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Aug 31, 2011

Confessions of a Were-Tiger Mom

My oldest son started kindergarten yesterday. It was also the release date of the third book in my series -- The Unfinished Song: Sacrifice. Usually, I neglect my kids because I'm busy writing, but yesterday, I neglected my new release so I could spend the day with my little man.

At least, that was my intention. It's not possible to turn off Writer's Brain. After Roll Call and Storytime, the kids ran outside to play while the parents squeezed into tiny chairs to listen to the teacher. The teacher was a perfect kindergarten teacher: sweet and chipper and friendly and yet down-to-earth. While she expounded on the daily schedule and how budget cuts impacted the status of art supplies, I gazed around the room, struck by an idea for a story about a woman whose three preschool sons are werewolves. I would call it, "My Three Werewolf Sons."

Right at the moment I was puzzling out the backstory about how the young children came to be bitten by a werewolf (I would blame their uncle, I decided) the teacher called on me with a question. I had no idea what the answer was, or, indeed, what the question had been. I had an instant flash back to the million times in school when I had similarly blanked on a question for the same reason...I'd been off in another world.

"Bag lunch or lunch card?" repeated the teacher, smiling patiently, with that cajoling tone most people use with small children, that kindergarden teachers use with everyone.

"Um. We'll be getting a card thingy," I said. She moved on to ask the next parent.

I admit it. I suck at parenting sometimes. Now you know.

Despite this, I am an aspiring tiger mom. If you haven't heard of the term, or the controversy, it's a term popularized by an Asian American mom/author to designate an aggressive approach to one's child's academic career. I'm kinda like a were-tiger mom. I manage it only when the moon is full.

When the teacher handed me a piece of paper with the class objectives for the year, I read it as an indictment of all the things my son should be doing already. If he isn't even ready for first grade by the time he's in kindergarden, how will he be ready for calculus by sixth grade?

During my first pregnancy, I fancied I could be like those moms who homeschool their kids. I looked up several programs, and even designed a curriculum. After my son was born, even before his little sibs came along, I realized that idea was sheer lunacy. I have increased respect for any parent who could pull it off. In my case, I would go mad. Pre-school and elementary school teachers, I salute you. You are amazing.

Anyway. I compromised. I have a notebooks for each werewolf, er, kid,  with re-usable transparent sheet protectors. I order have a couple of different workbooks I use. These workbooks are designed to be used once, but the workbooks are expensive and I have three kids. So I cut them up and then choose the pages I want, which I slip into the transparent sheet protectors. This also allows me to mix up series. The Critical Thinking Co. is strong on mathematics and logic, but weak on reading and writing (for the Pre-K to first grade level especially). Most other series are the reverse. It's not hard to find workbooks with guided handwriting and phonics for the ABCs.

I also found a great series by a teacher friend of mine which uses sign language and physical activities to help kids use total physical response to learn to read. I am trying to convince her to self-publish her book. If she does, I will let you know more about it.

I made sets of four pages of Alphabet/Handwriting/Phonics and four pages of Counting/Logic/Puzzles plus two pages of fun stuff... drawings or mazes. (My oldest son loves mazes). For my middle son (2.5 yrs), it's just three pages of Alphabet and three pages of Counting. The littlest one has a notebook too, just to have something to scribble on while the others are working so he doesn't get jealous.

In the evening, I spend about 20 minutes with each of them on the notebooks. A finished notebook results in a treat. (Yes, I bribe with candy. Not health food. I am a bad, bad mom.) If one is too squirrelly to finish, that's ok, we just stop, though there is no treat. For obvious reasons, the two year old has more trouble concentrating than the older one, although one night he surprised me by demanding two sessions in a row.

My son was worried that he wouldn't be ready for kindergarden. He feared they would all be doing things that were too hard for him. So when we went into the classroom and he saw the alphabet on the wall, illustrated with cartoons of things that started with those letters, he pointed it out to me gleefully.

"Mommy, look!" he whispered. "That's all the letters and their things! She's a good teacher. She knows the alphabet too!"

* * *

By the way, expect a new series from me soon. Don't worry, I will still keep publishing the rest of The Unfinished Song as well. The Unfinished Song is aimed at young adults and adults, but I also have a series I'm working on aimed at four to seven year olds. It is about Jaden and Jacie, twins that can turn into dragons, who help other dragons when they get sick or hurt. Each book introduces a science concept and includes a home science experiment at the end. In order to cure the sick Rain Dragon, for instance, Jaden and Jacie learn about the precipitation cycle, and so on.


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4 comments:

Domey Malasarn said...

Great post, and congratulations on all of your big news! I think "My Three Werewolf Sons" is a fantastic idea too!

Krista said...

Congrats on your release! I have your books on my TBR list and can't wait to get to them.

Also, I think it is great you take such an interest in your kids schooling. My mom is a speech therapist with a background in teaching. If she did not like how the school was teaching us kids - she home schooled us.

Krista said...

Congrats! You have received an award on my blog. Stop by to claim it.

wannabuy said...

Pre-school and elementary school teachers, I salute you. You are amazing.
Yes! I took today off for my eldest's first day of pre-school. She was so excited last night. My favorite question: "How will I know my friends names?"

But there is no way I could be the only teacher. Sometimes the best way to raise a child is to allow others to teach them. Observe, direct, and participate. But also let go (when its right).

Note: Our daughter is going to a 'parent participation' pre-school where I hope to teach 25% of our duty time.

Were-Tiger parent... love it!

Neil

ps
I hope you write the book. :)