Here's my parenting technique: Try not to kill my children or scream so loud that our neighbor turns up his R&B/hip hop music louder than it already is. Seriously. I'm not reading this blog anymore. You guys make me want to give my children away. Really, I'm an awful parent.
I mean it.
As far as music goes, I decided my kids would start in 1st or 2nd grade (Ana started as soon as she came to live with us in 2nd grade) and that they would have to take it until the end of 6th grade. No questions asked. 15 mins practicing, 6 days a week for the first year, and increase it five minutes every year after that. Counting out loud with the metronome. Double time if I have to remind her more than once to count out loud (actually I say this to Ana every day at least twice while she's practicing.) After 6th grade they can choose a different instrument, but I still want them practicing an instrument. Why? I want them to learn to work, I want them to learn to do things well and correctly--not half-heartedly, and I don't have a five acre farm that I can make them work on instead. Yes, I am a nagging drill sergeant. And yes, I probably should read a little more TJED and try to be a little more lenient.
As far as school goes, my daughter goes to public school. I think it's lame. I hate AR tests. They are so lame. I think my daughter worries way too much about what other kids think/like/don't like/what's popular etc. I think my daughter would still be that way even if I kept her home. It's a very common adoption coping stradegy (or maladaptation). The school asks each student to read 25 mins a day, free reading. I use that and require that it be from a chapter book. No Captain Underwear or whatever the lamesauce books are that Ana brings home periodically. I also bribe Ana to read books I want her too. $2 if it's off a list I created, $5 if it's in Spanish and a chapter book, and $.50 if it's over 100 pages and not on the list. She never reads the Spanish ones. I once refused to pay her for a Goosebumps book (I warned her before she started) because I said I wasn't paying for pathetic, lame books. Yes, I am tyrannical and very biased against Goosebumps. One time I was disgusted because I overheard this conversation at Ana's school, amongst another parent of Ana's classmate and her teacher (this was at the start of 3rd grade): "Well, I usually make my son read 25 minutes, but he always wants to reread the Dr. Seuss books that he has memorized and I'm just not sure how to get him past that point." Umm, make him choose something different?!?!??!
I also make Ana do a math worksheet every morning M-F before school that she can usually complete in 5-10 mins, depending on if she has to rework a problem or not. I also did timed drills with her for several months this year to practice adding and subtracting below 20 and then the times tables. It drove me nuts when I saw her counting what's 4+7. Errr... She doesn't do that anymore. Yeah!! The math worksheets review what's she's already studied this year or they are story problems which she needs the practice with reading comprehension.
Last summer, we made Ana do a lot of summer school for a lot of varied reasons. A) Ana was seriously lacking in any parental education involvement before she came to live with us--it was non-existent actually. We felt she would benefit from extra time studying. B) She learned English as a second language starting in kindergarten, another set-back if only in language acquisition. Also, she's had next to nothing as far as conversational practice with an adult outside of a school classroom, she's just amazingly clueless a lot of the time. C) We live in huddy apartments in a rather scary area, our other choices were let her play outside unattended or watch tv.
We started her with math, Spanish, and some reading and writing workbooks my Dad had given me. We cut it back quite a bit by the end of the summer, so she was doing less everyday. And instead of focusing on the reading and writing concepts in the book, we worked on reading the directions and questions closely and following them. Also on not misspelling words that are on that page. That drives me nuts. This summer, I plan on doing the same math worksheets as she is already doing but focusing on logic problems. She'll be doing the next level up in the reading writing workbooks, and Spanish again. Also, I think I'll let her choose one country a week and we'll do one activity a day about it--like a color a map, and then the next day look up music on youtube from there (pre-screened by me), or make a collage of pictures if we can find an article about it in my Nat. Geographic collection. Hopefully that will stay a fun activity and not a torturous affair like the rest of everything. Actually, math is generally okay since she can do the worksheets so quick, but she gets mad fast if she has one wrong and has to go back and fix it. She tells me all the time, "No! I looked at it, it is right!!!" Which makes me want to say, "Yep your right, I just told you it was wrong because I felt like torturing you." I really really try not to say sarcastic things, and that's one thing I can claim: only once or twice as a sarcastic comment escaped me. Phew. Because I have whole lot I want to say all the time.
So there you have it. I'm an awful, screaming, perfectionist, hormonal, authoritarian parent who nags constantly at her children. However, authoritarian parents do generally have high achieving children, which honestly, I do want my children to be high achieving. Okay, that sounds awful. But frankly, I took a regular old normal English class in 12th grade because it fit in my schedule and AP English didn't. It was my first regular English class since 6th grade. I never studied. I never did homework. I spent the entire class reading somewhere else in my textbook. And I only missed 2 points out of all the assignments and tests we had. I had like a 99.999% at the end. Seriously, if my kids are not in advanced classes, I will have issues. Only all my children will be awful, rebellious teenagers because I'm so authoritarian.
As far a core values, or whatever they are, I want my kids to learn to work hard (did I already mention that?); I want them to learn to think logically and express themselves well--at least in writing--I can't speak clearly, so I can't expect that; Leo wants them to learn to serve (not saying I don't too, but he's very adamant about that); Leo wants them to learn to be more financially responsible than I am (I'm working on that); I want them to learn respect and not feel entitled to everything--in that same sense Leo is wants them to recognize the privileges they have; and I want them to know the world--to be able to know the history and the causes behind what is happening in the world today. Also, I personally would like to learn more about politics and become more involved there and teach my children that. And I want them to complete their YM awards and YM awards. Yes, I know I need more spiritual things in there, but I was thinking mostly in school terms while writing this. Anyway, now I really have to go. Sorry, I spent all day yelling at my kids, but you know, it's really only my two-year-old that drives me batty and then everybody suffers for it. Errr.....