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This year during summer break, my son only spent two weeks working on his summer homework. He enjoyed playing with toys and reading books, including comic books. Because my educational philosophy was guided and heuristic, I did not push him to study.

Furthermore, he had just finished second grade, so his work is not the most important thing at the moment. Having a happy childhood is important and will have a long-term impact on his life, so I mostly let him arrange his own schedule during the summer.

Time flies and finally summer break was over and third grade began. Two weeks into the semester, my son’s school had a test, reviewing previous words taught in second grade. I assumed that like previous exams, my son would find time to review and prepare, so I did not pay much attention to him. A few days later, however, when I picked him up from school, I noticed that he didn’t dare to tell me his test results.

When we got home, I asked him for his exam results. His scores were lower than his previous 2nd grade scores, so I asked him if he was satisfied with the results. He didn’t dare look at me and shook his head, worried that I’ll punish him. But I only intended to guide him towards the solution, so I said: “The reason your test results are so bad is because you spent so much time playing and neglecting your schoolwork, right?” He nodded and said yes.

I reminded him that he was in 3rd grade, and that the work will be more difficult than that of first and second grade. I suggested that he should study during school as well as after school and preview some of the content that’ll be taught the next day.

My son looked puzzled and asked me what previewing is. So I explained what previewing is, how to do it, and the benefits of it. He was glad that he had learned a new method, a secret weapon, and happily told me that he will go home and preview everyday, starting today.

When I was busy doing housework at night, he was obediently looking through his textbook for  the next day’s lesson.  After I finished, he willingly came to me and read passages from his textbook to me, and also asked me about a few new words. He finally learned how to preview.

A few days later, he was excited to tell me on the way home that he could confidently answer  the teacher’s questions because of his previewing. I knew from his expression that he had found an efficient way to study.

After school on the same day, my son could not wait to preview tomorrow’s lesson. I looked at him fondly and thought of a story called “North Wind and the Sun.” 

If I had complained about his exam result that day, or ordered him to study more, he would be like the man in the story, who had been blown by the cold north wind and had pulled his coat closer to protect himself. I instead patiently guided and gave him suggestions to preview, which is the same as the sun that shined on the man and made him take off his own coat.

In teaching children, everything a parent does can produce different results.

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Translation: Ireen  Chau

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