Wednesday, February 29, 2012
i said, no, right now. she thought we had negotiated that she could ask for 2 min. i said only if i wasn't ready at the time she agreed to. she tried to negotiate for 2 min, but i stood firm.
she asked if instead of us doing chazara, i could just do milim. so i did that, and she didn't know most of them, but often read the phrase around it in order to give her context, so we got a decent review even though she doesn't know a bunch of the words and i am running out of zitsfleisch to keep doing chazara. i wonder how much of noach she remembers.
patar did show up a lot and she remembered it :-)
then we zipped through the rashis. they are all pretty simple. there are 9 we are doing. then break until 7:30ish. it didn't take too long to do the new pesukim, but they were tough. i think tomorrow i'll have her review all of shlishi. maybe friday she'll review sheni.
oh, and in case anyone was wondering, chana and i ran out of steam after reading 3 perakim in english of the megila. i think she's at the age where it is too long and too many details. i think what i will do is find the condensed version of the megila that i do with the pesukim cut out and read it with her. either i'll read it to her (though she is not all that auditory) or she'll read it out loud and maybe i'll translate it or we'll figure something out. stay tuned.
also, i decided, after sitting down to read the little midrash says with her again, that it had a lot of details that were boring her, and so between that and the midrashim, i'm not going to buy it.
i kind of had this fantasy that with unschooling i could just leave them lying around and my kids would just pick them up and read them like my homeschooling neighbor down the block has with her son. but i think i have to know myself and know my kids. just like i don't do science projects no matter how simple and interesting they look, and i don't do crafts, and my kids don't do computer sites (at least not the girls), i have to accept that the best method i have found that works with me and my kids is for me to directly interact with them and teach them the pshat so i can tell exactly what level they are on and how much they are ready for and exactly how to present it. there is a lot of mutual feedback going on and i have never found a substitute, which is why people try to talk to me about curricula or workbooks and i just found that there is nothing more efficient or more interesting to me and the kids except for us to do it together where i present the material in the best way i can see for them at that exact moment. i have the same thing with math; it's easier for me to write problems for them than for me to follow a book, because there are never exactly the problems to work on the level of my kid as many as i need or exactly what i think they need to be working on. so too with chumash and navi and megilla, i think it's best when i interact with them. darn, because i kind of wanted them to go off and find it themselves and do it themselves, but they really learn best by being taught. so i have to put in energy and engage them and keep it interesting.
which means when i fall down on the job, they don't learn. kind of like when they ask me questions and instead of knowing the answer and being able to explain it to them in exactly the level they need, i say, "i don't know." that's when unschooling falls down on the job. i can't be lazy about being a resource for them.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
we were supposed to work at 7:30pm, and chana agreed. but it wasn't until 8:30 that i was able to sit down with her. i decided to start with shlishi, even though we need chazara of sheni (and rishon, but like i said, i'm saving that for friday). i took a look at it, and determined that 8 pesukim wouldn't be too onerous for her. i planned to do review on some of sheni afterwards. but til we got through it, i was already moving on to rashi and then it was getting late and i really don't like to do work after 9pm. chana, though, was raring to go. when we stopped after 8 pesukim she begged for more. i said no, but she really wanted to keep going. then we did the rashis easily enough.
(funny: when pharoah said to yosef, "i am pharoah" she brought up a song about captain obvious.)
(she asked the question [doesn't yosef know that?] but didn't ponder long about the answer so i left it.)
then she zipped through 2 complicated fraction problems, reading, writing, and is full of energy.
she asked me why chumash wasn't hard for her tonight.
i think that the pesukim happened to be a perfect difficulty level for her. interesting, a little challenging, but not teeth breaking. also, we didn't do chazara, which she finds boring. also, she is a night owl. i must have mentioned this before. she loves working at night. she used to do all work at night. perhaps as the little one are getting more into a routine, we can work only at night, which is when her energy level for learning peaks (in contrast to mine, which is first thing in the morning).
Monday, February 27, 2012
we zipped through the rest of sheni today. i haven't done chazara on rishon yet. i wonder how important it is. she has the flow, and i don't think she'll learn more vocab via review. but i did "budget" friday for chazara of rishon, since fridays are usually hassle-full days :-D
we did a few rashis. she's still not getting the concept of the rashi that the nile river is the main point of pharoah's dreams. every time we do it i explain it again or a little more. when she says she doesn't get it, we move on.
i think sheni definitely will need chazara since we did it so quickly.
i realized today we haven't done megila when we went on a trip and the kids were given a blank book to fill in the purim story and nobody was interested. an interesting point about unschooling is that the other kids in the group already knew the story. elazar was asking me about letters and sounding out some words, and chana was working on animation-type drawings, as is her current interest.
i figured we'd maybe do megila tonight and i asked chana to choose from 3 options:
1. she read it in english
2. i read it to her in hebrew and explain it
3. we do it like we did last year, which is that she reads and translates select pesukim that i put into a pamphlet years ago.
she requested option 4:
i read to her in english.
so getting into the unschooling spirit, i said yes. i'll let you know how it goes.
