Monday, January 27, 2014

Granie i Śpiewanie

GRANIE i ŚPIEWANIE
oraz ... niedokończona HISTORIA MUZYKI

Piąta odsłona z cyklu Dziecko na Warsztat.

Tematem piątych już warsztatów jest muzykowanie. Szczerze powiedziawszy to ponownie moja rola w przygotowaniu zajęć z muzyki została ograniczona do ... filmowania twórczości muzycznej dzieci.

Cała Trójka jest bardzo muzykalna, od najmłodszych lat chodzili (dwójka nadal chodzi) na lekcje muzyki. O tych lekcjach muzyki można poczytać po angielsku tutaj
Śpiew jest u nas na porządku dziennym - wszyscy śpiewają: od najmłodszej Ani (3 lata), przez Jaśka (11 lat) aż po Zosię (16 lat).

Zosia kilka tygodni temu spróbowała swoich sił w przesłuchaniu do musicalu (jako najmłodsza), przeszła nawet do drugiego etapu przesłuchań, ale już nie dalej. Przygotowując się do przesłuchania cały czas śpiewała "Nothing" z musicalu "Chorus Line". Ania chcąc nie chcąc słuchała tej piosenki i oto rezultat:


Jaś ma również swój udział w edukacji muzycznej Ani:



I w czym ja mam tu pomagać?
Dziewczyny zajmują się śpiewem, a chłopak graniem.

Jaś od kilku lat gra na pianinie, a rok temu zaczął również przygodę z saksofonem. Oto rezultaty:



Nie jest to przykład idealnie zagranego utworu, ale nie o to chodzi :-) Dla nas najważniejsze jest by dzieci lubiły muzykę, by się nią bawiły i by gra sprawiała radość, a nie była wymuszona.




I jeszcze raz:


Jak więc widzicie niewiele tu mojego wkładu w edukację muzyczną dzieci. Jednak ... nie zostawiam ich tak zupełnie samopas - zajmuję się np nauczaniem starszych dzieci historii muzyki.

Pomysł gruntownego przyjrzenia się historii muzyki zrodził się w mojej głowie ... dwa lata temu. Podzieliłam się wtedy tym pomysłem z dziećmi - miały one wymyślić w jaki sposób przedstawić muzykę przez wieki. Zosia postawiła na timeline, czyli oś czasu. Kupiłyśmy odpowiedni papier, znalazłyśmy w Internecie wiele wiadomości na temat muzyki w różnych epokach historycznych i utworzyłyśmy oddzielny folder na komputerze, gdzie te informacje wraz ze znalezionymi wizerunkami znanych kompozytorów, zapisałyśmy .

I ... na tym skończył się zapał Zosi do nauki historii muzyki. Jasiek od samego początku nie był zbyt zainteresowany tym projektem, uważał, że to co Zosia wymyśliła jest zbyt szczegółowe i skomplikowane. Nie chciał mieć z tym nic wspólnego ... aż do teraz.

Gdy oznajmiłam mu, że tematem kolejnych warsztatów jest muzyka i gdy przypomniałam o niedokończonym projekcie, Jasiek bardzo się nim zainteresował i postanowił dokończyć to, co jego siostra rozpoczęła dwa lata wcześniej.

Jaś nie ma zbyt dużej wprawy w edytowaniu teksów na komputerze, więc musiałam mu trochę pomóc. Z kolei bardzo podobało mu się wyszukiwanie ilustracji (np zdjęć lub rysunków instrumentów).

Projekt nasz nie został niestety dokończony, gdyż ... starsze dzieci w połowie stycznia wyjechały na trzy tygodnie z domu, a trudno mi dokończyć oś czasu z trzyletnią Anią ;-) W lutym zabierzemy się spowrotem do pracy i opiszemy nasz "timeline historyczny" w oddzielnym poście.


Do tej pory opracowane zostały trzy epoki - Śreniowiecze, Odrodzenie i Barok. Zaznaczam jednak, że ze względu na wielojęzyczny charakter naszej szkoły domowej ... wszystko jest w języku angielskim.







Niedokończona oś czasu historii muzyki
jest już i tak bardzo dłuuga.

