The Education System in Singapore vs The Rest of the World

Wanting the best for your child is a natural response for parents. Part of wanting the best also includes providing them with the best educational opportunities possible. As you start to investigate the various education systems around the world, there are some countries that really stand out. One that catches the eye of many is Singapore.
So just how is Singapore’s education system different from the rest of the world? Here’s a closer look.
Top Marks in Global Education Rankings
If it's education rankings that you're interested in, then this is the first area that Singapore manages to differ from most countries in the world. Singapore is where you will find the highest-achieving primary and secondary students according to international rankings. The students in Singapore scored the highest on the international education tests in the areas of science and math in 2016.
Singapore Has Come a Long Way
What's really interesting is to take a look at just how much Singapore has changed in the past 50 years. Where its workforce was once low-skilled and low-cost, it is now the exact opposite. Half of Singapore's workforce are now university graduates.
Its students do well at home and abroad, the country's literacy rates have increased dramatically, and there is an abundance of enrichment and tutoring classes available to students. These classes can range anywhere from $150 to $250 each month, and over 70% of students are signed up for these classes according to The Straits Times.
Too Much Stress?
Singapore is regarded as one of the best, if not the best education system in the whole world. Singapore’s residents, students, parents, and those in other countries are all aware of this ranking. With that said, people have started to wonder if this is, in fact, too much stress to put on the students. Expectations are high that students in Singapore’s educational system do well, with little room for those who are lagging behind.
In Singapore, it's quite common for kids to fill their free time with extra studying and enrichment activities, rather than outdoor activities, games, and sports. Mental arithmetic classes start at age five, which is years' ahead of many other school systems in the world. The idea is that brain development is at its peak at this age, so it is a prime time to start teaching more advanced math skills.
A Comparable Solution in the U.K.
If you’re looking for that same kind of educational experience in the U.K. then you will want to investigate Duncombe School, one of the best independent prep schools Hertfordshire and the surrounding area has to offer. It offers a comparable experience to that which you would find in Singapore.
Wanting What's Best
As parents continue to strive to give their children the best educational experience possible and help to prepare them for their future, it seems as if all eyes are on Singapore as a great model of success as far as educational rankings go.

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Getting Control of Your Thoughts and Actions

Does it sometimes feel like you’re an outside observer, watching the way you react to situations? Do you find that you’re obsessing over what you thought, what you said, what you did in the moment? We are not just slaves to a random series of reactions and choices based on genetics, hormones, or just “who we are as a person”. We can all endeavor to, and succeed in, getting more control over your thoughts and our deeds.

Know what you really can control
This is where every process of changing your life and your habits must begin. A lot of people have an issue of taking the blame when they really shouldn’t. For instance, let’s say you’re watching a friend’s child for a brief moment when they walk away. The child trips, falls, and starts crying. Is your immediate reaction to apologize when, in reality, there was nothing you can do? Take a leaf out of the stoic’s book, and remind yourself what you’re truly responsible for: your thoughts and your actions. If you start taking responsibility for things outside that sphere, you start taking the blame internally for things that aren’t your fault. Meaning you’re more likely to be a defeatist about your own actions and to give into habits that fit that view you hold of yourself.
Find your aims
A lot of life is reactionary. Even if you manage to distance your emotions and self-reflection from events happening around you, you often find you have to react to them. If your bed breaks, you have to save money to buy a new one. You have to get a job to pay the bills. You have to get a promotion or find a new career to buy a house. Don’t be entirely reactionary. Take control and write down your aims. It might be as simple as finding more time for yourself or losing some weight or it might be as grand finishing a novel. If you write your aims, you’re much more likely to achieve them. Just remember not to write aims that are out of your control.

