Posts tagged ‘homeschooling’

September 1, 2015

Project-based Homeschooling: Robotics

Over this past year, my eight-year-old (now nine-year-old!) became increasingly interested in robotics. The first robot he learned about was Jibo because my husband was watching videos about this little gadget that might someday be a standard household item. My husband learned about it through all the tech sites and podcasts he listens to, and he showed it to us because he thought it was cool.

Well, my son had never seen a robot before and suddenly he wanted to know more.

We began to watch YouTube videos about all kinds of robots that have been invented and also those that are still being developed. I found it fascinating too. (Did you know there is a hotel in Japan being run entirely by robots?)

My son was already an avid Lego fan. He has sat for six hours at a stretch putting together what looks like to me a complicated and tedious Lego kit. He has been building toys and other cardboard creations for a very long time, and he does indeed seem to have an “engineer’s mind.” (So unlike his mom and dad!) We wanted to support our son’s interest in robotics, so my husband did some research about robotics kits, and we learned about the Mindstorm EV3 kit and some others. But it was expensive, and we weren’t sure just how interested our son was in robotics yet.

Technically, this was my son’s first robot.

To help gauge our son’s interest, we took him to the 2014 Maker Faire in Decatur, GA last October. We knew he’d get to see some robots up close and maybe play with them too. Indeed, there were lots of robots at the fair, and my son was able to try some out. He had a blast.

While we were at the fair, my husband and I took the opportunity to ask some Georgia Tech students what they recommended for young kids interested in robotics. They mentioned the Lego robotics kits and one other one. Since our son was already familiar with Legos, the Mindstorm kit became a good choice for us. Indeed, many of the robots at the fair were made with Legos!

We also learned about hacker spaces and maker groups while we were at the fair and that there are a couple of these places located near us. This is not something we have tried out yet, but it may be another possibility to try someday.

It was around this time that we discovered the series Making Stuff by Nova and hosted by David Pogue. There are four episodes, and we all enjoyed them, but they enamored my eight-year-old, and he has watched them all multiple times. The episode Making Stuff Wilder is his favorite because it’s about bioengineering. I can see where my son’s love of nature and animals crosses with his love of robotics in this field. The first time we watched it, while they were explaining some robot inspired by nature, my son leaned forward in his seat, pointed at the T.V. and said loudly, “I WANT TO DO THAT!”

Ever since, he has said he wants to be an engineer. He also said once that he doesn’t think he wants to be just an engineer. We have let him know that many bio-engineers spend most of their day inside a building with no windows. It’s something to consider. But engineering is a huge field with many possibilities, and as he develops this and other skills, such as pottery and piano, you never know where his interests will intersect or compliment each other. So we feel it’s our duty to support this interest in whatever way we can for however long it lasts.

We wanted to get him the Mindstorm EV3 for Christmas, but since it was an expensive gift, we asked my in-laws and mother, if they might want to contribute instead of giving him a toy. They did. (Thank you!!!) I think it was certainly a gift that will have a longer shelf life than anything else we could have given him. He has been extremely responsible with the robot, taking care to keep the pieces separate from his other Lego kits, and he was also okay with receiving very little else that holiday.

Though I was worried he might lose interest in it over time, he hasn’t. Over the course of the year, he has built every robot whose instructions came with the software, and he has built a few others developed by Lego fans. He has watched YouTube videos to learn about the programming, and he has experimented with making his own programming for the robots. It’s not something he works on everyday or even every week, but he always goes back to it, and we’ve amassed quite a nice collection of photographs of his work.

My son’s latest robot plays a “Which tire is the ball under?” game with you.

