Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Music Education

One thing I have found surprising in our public elementary school is how little time is spent on music, art, and PE.  At our school, they rotate these subjects + computers every 3 weeks, 4x per week.  So they get to do one of these subjects every 3 months.  My daughter is finishing the music section and the teacher told them they would do a talent show so I got to go watch.  Only 3 out of close to 30 kids volunteered to participate and then when it was time, the teacher told them that they didn't have to do it, so one of the kids dropped out.  I was sitting there thinking, "why don't you encourage the kids to do something?  They need opportunities to perform in front of others!  They can do it."  So it was just my daughter and one other girl.  My daughter wanted to play her ukulele and when the other girl saw that, she didn't want to perform anymore because she didn't have an instrument, but I encouraged her, and my daughter was having a hard time tuning her instrument, so she went ahead.  I finally tuned the thing although I'm really bad at tuning ukuleles, I fianlly got it.  Anyway, the other girls sang some pop song, she did just fine.  I was glad that she had the courage to do it.  Then my daughter played and sang This Land is Your Land.  I was so proud of her.  It sounded really good, and I think the kids liked it.  It really is not difficult to play, there are only 3 chords in the song.  I wish all the kids could have the opportunity to do something like that.  They have been learning the guitar because the teacher said they were less expensive than the ukuleles, but they don't stay tuned, and there just really isn't enough time and the kids can't take the guitars home to practice. They also learned some self esteem song about how good they are to rock music.  It wasn't bad, but it did make me feel a lot better about the music education we've done at home.  I also will take my calling as primary chorister even more seriously-- it may be all the decent music some of these kids get at this age.

When my son had music, they learned the recorder.  He really liked it.  But wow, I think we as homeschoolers sometimes think they are doing so much at school and we may feel like we are failing because we can't do it all too.  The reality is that with 30 kids in a class and time limitations, they can't do a whole lot.  They spent at least 5 minutes getting everyone to be quiet and listen.  We have to do that too in homeschool too, but then we can spend more time with the kids and give them one on one instruction.  Anyway, this experience has been good for me too, to see what they are actually able to do in school.  It is worse than I thought in a lot of ways.  I wish the standards of excellence were higher.  But really, this just may be the best that can be done under this system.  Maybe we should be glad they get any music, art and PE.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Birding in Utah

Did you know that Utah is right in the path of many migratory birds?  One of our favorite things to do  this time of year is to go see the eagles.  They have a good roosting area around Farmington Bay, and I think this is the time to go.  We will probably miss that one this year, but we are going to check out the south side of Utah Lake since its close.  I was also happy to find this website full of info on all the birds and where to see them in the Utah:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Parent Teacher Conferences/ public school update

I went to my very first ever parent teacher conferences last week.  They both went well.  My 6th grade daughter's teacher had nothing but good to say about her.  She said that if all her students were like my daughter, teaching would be easy.  She participates, she helps in the classroom, she has taken a new student under her wing to show her around, she's very smart, catches onto things quickly and she is an amazing reader.  They have a battle of the books competition in March with about 20 books that the kids can read and then they'll answer questions about them in teams, and my daughter only has about 3-4 books left to read.  There are a lot of Newberry Award winners on the list and other pretty good books, so her teacher is impressed by that.  The only thing she could probably work on is handwriting and organization- she really is a lot like me-- organization has not been my forte either! 

My 4th grade son's teacher was also glowing in her report.  She said she is really glad to have him in her class, before he came there was only one other boy she could trust in the class, now she has 2.  I'm not sure how I feel about that-- good?? for my son.. but what's going on with those other boys?  Anyway, he's doing great in math, his writing ability is fine, he's slightly above reading level although with his stubborness it's hard to find books that will interest him-- she said she can help with that-- and he does seem to be reading more now.  He's one of the best at turning in his homework.  She said she can tell he's still trying to figure out the friend thing, but he does have a few friends.

Parent teacher conferences for my 8th grade daughter in middle school are in a couple weeks, but I expect to hear the same sorts of things.  She has straight As so far, except for math, there must be an assignment or test that she didn't take factored into her grade- her teacher is looking into it.  Anyway, she is really enjoying it, but also recognizing the disadvantages of it.  She really feels sorry for kids in her science and math classes who feel like they can't do it and have given up.  Math has not and still doesn't come easy to her, but she can do it with a lot of hard work, and she wishes those kids could have that opportunity also. 

So this whole experiment is turning out exactly as we'd hoped.  We hoped the kids would go to school, have their curiosity satisfied, be able to see for themselves the benefits of both public school and homeschool, gain confidence that they have learned and done what they needed to these past years of schooling.  Yay!!  I miss them, and I miss homeschooling them- especially the flexibility.  But I think they are learning valuable lessons in school that they couldn't get any other way.  It's all part of their overall education and preparing them for adulthood, and helping them make their own decisions and choices.  Phew!!  So far so good!!

My 4th grade son also got a glowing report. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Janeen Brady's Children's choir

My two older girls got to participate in a great choir last semester.  Janeen Brady wrote a bunch of music and songs I grew up with teaching values, safety, music and just fun-- you can check out her music at .  We use a lot of her songs in our own music time mostly for the younger kids and the older kids still enjoy the books and stories and the Safety Kids is a great way to teach safety.  Anyway,  when I found out she had a choir and my backyard neighbor's daughter was involved and we could carpool, it was set.  My oldest made the show choir, my younger daughter didn't make it, but did make the regular choir, there were a couple bumps with unexpected practices and performances, but it all worked out, and it looks like they have the kinks workd out for this semester.  My girls came home happy and excited every time they went, Janeen Brady's daughter did a fabulous job directing the choir and the girls really learned a lot. They gave 8 performances at various places and the music was beautiful and the kids did wonderfully.  They even got to make a CD at the end which my girls thought was pretty cool.  They gave all the kids opportunities to sing solos switching off at various performances, and my younger daughter got picked to do her solo part on the CD.  The choir was very professional.  My girls learned a lot about singing and performing and they made some good friends.  Their performances were very enjoyable and made me proud.

Alas, all things must come to an end.  The choir practices are about 30 min. away and with the 3 older ones in public school most the day, my husband and I feel like we need that time to be at home, practice the piano, do chores and spend time with each other.  Hopefully all my kids will get to participate again in the future.  Thanks to the choir!  If you live anywhere near Sandy Ut. I highly recommend it!