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How Hard and How Far Should We Push Our Children Academically?

Nazareth Patch invites you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in the Nazareth area.

In the news several weeks ago, there was a report of a mother who was at her wits' end with her child who refused every one of her attempts to motivate him to embrace his schoolwork.

Pushed to the limit, she somehow got him to stand on a street corner wearing a sandwich board that said something like, "Honk if you think I need an education."

Though her tactics were rash, certainly humiliating and possibly irrational and unacceptable, there are times when almost all mothers wonder what we can do to help our children live up to their potential.

Says one of our very own Moms Council members, "My son runs hot and cold with school work. I know he's smart and I know he has talent, but there are times when he just won't give his all and won't show any initiative. He gets a bad grade here and there.

I'm having a hard time figuring out where to step in with help and how much help to give. Should I give my own ideas or work off of his? It's so tough because he needs to learn how to study and figure things out on his own yet...he needs a push. The hard part is figuring out how much of a push to give."

So our question today is:

How hard and how far should we push our children academically?

Cindy Adams March 11, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Kids predictably bristle at being "pushed," especially from about age 10 and up. The challenge is to help them love learning early on so that they are intrinsically motivated. Read to them, visit museums, explore their interests and model enthusiasm for lifelong learning. For example, when my older daughter wanted to have a Pocohontas birthday party when she was turning 5, we turned it into a month-long exploration of Native American culture including visiting the Museum of Indian Cultures in Allentown ( see http://www.lenape.org/), finding a tape of Native American dances and a book on their crafts at the local library and even going to a local pow-wow. We ended up making belled ankle bracelets with the guests which they wore as we performed a rain dance (We were in the middle of a drought at the time but it didn't work. Still we had fun!). Obviously, I'm a big believer in the use of carrots vs. sticks. When I watched a brief piece on the "Tiger Mom" I could not relate. Anyone else want to weigh in on that?
Devishobha September 02, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Hi, I am from India and am struggling to keep my 51/2-year old motivated. She picks up things really fast and well, but loses interest really fast too. I usually do about half-hour of explaining and persuading to get her to do her daily music practice- which lasts about 15-20 minutes a day, since she is only a beginner. But, today when after a break of a week, she refused to sit for her classes and started whining instead, I really had to go overboard and make her stand facing the wall for about half-hour to get her to sing the usual 15 minutes. How do I handle her? I want to take care and not let my pushing make her lose interest, but I do not know if only persuasion and coaxing will work everyday. How far can I push? The same happens for her Math as well...which she is really good at too!

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