Już 24 lutego kolejne warsztaty, tym razem będą one na temat ... logicznego myślenia ...

A teraz zapraszam na warszaty muzyczne na blogach innych mam biorących udział w "Dziecko na Warsztat":
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Matching letters game

Making learning fun is very important in Babel School. My kids are much more willing to learn and remember more easily if the information is given to them in a fun and interesting form.

Few days ago I wanted to check if Ania really remembers the letters I have taught her so far. Sitting down with her, going through the flashcards (which we don't even have) and asking "What letter is this?" seemed a bit boring, so this is what I came up with:

First:
I placed five different sets of letters in different places in two rooms - I didn't really hide them, just scattered the letters around.

Second:
I asked Ania to look for the letters in both rooms.

Then:
She  had to tell me the letter sound of the letter she has found.

Next:
She was to place all the letters that she found inside a big basket.

Finally:
I arranged the lower case letters on the floor and asked Ania to match the upper (and lower) case letters with them.


The final result:
Groups of 5 letters together.


Ania liked this exercise a lot and I am sure we will be doing it again and again in the future.

Here is how our conversation during the letter matching looked like:



Friday, January 17, 2014

From roller blading to ice-skating (After school classes part 5)

Sports, just as music, is an important part of our kids' homeschooling education. Since very young age we've always let them try different disciplines - soccer, basketball, cycling, skiing, swimming and of course roller blading and ice-skating. 

As a child, for quite a few years, I used to take ice-skating lessons (in Poland and in US). As I remember they were the only lessons I took outside school. 
I've always likes skating and it was obvious to me that Zosia should try it too. First time we put her on ice was in US when she was just over one year old. Later, after we moved to UK, I used to take her skating there. We had lots of fun on a big and empty rink in Peterborough

When we moved to Taiwan there was no ice-skating rink in Taipei, but roller blading was becoming popular. That's why Zosia started taking one-on-one roller blading lessons at
Y17 台北市青少年育樂中心. She was getting really good at roller blading and was enjoying the speed. 

2006 Competition
A year or so later first ice-skating rink opened in Taipei area (in Xizhi) and Zosia started her first lessons on ice. That's where she had her first ice-skating competition at the age of 6. I used to take her skating 2-3 times a week, once a week she had a lesson with a coach (陳國志) and the other times I was joining her on ice and making sure she practices what she has just learned. She loved the lessons, but did not like to practice. Repeating the same movements over and over again was too boring for her. 
Again, just like with learning to play piano, she wasn't improving and making her practice was a big struggle.
This time we had to take drastic measures :-) - "Either you start practicing or you are not going to continue skating." And so she stopped going ice-skating. I think a year has passed before she finally told us that she would like to try ice-skating again. By that time the ice skating rink at Taipei Arena 小巨蛋 opened. We found a new coach (廖昇平) who made skating really fun for Zosia. Unfortunately after vacation Zosia had to change the coach again. For the first time she had a female coach (張辰). She stayed with this coach for many years. Zhang Chen, has prepared Zosia for many competitions and performances.
There were times that Zosia was really serious about skating and practiced 2-3 times a week, but there were also times that she wanted to give up.
In 2011 Zosia took part in the international ice skating competition in Bangkok (ISI Asia 2011) and won 1st place. That was a BIG achievement. We were all very proud of her.



In 2012 Zosia entered an International Children's Film Festival with a film she made about the problems facing ice-skaters in Taiwan,
Skating Dream 滑出自己的夢


A year later Zosia decided to ... quit ice-skating. To become an even better ice-skater she would need to spend much more time on ice and ... she had different plans. We supported her decision and understood it.

For more videos of Zosia on ice, please take a look at:



And on the news :-)


Monday, January 13, 2014

Music all around us (After school classes - part 4)


The fourth part of our family's after school experience is going to be about music education.

In Taiwan it seems that all children at one point of time take music classes. Usually they learn to play piano or violin, there are also those who go for percussion lessons or to a choir. Kids start early, at 4 or 5 years old. So it's not surprising that under some pressure from people aroud us our daughter has also started her music education quite early.

