Thursday, May 17, 2012

Now I Know my ABCs...

Part of the problem of raising bi-lingual and bi-cultural kids is that, well, chances are one of the cultures is just not helping. I mean, I can reasonably be sure that my sons will learn the kana and (God help them) kanji from teachers in school. I'm fairly sure that they will be drilled, asked to write, and tested on their usage from now until they manage to graduate.

However English... Well, I'm an English teacher in a public Japanese junior high school so I'm less than enthused about waiting until junior high for my sons to learn how to read and write a language that they have been speaking since they started speaking.

So the big adventure right now is teaching the 4-year-old how to write the alphabet in the hopes that this will lead into reading. Now me, the guy with the degrees in education and English plus 8 years teaching experience, I kinda figured we'd ease into this. Make it fun, make it colorful, make it interesting for a young boy so he doesn't get scared off on it. No pressure, no ridiculous goals, just three pages in a workbook a day, gone through twice to get it drilled in.

Oh, and bribery in the form of chocolate and ice cream if done for a month (Beloved of course does NOT LIKE THIS).

And, for the most part, he's good. The past Mother's Day had Makoto writing his first card to Mommy (Daddy just provided the spelling) by himself, which he not only bragged about for the next two days, but sent his mother into tears.

What I didn't count on was that, between classes and chores, I would be a bit busy at times, and Hikaru.

Thus the following:

Round 1
Me: Did you do your three pages yet?

Makoto: Not yet, Daddy. I'll do them now.

Me: Ok! I'll check them in a few.

I wander upstairs to get some work of my own done for lessons until...

Beloved: HELP!

Me: Now what?

Come downstairs to find that Makoto went to the toilet (An event loudly announced since 4-year-old boys are justifiably proud of this) and Hikaru decided that, gosh, that red crayon looks just delicious... So now I must spend a few minutes with my fingers in the youngest's mouth trying to get chewed crayon out of it. Meanwhile of course Hikaru is trying his best to escape because crayons are YUMMY!

Spend a few minutes "reminding" Makoto about not leaving crayons down, hand him the remaining half of said crayon, and tell him that he needs to get his pages done; go back upstairs.

Round 2
Beloved: HELP!

Downstairs to find the Beloved tearing the living room apart, the other part of the crayon is missing, pages still not done. So I join in the tearing apart, meanwhile grilling the eldest (He's already developed that 'cool prisoner under the lamplight' look).

Me: Makoto, where's the crayon?

Makoto: I don't know.

Me: Well, where did you put it?

Makoto: I don't remember.

Me: Did you finish your pages?

Makoto: No...

Me: *sighs* Ok, go take your bath and go to bed.

Few minutes later I get collared by the Boss and informed that, well, the remaining half of the crayon was stolen and eaten by the wandering bottomless pit. We did eventually 'find' the crayon... the next day... and let me tell you that red marbled poop is... interesting to say the very least.

But at least Makoto eventually made it through the pages and is now up to 'M'.


  1. Hey Big Guy!

    Just to let you know, there are a lot of homeschooling blogs out there, and a bunch of free or relatively inexpensive worksheets for doing stuff with letters, etc. You just have to filter repetitions, religion, and hippy mysticism out to get to the good stuff.

    My 3-year-old is getting some alphabet stuff at his Montessori preschool, and I'm working with him at home using a story and drawing for each letter. I'm using the Monkey King, which is good for an infinite number of stories. I am thinking of making up my own modules for some science and language fun; I'll email you if any of them seem like good stuff.


    1. We're using Trend's Wipe-off stuff, which I admit has been really good. Makoto's been interested in them and they're a bit better than the printouts I use for my elementary school students (Of course, they are a bit different, they've already been introduced to the concept of writing and reading). But I'll take anything I can get. While I'm satisfied with the math, science, art, music, and PE that the kids will get in Japanese schools, English and US history...