It got to a point when I felt he needed more instruction, and we weren’t finding easy tutorials online anymore. I wanted to get him into a robotics class. Well, I searched in vain for weeks, and I couldn’t find anything closer than Atlanta, which is a bit too far for us to travel for a class. Finally one day my husband sat with me one afternoon and we did all kinds of Google searches. That’s when we found Engineering for Kids of Northeast Georgia. At that time, they didn’t have a robotics class, but we decided their STEM Club would be a good a match for our son, and later I was happy to find out they were doing a robotics summer camp (close to us!). So my son recently attended that, and he was happy to have one of his friends in the camp with him too.

So this is where we are so far with his love of robotics. He just turned nine-years-old, and his interest is still strong and doesn’t seem to be going away. We’ll continue to support it any way we can, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it’s going too.

August 27, 2015

Introducing History for Homeschoolers

{Free Online History Classes}

george & shelli-1

George and me

Note: A similar version of this column was published in the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, August 26, 2016.

Some of you know that my husband is a historian and a history professor. He has been teaching history at the college level for over eighteen years. At first, he was very skeptical about online courses, but his fascination with using technology in education slowly led him in that direction.

For three years he taught both online and face-to-face classes, and for one and a half years, he taught hybrid courses. Those are classes that meet both face-to-face and online. After this, he decided to take the plunge and teach only online. At first he wasn’t sure how he would feel about teaching online full-time, but now that he’s been doing it for over three years, we both realize it was a great move, and he doesn’t regret working from home.

Another benefit is that it’s given him time to develop some good online course material that he can use over and over in his classes. He continues to work on this and make it better. His students seem to like his audio lectures too. Thinking back to my college days, I would have appreciated having a recording of my professor’s lecture so that I could listen and stop it to take notes!

I’ve been telling my husband for a few years that he should write a history book for homeschoolers or offer some kind of resource with his knowledge. There are some popular history curriculums for homeschoolers, but none of them are updated with new research, and all of them have their fair share of negative criticism. There is also a lack of good material for the high school level. This isn’t to say that what is available isn’t worthy at all, but I felt my husband could offer another option.

Finally, with my help, he is putting his audio lectures online for free for anyone who wants to brush up on their history. At present historyforhomeschoolers.com has all his U.S. history audio lectures and several of his world history lectures. He will be adding more world history over the next few months, and after all the lectures are available, he will work on adding key words, links to relevant videos and other reputable resources on the web. The idea is to give parents or anyone who is interested in history a starting point in their journey to explore the past.

What a lot of people do not realize is that there is a difference between writers who write about history, but they are not trained historians and then those who are trained historians and write about history. Sometimes journalists or other writers can actually be better writers, bringing history alive for folks like me who don’t have a natural enthusiasm for the subject. This is good and has its place. But when it comes to choosing reliable sources for the best researched and least biased history (of course, all history texts have some bias), you want to turn to the people who have dedicated their lives to studying the subject.

My husband thinks that any book that sparks curiosity in children and gets them asking questions and wanting to learn more has served its purpose. He hopes that his site can offer another step forward for middle or high school students and adults who want to learn more, and as a homeschooling mom, I’m grateful to have his discerning eye when it comes to choosing the right resources – whether online or otherwise – to teach myself and kids about history. This is something I’m going to keep pestering him to work on because I need it myself, and I know if I can use it, other parents will appreciate it too.

Please take a look at historyforhomeschoolers.com, and I hope you find it useful! We welcome any feedback as we add to the site and try to make it the best it can be. And, yes, it will remain free and ad-free.

August 25, 2015

Our Homeschool End of Year Review and Celebration

Our 2014-2015 “school” year ended in July.

Though I haven’t quite caught up my blog with this past year’s activities (I will be doing that soon), we did finish our 2014-2015 year in July, and since the new school year is starting for so many homeschoolers, traditionally schooled kids, and us, I thought I’d mark the occasion here on my blog.

My end-of-year review and celebration is very simple and informal, and it takes much longer for me to get it all together than for us to celebrate it.

  • First, I write up the boys’ progress reports, which are required by law. I use this blog to help me do that! It’s my main record-keeper.
  • I print out the progress report, a list of books the boys have read this year, and I also print out simple “certificates of completion.” They don’t get report cards, but they can at least see they have accomplished another full year of their education.
  • I put together a slideshow on a dvd of the year’s photos, including vacations and homeschool work, field trips and activities, and we all watch it together. I’ve done this for two years now, and we’ve really enjoyed reviewing our year together. (This year, due to using different software than I have used in the past, it was a hard job. I appreciate my husband stepping in to help me get it done!)
  • I lay out the boy’s portfolios, some of their significant work, any certificates or badges they earned during the year, and we snap a photo, which you can see above.

And there you have it. The end of 2nd grade and pre-K.
Where does the time go?!

We have taken a few weeks in August off so that we can concentrate on birthday celebrations, cleaning up the old projects to make room for the new, organizing the calendar for our new school year, getting the new curriculum ready, and, of course, having fun and relaxing.

I’ll be starting our new year very soon, and we are adding quite a lot of work this year since my oldest is turning nine and going into the third grade, and my (gulp!) six-year-old is starting his FIRST OFFICIAL YEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING! In Georgia, we don’t have to report we are homeschooling until our child turns six-year-old. Now I have two official homeschoolers, and I’m very excited to see what this year brings us!

Note: To see the forms I use for record-keeping, the progress report, or to use the same certificate, see my free printables page.

August 23, 2015

Greenville County Museum of Art

On one spontaneous morning, we decided to drive to Greenville, South Carolina and visit their Children’s Museum. We didn’t know much about Greenville at the time or how much we’d love it. (We’re definitely going back!) Right next to the Children’s Museum was the county’s art museum, and it was open one hour later than the children’s museum. It was also free admission. How could we not go in?!

We all enjoyed the Children’s Museum, but the Greenville Country Museum of Art was the most memorable part of the trip for my husband and me. It was a beautiful, small museum, and it happened to have the biggest collection of artwork by Andrew Wyeth in the country. I fell in love with his work, and I’m planning to read some books about him. (He was homeschooled!) He is one of the most well-known artists of our time, so you have probably seen some of his work even if you are not familiar with his name.

This museum also let me take photographs of their permanent collection, but I’m not going to post many because I’m not sure they’d like that. My boys really enjoyed this sculpture of the hawks killing a snake, though. Most of the other artwork was paintings on the wall. I will share these little quotes they posted on the wall next to some work by Jasper Johns because I had to agree with him.

This happens to me all the time!

 

August 17, 2015

Art Lessons + Math

If you read Our Summer Homeschooling Plans, you’ll know I wanted to concentrate on math this summer. I also wanted to keep up with art, and I’m happy to say we did this, and we even got to visit some art museums, which I’ll post about later.

Because of my plan to work on math, I was so happy that my go-to art resource had an issue about art and math. If you haven’t checked out Amy Hood’s e-zine, Art Together, I urge you to look at them. They aren’t expensive, but Amy worked hard at filling them with easy ways to include art into your life. Of course, you have to set time aside and be intentional about this, which is why almost every Friday is art day in my house.

So here’s a little of what we did on various Fridays, using Amy’s Issue 6: Math + Art.

distorted shapes

the five-year-old did this one

Then he took the triangle I made and did something different, which is always okay.

I was the only one that did the paper weaving, although the five-year-old decided to do his own version of it. I don’t require either of my boys to do the art lessons because I think art should be voluntary and fun. If they see the possibilities through what I do, I know they have still learned something.

The best lesson was on the Fibonacci sequence. The eight-year-old loved this, and we watched videos about the Fibonacci sequence to supplement the learning.

Then my son came up with the idea to measure popsicle sticks with Fibonacci numbers and make a little sculpture with it.

Exploring mandalas. This also made a nice lesson on different cultures as mandalas are used in various religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and American Native American cultures too. Google “mandala” and you’ll find many beautiful images and designs.

See how fun math can be?!

August 13, 2015

Day Trip to Greenville’s Children’s Museum

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, August 12, 2015.

We are having a short “staycation” of sorts while my husband has some time off from work. In order to make the best of it, we thought we’d explore some places we have never been to before, and since it’s too hot to do anything outside, we searched for indoor locations that might be fun. The first place we headed to was Greenville, South Carolina’s Children’s Museum of the Upstate. The drive took about three hours, but it was beautiful, and we were able to see various small towns along the way, including the quaint Anderson, SC.

Once we got to the Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, my boys had a blast. The museum is 80,000 square feet with three floors and 18 interactive exhibits. The first one I found that I liked was the air tunnel. After coming in from the heat, that felt good! But my five-year-old’s favorite was called “3-2-1 Blast Off,” which consisted of a series of tubes with air blowing through them, and when he put a ball into it, he could watch the ball whoosh through all the tubes and then come back out through another tube. We had to visit that one twice. He also loved climbing on the multi-story climbing structure in the middle of the building, and he did that all by himself since his brother wasn’t interested.

My eight-year-old says he liked the race car driving simulator and the Reedy River Bend – the water exhibit – the best. He liked being able to move some pipes around in the water exhibit so that he could manipulate where the water flowed. My five-year-old loved putting his hands in the water fountains and waterfalls, turning wheels and even going under the water and coming up inside a big, plastic bubble.

Anyone from my generation could probably appreciate the gigantic Lite-Brite, which they called Light Waves Ahead. Remember that toy where you could make pictures by placing different colored pegs on a light board? My five-year-old sorted all the pegs into different colors and made a pretty cool hexagon.

My boys also enjoyed the music room, which was called Garage Rock. They were able to play music on instruments made out of tools, plastic pipe, pinball machines and other fun materials. We spent so long in our favorite places that we didn’t even try out all the exhibits, such as the construction zone, the grocery store, hospital, or the T.V. studio where children can produce their own show from beginning to end and then watch it.

What we didn’t know when we ventured to Greenville was how beautiful that city is or that it’s such a mecca for the arts. The Children’s Museum is located on the Heritage Green, which also boasts the Greenville County Library, Museum of Art, Little Theatre, Museum and Gallery at Bob Jones University, and the Upcountry History Museum. You can learn more about each of these at http://www.heritagegreen.org

Since the Greenville County Museum of Art was right next to the Children’s Museum, and the admission was free, we popped in there for an hour before it closed. It has the largest collection of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings in the country, and my husband and I loved his work. The boys found paintings they enjoyed too, as well as a stunning sculpture of two hawks fighting over their prey in mid-air. It was so life-like we first thought the birds were real ones that had been stuffed.

Downtown Greenville was big, but not so big that it didn’t have that small-town charm. It was full of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and theatres. There are also attractions for those who love sports and the outdoors. We are planning to go back to Greenville sometime and explore this lovely city further.

Admission to the Children’s museum was $10 for adults and $9 for children ages 1 – 15. The website is http://www.tcmupstate.org.

August 11, 2015

Civil War Badge

This summer both my boys earned a Civil War Badge from the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. The badge was offered temporarily as a way to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the war, and, unfortunately, it’s not being offered anymore. It’s a shame because it was a great way for my boys to pay a little more attention to the historic sites. We haven’t formally studied the Civil War yet, but my son has had a nice introduction through this activity as well as conversations with us.

There were a lot of activities listed that they could do in order to get the badge, and for their age range, they only had to pick four of them. We picked the following four:

  • visit a historical marker that mentioned the Civil War: These are all over the place, so it was easy to find one near our home.
  • visit some civil war soldiers graves: This was also easy for us because every Memorial Day, we visit one of the cemeteries where my ancestors are buried because that was a tradition in my husband’s family. We picked Oconee Hill Cemetery where my grandmother, great-grandmother, great-grandfather and extended family is buried, and this time, we also roamed the older section of the cemetery which is very historical, and we found many Civil War soldiers buried there, including a section with unknown soldiers.
  • listen to popular songs from the Civil War era: I did better than that. I had my boys listen to both Dixie and The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and we watched YouTube videos about the history and significance of the songs.
  • watch one segment of Ken Burns’ The Civil War: That was a cinch too because this documentary is on Netflix. It was a little heady for my young boys, but I was surprised that my eight-year-old found some interest in it. This shows me he’s almost ready to venture into studying history, which hasn’t been a big interest of his.

We have learned about the Civil War in other ways too, but nothing too formal, and this is what we did for the badge. I’m grateful for the Parks and Historic Sites for sending my five-year-old son a badge too even though that was not a recommended age for the badge. Although he might not have understood everything as well as his big brother, he was right there doing all the activities too, and I do feel he deserved it.

Both my boys had fun earning the badge, and I found it a good motivator to get them thinking about history. :)

 

 

August 6, 2015

Project-based Homeschooling: My five-year-old’s Grocery Store

INK Museum’s pretend grocery store

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to take my five-year-old to the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, or INK Museum, in Gainesville a few times. It was fun going there with him without his brother (who was attending a class next door). We also had the opportunity to meet a friend of his there a few times too, so that was extra fun.

It’s important for my youngest child to get to do some things without his brother because big brother can certainly influence him. Sometimes this good, but sometimes, it isn’t. For example, when my oldest was this age, he did not care a flip about playing make-believe in INK’s exhibits. Instead, he was more interested in the trains, airplane, musical instruments and building supplies. However, his younger brother liked all that and the opportunity play pretend, although he was very specific about where he wanted to play pretend. Mostly, it was in the grocery store.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. He is a great help to me and his dad at the real grocery store! He wanted to shop twice, and I think he would have been content to stay in the store, if I had not reminded him we had a short time to see the whole museum.

After going to INK a few times and seeing how much he enjoyed the grocery store, I asked him if he’d like to make a grocery store in his room, and he was thrilled about that! So we worked on this for awhile, saving some recyclables and adding to the store whenever we could. He got a little carried away, and eventually I had to tell him he had enough groceries!

We also have a toy cash register, which isn’t in the photos. I had some baskets that I gave to my son in lieu of shopping carts. He also wanted to make some shopping carts, and we worked hard on that one day. We never finished because after trying out different supplies, we couldn’t figure out how to make the wheels work. But we may try again, if my son wants to.

We added more groceries (recyclables) over time. Now those shelves are full!

Big brother mans the pizza parlor in the grocery store. Later we wrote all the pizza specials on that big easel.

We played grocery store a few times, and our friends enjoy playing in it when they came over. Now it’s a little messy and neglected. But I’m sure we’ll clean it up and play again. :)

July 27, 2015

Our Summer Homeschooling Plans

My son’s carnivorous plants are thriving, and one plan we have for this summer is to give them a bigger pot!

Someone once told me that summer has a mind of its own, and I believe that. For the past few summers, I’ve learned to go with the flow, and I know that my plans might not come to fruition. That’s happened this year too, but I’m pretty happy about what we’ve accomplished anyway.

I always wonder if we should do some formal lessons in the summer or just have unlimited free time. The thing about not having any schedule is that I’m afraid I might disconnect from my kids, concentrating on projects around the house and work that I’ve been neglecting for a long time. I’ve also noticed that having a little structure just feels right for us. If I keep the boys busy in the morning, they are less likely to mope around and say they are bored in the afternoon when I need them to play by themselves. Or, if I decide to let them have free play time in the morning, one of them might come ask me to do something with them anyway. So, if I feel like I’ve planned to spend the time with them, I don’t get as discombobulated, wondering when to say yes and when to say no. I hope that makes sense!

Of course, we do need days when there is nothing on the schedule, and the boys can do anything they want. We do that plenty of days all year round, so I’m not too worried about making them do too much. Besides, what I consider schoolwork for the boys is not torture, and sometimes, it’s exactly what they want to do. It just helps me to have a plan so I can make sure we’re accomplishing our goals.

Here was my loose idea of what we could work on this summer. Keep in mind that this isn’t a daily list. Some of these items we may do everyday, but others we may only do weekly or even just a day or two in the summer.

  • Math — I’m going to be making math more a priority for my eight-year-old from here on out because he’s pretty much got the reading thing.
  • Readalouds
  • The boy’s projects
  • News and current events
  • Art
  • Catch up on Nature Journals
  • Work on our junior ranger badges
  • Memorize a poem
  • Work on our history timeline
  • Summer camps

So how’s that going? Here you go:

Math — Yes, we’ve worked on math. But I was planning to do more readalouds with math books, and that didn’t happen because it’s hard to get the books from the library! (Other people want the same books I do. Grrr.) However, we did read The History of Counting, and I signed my eight-year-old up for Splash Math’s summer program. I don’t actually recommend that program — I thought it was going to be something else, but it’s just a review. If you need a review, and your kid likes working on the computer, then it might be a good fit. It has fun graphics. I signed up early, so it wasn’t expensive, but as it gets harder, my son really hates it, and it doesn’t offer any explanation of how to do the problems (it only tells you the right answer, if you get it wrong), so I’m considering letting him stop.

Readalouds — Like I said, I was hoping all of our readalouds would be about math, but that didn’t happen. So we’re continuing on in The Complete Tales & Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh, which was one of our best library book sale finds ever. (We got it for $2!) The boys like Winnie much better than the math books anyway. (We also read books of my sons’ choice, usually at bedtime, but I’m not counting that here because it’s not part of my formal homeschool plan.)

The boy’s projects — I started a project calendar, and I’ve been trying to make myself available when the boys might want to make or do something time-intensive, and that is working out fairly well. (I’ll write about this in more detail at some point.) However, their projects these days are less about making something and more about doing: My eight-year-old started taking piano lessons this summer, and he’s practicing at home on his own. The five-year-old is interested in birds, and he mostly wants to look at our bird app, which I do with him at night before bed. I listed all of my boys’ current projects in The Summer Rundown.

News and current events — For a while, I was wondering how to introduce my son to news and current events in a way that would engage him. home/school/life magazine has a great list of resources on its blog, which came from the Summer 2014 issue, but my son seemed too young for most of those. Then I found News-O-Matic, which is an app. My son didn’t like it at first, but I incorporated it into our lessons, and now he voluntarily checks it everyday! I can’t recommend it enough.

Art — Most Fridays (but not all), I have kept up with our art lessons, and I even incorporated some math! One Friday I surprised the boys by turning Art Friday into a field trip to the Georgia Museum of Art.

Catch up on Nature Journals — My eight-year-old used to enjoy this more, but it may be coming to a close. The day we were working on this, my son lost interest pretty fast, so I probably won’t make him continue. After all, we started it when he was four, maybe?!

Work on junior ranger badges — I thought we might make a point to go on some family outings to places that we need to go to make progress on getting the next badges this summer, but with the intense heat and the summer camps keeping us busy, we’re not going to make much headway this summer. That’s okay because it’s just an ongoing project that we do whenever we can. We did, however, earn some Civil War badges this summer. They didn’t require a lot of work, and it was fun too.

Memorize a poem — This is something I’d like to start incorporating into our homeschool on a seasonal basis, but so far, I am lousy at making time for it. The boys and I memorized poems in the spring, but I never did anything with it. I should have videotaped them because they’ve probably forgotten it by now!

Work on our history timeline — I finished making two big timelines this spring, and I need to get more intentional about adding what we learn about history to them. Really, it’s just about setting aside a day to work on this because we have some things in mind to add to it! I think we’ll get to this soon.

Summer CampsTruly, the summer is about summer camps. It’s my number one priority for many reasons, and anything else we can get done is just icing on the cake. I wrote about the camps my sons took in my upcoming column, which will be published soon, and I’ll post it here too.

As you can see, we haven’t been able to do everything. But with lots of play time, gardening, bird-watching, sketching, and other odds and ends, we have had quite a full summer! Soon, I’m going to do an end-of-the-year celebration and let my sons know that they are moving on to 3rd grade and Kindergarten. I have been busy planning some birthday celebrations and next year’s curriculum too….I’ll be sure to update you about that as it happens.

Do you homeschool year-round? What are your favorite summer activities?

July 21, 2015

Piano Lessons

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on July 15, 2015.

My friends were all surprised when I told them that my eight-year-old wanted to take piano lessons. I had never talked about music with them before, and my son had never mentioned it when we were on a play date. That’s because music is my husband’s domain. He’s not a musician, and he has never played an instrument, but listening to music – all kinds of music – is one of his favorite pastimes. It’s how he relaxes.

My husband’s playlists on his iPod are well organized while I don’t feel like I have time to fiddle with a MP3 player. Rides in the car with me are mostly music-less. I love music, but listening to my boy’s chatter all day makes me savor any silence I can get. Riding with my husband is fun, though, because he’s got music for every mood.

But my son’s interest in music started much earlier. We have a funny story about how Beethoven’s 9th symphony, or at least, Ode to Joy, became his favorite piece of music. There was about a year or more when my son was four and five when he wanted to listen to this symphony constantly, and we obliged him by listening to it in the car. He had heard it on an episode of Little Einsteins, and despite hearing many pieces of music on that show, he had latched on to that one.

I will always wonder if it had something to do with the fact that when I was pregnant with him, my husband and I attended a free concert at the University of Georgia to hear Beethoven’s 9th. It’s during that concert that I felt the unmistakable movements of my baby inside my womb for the very first time. I’ll never know for sure, but we always tell our son that that’s why he loves Beethoven’s 9th symphony so much.

Also when he was five and six, we attended a church that had a fantastic piano player. My son wanted to sit right up in the first pew in front of the piano and watch that guy play. He played lots of classical music. Our son was so fascinated with the piano that we asked him if he wanted to take piano lessons. At that time, he gave an unequivocal no, so we forgot about it.

Fast forward to a few months ago, and one night, my husband found my son pretending to play piano on our cheap, digital keyboard. My husband, expecting to hear “no” again, asked my son if he’d like to take piano lessons. We were both taken aback when our son said yes.

At first, we said no. We were wondering how we could afford the lessons and buy the proper equipment, but after two or three months more, my husband started to feel guilty about that and said he wanted our son to have the lessons, if he really wanted them. And he did.

So now he’s been taking lessons for a few weeks. Through a local homeschooling group, I found a great teacher whose rates we can afford, and better yet, she lives in nearby Statham. Through some research, my husband discovered that you actually could buy a full digital piano with weighted keys at a reasonable price. They are good for beginners, at least.

Our son seems to enjoy the lessons, and he’s practicing everyday, though we don’t force him. This is his thing, and we’ll be happy for as long as it lasts. He knows, however, that we won’t continue paying for lessons, if he isn’t going to practice.

I am thrilled because music is one subject I knew I couldn’t teach, and I was afraid we would have a gap in the boys’ education because of that. Though if nothing else, my husband gives the boys lessons in music appreciation. He shows them YouTube videos of everything from classical music to hard rock. Now that the eight-year-old is taking piano lessons, they are spending time exploring different kinds of composers and watching symphonies online. Of course, they started off with Beethoven’s 9th.

As I’ve said before, my son is not me, and I’m so glad about that. When I was young, I wanted to play the flute, but did I ever practice? No. Somehow this kid inherited the genes of discipline, and I can’t wait to see where this takes him.

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