My husband and son decorated cookies for me for Mother’s Day, plus they each wrote me a note.  This is what my son wrote:


Thank you for teaching me English every morning.

(It’s in Japanese rather than English probably because he was doing it with his dad.)

I asked him if he really meant it, or if his dad told him to write that.  He said that he meant it from his heart.

So yeah, I think he really does appreciate our morning English lessons together.  I think he realizes it gives him an edge up on other kids.  It is not that he LOVES doing it, but he does recognize its value.

So, on the topic of Mama Obama English Time, I’ll answer a few questions:

1.)  Why do you call it Mama Obama English Time?  That’s because Obama’s mom did the same thing while they were in Indonesia, waking up early to do his studies.  He attended a regular Indonedian school.  Plus, it rhymes.

2.)  How do you find the time to do it?  Well, first off we go to sleep early and wake up very early.  I’m up at 5:00 and my son is up at 5:30, usually.  (So is my husband.)  When discussing bedtimes on Parents’ Day at elementary school, my son had the earliest bedtime–9:00.  We don’t watch exciting TV just before bedtime or anything like that.  In elementary school, we had a bedtime routine of stories and books.

Second, and I will probably make some moms jealous, but my husband makes the breakfast.  He enjoys cooking and fiddling around in the kitchen.  So while he is doing that, we are doing English time.

3.)   How do you force your son to do it?  Doesn’t he want to not do it?  I am too lenient with my son, but my husband can be quite strict.  My son has to do the morning English time or face the Wrath of Dad.  So basically, my son has to do it.  No choice about it.

However, I get a feel of how tired he is so I don’t push him.  KWIM?  I’m not like, “Dammit, you’re gonna finish this page if it kills you!”  Not at all.  If my son says”Let’s stop here.”  Then we stop there.  I’ll try to move on to something else, and usually my son is agreeable.

I don’t fret about his handwriting.  I see other kids’ writing on the internet and their writing is so beautiful….well, that’s not my son.  And it’s not me either.  I got a D in handwriting in first grade!  But when I HAVE to, I can print well, and so can my son.   His handwriting for me is positively atrocious, and for his jhs English class, it is quite lovely.

Sometimes, I don’t make him write it at all.  I’ll let him tell me the answer verbally if I think it’s just unnecessary writing. Plus, I have stayed away from workbooks with dumb busy writing exercises.

4.)  Do you do it every day?  Yeah, pretty much.  Life happens sometimes, but it is rare we don’t do it.  We did it while we were evacuated and my husband wasn’t there to force my son to do it.  Yay, me.  We do NOT do it while on vacation at either Grandma’s or Baba’s.  I can’t be bothered with packing all our materials, plus we are just not in the mood.

The English time is not perfect.  I wish we did more reading and more writing (essay, story, etc.).  I’m thinking about bribing my son to read more. But time, and more importantly my son’s energy, is limited.  So we do what we can.

I hope this helps people out there to see what I do.   Try to do it according to YOUR schedule and YOUR child.  Every home is different.  I read Adventures of a Chiba Mom faithfully and she had her sons go to cram school (Kumon, I think) to get extra English lessons. And that worked for them.  So everybody is different, and find what works for you.

Editted:  I wrote cram school, but Chiba Mom left me a note that Kumon is NOT a cram school.  I personally don’t know much about the different schools, so I made a mistake.  I know Kumon has an EXCELLENT reputation.  I’m really glad that she writes about her sons going there, because it would never have occurred  to me to send my son to Kumon for English.  And so maybe other people can learn and figure out what they want to do in regards to their children’s education.