How We Make it Work

Homeschooling While Working Part-Time, by Jane Emily

I’ve homeschooled my two kids for over ten years now, and for five of those years I’ve been working part-time.  I won’t say it’s ideal, but it’s reality for many families. Here’s how I manage.

I’m a librarian, and for several years when my children were very small I was doing extra work for the public library. They would call me once in a while to substitute or to fill in a few hours on the schedule.  My plan was to keep doing that until a position opened up (hopefully in the children’s room!), and then I could just bring my kids to the library for school time.  A previous children’s librarian had done this, so there was precedent.

That plan unraveled completely when the county decided that no library needed more than one librarian to run the whole place.  I,  along with anyone else who wasn’t a head librarian of a branch, was let go, and there wasn’t much prospect of future employment. I was out of work for a couple of years, and this started to get worrying. I live in a small city and the demand for my expertise had disappeared.  I worried that I would have to go back to school and train in another field to get good work in the future, but for the moment I was homeschooling two daughters and that was plenty for my plate.

I got an unexpected job offer though – the local community college needed a librarian for less than ten hours a week. Few people want to work that little.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to work that much, but our financial needs were pressing.  I felt very strongly about continuing to homeschool our daughters, so I figured I’d just try to muddle along.

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A free speech display made as part of my job

My girls were seven and ten when I started working three days a week, three hours at a time.  No family members were available to stay with them, but friends helped out.  Over the next couple of years, depending on who was available, my daughters would spend those hours at the homes of various friends.  Sometimes I paid – usually about $25 a day – and sometimes, if the friend was also a homeschooler, I would barter.  I sewed a fancy baptism dress for a friend’s daughter, for example.

In the mornings, we would do as much work as we could and pack up the more portable or independent work for someone else’s house.   I tried to make lists of what they should do, but more often my instructions were verbal.  They’d have a pile of books to go through, so it wasn’t hard to remember, but checklists were much superior.  Then after work, I would  go over what they had done and do more work directly with them.

It was not easy for my kids to go to other homes.  They often struggled with distractions as younger children watched television or played. While my older daughter has always preferred to work independently, the younger one wants me right by her side.  Their hosts were not familiar with the work they were doing and could not keep noses to the grindstone in the way that I would (nor would it have been fair to ask it).  It was too easy for the girls to say they’d done more work than they really had, and by the time I’d done drop-off, the commute, the work, and then the pickup, most of the day was gone.

I enjoy my job, but it was not easy for me either.  Switching focus takes energy and organization, and I looked forward to the days at home with no worries about getting everything done before I had to go.  Working while homeschooling is very draining, and the house certainly suffered.  My meal-planning skills were not really up to the challenge either.  I had less time for personal reading or sewing, and both are very important to me.  Over and over, I would remind myself that I am happier when I can get some sewing time in every so often, and then I would forget again as life got too busy.

As the girls got older, I didn’t need to take them to others’ homes quite as much.  My work schedule changed a bit every year, and at one point I was working two hours on Fridays. By then I figured they were old enough and could manage for that long alone.  They much preferred staying home together where it was quiet.

It’s now been over a year since my mom – another librarian – retired from full-time work.  I promptly recruited her as a backup homeschooler!  This works much better since she comes to my house and is able to keep a closer eye on their work (I’m better at checklists now too).  She discusses books with them and can critique their writing. This year she and my now-15-year-old are reading Dante together.  I really appreciate all the help she is able to give us.  Right now, a couple of my work shifts are scheduled later in the afternoon, so we have the whole morning to work together, and then they finish up while I’m gone.

It’s still not easy. I won’t lie – this is not an ideal way to homeschool.  Homeschooling is already a full-time job, and I’ve piled a part-time job on top of it.  The house and meals are still suffering, but my older girl makes dinner sometimes, which helps.She is a soup artist! If I could afford some cleaning help, that would probably make a huge difference, but I’ve never felt able to do that.

