Monday, October 31, 2011

How Times Have Changed

I posted several days ago about my early school memories, and had a comment about how funny it was that my first grade teacher was shocked I could read, that nowadays kids are supposed to read in K4 or Kindergarten at the earliest.

What's REALLY funny is when I was a kid...and I am showing my age here, I had half day Kindergarten.  And as far as I know, Kindergarten was OPTIONAL at that time.  *GASP*
The only thing I remember about Kindergarten was coloring, cookies and milk, and maybe counting and adding.

The reading, I learned at home.  My mother was always great about reading bedtime stories.  Every night, until I was about 10 or so, I got a bedtime story. We also had tons of books.  Wow.  No 'reading curriculum', no tests...just 'Look, here's a book!  Let's see what it says!"


Today, moms are pressured to put their babies in preschool when they are two years old.  So they won't get 'behind'. Funny, I didn't spend a full day in school until I was 6 years old and I was advanced. Hmm.

We studied crows for our Poe unit studies.  Crows and ravens are one of the most intelligent creatures in nature, right up there with chimps.  They are amazing problem solvers.  And scientists believe that is partly due to the amount of time the mother crow or raven spends with her offspring.  She spends years with her babies, nurturing them.  The scientists found when the offspring are not having to form neural pathways dedicated solely to survival, it 'frees up' the brain to form pathways for other skills like problem solving, etc.


Of course, I am remembering a time when it was socially acceptable for moms to just stay home with their kids.  Mention that you are a stay at home mom today and you get The Look, the one that says "Hmmm...she must be crazy to not have any ambition to be anything else.  Poor thing."   Schools today, particularly K4 in public schools, are largely used as free babysitting...even when the mom is a stay at home mom. 

There is something just sad to me when I hear moms say things about their children like 'I don't see how you can homeschool-I couldn't stand to be around my kids all day!'  Or, ' I need that 7 hours away from my kids.'  Wow.  I happen to think my kids are some pretty cool little people, and I feel blessed to spend my time with them.  Don't get me afternoon every so often on my own is wonderful.  But I can't imagine feeling actual despair over having my kids home for a week during a school holiday or Heaven forbid...Summer Vacation! 

So, there you have it.  I am decidely old enough to remember the Good Old Days.  Days when kids had the option of Kindergarten and stay at home moms were unapologetic about being such.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Field Trip: County Landfill

Yesterday our homeschool group went on a field trip to the county landfill.  I know!  Who would think of that! But it turned out to be a very educational and interesting field trip, indeed!
First we had a lesson explaining how the landfill was constructed (no, it is not just a huge hole in the ground, but a carefully and scientifically planned construction.  I believe the term reverse osmosis was used at some point.  As well as leachate.)

Then we were allowed to caravan through the landfill.  These pictures were taken by my nine year old.  Forgive her for not holding the camera straight or steadily.

So...where's the trash you ask?  Why, under all those rolling green hills, of course.  I mean, if you didn't know any better that would look like a great place for a picnic.

The actual area where the trash was visible was very small in proportion to the area of land we drove through. 

We then reached the generator where the methane gas is piped in and converted to electricity.

All of the inner workings of the generator were visible behind glass.

Here's the computer monitor showing all the stats on the gas.  

But the hit of the field trip were the boulders that had been excavated to build the landfill.  This part of our state was once under the ocean, 38,000,000 years ago.  The boulders held all sorts of fossils of sea critters and shells.

And they were great fun climbing on.

Even for the moms....who then needed assistance with getting off the boulders from a few gallant homeschooled teenaged boys.

I was so impressed with how clean everything was.  Even the main entrance was lovely with landscaping and a winding drive.

If you can, try planning a field trip to your county's landfill!  I hope it will be as interesting as our trip was!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dressed for Success

I subscribe to Alpha Omega's newsletters via email, and they are always inspirational to me.  The other day I received one about being 'dressed for success', and boy...was I convicted!

The author suggested that homeschooling moms should try to dress nicely everyday.  Not 'dressy', but a nice blouse, slacks or a skirt, etc.  In other words...quit just throwing your hair into a pony tail and slopping around in those baggy sweats!

I'm like you.  Who cares?  Who is going to see me if we stay home all day?  What difference does it make if I look nice or like a slob?

Then I read futher.

She posed the question, what would you do if your child went to school...or for that matter if *you* were in school...and the teacher showed up everyday in baggy sweatpants and a ponytail?  Would you take them seriously?  Would you trust them to teach you the serious subjects?