Don’t let life pass you by
One of the aims that just about everyone should try to include near the top of the list is to try new things more often. We tend to go mentally unconscious, to settle into a rhythm when we’re living the same routine over and over again. You don’t have to move, to quit your job, or break up with your lifelong partner. Instead, simply trying new things every day gives you feeling of some input on your own direction. It also does away with the discomforting feeling of time passing by too quickly. Many studies agree that this feeling happens because we have fewer “firsts” in life and fewer noteworthy events as we get older. It’s important that you have some get-up-and-go in doing this, too. Start early, where your mind is at its freshest, right out of bed. Make the right choices at the start of the day and it creates a knock-on effect that keeps you making those choices as the day goes on. Put it off until too late in the day when energy reserves are low and it’s too easy to just put it off for another time, which inevitably never comes.
Find your deepest you
If we don’t take the time to ground ourselves, it’s too easy for our mind to become a series of stresses, anxieties, fears, and problems that we’re constantly racing to find a solution to. Clearing your mind and finding ways to ground yourself really does help. By focusing on something as simple as your own breathing through meditation or spending time with nothing but nature around you allows you to shed off those unhelpful thoughts and get down to you at your base. It also helps you learn mindfulness which can become one of the most useful tools in keeping control of yourself.

Practicing mindfulness
To be mindful, in the truest sense, is to pay attention. It starts first of all with being mindful of certain things around you. It might be your breathing, or the way a branch swings in the breeze. Then it goes on to you being mindful of your own reactions to it. Practice being mindful out in the real world, too. Be mindful of the little things that happen when you’re stuck in traffic or when you’re in the shower. When you start noticing the little things around you, you also notice the little things happening in your own head.
Stop, take time, and think
Applying mindfulness in real time is the aim of the game. You get into a situation that would usually provoke an immediate response. Perhaps someone says something that makes you feel insulted or belittled or, back to the old example, a child you’re watching trips and falls. Mindfulness helps you recognize your immediate reaction before it happens. It gives you the time you need to spot the connection before it’s made and to stop jumping to conclusions. Then you have the time to think and formulate a response that is often not only more under your control but a more measured reaction to an event.

Know your emotional triggers
You’re not going to become an immediate master of practicing mindfulness all the time. There are still going to be situations which cause you to give into anxiety or anger. It’s a good idea to get to know these situations and to identify your emotional triggers. At first, you can learn to avoid them, but as time goes on, you can manage your triggers. Managing them is all about acknowledging the harm that they cause you, but without allowing the pain of that harm to settle into your brain and take control.
Don’t neglect the physical side
Mindfulness is also used as a method of helping those with chronic pain. If you fixate on the pain your body is undergoing, then your experience of that pain is going to be a lot worse. Learning how not to fixate on the pain is going to make your experience of it much more bearable. But the relationship works both ways. Fixating on pain makes it much harder to find your center and ground yourself. So, don’t ignore potential treatments for chronic pain that might translate physical stress to mental stress. You should think about tackling both at the same time.

Fill the world with good
Getting in control of your thoughts and actions is usually done so that you can feel better about how you act. There’s nothing wrong with that, our sense of pride in our own way of handling life is an important thing to carry around with you. But beyond making changes to how you perceive your actions and change them from within, you can make a great start by simply giving yourself more positive actions to perform. In particular, it’s been proven that helping other people, in big ways or small, helps massively change our personal perception of ourselves. By being kinder to others, we tend to start being kinder to ourselves as well. Just avoid feeling obligated and like you fail your obligation if you’re unable to help someone because of your own circumstances. It goes back to the philosophy of stoicism, of always being aware of what you’re truly in control of.
Focus on your successes, not your failures
Your perception is also colored by what you spend your time thinking about. Rumination and ruin have a causal relationship in a lot of instances. We don’t think about our successes often because they seem par for the course, expected, whereas our failures are unexpected and so we think too much about how we messed up. Take the time to reflect on your successes. In fact, keeping a diary of your achievements for your own reading can help you much better appreciate what you do well. When you exercised that self-control, when you helped someone, when you got closer to your aims. You can see how much control you have over your actions already, which affords you even more control going forward.

