Chinese parenting for success?

Squish is now three years old, way older than I thought he would ever be, and way more curious, and perceptive, and witty, and switched on than I ever anticipated. He knows all his numbers and letters, can do simple addition and subtraction, understands the concept of zero, can do a 30 piece puzzle without assistance, can read a little bit (names mostly), and his language skills leave a lot of five year olds in the dust. So my thoughts have been turning to school, and what will be the best options for him.

I believe in the public school system, except when the school is a poor fit for the child, and I am trying to learn as much as possible about the local schools while I am learning about him, and what sort of learning environment would suit him.

We have two locals schools nearby. The one that is closest is a little bigger, and apparently has a relatively new principal with good ideas. The smaller school is a little further away, but it has a garden, and no tuckshop, and we are already familiar with it because we go to playgroup there – so we have a good case for an out of area application.

We could also diddle our address and try to get him into a school near either lot of grandparents. Both Marsfield and Pennant Hills have high “ranking” public schools, and an expectation of academic excellence that is not reflected in the local schools. They also both have a lot of kids who are in coaching college in primary school, in the hopes of getting into a selective high school, and I am profoundly uncomfortable with sticking an eight year old in coaching in preference to outdoor play or swimming, or music, or just hanging out in a tree reading a novel.

Or we could try Steiner, if we can handle the fees, and the driving to get him there and home every day. Or homeschooling, or unschooling.

But it all comes down to what we want for Inigo. Do we want achievement at all cost? Do we want his happiness to be the primary goal? Or do we want him to be a useful and contributing member of society as the highest aim of his life?

I have the feeling that his natural instinct might be towards academia, but with a strong interest in one or two areas of study, and not much interest in other areas. Much like both of his parents, who could barely stay awake during classes that we weren’t interested in, coasted through most of our subjects, and did really well in a few areas. When we could be bothered to do the work.

Which brings me to my point. Recently the web has been in a flurry about an article written by a mother who claims that driving children to success is the best way to parent, and she advocates some pretty strict rules to control her children. It made me pretty uncomfortable, I’ve seen the “Joy Luck Club” to many times not to know that it won’t end well. So I stumbled across an article that discusses a different path to excellence – via authoritative parenting, not authoritarian parenting.

Like everything else, it’s a hard balance to get right, but the idea of forcing my kid to do something that he isn’t naturally inclined to want to do doesn’t seem right to me. Unless we’re talking about making sure he doesn’t pee on the toilet seat.

6 thoughts on “Chinese parenting for success?”

  1. He’s young so the advice given to me about my bairn is to try the public school most convenient to you. Use the first year to see what sits well with you, and what doesn’t. Then move if you want to change it? I don’t think that pushing children at the family’s expense is worth it – you’re not relying on him to fund your retirement just yet, so he doesn’t need to be earning $$ at 8 does he :)? And in the end, did your schooling affect how you turned out, what career you chose, what makes you happy?

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    1. I agree – except that I remember my first year of school (kindergarten, I was four) with less than wonderful memories. It was the start of my hatred of formal learning. I have a horror of that happening to Inigo. Of course, Mark enjoyed his school years, so my sample size needs some work 🙂

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  2. Such a great entry Lara. You have said what is going on in my head much better than I would have been able to. DH and I are debating about private vs public at the moment, though I recognize that we (I) need to investigate the schools in our area before we can reasonably try to settle the point. Andrew is worried about Nathan getting bored in school because he is also starting to read already and knows his numbers. I guess we’ll work it out one day. Good luck working out what is best for Squish.

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  3. Go with your instincts, what feels right for you. A local school has it’s merits socially even if it doesn’t have a strong academic programme. We decided to send our son to a private school from day 1 as he knew his alphabet and numbers up to 9 at the age of 2 (from learning off number plates, he wanted to know what the characters were, not because we drilled it into him). We were concerned the local public school wouldn’t allow hm to work at his level and he could get bored and then start playing up. Sine then he has proved us right with his maths skills, he recently got in the top 0.03% of his age group (9yo’s) in the Australian Mathematics Trust Competition that the school entered him in. He has since been invited by a University to sit a programme for the gifted and talented. So whether we had chosen private or public, he would still likely have had this same opportunity of attending the university extension course. Anyway, that’s our story, I’m sure yours will be whats right for your family.

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