Tag Archives: ballet

Homeschool, Year 1: Thus Far

4 Jan

When we initially made the decision to homeschool eight-year-old Phoenix this year, I did what I always do: I researched everything I could get my hands on.  I checked out almost every how-to-homeschool book that was on the shelf at the library, I read piles of homeschooling blogs, joined a local Yahoo group, Googled curriculum choices, unschooling,  deschooling, reschooling, homeschool laws, and on, and on.

When I had reached the million word mark, I really felt more confused than confident about how to homeschool.  I was certainly more knowledgeable about all the different possibilities of method, but which one was right for me? More importantly, which method was right for my child?

As the beginning of the new school year drew closer, I enrolled her in a one-day-a-week enrichment school that is chartered in a local school district. Because they are a publicly funded school, they provide curriculum at no charge to the parents. Better yet, because the program is purely complimentary to the families’ homeschooling choices, and they serve many families with differing opinions, they provide a large variety of curriculum options to choose from. The coordinator cautioned new-comers against ordering more than the children could handle in one year, so I went to the curriculum book fair with that in mind. I came away feeling I had ordered just enough.

It all began according to plan. I planned lessons based on the books, organized days around the lessons, scheduled field trips to support learning, wrote daily assignments in Phoenix’s planner…

Two and a half months in, we had used only half the curriculum, given up on lesson plans, disorganized the days around what had been planned. We were frustrated. We were exhausted. Phoenix resisted every effort I was making to teach her.

So I stopped.

It was a convenient time to pause. Phoenix had been taking ballet for over three years, and this year, she had auditioned to be in a professional production of  “The Nutcracker”.  She got cast in two parts (exciting!), and was scheduled to rehearse/perform multiple times per week during the last part of November, and the entire month of December (crazy!). We decided that, because this was very time consuming, and took a lot of hard-work and dedication, that she would focus on ballet.  We would temporarily stop “schooling”. I figured we could call it unschooling.

It is now January, and let me tell you, it has been wonderful. We quit arguing (about school, anyway), and have been able to simply enjoy each other’s company. We have talked to one another. We have listened. We have read books to each other, just because; gone to the library to check-out books on whatever piqued her interest; watched movies next to each other on the couch, and then discussed them over tea. Unschooling is awesome.

But the nagging voices in the back of my head won’t shut-up.

So for this, the second half of the school year, I need to find a happy medium (that sweet spot that is oh so hard to find sometimes). I cannot teach her directly–we tried that, and it doesn’t work well. She is a work-at-her-own-pace kind of gal, and really loves learning (which public school seemed to crush at times). I am not worried about her skill levels in any subject, but I also would like her to continue to learn new skills that she probably won’t find in a novel, and maybe not in everyday life. I’m going to have to get sneaky–like chopped-up-kale-in-spaghetti-sauce sneaky.

Phoenix loves kale now. Perhaps if she gets enough chopped-up multiplication and division in cookie recipes, she will love math too.

(By the way, seeing Phoenix perform in “The Nutcracker” with all the pros was an amazing thing.  My big girl looked so tiny up on that stage).

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Grrls

1 Jul

Image

A woman recently told me that she never got over the fact that her parents had a second child. Her life was forever changed the day her baby sister entered the world. She is now an adult, and still carries resentment towards her sister, as well as her parents. I do not actually know this woman, so I cannot speak to the relationship she has with her sister, but her story saddened me.

One of my fears for my girls is that they will not have a relationship when they get older. I know it is normal for siblings to argue, fight, sometimes throw some blows, and that in the end, they can still become the best of friends. But sometimes I worry that Phoenix will end up like the woman mentioned above–resentful and bitter.

Most of the time, or maybe more like half of the time, the girls get along wonderfully. They put on plays together, take turns being each other’s audience for dance performances in their room, help each other out. But often, there is this undertone of melancholy in Phoenix when anyone gives Magpie special attention.

Like this week, for instance, Magpie started a creative dance class. Phoenix has been taking ballet for three years, and week after week, Magpie watches her big sister put on her leotard and tights, and go into the studio with all the other ballerinas. She watches and imitates her big sister’s graceful movements across the living room floor. This week, it was Magpie’s turn to go into the studio. We pulled out Phoenix’s old pink leotard and dance skirt–Magpie was beaming. Phoenix was scowling. Then she began to cry.

I sat down to listen to her thoughts. She feels as if Magpie has to do everything she does, and then Magpie steals the spotlight. I understand what she is saying, and I feel for her. I told her that, but then I also explained that Magpie thinks Phoenix is the coolest and most beautiful person in the world–she will always want to be like her big sister. I hope that someday Phoenix understands this. I think I need to read up on cultivating loving sibling relationships.

Anyway, this entire post was prompted by a photo I took of the girls on their way into their dance classes.  It captured the mood perfectly: Image

That picture says it all! I didn’t have a sister, so I think I cannot understand what Phoenix is feeling to the full extent. I had a pesky little brother, but by the time we were eight and ten, we were friends–and still are. I honestly believe the girls will end up being close when they are older, but I am a mother, and I worry the way mothers do.

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