Thursday, January 31, 2019

"It Takes A Village" - Chinese version

我的孩子在本地學校上學。這不單是指教學語言為中文,更甚的是「本地學校」就是僵化考試制度的代名詞,其中所伴隨的就是考試壓力。

在芬蘭,學生們開始學科單元之前就會先測試他們對單元內容的認知,隨後的幾個星期再安排測驗,以了解其學習進度。對於芬蘭我不多說啦。我已經有一年多沒有在博客發文了,本文並不是要比較各國的教育體制。

再次發文是因為感受到同學們所承受的壓力,本星期我孩子的學校派發考試成績,我希望能夠透過本文與其他家長分享我的想法。

如果孩子的考試成績比預期好,我所稱讚的是他的努力,而不是他的智商或才能。當然,我會感到高興和自豪,但不會對他說:「哇!了不起!你真棒,真厲害,真聰明!」,專家建議應該對孩子說的是:「哇,你的努力得到回報了。可幸這次考試的題目你有溫習過,所以能夠取得好成績!」

但是如果孩子的考試成績比預期差,我當然會不滿意。但我會表達出關愛而不是憤怒。我會和他分享我的擔憂和無知:「媽媽擔心這會影響到你的呈分試。」「我真的不知道如何能夠幫助你準備考試,你能告訴我如何幫助你在下一次考試做得更好嗎?」 「跟媽媽談談發生了什麼事,如何在下一次考試提高你的分數?」

與孩子檢討和討論考試成績後,我會轉換話題至生活上和其他重要的事情:週末計劃,假期計劃,孩子在視藝課中的創作,或者在閱讀時間所看過的書... ...還有很多事情需要我去關注,我不會讓考試成績影響親子時間和親子關係。

如果有一天,學校打電話告訴我孩子對考試結果非常不滿,他在小息期間試圖自殺,那我的反應會是什麼?震驚?有不祥的預感?尷尬?

一,假如我會感到震驚,這樣即代表我不太了解我的孩子。也許,我的孩子是一個訓練有素的演員,他故意隱藏情緒。但如果我們擁有優質的親子時間,我理應了解孩子的個性,能力和應對事情的技巧。假果我會感到震驚,那就代表我和孩子都需要尋求專業人士協助。

二,假如我有不祥的預感,這樣即代表我理應已經知道我的孩子過度焦慮甚或有自殺念頭。如果我接到學校這通電話但並不驚訝,那就代表我需要幫孩子尋找專業輔導。

三,假如我對此事感到尷尬,這樣即代表我只關心學校和其他家長對我的印象。如果我所考慮的只是自己的聲譽而不是孩子自殺未遂的問題,那麼需要專業人士幫助的應該是我。

因此,似乎無論我有什麼反應,答案都是尋求專業人士幫助。需要找專業人士幫助並不等於我是一個壞母親或孩子有缺陷。找專業人士只代表想提高自身的育兒技巧,紓緩孩子的情緒以及改善親子關係,接受做家長是不可能自己處理一切

我不能直到發現事態嚴重之後才去求助,更不應受到面子問題影響而阻礙自己求助。

食家喜歡看食評尋找好餐廳、愛練瑜伽的人會希望從導師身上改進自己的瑜伽技藝,而信眾則會聽從風水師的建議。如果我愛我的孩子,如果我關心我的孩子,如果我對孩子有信念,那麼,我就需要和其他人流交。

養育孩子需要群策群力,嘗試踏出第一步,學習更多育兒技巧,並尋求專業人士協助。
"It takes a village to raise a child." Reach out, learn, seek advice.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

"It Takes a Village"

My children attend a local school in Hong Kong. This means so much more than simply Chinese being the language of instruction, because "local school" implies rote learning and standardized testing. And with that comes the stress of being tested. 

In Finland, students are tested at the beginning of a subject module to see what they know and don't know. Then they are quizzed at points over the ensuing weeks to check that they are learning the things that they don't yet know. But enough about Finland. I have not posted on my blog for more than one year, and what has spurred me to action is not a desire to do a comparative study of education systems. 

The reason I feel compelled to write is that kids at my children's school are feeling stress because this week they receive their exam results, and I want to share my thoughts with other parents.

If my child does better than expected, I will praise his efforts, not his IQ or talent. Yes, of course I will be happy and proud, but instead of "Wow, my awesome boy, so good, so smart!", experts suggest saying to him, "Wow, you really tried and your efforts were rewarded. You're lucky the exam covered things that you studied hard for, and good for you for getting such a good mark!" 

