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3 Ways To Easily Incorporate Music In Your Homeschool

We KNOW music is a thing of beauty and importance - and we know it should be an integral part of our children's education.

Many times, however, we don't feel equipped to include music in our homeschools, or there simply isn't time. 

Let me introduce you to a family that will inspire you to include music (and all things beautiful) in your children's education - and you won't hear from me, but from the adult homeschooled children themselves. I can only imagine what it will feel like to have my children grown and telling their stories about home education!

Their mother is a dear friend and mentor to me - in fact, she was one of the first encouraging voices I heard in our early days of homeschooling. 

As they tell their story of being home educated, they will also share with us ways to easily include music in our days - with a special printable for you at the end.  Enjoy!

(This post is packed full of all kinds of good things!)

3 Ways to Incorporate Music in Your Homeschool

Lauren Cibene (left) and Bethany Reaves (far right) are ⅔ of the mother-daughter team behind Mommasdesk.com. For both of these homeschool (and college) graduates, classical music has been an integral part of their education. Lauren began piano at the age of five. Bethany began with piano and moved into harp at age thirteen, performing with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra. Bethany is now a Certified Music Practitioner.

Their beautiful mother, Denise, has a background in occupational therapy, is a wife and mother extraordinaire, encourager of moms, and is the third team member at Momma's Desk. 

3 Ways to Incorporate More Music in Your Homeschool

Lauren:

Music has always been a substantial part of our home education experience. I wouldn’t hesitate to say, and I know all three of my siblings would agree, that our mom’s insistence on our musical pursuits has been one of the most defining things in our lives. Now, three of the four of us have graduated and all of us maintain our musical loves and pursuits. And all of us have experienced the thrill of earning money from performing and/or teaching others!

Bethany:

Being exposed to music while I was still very young allowed me to exercise healthy habit forming practices and instilled in me a sense of commitment and dedication. Having a set time every day to practice my instrument and attending weekly lessons added structure during elementary school and pushed me to commit to something even when it was less than easy.

I have always loved schedules, structure, and having an organized day so the scheduled practices, lessons, and recitals catered to that desire in my heart. The performance aspect of music was also very influential to me as a young girl. Being an introvert, I would rather sit quietly among others than stand up and have all eyes on me alone. The recitals and performances on my instruments allowed time to work towards a goal, exposure performing in front of others, and having the reward of a goal met.  Although some children might not need help reaching their individual goals, this process can be very important for quiet introverts.

Being exposed to music early in life can also build skills such as working with others and team building. When you practice playing an instrument with others, the group as a whole is forced to understand each other on a deeper level through patient cooperation. Performing duets or being a member of a quartet will instill priceless team building values in your student.

3 Ways to Incorporate Music in Your Homeschool Day

Lauren, Bethany - and brothers Josh & Ethan

Lauren:

Cooperation, patience, and team building skills are not often touted as virtues achieved through ‘musical’ means. Usually, athletic sports have these character-building traits monopolized. But, it’s very true - my experience performing in a group setting definitely developed these character traits in me.


Bethany:

My opportunity to perform in orchestras was one of the most rewarding experiences in my musical career. The symphony allowed me to be a part of a level of musical excellence that I would have never been able to accomplish as a solo performer.


Lauren:

In high school, we had grandparents pass away, which was my first up-close interaction with death. This is always a very formative experience and I remember music becoming more than a practice or discipline and evolving into a truly emotional expression. It was a gift and a lifeline that I would not have had if not for my mom’s faithful insistence on music in the classroom. It was also a welcome outlet and escape day-to- day when the more frustrating
school subjects (ahem ALGEBRA) become overwhelming.

Bethany:

Music is art and it allows for the soul to express emotions when words just fall short. At the same time, music is mathematical and strengthens the brain’s comprehension and multitasking.
 

Lauren:

The benefits of music education are multiple and profound. So, we’ve put together a few ideas just for you.

 


 

3 Ways Homeschoolers Can Easily Incorporate Music


1. Take musical breaks.

We believe that if students  take breaks in between math and history classes and intentionally listen to classical music or practice an instrument -
for even 30 minutes - the students will be able to focus on the rest of their studies and the level distractions will be reduced. Not only does the student learn a beautiful and invaluable skill, but their brain is extended and exercised in a way that can only be achieved through music.

2. Meet one of the greats.

Learning about the men and women who have composed famous melodies inspires us to compose our own music! While names like Bach,
Beethoven, and Mozart are familiar, something that we’re passionate about at MommasDesk.com is raising awareness of famous women who might have hidden behind a masculine nom de plume while they were creating.

We’re shining a very special spotlight on Fanny Mendelssohn in our Leading Ladies series. Meet Fanny Mendelssohn here and inspire the little lady composers in your classroom to compose and learn about beautiful music.  Here's a little bit to get you started with your research - delve a bit deeper with your children, then grab this adorable Fanny Mendelssohn coloring sheet to complete.

Fanny Mendelssohn, the sister of the famous Felix Mendelssohn, was denied the right to practice her talents because (according to her brother) "She is far too self-respecting a woman for that; she sees to her house and thinks not of the public."   At the age of 40 she finally went against her brother's wishes and published some of her compositions, which were well received.  She died suddenly, however, two years later.  Being wracked with guilt, her brother had more of her compositions published before HE died - just six months later.

