Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Losing my mojo...

I honestly think I have lost my mojo...in research. My phd work has been stagnant for the past few months. To be exact, almost 6,7 months already....I have been reading and rereading the same stacks of paper to finalize my method, and nothing makes any sense. The more I read about all these genomic, proteomics, microarray, ohhhhh WTF lah wehhhhh....it drives me nutsss. That explains my frequent diversion to FB, though really there's not much interesting thing there...but it's kinda escapism for me. And I think my lack of progress is driving my supervisor nutsss too...hahahaha...poor him. And for some weird reason, I still have this strong feeling I will work things out and finish in May next year. Am I being foolishly naive OR just plain optimist? Whateverrrrr....;)

My papers are everywhere. On the floor, on the dining table, on the sofa, on the bed. The same stacks of papers.


And over the weekend, I have filed them and shove it in the cupboard. Out of sight out of mind....I am so in denial :P And naturally, the more confused I am with all the scientific mumbo jumbo, the more active my Kitchen Aid will be. It's a wicked diversion.

My very comot triple layer chocolate cake. I love it coz it's not too sweet. But the kids think it's a tad too bland. So you can imagine who will be finishing the whole cake. Oh god...I seriously need to lose some weight :-(

Okay...got to go...got to find my mojo....where are u?? seriously????? SIGHHH...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mastering multiplication

With Luqman n Hajar, I have always taken for granted that they know their multiplication table by themselves. Though it took them quite a while, it never bothers me coz I always felt they will catch up eventually. With Emily, it's such a pain. To be honest, teaching a dyslexic the concept of multiplication, and how to do multiplication can really get u on your nerves if u r not that knowledgeable about their issues. I used to scour the internet for tips to memorize the 12 times table, and get very excited when I found one that seems so easy, and then get so depressed and frustrated when Emily cannot get it. This is what I have learned from Emily on teaching a dyslexic multiplication. (Caution; this might differ individually)

1. They forget. Even if they understand today, or now, they can easily forget tomorrow.....or for Emily, it can be in the next 10 or 15 minutes.

2. What works for some dyslexics might not work for the other. Don't despair. Keep trying.

3. Rote memorization & rote learning doesn't work. The more I ask her to do the same thing again and again, the more she will screw up. The best way is still to ask her to practise small bits of questions, but frequently. Rather than big chunck of work at one go. She just shut down.

4. You  don't have to do things in sequence. Coz it will probably take ages for them to move on to the next level. I used to think I must get her to understand the concept first, then move on. Maths is too abstract for her. So doing the exercise will not make any sense right? WRONG! Though she still doesn't understand the concept, I can make her do the exercise and practise, while trying to get her understand the concept. If not, she will never catch up in school, which will be very depressing for both of us.

5. For some people, it's just not possible to memorize the 12 time tables. No matter how hard they tried. It was very frustrating for me n Emily to get her to memorize them. She will be crying, I will be screaming, it was madness.

6. What looks easy to us might not look easy to them. I drive me nuts that she cannot remember 5x1=5 or anything x zero=ZERO...but they just don't get it. Even if it seems like plain common sense to us. So breatheeeeee :-P

7. Once they get it, it will get easier. The confidence they gained will help them remember things that seems impossible before. It's like magic. Suddenly they can remember ;-)

Last school holiday, I tried this method with Emily. This is some of her working following the Misternumber method.


Lo and behold, she finally "memorize" the 12 time tables in 7 days. She doesn't literally memorize it off her head, but she will write down the time tables, and she can remember how to do it from x1 to x12. So I have made her do the 12 time tables everyday, and thank god she has memorised some of them off her head. So she will do the 12 time tables before she start doing her maths revision. Doing it on grid paper will makes it easier and faster.
But she still need lots of practice. This is one of the typical dyslexic mistake.

She screwed up with the sequence. 9x7=63. But instead of putting 3 down, and 6 up there, she did it the other way round. So she got the answer wrong. Once u understand their problem, this can be quite funny n hillarious ;-) Dyslexic doesn't do well with multiple instruction and sequence. Emily will make mistakes like 10x11=101. She knows it's 110 but somehow it got jumbled up once she wrote it on paper. I used to go bonkus over silly mistakes like this, but I have learned that with lots of practice, she will eventually remember the rules.

There are few more days left for school holiday. Hopefully she will master it by the end of the week. There's lots of ideas on how to teach multiplication from here too. Some look fun. Will try some, and will update how she progresses. Hopefully, hopefullyyyy we will see lights at the end of the tunnel ;-)

Their therapy session, after the stressful revision drill by dearest ummi....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tiger mommy

Have u heard about Amy Chua the tiger mommy? Have u read the book?