If my child does worse than expected, it's okay to be unhappy. But my unhappiness will be expressed with concern rather than with anger. It's okay to share my worries and my lack of knowledge with my child: "I worry that this will affect your acceptance to high school." "I don't know how to help you prepare for exams, can you tell me how I can help you do better on the next exam?" “Let’s talk about what happened and how you can improve your score on the next exam?”

After my child and I review and discuss exam results, I will move on to the important things in my life and my child's life: weekend plans, holiday plans, what my child has created in art class or has read during Reading Time... I have many things to focus on, and won’t let exam scores affect my time and relationship with my child.

If the school calls to tell me that my child was so upset with his exam result that he attempted suicide during recess, what would be my reaction? Shock? Premonition? Embarrassment?

(1) If I feel shock, then I don’t know my child very well. Yes, maybe my child is a skilled actor purposely hiding his feelings. But if I spend quality time with him, I should know his personality, capabilities and coping skills. If I feel shock, then it means that both of us need professional help.

(2) If I had a feeling this may happen, then I must already know that my child is over-anxious and/or capable of suicidal thoughts. If I am not surprised to receive this call from the school, then it means that I need to find professional help for my child right away. 

(3) If I feel embarrassed about what happened, then I am only focusing on what the school and other parents will think of me. If I think about my own reputation more than my child’s attempted suicide, then I need professional help.

So, it seems that, no matter what my reaction is, the answer is professional help. Seeking professional help doesn’t mean that I am a bad parent or that my child is defective. Seeking professional help means that I am willing to admit that I cannot handle everything by myself, that I want to improve: my parenting skills, my child’s emotional state, and our parent-child relationship.

I cannot wait for something serious to happen before seeking help. I should not let “face” prevent me from seeking help. 

Foodies love recommendations about good restaurants. Yoga enthusiasts love to improve their technique from good teachers. Feng shui believers want advice from masters. If I love my child, if I am enthusiastic about my child and if I believe in my child, then I need to talk to people. 

"It takes a village to raise a child." Reach out, learn, seek advice. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Christmas Novels for Youth (Ages 10+)


I just ordered a bunch of books for December reading and just can't wait another minute to tell you about them. Never mind that Halloween hasn't even arrived yet, or that I have a hundred things on my To-Do List...

This is just a book list, please click the book cover to get more information from Amazon. No book review, because almost all of them are hot off the press.

I know these may tend to lean heavier on romance, but hey, it's Christmas and no one wants to write a dystopian Christmas story.

(Click HERE for my list of Christmas-themed picture books for children ages 3+)



My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Anthology with contributions by two of my favorite authors in the young adult field: Rainbow Rowell and Matt de la Peña.




Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

The first book A Boy Called Christmas was a bestseller translated into over 25 languages, and it was followed by The Girl Who Saved Christmas. This third title has all the makings of an unforgettable adventure: The adopted human child of Father Christmas dealing with the challenges of Elf School faces her biggest challenge when a jealous Easter Bunny tries to destroy Christmas.



The Afterlife of Holly Chase (by Cynthia Hand)

A retelling of A Christmas Carol may not hook everyone, but who can resist a tale with a twist: Teenager Holly gets a visit in the same way as Scrooge in the Charles Dickens classic. But instead of repenting, she remains selfish and spoiled and then... dies! The suspense of this mere plot summary is already killing me. Can't wait to read it.




Nutcracked (by Susan Adrian)

As if the Nutcracker ballet isn't fantastical enough, the author has added one more layer to the timeless tale: A girl (Georgie) who dances the part of a girl (Clara) who falls into a fantasy world, also finds her own real and fantasy world becoming blurred.




Top Elf by Caleb Huett

For those who love a good laugh, how can you not guffaw when reading about Santa's eldest son, whose first name is... Klaus.




The 12 Dares of Christa by Marissa Burt

There are people who just absolutely love Christmas, and I'm one of them. So I can feel the pain of the "holiday junkie" girl in this story, who is so very *not* looking forward to her mother's plans to take her to Europe for her first holiday away from home.



The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

A holiday romance to follow bestseller Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (a cute New York story about a romance that resulted from a red notebook and the scavenger hunt that ensues).



Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Miracle

Three interconnected stories from three bestselling authors. Enough said.