Reading a Gift for All Seasons

Couth Buzzard BooksThe term “Summer Reading Program” always make me chuckle. As an affirmed bibliophile I can’t imagine any season that shouldn’t be full of reading. Books have been my life-long friends. I can’t remember not being able to read and can’t imagine what life would be like without my daily reading fix.

However, for many people reading is a chore that you do because you “have to” while you’re in school. And this chore can be tossed out the window once you’ve graduated. For many, reading is something that you do for practical purposes and never for simple enjoyment. How sad. I personally don’t like “Summer Reading” programs because it sounds like a homework assignment. Yuck! Reading should never be a chore, but a grand adventure to undiscovered destinations.

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Kinderbach Brings Piano Lessons for Children Online

Kinderbach is a lovely program for parents who want to expose their children to the wonders of music. It is designed for children three to seven years old and is a great introduction to more formal piano lessons. But don’t mistake this to be one of the “cutesy” toys parents buy their children to pretend that they are learning music. This is the real deal. Children will be learning about sharps and flats, keyboard placement, rhythm and notereading. But it’s done in such a gentle and fun way that even parents with music-phobias are able to relax and enjoy themselves.

Kinderbach musical curriculum consists of videos (available as online or DVDs), ebooks and a piano keyboard.  For this review I concentrated on my middle daughter’s enjoyment and learning experience since she’s six years old.  She was immediately engaged with the videos of the teachers.  She finds them to be very entertaining and in many cases funny.  She especially likes the way that the instructors teach the concept of higher and lower. They use this beautiful golden retriever and a set of stairs. As the dog goes up or down, the male voice has to pitch his voice accordingly.  Those lessons give her a full case of the giggles. She also enjoyed doing the workbook pages which include coloring and minor craft work.

I liked the way that the instructors taught the children to remember the names of the keys on the keyboard. I found it interesting that they started with Dodi the Donkey (key of D) because when I was taking piano lessons many eons ago Middle C was king. But after watching the subsequent videos it made a lot of sense. Children need reference points, especially if they aren’t reading yet. So having illustrations like Dodi’s house for the key of D and making tents for Dodi all over the keyboard really is quite ingenious.

It was never a chore to get her to do her lessons and she learned a lot. Even her “over the hill” sister (at 10 years of age) took part in many of the activities because they were just so much fun. My three year old son, who is a perpetual motion machine, really enjoyed doing some of the musical routines that are in almost every video.  We even formed a little band of drummers, piano players, singers and kazoos.

The children had a lot of fun with the program and Alaya, who never got a chance to take in-person piano lessons, was able to play simple songs on the piano after the first week of the program. I think that this is very important because drills don’t give you the satisfaction of being able to play a little tune for yourself or others.  I didn’t have to fight with Alaya to do her musical lessons either, so that was definitely a plus.

Kinderbach can be utilized in a variety of ways.  If you’d like an online subscription, the  cost is $7.99/mo. for the entire family. If your internet connection is shaky, you might want to invest in the various DVD sets. The DVDs start at $55.95 (2 DVD set) and go up to $222.88 for the 10-DVD set. Before investing any money into the program, you can take advantage of the free trial to see if this is something that you and your children would enjoy.

P.S. Kinderbach has also been kind enough to give my readers a 10% discount on their product orders if you click the discount link. And don’t forget to have your kids enroll in the “Dodi Loves D” – Valentine Draw! The contest ends March 1st with the winner of the Everyday songbook being announced on March 3rd. Check out the main page, but your children’s masterpieces can be submitted by email or snail mail. So break out the crayons and begin your musical journey with Dodi.
Khalid Family Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


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Educating the Colors: Red – The Color of Power

According to Hippocrates, there are four major personality types. I learned of a system that uses colors to substitute all of the tongue twisting terminology. This week’s personality is one that I think many parents find very challenging to guide. And that color is RED. According to studies done on personality types Red people make up about 5-10% of the general population, according to the Keirsey study. But what they lack in percentage they make up in noise! Red people are very focused, intense and goal-oriented. They are natural leaders because of their belief that they know what is best for everyone – and they’re not afraid to tell you why they’re right.

Red people are very direct and closed in their interactions with others. They don’t pull punches and many times forgo the niceties that keep human relationships running smoothly. Although they are very vocal about many things, they are actually very private people. They also tend to be status driven. They like to deal with facts and logic more than fuzzy feelings. A phrase that is favored by the Reds among us is:

“So, what’s the bottom line?”

They are in their element when they can orchestrate a solution for a problem and give direction. They are very independent and don’t really like round table discussions, especially if the discussions are long-winded.  They want the facts quick, fast and yesterday.

So what does this mean for parents who are dealing with their children? Well, having lived with a Red mother and brother and raising a Red son I can tell you it makes all the difference in the world! Red children need clear and consistent boundaries more than any of the other colors. Because of their independent nature and natural aversion to following instructions “just because you say so.” This can cause an unprepared parent unparalleled frustration in general and especially while homeschooling. You see, in the little Red mind, they are not being disobedient, they want you to justify why they have to follow your leadership instead of their own.