By the time summer rolls around, I’m pretty burned out. Luckily my workplace does not want me over the summer, so I do get some time off (albeit no money).  By then I need to spend a lot of time not thinking about school.  This year I avoided it as long as possible and only got things under control a couple of weeks before we were due to start back!  I try to do a lot of planning in spring when it’s easy to see what my kids will need.  Summer is for relaxing, trying to get the house into some semblance of order, sewing, and a road trip or two.

That annoying pest, Reality, dictates that many of us work while homeschooling.  It may not be ideal, but it can work as long as the paid job is not too onerous.  I would definitely not recommend that you try it while working more than, say, 15 hours a week at most. Fifteen would make it really quite difficult to keep up the energy and dedication needed for your children to thrive.  (During some difficulties staffing my workplace, I found that 12 was too much for my family’s well-being.)  I hope you are good at efficient meal-planning…and try to squeeze a housecleaner into your budget!

One more thought.  If you really, truly have to work more than a few hours per week, keep a sharp eye on your children’s well-being.  The more hours you have to work, the more possible it becomes for them to suffer without getting noticed.  If a child is struggling with something, don’t just assume it will get better; pay attention and think seriously about whether some changes might be necessary.  It is better for a child to be doing well in a school setting than it is for him to be troubled at home.  Don’t let your dream of an ideal homeschool cloud your sight as to what is actually going on; it’s not appropriate to subordinate a child’s needs to a parent’s ideal.

 

Jane-Emily–Jane-Emily is a classically homeschooling LDS mom of two girls, and a librarian at the local community college, very part-time. She loves to read and will pick up almost anything. She also loves to sew and mostly does quilting, heirloom sewing, and smocking. And she’s a Bollywood addict. Jane-Emily is our Webmistress.

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Education is a Life

When Life Gets in the Way, by Genevieve

“Life got in the way of doing school.”

If you have never said those words, surely you have thought them. Flexibility is one of the beauties of homeschooling. Schedules can easily be rearranged for a doctor’s appointment or a spur of the moment visit from friends.

But what if the interruption is ongoing? A major move, a new baby, an operation or a parent entering hospice? These are the times that weigh so heavily on us. We know that we are not educating our kids to our own standards. On the other hand, how can we carry on with our rigorous educational plans and still take care of this family crisis?

Well, we just can’t. Some things will have to be watered down and compromised if we are going to survive. The good news is that if you homeschool for 12 or 13 years, a month or two of less-than-perfect schooling will not even be a blip on the radar.

What a huge comfort and blessing that is. We must, however, resist the pull to use this as an excuse to go for years on end without giving our kids the kind of education they deserve.

Now that my lecture is over, what steps can we take to mitigate the damage when life just gets in the way?

Make A List
When I’m overwhelmed, I can’t get anything done because so much has to be done that I don’t even know where to start. I have a list that never changes which at least gets my day started.

1. Animals first

Are there baby goats who need a bottle, a pony who needs medicine, or dogs that need to go break? Because they are the ones who depend on us the most, their needs get addressed first.

2. Feed Humans Real Food

Nothing else is going to work if I’m hungry and the kids are crashing and crying from low blood sugar.

3. Exercise before seat work

Photo by Bev Howe.

This is one I really struggle with. It is so counterintuitive. If I need to find time for more schoolwork, how does it make sense to “waste” an hour or more on something that isn’t educational? The truth is that a kid that has already taken a walk, gone for a swim or a bike ride is going to do less bouncing in her seat, pencil tapping, and daydreaming. If we have a tiny window of time to get school done, I need to make sure they are in the best position possible to learn.

4. Limit screen time

If I am unusually occupied with “life,” my kids naturally have more free time. If screens are not an option, they choose activities such as pretend play, drawing, climbing trees, writing poetry…..these are activities that contribute to my goals for them.

