Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two Wheelers

One of the things I've always disliked about the places we've lived is they are not good places for kids to learn to ride a bike.  Maybe my perception is a bit flawed since I grew up on a dead-end street which is a *perfect* place to ride a bike.  But trying to teach a child to ride on a road where one is constantly keeping an eye out for traffic can be a little nerve-wracking.  Not to mention all the cars parked on the side that present wonderful learning opportunities for one's child to learn about  So up until now we've* had to take the boys to the nearby park to teach them how to ride.  Which is a bit more inconvenient than just stepping outside one's door and using one's driveway or, like I said, non-busy road.  This is why we have a 9-year-old who is just now learning how to ride without training wheels.  Granted, he's spent the last year or two practicing without training wheels, however I can count on my two hands how many times he's been able to do that.  The nice part about having an older child now though is seeing the common sense that starts to grow in their little brains which makes it easier to let them ride on one's own street.  Having the ability to keep a lookout for cars is enormously helpful.  So now as I sit here at the computer typing, I'm also keeping an eye on the boys who are enjoying riding up and down our street.

Here is Mike videotaping the boys riding on their bikes for the first time this season.  Notice Reagan's brand new neon green bike.  This video is also an example of why we wear our helmets at all times.

And even Damien got into the action with his own wheels. :)

Why did the baby cross the street?  To check out the Cherokee!

Update: Jayce is now a speed demon on his bike and Reagan has never gone as fast since his fall. Landon, who inherited Reagan's small bike, prefers to "practice to run" on the sidewalk instead.

* What am I saying?  Of course we are not teaching our boys to ride bikes.  I give Michael full credit for taking on these kinds of challenges all by himself while I nervously watch.  Or rather ideally not watch at all and hide inside the house pretending there is no possible way for my children to get seriously injured during an expected and natural childhood activity. (See video above for example.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Violin Recitals

I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.  ~Shin'ichi Suzuki

While attending the annual homeschool convention in Massachusetts two years ago, I sat in on a workshop that, at first, threatened to bore me to death, and I almost walked out.  It was about the significance of classical music, and the presenter was extremely educated about the finer scientific points of how different types of music affects the development of the brain (Yes, rock music actually stunts your neural connectors or some such thing).  But as time wore on, it actually started to interest me, and by the end I was fascinated!  Apparently, he did such a good job convincing me of the importance of classical music (he stated if as a parent you do nothing academically with your child other than teach them how to play an instrument and listen to classical music, they will end up smarter-than-average students), I promptly came home and researched different instruments, different teachers and different teaching methods.  We settled on the violin and the teacher, a wonderful woman who teaches using the Suzuki method.

Never heard of the Suzuki method?  In a nutshell, the way I like to think of it is teaching a child how to play music before reading the notes just like how a baby learns how to speak before learning grammar.  It also helps the child feel accomplished and be rewarded almost instantly by having the ability to play a simple song.  Anyway, it has worked wonders with the two boys as they have come a long way musically-speaking since learning the first notes of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  So without further ado, here are the unedited, uncut videos of Jayce and Reagan's violin recital:

 I look forward to posting videos of their next recital in June so you can hear the difference they've made in five short months so stay tuned!