Chinese Fortunes I’ve collected over the last several months:
1) Trust your intuition.
2) The respect and help of influential people will soon be yours.
3) A solid challenge will bring forth your finest abilities.
I think I experienced #3 this afternoon being bashed by a certain male offspring and spending 1.5 hours arguing about 4th grade homework, including the difference between rounding to the nearest tenth/hundredth/thousandth and rounding a number to its highest place (i.e. – place value). After consulting w/my better half, the Math wizard, and carefully working it out along w/back-up research on the Internet, I validated my suspicions and proceeded to explain to my son the correct way to do his assignment.
Fifty imaginary lashes and one hour later, my son finally succumbed and corrected his answers, although he assured me that “Homework didn’t matter and we don’t get graded on it anyways.” Well, “guess what” I explained that it didn’t matter what his teacher, principal, friend or anyone else said – “homework is important to you, me and OUR family.” I told him that homework was practice and “practice makes perfect.” After all, if he was going to learn anything and succeed on the tests/quizzes, the process was most important, right? Tests, quizzes, and the grade he received was important, but it was even more important to understand HOW to do it. “You could go through 12 years of school, get A’s on everything and not understand how you did it. Is that going to help you? No,” I stated to him firmly.
Analogies were spewed as a last resort to get through the kid’s thick skull: practicing baseball, becoming an engineer and needing to know math concepts to work out problems in his job. It was like my first time stepping foot in my public speaking class in grad school, except just to see eyes roll and my son beg me to let him finish his homework – no real “moral” support.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I was blessed with victory (or so I thought). The battle definitely ensued with some wounds, but culminated with “quizzing” him on his Spanish lesson with a full kinesthetic drama of conversation “Todo Acerca de mi” (All About Me). The boy falling to his knees in my arms crying/laughing simultaneously saying “I hate Spanish, I hate Spanish, why do I need to learn it?” I reassured him that I understood him and “Aw, it’s all right baby” – then I told him that it’s important to learn it, “because you have relatives in Costa Rica and my parents spoke to us in Spanish and we want you to learn the language & culture.” And so the dialogue began:
¿Cómo te llamas? (What is your name?)
¿Cuántos años tienes? (How old are you?)
¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
Me llamo Darren.
Ok, now ¿Dónde vives?
Me llamo _____ (insert age here)
NO! You just said “My name is ____ (insert age here)!” Try again, honey…
Then I gave him an example as my preschool daughter, Madeleine, is standing next to me: “Mi hija tiene ___ (insert number here) años. ¿Darren, cuántos años tienes TU? (How old are YOU?)
But he finally got it at the end of an arduous 45 minutes. The scene was pathetic, yet accomplished the goal. I was standing at the top of the stairs, he ran down to the basement thinking he had escaped to go watch TV and I stopped him in his tracks:
Me: “No, no, no, where are you going…we’re NOT finished yet…¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños?” (When is your birthday?) and as an example with Madeleine sitting next to me, I said:
“El cumpleaños de mi hija es el _____ (day) de ____ (month).”
In the heat of the moment, it came to me – a more effective teaching technique for this special learner could work – so I proceeded with the Happy Birthday song in Spanish dancing w/my daughter at the top of the stairs:
“Felíz cumpleaños a ti, felíz cumpleaños a ti…”…¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños, Darren?”
Whining son: “Uhnh…Mi cumpleaños es el ___ (insert day) de ______ (insert month).”
Then he scurries away quickly to watch TV as a cucaracha (cockroache) would go into the corner after someone’s unsuccessful attempt to squish it with a big black shoe…I guess you had to be there.