Carving Up An Education

Our middle child entered grade nine back in September. The one thing about her is that she strives for excellence in all of her classes. A few years ago, her grade four teacher advised us that she could easily skip a grade because of her intellect. My wife and I discussed this at great lengths but came to the conclusion that as proud as we would be in pushing this, we wanted our daughter to remain amongst her peers. This proved to be the right decision socially.

Back to the start of this school year…

Our daughter had made her selections for classes the year prior and was looking forward to some of the possibilities that awaited her. When she found out at the start of the school year that she’d be taking a class she had zero interest in- let’s just say disappointment was prevalent. That class you may ask?

Carving.

Once she began the year, she took it quite well. Her ambition to maintain straight “A’s” took over the disappointment factor. So she aced the class. It didn’t surprise me. The reason being- her Opa is fantastic at working with wood.

My wife’s father was a brick layer by trade, but enjoyed wood working and cabinetry as well. Much of our home was created and envisioned by him. Our children have been surrounded by his talents so naturally it opened up a door to their hidden abilities.

I love seeing something made from nothing so to speak. Creating art from a piece of wood or a blank canvas makes me happy.

Supporting the Students

Today my son shared with me some of the school work he has been working on this year. It was a part of a “Student Lead Conference” that was going on today. I’m always thrilled to see what they’ve been learning. It’s even better because of our son’s enthusiasm.

He was keen to show me everything. From how clean his locker was to his poem and picture of a Blue Butterfly. We spoke of science, math and French as well. I also took the opportunity to speak with his teachers as well and heard nothing but encouragement. In fact, the one teacher was really excited to tell me which group of kids I was going to have in the cabin in June. (It’s a secret that I am not allowed to tell my son.)

I have always been a huge proponent of the education system of all students. In the front of the school is this mural that I helped to create and be a part of a few years ago. There was a set of meetings that brought the teachers, parents, and the community together to help develop our district.

Years later, I see how innovative and successful the students are becoming. And how they are willing to grow and learn in different ways. Knowing that our kids aren’t afraid to share what they are learning makes me happy. It’s a relationship that I want to encourage and have flourish over time.

Supporting our youth today will make for a better world tomorrow.

One Last Item?

Back to school shopping was completed yesterday. Most of our supplies have been the leftovers from years gone by.  Saving money 101! Don’t throw it out or give it all to the kids at the start of the year! We have found that oftentimes the supplies requested aren’t all being used throughout the year.

We have a cupboard under our stairs that we have named “The School Supply Cupboard” – it’s a very original name. It also looks like it was ransacked and looted. No one wants to clean up, so it’s barfing out the contents everywhere.

We still needed a few things this year from Staples and Walmart. As I entered Staples, I remembered my childhood of back to school shopping. The K-Mart near us would have a list of the schools and the supplies needed to be picked up.  There wasn’t much selection back then- so nearly everyone had matching items on the first day. Sure, some of my fellow classmates had fancy pencils or pencil toppers, but nearly everything was the same. Nowadays there are too many options.  Many being far too expensive.


The last item we needed for our daughter going into Grade 8 was a cellphone. Giving a phone to a child isn’t ideal. But with the amount of after school activities and the difficulty of communication ahead of time, we knew this was a necessity. We had done the same for our oldest daughter when she entered Grade 8. Of course our two year contract was up on her phone as well, so she wanted an upgrade. Both of our daughters each now have an iPhone 7. A better phone than my wife and I at the moment.  My wife originally didn’t want to allow this. But with news that an iPhone 8 was coming out soon, she was ok having a lower model until the release date in a month or two.

These phones were the last big expense prior to the start of the school year. Next week, I’m pretty sure there will be hundreds of more dollars being requested. Ugh. It leaves me to wonder:

Why is free public education so expensive?

Back to School!!!

I can’t believe how quickly summer ended.  The weather was hot. The kids stayed active. And my last two weeks have been spectacular. We went to Vancouver Island, Powell River, camping on the west side of Harrison Lake, and finished it with a couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge.


We also enjoyed hanging out with friends and family, tasting beers, a horse show, swimming in various rivers, lakes & pools, Parkour, reading books, walks, fresh fruits & vegetables, plus movies and video games galore to name a few more.  This past summer was another great one that everyone enjoyed. Now we are looking forward to the start of the school year.


Music classes, drama, art, and photography will take center stage as our children enter their next year at Langley Fine Arts School. This means a new instrument- or two if one or more child chooses to try something different. We may need to update photography equipment- my father-in-law donated a bunch of developing equipment, so we may have to make a dark room. I love photography, so this could be a new hobby of mine as well…

Outside of school there has been a few changes. No more cheerleading for our middle daughter. She has decided to return to Speed Skating in an effort to make it into the BC Winter Games. All of our kids are leaving piano lessons (sadly šŸ˜¢) but they are wanting to pursue other musical passions. Such as guitar and drums! As the school year unfolds over the next month or so, I’m pretty sure more clubs and groups will be wanting to be joined by the kids.


