Thursday, 21 August 2014

Half Way Through Our Summer

How has your summer been?  I hope it has been a very good one.  I know that most of our American friends have started their new academic year.  In Britain, summer holidays last until the end of August or early September, so we are just in the middle of our summer break.

Our summer break has been a good one so far.  We've managed to do all that I said we would do for the summer, so that's great.  This must be the first time we have kept to our summer plan, and I rather like the sense of achievement that comes with ticking off the boxes (in my head) even if that applies to summer activities.  I might try to replicate this stick-to-the-plan approach when we start the new academic year, some time in September, and see how we fare.

Anyhow, here's a quick round up of what we've been up to in the past few weeks:

1.  Classical singing school

This went spectaculary well for us.  During the week-long course, Tiger was exposed to much singing techniques, musical games, and music history.  The repetoire of songs was quite wide -- the children were taught Latin songs, Swahili folk songs, a medieval choral, and a few contemporary (not pop, or anything to be heard on popular radio stations) songs set to poetry.

Before the course started, I wasn't sure how Tiger would respond to it, as he was rather shy about singing out loud and in front of other people.  At the end of the first day, he told me that he enjoyed it very much and he was very receptive to all the games and musical history that were taught to the group.  Although he still won't sing out loud in public, he says he wants to attend future sessions of this course, so at the very least the course has achieved the purpose that I wanted for Tiger, i.e. to be able to enjoy singing as a form of self-expression.  We are not aiming for Tiger to become a choir boy or to aspire toward a singing scholarship.  My goal is very simple: to ensure that Tiger doesn't have any self-inhibitions about singing as a natural human activity.

2.  Photography and 2D animation course

This course was held at one of the leading university's School of Creative Arts.  Tiger was very impressed with the university's professional photography studio (he came home after the photography class and asked whether we could have a similar set up at home) and the animation labs.  In that week, Tiger was taught some cool tricks on Photoshop and Adobe Flash.

3.  Plays at Shakespeare's Globe

This season's plays at the Globe seem to be mostly tragedies or historical plays, which are heavier going compared to previous years' shows.  Titus Andronicus was particularly difficult to watch due to the amount of gore and violence written into the script.  I had to brief Tiger beforehand about a few scenes and put them in context for him.  Even so, I had to censor a few scenes during the play whereby I asked Tiger to cover his ears and look down at his shoes until I told him that it was ok to resume watching.

It is, by far, the most gripping and disturbing play I've watched.  I was on the edge of my seat through most of the play, and had probably forgotten to breathe on several occasions that afternoon.

4.  In the woods

We spent some time in the woods before the weather turned, but not as much as we did in the previous years.  We miss our long walks and adventures in the forest!

5.  Closer to home

While we were not running around outside, Tiger spent his time inventing adventures for himself in the garden, or we would hang out in bookshops to read.  On a few of the short walks we would make time to stop and chat to the friendly animals we met on the way.

One day, Tiger spent an hour in his room making a necklace for me.

There was a lot of banging and knocking sounds coming from his room that morning.  If I didn't know otherwise, I would have thought a blacksmith lived upstairs!

When the noise finally stopped, Tiger presented the necklace to me.  I think it's beautiful, and exceptionally well designed with the twists and turns on the pendant reminding me of Celtic jewellery.


I don't know whether Tiger was inspired to make the necklace after learning about the Qixi festival a few weeks ago.  Sometimes it is appropriate to just accept a gift without asking too many questions.  Tiger has always presented me with small handmade items since he was very little, so this might just be another one of his loving gestures.  He is a very affectionate boy -- much like his father -- and this warms my heart more than the summer sun does.

This post is linked up to:
  1. Hip Homeschool Hop - 8/19/14   
  2. Finishing Strong - Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years #25  
  3. Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop 
  4. Collage Friday
  5. Weekly Wrap Up: The one with all the cell division
  6. The Homeschool Mother's Journal (8/23/14)


  1. You have done well to achieve your goals. It isn't always easy to find child friendly plays-I was going to book tickets for War Horse for my seven year old when I realised that it had 10+ on the front page. Strange as she has heard the audio book but presumably the dramatised version is more scary.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. It does feel good to achieve our goals. Our schedule and approach has been so fluid in the past year that sometimes things can go on and on. It seems that there's something to be said about working within a schedule, sometimes. :-)

      I'm surprised that the War Horse play has a 10+ age limit. I'm guessing that perhaps that has to do with the war theme, and presumably the portrayal of the wounded and dead in battle scenes may be too much for those under 10 years old.

  2. Hwee,

    I wish I could have spent summer with you. You and Tiger have done some wonderful things together!

    I was very interested in the classical singing. Three of my children are having classical voice lessons. Most teenagers prefer contemporary singing so their teacher was thrilled when she found some young people wanting to learn the classical way.

    I remember watching the BBC version of Titus Andronicus. Yes, very disturbing. The girls couldn't finish watching it, and I have only watched it once. To think people are capable of such cruelty.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer!

    1. That's a wonderful compliment, Sue! Thank you. I'm sure we'll all have a lot of fun together if we were to meet up! :-)

      The classical singing popped up on my radar from an obscure source, so it's not widely available but I thought Tiger should try it because I'd like him to learn to sing 'properly', if you know what I mean. :-) Having voice lessons is a very good idea, but most of the singing lessons here for children involve having them in choir and Tiger isn't overly excited about that.

      I actually felt physically repulsed by the atrocities depicted in the play, and remained quite disturbed by it for the rest of the day. I'm almost afraid to read the script again!

  3. what a fun and interesting summer you have had! we don't start back until oct 1st to our full time schedule (we are in NY) soaking up all the summer has to offer. I LOVE THE NECKLACE - how blessed are you to have that! Enjoy your remaining months left!

    1. Oct 1st?! Wow, you're starting your new term later than us, and I thought we're going to be one of the latest to start! :-) I hope you enjoy your summer too!

  4. I loved the short clip from Classical Singing School -- what a great opportunity!!

    Thanks for linking, Hwee!

    1. You're welcome, Mary. Thank you for stopping by! :-)

  5. What a wonderful summer. I love the singing. They sound great.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. Thank you, Dawn. I think the acustics of the chapel helps to make the singing sound good, but the children's voices are lovely to hear. :-)

  6. Titus Andronicus is one of the plays I refuse to read/watch, I don't need nightmares like that.

    I love that necklace, he did a really good job putting it together.

    1. Thank you for your compliment on the necklace, Ticia. It's one of the best things Tiger has made so far. :-)

      Titus Andronicus is indeed a very disturbing play, but I suppose one way to look at it is the portrayal of the potential darkness of human nature (as it is with all Shakespeare's plays). Our study of the Ancients in Year 1, with all the warfare in Ancient Rome and its neighbours, including the Goths, helped put the play in context. The reality is that much atrocities are commited in wars, and Shakespeare has just brought it to the surface along with some warnings of moral repercussions of commiting evil deeds.

      I won't recommend it as an introduction to Shakespeare's plays though. :-)


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