Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lotsa great stuff going on around here. We're in the middle of another competition. This one's in Long Island. It's one of the biggest and best there is - 26 different studios and 544 numbers. 4 of J's groups went today and they were unbelievable! The 3 highest awards to receive at this one are Gold, High Gold, and Platinum:

Small Group Lyrical Age 11 - Platinum Award, 1st Place in category, and 2nd place overall for small groups (all categories ages 9-12)

Small Group Jazz Age 11 - Platinum Award, 1st Place in category, and 3rd place overall for small groups (all categories, ages 9-12)

Small Group Tap Age 11 - High Gold

Large Group Jazz Age 12 (11 yr olds and 14 yr olds together) - Platinum Award, 1st place in category, 1st Place overall for Large Groups (all categories ages 9-12)

This is the best they've done all season and needless to say the whole studio is thrilled beyond belief. Tomorrow she'll do her 2 dance solos and whole company tap production number. I love the way this competition is set up. There's plenty of time between numbers to change, lots of downtime, and we're done early.

Circus class has been great the past few weeks and they're having a show in May. I'm excited about a new homeschool group - very close to home - that we've recently become a part of. We meet on Wednesdays and last week they held a wonderful knitting-felting class for us. The kids got to try out a spinning wheel, check out a bunch of different wools, learn how to knit and felt, and make yarn dolls. Next week we're touring one of the local neighborhoods. It's great to have a group of awesome homeschooling moms so nearby!

Another thing going on around here is that the kids firmly decided that they want more Charlotte Mason in their lives. They've always loved the CM method and now want it to be continuous and more scheduled. I have no problem with what ever they want. As a matter of fact, I even began reading more about CM so I understand it more and not just dabble in the various activities it suggests. In speaking to a couple of other hs moms last week I got interested about "classic literature" and how it was a big part of their hs days. I know how J is a very reluctant reader and I casually asked her what her favorite books of all time were. She thought for a minute and fondly remembered The Wizard of Oz, the Little House books, and Trumpet of the Swan. It really shocked me that those are all considered classic, living books that are so a part of CM. I asked her if she'd like more readalouds and independent reading of books like those and she said she'd like to try it. She asked what other kinds of books fit into that category and I mentioned Swiss Family Robinson, Tom Sawyer, and Little Women. I said that a great story stands the test of time and you'll know one by how many movies were made of it, lol. When she asked what Tom Sawyer was about, I gave her a brief synopsis and she was actually begging me to buy it so she could find out what happens at the end.

I'm still reading as much as I can about the Charlotte Mason method. I remembered lots of it since it was what we started with when J first came out of school 3 years ago. But then we had a strict and boring schedule that she hated after a few months. Now that I understand it better now (and understand J better now) I think I know how we can implement much of the method in a way both kids will love. Well, I am certainly going to try, anyway. I already pulled out every classic, living book we have in the house and we're bringing back the bedtime readaloud. Swiss Family Robinson is the first one she picked and we read a bunch of pages last night. And she LOVES it! Omg. If I knew that these kinds of books would trigger her long-lost love of reading I would have done this so long ago. It makes so much sense.

So readalouds will be more incorporated into our weeks, as will silent reading, copywork, dictation, nature walks (with sketching, and using a field guide, magnifying glass, and microscope), picture study, composer study, a wall timeline, a book of centuries, learning handicrafts, and lots of outdoor play. All of these are the basis of CM and what J enjoys and has asked for after perusing a CM website. W is just excited to have any kind of plan and will go along with whatever we do, lol. They will also continue to do their favorite math and language arts stuff, too, and of course lots of trips. J seems to feel she needs to accomplish at least a few things each day - or week, and having an academic daily (or weekly) blueprint is what keeps her happy. I'm happy she knows what she likes and how she comes to me asking for different things.

It may not stay this way long, but if CM is what she likes now, then I have no problem helping her create a workable schedule, taking them places they're interested in, providing the resources for them they need, and knowing when to back off and let them own it. There's nothing better than seeing your kids excited about their lives and their learning. I love homeschooling.

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