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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Math Motivation Workshops

It all started with Chinese, and ended with Math.

Little Boy flunked Chinese. I devised Potato Chinese (a method of learning Chinese that was pure unadulterated tedium). See post on Potato Chinese here. I know that there are many advocates out there for fun learning. You don't argue with that. When learning is fun, then kids want to do it... and they do more of it. You don't have to motivate the child to do what is naturally fun and motivating.

Unfortunately, Potato Chinese is, like I have already stated, PURE UNADULTERATED TEDIUM. If you don't believe me, you go try memorizing and reciting paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of Chinese text... for 7 hours a day, over 3 weeks during your DECEMBER HOLIDAYS. It was SO not fun, but it was necessary to help Little Boy accelerate himself through 3 years of Chinese in 10 months.

The task was so EVIL in its tedium that I had to really apply myself to motivating Little Boy. He worked hard at memorizing. I worked hard at motivating him. When Potato Parents started to message me on HOW to motivate, I ended up spending hours WRITING to people... and talking to them on the phone about HOW to motivate. Invariably, after reading and listening to me, they would go away with perfect understanding which did not however, translate into the motivating actions, words and responses towards their child. They came back and complained that their child was still NOT motivated.

Since I did not want to appear like I was selling koyok (i.e., being a quack), I invited a few parents to my house with their problem kids. I sat down WITH the kids and SHOWED the parents how it was done. Once I had started, I couldn't stop. It was so very gratifying to see parents' eyeballs drop out when I proved to them that their children weren't as difficult as they had described.

The last time, one parent's child assured me that her girl would never say "Yes" to the question "Do you think you can manage to recite TWO sentences?" without being coerced or tricked. This parent (KSP nick: poohbear) was convinced that her child wouldn't be willing to even memorize half a sentence. Poohbear had lied to her child saying "We are going to Aunty Petunia's house to PLAY." You should have seen the child's livid face when she found out that I was gonna make her memorize Chinese. When this same girl said clearly "I wanna do 2 sentences", I think her Mom almost fell off her chair.

Then, I started getting requests to help children who hate Math. My friend R asked me 5 times. Finally, she said "Petunia, if you don't help me, my child will have to do Foundation Math for PSLE". So I took the plunge for the first time today, half afraid that I would embarrass myself because I am about as bad at Math, as I am in Chinese.

I found out though... that Math Motivation workshop was even MORE gratifying then the Chinese one. Hee! *Rub Hands*

Today, one parent (KSP nick: bebebub) had assured me on the phone that her child had a motivation problem. The parent said, "My child will never choose a challenging task. She will always choose the more easy one." 1.5 hours into the session, after feeling out the child's intelligence level, I gave the P4 child a P5 book to read and internalize. Of course, the child ran into problems. I asked "It's difficult huh? That's ok. Let's stop this and go back to something easier." Bebebub's face froze in mid smile and her eyes went wide when her daughter said "I want to finish doing this." Well now... that gave me a chance to gloat at bebebub. "Errrrrr... did you say again and again that your kid runs away from every challenge?"

Man! That was fun! *Rub Hands Again*

Poohbear Wrote Me After Reading This Post

I just read your blog, esp with regards to my gal :)

Ok lah... i didnt really lie, did i .. ha ha. I just didn't state plainly the fact that the PLAY i meant was different from the PLAY she expected :) But the fact is , she ended up with more PLAY than hard memory work.

She was so happy tat day when she went home. She even said she wants to go back to "that Aunty's big house again" to PLAY!

That got her jie jie super jealous and was sulking thru that evening that i bring mei mei to PLAY not her. She wants to go again next time, and it should be her turn not mei mei since mei mei had her turn already.

I am ok with what is written. Having my nick there is ok too :) If you like to include what I hv written above as well, its fine with me too ...

Just to update, I am still doing the memorising with my gals, albeit once a week, one paragraph at time. XXXX is keen to do and does not put up ANY resistance to start at all :) We are near the end of the 1st essay. Let's hope both of us can sustain and finish up 10 essays tis year :)


Wen-ai said...

I hope you have shared all your motivation tips in your book!

Petunia Lee said...

Wen-Ai: I shared many. Can't be sure that I shared all I know. Would you like to proof read for me?

Anonymous said...'re delightful. Oh how I wish I'd had you to tutor/teach me when I was a child. Actually you're not only delightful, you're priceless!

Petunia Lee said...

Theanne - Gee... I sure felt that way after the workshop. Now, though, the excitement has rather worn off.

Rachel Tan said...

It's so heartening that on the kiasuparents forum, there are many unselfish mamas like you, who are generous with tips and advice :)

Petunia Lee said...

Rachel - Actually, I am not entirely selfless. I am using this year to refine a service offering that I will put on the market next year. This year, is all free. Next year, it won't be. I am right now doing design and testing of my service offering.

No doubt, parents still benefit and go away happy, but they do have to put up with some bugs and kinks.

L said...

Is your book out yet, Petunia? I want it to motivate me!

Petunia Lee said...

L - All timed to be launched together. Service offerings and book.

Rachel Tan said...

Still, many families have benefitted immensely from your sharing :)

how exciting!! A book is coming onstream?? Please put me on the mailing list to purchase a copy off the press!

Petunia Lee said...

Rachel - You are so kind!! I prayed and waited for a long time before the way forwards on this became clear.

Malar said...

You're just so cool!

When your books will be out? Looking forward for it!

Amel said...

Visiting you from BlurTing's blog...your blog has that squiqqly comment moderation thing.

You can change your settings...go to your blog's dashboard, click on Settings ---> Comments ---> go down to almost the bottom of the tab where there's "Comment Moderation". Click on "never" or "Only on posts older than 14 days". I chose the latter to avoid people spamming my old posts.

Petunia Lee said...

Thanks Amel. Is the squiggly thing still there now?

RF said...

Are you holding any of the workshops in future, please add me?

Petunia Lee said...

RF - Sure I will!

Blur Ting said...

Hi Petunia
The squiggly thing is gone!

Amel said...

No more squiggly thing. :-D

Actually I got it wrong...the squiggly thing is "word verification" and if you disable it, then it'll go away, but I notice that now you've changed your settings to "comment moderation enabled all the time". No worries, though. :-D

Shalynn said...

Hi Petunia, i need help with motivating my P3 boy in Math. Could i attend your workshop, please?!

Petunia Lee said...

Shalynn - I am so sorry Shalynn. I already have enough test subjects for the free workshops this year. Next year, I will be launching the paid workshops. I'll keep you posted on this blog.