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    Term 2 Planning Notes

    January 4, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    Okay, so I’ve been working away on my Term 2 planning. I really, really need us to start tomorrow, which is giving me a bit of a time crunch. I’d like to say I work better under pressure, but I’m not sure that’s true. Here’s hoping that it is!

    On Piano Lessons
    Most of you know that music is one of the seven liberal arts. As such, it is considered an integral part of a child’s education. Children are offered music education not because they are interested in it, nor because they have shown “talent,” but because they are human. The humanities curriculum aims to do nothing less than humanize the children, and music plays a part in that curriculum.

    Yada yada yada.

    I know all of this. I have known all of this. And I have chattered off and on about music lessons. In the end, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the prospect. Recently at church, I met a young lady who is home from college and teaching piano. Rumor has it she is amazing. I mentioned in passing to my husband that we should find out what she costs.

    And then the wheels started turning.

    It does seem silly to pay someone to teach our children something one of us knows how to do. My parents dished out umpteen years of piano lessons, and it seems like I still know enough to teach a beginner.

    I’ve been frustrated by the books out there. They don’t teach the reading of the musical score the way they used to.

    And then I was intimidated by the time commitment. When in the world am I going to have time to teach piano on top of everything else? At the beginning of Term 1, little O. was still taking two naps a day. When would anyone be able to practice anyhow?

    And so on and so forth.

    In the end, I think I just wasn’t ready to try and figure out how to make it happen. It turns out that sometimes Term 2 is a good time to begin something. I find that after Term 1, we have our rhythm for the year, and it is sometimes easier for me to add something new than to add all the new things at the beginning of the first term.

    I tend to be a baby-stepper, adding only one thing at a time to our plate. Even though I admire families who can jump in with both feet, I find that whenever I try and do that, we end up dropping something (or a lot of somethings). Adding one thing at a time tends to make things actually stick, to become habits incorporated into our daily lives.

    So today I bought Piano Phonics. I don’t know anyone who has used it, so we’re going in totally blind here. What I like is that the focus is on music literacy, something that is lacking in a lot of musical training these days. What really sold me on it was that the cost is equivalent to about a single lesson, and yet there are fifteen lessons inside. That is a price tag I can handle!

    On Fridays
    Usually, I reserve Fridays for field trips. It’s not that we are going to stop doing field trips, but I find that Term 2 is usually when we are least likely to go on a field trip because it is cold and wet and usually at least one person is sick. Instead of planning trips and cancelling them, I decided to take it easy for January and February. (March and April are going to be unusual in their own way because I’m putting everybody in swimming lessons and we’ll be doing Poolside School for two months!)

    Instead, Friday is where I am going to fit in piano lessons. In addition to this, we will do weekly painting. Pam has finally convinced me that I can do this, and I put little watercolor sets in the girls’ stockings this year, as a sort of promise that I will do something that I feel I owe to them.

    Of course, I still think we’ll do some fun things on Fridays, it’s just that I’m considering Fridays to be a casual sort of affair, rather than our usual pre-scheduled style. Of course, if someone plans a field trip and invites us, we’re totally there…

    On Circle Time
    I adore Circle Time. I feel it has done more for our home learning project than anything else we’ve done.

    However, comma.

    Sometimes, something has to give.

    In March, when everyone (yes, even O.!) is swimming almost daily, I need to cut about an hour and a half from my morning in order to make room. Guess what takes almost exactly an hour and a half?

    It’s not that I’m completely cutting everything we do in Circle Time. For instance, our Bible reading and a little bit of memory review will join us at the breakfast table. I might review our hymns during the car rides. Q. has been begging me to reinstitute Song School Latin, something easy enough to do on car rides as well. I’ve learned that I’m correct–a lot really is memorized if the children listen to it in a recording. This is especially true of Daughter A. So I might try and put our memory work on a CD that can travel with us.

    What this means right now is that I am only planning eight-and-a-half weeks of Circle Time. Swimming will take up the end of Term 2 and the beginning of Term 3, meaning that sometime during our Easter break I will probably plan a Circle Time to finish the year with. In the meantime, I am picking out books to join me at the pool, while reminding myself not to forget reading lessons in the midst of the swimming excitement.

    On Memory Binders
    I finally renovated my binder so that it reflects the Simply Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System. More than one of you mentioned this system to me a few months back, and now I’m ready to use it! I also revamped the Teaching Reading with Bob Books binder system in a similar manner. I think that once this becomes a habit, it is really going to streamline the process for us. The more memory work we have, the more we might accidently forget! And the more important it is to make sure our review actually covers everything I want it to.

    On Folk Songs
    This is an area of Ambleside that has been oft neglected in our home. My struggle with folk songs is that…I don’t really know any! About once each year, I have managed to locate a musical score, and we’ve learned a song. But folks songs (unlike hymns) are tricky because they are handed down orally, rather than written. I do written music. I have no oral tradition.

    So, this term I purchased the album Farther Along by The West Girls and downloaded it. I’m burning it to a CD for the play nook. I think that between this and our Wintons CD, we’ll be doing fine until the end of the year.

    Anyone else planning out there?

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