Saturday, September 24, 2011

Foreign Pianos and the Brain

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the
soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.
~Emily Dickinson 

Zoe has had all sorts of things happen to her brain in the last 12 months.
Chemotherapy shot up right into her spinal fluid with it's final destination being her brain tissue.
Brain tissue where leukemia cells like to hide.
She's had radiation to her brain.  Radiation that she said smelled like a toilet.
It has (I'm sure) made her brain all poo-pooey as well.
The effects of chemo and radiation are seen as "late effects" by the medical establishment.  
We don't know how it has affected her until a few years from now.
So, being the pro-active mama that I am (and by being my partner, Chad is the pro-active papa), I am trying to think of everything that I can that can keep her brain stimulated and working hard to overcome all of the "junk" that has been introduced to her developing mind.

She has started piano lessons.
I even had my piano tuned by the lovely Chuck Beck (thanks Karla!)... Piano Tuning in Decatur
She has caught on very well.
I think if she has to use a different part of her brain to learn music, it will help her combat these "late effects."
It's my own theory I'm testing and maybe I'll publish my results in a medical journal.  
Probably not. 
But I've told the oncologists about my plan and maybe they think I'm crazy. 
I don't know.  I think it's a good idea.

I'm also going to start teaching her a foreign language. 
Gigi, too.
I don't really know much in terms of foreign language.  
I took Spanish in high school for two years.  Hola!  El gato negro.

I like French and have taught myself a few words through the years.
They were a bit helpful when Chad and I went to Paris in 2004.
Not good enough to understand the real French people when they thought I lived there (because I was huge and pregnant!) and they asked me for directions.  
Then I became a deer in headlights. 
"Ummm, I don't speak French?" was my English. 
Then I got a sneer. A nice French sneer.
Anyway, I digress. 

So, Zoe said she would like to learn French.
Upon asking at her school about foreign language instruction, I was told that it doesn't begin until high school  and they only offer Spanish.
I was mortified.
Then I was even more mortified when I polled some of my girlfriends across this country of ours and got very different answers...some kids are offered foreign language starting in 5th grade.  Some are like our district and don't start until high school.  There are some schools in Decatur, magnet schools, that start in first grade!  FIRST GRADE!
But everyone that I polled knew that the kids in their district are offered various languages.
Everything from Spanish and French to Mandarin and Latin.

There is more to learn in school than just studying up for the state tests.
There's more to learn in school than just being drilled in math and writing.
Why isn't there more money in the budget for the arts?
It's an age-old dilemma.
Arts are always the first to go...ugh. 
School is where you begin to learn what you love. 
What your future may hold for you.
How are our kids supposed to get ahead of or be on track with all of the other kids on this planet? 
Foreign language should be a part of the school curriculum as well.
The arts can open your brain to a new way of learning. 
Studies show that kids that learn a foreign language do better in other subjects in school... Cognitive Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language
Band and chorus and art are always offered. 
Language is an art form in itself.  
Okay, I'm stepping off my soap box now. 

Since it's not a valuable part of our school curriculum and since I am worried about my daughter's brain and it's future capacity to learn and retain things, I'm getting started on my own.
I'm going to start with the Muzzy system. 
I have done some research and this program looks promising and fun.   
I have a copy of the French lesson plans on reserve at our local library. 
We hope to get started soon.
We hope to kick cancer's "late effects" to the curb.
We hope our daughter can thrive and beat the odds.
We hope and hope and hope and hope...                        

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