Monday, September 22, 2008

To Buy Or Not To Buy... That Is The Question

To buy or not to buy... that is the question. I don't even want to know how much money I've actually spent over these 12 years of parenting on educational supplies. I'm a compulsive book buyer. We have flash cards, we have CD-Roms, we have workbooks and board games... not a whole lot of it has proven to raise my kids' grades signifigantly. So, when a telemarketer called me this morning to guilt me into try to sell me a CD-ROM system that supposedly raises your child's IQ by at least 30 points and brings them up 2 letter grades, I was both intrigued and skeptical. I had already spent an insane amount of money on something similiar just this summer. I had been planning on going to Sylvan, but this program was less expensive and we could use it in the comfort of our own home (Sylvan is a 40 minute drive away a few times a week after all.) I figured if it didn't work out we could always resort to Sylvan after we tried this other program. Well, school is now in session and we never did go to Sylvan. That isn't to say that the other program was so amazing that we didn't need to. I just didn't feel like it would work motivated to try yet another thing after so many other things hadn't gotten results.

Each Friday all the kids bring home progress reports and a certain someone continues to decorate his progress reports with a certain letter that starts the words Flaky and Fragile and Fail. I have NO idea what to do about this. I've tried SO hard. I read to him diligently from birth on. He grew up watching Sesame Street and Between The Lions and Magic School Bus. Like I said, we've invested in just about every educational product that we came across, especially the ones that are supposed to "trick" you into learning by making it into something fun (like a computer game.) Even my shower curtain is a giant world map (you never know what you might subconciously learn while in the bathroom after all.) I have FOUR kids and I've parented them all the same. They all have access to the same books & products & discipline. Yet, they all have different strengths and weaknesses. I have one kid pulling in straight A+'s and complaining he's bored and another that has such poor grades that we celebrate when he gets C's. Speaking of celebrating, we've also tried a variety of reward & incentive programs. None of them seemed to be rewarding enough / effective.

So... when the phone rang and this gentleman (who was a fabulous salesman, BTW) worked to convince me that I would be a horrible mother if I didn't give him a debit card number so that my kids could become genius rocket scientists that win the Nobel Prize,I didn't know what to think or feel. What do you think, educated reader? Haven't I spent enough moolah over the years in this department? If the school can't get him to learn and all these other products can't get through to him either... why should this one be any different? Or... maybe, just maybe I SHOULD get it. Maybe I should sell a kidney or something so that I can afford to hire the world's best tutors and buy every educational CD-ROM in the english language and a couple of french & spanish ones for good measure? What would you do?


  1. Oohh, my first instinct is to say no. If many similar products have not had any effect, maybe finding a different way, more hands on(you've probably already had this advice, but I'll still throw it out there.) or something way to teach said child would be better.

    Having trouble with fractions? Well, can he read a tape measure? It's all fractions. You know, what is he interested in and make it relate to his school work. Tough, but you sound completely capable!

  2. As you know, I have had similar issues with one of my children. My personal take is that a program that has to add to the work load (even if it is games, or whatever) cannot possibly be that effective for a child who already struggles to learn.

    My best success has come through focusing on what the teacher wants, and finding ways (or compromises) that will help manage the task at hand. Whether it's going in to work in the classroom, eliminating some busy work so that more important things don't get left undone, we're managing to hang in there and continue moving forward.

    Helping them feel some success seems to be a huge part of it too.

    I wouldn't buy the program.

  3. This is seriously a dilemma. If you actually use it, then go for it. If it sits on your shelf, then it might be a not so smart move (maybe you want to try listening to the CD ROM yourself?).

    All in all, you are the best mommy ever. We all love you, trust your gut.

    I'll post a picture of my hair tomorrow!