When we moved to Taiwan, Zosia has just turned 4 years old. Grandparents and aunts wanted her to start playing piano and so we signed her up for classes at one of the big-piano-teaching-chain-schools. Piano lessons were taught in a group setting, there was no way for the teacher to know who follows the lesson and who doesn't. Zosia's Chinese was not very good at that time so she had problems understanding the lessons. It was a real struggle, she didn't like it, I didn't like it, she didn't like practicing at home and I didn't like making her practice. Needless to say she didn't stay at that school very long. 

Soon after we found a small music class run by Connie Wang 王淑姿老師. Music in that class was taught with Kodaly method - voice was the first instrument to work with. Zosia has always loved singing and this class was letting her use her voice in a special way. She has completed all 8 years of classes at Kodaly. 

Beside singing in Kodaly, children also learn how to play recorder, read and compose music. They can also choose instrument classes. At the age of 6 Zosia started taking piano lessons. Practicing at home was a struggle and without practice there was no improvement. We didn't want to push her so after less than half a year we stopped the lessons.
Thinking that she became more mature and ready to take on an instrument, at 7 years old she tried to take piano lessons again - there still was no way that we could make her practice at home. It was obvious that playing and instrument is out of question for Zosia. Now Zosia can sing and can play by ear, but can not really play piano.

Jas started his music education very early, when he was still a toddler, he went to Mama Mia 親子館 (now Ania is also going there). It is a great place to start teaching your little one how to enjoy and make music. What makes it different to some other classes is that it is bilingual - Chinese-English. And the teachers are great!
After he finished his classes at Mama Mia it was time to decide what's next - should he go to Kodaly like Zosia did or should we find something different for him. Thanks to another homeschooling family we've found a very nice little music class for Jas. 

He started taking piano and music lessons with teacher Lin 林老師 when he was 5 years old. From day one he did not have problems practicing at home. There are of course times that he doesn't like a certain piece of music he is learning and doesn't want to practice it, but that doesn't happen very often. 

Over a year ago, Jas started taking saxophone lessons. He's doing great playing this instrument, he can play anything he hears, but ... is not enjoying playing the pieces that teacher gives him to practice.  Well ... I guess he just wants to jazz.

As you can see, we let our kids choose, we listen to them and don't push them to doing things they do not enjoy. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dance classes my kids take

When our kids got older we could see what they were becoming interested in and what they were good at. Both kids loved moving to the music and when Zosia was 4 years old, Cloud Gate 雲門 had just started it's classes for kids Cloud Gate Dance Studio 雲門舞集舞蹈教室. 12 years have passed since then ... and Zosia is still dancing at Cloud Gate. 

During that time she did take a one year break - at one point she didn't really like the teacher and was not happy in the class so we decided to change dance schools. We signed her up for a 'proper' ballet class - with pink tutu, point shoes, performances etc. But she didn't enjoy that either. So we stopped dance class altogether. 
After a few months we asked her if she would like to try dancing again. She agreed and went back to Cloud Gate. The class and the teacher have changed and thanks to that Zosia has started enjoying dancing again.


At the end of elementary school she was chosen for Cloud Gate's scholarship class. The lessons were taking place on Sundays (4-5 hours) and beside that she had ballet on Wednesdays and movement class on Saturdays. That was a lot for someone who was dancing just for pleasure, without planning to become a professional dancer. Most of the other teenagers in her class had some serious dance plans for their future. With time the dance routines were becoming more and more difficult and being absent from a class or two meant you were not able to catch up with the rest of the class. That was a big problem for Zosia as we were still taking long vacations in Poland and Japan. After a few years of this totally crazy schedule we decided that it's time to stop.
Now Zosia still goes to Cloud Gate, for a really cool modern dance class.


Jas has started going to Cloud Gate before he turned 4 years old and has been going non-stop for the past 7 years. For some time, I think two years, he took ballet lessons at Cloud Gate, but ... being the only boy in a class full of younger girls was not easy. Although he enjoyed ballet and was doing quite well he did not like being pointed fingers at (his friends looked at him funny when he was telling them he is doing ballet). He loves his movement class though.