5. Use screens when you are in a bind.

I believe that all children learn best when they have an engaged, attached human teacher, but in an emergency my kids can spend an afternoon with Reading Eggs or Clue Finders or Madeline’s Thinking Games.

6. Double up

When spare time is nonexistent, I look for ways to kill two birds with one stone. Spelling tests can also count as handwriting. Little ones can listen to unabridged classics while they walk the dog.

7. Closeness Counts

When life gets hard and schedules are unpredictable, kids need even more of our attention at the exact time when we have less to give. How can I balance their need for me with the household tasks that cannot be put off another moment? I have a secret weapon.

8. Read for an hour; Clean for an hour

When the house looks like it’s been ransacked, I have a choice. I can scream and rage and get everyone upset, or we can attack it like the team that we are supposed to be.

I set the timer for an hour. We put on some blaring music and start cleaning the first room together. When the timer goes off, we get snuggled on the bed and I have them read me a chapter from the book they are reading, then for the rest of the hour, I read to them from a book of their choice. When the timer goes off, they are ready to attack another room with another hour of cleaning.

I have a revolutionary idea for 2016. What if I don’t wait until the house is ready to be condemned and the children are acting out to use my secret weapon? What if we make every Friday a Read for an hour, Clean for an hour day? It sounds kind of radical.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress!


Genevieveis a former public and private school teacher who has five children and has been homeschooling for the past thirteen years. In her free time she provides slave labor to Dancing Dog Dairy, making goat milk soap and handspun yarn, which can be seen on Our Facebook Page and at Dancing Dog Dairy .

Education is a Life

A Leap Day in the Life, by Lynne

Since February 29 only rolls around once every four years, I tend to treat it like a holiday, which makes for some pretty happy kids.  We forego our normal school routine in exchange for a bit more fun.

8:00 AM:  I got up and dressed.  I threw a load in the washer and pulled out some stew meat from the basement freezer for tomorrow’s dinner.  Andrew was awake and helped me do a few chores.  Ed finally decided to stumble down the stairs to join us.

9:00 AM:  We started the school portion of the morning with pancakes and banana/chocolate hazelnut spread crêpes for the kids and a green smoothie for mom.  Per usual, we watched CNN Student News while we ate breakfast and discussed the presidential primaries.

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10:00 AM:  Four years ago, on Leap Day, I had the boys write letters to their future selves, and I saved them.  This morning, they opened those letters and read them.  Andrew had given his future self a handful of pennies, and Ed had left himself a $5.00 bill.  They were surprised to see how much their handwriting and spelling has changed in those four years, but they had remembered most of what they had written, so none of it was too surprising.  I remember thinking back then that four years seemed a long way off.  Today, it seems like it was just yesterday that they were writing those letters. They also wrote new letters to themselves to be opened on the next Leap Day in 2020.

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10:30: Our sign language instructor had given us a packet of papers about the history of sign language, so we read that information.  The boys went upstairs to practice our new signs for the week, while I made several phone calls related to a task I’m doing for our homeschool co-op.

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11:30 AM:  The boys played a game that involved a lot of jumping, while I took care of more chores and prepped lunch.  They had grilled cheese and soup, in keeping with our comfort food theme of the day.

12:30 PM: We headed to the natural history museum, where we spent the afternoon.

The museum is hosting a special exhibit about poisons.  One of the kids remarked that it was his favorite special exhibit of all the ones he has seen at this museum.

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I was too busy reading all the information to get many pictures, but we all enjoyed this exhibit quite a bit.

 

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There was a rather large section about poisons in literature. I wasn’t surprised to see my favorite series represented.

1:30 PM:  In honor of Leap Day, a museum wildlife specialist did a presentation on animals that are good at leaping.  She showed us a female American bullfrog and a domesticated rabbit.

2:00 PM:   A good friend of mine works at the museum, and she invited us up to the room from which she conducts science lessons for students around the world via video conferencing.  It was amazing!  The technology was impressive, and we had fun playing with her props.

