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Category Archives: Education

Comparison of different childhoods

New Yorker article on “Why Are American Kids So Spoilt?”

Read this article this morning – oy vey. What an eye-opener!

Somewhat relieved that I make Miss 6-y-o, my DD, do chores. It’s expected that she can get herself dressed and that she can pack her schoolbag (granted, with a little nudging some mornings). She feeds the kitten and I clean the kitty litter. Those sorts of things. If she sat back and expected me to pander to every requirement, I would go nuts pretty quickly and doing everything for her would do her no service whatsoever. I want her to grow into a resilient, reliable, thoughtful adult.

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Window shopping

Well, when you’re stuck at home or in front of a computer, it’s more correct to call it something else.

I play at imaginary shopping. If it works for little kids, it should work for me. The difference is I don’t get a neat little shopping trolley and plastic baked goods and a tiny cash-free cash register and the opportunity to dress up in a hat and gloves.

For example, if I hadn’t forked out another $220 to the gardeners to remove two trees, dispose of rubbish and take away a slippery slide from my backyard, I would totally be buying these cool flash cards for young nerds. I reckon DD would enjoy them. This is the kid who wanted me to make a volcano in the kitchen, and keeps asking me what dirt is made of and how do you make a car in a factory and why do trees grow.

Apart from the cash issue and the fact that I am doing imaginary shopping only, the thing that would finally stop me from getting them is the ensuing new questions and the answers I’d have to revise.

Think about it. Mum, what’s covalent mean? What are magnetic poles? Why can’t I count in binary at school? What’s a degree and why does a triangle only get 180 of them but a square gets 360? That’s not fair!

In a way, imaginary shopping can save me money. By not buying these cards, I am not having to buy tablets to deal with the headache that would come from DD’s continuing questions. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Education

 

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Gifted child

It used to be that every mother thought her baby was beautiful and that was it. Now, (nearly) every mother seems to think her preschooler is gifted. I’m not kidding. Have a look at this BabyCenter poll on gifted children. A grand total of 74% of respondents believe their child is gifted.

As a former teacher, I can say that maybe 1% or 2% of a school population may be gifted. Not 74%.

Now, the sample in the BabyCenter poll may be highly skewed. Perhaps those who are very proud of their child’s giftedness are ready to proclaim it to the world and those who think their kid is average simply don’t feel like admitting to it. Or … maybe the parents’ expectations are not rooted in reality.

This is not a case of sour grapes here. In whatever way my daughter turns out, that’s how she’s meant to be. I will give her opportunities, lots of love, and heaps of support but I’m not going to push her. I want her to find happiness and become a decent person. That’s it.

I was a gifted child. My intelligence and creativity showed from a very early age (probably to the eternal annoyance of my younger siblings who were then contrasted with me). I was fantastic at school work, learned music and foreign languages quickly, had excellent results over a range of subjects, and more.

What parents don’t count on are the drawbacks. I was bored witless for a large amount of my school career. I wish that I’d been sent up a grade for the mental stimulation. Oh God, the immense, day-crushing boredom of repetitive, simplistic schoolwork.

And there’s the bullying. Maybe some gifted children are also blessed with resilience, social toughness and more. But I wasn’t. I was persecuted in every grade. It didn’t make me a better or tougher person. I developed depression and wanted to leave school. I haven’t been in touch with any of my fellow pupils for two decades. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of a single way in which bullying made me a better person. Damaged would be the correct term.

So I am ambivalent about how giftedness is viewed. I joined Mensa when I was in my 20s but I didn’t stay long. The dues were expensive for someone on a low salary like myself and I wasn’t getting what I had hoped for.

I’d like to say that giftedness leads to marvellous opportunities and a life paved with gold, but it doesn’t. It can lead to envy from others, boredom, tedium, aimlessness, and frustration. Only a very few of the gifted population actually receive the stimulus and support that can help them to achieve the things they want.

 

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Mother and housewife

Honestly, if you looked at the duty statement, salary, benefits and key performance indicators and then conducted a full cost benefit analysis, you wouldn’t take on the job. See how my mind works when I’m being snarky? 🙂

I read this article by Kylie Orr.

So while we debate what level of qualifications our country’s childcare workers should possess and scorn anyone who chooses “Mother and Housewife” as a career, perhaps we should analyse the masses. Put your hand up if you are a Mum and you clean your home? My bet is the numbers will be huge. Now raise your hand if this was your chosen occupation, your destiny realised? Mother: maybe. Housewife: I’d love to meet you and pick your brain. I predict there is a whole population of women floating in the sea of parenthood with little idea about how to get through. It is simply on-the-job training but the price we pay if we fluff it up is huge. And so will be the therapist’s bill.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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Road Safety in the Holiday Season

Article from The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A woman crashed her car while driving last night in Sydney. Nothing unusual there. The thing that caught my eye was that she was allegedly six times over the legal drink-driving limit and she had her three year old daughter in the car. She had been to a university function, apparently.

What would lead a woman to drive with that much alcohol in her system with her dear daughter in the same car? According to The Daily Telegraph, she had her dog in the car also.

I’m honestly amazed that she drove that far before having an accident, and relieved that only the cars were damaged.

At this time of year, road safety becomes a more visible topic in newspapers, on the television and the radio. It should also become a big topic at parties. If you see someone drinking steadily, offer to get them a taxi and assure them that their vehicle can be retrieved the next day. Road safety is everyone’s business.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2008 in cats, Children's Health, Education, Uncategorized

 

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What do little girls like?

I have to say that this opinion piece from The Sydney Morning Herald today disturbs me. It’s meant to disturb me, and it taps into several of my fears as a mother to a little daughter.

Shona Snowden asks What do we teach our little girls?

Their cheeks glow with all the health of peach blusher and their lips pout under sticky pink lip gloss.

They are five.

Only two years ago the hips clad in electric-blue hot pants were wrapped in layers of Huggies. The pale little midriffs gleaming beneath tasselled mini-brassieres felt only the softness of pure cotton and terry towelling. At night they still snuggle in cot beds with teddies and bunnies, with a night-light on; some with a reassuring nappy concealed under their pink pyjamas, a secret not shared with Miss and the Big Girls at dancing.

Please read the rest of it. It’s only short.

DD isn’t too keen on going to dance classes and is happy to do preschooler gym activities, more to her liking. But I suspect that sooner or later she’ll be enthusiastic about learning more about dance, maybe when she’s four or five, and I know that I’ll be pulled into that maelstrom called “Dance School”. It’s not the fussing about having a clean leotard and hair pulled back into a bun; it’s the choice of music, the dance moves that are meant for a girl many years older, and the concepts that many teenagers don’t manage well, let alone preschoolers.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2008 in Child Development, Education, Life Matters

 

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Queueing for … preschool?

Yesterday I was told about an early learning centre attached to a large private school that is fantastic. Obviously it’s not for kids as little as my darling daughter, but if you want your kid to get in, she or he should have been on the waiting list since conception. This is for kids aged 4 and 5.

As I listened to a description of the syllabus, part of me was thinking “Wow! I want Mimi to get in on that!” But another part of me was thinking “Do they play a lot? Do they get enough naps? Is there enough benefit from attending that centre compared with continuing with her current centre or other schools in this city? Would we have the money for that? Would the hours cover what she currently has in childcare?”

I should add that I have not put Mimi’s name down for any private high schools here either. Bad mother? Delusional mother? Unsure mother? Maybe all of these. DH pointed out, some schools may improve and others get worse in the years before she’s old enough to go to high school.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2008 in Education, Motherhood, the mummy race

 

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