Wednesday, 29 September 2010

"You can't make him read or write, but you can make him not want to"

You may have noticed that I have been listing "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" as a book that we are reading in our house for the past few weeks. We have been borrowing it from the Taipei Public Library continuously week after week. I guess no one else out in Taipei city is as compelled to get their child to read as I am.

How's the book ? I LOVE IT !!!! It's logical. It's structured. It's numbered. It's objective. And according to the book I should have Ew reading by Dec 2010. Excellent ! Just what I needed.

Then I hit a snag - despite the dangling carrots - Thomas the Train pencil, Shinkansen eraser, Doremon 8 coloured pen - Ew HATES IT ! The only part he likes are the stories in the later chapters. Stories which he supposedly will be able to read when he reaches Chapter XX.

For weeks I was tormented. We had started off on a good note. He loved the Thomas pencil, the train note book. We progressed remarkably well through 'm', 's', 'a', 'e'. Then at Lesson 3 or 4, came the " I don't want to do lessons", the yawning, "I'm tired", "I don't like rhyming". I was patient - ah ! so very very patient. But I guess the impatience showed cause I am really not good at hiding my feelings. It shows on my face.

Did I give up ? No.

I put on my trainer hat and made it fun. I made a magic wand. I thought : We'll say the words fast when I wave the magic wand. We'll say it slow when we roll the ball/truck slow. It will be such fun!  I dropped rhyming and writing. I re-did the lessons on coloured cards (the book is black and white, minimal pictures and most unappealing). I drew pictures and use words that appeal to him like 'fire', 'fireman', 'rabbit', 'rake'. IT WAS NOT FUN ! HE STILL WANTED TO RUN !

Yesterday, we hit the lowest low. I threatened to go to the post box without him if he had not traced the 'm' and 'a's. (Yes, in hindsight I am really sorry I did that. Give me a break ! I am learning too.)

I scoured the homeschooling pages last night looking for a solution / an approach / whatever I could find. I found unschooling. I read about the natural child.

Today, I realize that the lessons we were doing is my big lesson. I am taking a year off work to be with my children. Being very achievement oriented (that's what I am - that's why I make a really good corporate employee), I want to make it 'worthwhile'. I need something to show at the end of it that said, "I gave it 101%". Sure, I learnt to cook loads of different things. I made things. I had fun with my kids. But I thought those things did not stand up to scrutiny of the public. Hmm...or is the word 'public' a cover for my egoistic self ?

I wised up today. No more lessons. From today onwards, I am going to stop scanning life for schoolish stuff. I will have fun with my kids. I will offer them opportunities to see, hear, touch, feel, move. If anyone wants to dwell further on it, we will. If not, we will move to the next thing.

And I will give myself the same opportunities.

PS - we made a windmill out of paper today :)

Friday, 3 September 2010

Toadally Yours

I am compelled to share more about our froggy friends. Remember the tadpoles we rescued from the drying ponds ? I counted 80 ! We have them living out of a motley of containers on our balcony. The smallest yogurt cup is the sick bay. Those found to be unwell - in my humble opinion i.e. looking lethargic, floating on their backs / sides, are isolated to recuperate lest their siblings turn carnivorous on them. I am proud to say  our recovery rate is 100%.
Froggy living quarters
I must also share that we lost 10+ for unknown reasons. Their little bodies were found floating belly up. It was heart-wrenching for me to fish them out and discard them. I did the former and got the resident undertaker to lay them to rest. He did - in the toilet bowl!

On a happier note, 31 Aug 2010 was Hari Merdeka for 21 of our froggy friends. That morning, before the rains from the tropical storm Namtheun hit, we took them back to the park where we found them. Getting them there was a challenge. To the bewilderment of my mother in law, I threw a terry cloth diaper over the basin, tied it in place with a rope and marched the kids out of the house with the basin of frogs under one arm. We released our wards on a pile of rotting leaves under some trees. I hope they enjoyed the day long drizzle (it would have kept their skins nice and moist) and I trust they have found lovely new homes.

My sentimental son was sad to see them go. He has been putting his hand in the basin trying to get the frogs to jump onto his hand. He wants a t-shirt that says "I keep frogs".

Saying good bye

Tomorrow, another 15 should be ready to go. Come to think of it, I would like a t-shirt too.