Ouch.  That stung.  She really had a point...and boy did I feel it!

Just so you know, today I am wearing nice jeans, a 3/4 sleeve top, and I have make up on.  Oh, and my hair is fixed.  So when we go on our field trip to the county landfill this afternoon I can be taken seriously.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brains! More Brains!

 Studying brains for our "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" unit.   Who knew brains could be fun?  We made brain 'hats' from this site

 Check out my daughter's medulla oblongata.  Awesome, no?  (quick-name the movie in which "Medulla Oblongata" was featured in a free form poem by John Goodman.  You will get 1,000,000 cool points!)

And of course, strawberry jello brains, courtesy of a dear friend who had these molds and was kind enough to share them.

We also played brain 'games' from this site

We learned what each lobe of the brain controls, as well as how each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body.

(PS- my daughter declared this her 'Thinking Cap'.  I found that highly amusing.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Early Memories of School

First Grade-

 I was the 'new kid', having been transplanted by the Air Force from Tyndall AFB in Florida to Midwest City, OK.  Culture shock?  Well...when you are used to being within walking distance of the beach and now you are in Cowboy Country..yeah.  Even more so...going from living in an Air Force community to a big city suburb.

I was really, really shy.  I don't remember any friends that year.  Recess consisted of me going out to the playground and sitting on the edge of the 'blacktop', drawing designs in the dirt until the bell rang.  Until I noticed all the readers lined up in the bookcases against the right wall of the class room.  My teacher started letting me stay in at recess and sit quietly, reading books. 

God bless that woman.

It was wonderful.  I would read book after book in the peaceful, empty classroom.  I remember sitting in a warm ray of sunlight at my desk one day, and for some reason, I chose to read the text out loud to myself.  I think I remember making up conversational tone.

I didn't know the teacher was in the room at the time.

"Bring your book and come with me!" she said. 

Dutifully I brought my reader and held her hand as we walked to the principal's office.  Am I in trouble?  What did I do wrong?

My teacher whispered a few quiet sentences to the principal, and he looked at me, smiled, and told me to come sit on his lap and read that book to him.  I remember climbing up on his lap and being a little terrified..I mean, this was the Big Guy who saw you when you misbehaved...who without a doubt had a paddle somewhere.

He told me he was so proud of me that I could read and patted me on the head and sent me back to class.  Later, my mom told me the school called her at home and excitedly announced that I knew how to READ! My mom was like, "....and?  This is not news to me!"

Second Grade-

Moved again to Middle Georgia.  Still, very shy, very quiet.  My teacher was Mrs. Lanier.  She was no nonsense and had no warm fuzzies about her at all. 

I remember having to read stories and answer comprehension questions afterward.  Then we had a sheet that we had to list words that we did not know.  I remember leaving that little section blank everytime, because there were never any words I didn't know.  I remember thinking how dumb that was when all the words were so obviously easy.

She calls me to her desk, a little irritated. "YOU aren't following directions.  Where are your words?  Go sit down and write down your words."  I was too intimidated to tell her I knew all those words.  But, being the compliant kid, I went back to my desk.  What was I supposed to do?  I was confused.  So I just picked random words from the story and wrote them down, and turned it back in.

She called me back to her desk.

"You don't know THIS word?   And THIS one?  Really?  Where have you been?  This is unacceptable.  Go sit down."

I remember my face burning with shame.  Everyone in the class heard and saw the whole thing.  Did they think I was a dumb kid?

The difference between the two teachers, when I look back, is so obvious. 

But as a kid, I thought I had gone from being a pretty smart, great reading kid to a confused, not-so-smart kid.  I thought it was *me*.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Do Bloggers Blog?

I have had a thought presented to me recently that has really made me think.

 I love thoughts that make me think.  

"Why do bloggers blog?"

Do we think our lives are really all that interesting?  Is it to make us feel more important?  Is it a way to 'scrapbook'  our ideas and projects?  Is it a form of therapy?  Is it a way to keep in touch with family who live far away?

As a homeschool mom, some of my best inspritations have come from other homeschooling blogs.  Ideas for projects, field trips, curriculum, etc.  So I document our experiences with the thought of "Maybe someone will find some inspiration here too!"  Do I think my ideas are awesome?  No.  But I will bet that the other mommy bloggers don't think their ideas are the best out there either. Or maybe they do.  Either way, if *I* found it interesting...who cares about their motivation for posting?

Another reason I like to blog about our little humdrum lives is that one day, these humdrum days will be fondly remembered as the 'good old days' and I will have a laugh reading over our experiences. 