Play this piece for your children as they color their Fanny Mendelssohn sheet - what a simple, beautiful lesson.


3. Incorporate SQUILT into your homeschool.

To be intentional about providing a music education in your homeschool, we would encourage you to integrate Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time  SQUILT into your school day. Your students will learn how to mindfully listen to music, meet great composers, and be exposed to all the different instruments that make up an orchestra. We wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they become passionate about learning to play their favorite instrument!  

And now, in addition to open and go volumes that are easy to use, Mary is teaching LIVE lessons through the new SQUILT LIVE! membership. Exposing your children to beautiful music has never been easier! 

 

Thank you Lauren, Bethany, and Denise for sharing with the Homegrown Learners community today -- beautiful stories like this inspire us all to incorporate more beauty in our homeschools!

 

If you’re already intentionally incorporating music in your classroom,

what are the benefits you’ve witnessed in your students?

 

Drop us a line and share with us! 

Learn About the Pilgrims

When we abandoned the ideal of public school for homeschooling, one of the most eye opening experiences for me was teaching history.

It was then that I realized the INACCURACY and LACK OF DEPTH in the public school history curriculum. 

Homeschooling gave us an opportunity to go so much deeper in our studies of the Pilgrims than we ever did in public school. We only learned the "textbook" version -- and there is so much more to the story.  

I was also first introduced to "living books" when we studied the story of the First Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims - my eyes were opened even further! (We all have fond memories of The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh!)

We made our first notebooks during this time, too - so many wonderful memories.

Below are some resources to help you teach your children all about the Pilgrims. 

Have fun, and remember -- if your kids are super interested in this, take time and stop to learn for a while. You won't regret it.

Learn About the Pilgrims

Learn About the Pilgrims

Concise history about the Pilgrims - This site gives a good overview of the story of the Pilgrims for children.

Mayflower History - In depth website offering information about the Mayflower and it's passengers. You can find the Mayflower Passenger List, the Mayflower Genealogy, and much, much more.

Plimoth Plantation - Visit this page to learn all about Plimoth Plantation and find activities designed just for kids. Don't miss how to Talk Like a Pilgrim. I know my kids would love it if we all started talking like Pilgrims for a day. You can also take a Virtual Field Trip, find coloring pages, and an Interactive activity where you are the Historian.

A Pilgrimage to Plymouth - Read about Brandi (from Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood) Ferrell's visit to Plymouth and her family's experience visiting this historical location first hand. 

Stories of the Pilgrims - You can read these wonderful stories for free at The Baldwin Project. These stories follow the journey of the Pilgrims.  Read about how Mary used this resource in her homeschool when her children were younger.  

Children on the Mayflower - You can read some brief information about the children who were on the Mayflower and the important role they played. 

Beyond the Pilgrim Story - This site provides many details that help you go deeper in your studies about the Pilgrims. You can read the Mayflower Compact, what has been said about the Pilgrims over the years, about their relationship with the Native Americans, their provisions lists, and more. 

Videos about the Pilgrims - list of short videos about the Pilgrims, from various websites. There are a few Ted-Ed videos about the Pilgrims such as The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving and When is Thanksgiving? Of course, as with any videos online, please preview to see if they are appropriate for your family. 

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress Videos - You can watch this book come to life. 

This Charlie Brown video is an educational classic. 


Hands on Pilgrims Activities

Unit Study About the Pilgrims - These fun activities will enhance your student's knowledge about the Pilgrims. Make a pocket, document your family tree, play games that the Pilgrims may have played, and make a pilgrim-inspired meal.   

How to Draw Cartoon Pilgrims - Anything that involves art, my kids are going to love. 

Pilgrim Unit Study - Unit study resources designed primarily for preschool through fifth grade. Links to plenty of crafts and other ideas to engage your children in learning about the pilgrims.

Lego Pilgrims History Lesson - Great idea for using Lego mini-figs to act out the story of the Pilgrims. Anything involving Legos is a hit in our house!

Clothespin Pilgrims - this tutorial shows you how to make beautiful clothespin Pilgrims. 

Dye a shirt using onion skins - This activity shows your children just how resourceful the Pilgrims had to be.  They can dye a shirt or other fabric using onion skins. 

Copywork for Younger Children - You'll find pilgrim copywork and other activities here for younger children from Mama's Learning Corner. 

Thanksgiving Hymns - While this site isn't specifically about the Pilgrims, it lists hymns for Thanksgiving that could be a beautiful addition to your morning time while you are learning about the Pilgrims. 

Pilgrim Crafts and Activities - There are so many fun hands on crafts and activities you can do about the Pilgrims. Here's a list of some to pick and choose from. 

Make Pilgrim Recipes - Engaging your children in learning about the Pilgrims through cooking can be a fun way to incorporate history into your day.


Books and Other Resources to Learn About the Pilgrims


Learn About the Pilgrims

Are  you studying about the pilgrims this year in your homeschool? 

