Song of the Week is
something I started this year (this past week, in fact), and it gives
an idea of our approach to homeschooling.

   
       
Mr. Boy’s first grade music curriculum looks like this:

                        Music: Per Student’s Interest.

 

In
other words, I want the freedom to include music instruction and
practice, and count it in my legal school days, but I don’t want to be
obligated to complete a particular course of study.  There
might be some year in the future when we include a plan for formal
music training in his curriculum, but this is not that year – this year
we are more or less unschooling for the subject.

Song of the Week, meanwhile, developed initially not out of the kids’ interests, but from my own.  There have always been certain songs that I enjoy, but can’t really sing on my own since I don’t know the lyrics.  And
there are songs my kids request, but I can’t teach them because I don’t
know the lyrics; and finally, there are songs I wish my kids knew, but
I’ve never taught them.  In the back of my mind I would badger myself with you-really-oughttas.  I decided it was time to take action.

So this year I got the idea to pull out my handy calendar, and assign a specific song to learn each week.  Keeping
with my Just-In-Time approach to life, I’ve only filled in our first
three weeks so far, plus a few seasonal songs throughout the year.  I’ll
fill in the remaining weeks as they occur, and I have a page in my
school binder where I note down songs I’d like to include, whenever I
think of one.

Last week was our first week of formal lessons.  In preparation I printed out the lyrics to our song (I used www.hymnsite.com), and in this case listened to the midi file over and over, because I needed to learn the tune as well.  I
slipped the lyrics inside the transparent cover-thing on the back of my
homeschooling binder, so that they would be right at hand sitting on my
kitchen counter for easy reference.

I practiced on my own while doing dishes and so forth.  By
Monday morning when I introduced the song to the kids, they had
therefore already heard the song more than a few times, just from being
in the same house as me.  
   
    On our first day of school, we all sat down around the kitchen table.  After a quick opening prayer, I sang the first verse and chorus for them.  Sang it again, and they joined in as the could.  Sang it one more time, and then we’d all had enough.  We moved on to penmanship.

Meanwhile, I discovered a couple problems with my planned approach: 

    1) I learned that first grade went much more quickly
and smoothly if Mr. Boy and I just sneaked off to work quietly together
while the girls were playing, rather than trying to include everybody
in a one-room-schoolhouse model.  

    2) I learned that I had planned way too much for
this year.   I needed to pare down our formal lesson time so
we didn’t exceed a reasonable lesson length for a six-year-old.

 

So
I switched to a new approach in the ensuing days: I sung my hymn aloud
during my morning prayer and scripture time, which I take on the back
porch overlooking the kid’s play yard.  The kids can join me as much or as little as they like.  I also sing the hymn around the house while doing chores, serving lunch, and so forth. 
If the kids so requested I would have taken some impromptu time to
teach them the lyrics — but it appears this past week's selection
wasn't all that interesting to them.

I
reminded myself that this particular song was chosen because I
personally wanted to learn it; if it were a song I thought my kids
truly needed to know for themselves, I might re-prioitize it so that we
sat down and memorized it together.  I also
kept in mind that a song I introduce this year we can always choose to
include in formal lessons in a future year, if it really is that
important to us.

 

And so goes Song of the Week.  In future posts I’ll share our selections and how I chose them.


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