Would I ever post anything that I would be embarrassed for anyone to read?  Absolutely not.  One day my kids will be on the WORLD WIDE WEB and they will see this blog.  I would hate for them to read it and  I wish I didn't know *that* about my mom. :)  Everything I post is intended for anyone to read.  So, this really isn't a 'diary' for me in the sense that my deepest, darkest, most private thoughts are revealed.   I am sure there are people who do that.  And it's their right and perogative to do so.  Just not my 'thang'.

Is it a form of therapy?  Yep. It is.

Do I feel any more important because I have a blog? Nope.  I am actually amazed anyone would read anything I have to say.  If someone does read it...great.  If not....that's okay too.  I love living in a country with freedom of speech.  If I lived in another part of the world, having a blog would be dangerous, illegal.  God bless the USA that I get to post about nonsense! :)

And I have always wanted to be a writer.  I get to 'play' writer on here. It's fun.

There  you go.  That's why I blog.

That is...if anyone actually read this post. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween Themed Unit #3- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Really...I could go on and on with all the ideas for spooky literature units!  One month is not long enough to cover them all.  I guess that leaves me fodder for next year.

We have comprehension questions from here: 

We will do an author study on Washington Irving.

We will also have vocabulary words taken from the story, compare and contrast of characters,  and our art will be a chalk sketch on black paper of  the headless horseman or a scene from the story.

For science will talk about the head and neck and the nervous system. I have found some cute crafty ideas here:  and here:   LOVE the brain hats.  And the egg carton spinal column! And we have some fun brain, memory and reflex activites here : and here:

As a finale, Netflix has a version of this story on film that is not to scary.  Popcorn and movies always make a fun day of school. :)

I am glad to report our Tell Tale Heart unit went swimmingly well!  We concluded our study with a videotaped 'interview' of the madman from the story (my son) by a news anchor (my daughter).  We watched it on TV when daddy came home and it was quite entertaining, to say the least!

I hope to continue the literature units after the holidays as well.  This has been so much fun for all of us, and we have learned so much along the way.  Any suggestions of novels that would be a good fit for a unit study?

Next up: ' The Highwayman'  by Alfred Noyes.  I can't wait!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Day Alanis Morrisette Taught My Kids Language Arts

Talked about irony in the "Tell-Tale Heart".  What better explanation of irony than the Alanis Morrisette song, "Ironic"?

We watched the video on YouTube for her video.

I love that song. 

Thanks, Alanis!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Biggest Homeschooling Mistake

Over at the blog Simple Homeschool   they have been running a series  in which contributors have been sharing their biggest homeschooling mistake.  It's made me contemplate my own journey, and what I would consider my biggest homeschooling mistake.

This may not be the BIGGEST mistake, but it's the one that rolls around in my head when I ponder this topic...

Trying to make homeschooling just like traditional school.

When I started homeschooling, one of my goals was to always have some sort of hands on activities for all subjects, because when my children were in public school there was such a lack of time for them to have the hands on experiences. 

Then, as always, the doubts start whispering in my ear...

(Is this what they would be doing in public school?  How do they compare?  Shouldn't we be doing more pencil and paper work?  Are they getting behind?  WILL THIS BE ON THE TEST?! )

Sometimes I would listen to those doubts and spend lots of money to frantically change up the curriculum to a more stringent format, where everyone is taking notes and documenting everything and writing reports on everything.  Totally sucked the fun right out of school.  I could tell the kids were just going through the motions...and I wanted better than that!  The whole reason I homeschool is so my children will *love* learning!  I wanted their lives to be richer.  And frankly, all that dry stuff actually impeded the learning process.  When I would notice the symptoms- the begging to have a day off of school, the lack of retention when quizzed on topics, the general bad attitudes about learning and school and such....I would realize it was time to get back to the basics of why I chose to homeschool in the first place.

You would think that after the first few times of listening to those doubts, I would learn to just not listen.  Wrong.  I fall into that trap now and again. 

Lately we have been having a blast with our unit studies on the works of Poe, the field trips, the hands on math activities.  I feel confident and am amazed at the capability of my children to learn from all sorts of experiences-not just from books.

I hope those doubts stay away for a long while.  And I remain thankful that I chose this homeschooling journey because it *is* flexible and we *can* change it around when something doesn't work for us!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

THOSE Are Pleasures of the Flesh Too? Dang.

I can't wait to see what crazy Google searches my stats reveal for this post.

Trust me....this will be G-Rated.

