A Book About Asian Parenting in the Western World

Author Amy Chua at IdeaFestival in 2008

Photo by geoffbugbee at Flickr.com

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What is a strict Chinese upbringing or an ethnically defined approach to parenting?

I read Amy Chua’s “Day of Empire” twice because I was just so amazed at how she factually deliberated the rise and fall of hyperpower nations of histories gone by. Now, her new book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” espouses her own experience as an Asian mom. She defines “Chinese mother” loosely to include parents of other ethnicities who practice traditional, strict child-rearing, while also acknowledging that “Western parents come in all varieties,” and not all ethnically Chinese parents practice strict child-rearing.

“This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.” In reality, it’s a controversy that’s now being talked about in American circles, like Tom Brokaw writes, “it will leave you breathless” and many similar responses.

Ms. Chua is of Chinese descent but was born and grew up in the American midwest. Her parents were ethnic Chinese from the Philippines before they emigrated to the United States. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard while her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, was a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University.

Definitely a “Must Buy!”

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A Layman Parent’s View of Kumon

Click the poster above to enlarge (source from theallaroundmom.info)

My kids enrolled in Kumon only when we moved to Canada, Richmond, BC, to be precise. Both complemented their weaknesses and strengths – my daughter was good in reading but weak in math while my son was the reverse. They each enrolled only with the weak subject matter and in a year’s time, both decided to also enroll with the other. In time, their proficiencies increased dramatically.

What is Kumon? In an ordinary man’s description, I can say its method is to keep repeating items to the student over and over again. I used to look at the math portions of my kids and saw that the daily homework consisted of doing things repeatedly. For example, randomly placed, equations that equaled to, say, eleven, were all over the assignment sheets – 5+6, 7+4, 2+9, 15-4, 19-8, and so on.

What does the child get? I’d say the repetition force their young mind to develop senses of quick answers to problems and the habit of homework. Don’t you see how many kids dread homework? The habit of daily homework enforced by Kumon will eventually run in your kids’ blood that by the time they get too many, it’s not a big effort for them anymore.

I’m sure the Kumon experts can describe the method in a better way. Just the same, you can’t just snub it as a fad or something that might not work for your child. Go and take a look into it, let your children try it out for about four or six months before you tell yourself this isn’t for your kids.

Attend the Kumon seminar on June 18, 2011, at the SM Mall of Asia, Cinema 6. Make sure to reserve your seat lest you won’t be able to come in after a long drive to the venue.