A Glimpse into the Life of a Happy American Elementary School Kid

 

Is the protagonist of my story a normal average American kid?  I would say so.  He is rather average except that he was assessed to have some developmental issue when he was three years old and had to attend speech therapy for about 1 ½ years.  He was thought to show symptoms of ADHD and autism by his aunt who is an elementary school teacher. He was thought to have dyslexia by his parents’ friends and was strongly urged to get a diagnosis.  He was suggested by his pediatricians to get evaluated by the school or to be tested by a specialist for learning disability.  With all these suggestions and pressure around him, his mom decided to give a call to the school and asked for any evaluation for learning disability.  The school advised against it for fear of the kid being labeled as something that he is not.  The only option that the school provided was an ESL program.  Is the ESL program a solution for learning disability?  Is the child really having learning disability?  Some of his parents’ friends thought that he might just be a late bloomer like Albert Einstein.  His parents or maybe just his mom thought that he is probably language challenged and that he will improve by himself as time goes by.  His mom has been criticized by her many friends for being too lax on parenting.  Maybe, it is just that his mom hates pressure and refuses to add any unnecessary pressure or burden onto her own kids.  Anyway, the parents never get the kid tested for the same fear that the school had.  This kid shows high intelligence in math but shies away from talking.  Writing math homework is his favorite.  However, he will stall for as long as he can to work on homework related to reading and writing.         

 

Other than the above episodes, he looks and acts normal like an average American kid.  His life is carefree.  If you look at his daily schedule, you will find that play occupies his entire day.  He is a second grader who goes to a public school.  His school starts at 8:40am and ends at 3:20pm.  He wakes up at 7:00am and watches cartoon until 7:30am when it is time for him to get ready to head for school.  His parents drive him to school to attend the before school program offered by the school district’s community education center right on the school’s premise.  From 8am to 8:40am, all he does is eating breakfast and playing until school starts at 8:40am.  Since both of his parents work full time, they cannot come to pick him up right after the school ends at 3:20pm.  He is enrolled in the after school program offered by the aforementioned center .  The after school program is just a care center for children to stay when their parents are unable to pick them up when the school closes.  The after school program staff comes to pick him up at 3:20pm.  He gets to play again from 3:20pm to 5:30pm.  He can play anything his heart desires.  He can build Lego blocks with his friends, or play Othello board game.  He can also go to the gym or outside to the playground and engage in sports with his friends.  Inside the gym, the sport they play is mostly Dodgeball.  Outside in the playground, he likes to do track-riding.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, he gets to do something different.  On Tuesdays, from 4:15pm to 5pm, he plays his favorite violin.  On Thursdays from 3:30pm to 4:30pm, he gets to join some kids to program Lego Robots, his favorite toy.  On Fridays from 3:30pm to 4:30pm, he gets to explore heat, lights, magnets and electricity, his favorite experiments.  His parents pick him up at 5:30pm.  He lives within 5-minute’s walk from school.  As they arrive home at 5:45pm, he gets to play again or watch TV until the dinner starts at 6:15pm.  If he does not work on his homework before TV, he will have to work on it after dinner.  His homework is a 15-minute reading from any book he selects.  Sometimes, there is spelling sorting homework, which probably takes him 5 minutes to complete.  Some days, he will have math homework, which also takes him less than 5 minutes to complete.  His parents do not ask him to do more than he should have done at school.  After dinner, from 7:30pm to 8:30pm, he gets to play again or watch TV.  Of course, if he turns out to be more than an average kid, his parents will nurture him to excel at whatever phase he is comfortable.  He is an average American kid who lives happily in the US, like many of the average American kids.  He is our son. 

 

What happens on weekends?  We are a boring family.  He wakes up at around 6:30am or 7:00am to watch cartoons until breakfast starts at 9am.  You can probably tell why he is allowed to watch TV for so long because the parents are still in bed.  From 9am to 9:30am, he moves from watching TV in the living room to his dining table.  On Saturday morning from 10:15am to 11am, he goes to a swimming class for the sole purpose of building his endurance and increasing his lung capacity to reduce the possibility of asthma attacks.  Afterwards, we go out for lunch and do some shopping.  On Sunday morning, he repeats the same routine.  The only difference is that he goes bike-riding in the park instead of swimming.      

 

You might think that he is spoiled.  Maybe, but my parenting philosophy is similar to my work philosophy.  I focus on the end result and on working smart rather than on working hard.  As a high performer at work, I don’t believe much in working hard.  You can work like hell but as unproductive as you can be.  For me, I can always get the same job done with the same quality in an hour which others might need 3 days to complete.  I focus on efficiency and effectiveness.  How I manage my time is my own business.  I am glad that my boss is as flexible as she can be.  I treat my kids, my peers and my subordinates the same way.    

 

Yesterday at the teacher-parent conference, my son’s teacher told me that he is progressing very well at school.  His MAP scores were all around high or high average and he didn’t seem to show problem around language either.  We are glad that it validates our parenting approach to be right on target. 

