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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Do You “Ride” Your Kids?

When it comes to education, do you “ride” your kids?  Do you get on their case and make them study, do homework, and have after-school tutoring?  Or am I the only meanie on the face of the earth?

I vascillate and fluctuate.  On the one hand, my desire is that they enjoy education in general.  That’s why we homeschool, so they won’t, as new immigrants to the U.S., feel like one big failure when it comes to English and other subjects.  On the other hand, I want them to get their rear-ends in gear and realize that life is not always handed to you on a silver platter.  Some just have to work harder for a variety of reasons.

So you do it.  Hopefully with no complaining.  Nor bellyaching.

My kids may have missed those last three points.

“How we suppose to do school if we don’t know English?” Mashenka fumes.

“It’s not fair,” Pasha pouts.

“Well, rather than take up all of your time moaning and groaning at ages 14 and 15, I would spend my time after school each day in study.  An extra hour, reviewing your subject material, would really help…” I suggest.  “Particularly English.”

All of my family were immigrants.  I had grandparents that spoke with accents.  They spelled correctly in their letters to me, conjugated verbs correctly, and went on to higher education.

“She cook very good,” they comment when watching a cooking show on TV.  Should I correct them during “free time” and come across as the constant ogre?

“Remember what we do to verbs that go with he or she, we add an ‘s’—she cooks.  And she can’t cook ‘good’, but ‘well’, since it’s modifying a verb, it’s talking about something she’s doing—she cooks well.”

Nary a comment, nary a glance, perhaps a grunt, I am but the droning wah-wah-wah adult voice in a Charlie Brown cartoon.  They have no incentive, no motivation to do well.  Their get-up-and-go has got-up-and-went.

This is years later.  They’re not straight off the boat.  We showed them tons of DVDs when they first arrived.  Rather than pay attention to the English being demonstrated, they chattered afterwards in Russian (or during, if we weren’t on guard the whole time) about what color hair each person had, or what they were wearing.  I felt that they needed to watch the programs again, now that they knew more about school and studies, but that meant a couple of days of meltdowns to even raise the issue of their English.

The girls were working on a list of their summer clothes.  As the seasons would change, they went into their usual modus operandi of claiming that they had “nothing” to wear.  I felt like smacking them.  Instead, I assigned them the task of writing down what they had, and I would later categorize it for them:  school clothes, dress clothes, sports clothes.

Wrong move.  Most of it I could read, when I finally extracted it from them.  However, most of it irritated me as being on the first or second grade level.

We had “purpole” this and that.  Hadn’t we learned the colors as some of their first spelling words?  There were “tennice” skorts listed, and a “guging” (jogging) suit named.  One “hudy” (hoodie) had “strips” (stripes), and there were “scup” neck or “squar tups” included.  The “long sleave shorts” puzzled me, while I figured out the “kapry” pants and “jaket”.  We had a “blaizly tup” (paisley top) and a red “tooneck” (tunic), which the other one wrote as “tunick”.  Somehow, “embroidered” came out okay, while top continued to be “tup”.  There was “drese”, and “tunek” (yet another variation on a theme), and “botons sweter”.

Is there a Hooked On Phonics for teens?

They don’t have real problems with their actual school subjects, however, if they can’t speak or write well, this could spell trouble for the future….  We all know that even home-grown students are losing their ability to write, hence, the essay section on the SAT.

Am I just a worry-wart?



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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Greg says:

    Oh my, I think you are writing about our daughter!

  2. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Not entirely a worry wart, but expecting too much too fast from the younger ones, I’d say.

    We have the same conversations, the same examples of strange spelling, etc. No Russian at our house (not my fault: the kids insist!), but developmentally they are all over the map. I had given up on the idea that older DD would ever really ‘get’ English, but she has been mainstreamed all day this year (no ELL), and suddenly, in the last 3 months, real English — English that is 100 times as useful as anything she could say in Russian — is appearing! WOW!

    When they misspell something (except this week’s spelling words), I take it, mostly, as a good thing that they are writing something down! I want them to read and write more than I want them to spell correctly. Spelling will come, and spelling in English is really, really hard.

    Hang in there! They seem to be doing fine!

    And yes, I make the same verbal corrections you do, almost every time I hear a mistake in grammar. You and I together are the meanest mothers on planet earth! Yay for us!

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