Tuesday, February 7, 2012

They say ignorance is bliss. Sometimes I wish I were ignorant.

Part 1

I love to watch a great ballet performed by dancers that truly know their craft. I love the moments when you lean forward in your seat, eyes riveted on the stage, and you hold your breath for fear you might miss something. I wish I had more of these moments.

When I go to the ballet, I find myself seeing all the mistakes rather then just seeing the beauty behind it. I know that dancer's work hard, and I know nobody is perfect. But I can't stop my mental list. It reads much like a directors notes at the final dress rehearsal. Believe me, I wish I could see past all the mistakes, but I can't. Not pointing their toes, not using turn out. That person is late, that person is early. Some parts I wouldn't be able to tell you what needs to be fixed, because all I know is that it looks unclean and wrong. For the record, I don't even like to watch myself dance.

For all the years I've danced, and the countless teachers I've had, I have had one major issue with it all. The lack of consistency. Each teacher has a different answer, a different way to execute a move, or a different take on what the ballet term means. What is the right way? I want the answer, not 20 different opinions of how it should be. The worst was when a teacher would give you a "trick", or way of cheating your way through a move.

I've dreamed of being a dance teacher since I was young. I love teaching! I've been blessed by the opportunities I've had to perform, but teaching is were my heart is. I love creative movement, pre-ballet, jazz and hip hop, but the one thing I was always asked is, "will you teach my child ballet?".

To be completely honest, I would love to teach older kids ballet, but it scares me.

There are hundreds of rules, and thousands of details in ballet. Something done wrong can cause an injury. The problem was that I didn't have the answers I wanted, and I didn't want to teach it wrong.

When I was pregnant with my girls I had a lot of time to think about this. I wasn't teaching anymore and knew that with twins, it was going to be awhile before I started again. But what I did know was that I was going to come back as a better teacher. I researched certifications programs (something not required in the US). I spend a lot of time reading and researching all the methods, watching hours of video's looking at their strengths and weaknesses. I was looking for answers to my questions

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Applying music, math and the value of a dollar

I think every parent wants to give their child the desires of their hearts. But in just handing our children those desires, what lesson does that teach them?

Last spring, I took the girls to a dance supply store to find Estee some tap ties for her used tap shoes we found at the consignment store. While we were there, it happened. You know, that moment when you lock eyes on something and violins start playing and you're magically transformed into a dream sequence. The girls spotted these music boxes that, when opened, music plays and the ballerina twirls. That's when my mommy mind got inspired.

I wanted a way for the girls to earn those music boxes. So we started our good choice dollar system. I have a stack of fake money, and when I notice the girls make a good choice or do something extra kind for someone, I would reward them with a fake dollar. It wasn't for every good choice, because I didn’t want them doing it for the dollar, so I would only give them randomly. It took them almost 5 months to earn enough money(because the value of mommy currency isn't as great as the US). At one point, when they went to visit their music boxes at the store, I offered to just buy them. They were so close to earning them, and I really didn't want to have to leave the house on another shopping trip with them. But they refused. They wanted to finish earning them. As stressful as the thought of having to take the girls on another shopping trip sounded, I was even more proud of them for having the desire to earn them. It was a big deal the day they went to buy those music boxes! They still carry them around the house and proudly display them on their dresser.

Now that they are almost 4, we have added chores and music to our system.

I have a list of chores for the girls. From making their bed, to scrubbing spots of the kitchen floor, to folding and putting away laundry. Each chore is worth a different type of note: quarter note, half note or whole note. For each measure of music earned, they receive a good choice dollar. Every evening we look at our staff of music and practice counting and clapping the rhythm out. We have not mastered it yet, but with practice and patience it will come.

There are other ways to earn notes as well. They are given a set of flash cards to memorize each week.

We still randomly reward acts of kindness as well. For example, when Coppelia wanted to wear her favorite Rapunzel nightgown, but it was in the wash, Estee so sweetly offered to let her wear her very special Snow White gown to bed. That act of kindness earned her a whole note (worth a good choice dollar).

They can also earn notes by successfully getting through the flashcards we have set out for the week. But the big one, the one that gets them 2 whole notes is when they have memorized their bible verse. This week it is John 3:16.

At the end of the week, I set up the mommy store. In the store, I have items that I know they want and will actually get played with. My sister-in-law did Mommy store and gave me the wonderful idea of a weekly specials, like an ice cream date with Daddy.