 

So, why did I bring up the story of my son and his daily life?  It is to show you what can be accomplished with the laid-back child-rearing approach.  I know most American families share the same child-rearing approach as mine as you can see from the activities that their kids attend.  I cannot stand the Asian parents’ child-rearing approach, focusing solely on academic excellence.  I do not believe in cramming kids with all kinds of subjects or with higher grades’ subjects in advance to push kids to excel in academics.  Many Chinese or Taiwanese immigrant families perceive that the American public education system as lax compared to that in Asia.  Many of them still maintain the old mentality that advances in academics take precedence over everything, even if it means to obliterate their children’s carefree childhood.  To be honest, I sincerely pity those kids whose childhood is deprived of.  Your children only get one childhood.  Once it is gone, it is gone forever.  What reasons do we as parents have to deprive of our children’s childhood?  Is it truly for the sacred purpose of the well being of your kids?  Or is it just to satisfy your own pride and vanity by imposing your own dreams onto them, arbitrarily planning your children’s roadmap of life?  I can never understand the mindset of those immigrant parents.  Do they really believe that cramming their kids with higher grades’ subjects in advance will ensure success in their kids’ future?  Do they really believe that kids graduating from Harvard, MIT or Standard will all get a better life?  But then what position do I have to judge those Asian parents’ parenting approach.  Truly, I am not a social worker and they are not my kids.  Why do I have to care about their well being?

 

Talking about a better life or success in the future, I have been working in the US for more than 18 years in some fortune 300 companies and I have yet to see a top executive who is a Chinese descendent from those Chinese families.  The college they graduated may be elite but it will not always guarantee them success in their career or a better life.  I do not doubt any success story.  I only question the rate of return.  It is such a minuscule figure.   

 

Maybe my own experience shapes my parenting philosophy as I have not encountered hardship to feel the need to push my kids to the extreme to excel.  I do believe in guiding my kids however I can and supporting them in their life’s endeavors.  To me, maximizing a child’s potential shouldn’t negate his childhood happiness. 

 

Here is a glance of my son’s day to day activities: 

Time

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

6:30am – 7:00am

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

7:00am – 7:30am

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

7:50am – 8:40am

Breakfast/ Play

Breakfast/ Play

Breakfast/ Play

Breakfast/ Play

Breakfast/ Play

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

8:40am -9am

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Watch cartoon

Watch cartoon

9am – 9:20am

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Welcome Morning Meeting

Breakfast/ Watch Cartoon

Breakfast/ Watch Cartoon

9:20am – 10:15am

Reading

Reading

Reading

Reading

Reading

Play / Travel to the Gym

Play / Prepare for the walk in the park

10:15am – 10:40am

Snack break

Snack break

Snack break

Snack break

Snack break

Swimming

Biking in the park

10:40am – 11:40am

Language Arts

Language Arts

Language Arts

Language Arts

Language Arts

Swimming/  Reading stories

Play

11:40am -12:30pm

Music / Media

Phy Ed

Art

Music

Phy Ed

Play / Travel to the restaurant for lunch

Play / Travel to the restaurant for lunch

12:30pm – 12:50pm

Social Studies, Science or Health

Social Studies, Science or Health

Social Studies, Science or Health

Social Studies, Science or Health

Social Studies, Science or Health

Lunch

Lunch

12:50pm – 1:30pm

Lunch / Recess

Lunch / Recess

Lunch / Recess

Lunch / Recess

Lunch / Recess

Lunch

Lunch

1:35pm – 2:45pm

Math

Math

Math

Math

Math

Shopping at the Mall / Playing at the Apple store

Shopping at Target, Cub Food and Chinese grocery store

2:45pm – 3:10pm

Story

Story

Story

Story

Story

Shopping at the Mall / Playing at the Apple store

Shopping at Target, Cub Food and Chinese grocery store

3:10pm – 3:20pm

Ready for dismissal

Ready for dismissal

Ready for dismissal

Ready for dismissal

Ready for dismissal

Shopping at the Mall / Playing at the Apple store

Shopping at Target, Cub Food and Chinese grocery store

3:20pm – 3:30pm

Play

Play

Play

Play

Play

Shopping at the Mall / Playing at the Apple store

Shopping at Target, Cub Food and Chinese grocery store

3:30pm – 4:15pm

Play

Play

Play

Lego Robots

Mad Science

Shopping at the Mall / Playing at the Apple store

Shopping at Target, Cub Food and Chinese grocery store

4:15pm -4:30pm

Play

Violin

Play

Lego Robots

Mad Science

Travel home

Travel home

4:30pm-5pm

Play

Violin

Play

Play

Play

Play

Play

5pm – 5:30pm

Play

Play

Play

Play

Play

Play

Play

5:30pm-5:40pm

Parent pick up

Parent pick up

Parent pick up

Parent pick up

Parent pick up

Play

Play

5:45pm – 6:15pm

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play

Play

6:15pm – 7:20pm

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner

7:20pm – 7:30pm

School Homework

School Homework

School Homework

School Homework

School Homework

Watch Cartoon

Watch Cartoon

7:30pm – 8:30pm

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Play / Watch Cartoon

Watch Cartoon

Watch Cartoon

8:30pm – 9pm

Bath/ Prepare to sleep

Bath/ Prepare to sleep

Bath/ Prepare to sleep

Bath/ Prepare to sleep

Bath/ Prepare to sleep

Bath/ Prepare to sleep

Bath/ Prepare to sleep

9pm – 9:15pm

Homework – reading stories

Homework – reading stories

Homework – reading stories

Homework – reading stories

Homework – reading stories

Sleep

Sleep

9:15pm

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep

 

 

 

 

Written By Elisa English, 版權所

On 10/14/10 in Minneapolis

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