If u haven't  and u have came across all the reviews, especially the Western reviews, it's very easy to label her as a monster. But then, think again, read the book. I have not read the full version. A friend of mine forwarded the soft copy, which is not complete but at least enough to give u a different perspective on her parenting style. I have to admit (albeit embarassingly) that I agree with almost 90% of what she says. I may not agree with some of her methods, but I do agree with her thoughts.

Some points to ponder;

She believes...
(1) schoolwork always comes first; (2) an A-minus is a bad grade; (3) your children must be two years ahead of their classmates in math; (4) you must never compliment your children in public; (5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the side of the teacher or coach; (6) the only activities your children should be permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal; and (7) that medal must be gold.

I may not agree with point 6&7, but the rest do make lots of sense. The biggest problem that me n Onn have with the children is our leniency towards their schoolwork and our moderate expectation on them...to the point it makes them very lackaidisical. Luq is a perfect example of this. A brilliant boy, smart brain, but very2 lackaidisical to the point it drives me nutsss. But me n Onn are fully accountable for this.

To Amy Chua, moderate expectation means complete injustice to the child. Chinese parents have higher dreams for their children, and higher regard for their children in the sense of knowing how much they can take. Even her Down syndome sister has 2 Olympic medals. 

"Western parents worry a lot about their children’s self-esteem. But as a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child’s self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there’s nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn’t."
 
This reminds me of Emily. How we are very lenient to her because of her dyslexic conditions. And how she's manipulating the whole thing. Give her a bit of push, lo and behold she can do better. Beyond our expectation. The violin competition last year was really an eye opener to me. And I succesfully taught her the time tables in 7 days last school holiday. A feat we never thought she will achieved.

She laments on the future of her kids...

"Because of the hard work of their parents and grandparents, this generation will be born into the great comforts of the upper middle class. Even as children they will own many hardcover books (an almost criminal luxury from the point of view of immigrant parents). They will have wealthy friends who get paid for B-pluses.They may or may not attend private schools, but in either case they will expect expensive, brand-name clothes. Finally and most problematically, they will feel that they have individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and therefore be much more likely to disobey their parents and ignore career advice. In short, all factors point to this generation being headed straight for decline."

Sounds familiar? I can totally relate to this...my kids go to private school, where their friends are pretty well off, and almost never appreciate the value of money. Everyday I will hear stuffs like one 10yo is showing off their latest $800 Supra shoes, or a 12yo whining  of not getting the almost $1000 Blackberry...not forgetting all those oversea school holiday trips...europe, US, London...SIGHHHH.....I'm thankful despite being surrounded by these kids, my kids are still pretty grounded. Thanks to ummi's daily painful brainwash lecture ;P I guess Amy Chua is just doing what a mother has to do.

One thing that strikes me most is how much effort she put in to make her kids a music prodigy. And mind you, she's a working mother. Though she claims her first daughter Sophie is a prodigy bcoz she can recognize alphabet at 18mo...oh well..Ms Medina is already reading when she was 18mo...my point is her kids are actually pretty average...not precocious...but it's the amount of hard work that they put in that make a difference. She herself took 7 years to get into Yale...so if she can achieve so much with her kids so do we...the only question is are we willing to put that muct effort??

One of the incidences that makes a lot of people cringe is the story of her rejecting the birthday cards made by her daughters. If u read the full story, u will understand why she did that. And I agree with her. She thinks it’s too idealistic to expect children to do the right things on their own. So u've got to teach them. If u want them to appreciate their parents, u've got to teach them. Specifically how it has to be done. Most of the time it will not come naturally. We go to great length to give the best to our kids...and silently hope they will appreciate it and be thankful. Well, in the real world where they don't have to lift a finger to get anything, where mommy and daddy are so nice to them and praising them for every single things they do, I doubt they will. And if u don't teach them when they are young, u will weep in silence when u grow old.

Okay...anyway...this week is school holiday. Though I probably can't be as dilligent as Amy Chua, I definitely can try. It's only 1 week...plus Hajar's UPSR extra class, we are not going anywhere........and I have realized that it's quite silly for me n Onn to fork out tonnes of money to pay their school fees every year, without expecting excellence from them. All of them have got their own detailed schedule on stuffs to catch up (of course not preapred by them)...from hafazan n fardhu ain, to academic syllabus....we have tried this last school holiday. It works. They might not be able to achieve all, but at least they will achieve something. I notice if I didn't do this, the school holiday will be gone in a pooofff...GONE!! and all they do is sleep, eat, fight, and the cycle continues...and I will go mad screaming at them to do revision...

So there u go kiddos....happy holiday...follow your schedule....ROARRRRR :)