Thursday, January 28, 2016

Zeroing in on a Life Path

JT has always been a creative kid. When he received his first set of Crayola markers at age four, he probably felled a small forest with the volume of paper he used. He has taken lessons for four different instruments, he writes stories, designs card games, creates animation on the computer, and writes music on both the drums and piano. I guess to most people it would be obvious that his path should follow the arts. But as Mom, I spent too long being blind to that fact, hoping he would stick with science because I was afraid he could not afford to feed himself with an art career. This week, I finally saw something that made me know this was going to be his path and I should get behind it to support him.

From time to time, JT will get totally absorbed composing a song on the piano. He will spend hours finding just the right sound, avoiding all of his 'official' school work to do so. I try to resist the urge to push him back to what he's 'supposed to be doing' because I know he enjoys the music, is good at it, and won't focus on the work even if he is doing it if a song is in his head. After he spent something like two hours at the keyboard one day, I pointed out that he is really good at composing songs and if he would take the time to learn to write them down and record them, he could probably publish them. The music he writes is always instrumental and sounds like it could be great video game or movie music. He told me that he has thought he would like to write music for movies and that it would be awesome to write music like John Williams. After a long discussion about what kinds of things he would need to do to make that happen he told me he was more than willing to get the instruction necessary to pursue that path. I pointed out that it would be hard work. He wasn't bothered by that saying it wouldn't matter because it would be fun and worth it in the end.

So I went to work helping him to find ways to learn. I found a few links about careers in music for movies and video games and had him read the stories of successful musicians in those fields. Then I contacted my friend who teaches music classes at a local university. JT will start private classes with her next week. She told me she will go through the material in the first year college theory courses, but with a focus on approaches to composition. 

I believe on a whole we think of art and music careers as hobbies instead of serious work. But when I look at how much of American culture is focused on entertainment, how can we not see that as a good choice for a career path? Maybe he wouldn't have the typical 9-5 work day and a guaranteed weekly pay check, but he also might have the opportunity to do something he loves every day and get paid to do it. Ultimately, I think he would thrive on a non-traditional work schedule, in exactly the same way he has thrived on a non-traditional school setting.

Friday, January 8, 2016

What's in Store for 2016?

The boys will start back to full-time school work on Monday. Today I finally sat down to dig in and get things organized. I knew I'd need the extra week of vacation because I am really bad at using time wisely. I had a great holiday, but that didn't get much done in the classroom.

We have 76 days remaining of our required 180. I did the math today to figure out how many days each week JT needs to spend on each of his subjects. Literature, composition, German, and math will continue to be five days. He's starting chapter 9 of Harold Jacob's Geometry on Monday. For his credit for math this year, he needs to complete 2/3 of that textbook. As long as he finishes chapter 11, we'll be good. At that point, I'm not sure if he will continue through the rest of the text or start using Khan Academy's SAT prep course for the remaining school days. Science and computer programming each need to be three days a week. I am outlining the rest of his ecology course tomorrow and Saturday using the Envirothon materials provided by our local school district. I want to have that out of the way so I can just work from a list and not have to do so much planning each weekend. He will begin his 1/2 credit health course on Monday. That will be a five day a week subject using a Hewitt Homeschooling text and syllabus. I am also adding home practice for fencing twice a week because he got an épée sword for his birthday. Before now, he could only practice at his weekly lessons where the equipment was available to use for free. Now he can do the exercises at home and work on his technique.

EM will continue with all of his regular courses with only one change. For the first half of the year, his science was taken from the Anatomy Academy books. Now he will move back to his study of electronics with his dad using a new book, Make: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery. I know he's looking forward to getting back to the science he enjoys the most. For his current reading assignment in Lightning Literature, he will be continuing Helen Keller's auto-biography and doing the activities that go along with the text. He's also going to be taking two pottery classes, a wheel class in February and a hand-building class in April.

Another change coming to our lives this year is that my daughter and her husband are having their first child. So now I will be a grandmother and the boys get to be uncles. JT claims he doesn't want to be around any babies because 'they drool'. EM seems to be more excited about the idea. I am looking at this as a great learning experience for them. Their sister was 11 when JT was born so she was able to change diapers and help with child care. I told them this would be a great chance for them to learn to take care of a baby so they would have great skills when looking for a wife in the future. I don't think I've quite sold them on that idea yet.