Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Gymnastics and Music

I am knee deep in books about preschool philosophy and program activities and loving it.  I love the planning stage (it's all so perfect) but am not so great at implementation. That's why I need a community to make sure it gets done (I am an obliger).

In high school, people would ask me what I wanted to do (as I was taking 5 AP classes).  I always responded teach preschoolers and I got the STRANGEST looks.  God has a sense of humor because in the end I will have preschoolers in my house for almost 15 years!! Although classroom is VERY different than living with them. Actually, my full dream is coming true - I get to teach preschoolers and middle and high school history next year!

Weird - yes.  Ideal for me - YES!

I will share resources as I figure out both of these paths.

My favorite preschool activity books - so far!
Although I have looked down upon activities I realize that they provide essential experiences for kids - if you choose good ones.  I have been reading through all of the resources by the author of Let's Play, Jeff Johnson and they are original and boy friendly.  My 4 yo spent 20 minutes looking at the black and white pictures and text heavy book asking when we could do these things.  PERFECT!

Although these are activity books, they are still firmly rooted in the Classical Tradition as I implement them.  I am re-reading Clark and Jain's The Liberal Arts Tradition because I am so tired of hearing about inappropriate approaches to early childhood education touted as the only way for those who are classical (read straight memorization).  I will never be a pinterest mom with tons of projects but young kids do learn best through experiences. This is another reason for a co-op so that I know that my kids are getting some hands on experiences.  We also have moms working on music, poetry, drama and art appreciation to make sure that they have exposure to real beauty.  It seems to me that early childhood could be brought down to 2 words - experience and exposure.

I digress. Clark and Jain explain that gymnastics and musical education are the foundations (after piety) of a classical education.  Our modern definitions of these words are too narrow and they suggest:
Gymnastic training is concerned with the entire physical conditioning of a child.  It culminates in competitive running, swimming, wrestling, etc. but includes the rudiments of control over the body as well. 
This reminds me that I don't do this intentionally enough.  I am excited about reading Balanced and Barefoot which argues that as a culture (in the past 20 years) we have really dropped the ball on this issue. I also enjoy Afterthoughts' recent posts about physical education and Charlotte Mason (here and here). Our co-op group started as a park day group so that our kids could get together and really play outside in the "woods".
Music is similarly broad and treats of what the ancients believed to be inspired by the Muses. This aspect of education includes what we now call music, but also poetry, drama, the fine arts and literature. . . . history, geography and even astronomy are "musical " subjects as well. 
In case you missed it:
In classical antiquity a major portion of of the education of children (throughout many of the years we devote to our pre-K through 12th grade programs) consisted of physical training, singing, memorizing poetry, acting/ imitating, drawing, sculpting, learning of the deeds of great men of the past, reading great literary works, and experiencing and observing the natural world. 
Did you see that - throughout many of the years - meaning more than just a year or two?! In the end the whole point is

Kids will imitate and learn and come to know things "by heart" but this is accomplished through a sense of wonder and love.
For Lewis, musical education is not window dressing for our educational program it is essential and foundational.  Without a well stocked moral imagination, without trained sentiment, without a heart there is no human flourishing.  
I am so glad that we have Artios Academies in our midst here because they provide music, drama, art, literature and the great stories of history throughout the grades (the other co-op I enjoy). They realize that the arts aren't extra and are key to developing the heart (thus their tag Art. Heart. Smart.).  I am so lame in these areas but I am glad that, in community, my children don't have to be.

My kids are helping me rediscover wonder and enjoy the world He has created in new ways.  Thank you for the blessing of new eyes (and various personalities) to help me see and re-form my heart as I look with them!  I am learning to love new things, question and enjoy.

See what others are reading over at Ladydusk.

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