Archive for March, 2017

Joys of Teaching

March 29, 2017

I mentioned before that I once tried to teach a friend a physics concept and walked away feeling that I was no good at teaching. That one experience etched in my mind that I wasn’t suited for teaching. It’s remarkable how a single casual encounter marked me for life. Or so I thought.

It was only when I had to start teaching our son that I really studied pedagogy. Knowing something is not the same as knowing how to teach it. It all started with reading and I’ve been really engaged in learning about how math sense develops.

I’ve been volunteering at Calvin’s current school ever since he started going. While helping out with admin work in his K class was ok, it has been a lot more rewarding this year because I’ve  genuinely helped out a kid who would otherwise be wasting his time in school.

Next year, I’ve decided to join the PTA to challenge myself into doing something new. But I hope I’ll still have time to continue with honing my teaching skills via volunteering. (I do it daily with little C but that doesn’t prepare me for dealing with all types of children. Plus I usually have less emotional leverage with someone else’s child) I’m surprised to find that I really enjoy teaching children. I wouldn’t have believed it when I was younger but this is a side of me that has been suppressed all these years from that one failed experience. As I try to live with a growth mindset, I’m starting to believe that failures are opportunities to learn and I’ve become bolder in trying again and again and that is really liberating.

 

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Riding on the Bike

March 24, 2017

From the first Little Tikes car, to the Strider balance bike, to the Schwinn tricycle…. most of those vehicles were pretty much underutilized in our household. The car got pushed down and used as a factory and the balance bike was placed upside down and was a fun spinny wheel. Out of all those, the tricycle probably got the most use since we could push him around in it.

The subsequent ones fared a little better – the roller skates got maybe 10 uses so far, the scooter has been pretty fun for his dad and me and finally, recently, we got him a bike – with training wheels. I know the training wheels don’t help at all in learning how to ride a bike properly, but he needs that boost of confidence so he can learn to pedal and steer and to just enjoy the mobility of a bike. Before we put on the training wheels, I could see that he was terrified of being on something that wobbles, even if his parents were keeping a viselike grip on it.

He has been talking about riding the bike everywhere which he has never done before. Usually, when I asked if we should bring the tricycle/ scooter, he’ll usually prefer to just wander around on foot. It was wonderful seeing his delighted face as he zooms past us on the sidewalk, watching us jog to keep up with him. We took it out a few evenings ago and ended up pedaling (and pushing) in a sudden downpour! It was quite an adventure for us. I don’t think I’ve walked around in heavy rain before or at least for a long, long time.

Emotional Control

March 16, 2017

Little C can have intense emotions. A couple of months ago, he’ll often get so frustrated because things didn’t go the way he planned, that he is totally overwhelmed and start to act out. He also has an oversized fear of death – wondering about what it’ll be like if mum died, or if he died and start to sob about it.

Recently, I’ve felt that he has gotten better control of his emotions. He has learnt strategies to deal with those feelings and to use his brain to rationalise to himself that ‘No, mum is still young and won’t just die’ or ‘There are no monsters hiding in the dark because nothing has ever jumped out so far.’

He has been very proud to tell me that he has learned to deal with one kid in his class, N, who likes to bother him. We concluded that this kid just likes to see his reactions, so lil C said whenever N grabbed him, he’ll stand stock still until N gets bored and walks away.

I feel like he is more open to my criticisms and seem to see it in a positive light and will work on improving his behaviour like washing his hand properly, lifting the potty seat before peeing so I won’t sit on a wet stinky potty seat etc.

 

Learning a New Language: Japanese

March 14, 2017

I tried out Duolingo before, learning a bit of French since I’ve always wished to learn it. This time round, I actually wanted to learn Japanese but they didn’t have a program for it yet so I ended up starting French again for fun. And then I went and looked for other apps to learn Japanese, so I ended up spending the last two days exploring both. Even though French is more widely used and probably more useful to know, I’m much more interested in Japanese because then when we go to Japan again (some day…. hopefully not too far into the future??), I’ll be able to actually read some of the signs!

I’ve learnt some of the katakana previously because we were playing a game in Jap and needed to be able to read the translated names. So now I’m learning the hiragana as well. I’m pretty sure I won’t become fluent via casual self-study but it’s still fun anyway to learn something new.

How Are Babies Made?

March 10, 2017

I didn’t think we’d have to talk about it so soon but my curious 7-year-old asked me something to that effect. I can’t remember his exact words. He followed up by asking me about what I mean when I said we “planned” to have him. I wasn’t quite ready to go into planned parenthood with him. I kinda fudged my way through it by saying that as long as we don’t put in the daddy bits, the egg inside won’t get fertilized and won’t turn into a baby. I promised to borrow a book so I could explain it better….. I got two of those books today so I’ll need to read it first to make sure they are not too explicit.

At any rate, it apparently arose because he was worried about getting a younger sibling. He seems to have been traumatized by how meddlesome little toddlers and younger kids can be. Well, luckily for him, we are all happy with our family size so his wishes will be true.

You Fell for It

March 8, 2017

Calvin’s reaction when I told him about how I majorly hinted to J that I would like to be asked out the first time.

Passionate About Learning

March 4, 2017

As I read to learn how to best teach little C math, I find myself beside myself in excitement to read about the research on how children (or people in general) learn math. I’m on a path to find new passions so I was happy to note my eagerness to read a bunch of technical writing about math. For a while, I thought maybe I wasn’t really good at math because, in JC, I didn’t find math to be as easy as before. I was obviously in a fixed mindset and did not notice that because I breezed through math in secondary school, I essentially stopped working on it and improving. Surely a true genius won’t need that!

I thought I’d never be a good teacher because in secondary school, I tried to teach a friend my own unique/ creative way of understanding a topic and she seemed even more confused than before. I remember coming away thinking that I can’t be a good teacher. It never occurred to me that with practice, I can become better at teaching.

Oh, how foolish I was then. When I read about the growth mindset mentioned in the previous post, I felt liberated from my self-rejection. Now I truly realize the worth of a mentor/ parent to guide you during that age when I thought I knew all the important things worth knowing and I’m hoping I can provide C with the guidance that I could have benefitted so much from. But to be able to do that, I’ll continue to dig deeper into the art and science of learning. It may end up being a career for me, I do have many more years ahead even after he’s grown, but right now, I’m not going to fret about it and just enjoy the process of discovery.