Focus on one thing at a time
Multitasking is often lauded but it’s not often for a good reason. Employers love to see it and we praise women for having the natural ability to do it better. It comes in handy in a crisis, no doubt, but it should never be your default way of doing things. Monotasking is far more effective. It also helps you avoid the feeling like you’re spinning plates and only reacting accordingly. If you have a busy day, then take a few minutes to create a schedule for it, prioritizing and setting time for different tasks. You will feel much more in control of the day for it.
When you know what you truly can control, and you make choices using the abilities to improve your life and dictate your own direction when possible, it can solve a lot of your problems. You won’t avoid stress, anguish, or pain, but you can learn to make them all part of the experience.

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Essential Tips for Planning a Motorcycle Trip

With the kids a little more grown up, you have time to rekindle your passions – one of them being exploring. One of the most amazing ways to experience the world around you is by going on an awesome motorcycle trip.
Some people love to jump on their bike with a bag of snacks and hit the road, but we don’t recommend doing this – especially if you’re a beginner. Instead, by planning ahead, you can ensure you enjoy a safe and yet still amazing experience.
Photo credit: Greg Pak Photography
Get ready to feel the breeze blowing through your hair and appreciate the freedom. Here we’ll take you through a few things you need to consider when planning that incredible motorcycle journey.
Make sure you pack essentials
If you’ve not been out on your bike for a long journey in while, it is advisable to make sure that all your kit is still up to scratch. Your protective gear is the priority for you. Check your motorbike helmet – how old is it? Technology and the materials used in motorcycle helmets have progressed rapidly over the past few years, and for a long road trip, comfort is key to your protective gear. Make sure you wear climate appropriate clothing to keep you comfortable too.
Furthermore, it is always useful to keep a map in the event your phone runs out of battery or is out of coverage.
Plan your destination
It is all well and good saying you are going on a road trip, but without a planned route your journey will fall flat quickly. Every successful road trip has an end goal – a specific landmark, a popular town, or even the end of a certain highway – and so it’s best to plan where you’re going well in advance.
This allows you to do a few things:
  1. Plan how long you’ll be on the road: if this is your first trip then it’s probably best to assume you can cover 100 miles in a day, including breaks. If you’re an experienced rider you could up this all the way to 350 miles a day, but this is pushing your riding to its limit. If you aim for a 500 mile journey (there and back), then you’ll need 5 – 6 days, or around 3 – 4 if you’ve been riding for a while.
  2. Plan your pit-stops: you’re going to need sleep – that much is a given. With an end goal in sight you can plan where you’re going to rest your head at night effectively.
  3. Plan events: maybe you want to check out a specific town, but it’s not directly on the way. With an end destination in sight you can plan to make specific detours instead of disrupting plans halfway through. With an end-goal you can accommodate everybody’s requests.

It really pays to plan your journey in advance. Bring the right things, prepare for emergencies and know where you’re going and you’ll have a great time – although sometimes it pays to be a little more adventurous. Enjoy your freedom!
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J'Kids Amusement Pte Ltd Brings a Whole Land of Fun in Your Neighbourhood!

When I was a kid, I always get so excited during festival in our town mainly because of the carnival. Our town fiesta back home which is now known as Mangi Festival has always been full of fun events like singing and dance competition, beauty pageant, and drum and lyre performances among many other things, but it's always the carnival that I really look forward to.

I would save up lots of coins from my school pocket money just so I could trade them into token coins I can use for the carnival rides and games. Oh what loads of fun and nostalgia a carnival brings! Fast forward to the present, I get every opportunity to take my kids to a carnival just so they would experience the same thrill I experienced as a child.

I remember bringing the kids all the way to Gardens by the Bay to experience the carnival happening at the gardens. It made me wish my neighbourhood will also host such fun carnival so we don't have to travel far anymore. And guess what? You know what they say, be careful what you wish for because it will come true?

