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It is kind of funny. When you are a child, you think of what it is like to grow up and be independent, and then once you become an adult you realize how short and precious childhood really is. A lot of people find my blog by searching terms relating to Asian parents pushing their kids. Today I want to address a few things about parents who push their children because they consider their children to be gifted.

I am not a parent, so I can only speak from the perspective of a child. My mom taught me to read Chinese at a very young age. My parents and their neighbors tell me that I was three when I started to read newspapers and books. I only have vague memories of those times. Anyway, I do remember people calling me a “sheng tong”, which means “god child” or “genius child”. So as a result my dad decided that I should go to elementary school early. In China you are supposed to enter first grade if you are age six by June 30th of the school year. I was born in the latter half the year, so I wasn’t supposed to enter elementary school until I was almost seven. As a result, my classmates were 1 to 2 years older than me. When you are five years old that age difference is huge. I was the puniest child in the class and I had trouble with holding a pencil and copying Chinese characters over and over again. Nevertheless I did pretty well in class, and beat out the older children in math and language tests.

I was a bit weird socially, though. I remember that none of the girls wanted to play with me for some reason and my best friends were boys. Maybe it is because my maturity level was the same as boys since it’s generally accepted that boys are 1 to 2 years less mature than girls. I liked bugs, dirt, and running around. I finished 4th grade in China, and all the friends I remember are boys. I also distinctly remember that one of the popular girls hated me because I did better than her academically.  It’s kind of funny how passive aggressive most girls are.

After 4th grade, I moved to America, and I didn’t know any English.  At first I was put into the fifth grade class.  Since I didn’t understand anything it was pretty tough.  So my mom decided that I should move down to the fourth grade class.  This turned out to be a good choice because they put me in an English as a second language class and I was with children my age.  After a year or so I was able to catch up in English and I was really glad to be with kids the same age as me.  I wasn’t a super popular kid, but it felt like I was on equal ground as everyone else. I have pretty fond memories of secondary school in America because for the most part I was normal, and I had plenty of friends.

When you are a kid, you really don’t want to be a freak, and being younger than everyone else sort of singles you out.  Life is especially tough for a teenager who is quite a bit younger than everyone else and sometimes the results are quite tragic.  For example, during my freshman year of college a boy jumped from the tenth floor of the math building and killed himself.  From his blog I found that he entered college at the age of 16, and was isolated for his whole life because he was younger than everyone else. Loneliness made him jump. It is great to be academically gifted, but I think we are such social creatures that we all want to have friends and be loved.

I think what parents should do is to foster their kids interests, but don’t push them into a social environment they can’t handle. I know a couple real geniuses who never skipped a single grade.  They took advanced classes in the fields they were interested in, but they chose to finish school at a normal age.   I also have a brilliant friend who skipped a grade and is now a PhD candidate at MIT, but her emotional IQ is quite above average and she is fine.  Each person is different, but everyone has  less than 20 years to be a child, and so many more years to worry about annoying things such as finances, jobs, and relationships. Why would anyone want to  rush into adulthood? So here I say to the parents out there, let your kids be kids just a bit longer even if they are gifted.  An extra one to two years of childhood is really priceless and I sincerely thank my mom for letting me flunk 4th grade and be normal.

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viagra online ukon 04.04.08 at 3:20 pm

I love this post – and I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly!!!
Even though many of the world’s cultures seem to focus on “success” at such an extremely young age, doesn’t mean it is right! Part of learning comes from playing and using one’s imagination – something many of today’s children think means video games! We have the rest of our lives to be adults – let’s be children at least through the elementary years!!!

viagra online ukon 04.04.08 at 3:40 pm

Great post! So many parents put such pressure to be perfect. It makes one question if you’re really loved.

Do you remember how to read and write chinese? I was born here but was put in chinese school for all of elementary school years. I’ve forgotten it all and have forgotten how to say a lot of words even. Now that I’m trying to teach my daughter chinese, it’s bringing some of it back to me. Still kinda hard cause my hubby isn’t chinese.

viagra online ukon 04.04.08 at 3:44 pm

Yup, I can still read and write Chinese. Mostly because I wrote letters to my granddad for a few years. I translated a few of my Baglady articles into Chinese and I am working on translating my dad’s story into English from Chinese. It is good that I learned it at a really young age.

viagra online ukon 04.04.08 at 4:25 pm

My mom wouldn’t let me skip a grade no matter how eligible I was. She pushed me really hard to excel, but she didn’t want to put me out of touch with people my age.

viagra online ukon 04.04.08 at 5:07 pm

How short is summer, and winter is so long.
We should all be able to enjoy our summers longer.

viagra online ukon 04.05.08 at 8:46 am

that’s a very beautiful story. when i was a child i wanted to be as normal as everyone, but inside i felt like a freak. now, as an adult, i’ve learnt my lesson to stand for who i really am.

viagra online ukon 04.05.08 at 3:03 pm

Some parents see their children as an extension of themselves, instead of separate and distinct beings. My sister and I were really pushed as children – I once got a detention and was harangued for 3 hours solid about it.

I’m glad, though, that they raised me to be intelligent rather than stupid. That would really be bad.

viagra online ukon 04.05.08 at 4:23 pm

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viagra online ukon 04.06.08 at 2:38 pm

Being a mother, I just wanted to spend as much time with my child and play with her with whatever games were available with our limited resources. Xin started to learn Chinese characters as a game. When I pointed to the Chinese character of “heart” in the newspaper and put her little hand to her pumping heart and told her that the character is ” heart”, she quickly found the same character in another location of the paper. I knew she could make a conection between the real object and an abstract symble and she was ready to learn to read. She was just 2 years old. Then she started to find charaters she knew in the papers and books and she started to accumulate more and more. I remembered we also spended a lot of time finding some small gemlike stones in some huge sand hills. We would be very happy when we found one. Those games did not cost me a penny and the fun we got from them were beyond words. We also cut paper into different pattens and folded paper into differnt objects. That is the fun part to have a child. I never like the idea to let children to skip grades and I always want them to enjoy their normal childhood. I taught her Chinese in her early age because she had fun to learn them,and I let her flunk a grade to study English because I did not want her to have too much hardships when she was making all the adjustments to her new life. Besides I always think it is better for her to be in the class of her own age. Her Fourth Grade teacher was great, and she would not ask questions and even did not grade Xin’s writing for the first semester. Xin absorbed English as she did with Chinese in a fun way.
I think as parents, the best thing we can give to our children is our love and time. There are a lot of ways to make your children smart without cost of a penny, but they will cost you time.
Do not try to creat a myth of “genius child”, which will be very misleading. Do not try to push your children to fulfill the unrealized dreams of your own. Just wish your children happiness, independency, and good health.

viagra online ukon 04.06.08 at 7:57 pm

I tend to agree with what you’ve written and I think it matters more that you’re a similar age in high school. It’s hard sitting back and watching your friends get their driver’s licence when you can’t yet because your birthday is later, and that’s just a small example.

viagra online ukon 04.09.08 at 3:38 pm

I completely agree! Great post.

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