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About mayathiagarajan

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  1. I started after schooling when my kids were quite young, and it was easy in the early years. It gets much harder as they grow older and have more demanding schedules at school. In terms of how to prioritize, I would say that you need to first consider why you're after schooling. If it's to fill in the gaps, then the priority should be to do what school doesn't do. If they don't do much Science, then you could devote some afterschool (or holiday) time to Science units. However, if your goal is to build on a child's interests or strengths, then the afterschooling priority would be different. So I guess that step one is to figure out your own after schooling philosophy: Why are you doing it, and what's most important to you? My basic goal with afterschooling is to fill in the gaps from school, and to make sure that my kids have solid academic foundations and study skills. We've always prioritized math and grammar/writing, and we've always spent lots of time on free-reading/read alouds. However, recently I've started to worry about "knowledge gaps" and "knowledge deficits." I think that it's really important for kids to read and study lots of rich content in the Sciences and the Humanities, but schools don't seem to have the time to do much of this in the early years. So far, I've tried to help my kids extend their knowledge base in fun ways -- through read alouds of non-fiction books and field trips to museums and Science Center exhibits. I'd love to do more, but we just don't have the time, and I'm not willing to sacrifice playtime and extra-curriculars (like sports, the arts) for this. So that's where we are right now :) Btw, I'm a teacher myself, so I absolutely love afterschooling, and I think it's really important. It's a great way not only to build a close relationship with your kids but also to help your kids realize how pleasurable and satisfying learning can be!
  2. I have two kids, ds is in grade 6 and dd is in grade 3. For my third grader, I find that I have much less time now to afterschool, partly because of my work schedule and partly because of her homework schedule. So these are the areas I focus on: - Math - twice a week - we use Singapore math, which I love - On the weekends, I also try to fit in either grammar (I'm an English teacher, and I really want her to have a strong understanding of how language works, and unfortunately, grammar doesn't seem to be part of the curriculum at most schools these days) or some content (either Science or the Humanities). I think that she really enjoys substantive content -- interesting Science units of History units, and I'd love to do more of this, but I just don't have as much time as I'd like. When we do have the time, I use a combination of field trips and/or engaging non-fiction books. - I also try to fit in a few read-alouds, and I make sure that she has access to a lot of high quality children's literature. We engage in a lot of informal book conversations over meals and in the car. Author of "Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age."
  3. I actually think that some homework in elementary school is a good thing. Kids need to learn how to organize their time, focus on tasks, and get work done. And homework helps them do this. As a parent, I don't think of myself as "the police," but rather as a teacher who's helping them learn valuable life skills like time management and focus. I live in Singapore, and for most parents here, it's pretty routine to sit with a child and make sure that they get their homework done and learn good study skills early on. If parents do this for the first few years of elementary school (grades 1 to 3), then by grade 4 or so, kids should be able to do it all independently.
  4. I always plan on doing so much over vacations, and then somehow, we never get as much done as I would like. But then, I think that my kids and I do need a real break -- and i'm glad that we got that break. I was feeling pretty burnt out by June, and I'm feeling much better now. So what did the kids do this summer? - Travel to visit family; lots of family time and outdoor time/time in nature (very important for our minds and bodies) - Lots of reading; my daughter (age 7) worked her way through all the Harry Potters; my son (age 11) read a wide range of books. - We took a break from math while we traveled, but then for the last 3 weeks, the kids did fairly regular math (Singapore math) - A couple of sessions of grammar, but not much - Some fun outings -- kayaking, hiking, the beach, and a couple of museum trips Overall, I think it was a lovely summer. We got some afterschooling in, but more importantly, the kids had fun, they spent time with their family, they got outside a lot, and they're energized for the new school year.
  5. I agree with Ordinary Shoes about seizing teaching moments whenever possible and integrating learning into daily life as much as possible. While I do set some afterschooling goals each year, particularly for math (I use Singapore math) and for grammar/writing, I try hard to build a reading-rich, math-rich, and learning-rich culture in my home as much as possible. When my kids were younger (K/G1), we did daily read-alouds, daily math, lots of puzzles/legos/math games, lots of educational field trips, and some basic writing. I have much less time to afterschool now that they're older, but I think that the early years laid a good foundation.
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