Nobody prepared me for the frustration of tutoring a 5-year-old

Published November 10, 2018, 12:10 PM

by Jayvee Fernandez

I feel like I’ve navigated through stage one of the parenting race and now that my son is learning how to read and write, stage two can get really frustrating.

I’m tired from work. So is my wife. My eldest is entering grade 1 soon and you know what that means — play school will slowly turn into structured education. Now we have to deal with academics and it all begins with the frustrations of learning how to read and write. I remember when I was a kid, my mom quit her job to tutor me until I was in late grade school. It was very didactic, filled with memorizing facts. Wash, rise, repeat. That was how it was, really. I wonder now how frustrated she felt. She probably was, as she had to learn grade school all over again. And now it’s happening to me.

When my son was born, my patience was tested in the form of long nights of crying. It was physical exhaustion, coupled with emotional frustration that all new parents go through. Now that my son is learning how to read and write, my patience is being tested yet again. Sometimes he just doesn’t get it. Most of the time, he’s distracted but I also have to own up to the fact that my frustrations get transferred to him, and it really doesn’t make learning any fun.

I’m well aware that all children are special. Given his developmental milestones, he’s quite okay — but man, the frustration of having to teach after a long day at school. It isn’t just play anymore. It’s entering his world of school (again) with flashbacks from how you were back in the day. I’m excited for him, but I’m also nervous because my eldest is my figurative heart on my sleeve. I feel the pain when he gets frustrated if he doesn’t get his vowels or words right.

“But you know this already,” I keep repeating. Yes, I know he’s only 5, but these are the things parents feel and it’s not something that is discussed in new parenting circles.

My friends with older kids tell me that it will just come naturally after a while — just like talking, and I do believe so. But what I’m feeling now is new, I have to admit. It feels like the world is finally pushing back because my son is, for the first time, being subjected to its standards.