Saturday, December 22, 2018

Principles of Competitive Parenting

I think I'm ready to write the book.

When I first started this blog in 2011, I could write a one page article that included a complete extract on the topic at hand and adequately summarized my research. Now, it would take 30 pages to bring readers up to speed on a sub-topic of reading, math, test prep or character development.

I'd like to wait for graduate school to pan out before writing the book. "How to Cheat Your Way into a GAT Program" has a nice title, but I've got something much bigger in mind.

Here are some snippets from my notes, roughly in order.

Get your child into a GAT program at all costs

If you follow my recipe of test prep, getting to 94% is doable. 99% requires a bit of extra effort. "All costs" refers to redefining the values and activities in your house so that your children walk the walk and talk the talk for the rest of their lives.

I realize that not all GAT programs in all school districts are created equally. Any GAT program is better than none. We continued our GAT program at home just in case. But in our case, the education was way beyond my expectations. One of my children is in a reading program that tackles books that I struggled with as an adult.

While no books have been written on this topic, one of the permanent articles (never finished of course) on this website provides the recipe.

Reading must dominate their time

We no longer live in an industrial society. Even if you have no intention of producing future lawyers and writers, the thinking skills bred by reading are the ones that will pave the way for the rest of education and future professional success.

There are plenty of good books on this topic which I've cited before.

Vocabulary is everything

Vocabulary is not just the driver of thinking ability and test scores, it's the driver of personality, determination, and speaking ability when you use the Word Board. Unfortunately, once they develop photographic word memories, vocabular ceases to be an area of work. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Projects are the best teacher

Projects, crafts and art are the best teacher. At age 3 or 4, these teach executive functioning skills. In grade school, the GAT programs are all projects. If there is a text book of any kind involved, the kids read it outside of class time.

I lump music in to this category.

A corollary to this principle is that one long math problem teaches more than 500 short problems.

Every child should be challenged every day

This was my very first victory as a parent. If children learn to read by daily reading at home, how do they learn to do advanced math? Every day I presented my children with some math that challenged them. They're not going to get this at school, even in a GAT program, and they will not get this from a school math book even 2 or 3 years ahead of grade level.

After about 9 months of this program, I redefined daily math to be something ridiculously insanely hard. This is why reading dominates their time: insanely hard math exhausts the brain in about 25 minutes. That leaves plenty of time for reading.

There is no book on this topic. There are great programs for competitive math that come close, but few children are qualified by the right mix of interests, disposition, and geekiness. Both of my kids are into competitive math, but only by virtue of training.

Problem solving skills are gold

Most of my research and most of my original ideas fit under this heading. When I read through education and cognitive psychology journals, I'm confident that I'm still at least 25 years ahead of other researchers.

In 1945, George Poyla synthesized 3000 years of research on how mathematicians solve problems and applied it to high school sophomores. In about 2011 or 2012, I applied this to 4 year olds, then to calculus, to the SAT, to high school chemistry, to reading, and a host of other topics, all before 7th grade. We're now working on other applications like how to ace a test for a class you didn't attend.

After 4th grade

I've dabbled in research topics for older children on this website, but recently started another blog to cover them in more detail. Assuming 5 years of At Home Academic Training goes well, and it has, we're focusing on much more important topics like chores, theater, not quitting, overloading your schedule with activities and hard classes, and not being the slightest bit stressed by anything ever.

In the early days of this website, I argued for this principle: We are not doing any activities, especially ones that involve me driving my kid to some organized program. No soccer at age 4, no outside math tutoring, nothing. Despite this - or maybe because of it - both of my kids are slowly filling their schedules with groups and clubs.

There is so much more you can do with the Power Five problem solving skills with older children.

I've read so much about kids being overwhelmed by the stress of high school, what with 4 AP courses each semester and all those extra curricular activities. Tackling this problem is one of my current interests. I made my kids watch parts of How To Succeed in Busies Without Really Trying. We all want our little kids to get to high school fully prepared for hard work. I've got something much bigger in mind.

A note on leadership

I've never written an article on leadership. I think we work on a fairly comprehensive list of qualities or skills that a leader has, but I don't yet see the step from 'has' to 'using' leadership skills.

My kids are involved in a comprehensive list of activities. They have fun, they participate, they organize, they pull their own weight. They don't really lead. Perhaps this is because adults overdo the leadership thing. Nonetheless, I don't see any hint of a drive to be the best. I see plenty of adequate. Both kids like to perform, but they have fairly low standards and adhere to the adage 'Done is better than perfect'.

I think I can leverage that, parenting wise. If you need a crack team that includes the top math person, top scientist, writer, researcher, athlete, artist, and inventory, which role is not mentioned but always required? I'm 2 years from this line of research and it will definitely be in the other blog.

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