Schooling Used To Fun, Well Not Anymore

I took Math, Additional Mathematics and Further Mathematics decades back. I thoroughly enjoyed studying them. Even my friends who didn’t do too well in Mathematics had no major complaints about it.

It has been more than 10 years since I last tried a Mathematics problem sum. I ended up unlearning and relearning the subject when my daughter was in primary school. Luckily for her, I am very persistent, diligent and resilient. I would sit with her and figure out how to solve problems.

I was very unhappy with the school teachers because they did not use the textbooks which the school wanted us to buy.  I had to see the heads of department, principal and subject teachers to find out why they were not using the textbook. Once my daughter told me, “Teacher said just refer to the textbook. “ But which page, what topic? Where is your workbook? With the teacher. Did you bring the textbook to school? No. Why? Because teacher said we didn’t need it. When homework had to be done, it was a single sheet of paper with no references except two or one worked example. How was I to know? How could any child do the problems sums? From memory?

The teachers would already have answer keys. They don’t need to solve the questions. But we have to spend hours trying to figure out how to solve problem sums. In the end, many resorted to hiring tutors to get tackle this issue.

Parents also feel anxious about Mathematics because the schools rank the students according to their Mathematics results.

I was also told that courses offered in post-secondary had “preferred Additional Mathematics” written in fine print. So many schools made Additional Mathematics a compulsory subject.

Why Do We Keep Having To Battle Against Time And Childhood In Education?

When there is no more fun in learning, kids do not want to learn.

The first thing that kids know how to ask a parent these days is, “How to do that?”

When they are asked to count, add or multiply, you can literally see their eyes gazing into the space above their heads, their fingers start moving as if typing on a keyboard and their mouths twitching. The amount of thinking that goes into solving a Mathematics question is so intense it can be seen right away. Eyes, fingers and mouth all start working at the same time. So much so that when they get their hands on a calculator, they become lazy to think what one divided by 3 is. The simplest mathematical calculation becomes mentally challenging.

 

Kids outsource everything they can't handle or they leave the tasks.

Kids outsource everything they can’t handle or they leave the tasks.

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Kids seldom ever enjoy studying these days. They talk about their homework not of the topics in the homework. “I finish my homework.”  They talk about more studying to be done and longer CCA hours. They simply do not have the experience to explain anything.

Parents go out of their way to find out what is expected of them for the next level, before the children even finish a single month of schooling at the lower level.

The keyword here is ‘ahead’. Prepare ahead, study ahead, get a good headstart to, get up ahead… Even the tuition centers are aggravating this issue with marketing headlines that send parents rushing to register early for the early bird discounts.

The word most dreaded words are “behind time”, “slow”, “need to be more…”, “still have a lot to catch up with” , “not ready yet”, ‘not enough time…

What I Have Experienced

The pace of life is going so fast that we have created very little space for our kids to breathe.

I once brought along Mandarin books for my family trip. My in-law thought I was pressurizing my daughter . “Why are you teaching her before she’s even ready?” Guess what it was only primary 1 textbook.

On hindsight, I am glad I didn’t listen to anyone not to work less hard for her.

As much as I hate to admit it, we have to follow the pace just to keep up with the standards. We wouldn’t have got to where we are now.

In my experience, this energy and persistence are fueled by our own aspirations for our children. Then there’s expectation to perform according to the standards we have been made to accept. In trying not to put standards above the child, we speak to the child in different tones to voice our aspirations. The result is, as what we are see happening now. Parents rolled in holidays, homework, tutoring and reward into one bundle of activities. Under any normal circumstances, this is mental torture.

I reward my daughter with sleep and massage. The brain certainly to rest to grow. Personally , I work on weekly schedules. If homework is not followed through after two weeks, something is really wrong.

To make schooling fun again is really becoming more challenging. Meritocracy is a word that is literally fed into the minds of students and parents. Grades, success, tests, assessment, homework, assignments. So many terms all going in one direction. Academic performance.

Schooling, it used to be fun. Well not anymore. It Sucks!

Dealing With Your Children Who Throw Tantrums Or Misbehave In Public

What Not To Do When Kids Throw Tantrums And Misbehave

1.  Do not work on the child.
a.  “I am the parent, so listen to me.” This is not acceptable to the child. The child cannot be satisfied       if we tell them to listen. They won’t because they have decided not to.
b.  Smile and watch them quietly. Does not work too because when you are in public and your kids        are misbehaving, you want to be responsible for their behaviour.
c.  Laugh at them because it seems silly and funny. That would be inappropriate as you are the adult.
d.  Ignore them. Does it help them to behave any better in public next time?

Of course the stress is inconsiderable. If the child can even sense your reaction, and increase the performance if you seem to be embarrassed by them. It is not easy to use positive reinforcement, as Lisa Dean puts it.

What To Do When Kids Throw Tantrums And Misbehave

2. Work on the situation.

  • Be in the moment. Drop everything you do or think and be present for them. Stay still for a           second. If your child is about to fall over the edge, what would you do? You will drop everything. Your survival instinct takes over. You rescue your child.
  • The child who throws tantrums in public is not hurting anyone but himself or herself. Abandon all activities momentarily and sit still. In a public area, there are quiet corners. Bring the child to a quiet corner and remain there until the situation calms down.
  • Quick reflex. This is an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus. It is an intuitive response to what you already know has to be done. This is a soft skill which requires you to contain all your anger and frustration for a longer period time. Breathe in deep and slow down your movement. Pace yourself before you act on the situation. As long as the child is not hurting himself or herself, or disturbing the peace you will be able to take charge quite readily.

Words have to be remain cleverly constructed and maintained at a tone that is comfortable for all ears. “If you do this , you won’t get that (from me).” That is authoritarian parenting. If you have to resort to saying this to your child, it is time to review your expectations on your child. The child is growing, the adult has reached the norms of growth. Think deep and dig deep, where are you going with this? The child may not even have the energy and maturity to follow through the instructions.

I would use authority if I were in a classroom as their teacher because I will be in charge of the space we share together. Which brings us to this most important point. What do you do?

Space And Situation

That is where you begin. Begin with taking charge of the space. If you are married, your room is your space. Your kids should not enter your room before 8 a.m. when you are getting ready for the day and after 8 p.m. when you are getting ready for bed. The same goes in public areas. Note when and where you can start telling your children to start behaving themselves in public areas. In the car or before you leave the house. If you are not sure what to expect, explain the situation anyway. That we are all going to a public space, there will lots of people , so you want your children to stay together, listen to mum and dad and not start darting off on their own.

We are so used to executing our plans without explaining to our kids because we are the adults in charge. In fact, if you are bringing your children along with you, it is preferable that you explain everything.

I had this conversation with another parent. The reason we lose control is that we work on the child.

We have to evolve to become better as kids experience life and growth at different stages and phases. Choosing to remain just “I am the parent” mode will create a distance between you and the children. As we hope for them to listen to us, they too wish we could understand them more of how they want to grow.

Children Will All Grow Up Eventually

They say it’s easier to look after 3 children than one child. Because the one child has no friends. Your entire day is spent on thinking and planning on what to do with one kid. When you have more children, you can arrange play dates, clean up time, cooking lessons. Assume the role of the educator and facilitator, you will find parenting makes it flexible for you to put on different hats; it is fun.

And always remember, you do not have to mind these kids forever. They don’t remain kids forever. Children will all grow up eventually.