When you hear the term 'pleasures of the flesh', the first thought that comes to mind is...yeah.  You know. 

One reason I get up at the hour I do, (6:30 a.m.), is to have some quiet time before I start the day.  I can quietly finish chores, browse the computer, sip coffee in silence.  Lots of times I use that quiet time to contemplate the day.  Quite often I hear little God-whispers along the way.

This morning, if you could have read my thoughts, it would have been something like this:

Ugh, 6:30...I just want to lay here.

(Get up and get a shower.  You will be glad to have your quiet time today)

Laundry needs folding.  Ugh.

(Do it.  Laziness is a 'pleasure of the flesh')

Back up the bus! Laziness is a pleasure of the flesh?  Nah, that phrase means...well, something else.

(Nope.  Any thing that brings pleasure to yourself is a pleasure of the flesh.  Same goes for eating too much and drinking too much.  Feeling sorry for yourself.  And loafing around too.)

*blink* Dang.  I think you're right!

(Of course I am right.  I'm God.)

Wow.  I get it.   If I am too busy doing all these things...I won't have time to do what is required, what I need to do to serve You.  I am wasting what little time I have in life making myself comfortable.  There is too much to be done!

(Glad you 'Got It'.  I'll let you sleep in in Heaven.  Now, get busy.)

After this little convo with God, I had a new reason to get busy, fold that laundry, and bake those muffins.  And blog about it.  Which is probably a waste of time too, but hey...I'm only human.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rekindling That Old Flame Named...Crocheting

I haven't crocheted in years...until I saw this pattern...and I knew I had to try it out.

Totally cute and super easy!  Now my daughter has been practicing her stitches in all of her free time. 

I used to love crocheting.  Back in the day when I was younger and all of my friends were of the baby producing age, I crocheted countless booties, blankets, sweaters.  It was Zen-like...I could zone out for an hour or two (or three) and contemplate my thoughts in time with the under-over, in-out of the hook in the plush, colorful yarn. 

I'm excited my girl wants to take this hobby up!  I was even more excited when she shared that she would like to make hats and scarves for the homeless or children who have lost their hair due to cancer.

Who wants to join me?  I encourage all of you crafters out there to start thinking of the Holiday season and use the talents God gave you to show warmth and compassion for others.  Doing something you love for those who need's a win-win situation!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Apples

Chalk pastel fall apples...

Friday Ramblings

The children acted out Poe's "The Raven" for Daddy last night.  They did a fabulous job!  If you have never had your children act out their latest chapter in history, a poem, or a work of fiction (heck, even science could work!), try it today!  Usually I video tape their theatrics...however, I was the narrator on this one and I wanted Daddy to be fully present in the moment, so we just have our memories.

We also found this movie on Netflix,

Awesome addition to our raven and crow study!  Did you know the collective noun for crows was a 'murder of crows'?  Side note- the collective noun for baboons is a 'congress of baboons'.  Snicker.

Saw this tutorial on drawing apples or pumpkins with chalk pastels

I actually bought some chalk pastels over the summer, and this is the perfect introduction to using them!

Last night was the first night in...well, too long,...that we had Family Game Night.  After a walk in the gorgeous Fall weather we came home to a rousing game of Rummykub.  Haven't played it yet?  Great game for math and logic and just plain ole fun!  They need a 12-Step program for it, that's how addicted we were.

This weekend is the local arts-crafts fair, Mossy Creek Barnyard Festival.  I can't wait!  We haven't been in years because the Georgia National Fair is always the same week...but I think the kiddos are 'burnt out' on the fair and were excited to have a change of 'scenery'.

What fun Fall things have you and your family enjoyed?  Please share!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Festival or Trick or Treat? I am old fashioned.  I love to hang out my laundry on a sunny day.  I love to bake bread and cut my own grass and think children should be seen and not heard.  (Just kidding on the last one!)

Can I just vent a little about the ever growing trend of "Fall Festivals"?  Or Trunk or Treat, or what ever you want to call it. 

Fall Festivals are ruining trick or treating for the rest of us.  I fail to see the logic of  "Oh, well, we will have this Fall Festival for a Christian alternative to trick or treating!"  I mean...let's face it.  Trick or treating ain't about nothing except the candy.  And the fun of running around your neighborhood in the dark while dressed like someone else.  Unless you routinely run around your neighborhood dressed like someone else, in the dark....but hey, more power to ya. ;) 

Fall Festivals are taking the kids out of their community on a night that usually brings a community together.  It takes the moms and dads that usually hand out the candy out of the community.

