Sunday, October 19, 2008

Maths drama

Had some drama at home on Friday. Since the exams are next week, I assigned some maths assessments for Lesley-Anne for practice. She did them readily enough but when I marked them, every other answer was wrong due to careless mistakes. Deja vu - has happened before as I described in my previous post on her issues with maths. When I asked her what happened, she turned sullen. Then she burst out, "Because I'm reluctant to do it!"

Ok, I know what happened here. This is not a child being overpushed and stressed (like I said, I don't give out a lot of work and certainly not during regular term time). This is a child who has been READING TOO MUCH OF MY BLOG and starting to wonder if she's a victim of the evil education system and overbearing parents.

Ha! I can't be maneouvered into feeling guilty that easily. I retorted, "Are you saying you got them wrong on purpose because you didn't want to do it?" Stuck. Pause. "No." "Then how can you say you got them wrong because you were reluctant to do it?"

Second attempt at guilt trip. "I wanted to do my own revision." "How?" "I'll learn better by going through my maths files and re-doing the corrrections." "Then why didn't you tell me this before I set you the assignment? If I knew that you had a lesson plan, don't you think I would have worked something out with you? Isn't it more accurate to say that you hate to be wrong so when you realised that you had made so many mistakes, you want to justify your actions and blame something else instead?" Silence. (I know I'm right. Why? Because Lesley-Anne is very much like me when I was young, in fact, I can practically see the wheels turning in her head.)

I must admit that I did yell just a little bit (the sulkiness is something that just sets me off, it instantly pushes my "irritated mum" button). But obviously all the blogging and chatting with you mums did some good as I was very conscious that I shouldn't belittle her or just focus on the mistakes. I explained to her why while it was great she had her own lesson plan, I needed to be assured that it would sufficiently cover all that she needed to know, especially on certain topics that she was weak in.

I asked if she could come up with a specific schedule on how she intended to revise the topics because with her tendency to procrastinate, a vague "I will revise all the topics before the exam next week" is unlikely to be effective. I know this from experience. During one of the holidays, she had to finish a project. She protested against my constant nagging and insisted she could manage on her own. So I requiesed. "Fine," I said. "I'm tired of nagging anyway. You manage your own time and just get it done however you deem fit." Even though I saw that the progress was slow, I said nothing. By the end of the holidays, she realised to her dismay that the project was far from done and burst into a fit of tears. Then it was mummy to the rescue again. So this is not a judgement on her character - it's knowing her strengths and weaknesses and helping her to manage them.

After some discussion, she came up with a comprehensive timetable with details on when she intends to revise what - it was quite impressive actually. For topics that she herself acknowledged she was weaker in, she agreed to let me set a short assignment for practice after she had done her revision. It's a win-win situation, I think. I'm glad she has taken ownership of her studying and so is she. In fact, almost immediately, the sulks disappeared and yesterday, she even asked me chirpily where the maths assessment book was and did the assignment without being told, because it was on her timetable.

It hasn't eliminated the careless mistakes (that would take a miracle, I think) but at least the attitude has improved considerably. Thank you God!!!


Anonymous said...

She reads your blog? I think it should be rated PG :-)

I find that it's sometimes v. difficult to stay calm when our kids have their own ideas of how to do things.

Because they're growing & changing all the time, it's tricky to gauge what level of maturity they're at at any one time. Either we overestimate their maturity and end up having to mop up some big mistake (as happened to us recently... but we have no recourse but grin & bear it..). Or we underestimate their maturity and exasperate them.

But I find that you often manage to calm down and think and work out something that works with you girl. So kudos!


monlim said...

You're right, it's being able to give a good balance of responsibility and guidance that's the tough bit. It's still a learning curve for me.

Ironically, I think Lesley-Anne and I are sometimes at loggerheads BECAUSE we're so alike. Whereas I have fewer emotional battles with Andre because he's so much more straightforward. Or maybe it's just the age - I'll tell you again when he's 11!!

Anonymous said...

Talk about being alike...

I think my stepdaughter & I are both highly-sensitive. Part of being highly-sensitive is being highly intuitive & sensitive to the slightest nuances or changes in moods & atmospheres of any group of people. It also means reacting to the slightest perceived criticism.

So when we're in the same room we end up being 'hyper-aware' of each other, and it becomes a delicate dance where we try not to step on each other's toes.. But when there's the presence of another person in the room, we relax.

Odd, eh?


monlim said...

No, actually makes perfect sense! It's takes another to diffuse the situation. Especially if that someone else is a total clown, instantly puts everyone at ease! So do you have a clown in the family? I know I do :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, both my hubby & my son are very 'clown-like'--nothing 'sensitive' about them!


Lilian said...

All the best Lesley-Anne in your year-end exams! I'm sure you'll do very well.

Brian also uses comments made by other mummies to justify his position, if the comments are to his advantage! My stand is, if you like that mum so much, go ask if she'd like to adopt you :)

monlim said...

Hahaha... Lilian, what does Brian say to that? You very fierce lah (which is good!)

It's so funny - both my kids like that I'm talking about them in my blog but for Lesley-Anne, she's wary about me posting any embarrassing things about her (or perceived by the hyper-sensitive pre-teen as embarrassing) while Andre just wants to be in the centre of attention - can say anything about him, as long as he's mentioned!!

Alcovelet said...

Whew! Glad that things are productive and working out. These must be stressful weeks leading up to the countdown. Hope you've got great holiday plans for thereafter. Good luck, L-A!

monlim said...

Sadly, no holiday plans after and won't be until end of next year. Sigh... maybe I should go shopping with you, Ad!! Although I'll just window shop for the Tods back while you actually buy it. Unless you can spare me some loose change from your impending millions coming from your little robot genius :D

Lilian said...

Oh, he just smiles, he knows he was just pushing his luck what.

Andre is just the cutest lah. I can imagine him grinning from ear to ear when he comes back from school and reads any post about him. And he is very funny!

Both Brian and Sean love reading about themselves, and like Lesley-Anne, Brian is also reluctant sometimes, I usually convince him or if it's already up and too late for him to protest, I'll convince him that my friends like it (eg he was embarrassed by his Anne Frank stick-people drawings/comics).

Sean is actually even worse than Brian sometimes. At his age, Brian wouldn't even bother what other people thought. But the little one has pretty thin skin.

monlim said...

Yah, kids don't understand that what they find embarrassing, adults find cute! Tell Brian I really liked the Anne Frank comics :) I tried to take a photo of Lesley-Anne doing her homework, she had a flying fit and kept protesting that it was "so embarrassing!" Huh? I don't see how...

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