Monday, August 22, 2016

Broadway Workshop, New York NY

I have a little budding Broadway star who just had the most amazing week of her life at Broadway Workshop's Camp NYC.

This well-organized, week-long camp was held every day from 10 AM until 4:30 PM at the beautiful Ripley Grier studios in midtown Manhattan for ages 8 to 13.  

The kids spend the week preparing for a show for families on Friday afternoon.  Each day they worked in groups of about 20 kids to learn the music and choreography for a medley from either "Beauty and the Beast" or "Jersey Boys" and then worked together on a number from "Finding Neverland" and an opening number from "School of Rock" performed with the amazing Will Blum who plays the lead in that Broadway show.

In addition they took classes in acting, dance, stage combat, audition technique and a few others with performers from shows such as Newsies, Matilda and Les Mis.  They also went to see a matinee of "School of Rock".

This camp was well worth the money and the commute!  It was a great combination of learning and star-struck fun with amazing kids from all over the world.  Looking forward to attending more classes and camps from Broadway Workshop

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Notes from "Unschooling: A Lifestyle of Learning" by Sara McGrath

We are about to "officially" begin home schooling in September and I have reached a place of a wee bit of fear!  Fear of going against the tribe and doing something different, something nobody else in my tribe thinks is a good idea!  Not only can they not fathom that I would want to have my kids home with me all day they really cannot understand how I think it is a good idea to not follow a curriculum. And well, a little part of me has started having a little panic attack about going against the grain.  So I grabbed a few books on unschooling this past week to remind myself that there are others out there who do this and that I can take this leap of faith.  

And when I need a take a deep breath and remind myself, I will reflect back on these words of Sara McGrath....

When I want to remind myself that I am giving my children the best opportunity for their individual growth by letting them learn their own way ...

"When I ask myself what I most want for my children, I readily answer: I want my children to live their own idea of success."
"An unschooling parent does not to teach, but helps children learn."
"Fundamental to the unschooling approach, we acknowledge that We learn all the time; All learning has value; and We learn best by our own motivation, in our own ways."
"The unschooling lifestyle gives children the freedom and flexibility to intuitively learn in the easiest and most enjoyable ways for them."
"When we support our children in taking responsibility for their own learning, to own their learning, we give them more than we could ever give them by directing their education. We give them trust, control in their lives, freedom, and boundless possibilities for personal success and enjoyment in life."
"When one of my daughters tells me that she does not feel like continuing with a project, I appreciate that she has learned to respect her own limits and take a break when she needs one. I don’t want to see her pushing ahead against her healthy desire to take a break. I continue deschooling my own trained inclination to push against my natural need for rest."

When I want to remind myself that I want my children to pursue what they love in life and the same skills are not required to support everyone's love...

"Unschooling parents trust their children to learn what they personally need to learn. Coercion has no place in unschooling practice. If, for example, one of my daughters resists learning a skill, such as reading, I will not push her with bribes, threats, or other forms of coercion. …Which does not mean that I will not actively help her learn to read. I will remain willing, available, and alert to what may have triggered her resistance."
"Unschooling parents trust that their children will seek out these skills when they need them. However, unschooling parents don’t necessarily wait for their children to specifically request information or guidance regarding a particular skill. A parent might offer help or new information at any time. We all learn by exploring, trying things, asking questions, and asking for help when we need it."
"A majority of children spend a significant amount of time and effort in educational programs, for which they may have little interest or use. Children and the adults in their lives could instead use this time nurturing unique talents and working toward fulfilling dreams."
"A child with an interest in computer programming will, by necessity, follow that interest to advanced math skills. An interest in fashion design or architecture will lead to concepts in geometry. Baking may require conversions from one system of measurement to another and may even require algebra skills. These concepts and tools exist in the real world. Otherwise, why would we need them? Ask yourself, do you use square roots? If not, who does, and why? What for?"

When I want to remind myself that there are many different paths to success and happiness in life ....

"My husband uses advanced math and scientific concepts on a daily basis. I don’t. If I needed those skills, I would learn them. If my children need those skills, they will learn them."
"John Holt said, “If you know what kind of work you want to do, move toward it in the most direct way possible. If you want someday to build boats, go where people are building boats, find out as much as you can.”
"The idea of high school in the minds of former high school students, such as myself and many unschooling parents, may conjure various ‘advanced’ subject categories– calculus, physics, etc.– the ones some parents fear they cannot help their children to learn. Firstly, a teenager who wants to learn these subjects can find a way to do so. Secondly, advanced subjects have their place, which may or may not fit with your teen’s idea of meaningful life work. In addition, not all high school students take advanced classes."
"Unschoolers, on the other hand, have the freedom to move in a direct line toward their goals. If an unschooling teen has not already found meaningful life work, the learning activities may center around exploring careers, talking with people about their work, developing mentoring relationships, networking and making connections with people in fields of interest, doing volunteer jobs, etc. My state offers a dual-enrollment program called Running Start, http:// k12. runningstart, which provides up to two years of tuition-free college classes for high school juniors and seniors. College-bound unschoolers can take advantage of this benefit. Similar programs may exist in other localities. However, like homeschooler outreach programs, pay close attention to participation requirements."
"College provides one way, not necessarily the best way, for your child to prepare for meaningful life work. Apprenticeships and internships may provide an easier and potentially optimal path to a rewarding career. Participating in a mentoring relationship may mark the first step your child takes toward exploring a prospective career."

When I want to remind myself that we don't always need to be checking knowledge off of the to-do list....

"Some days children may appear to learn productively while other days they appear to do nothing at all. Appearances can deceive. A lot of processing happens during rest days. We need inwardly-focused days and rest days. Likewise, days full of play and imagination can provide a child with the opportunity to explore new ideas and develop new interests that will lead to more focused learning in the future."
"Unschoolers experience learning as the satisfaction of natural curiosity and the acquisition of useful tools. Those of us who did most of our focused learning in a school setting experienced learning in a markedly different way, i.e, not for the sake of learning something in particular, but as a discipline required to place a grade on a transcript, perhaps to please parents, or to earn entrance to a college and ultimately to this culture’s idea of success: a high-paying, powerful job position with fame as a bonus. The school learning process directs children toward a vaguely defined future reward. The learning done in school may not even result in real learning, but rather temporary memorization or on-the-spot deduction sufficient to pass a test. School children learn to persevere through years of unpleasant activities in hope of eventual freedom and rest, along with a job."

Unschooling: A Lifestyle of Learning by Sara McGrath can be purchased on Amazon.