This way, children will find joy in movement. This lays the foundation for them to continue being active and more inclined to incorporate regular physical activities later on in life.

Physical activity

During physical activities or play, do give them guidance and ample time to keep practicing and perfecting the skills that they are acquiring. To keep their interests up high, remember to always use positive reinforcement.

Physical activity fun


Do check out our article about the benefits of cookery experiences at preschool: Cooking with Children at Schools – Why it is Important.


Happy Reading,


Capella Preschool Team



Guthold, R., Cowan, M. J., Autenrieth, C.S., Kann, L., Riley, L.M. (2010). Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Among School Children: A 34-Country Comparison. The Journal of Pediatrics

Lai, L. (2018, September 6). One in three Singaporeans not active enough. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/one-in-three-singaporeans-not-active-enough

Teo-Koh, S. M. (2018). Fun Start Move Smart! Fundamental Movement Skills for Growing Active Learners. Sport Singapore.


A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni – Children’s Book Recommendation #5

Parrots are green. Goldfish are red. Elephants are gray. Pigs are pink. What about our protagonist in this story, this little chameleon? Why can’t he just remain the same colour at all times? What is his true colour?

He keeps on changing colours as he moves around. He wants to have a color of his own so badly. Being dismal that he doesn’t have a colour of his own, the little chameleon searched for an answer to his problem.

A color of his own storybook 

A Classic Favourite

‘A Color of His Own’ is simple in message and storyline. It is a recommended book to read to the children when introducing them to the concepts of colour, chameleons as an animal, characteristics of different animals, animal adaptation in its environment, friendships and even seasons.

With the white backgrounds and watercolour-styled of illustrations, the book brings that subtleness, yet powerful impression of the story. It depicts the emotions of the story using the right amount of vibrancy, dullness, and white-space that the reader can connect with.

The simplistic language used to convey the problems, emotions, and importance of friendship makes it easy to follow even for the young ones. It holds so much potentials topics for the older ones to look into and discuss with.

Leo Lionni chameleon

Identity and Individuality

The lonely chameleon discovers he does not have a colour of his own, unlike other animals. This makes him different from everyone else and feels like he does not fit in.

Finding his identity and a place where he feels belonged are the highlight of the story. It is not easy and is taking some times until the chameleon understands that it is okay to be different and instead of despising, he embraces that.


Problem Solving, Failure and Friendship

There is a train of problems presented in the story. It started with the chameleon feeling upset about the fact that he is changing colours all the time following the objects around him. He uses his thinking hat and decides to stay on a leaf so he can stay green forever. However, when the leaf changes colour, the chameleon again is challenged with the unsolved problem.

He eventually finds it very lonely as no one is there to relate to.

children storybook chameleon children storybook reccomendation

When he meets the other chameleon, who was older and wiser, he shares his sorrow and gets a piece of advice to keep the constant despite the changing-colours. This friend helps him accept that they would never have a colour of their own and they remain side by side together.

The story portrays a happy, fairy-tale-like ending where they live happily ever after.

Leo Lionni a color of his own

Indeed, happiness and contentment set in when one accepts who they are and experiences a sense of belonging 🙂

Do check out our children’s book recommendation which covers a story by Peter H. Reynolds: Happy Dreamers.


Happy Reading,


Capella Preschool Team

crayon resistant process art

The What, Why and How of Process Art in Preschool

Art lessons used to be about copying the teacher, following instructions and creating the same-looking art pieces.

We call this process as product-focused art, where there IS a right and wrong way to work on the project and typically require a specific skill and technique to create the artwork. We are glad to share with you that the current preschool art experiences are moving away from product-focused and work towards process-focused.

In process-focused art, the children are provided with a variety of materials to choose from. They can explore different ways of using and manipulating those materials. They do not necessarily need to create something recognizable or “nice” in the adult’s standard. They can take their time to learn about the properties of each material and what happens when they combine more than two materials together. With these constructed experiences, their subsequent artworks will be more elaborated and distinguished.

According to NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), process-focused art is the most developmentally appropriate art experiences.

process art marvellous mess process art mess

What is Process Art in Preschool?

Process Art, as the name describes it, is an art experience where the focus is on the process of creating and not the end product. The artist has the freedom to direct the experience, choose the materials, techniques, and medium available. It celebrates discovery through exploration in different ways to maneuver the materials and experience.

The final products are always unique from one child to another despite the same materials used. There will be no cookie-cutter art pieces on the class bulletin board or “wall of fame”. The audience may think an outcome of the specific art-process experience is nice, that’s great, but the end product is never the focus of process art. Sometimes, the audience may consider the end product not visually nice, that’s okay too, as the little artist actually used that particular experience to learn something about the materials, medium, colours, lines or techniques. It is a valuable experience for his/her art practice and development as an artist.

process art foam

Why is Process Art important?

Process art is freeing without step-by-step instructions, and any samples to follow. It is entirely driven by the child’s choice and motivation. This encourages a greater sense of ownership over their art because it is all their own choice and work.

The children need to bring in their curiosity, and also their positive attitudes towards play, exploration and discovery when doing the process-art. As they learn the best through play and open-ended activities, process-art is just the perfect opportunity that allows them to explore, ask questions, and see how things work. It also allows them room to be themselves, to focus, to make their own decisions, to take risks and just to create!

There are also other benefits of process-art such as practicing motor-skills, co-operation, wondering, thinking, predicting, planning, making connections, daydreaming, revamping ideas, looking at things closely, noticing details, generating ideas, counting, recognizing shapes, experimenting, and many more. It is endless!

benefits of process art by art spark

How to Encourage Process-Art at Home

A simple setting with a piece of blank paper and a variety of drawing materials should be provided in the environment for your child to use. Extra pieces of blank paper or a paper roll should be readily accessible. The size of the paper matters too. If the paint is made available, provide other tools besides paintbrushes. It could be lego blocks, ribbons, potato mashers, feathers, popsicle sticks, pom-poms, and other random things. These can be great non-traditional brushes that inspire creative thinking, experimentation, and out-of-the-box artwork.

Allow your child to choose what they want to draw with, what they will draw and how they want to draw. Let your child glue more than two googly eyes wherever he/she wanted.

Refrain from using compliments such as good job, nice painting, beautiful drawing and the similar as these will indicate the “right” way to draw something. Comment on the art elements used by the child, such as the lines, colours, shapes, textures, space, and patterns. For example, “It is interesting to see how you mix the blue and the orange together.”

Keep in mind that process art for kids can get messy. Do plan on how to deal with the mess during and after the experience. If there is no access to a clean water source nearby, have baby wipes ready in place. If the paint is used and staining the clothes is one of the concerns, put on a smock, an art apron or an oversize old t-shirt over your child’s clothes.

Most importantly, accept that messiness is part of the process 🙂

Do check out our article about the benefits of cookery experiences at preschool: Cooking with Children at Schools – Why it is Important.


Let’s make time for process art,


Capella Preschool team