Friday, March 22, 2013

KUMON: the best learning center?

It was six years ago when I first heard about Kumon Center, my eldest child was then in her first grade.  One of my friend, Leah was been very happy that her daughter finally been doing better in school after she had enrolled her to the center nearby. 

Using worksheets assigned to children, they are trained to do it themselves until they perfected the task.  If students continue to study at their own pace, they will catch up with their school grade level and eventually advance far beyond it.  Thus, turned them confident in school. Not bad huh. They claimed they can train a child as early as two years old.

Just one problem though... the price. But if parents reading this can afford the two thousand per month, I highly recommend to enroll your child.

But how if not, just like us?  This is what we did. Kumon occasionally gives a two-week free trial  campaign. Grab it! Parents are then asked to attend a short seminar on what would happen during the trial period, what would be the part of your child, the instructor and of the parents. The latter is the most important and gave me the the best idea ever at that moment.

And you know what?  After the two-week training, we continue the Kumon way of learning.. still for free.  Using the methods we had learned, we made our own worksheets and gave them to our children.  I had four children so we practically saved almost P10,000 a month. And it is also a sort of a family bonding which is a priceless moment.

And the result?  Our children excels. They were always been chosen participants in inter-school academic competitions. They finished every school level with honors. And on the latest graduation rites we had attended... our eldest child, Camille was the Valedictorian! The best gift a child could to their parents. Could you imagine the feelings?  All the hardships are gone. The profits came in the time and love we had invested. Not to mentions the many rebates. Two human beings were added to the proud parents in the world!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nine Mistakes All Dads Must Avoid

Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.


Everyone knows that dicipline is an important quality or traits children must have.  But parents has different approaches on how to impose it.  One may be effective to others while to some may result otherwise. 

Here I post what I collected and find them helpful. I also sometimes fell short to some of these but I had to discipline myself not to again. And it's not that hard to teach oneself and the result is worth the effort! 
 1.  Losing Your temper.  Children may at times make us go mad but we must never discipline them when we are angry.  Raising your voice, swearing or getting out of control tends to teach the child that yelling, anger and violence are acceptable in their relationships with friends and family.  Instead, when you feel the anger boiling up, take a few seconds or minutes of "time-out" and regroup. Children respond best to a calm, reasonable approach that is direct and precise.

2.  Inconsistency.  Don't discipline your children in an inconsistent manner.  Some are. A set of rules and standards with defined consequences tend to work the best.  If one time your caught your child using foul language and you just laugh, and the next time you impose a grounding or other choice, the child will become confused and not know what is expected.  Consistency in child discipline is the best way to teach them what is or is not acceptable behavior.

3.  Bribery.   Trying to bribe a child to behave in a certain way by promising a reward only teaches a child that they get a prize if they act inappropriately first, and then change their behavior. We want them to act appropriately the first time. A good child discipline alternative is to remind them how good it feels to make right choices or to simply give the predetermined positive consequence for positive behavior.

4.  Unconnected consequences. I have always thought that children responded best when the consequences of their behavior seemed to naturally flow. For example, staying out past curfew should have a consequence like coming in earlier the following weekend. If they prove that they cannot be trusted to live with a curfew, then they have to rebuild that trust over time. We had a son that had a hard time for a while containing his anger and would punch a hole in a door or wall. Needing to pay for and install the repair of the damaged items himself (and out of his pocket) seemed to me to be a logical consequence. When the consequence does not fit the "crime," then the lessons are not learned. So avoid giving unrelated consequence (like a grounding for having an overdue library book) and try to find natural consequences.
5.  Being played against their mom.   It is critical for mom and dad to be united in the disciplinary strategy. If a child can run to another parent and find leniency, it tends to destroy the other parent's credibility. Never override your spouse's disciplinary decisions in public. If you have a disagreement, air it privately with one another. And try to share the child discipline role between both parents regularly.

6.  Confusing roles.   Don't feel obligated to get your child's consent for the discipline you impose. You are the parent and have the responsibility to discipline. Your word on a disciplinary matter is final and non-negotiable. As children mature, you can begin to share reasons why you feel as you do about things, but in any case your word is final.

