Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaching Music

Not many homeschool parents work as music instructors on the side. So how do those of us without music backgrounds teach our kids about music? Many parents choose to enroll their child in music classes or piano lessons, not at all unlike what their public school counterparts would do. You don’t have to be a homeschooler to take piano lessons, after all.

There are some music programs for young children that provide a wonderful mix of music and movement, such as the Kindermusik program. While expensive, most children really love these classes, where they learn about rhythm and moving with the beat. What 5 or 6 year old doesn’t like to jump up and dance? They even learn to use basic instruments, like a drum, whistle, maracas, and xylophones, and have fun doing it.

But if you’d rather take a do-it-yourself approach, just playing a variety of types of music for your kids is a great start. Kids who are exposed to all types of music appreciate music more than kids who only hear mom’s favorite radio station. When you get in the car, play a different CD each time. You can check out music CDs from the library so your kids can hear classical, reggae, Celtic music, and maybe even songs sung in a foreign language. If you throw in a few short sentences where you explain to the kids what they’re hearing, or perhaps a little about the artist or time period the music is from, it’s more like a school lesson. All these little bits of music exposure add up to some real learning!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Elementary Foreign Language Curriculum

Not everyone is lucky enough to have an Italian grandmother at home to teach them Italian, or Russian immigrants a couple of doors down who love the idea of sharing their language and culture with neighborhood kids. How about the rest of us who want our young children to learn a foreign language, and in particular, the homeschooling families who don’t have public school resources to take advantage of?

There are several options for parents seeking to teach their homeschooled kids a foreign language, but they do require some research first to find the best fit for your family. The best way to develop fluency is for the child to speak and hear the language daily, but that isn’t always possible. If relatives of yours speak Spanish, then obviously this is an easier choice to teach your child over French, which the child would never have a chance to practice.

Along those same lines, speaking the language with another person is much preferable over speaking it into a computer. Many of the available computer programs are excellent, but reciting vocabulary words to yourself or the computer just doesn’t give the same quality of feedback as if you were speaking them to another person.

If you or someone in your family isn’t a fluent speaker of the language you want to teach, and you can’t find a native speaker to tutor your kids either, the foreign language computer programs are your only real alternative, and while not ideal, they do get the job done. Check your local library also for language resources to help along the way, and above all, stick with it! Persistence is the key to learning another language.