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Education Reporter

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Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers — and How You Can Too. Dr. Soo Kim Abboud and Jane Kim, the Penguin Group, 2005, 209 pp., $13.00.

Two daughters of Korean immigrants, a surgeon and a lawyer, discuss 17 "secrets" they learned from their parents which they credit with their academic success and career choices. From "instill a sense of family pride and loyalty" to "help your child view America as a great land of opportunity," these secrets are highlighted with examples from the Kim household and other families.

A recurring theme in several of these "secrets" is parental involvement. When parents take an active role in their child's education and accept responsibility for their children's education, they create an environment that allows boys and girls to succeed. If they monitor children's progress and work as a team with teachers, children will learn to value education and see their parents as a valuable educational resource.

If you think all of the tips will create a two-dimensional study robot, Dr. Abboud and Miss Kim also include advice to develop the child's individual talents and cultivate a love of learning. In addition to schoolwork, they suggest that children be involved in no more than three extracurriculars, ideally including at least one sport. In a competitive environment, children will become more physically fit, have a healthy outlet to relieve stress, and also learn virtues such as teamwork and being a good sport.

This book talks about more than the academic side of raising children. The authors suggest that parents emphasize delayed gratification and sacrifice, and stress family achievement over individual successes. Although our current culture promotes instant gratification, Dr. Abboud and Miss Kim say that rewards achieved over many years by the family team can be far more rewarding. In addition, the family unit provides a support system and sense of accountability in working toward worthy goals.

The authors also suggest that parents cultivate a respect for elders and for authority. This can help children to value sacrifice, obedience, and humility.

If parents implement the ideas in this book, there is no guarantee that their children will be perfect, but the suggestions and lifetime experiences of Dr. Abboud and Miss Kim will help to stake out common sense guidelines to equip children to become successful, responsible, hardworking adults.

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