Parents as Teachers - Tankyuu

In “Tankyuu - Inspiring Quests, Big and Small,” (December, 2017) we introduced our bi-monthly program that invites parents and other invested community members to be guest teachers at Red Oak Community School. Our guests determine what they want to teach and, in turn, the kids choose whom they want to study with. Tankyuu, Japanese for quest or exploration, happens one Tuesday and one Friday each month. Past offerings have ranged from Jiu Jitsu and Yoga to bonsai, reader’s theater, and knot tying.

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This year I volunteered for a series of sessions dedicated to dramatic arts. I introduced kids to improvisation games and worked through scenes from an abbreviated version of Romeo and Juliet. This wasn’t my choice. In the past I have led Tankyuu around card games and gardening. Those are things I know. I wouldn’t call dramatic arts my forte. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The sessions were in response to a direct request from my daughter who attends ROCS Wednesdays through Fridays and homeschools Mondays and Tuesdays.

This fall a large part of our homeschool days revolved around the work of The Bard. After a late summer trip to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Schiller Park, my kid became enamored with Shakespeare. She loves the stories and she loves the way he plays with language. We read versions of his work in various forms including short narratives and scripts made for kids. We had a great time, and she wanted to share her new found passion with her ROCS friends.

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All of which meant I signed myself up for three visits to ROCS. (I could have done just one session, a taste of Shakespeare, but the educator in me wanted a challenge and a chance to test/reflect/retest my strategy for working with the kids.) Each session I opened with a few improvisation games that I found online. I tried to pick ones that would be easy to teach and the kids could engage with quickly. Then we did some reading from the script. I tried different iterations for this and they didn’t all work perfectly, but overall we had a good time and the kids were engaged with what we were doing.

I’m looking forward to seeing what others bring to Tankyuu this spring!

Jodi Kushins, ROCS Mom & Board Member

melissa frueh