The other day at Kumon the owner of the center Mr. Jiming handed me a cute little certificate showing that Sam was on his Math honor roll. He proceeded to point out that she was on the announcement board along with the some of the other students, and that it publicly showed she ranked #223 out of 776 kids across North America.
Of course I looked at the certificate like I had just won the lotto. Maybe this is how parents feel when their kids bring home high grades and medals. I swear I couldn’t believe that she already had something with her name and the phrase “honor roll” beside it, even before she turned 3 years old. Now granted that she isn’t competing in the next junior math olympics (and that is no where near any goal or objective I have for her) and all it means is that at her age she has no trouble counting to 100 — it still felt like a big deal. Well — it is a big deal to me! 🙂
The funny thing was that when she came out and I showed it to her, she was so happy too — “Oh look! A sticker with popsicles!” and proceeded to remove it and stick and re-stick it all over her shirt. “I want to eat a popsicle now!”
I realized then that certificates like these are mostly for the parents like me — a re-affirmation that I am doing something right. It probably didn’t even have to say honor roll, just “passed” for me to breathe a sigh of relief that our diligence and patience was paying off. For the kids, it’s about the the joy of learning, which if you think about it, is as it should be for any person at any age.
My husband offered Sam a prize for doing well. He said she could have anything she wanted and she asked for a puppy (I don’t know where she got this idea of wanting a red puppy but it’s been going on for the past few days). Of course he wasn’t about to buy her one for learning to count to 100. We’d have to pace our rewards; what happens when she can divide, does that mean a trip to Europe? A house?! In any case I was able to salvage the situation and deflect the idea of receiving a prize. I also realized that this might set a precedent for the future when she develops a “do well and I’ll get a reward” mentality and will start to do things for that reason. As Jiming said, at this age she should just want to do it and should have fun doing so.
I always make it a point to ask Sam when during the day she wants to do her Kumon. Inasmuch as I would like her to get into the habit of doing it before she plays, sometimes I find it easier to allow her to dictate her schedule so that she is more committed to finishing faster. Doing Kumon everyday is work, but at least in that way, it is also still fun and somehow a part of her “play”. Of course while I commend her for a job well done, I also try to show her that it’s just one of the many things everyday things we need to accomplish. Hopefully she does not feel my insides doing the dance of joy or hear the majestic Halleluia playing in my head.