Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Practicing making Chinese characters with these little overlay booklets. Each one shows the strokes for making a single Chinese character for a word. The pages are transparent to show how to build the character. Since each character fits into a square, plain paper divided into squares is used for practice. We use individual small squares of paper.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tiger Moms

I'm sure you've heard the growl about "Tiger Mom" parenting. For the last 30 years, our school has attracted Asian families. Typically, these parents do expect excellence from their children. The children that I've known are well loved by both parents. Recognizing the potential and ability of each child to learn is part of the expression of that love. This was also part of Dr. Montessori's philosophy. She expected more of the children in her charge than any other educator of her day. And just as Dr. Montessori provided the children with materials and experiences to meet her expectations, Asian parents often use their free time to instruct and monitor their children.

While many of these children may spend their free time at home doing math problems at the kitchen table or diligently practicing an instrument, they are proud of their achievements. As a teacher, it is a joy to work with them. They are eager and not afraid to learn new materials and processes. They show respect for their teacher and other adults. Yet, these same children, appropriately and happily have fun, laugh and enjoy friends in school throughout the year.

Amy Chua's "Tiger Mom" is a bit extreme. However, the message that when you expect more you get more and that the child will benefit from the experience with self confidence that could not have been achieved any other way, is true.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To encourage or not ...

This young boy enjoys using the moveable alphabet and is capable of reading the words but reluctant to reading them on lists or in short books. When asked to read, he declined but Mrs. T paid no attention, sitting with him, coaxing him to read a simple book. He plodded through, and upon completion of the last page, he gushed, "Mrs. T, I'm glad you ignored my complaints!"

We find that many children need a bit of nudging, in reading as well as math. These are important areas and areas where the children themselves are happy to make strides. I imagine that is because their parents value progress in those areas. In this way, we still "follow the child" while helping those who need it, to make the right choices.