“I want to be smart, the best in our class. Hence, I should excel in math and science” – Honestly, I live by this phrase every day of my life as a student. Even during the college years, I spent sleepless nights studying until finally, I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics. I’m not going to lie, it felt good in the end.
And now, I’ll walk that path again – to study, this time guiding my daughter. She’ll be in kindergarten this coming school year and I admit, telling her how good I was before as a student might not be a very good parenting advice.
Last year, I have received an email, asking me to read and review “Beyond the Tiger Mom” written by Maya Thiagarajan. The book looks at the differences between Western and Asian approaches to parenting and education. It helps parents learn on how to:
– Help your child achieve maximum academic potential
– Train your child to expand his or her attention span
– Find the right balance between work and play
– Help your child see failure as a learning experience
– Learn how to raise tech-healthy kids
And so I gave it a shot. I certainly need some ideas and tips now that Louise is already a school girl.
It was only recently that I finished reading “Beyond the Tiger Mom”. And here’s my take – Maya Thiagarajan is very honest, very clear for all the tips she has provided. Sometimes, she sounds funny too because she shares facts that I’m familiar with (being an Asian). According to her, all Asian mothers she spoke with all reiterated the importance of “study routines” or “study schedules.” When it comes to education and studying, mothers offered variations of the following script: “I am your mother. Whatever I do, I do for your own good. I do everything in the world for you, and you need to be a good son/daughter and listen to me. You need to be a good son/daughter and respect your mother. No back-chat. Get to work.” Or, “You are only a child. You don’t understand how important your education is and what you need to do to be successful. I am much older, I know the importance of these skills.”
Oh, I can even imagine my mother’s face while reading these phrases.
What I love most about the book is that it provides realistic and practical ‘How To’s’ at the end of each chapter, some listed below which certainly emphasize the importance of balancing math and reading:
- How to Build a Math-Rich home
- How to Build a Language-Rich home
We all know that nobody’s perfect but most of the time, this isn’t the case when it comes to getting good grades. Some students and parents, even me years ago, always aim for the highest score that a class can achieve, and honestly, that’s almost close to perfection. And this is why I find the book fascinating because it discusses the best ways to handle both good grades and failures of our children, all applicable for Asian and Western parents.
By the time I finished reading, I realized how much effort Fred and I should put in order for us to raise smart, kind, ethical and happy children. Parenting is indeed a big job, there’s no perfect formula, schedule or strategy but all options and things to consider are mentioned in Maya Thiagarajan’s book.
About the Author
A global citizen, Maya Thiagarajan has lived and worked in India, Singapore, and the US. She earned a BA in English from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University.
Maya began her teaching career with Teach For America, where she taught at a public school in Baltimore City for two years. She went on to teach high school English at some of America’s most prestigious independent schools. After a decade of teaching in the US, Maya moved to Singapore and began teaching at The United World College of South East Asia (UWC).
Struck by the different approaches to education and parenting that she encountered in Singapore, Maya began to interview Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore. Using her own experiences as well as the stories of parents whom she interviewed, Maya wrote a book titled Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age.
In addition to teaching and writing, Maya also conducts workshops for parents and teachers on a range of education related topics.
To learn more, go to MayaThiagarajan.info