I really love all the fun stuff we do together. I’m also really proud that my children want to take on new challenges as they get older. Promoting their education is a big deal.  Over the past few years, my wife and I constantly talk with our kids about post secondary education, scholarships, and their future successes. Even with our youngest going into grade 6, we still want him to focus on his future goals.

Throughout the school year there will be challenges. Some will be scheduling conflicts. Some may be financial conflicts. And of course, some will be motivational conflicts. Like how do you get your child to do homework when sitting in front of a screen would be so much more fun? Or how do you explain that even if they don’t like the way the teacher teaches, you still have to complete the work assigned? Almost every parent has these problems to face. Some parents face bigger issues that are much harder to talk about. Just remember that we’re all in it together. Oh yeah…

It’s almost back to school!!! With 3 exclamation points.

Turning JapaneseĀ 

I mentioned briefly in a previous post about wanting to travel to Tokyo to see Disneyland.  More like I wrote numerous blog posts about our adventure.  I also mentioned that I wanted to learn Japanese before we go.  Maybe I only mentioned it on my Facebook, but hey those are most of my readership anyways.

So I first went on a search to find some classes nearby.  No real success.  Next I decided to search online for advice on learning Japanese.  Many sites recommended numerous apps.  This lead me to downloading one that seemed perfect for my beginner brain.


And because I downloaded it on my Apple ITunes account, it is now shared with my children on their devices.  Now the competition to learn is on!  We began with the basics of numbers and pronounciations.  The other night at the dinner table we were yelling numbers at each other in English and Japanese.

For a free app it has brought us such joy.  So I decided to pay for the full app.  Not only did it unlock the Japanese lessons, but now we can learn the basics of other languages as well.    Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Mandarin are all included for the low price of $27.99.  That is essentially the cost of a text book.

This is going to be beneficial for our trip.  My children and I are going to each learn a language.  Firstly, we are having fun with Japanese and my kids are beating me at their knowledge retention on the numbers alone.  


What I am going to do over the next few months is to take each lesson and try to learn it the way I remember being taught how to learn French in school.  Start with numbers, months, greetings, etc… just to learn the basics.  I’m hoping that this will give me a strong foundation to survive a few days in another country.

Plus, you’re never too old to learn something new.  I’m going to keep working on making myself a better person as I continue to age.

SMRT

I often see in my children their potential to do something great with their lives.  I then begin beaming with pride at all of those “what-if” scenarios.  Architect?  Musician?  Olympian?  The future is wide open.  My wife and I push them to do their best at whatever it is they are working on.  The results thus far have been rewarding.  Both to us as parents, and the look of satisfaction on our children’s faces.


My two oldest came home with excellent report cards this week.  All “A’s” and one “B” this semester.  After telling them how proud we were with their grades, we did the inevitable- we asked how they thought they could improve that one grade from a “B” to an “A”.  Not that they needed to improve it.  They are already getting really good grades on a regular basis.  

It takes hard work to get those grades.  My wife and I are constantly reminding them about homework and practice.  Sometimes I worry that if we weren’t doing that, how good would the grades be?  We try not to hound the kids and make it miserable to get the work done.  Just friendly reminders, daily, every day, like a broken record.


Even though our kids are school smart, they astound me with moments of stupidity they portray in everyday life.  As if the part of the brain that makes them function is on the fritz.  Today for example, my middle daughter couldn’t figure out how to plug a Zip drive into the USB and then how to open the files on the computer.  It’s something she’s done before in the past, but today- she needed guidance.  She is also the only member of the household who seems to get paper jammed in the printer…  

Tonight our oldest daughter was asked to wash dishes and make dinner.  She couldn’t figure out how to scrub a pot using something besides the wash cloth.  She then asked how to drain the water from a pot so that we could enjoy perogies.  Our children spend a lot of time in the kitchen with us.  I’ve even tried explaining how and why we prepare foods the way we do.  But it just doesn’t stay with them.  

How will they survive in the real world when they move out??  Don’t you dare tell me they are living with me forever.


But in all of their wisdom and stupidity, they are great kids with lots of potential.  Opening up their eyes and minds to gather knowledge is the challenge.  Like throwing cooked pasta at a wall- sometimes it sticks and sometimes it falls to the floor.

Do you hear that?


Do you hear that?  That is the sound of the inevitable back to school.  It is the sound of Silence.

My home.  My neighborhood.  My tranquility.  All of it peacefully existing.

No sounds of children playing.  No tv or videogames.  Just…. Silence.


The children are only just beginning their school year.  They will return home each afternoon with new knowledge and homework.  Some days they will moan and groan claiming a horrible disservice is happening to them.  They are suffering the hardship of being educated.


Today, at home, I am enjoying The Silence.  Even the animals have calmed down.  No birds chirping.  No dogs barking.  Everything is at peace with the world.  Like a sigh of relief has passed through the neighborhoods as children pause for the day in their desks.  With the teachers preparing for the year ahead, they keep the classrooms calm.