My mother tells a story of my brother back in the 1960s. Every week before going to church my mother would remind my brother on type of behavior she expected of him. And if he didn’t live up to these standards he would be spanked. So, every Sunday before leaving the house he would ask my mother if she had the belt. She’d say “yes” and things would go smoothly.

One Sunday, she realized that he kept asking her about the belt and she couldn’t understand why. So, when he asked her about it she told him that she didn’t have the belt. According to her, as soon as the boy hit the door he began performing. He fell out in the floor, made noise, just acted like he’d lost his mind. So, she walked him out of the service and to the bathroom to give him a spanking. When she removed the belt from her purse his first words to her was:

“You lied. You told me that you didn’t have a belt!”

Now I don’t know about you, but that wouldn’t have been the first thing that came to my mind!

However, this illustrates a little bit about the Red mindset. If rewards or punishments are not immediate they have difficulty understanding why they need to cooperate. So, the best way to handle their education is to lay it out your rules and expectations on the table for them. For example:

“John, you are expected to have your state capitals memorized by the end of the month. If you do not you will not be able to [fill in the blank].”

And if John doesn’t follow through you have to mete out whatever punishment you have already discussed. And if you’re dangling a carrot to get the desired result, you have to follow up immediately or you will lose respect in their eyes. You have to be very clear about objectives, expectations and penalties. This type of person doesn’t respect subtle clues.  They like information “straight from the hip”.

They are natural charmers, so even when you are prepared with knowledge to tackle them you may find yourself wavering. Red children are master manipulators because they feel more comfortable if they have some control over situations in their lives. So, the best way to educate these little smarties is to, within reason, allow them to make minor decisions. This puts their education in “their hands” and you’ll have a much more willing student. This strategy also works in regular home life situations. Involving them in some decisions gives them a sense of control which they find comforting.

Be careful with the strategy that I’m going to describe below. This type of challenge needs to be done in private. If they feel that you are trying to embarrass them they will not take up the challenge but they will start sabotaging you in whatever way they can. Just like fire, they will burn you if you are careless with their feelings.

Another strategy that works is to tell them something along the lines of “The work that you’re going to do may be a little above your head, so don’t feel bad if you can’t do it.” Nothing gets a status driven, independent leader focused than the knowledge that someone on the planet doesn’t acknowledge their genius.

Case in point, my best friend asked me to help her make sure her kids were ready for school this September. So, I’m working on their reading skills. Our youngest daughters are both six years old and beginning readers. So, the first couple of days that I worked with “D” she did okay, but she a little fidgety and distracted she because wanted to go play with the other children. So during one of our sessions I mentioned that my daughter (who I work with every day) was up to Lesson 32, she sat up and paid attention.

She said, “Alaya is up to Lesson 32? What lesson am I up to?”

I told her that she was up to lesson 13. Don’t you know this young lady requested that I do three more lessons with her that day so that she could catch up with Alaya. And the goofing off has stopped. She has even sent the other children away telling them that she had some reading to do!

These guys really thrive on competition; real or imagined (especially since my daughter has no clue there’s a race going on!)

If you are looking for activities that will help round out a Red personality I have a few suggestions. Because of their nature, they can easily become self-absorbed, lacking empathy for others who aren’t “on their level”, and obsessed with perceived status amongst others. It is vital that you provide them with opportunities to develop a strong sense of empathy and express their feelings. Volunteering would be a vital component to raising this strong leader to be a compassionate person who can see beyond the external trappings of this world.

And in case you were wondering about what types of people fall into the Red category here’s a list that I found at www.keirsey.com:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Marie Curie
  • Bill Gates
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Walt Disney
  • Camille Paglia
  • Ayn Rand
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • General Ulysses S. Grant
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Scrooge McDuck (okay, I added this one, but he’s definitely a Red!)

Just as fire consumes, the Red personality can consume a lot of your energy, especially in the beginning as you start to learn how they think. But with lots of love, firmness and understanding they can grow (as you can see) to be a wonderful asset to your home and the community. So go fan some fire by giving your little Red a big hug!

About Me: My introduction to the world of personalities began about fifteen years ago when I stumbled upon a website called www.advisorteam.com. They offer a free personality test and if you pay a fee you can get your full results. Anyway, I found the descriptions of the four major personality groups fascinating. About two years ago I stumbled upon a free report that broke these four personalities into four colors: Red, Blue, Yellow and Green that has really simplified all the scientific explanations.

Before you start trying to figure out what color your children are, you really need to first discover your own. Once you have your own information you’ll be able to adapt your style to fit your children better.  You can take this quiz at my website Homeschoolers-Work-At-Home.com. (You’ll get your results instantly.) And it is also good to understand that each of us has each of the four colors in our personality. These articles focus on the dominant color in our daily lives.

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