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This is a real human heart that has been plasticized. Cool but creepy.

2:30 PM:  We watched a show about Dark Matter in the museum’s planetarium.

3:00 PM:   We are studying Earth Science this year, so I had the boys read and look at several of the earth science exhibits.  They each used the exhibits to choose a topic for a science project that they will be working on for the next month.

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4:00 PM:  We wrapped up our visit to the natural history museum and headed for home.  We knew Dad was going to be playing cards with his buddies this evening, so we decided to go out for dinner at a restaurant before going home.  We stuffed ourselves with chicken and baked potatoes and salad and noodles and spaghetti squash and even chocolate cake for one growing boy.

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6:00 PM:  We came home from the restaurant, and I dealt with mail and packages.  Ed went upstairs to finish preparations for the co-op class he is teaching this session.  I texted with friends about more co-op matters and took a few phone calls.  I talked with my spouse about financial matters and started working on this post.  When I finish this, I will clean the kitchen, change a load of laundry, and make sure I have everything ready for co-op tomorrow.  The boys did a few more chores, and now they are playing Minecraft. Luckily for them, Minecraft released their new upgrade on a “holiday,” because there’s no screen time on school days.

9:00 PM:  I call the boys down to the living room for our nightly ritual.  Each of us says three good things about our day, and then we read a chapter from our read aloud.  We are currently on chapter 35 of Ivanhoe.

10:00 PM:  Bedtime. After verifying that teeth have been brushed and faces have been washed, we all plop into our respective beds and read our own books for a while. I will drift off to sleep while reading. I wonder if I’ll dream of poisons, pancakes, or planetariums tonight.

 


Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for over 5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.

About Classical

An Autodidact’s Guide to a Classical Education, by Jen N.

*autodidact: a self-taught person

We need more than just a syllabus.  Knowing the how’s and why’s of an education that most of us did not receive ourselves leaves us constantly running to catch up.  The idea of an education that only supplies a student with skills to get ahead in the world is not an adequate preparation for even entry-level employment.  An education rooted in the classics gives each student their own arsenal of information and experiences to draw from. This is where the non-classically educated teacher must accept the responsibility of continually self-educating.

This is the ending of an article I wrote last year. We ran it again last week, and this time  I have messages from parents asking me exactly how you give yourself the classical education that you didn’t receive?  There is no short answer. I wish I could bullet point ten things for you to read or listen to, but the list would be endless so I’ll try to give you ideas of how to squeeze it in and a few books to read. The rest is going to take time and effort on your part.

Here is the bright side: self-teaching is a much different experience from institutional learning . . . thank heavens.  It can be an invigorating, absorbing, inspiring, enlightening and captivating experience, and one that often requires very little, if any, money. Most of the classics can be read free online or are at the library. In other words: it’s worth your time to invest in yourself.

I know how busy we all are, and if you are already homeschooling, simply keeping up with the day to day lesson plans is a full-time job.

Teachers have Institute Days that are an opportunity for teachers to learn new curriculum, materials, techniques and specific knowledge in their area of teaching.

We need them too. Snow days, vacation weeks, and what I term “mental health days” are all fair game for the kids to have no structured school so that you, the teacher, can learn something new. If you school lightly or not at all during the summer, you can get ahead then as well.

Feeling overwhelmed?  The secret is that we all think it is an impossible task. All you can do is your best. Some years will be more productive than others. In the space of twelve years, it will all even out. Slow and steady really is the way to think of this endeavor.

How far do you need to be ahead of your students? 

I’ve read, and someone mentioned in their note, that we only need to be one day ahead of our students.

It is not the optimal situation.

That said I pulled my boys and taught them second and fifth grade with almost zero prep work. I was only barely ahead of them and it turned out fine. Now I’m teaching fifth grade for the fifth time, and I am much more confident. It helps when you have your own base of knowledge to pull from.

