Thursday, 9 April 2015

That Which Matters

1.  Being Kind and Helpful

In this day and age when being competitive and getting ahead (often at the expense of others' welfare) are held up as the keys to 'success' (whatever that means), I am very glad to see Tiger having the good sense of offering help to others on several occasions, one of the examples that I happened to catch on the camera took place during his recent wall climbing session.  When it was other children's turn to climb the wall, Tiger concentrated on belaying the rope properly to ensure safety for the climber.  Once he got his harness secured, he went to help the younger children with their harnesses and knots, all without being prompted by anybody.  In fact, he did not even know that anyone was watching him, because the Outdoors Activity Centre was very busy and chaotic on that day and I was sitting quite far away from the children.

These are very small acts indeed but to me, such small instances of unconscious behaviour reveal a lot about someone's character.

2.  A Strong Family Relationship

A solid, loving relationship is something that we work hard to cultivate and maintain in our family, but is not something that I expect Tiger to constantly have to demonstrate or to prove himself at.  Therefore, it is always a very pleasant surprise when he actively demonstrates his affections:
  • a note (photo 1) on which Tiger dedicated his recent drawings (photos 2 and 4) to me;
  • a 'magic' ring (photo 3) that Tiger made for me;
  • photo 5 is self-explanatory.  It is written on an envelope that contains a handwritten note to me for Easter.

Tiger is also very close to his father, who he worships and with whom he spends a lot of time doing outdoorsy things.  Upon realising that such a close father-and-son relationship is becoming a rarity in Britain nowadays, I feel an increased respect for my husband for taking very conscious steps to be the responsible, supportive and available father that he is to Tiger.

3.  Integrity and a Healthy Self-Esteem

It may seem strange at first to see the positive side about getting a full page of wrong answers, but what I see in this when I marked this page of maths problems that Tiger handed in to me as part of his independent learning (he is teaching himself all aspects of fractions without my input) is a very healthy sense of self-esteem.

He is not freaking out because he doesn't know how to how to solve those problems.  The fact that he has written "I am confused!" at the bottom of the page shows me that:
  1. he is able to admit to himself and to me that he doesn't understand something
  2. he doesn't feel the need/pressure to know the answer to everything
  3. he is willing to try to work through the problem even though he knows that he is not going to get the correct answers
The most valuable part of this exercise is that, Tiger had the answer booklet right by him when he worked through these problems, so it would have been easy for him to copy the answers and "look good/clever/perfect".  He didn't.  He chose to be honest, with himself and with me.  To me, this is worth more than scoring 100% in any exam.

It took less than two minutes to explain the concept to Tiger, then he's off correcting himself by working through the problems again and getting the right answers.  Note the change in his qutoe to "I am not confused!"

4.  Physical Strength and Good Health

Having better health and a stronger body this year has opened up many more opportunities that were previously unavailable to Tiger last year.  Compared to the same time last year, Tiger is able to spend a lot more time outdoors -- he is even asking to go for long walks these days, which in turn increases the opportunities for nature study.

Tiger is also involved in different sports each week (he is a very busy boy):
  • mountain biking
  • climbing
  • table tennis
  • tennis
  • swimming

Being so active outdoor seems to help Tiger burn off his excess energy to the extent that his attitude and the resulting quality of work produced indoors are both much better than before, which in turn fosters a very positive atmosphere at home in general.

Here is John Taylor Gatto's view on what really matters.


  1. Love this post! Yes! This is what matters! :) And I love that he was able to handle the self-learning, self-evaluation so well!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, E! :-) We have had to work very hard to get to where we are with a few items on the list, so I thought it'll be a good idea to record them as part of the milestones on our journey.

  2. I love those kind of little notes. I have all mine saved in various places around the house. It's such a joy to come across one and smile, filled with love. You are doing a wonderful job, Hwee. And so lovely that you share like this - for Tiger's benefit as well as ours.

    1. Isn't it one of the very special perks of motherhood to receive sweet notes and gifts from these dear children? Moments like these are worth remembering and are what keeps me going on the mothering/homeschooling journey, especially when things get rough from time to time. :-)

  3. That magic ring is pretty awesome.


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