I hope these resources are helpful to you!

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3 Ways to Foster Independence in the Middle Grades Child

One of the biggest challenges that comes with homeschooling "big kids" is fostering independence.

The middle grades years are relatively "low stakes" and are the perfect training ground for independence.

My ears perk up when I receives questions like this from readers:

The biggest question for me right now is teaching independence. I'm trying to move away from the "I need to sit here while you do this work" mode. But of course I can't leap right to the "here's your pile of work, now sit down and get it done" mode either!

What steps did you/would you take to foster independence?

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I can share what we have done with our children in their middle school years.

 

Three Ways to Foster Independence in the Middle Grades

*This post contains affiliate links.

Relationship, Relationship, Relationship

When children are secure in their relationships, they are more secure in themselves and their independence.

Relationships with Parents:

Training the heart must come first. 

Kids in our house (and I am sure it's true in other houses, too) are more compliant, cheerful, and overall more willing when our relationship is strong.

During the middle grades years relationships can be difficult. It would be so easy to "check out" with our adolescents, but this is precisely the time they need us MOST. 

I've recently been re-reading a book that once changed my entire outlook on raising an adolescent. Hold On To Your Kids stresses the importance of the parent/child attachment and how this single factor determines so much of our children's values, academic success, and self esteem. 

Fostering Independence in Your Middle Grades Child: Relationship!

Kids crave closeness with their families at this age. They may not show it or say it, but they do. Take every step necessary to make your family their number one source of comfort, fun, and safety.  We try to guide our children first and foremost, but also to be a source of FUN.  If our children's needs are being met at home they are less likely to look to have them met elsewhere.

The parent/child relationship is paramount to our children gaining independence. The world does not value or protect this relationship. Do everything you can to keep your children close - you are what they need MOST at this age.

 

Relationships with Peers:

We were (and are) extremely vigilant about the peer interactions our middle schoolers have.

(This is where I am SO thankful we homeschool - peer interactions in traditional school get more than tricky at this age.)

Do your children have peers who care about them and support them?  Don't accept the common notion that "middle schoolers can just be mean". This isn't so.  I'm here to tell you middle schoolers can be lovely young people who care about each other. Teach your child to be discerning as they navigate their friends at this age.

You, as their parent, will also need to set some very strict guidelines on what types of friends they can and cannot have.

Both of my children participated in the Challenge program through Classical Conversations, where peer relationships were strong. We know these families. We share similar values. 

This is also the age where many middle schoolers begin going to their church youth groups.  Be careful as your children attend their youth gatherings. Often times this is the place where many of the worldly influences sneak in. It's best to keep a close eye on youth group at this age. I know of some youth groups that are wonderful, and others where the peer influences just aren't good.

 

A Weekly Schedule with Accountability

The Schedule

A schedule made by my children (with my careful supervision and guidance) at the beginning of each academic week has been VERY helpful in fostering independence.

No matter your school situation, train your child to create their own schedule. Build in accountability and allow them to make mistakes along the way! 

In our situation my children were given all of their Challenge assignments in a guide book. After their weekly class meeting, we would sit down and plan out what each day would look like. They every.single.assignment and then posts their schedule above their desk.  

It is a simple sheet, which is copied each week and then filled in - you could have your child design their own form for even more ownership. We tried a fancy planner and it just didn't work for us. This one sheet worked best for both of my children.

schedulechallengea.png.png

 No matter your homeschooling method, program, or style -- you can model keeping a schedule and assist your child in creating their own schedule for increased independence.

 

A Dedicated Work Space

A dedicated work space can inspire organization and accountability in your child. It also makes your child feel that their work MATTERS and is deserving of a special place in your home.

As our children grew we decided to carve out a space for them in our basement. It is just around the corner from my husband's office (he works from home) - so the basement is definitely the "work" area.  

Here you see the desk and shared computer area: 

Three Ways to Foster Independence in Your Homeschool -- a Dedicated Work Space

We also purchased bookshelves from IKEA to keep all of our homeschool books organized neatly. 

You would be amazed at what good organization and a dedicated space does for a child's independence! 

3 Ways to Foster Independence in the Middle Grades Child: A Dedicated Work Space

All of this is a work in progress.

Many days it's hard to follow a schedule, work in your dedicated space, and maintain good relationships. It's almost as if this is an ongoing process -  training the heart and independence issues. This, however, (from what I have gleaned from veteran homeschool moms) is NORMAL and NECESSARY.

Do not be discouraged if it is slow going, moms. You are doing important work which takes time and patience. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is your child's homeschool independence.

As I was talking with a good friend of mine today (who has a son the same age as my oldest) she mentioned something irresponsible/immature her child had done.  She said to him (jokingly), "What are you?  13?  Oh right. You are 13!"

We need to remember our children are exactly that - CHILDREN. Set your expectations high, but keep in mind their age and what you are asking of them. Remember to give grace and forgiveness liberally!  Sometimes we feel the weight of the world on our homeschooling shoulders. Pray, foster relationships, and love your children.

We have such amazing children we are nurturing! 

 

Do you have any specific tips for fostering independence in your middle grades child?

Please share in the comments below!

 

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