 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Classes for teeny ones

This is a 2nd part of a post about after school classes. To read the 1st part please go to Tough decisions about after school classes 才藝班.
Gymboree and swimming

We started first (while still in US and later in UK) with Gymboree Play&Learn program which was a great way not only for the little ones to have fun in a safe and fun environment, but also for the parents to meet other parents with kids of the same age. The classes were full of movement, music and laughter:



We wanted for Zosia and Jas to feel comfortable in water, so when they were less than 6 months old we started taking them for baby swimming classes. Thanks to that they have never been afraid of water and enjoy swimming a lot.

Even when Jas was just 3 years old and Zosia 8,
they were not afraid of playing and swimming
in a lake in Poland.

Whether or not to sign up for these classes and how long to attend them, was mom and dad's decision. It's obvious you can not ask a 6 months old if he wants to play parachute with other kids at Gymboree, but ... you can see if the little one is interested in the class, if he is having fun. If the child kicks and cries every time you try to enter a big swimming pool with him then don't do it. Listen to him, maybe the water is too cold, maybe the chlorine is irritating his eyes or maybe he just doesn't like it.

Don't push kids to doing something they don't enjoy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tough decisions about after school classes 才藝班

In Taiwan, where we live, it's very popular to send kids to different 'after school' (or in our case 'after homeschool') classes. Kids start going to so called 才藝班 creative arts - talent - interest classes at a very early age, you can even find classes for 2-3 year-olds.

Parents can choose from all kinds of classes and activities:
- music - piano, violin, drums, singing ...
- sports - roller-blading, baseball, soccer, ice-skating, gymnastics ...
- dance - ballet, modern dance, ballroom dance, hip-hop ...
- math - abacus, mental arithmetic ...
- languages - English, Japanese, French ...
- games - Chinese chess, Lego, Go ...
- arts - Chinese painting, ceramics ... 

The list can go on and on - whatever you want your child to learn, they got a class for it (at least in Taiwan)!


How do you decide?
How do you know which classes to sign your child for? 
How do you know what your child is interested in or what he is or will be good at?

In the next few posts I will share with you how we've been dealing with this issue in our family.

My husband and I have always believed that beside all the academic lessons the children should enjoy sports and arts (music and art), that's why from an early age, both Zosia and Jas, started going to classes that combined movement and music. Later on they also started being more serious about sports - ice-skating, skiing, dance, soccer, basketball. 

Some classes kids took only for a few months, others they continued for many years. 

How do we decide which classes to continue and which to drop?

Every semester we would sit with kids and discuss with them how they like the classes they are currently taking, if they wanted to start learning something new, they would need to drop one of the old classes first. 
Children would write down the names of all the classes and rate them from 1 to 10 (1- liking the least, 10 - liking the most). We would add to the list classes that they wanted to start taking. Then we would discuss their progress (or lack of it), how they like what they were learning, the distance needed to travel to the class, the price and so on. This way we had a clear idea of what the kids thought of the classes they were taking. We never pushed them to stay in a class if they didn't enjoy it. 
In the following posts you will be able to read how we dealt with Zosia's dance and ice-skating classes and Jas' ballet.
We've always tried to keep the number of classes a week below 4 for each child. For as long as possible we tried not to arrange any classes over the weekends. We wanted to have weekends open for family time and for getting together with friends.


Why wouldn't we let the kids take all the classes they wanted?

For two reasons:
money and time

all the classes cost money and there are only 7 days in a week :-) .

This system has worked for our children for many years. 
Please share with me how you deal with the after school classes and how do you decide which classes children should continue taking and which they should drop.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Homeschooling Outing in Warsaw - Museum of Modern Art

A day after a visit to the Centre for Innovative Bioscience Education (BioCentrum Edukacji Naukowej) for a lesson on DNA (you can read about it here) we went to the Museum of Modern Art for a museum lesson. Unfortunately most of the kids were much younger than Jas and the guide was speaking to them.
Jas thought it was boring and didn't want to participate in the art activity. Instead of making something out of nothing, Jas went to explore the rest of the museum.
In the album below you can see what he saw.

 Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook