Friday, December 22, 2006

The Ballet and the importance of field trips

Since we are homeschooling, one thing we are trying to do is arrange various field trips for our daughter. It is tricky getting good age-appropriate ones for a four year old. However, when our daughter started getting hooked on anything ballet, we thought it would be good to go see the Nutcracker this Christmas. She was able to see her first ballet this evening, and her imagination is going to be full of it for some time to come. It was a very nice production and very magical to the eyes of a four year old. We were a little worried that she would freak out during the applause since she usually does. However, we talked about it before hand and she actually clapped some herself a few times. When she didn't, she at least refrained from going into the screaming tantrum she usually goes for. One thing we forgot about was the type of seats you find in auditoriums like that. She is a little light for those seats that flip up. One of us had to hold it down for her so she didn't get swallowed up. Overall, it was a great experience for her and an enjoyable one for us.

She has been wanting to be a dancer and dances to just about any music, so showing her what it really looks like seemed to be a good thing to us. It also helped that she is already familiar with the music thanks to Disney's Fantasia. I guess the next step will be a preschool level dance class (once she masters the potty training). That will be where the rubber meets the road. Will our headstrong daughter take instruction on how to do something? Or will she insist on doing things her own way and therefore lose any benefit a class could give her? I'm not sure which way she will go. I can see her doing well, because it is something she loves. But, I can also see the possibility that her lazy side will decide that it is too much work. We would love for her to put in the work and do well at dancing, but it is still extra-curricular as far as we are concerned. If she tries it and then decides against it we will let her stop, but only if she has put in the required work for that class series. With her personality, we will have to work extra-hard to instill disciplined habits.

We would also love it if our kids learned a musical instrument and developed their art skills. They will need some kind of sport, martial art, gymnastics or dance to get in the physical education aspect of schooling(a walk in the neighborhood is a nice start, but doesn't do enough in the long run). We think we have the basics of reading, writing and arithmatic covered OK. My husband's strong point is music, literature, and science. My strong point is history, theology and research. That covers a wide range of topics, so we keep coming up with wish lists of other things we would like to teach our kids to put the icing on the cake so to speak. One thing we still have to decide is languages other than English (should we do modern languages or classical languages for example). Should we require the musical instrument instruction or be satisfied with some other type of music instruction should they not be interested when we think they should be? (So far they love it when Daddy brings out the harp for them to play on). So, we get off onto tangents thinking about the future schooling of our kids from time to time. We have to bring ourselves back to reality by reminding ourselves that our oldest child is just four. We have time to work it all out. If we keep our education goals in mind, we will do just fine.

So, for a four year old, field trips that expose her to new and interesting things are a good thing. We are going to try to do something once a month. January we are thinking of a snow trip (since we are fairly close to some nice snowy mountains). What better way to introduce the concepts of seasons, weather, and even some basic physics than sliding down a snowy hill. Mommy will need family or friend volunteers to go with Daddy and the kids for that one. Too close to my due date to be heading into the mountains. We haven't figured out February's trip yet, but I suspect it will be the visit to the hospital to meet child number three (and lots of discussions about babies and families). Once things are growing again in spring we were thinking of a visit to a farm (seasons again, animals, crops, and the way we get our food). Sometime in summer, we could do a beach trip (seasons, oceans, different geography). I'm not sure she's ready for the local fire station yet. We may save that one for next year. One other thing that the field trips are good for is to get us adults out of our routines and do something adventurous.

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