Friday, February 24, 2012
at 11:50 i asked chana to do chumash. she asked for 10 minutes. somehow, i'm not sure how, it was 12:55 and it seemed to me that for the past 45 min at least, i had been asking her to do chumash and she had always had some reason why not. i was getting shorter and shorter tempered. she was playing some game, she asked if she could finish, i said ok. then 10 minutes later i asked to do chumash, she said she's still playing. finally i said i don't care if you are still playing, when you asked if you could finish, how many minutes are we talking? i thought it would be about 2 min and it's a lot more. she said she didn't know and i got annoyed. then she had to shut down her computer, which took a long time because, in her words, it's a dinosaur (as if there were computers in the dinosaur era). then something else. then something else. THEN she asked if she could wash her hands and i said, and i cannot believe i said this, "i'm going to kill you in a minute."
now, this is not part of my parenting repertoire. except when it is, apparently. i cannot recall telling any of my children that i was going to kill them.
chana, unsurprisingly, burst into tears.
my temper has been rather fraying this last week. elazar's in a tough, super energetic phase, after being fairly amenable for 6 months or more. i have to readjust. jack is teething and spends a lot of the day screaming at me. aharon is ok, but is still under a year and baby care is fairly intensive. recently, aharon's dinner and elazar's put-me-to-bed-right-now-or-i'll-start-destroying-the-house-and-hitting-and-breaking-things is basically at the exact same time, and i haven't had help during bedtime. well, chana is around and she is great at childcare but not at feeding or discipline. so 2 extremely immediate needs where putting one aside means intense screaming or things breaking has left me feeling frazzled every night and i've been rather alarmed at how much show of temper i've been both expressing AND feeling. i haven't been this hair-trigger in a while.
but it hasn't really spilled over into the day before this.
last night i really wanted to read an 18 pg story and hear a small lecture on it. i really wanted to cook for 14 ppl for shabbos. i really wanted to go for a walk. i really wanted to visit oma yesterday.
i skipped navi, which i've been wanting to do but keep putting lower priority. i wanted to do chumash, which i didn't do during the day because we went to visit oma, and i wanted to do some fractions. we skipped reading and writing.
something's gotta give. i do a very very minimal curriculum and sometimes it doesn't fit into our lifestyle.
anyway, chana and i have been discussing psychological ambivalence for a while, and how she can love me and hate me at the same time. we've been discussing that she mostly loves me, but a very small part of her sometimes wants me dead.
one of my favorite examples of this was when she was crying about how much work i was making her do and she said: "i'm crying because i want you to feel bad for me." pause. "and also, i want to poke your eye." pause. "i wonder why your eye..?"
anyway, in an effort to reconnect, i opened up a word document and wrote the following. (which also led me to ponder that she wouldn't be able to read in hebrew w/o nekudot if i wrote it, which led me to think i've been lax about that)
Chana I don’t know what to do
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
then i wanted to review all the rashis w/o nekudos. we took a break and then she did all but 7 rashis. we will convene to do the rest later.
i would still like to review shvi'i, but will have to figure out a way to present it to her that will be agreeable.
in other news, i've been contemplating the purchase of the little midrash says set for navi. (the family midrash says.) first, i was disappointed that it only is for nevi'im rishonim. but then i thought, let me not get ahead of myself. right now chana doesn't know all that much of any navi. let her do all nevi'im rishonim and then i can think about neviim achronim and ketuvim.
i borrowed a volume from another homeschooler. it is very readable. the problem is that there is a combination of pshat and midrash. it is not clear that the midrashim are midrashim. they are presented as part of the basic story. although i don't object to the choices of midrashim (they seem to be the types i would choose, similar to rashis i choose), i do have a problem with them being enmeshed like that. i like my students to be able to distinguish between pshat and not pshat.
i have to weigh the extreme readability plus the fact that they very well might be picked up on their own (an advantage if i unschool the boys) against the fact that i am opposed to my kids learning without being able to distinguish between pshat and midrash. (plus they are expensive: over $20 a volume, though if they were just pshat i would purchase them in a heartbeat as an investment.)
in other other news, i've started having chana recite birchas hatorah before we do chumash. she only does the brachos, and not the mishnayos etc that come after them.