Time to relax.  Who needs summer vacation when you can enjoy the autumn peace?

So you hear that?  It is the minutes slipping by to the next summer vacation…

Big Announcements


Sony announced some stuff.


Apple announced some stuff.


Nintendo announced some stuff.

It all had me wondering, do I need it?  Of course not.  Do I want it?  Maybe.

That’s where it ends today.  Maybe.  Maybe purchasing a new tech gadget or game would be fun.  But is it something that I need immediately on the date of its release?  Not really.  (I wrote a couple of months ago about Firsties and the “Fear of Missing Out”.)  Do I have disposable income that could buy it? Yes and no.  I could very easily buy something else or go somewhere with that money.  Or I could spend it on my children.  That is the most likely event.

Today was day 2 of the new school year. $428 was spent as we walked in the school door on school fees. We had already spent money on back to school supplies before the first day.  This spending doesn’t include the after school activities that are still to follow in the upcoming month.  Children are bloody expensive.  But paying for their education, activities, and traveling with them is the best investment we have ever done.  


My time and money mean more to me when I see my children’s accomplishments and achievements.  So this fall instead of getting a new iPhone, I’m planning on upgrading my children’s education.

And maybe buying an Apple Watch 2.

School Concert Band

I played clarinet in Concert Band from Grade 6-Grade 12.  I did very well at it getting A’s & B’s on a constant basis.  That was 20+ years ago.  I could not for the life of me play or read clarinet music if you asked me to do so today.

My wife and I strongly support music learning in the school system.  It teaches some fantastic skills that can be very useful in everyday life.  Aside from math, teamwork, and public performing- the skill sets such as studying, practicing, and reliability become enforced as well.  We also support music learning outside of the school.  All three of our children play piano.  Our oldest plays flute and has taken up playing a clay ocarina that we picked up at a convention for her. (Mostly because she really wants to play video game themes and Star Wars). For our son- we bought an electric drum kit when he was in Grade 1.  Not one of those toy ones either from Walmart, we figured he’d appreciate it more to get a nice set to practice on.  Our middle daughter received an electric guitar for Christmas one year and has been bugging to get lessons for a few years now.  That was put by the wayside because of every other activity the kids do.

Our parlour grand piano.


However, I did pass on my clarinet onto our middle child when she was in Grade 5.  She loved playing it so much that she practiced all the time without being asked.  She also entered the Honor Band program that year.  This past year she decided to join choir and surprised me at her talent.  (My wife and I both are terrible singers, but still belt out a song just for fun.)  Next year our middle child will be going into Grade 7, so she asked about learning a new instrument.  As I mentioned before, she has already been doing piano since Grade 1, so my wife and I gave her the okay to look at expanding her musical horizon.  I thought she would choose to play the flute like her older sister or possibly the saxophone.

Nope.

She chose the bassoon.


Her music teacher called us yesterday and told us the school has a bassoon for her to borrow over the summer.  He seemed very excited and felt that because of her interest in the instrument that she will do quite well at it. We picked it up later in the day and my daughter put it together.  Standing up: the assembled bassoon is almost as tall as she is.

When my daughter got home she decided to go online to learn more about the bassoon.  She wanted to learn how to assemble it and how to play the notes.  She went one step further and created a Power Point Presentation about the bassoon on her own accord.  Her excitement about the bassoon is very eccentric and adorable.  I’m not sure where the desire came from, but I sure don’t want to crush her enthusiasm.  I know she will perform quite well at the instrument.  I’m also really happy that the school is lending us one, since the cost of reeds alone for the bassoon is astronomical compared to the clarinet.


It is encouraging to see that we have shown our children a pathway to musical education and that they have taken to it with great strides.  I strongly recommend parents to look at music as a fun educational tool.  Who knows where your kids may go.  Perhaps one day, they too will want to play the bassoon.

What’s Best.

Yesterday was the last day of Grade 8 for my oldest daughter.  This morning, her and I sat down and talked over a cup of coffee about the past year.

At the end of grade seven last year, a big decision was made about our oldest daughter’s future.  We needed to send her to a high school.  She was on a wait list since kindergarten to enter a choice Fine Arts school.  We got the call for her to audition and come in for an interview.  Mom and dad were super excited and happy.  Eldest daughter- not so much.  But she auditioned (under some protest) for drama and music and was invited back to major in both departments.  She left both auditions happily and was excited for most of the drive home each time.  However, by the time we got home, she had put up the “wall” and was adamant that she would not be attending this school.  A few months of emotional battles ensued.  Mom and dad “forced” her to go to this awful, horrific school.  Mom and dad weren’t listening to her wishes.  Mom and dad were about to ruin her life.  Mom and dad made a promise to her. At the end of the year, we would discuss sending her elsewhere if she was still unhappy.

The year has ended.  As promised, I sat and spoke with my daughter this morning about her first year of high school.  I wanted to hear what her thoughts were on the past year and what she would like to do the following year.

Being right isn’t always a feel good moment.

She said those words that every parent knows to be true.  “Dad, you and mom were right.”