And trunk or treat has NO appeal to me what so ever.  Really-I could walk my kids down the candy aisle at Wal Mart and have the same experience.  There's no heart in it.  No excitement.  I mean, yeah, lots of candy,'s not the same.

It's kind of like the way houses have changed...used to be every house had a front porch.  That was the 'social media' back in the day.  You saw your neighbors, your neighbors kids, the mailman, all while sitting on the front porch.  You waved to people you saw on the street.  They would stop to chat.  You got to know the people that lived and worked and played around you.

Then houses started losing the front porch in favor of the back patio. Where you don't have to look at or wave at anyone.  You can be cocooned  away from your neighbors and community.  Why did we do that? 

As for me and my crew....we will trick or treat.  Even if only five families are home that night.  Even if we get ten pieces of candy.

Because I think I had it all wrong when I said trick or treating is all about the candy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Halloween Menu: Monster Eyes and Witch Fingers

Monster Eyes:

Jumbo shell pasta, boiled according to package
ricotta cheese
sliced black olives

Pour 1/4 c sauce into bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Arrange the shell pasta in the pan.  Fill each with 1tsp ricotta, then stuff with 1 meatball in each, topping each meatball with an olive slice.  Pour marinara over all, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until heated through.

Witch Fingers

Canned breadstick dough
sliced almonds
green food color
parmesan cheese and garlic salt

Cut each strip of dough into 'finger' sized strips.  Twist until knobby and lay on prepared sheet pan.  Press one almond slice on the tip of each 'finger', then brush the almond with green food color mixed with a tad bit of water.  Sprinkle with garlic and cheese and bake according to directions on breadstick package.

Great for sopping up the monster blood.  :P

Monday, October 10, 2011

Poe Unit Study 2: The Tell Tale Heart

We have started on the "Raven" unit study today and I was given a two thumbs up from the kiddos!  We will continue it tomorrow and carry it through the week.

The video biography was excellent.  If you have a chance, I recommend you watch it.  I never knew all of the hardships Mr. Poe faced in his short life. Really gives perspective on his writing.

Next week we will be using "The Tell-Tale Heart"  as our topic of study!

First, we will read the Great Illustrated Classics version of the story-mainly because it is so much easier to read than the original. 

Then I have vocab words from here :    This site also has comprehension questions for this story.  We will also discuss irony, as it is so obvious in this tale.

And then it's all about the heart, blood and circulatory system, with blood typing information here:

Heart info here:

We will read about the heart and circulatory system from our Usbourne Science Encyclopedia,
and for the finale...
make a heart model out of soda bottles !

I may go to the supermarket and see if the butcher has a beef heart I can buy to dissect. Yes-I am that kind of mom.  :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Inspiration: Edgar Allan Poe Unit Studies

I love Halloween!  It's my favorite holiday of them all.

As of late I feel like I have not made school as fun as it could be.  But after hearing of a fellow homeschooling mom's "Dracula" unit study she concocted for her kids...I had sudden inspiration.

Hence, the Edgar Allan Poe Unit Study.

First up-"The Raven".

We will watch this video biography online:

Then we will read the poem the Raven...both the origional and the version that I translated into Modern English.  I am thinking this will be done by candle light!  As tomorrow will be a rainy, dreary will nice and mildly spooky.

We will fill out a poetry response worksheet from here:

We will discuss the instances of alliteration, rhyme, asonance, etc.

For science we will do a lapbook on crows and ravens, compare/contrast the two, study habitats as well as study instances or ravens in mythology.

I have a list of interesting facts about crows and ravens from National Geographics website as well as from here:

At the end, I will narrate the poem while the children act out the action of the poem.

Tomorrow I will post part two of the Poe Unit Study...The Tell-Tale Heart!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm Not That Kind of Girl!

You  know...the one who likes to stay out late, until wee hours of the morning? Nope. Not that kind of girl.

The one who will go into a 'haunted house' and come out on the other side, laughing and having a great time with it?  Oh no. No. Never.

The one who goes camping in a tent for three days with no running water? Nope.  Not that kind of girl.

The one who loves to host big slumber parties for her kids? Not even close.  One kid at a time, please.

The one who is away from home every day of the week? Uh-uh.  I am a homebody.  One or two days a week is all I can handle.

The one who can organize this event and research that event and keep it all organized?  I'm not even pretending to be that girl.

The one who can 'just say no' to any one asking a favor?  Can't do it.

The one who goes on huge shopping sprees?  Nope.  The mall gives me hives.  As does Wal Mart.  As does spending large amounts of money.

