Monday, May 23rd, 2011
As more parents worry about how their growing toddlers will survive the educational system once they enter school, they’re enrolling kids in after-school tutoring and learning centers such as Kumon. The New York Times recently wrote an in-depth profile on how Kumon is becoming parents’ defense against a changing educational landscape that focuses more on studying, memorizing, and taking standardized tests for reading, writing, and math.
Originally started in Japan during the 1950s for school-age kids, Kumon has expanded in the U.S. since 1974, where it grew in popularity among mostly Asian students. Now, kids of all ages and ethnicities enroll in Kumon to help them get a leg up on school work and studies. In recent years, a Junior Kumon program was created to enroll children ages 3 to 5, though toddlers as young as 2 are welcome. Junior Kumon lessons cost about $200-300 per month, and toddlers and preschoolers are tutored twice a week for one hour each.
Some parents see Kumon as a necessary means to building their children’s self-confidence and academic skills; a way to give them the means necessary to advance later in life. (In addition to starting them in sports classes or having them read chapter books.) Others, particularly child experts and educators, aren’t convinced programs like Kumon are enriching experiences that will help kids become innovative, vibrant, curious thinkers; instead, it only stresses memorization, repetition, and a linear way of thinking.
When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I remember weekend afternoons at my local Kumon, huddled around tables working on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and long division on numerous worksheets. I remember storing my worksheets and multiplication charts in plastic pouches Kumon provided us. At that time, Kumon only focused on math, not reading. Of course, as a kid, I didn’t enjoy working on endless math sheets. And ironically, despite all the math lessons, I grew up to work in a field that focuses just on reading and writing.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t intrinsic value in enrolling kids in Kumon, though 2 years old may be a bit too young. There are still other ways to teach kids how to achieve their truest potential, as the Tiger Mother debate has illustrated. But, then again, who knows where I would be now if I had enrolled at 2 years old?
Would you enroll your kid in enrichment programs like Kumon? Are toddlers ready for the pressure to succeed?
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GoodyBlog, News, Your Child
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Amy Chua’s article, Why Chinese Mother’s are Superior has caused quite a media frenzy. Many readers were appalled by her parenting techniques but as I read it, I saw my own mother and father reflected back in Chua’s words. I am the product of a Tiger Mom and Dad.
Let me start by saying that despite my Tiger upbringing I love my parents and I know they love me.
Like Chua’s children, I wasn’t allowed to attend sleepovers until 8th grade, I couldn’t have boyfriends, anything less than an A was unacceptable, and although my parents didn’t discourage me from joining dance and choir, let’s just say they didn’t show up to every recital.
I spent my entire life trying to please my parents. But as Chua’s husband eloquently pointed out, it’s not a child’s job to please. My Tiger mother was definitely more ferocious than my Tiger father. In 5th grade, I told a boy I had a crush on him. My mom overheard me telling my sister. The very next day she looked me straight in the eye and lied, “Your principal called. She learned you told that boy you liked him. That’s against school policy. She said the next time you do that, you’re going to be expelled.” I was terrified. In 9th grade, I learned that I was one of the top 5 students in my grade. Boy was I proud of myself. I ran home to tell my father. His reaction, “Let me know when you’re number one.” Ouch. As a child of Tiger parents, majoring in anything other than science, law, or engineering is unheard of. I decided on journalism. Every semester my parents asked if I was sure. After they learned of the relatively meager salary, my mom raced to point out, “You must regret your decision.”
“No, I don’t Mom.”
A Tiger mom and dad’s expectations of success don’t end after college because to my parents, you are perpetually a child who needs guidance. I moved home after college because finding a job in this economy is hard. I worked in retail for a few months and then for my dad as an office assistant. We had a “meeting” on my first day.
“Your mother and I are concerned you’ve become very mediocre and if you don’t get your life together you’ll work in retail forever. And maybe it’s time you let go of writing and try a real career.”
“Writing is my dream.”
“You do know the difference between a career and hobby, right?”
Being the child of Tiger parents is tough, unless you’re unequivocally obedient. I even managed my fair share of confined rebellion. In the end, all my parents ever wanted was to raise a successful child and they have. They said and did these things in order for me to be on top. It was the only way they knew how to raise children. I definitely don’t condone their parenting strategies. But in between those harsh remarks, were countless moments of love and tender care. And I know that no one would climb as many mountains or swims as many seas to see a smile on my face as they would.
Plus: Check out a previous blog post by an editor Do Chinese Mother’s Raise Successful Children?
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