Emotional Education: “The Next Step” TV show

STEPHaving been advised to seek explicit teaching of emotional concepts for my kids, I’m really excited to discover a new show on ABC3 called The Next Step.

These high school kids are elite dancers, so there is a background of hard work, focus, teamwork, creativity & discipline, and fabulous dance scenes.

But what makes this show really worth watching is that every encounter is then analyzedContinue reading

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MPS Grounds Master Plan ~ Brief & Community Consultation

“The Schoolyard is a Place to Make Friends”

MPSMoreland Primary School (MPS) is a small, growing state school.   There are 300 students and enrolments have increased by 100% over the last 5 years. Parent involvement has increased impressively over the last few years but we also face the challenge of a massive loss in Equity funding.

Our yard is currently a mish-mash of crumbling woodwork, forgotten corners, obsolete structures with sub-optimal usage, and wonderful new projects (many parent-implemented) popping up like mushrooms.

Our first school fete (Nov 2015) has provided an opportunity to invest in the planning & first stage of a thorough grounds redevelopment process.

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First Music Exam

As a small follow-up to Helping Your Kids Learn Music I thought I’d share some videos of where my nine year old is at.

These three recordings are from the final rehearsal for his Grade One AMEB exam.
The Busybody by Sheila Nelson
Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel
Autumn, from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi

Here he is the day after his big exam, playing violin in the school rock band.
Sabotage by The Beastie Boys

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Intergenerational Learning & Coaching

Parental coaching has great potential to benefit kids’ education. It has been mostly ignored by the education system, with the notable exception of reading. Parents are actively encouraged to read to their preschoolers and listen to their young school aged children read.

This came to mind recently in relation to music, where there is very little culture of parental coaching amongst my peer group. Most don’t have the skills themselves, and many of those who do have the skills are skeptical about their ability to positively contribute to their children’s music education.

So I’ve developed this diagram as a talking point for why I think that parents should put some thought into imparting specialist skills, like music, to their children.

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So, you want to be a boyfriend…

At barely nine years of age, my child is not old enough for romantic attachment. I was a little surprised to watch him devour a book with relationships as a central theme.  The Origami Yoda books are well written from a boy/misfit perspective, and this one ends with the boy finding himself happily dancing with a group of kids which includes the girl who he likes (so nothing too heavy).   When I learned that my child was being teased about a girl and was upset about it because he actually likes her, I figured it was time to have a small part of that talk. Read on to see what I said.

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Helping Your Kids Learn Music

LearningViolin1Reading to our kids and listening to them read is something we take for granted these days. Parental coaching has a profound effect on learning and should be applied to more than just reading. This article provides some ideas on how to help your kids learn music. Continue reading

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Mummy, What Shape is Juggling?

jugglingballsWhen my six year old child – out of the blue – asked me what shape juggling is, I was excited and perplexed.  I eventually worked it through with paper and pencil, and discussed it with him at great length.  We talked about trajectories, start and end points, and the path of the hands (elliptical) compared to the path of the balls in flight (parabolic).  I was really proud of myself as a parent that day.  Here are some important things I’ve learned about talking to kids, which I think are worth repeating.



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Squishy Electric Circuits

Squishy Circuits Electric PlaydoughSquishy Circuits is a home-made play-dough technology for introducing children to electronics. This simple parallel circuit contains four AA batteries in a case, connecter wires, six coloured LEDs and some conductive playdough. Everything you need to know about getting started, safety and recipes are on the Squishy Circuits website. Pictures of my kit and process are for enjoyment rather than instruction. What I do intend to add to the concept are some experimental questions to explore while you play with your squishy circuits.

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Respecting Emotions

The stern face and the cross voice are coercive emotional tools, which tell the target person that they are not ok. Coercive emotion can be devastating for some people, but there is currently little-to-no social prohibition against using it on children. I recently put into words how it’s important to remain warm, calm and respectful with my children at all times. A manner that you would simply call “professional” in the work context. Every time I come up with a revelation about how my kids need to be treated with respect, a helpful friend reminds me that all kids benefit from such treatment. This post explains how reliance on coercive use of emotions can routinely downward spiral.

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Twelve Tone Play

12tonesTwelve tone music breaks many of our expectations about music. It removes our sense of what is musically “right” and “wrong” and broadens our repertoire of musical shapes. This makes it a great platform from which to discover and explore musical composition (even for very small children).

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