7.  Imposing excessive guilt.   Trying to use a "head game" like guilt almost always backfires.    "I slave my life away for you, and you can't even clear your dishes off the table."  If you make a child feel responsibility for things that go wrong in your life, you are not acting like a parent but like a codependent.   Stay away from the guilt trips and just impose consequences.

8.  Lecturing.    This is a trap that I often find myself in.   Pulling the child aside and giving them a monologue of all the reasons why some behavior was bad usually doesn't result in learning but resentment.   A better approach to child discipline is a dialogue finding out why the behavior was not where it should be.   For example, if a child fails to do homework on time, a lecture on the value of education is probably not going to result in a change of behavior.  Identifying reasons why the homework was not turned in and then developing a plan to address the reasons is a more productive approach.
9.  Comparing with others.  This is another common mistake I see, and lived out on many levels. "Your older sister was so good at practicing the piano every day; why can't you seem to get it?"  We might see this approach as reassuring and offering hope.   But instead, comparisons just breed resentment.  Maybe the older sister loved and had a talent for the piano, while the current child excels at something else and does not feel a passion for piano.  The comparison really serves no useful purpose.  Try to see each child as a unique individual with his or her own talents and strengths. 

By being aware of these common mistakes in our approach to child discipline, we can perhaps see them coming and make adjustments.  Finding better approaches like the ones suggested can help any dad become a better and more effective parent and teacher.  And behavior will improve in short order by using techniques that work better.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Best Tips for New Dads

Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad - Anne Geddes

When a new baby makes its appearance in a family, it can be a challenge for both mom and dad to connect with the new baby.  But mom tends to have a better opportunity to get close to the new baby simply because she usually spends more time at it.  And yet dads often feel a significant need to get close to the new baby, but have a challenge getting there.

So here I collected some helpful tips especially for the new Dads:

1.  Don't try to compete with mom.  Your baby's mom has some natural, built in advantages in the bonding process.  If she is breastfeeding, she gets lots of quality touch and eye-contact time with the baby.  She also has the benefit of post-partum hormones that give her natural bonding feelings.  So don't try to compete with nature. You will not bond as quickly as she will. But you need to take steps to make quality bonding time with baby.  
2.  Keep in touch.  Babies have pretty limited communication skills as an infant.  But one meaningful way babies can communicate is through touch. Babies love being skin to skin, so take off your shirt and put the baby on your chest.  Massage her gently; caress her arms, legs, hands and feet. Repeated loving touch will help baby connect with you better and faster. 

3.  See eye to eye.  One of the things a breastfeeding mom learns is that holding a baby at her breast puts the baby at the perfect location for baby's vision.  Cradle baby in your arms at about chest level, and you'll be at the right spot for connecting visually.  Eye contact helps you build a bond with your little one.
4.  Connect with music.  Babies love music, and they find a soothing spirit when dad sings and dances with them.   Put some fun music on the sound system and hold baby while you dance. Lullabies can be a real bonding experience also as you sing baby to sleep.
5.  Just jump in.  Lots of new dads are a little nervous to get involved in this bonding process.  They feel uncertain about what to do and when to do it.  New dads who have been there recommend that you just start. Pick up the baby and start following some of these ideas.
6.  Check in with the doc.  Dads may be tempted to skip those "well baby" visits to the pediatrician.  Take the time off work to go with mom and baby to the doctor.  This is a good time to learn more about your baby and how he is doing.  More information will help you feel closer to the baby.
7.  Become part of the routine.  Often, mom tends to be the primary caregiver for your baby.  But many things that are part of mom's and baby's routine can be taken care of by an interested dad.  Consider giving your baby a bath, taking him on a walk, or feeding him from time to time.  You'll give that tired and sleepy mother a break, and create some new bonding time with the baby.
8.  Be patient through the process.   The very nature of the bonding process between baby and father is different and tends to take longer than the process of bonding between baby and mom.   Don't get discouraged as the process develops; the feelings of bonding are worth the wait, and will pay big dividends later. 

Being dad involves an investment of time, and that applies at all stages of your child's life.  When she is an infant, the time investment is in holding, cuddling, singing, and bonding.  If you invest the time in this bonding during her infancy, you will maintain and enhance that feeling of closeness as she grows and matures. It is an important investment to make, now and in the future.