The one who signs her kid up for every club, sport, field trip, class...I just can't.  I would LOVE to be that mom.  Really.  It's just not *me*.

The mom who will sit and play Barbies with her daughter for hours on end?  Oh goodness.  Soooo not me.  I'd rather go out and play ball.

You know...admitting your short-comings is actually pretty cathartic. 

Now you all know-I'm not that kind of girl.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

High School Culture

I watched an episode of Dr Phil last evening that discussed education choices: traditional, homeschooling, unschooling.  Okay-I confess...I watched the last 20 minutes of the show.  But the last guest was a young lady (26 years old) who was a former homeschooler who has made it her life's mission to speak out against homeschooling and to tell her story of why she hated it and wished she never had been homeschooled.  She said she felt like a 'social retard' and attributed it to homeschooling.

When asked what she felt like she missed out on, her reply (paraphrased) was something like this:

"I hear people talking about football games, the prom, cheerleading tryouts.   I feel like I don't have anything to talk about in these conversations.  I don't 'fit in'. I wish I would have had the opportunity to do those things."

Okay...first of all, if you are 26, and you are hanging out with people still talking about prom and football games, either your friends are way too young or you hang out with a bunch of high school has-beens.  I went to 3 offense to any of my dates, but they were not that spectacular.  Football games were fun. But when I was 26, I don't believe I reminisced about them to that extent.  Never tried out for cheerleading in high school. 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for this young lady and her friends, but if high school was the BEST time of your life...that means everything that happens after is chopped liver.  Did I have some fun times in high school?  Absolutely!  Was it the BEST time of my life?  Absolutely not.

Seems today there is this huge culture centered around high school...High School Musical, iCarly...every where you turn, youth are being whammied with how much Fun and how Exciting high school is.  You hang out with your Cool Friends and Goof Off everyday.  You get into Hijinks and Adventures with your Cool Friends, so much so you may even break into a song and dance in the middle of PE class.


Are the youth of America really supposed to believe that?  Heck, I *went* to public high school, I  feel gypped because I wasn't experiencing all the glitter and hype!

The young lady who feels like she was missing out, when asked what activities she participated in, mentioned that she was very active in her church.

While I love church activities, I do see where she missed out if that is the only social outlet she had.  There are so many options for homeschoolers to get out and mingle with others. 

But through this whole discussion, I keep thinking back to the 'Old Days'.  Did George Washington feel left out because he didn't go to football games?  Did Thomas Jefferson pine away because he didn't go to the prom?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Say You About Music Lessons?

My kids have been taking piano lessons for about 5 years now.  The first years the teachers were 'so-so'...but now they have a fabulous teacher (who also was my music teacher when I was an elemetary student, a century ago).  She really is a fabulous teacher-my kids now can really play 'music'-not just peck out the notes, but they know the subtlety and nuance of real music.  She teaches a well rounded music education as well...some days when she sees they need work on rhythm, she will bring out the drums and tambourines and triangles and lets them use those. 

Honestly, my daughter has amazing musical talent.  My son...well, it really helps with his fine motor skills.  And he plays rather nicely.

However, every year I develop a Love-Hate relationship with piano lessons.

LOVE-  That the kids are getting a well rounded music education.

HATE-  That the lessons are 1 hour each kid and that's 2 hours out of our scheduled day.  2 hours!  I can teach 3 subjects in two hours!

LOVE-  That my kids have the opportunity to have private music instruction.

HATE-  What it costs.  Especially on days when they say they don't feel like practicing.  I'm all like "I am not paying this money if you don't want to do this!"  But then I do.  And the next day they act like they love it again.

And getting them to practice the allotted time.  Oh. My.  This year it is 45 minutes a day.   45 minutes is not a long time when you are doing something you want to do...but it feels like 45 DAYS when it is something as monotonous as playing the same 3 songs over and over.

So I argue with myself...

Should I keep them in piano lessons?  If they were in public school, they would have music lessons whether they wanted to or not.  So, should I even give them an option?

Then I hear adults who took music lessons as children who rue the day their parents got tired of dealing with it and ended the lessons.  They have regret to this day that they didn't continue.  I regret that I never learned an instrument as a child.  Will my kids regret it if we end piano lessons?

And let me just say...they love the lessons.  They just whine about practice.  So part of me (the German-military part of me) thinks that enduring practice will be a character building experience and that to cave in to their whining is the last thing I should do.

What say you?  Did you have music lessons as a child?  Do you regret not continuing?  Should I stop whining?  Chime in, please!