One of the easiest ways to promote learning at home is through Carschooling. In the car you’ve got a captive audience, you’ve got time, and if you have library card, then you have access to a whole curriculum of CDs to choose from.
Some of my favorite educational CDs for children are the Classical Kids series: Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Mozart’s Magic Fantasy, and Tchaikovsky Discovers America. Right now we are listening to the newest addition to our collection, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery.
This CD is by far the weakest of the entire series because the writing is so abysmal. “What a bunch of spaghetti heads” is actually uttered at one point! On the plus side, my kids are becoming extremely familiar with Vivaldi’s music, are learning a lot about the city of Venice, and now know as much as I do (which isn’t much) about the life and times of Antonio Vivaldi.
Vivaldi was a priest with red hair who was unable to lead Holy Mass because he had asthma. Instead, he taught at an orphanage in Venice called The Pieta, that had one of the most famous all-girl orchestras in the world. Much of Vivaldi’s music was composed for these orphans to perform.
What’s interesting to me is that at the same time we started listening to Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery I was also reading Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman, which describes the history of adoption and foster care in America. It broke my heart to read about kids who exit the foster care system at 18 being dumped into society with little to no safety net. My mom volunteers with the Orphan Foundation of America’s Foster Care to Success program, which provides mentoring, care packages and advice to these college aged kids.
I’m sure that the authors of Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery made The Pieta orphanage sound a lot better than it really was, but I was really impressed that people 300 years ago figured out how to house, educate and care for abandoned girls in such a way that many would leave the orphanage as teenagers equipped with desirable job skills and training. That really makes me think that our current foster care system should be better. We owe kids better.