True enough, to celebrate the Completion of Revitalisation of Shopfronts in our neighbourhood, Changi Simei Community held a carnival and brought J'Kids Amusement Funland at Simei Plaza Open Field beside Eastpoint Mall. It was only then that I realized J'Kids Amusement Pte Ltd is the same carnival operator hired by Gardens by the Bay before. No wonder all the rides and games look really familiar!

J'Kids Amusement Funland features old-school rides like bump cars and Viking Ship. They also have kiddie favourites like mini-trains, carousel, inflatable playground and bungee jump. On top of all those, they have water activities like boating and "walk in the water". Of course, not forgetting the teenagers and young adults, they offer fun games where you can win really attractive prizes like big sized Olaf plush toy and more! And there's the basketball for boys, daddies and grandpas too!

Imagine my kids' delight! It also happened that my mom is in town so she joined us with all the fun rides, yes even bump cars, mini trains, swing chair and Viking Ship! Needless to say we made precious family memories at J'Kids Amusement Funland and I took the opportunity to document it in an iMovie! Watch this!

Now, this is just a teaser! As my title implies, J'Kids Amusement Pte Ltd is bringing so much fun in YOUR neighbourhood! Here are their calendar of events:

15 to 23 Jul 2017 - The Grandstand
21 Jul to 13 Aug 2017 - Paya Lebar Square
28 Jul to 20 Aug - Blk 826 Tampines
29 Jul to 13 Aug - Hougang Mall
04 Aug to 13 Aug - Hillion Mall

The next best thing you'll love about J'Kids Amusement Funland is the introduction of J'Kids Fun Card with NO expiry date! You can now say goodbye to old token coins (oh the horror of losing them in your pocket!) and say hello to the seamless electronic card that you can simply top up and tap away to enjoy all the carnival rides, booths and fun games. It works about the same like your EZ Link card, the only difference is you can use J'Kids Fun Card for a LIFETIME! Oh the convenience of modern technology! What are you waiting for? Visit J'Kids Amusement Funland near you!

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A Florist That Cuts to the Chase

Photo credit: A Better Florist
I’ve always loved flowers. As a kid, I remember we had a small garden in our backyard where my mom would plant daisies, hibiscus, orchids, bougainvilleas, pentas and proteas. Even after moving to a small apartment in the city, I still seek out lush and green spaces to get my nature fix.

I’ve tried to get a floral subscription before, just to have beautiful arrangements at home, but they tend to be quite pricey and the flowers don’t last very long—a week or so at most—even with proper care and maintenance. I noticed most florists in Singapore usually stock imported and non-tropical flowers in their storage facilities so once they get to the customers, they’re no longer as fresh as you’d want them.

So it was a pleasant surprise when I came across a blog post by A Better Florist which mentioned their floral subscription service. It discussed the ways fresh cut flowers and plants can make a space more inviting and bright. Even better, their floral subscription uses seasonal flowers sourced from the nearby nurseries and flower farms of Cameron Highlands so their stock is as fresh as possible.

Their website is easy to navigate with big, colourful photos of their available bouquets. I was drawn to their rustic packaging of burlap and mason jars because it reminded me of my childhood, picking flowers from the garden and placing them on upcycled containers at home. The selection’s not as wide and varied as other online florists, but they’re all equally gorgeous and Instagrammable.

Since I’ve had bad experiences with florists before, especially during Valentine’s Day when bouquets often arrive not only late but also already wilting, I decided to try out their service by purchasing a bouquet as a surprise for Mother’s Day.

My mom’s already in her late 60s so she hasn’t been able to tend to the garden as much as she’d want to. These days it’s more of a plant garden than a flower garden, preferring cactus over dainty blooms since they require less upkeep. So I wanted to send her a beautiful bouquet to perk her up on Mother’s Day. I chose The Spring Breeze with its luxurious blooms and attractive arrangement. The transaction was pleasantly fast. I was immediately taken to the checkout page for payment options.

