Friday, December 30, 2016

Math: Friend or Foe?

Humour has become a big part of my parenting style, I swear it is the only reason I manage to not lose my temper about 20 times a day. I can manage to turn around most situations - with a joke or anecdote or just a quip - on D(11) and S(8) and avoid tantrums - theirs and mine ;).

When it comes to teaching especially, I have a tough time holding on to my patience but again with most subjects, we manage without too many explosions. I also made sure to inculcate self-study in both the kids, all the better to avoid teaching situations and let me stay in my calm bubble. The odd instance though, definitely comes up from time to time, and Math has lately become our nemesis. Weirdly enough, both the spouse and I used to love the subject when at school, but now D has got it into her head that "she's bad at Math" and nothing I say will get her out of that mode - especially when she's finding a particular topic tough.

The latest? Algebra! Don't kill me, but I actually find it fascinating, at least at the simple levels when I can actually teach it pretty well. But our early learning sessions went like this:

We are reading questions and trying to construct the equations -
D: 3 consecutive even numbers add up to 36. Find the numbers.
Me: Ok, can you tell me the equation for this now? What is the first number?
D: x
Me: Great, so what are the 2nd and 3rd numbers.
D: ... I think the numbers are 10 and...
Me: Why are you going to the answers? Tell me the equation first.
D: I don't know how.
Me: If the first number is x, what is the next. The point of algebra is to start from the equation, not to just guess at the numbers and try to find them!
D: I don't know.
Me: It's the next even number. Think.
D: I don't like Math.
Me: Try! You know this!
D: I'm bad at Math.

...A meltdown and 2 hours later, we finally go back to it, find the equation and the numbers.

And this is why I make weird faces when someone asks me why I didn't think of moving to teaching as a profession ;).

Plan for 2017: I am determined to get D proficient at Algebra, at least so that she can teach S in a couple of years and I don't have to go through a repeat of this.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Walking the tightrope of Parenting

It's time for one of the now-occasional parenting related posts on the blog ;). As the kids grow older, I have got more caught up in privacy concerns, and wondering if they would want so much about them online. This means that I analyze quite a bit before putting up anything in this space. D, who's now 11, has also read through many of my older posts, which made me all the more wary of writing something that might make her uncomfortable :D. Of course, in a couple of years, she might be online herself and sharing stuff, but I will have to leave that to be her decision and her learning.

Canva pic courtesy Shailaja Viswanath :)
But oh well, it seems like parenting is similar to walking on a tightrope most days. As young parents, we feel that babies are TOUGH, and it's great when they grow up and start eating/drinking/sleeping on their own, but the challenges don't end - they just change :). When I was faced with a surprise phone call from my 11 year old a few days back, it took a lot of self-control to sound calm and give her advice, though I was panicking a bit underneath. That set me thinking of all the times when we must let them do their thing, just to help them grow, though I have not always wanted to!

- When S, at 4 years, wanted to start bathing himself, simply because his sister had been doing so for a few months and he didn't want to feel left behind. Was it efficient? Definitely not! It took a few weekend scrubs to make up for the weekday self-baths, but on the whole, it was worth it! He has always tried to take to things earlier, simply because of the competition ;), and it has mostly ended up making our lives easier with less to "teach".

- When I took the decision to stop studying sessions which had me "asking questions" before every exam, to let D do her own preparation. She protested, I worried about the effects it would have, but I found that it hardly had any impact on her performance. Humbling much? For sure :P.

Sibling Beach fun!
- When they forget school items or submissions at home, and even if I know it's something important, I took the decision that I would never run to school to get it to them, but let them handle the situation on their own. It did help that both their schools have been a bit far from home so it would be a huge effort to just get there. I also hoped that not being super-organized myself, they would develop this habit on their own. It's an uphill task on many days, but I know they can definitely handle unexpected situations with just a little advice and nudge from us now and then.

- When D had a stay-back at school for one day a week, and offered to come back on her own by public transport, I was a bit concerned, but I knew that not letting her do it would set a bad precedent. We thought we'd give it a week or two and see how it goes, and surprise surprise - she's doing really well!!

When there's an unforeseen, even slightly worrisome, situation, and you feel like things are not in your control, there is always a sense of panic in a parent's mind. But I have learnt to control that feeling, and only portray a sense of calm to the kids. They know our phone numbers to call from a phone booth, and they have change on them if they need to.

A lot of credit is due to the spouse, who's been the enabler in most of these situations. I have learnt and adapted over the years, though I still sometimes have to suppress my initial impulse, and then go for the calmer alternative ;).