A university education ought to follow up by teaching how to read seriously, but many college seniors aren’t much further along than their high school counterparts. Often, they graduate with a nagging sense of their own deficiencies; as adults, they come back to the task of serious reading and discover that it has not magically become simpler. Homer is still long-winded, Plato impenetrable, Stoppard bewilderingly random. Too often, these readers give up, convinced that serious books are beyond them.

But all that’s missing is training in the art of reading. If you didn’t learn how to read properly in school, you can do it now. The methods of classical education are at your disposal.– Susan Wise Bauer How to Get the Classical Education You Never Had

I am going to assume for the rest of this piece that you are using a classical curriculum and won’t try to sell you on it. (If you aren’t but are interested, read here.) Start at the beginning and see where your own education left off. If you are one day ahead now, you’ll be a couple weeks ahead in no time. It really does snowball.

What if you remember reading the classics and just think you’ll never understand them? Or if you have never studied Latin or Greek?

Here is my super secret slacker answer for both: Get the middle-grade version for yourself. Something for kids grades 5-8. I thought I would never get through the Iliad the first time I read it. Once I read the easier version and understood the basic plot I went back and could then grasp the nuances of the original.

One last thing on this subject: Buy the teacher manuals and then read them. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Trust yourself to take or leave the information inside them and teach it to your student in your own way.

How can I educate myself and my child at the same time?

You’ll need to read and take notes whenever you get a chance. If all the kids are school age then you need to read while they read. In math, I often worked problems alongside my students if I needed a refresher. In Latin, I’m two years ahead of my students. I sometimes work in my own workbook while they write in theirs.

Remember, it’s not about buying things. A library book and a spiral notebook full of notes will feed your mind just fine.

“One might begin the day with lessons in Latin and math; follow those studies with fine read-alouds in fiction, history, science, or poetry (perhaps rotating through several books in the course of the week, and having the child narrate some of the readings); and leave the rest of the day open for free play, nature walks, art, music, and curling up with good books.”- Andrew Campbell, The Latin Centered Curriculum 

Our days are patterned after the kind of day mentioned above and I really don’t feel stressed about my own learning. We look at our school days as family learning days where we all are learning on a continual basis.

Classical Education Resources?

Books. I’ll give you a list of books divided into the how’s and why’s of classical education and books that tell you how to read. Whenever you feel ready dive into one of the Great Books.

How’s and Why’s:

The Trivium

Climbing Parnassus

Latin Centered Curriculum  ( I prefer the first edition.)

The Lost Tools of Learning

How to Read:

The Well-Educated Mind

How to Read A Book

The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What it means to be an Educated Human Being

I’d like to close with this quote in the hopes that I’ve made this idea of self-education seem not only plausible but possible.

For centuries classical education set about the task of teaching the noble arts of the mind and heart, and it can do so again. Those arts are not dead. They’re merely hibernating. A clever and ingenious world must find within itself once more the humility to learn—and to teach—those noble arts if any semblance of civilization, any shard of inner greatness, is to survive the havoc wrought by generations of aphasia and well-meaning neglect. We can regain our memory and tell its tales to those waiting to hear.– Tracy Lee Simmons, Climbing Parnassus

Education is a Right

The Oldest Trick in the Book, by Jen N.

In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German-Swiss philosopher and writer.

(Every so often we like to have a Throwback Thursday and reprint a popular article.  This originally ran on April 30, 2015.)

Apparently cafeteria food hasn’t improved over time. Education seems to be suffering the same fate – look at the history of education in our own country.

In pioneer days a school section (one square mile) was required by law.  An area six sections by six sections would define a township. Within this area, one section was designated as the school section. As the entire parcel would not be necessary for the school and its grounds, the balance of it was to be sold with the monies to go into the construction and upkeep of the school.  In those days a single teacher would typically have students in the first through eighth grades, and she taught them all. The number of students varied from six to forty or more. The youngest children sat in the front, while the oldest students sat in the back. The teacher usually taught reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and geography. Students memorized and recited their lessons. Sound like classical education? I think so too. Students educated in this way did not often go on to college, yet most ran businesses, farms, and households quite well.