The verdict? A Better Florist definitely delivered on their free same-day delivery promise. Even better, the flower arrived fresh and beautiful. Mom especially loved the mason jar that came with it, proudly displaying the bouquet on the breakfast table. It’s no wonder they landed in the Top 10 Florists in Singapore despite being relatively new in Singapore’s flower industry. I guess their success in Singapore is what drove them to open branches in Hong Kong and Dubai.

For me, A Better Florist ticks all the boxes of what I look for in florists:
  •   Simple and hassle free transaction
  • Affordable flowers
  • Gorgeous packaging
  • Customisable arrangements
  • Fast same-day delivery

I’m definitely going to purchase another bouquet from them soon; maybe even sign up to their floral subscription.

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A Right to Light – Why Windows are Imperative to your Happiness

Access to light is a fundamental building block to our happiness. It’s why we love those pictures of large, open windows. It’s why we love the sunlight on our skin. From direct health benefits to improved mental health, light is a part of us.

Who hasn’t stopped and enjoyed a rainbow? Who hasn’t made a break for some much-needed sunshine? In some places in the world, the right to light is written in the law, and has been for hundreds of years. Natural light is a protected commodity, especially in big cities, where urban planning includes mapping the shadows to ensure that light reaches city streets. Protestors that fight for the right to sunlight have shaped the design of future skyscrapers.

Natural light has a beneficial, psychological effect on our productivity, our mood, and our stress levels. Working in a cubicle underneath florescent lights has a universally detrimental impact on your life as it negatively affects your sleep schedule. The florescent glow of those overhead lights makes it harder for you to go to sleep at night (even if all you want to do is nap while you’re working under them). This is because the fake lights interrupt your natural circadian rhythm. More access to natural light, the more your body does what it is supposed to do. Artificial light, from your phones to your indoor lighting, can all alter your natural rhythm.

Getting as much sunlight as you can is imperative. Windows are the world’s answer to enjoying all the beneficial effects of natural light. If you don’t have access to a window at work, then the windows you have at home are more important than ever.

Windows from offer many solutions that will upgrade your windows and make them work for you. From opening your window to catching the sunlight and reflecting it into your room, to simply getting some fresh air with a window that is easy to open. You can also include a fully automated system that works closely with nature itself to improve the life of your home. Your windows are the first part of your home that you should look at when considering an upgrade.

We love light. We love taking a break from work to relax in the sunshine. We feel more productive, awake, and happy when it’s a beautiful day outside. Nature shaped our very genetics, and so for a healthy, happy life, we need to have as much access to it as we possibly can. Nothing can beat the simplicity of nature on our daily lives. We are hard-wired to benefit from it.

Make sure to go outside for breaks in the summertime. Bask in that favorite spot in your home which the sunlight hits. Amplify the benefits of natural light by using night shift modes on your electronics (that lessen the use of blue light, which energizes the brain). Use windows to their utmost and catch the sunlight and bring it into your home. Clean, bright, and unobstructed windows will bring the benefits of nature right into your home. Modernize them for even more health benefits, and stay happy.

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Making Your Garden a Space for Everyone


You should give just as much attention o decorating your garden space as you should the inside of your home. Doing so will give you some extra family space to relax and enjoy each other’s company, but this will only really work if you take the time to consider the needs of everyone in your family and design your garden accordingly.

Here are some quick tips to help you make your garden a great space for everyone:

Create an Entertainment Zone

The garden is a great place to entertain when the weather is good. Your family and your guests will feel freer and more able to enjoy yourself when you’re out in the fresh air feeling the sun on your face, and you won’t have to worry so much about cleaning house before you have people over.

What you will need to think about though, is designing the space so that it works for entertaining. Find a piece of your garden that’s as flat as possible, and make that your entertainment zone. Pave it, fill it with a few pieces of comfy Bridgman Garden Furniture, including a table, and set up a barbecue, along with a few tea lights and candles, for an instant party space the whole family will love.

Create a Play Zone

If you have kids or it’s likely you’ll have kids over in your garden semi-regularly, it makes sense to create a play zone, where they can have fun and run around without disturbing the adults or messing up the garden.

Ideally, this part of the garden should be lawn-based, and you should fence it off either with an actual fence, or maybe a bamboo screen. If you have your own kids, erecting a jungle gym, basketball net and maybe even a little playhouse won’t go a miss and will ensure your kids spend more time running around outside than they do glued to their devices indoors.

Create a Relaxation Zone

Being outdoors, surrounded by nature with the sun on your skin is very conducive to relaxation whatever your age, but if your garden isn’t set up for it, it can be very difficult to achieve that inner peace you’re looking for. If relaxation matters to you and your family, you should then create a garden zone for relaxation.

Ideally, your relaxation zone should be filled with pretty scented flowers, aromatic herbs, and appealing plants, which will soothe your senses and calm your nerves. A water feature, with flowing water, will also help you to relax and achieve Zen-like peace. Then, you just need to think about adding a few pieces of comfy garden furniture, so that you have a nice place to sit and watch the birds play or marvel at the beautiful sunset.

Create a Pet Zone

If you have pets, and you don’t want them to mess up the garden with their antics, but you do want them to be able to enjoy the outdoors like the rest of the family, section off a small piece of land, which should be big enough for them to run around. Add a kennel, so they have somewhere to retreat to when it’s hot, install a sprinkler system, so they always have water and throw in a few toys – they’ll love it.

What are your top tips for creating a garden that everyone can enjoy?

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5 Important Reasons Why You Should Have a Living Trust

A living trust is an alternative to the standard will that most people use to distribute their assets after they pass away. Unlike a will, however, it take effect during your lifetime. That is, your assets are transferred into a trust which you are able to access for the rest of your life. And then, when you pass away, it immediately transfers over to your chosen representative. Why would you do this instead of just making a regular will? Here are 5 reasons you are better off choosing a living trust:
1) Skip Probate
With a standard will, a probate period is required. After you pass away, your assets will go through probate. This is the set of court proceedings that are required in order to properly distribute your assets according to the terms you set out in your will.
In a living trust, probate is not necessary. That means your heirs will receive their portion in a matter of weeks rather than a matter of months (or years in some cases).
2) More Clarity and Assurance
When a will is contested, there is more room for fiddling with the terms and the whole while, money is being taken from your estate to pay the court costs so the amount you end up passing down is less than what you intended.
With a living trust, however, you can rest assured that it will hold up much better in court. As long as you make sure to clarify your terms sufficiently, you can be confident that it will happen exactly as you have laid it out in your living trust.
By working with professionals like those at, you can make sure your living trust is iron clad and will hold up better than even the strongest will could.
3) Secure Even in Illness
Unless you have a durable power of attorney for your will, you’ll be stuck with a court appointed person to oversee your affairs while you’re too ill to handle them yourself. This could create serious complications for family and heirs.
With a living trust, the appointed trustee can automatically take charge when necessary. There will be no need to get the court involved. And because a living trust is irrevocable, you can challenge your incapacity and get back in the driver’s seat yourself.
4) More Affordable
Upfront costs will probably cost more than drafting a will. However, in the long run, it can save money. Because there is no need for probate, you can prevent excessive court costs from being taken from your estate.
5) More Privacy
When you make up a will, that document and all the transactions made according to it are on the public record. A living trust, on the other hand, is completely private and all transactions are handled in private. This level of privacy makes it more secure and can help your inheritors avoid any problems.
Final Word
Getting your finances in order can be tricky, especially if you have a lot to manage. But working with experts to create a solid living trust is worth the effort so that you can be completely assured that your estate will be distributed exactly as you intend it to be.
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