“No, no,” Mr. Darling always said, “I am responsible for it all. I, George Darling, did it. MEA CULPA, MEA CULPA.”
He had had a classical education.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

We still fund public education in this country. We as taxpayers spend a lot of money, yet our nation’s children are behind most of the world academically. There are hundreds of studies trying to explain why and how to improve our situation. Some say we need more STEM; others say there is too much time in the classroom and the kids need more play; still others say the exact opposite. Let me proffer this idea:  that a new and improved classical method along with an age-appropriate workload is the answer.  While not every child will or should attend college, all our children need to be educated to become good, moral, responsible citizens.

Books are the bedrock of a classical education.  The oldest trick in the book is to actually forget the books.  As the popularity of homeschooling has increased more curriculum has become available. A good education does not require a kit or a set of workbooks. Classical education requires a teacher, a willing student, and time. You need only visit a homeschool convention for minutes before noticing the Thomas Jefferson was homeschooled t-shirts. The greatest minds of the ages were educated by reading books, learning to debate ideas, and discussing those ideas with teachers. None of the ancient Greeks ever had “box day.”

In our consumer-driven society it is easy to fall into a “needing the next new thing” mindset.  It all comes down to trusting ourselves. Do we know the nature of our children? Do we understand the nature of education? Are we willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen? A classical education is worth working toward, but it is work. Will a classical education benefit all of us? I don’t know anyone who would argue that a country of children educated to think logically and to know the history they do not wish to repeat would be a huge benefit to all of us.

We need more than just a syllabus.  Knowing the how’s and why’s of an education that most of us did not receive ourselves leaves us constantly running to catch up.  The idea of an education that only supplies a student with skills to get ahead in the world is not  an adequate preparation for even entry-level employment. An education rooted in the classics gives each student their own arsenal of information and experiences to draw from. This is where the non-classically educated teacher must accept the responsibility of continually self-educating.

If we accept the premise that classical education is the best that has been thought and said, then why wouldn’t that type of education be for everyone?

Drama

Why Theatre? by Cheryl

I was a shy child. Painfully shy. The song from Once Upon a Mattress should have been my theme song. A good friend got me involved in musical theatre. I credit my theatre classes and performance activities as a child with my ability to speak in front of people, hold conversations with strangers, and be confident in social situations today.

Participation in the theatre helps kids and teenagers develop many important life skills.  Some are obvious and some are a little less so, but all can help our students transition from home (or school) into the real world.

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PUBLIC SPEAKING

In preparing for and participating in performances, young actors and actresses are taught how to breathe properly to support their voice for long periods. They practice articulation. They learn to focus on the people to whom they speak. Their ability to memorize grows with each role they play.

The most important training they gain, however, is not in the rehearsal and performance time but in the auditions. For an audition they must dress professionally, introduce themselves, sing a song or present a monologue with a team of directors, producers, and choreographers staring at them. An audition, after all, is an interview for one of the most fun jobs available!

When I had to do public speaking in high school and college and then teach Intro to Theatre as a graduate student, I was grateful for these skills. I was still nervous, but after years of practice, I was able to focus that nervous energy into my speaking in a productive way rather than clamming up.

TEAM WORK

The ensemble of a play or musical is a team. If one member of that team fails to do their job (memorize lines or remember blocking), then the whole team suffers. It can be terrifying to be on stage and forget or fumble over lines. If a performer does that one time, it generally pushes them to study and rehearse even harder the next time around.

TIME MANAGEMENT

If a student has a paper to write and lines to memorize and dance classes to attend and family commitments to work around, they will learn to manage their time well. It may take a few years (or shows), but they will learn how much TV and computer time they can handle and still get everything done. They will learn to multitask – eat and study lines or listen to a soundtrack and do chores while practicing dance steps – it really makes chores a lot more fun!

Theatre has hard deadlines. You cannot procrastinate on memorizing Shakespeare. Performers learn to work toward a goal a little each day instead of cramming before a deadline (test or performance). They see the success of incremental study.

HOME IMPROVEMENT AND REPAIR SKILLS

Did you know that all the fancy faux painting techniques currently popular on Pinterest have been used on theatrical sets for years? I can paint a wall in one coat and it looks like two. I learned that in theatre tech class. I can use power tools to tear down and build because I not only helped build sets, but I have participated in strike (tear down and clean up) for every single show in which I have participated!

SEWING AND CLOTHING MAINTENANCE

At some point, every performer will have to sew on a button, mend a ripped seam, fix a hem, iron a costume, or probably even build a full costume. You never know what may happen backstage! You may catch the heel of your character shoe in the hem of your dress. Once an amateur show opens, there may not be a costumer back stage to make a repair. Someone has to fix that hem so you won’t trip in the middle of the big dance number!

I learned to hand sew because I needed pointe shoes prepared for class. I learned to machine sew because I needed a very specific costume. I got better at sewing because I had to make a lot more costumes!

Costumes have to be ironed to look good on stage. If you don’t hang up those costumes, they get rumpled and the costume crew will make you iron it yourself because you dropped it. (Or they charge you a fine!) You learn to iron, then you learn to hang clothing properly.

RESPECT FOR OTHERS

This goes along with teamwork, but beyond as well. Learning your lines and being on time for rehearsal are only two of the many ways actors show respect for the cast, crew, and production staff.

Maintaining a neat space in the dressing room is essential during performances. Everyone suffers when one actor spreads out over the whole dressing table and floor. Respect for fellow actors and their space makes sharing cramped spaces more peaceful.

Showing appreciation for everyone’s contribution is one of the greatest ways to show respect. No one wants to work with the actor who thinks the show is a success only because of them. Respect is important in theatre and in life. It can be a harsh, but important, lesson for some performers.

What theatre opportunities are available in your area?

Student Creative Writing

Student Spotlight: Spence’s Humorous Essay

Editor’s Note: This humorous essay was part of an assignment in Classical Conversations Essentials class. Spence was twelve years old.

My Happy Life

In December 2010 I, Sebastian, was sitting in a cage at Petco. People walked by me as if I was invisible. Then a nine-year-old boy walked in. As soon as he saw me, his eyes lit up with excitement. I could tell his dad was thinking it over. When his dad saw how happy the boy was, he said, “I will get that cat for you, but it will cost a lot of money.” I didn’t care because that day I got my best friend Spence. We play together. We sleep together. Sometimes I do a little pest control for the family.

My favorite playmate is Spence. He loves when I bite his arm or leg hurtfully. With a string or laser, he enjoys teasing me. Someday I am going to catch that crazy red dot. Even the parents’ dog is fun to play with. I chase her wildly across the yard. Other times she sits on me and happily chews my ear. I think she’s trying to pierce it! Spence and I have a lot of fun even when the dog butts in.

I love taking cat naps. On Spence’s snug, cozy bed, I enjoy sleeping. The heater in the hall makes a warm spot to lay also. During Spence’s school time, I like to sleep in a basket on the table. My favorite spot to sleep, though, is the big Spinning Chair which is covered in cat hair. All cats love to sleep, and I am really good at that.

My people have a pest problem: their yard is filled with mice! When I go outside at night, I see mice scurrying about. Happily, the morning light reveals my gifts near the door. By her expression, I’m not sure the mom appreciates my generous offerings. The family rodent problem is resolving, thanks to me.

That day over three years ago changed my life. Playing and sleeping, my boy and I enjoy our life together. Now if only I could teach him to catch mice…..