Monday, February 20, 2012
i don't know if we'll get to the whole parsha today. chamishi is short but shishi is a doozy. i also want to do math and reading and writing... we shall see. maybe since today is a "day off" in the school system, i should focus just on chumash.
chana's computer is really going slowly and having trouble and she's doing 5+ hrs a day on movie making and i'd really like her to get a new one already.
oh, and while we were reviewing the pasuk of "and he didn't yasaf to know her anymore" she forgot what that meant. and i said either it meant yehuda didn't stop knowing tamar or he didn't know her anymore after that. ari was leaving the house and she called, "daddy!" but he left. and i asked her what she wanted. she said she wanted to ask him if he knew what it meant. i said, what do you mean, i just told you what it means. she said she wanted to ask him if he knew which one it was: did yehuda stop or did he stay with her?
so i said, quoting a rashi we've been doing, "chad amar v'chad amar!"
and she knew what i meant :-)
(it's the rashi that yosef went to do his work. rav and shmuel. chad amar his actual work, and chad amar to do his needs with potiphar's wife).
Thursday, February 16, 2012
the first thing we did in the car was review all the rashis. she had some trouble with our most recent long one, since she hasn't had enough practice in that. the rest of them i told her not to translate; just read them in hebrew and see if she remembers the gist of them. she did. i like that because i prefer her to do chazara in hebrew anyway, to inculcate the lashon rashi. the car ride was 20 min and she did them all, beautifully.
tonight we started performing the pesukim in rishon. chana was pretty interested in the idea. we did 2 pesukim. one i acted as she read, and one she acted as i read. then she said she'd rather just translate as usual.
it was good chazara because she didnt' remember the bundles and a few phrases she got after a little bit of thought. i'm happy to report that she finally seems to have incorporated into her memory the shoresh "natzav" to stand. (which we used to do by making a little standing up-side down V with my index and middle finger as legs.)
then we went through that long rashi. i asked her what every single pronoun was because there were a lot of pronouns "she and they and him and them and they" and she was feeling like it was sooooo obvious but that really broke it down and i think she'll have an easier time with it tomorrow. tomorrow i'm going to try for sheni and for those rashis w/o nekudos. or maybe, since it's friday, we'll leave the rashis for the time after and we'll just do sheni and that rashi again and see how she does.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
now my question is what to do about chazara. i could have her read the whole thing over again. i might do that. just take next week and run through it quickly. but what will that achieve? she will ask me the words she doesn't know. she won't learn them from running through it one more time. it might have some small value in her reviewing the story. but it will annoy her, which will probably cancel out any benefit of reviewing the story.
it goes back to educational goals. if i know my goal, i will know what to do about chazara. what is my goal? to have her be able to read and translate the pesukim. in reality, i've found that one more chazara will not teach her any new words. i think she already has a sense of the flow of the story.
we did 20 rashis on vayeshev. those will definitely need a full chazara. perhaps i'd be better off spending the week doing that.
i wish i could think of a fun game to do for chazara. again, i would need to define my goals so that i can construct a game that would be suited to them.
one of the really awesome things about homeschool is that i pick the goals, and then i can create activities that are precisely suited to what i want to achieve. individualized instruction at its finest.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
But now that I've been self-willed for almost 2 decades, I am at the tail end of long blocks of time. Ten years have passed from more than one starting point that I was aware of. To paraphrase the words of Yehuda (Bereshis 43:11), "Had we not delayed, we could have finished twice already."
When you are young, the projects seem daunting and the time seems too long and it doesn't feel like a decade is enough of a reality that it pays to embark.
But after 2 decades, it's been striking me lately how much time we have. And how much we can do with that time. If all goes well, I will have a few more decades. And a decade is enough time to do some major things, make huge progress, complete grand schemes and gain tremendous clarity and knowledge in an area. I won't be daunted. I am old enough now to mentally grasp a decade. When I was a child, a day was long. A year was long. An hour was long.
Now, ten years is long. But long in the sense that I can roll up my sleeves, dig in, and get some things done.
Here's to the future!
Reuven was not feeling well and went home to his family. On that very day, his horoscope said that being with family when ill makes you feel better. Reuven found this interesting.
Sarah and I did not find this interesting. We felt that this is a coincidence. Perhaps slightly more than coincidence, actually--it is a manipulation based on statistical probability designed to be relevant to a majority of human beings.
Reuven thinks that making decisions based on horoscopes is a Torah prohibition of "Lo S'Onenu." Therefore, had Reuven not been feeling well and read in his horoscope that he should go home, he would not have done so. However, Reuven already intended to go home (or was on his way home) so there was no prohibition. Reuven thinks that astrology has some knowledge (chochma or wisdom) that it "knew" that he was sick and going home.
Reuven does not think this is "astonishing." It did not "blow his mind" or make him think that he should consult astrology because it has the answer to all of life's questions.Reuven did not even think this was "amazing." He does not think that it is a fantastic source of knowledge or wisdom. However, Reuven does think it is "interesting." He thinks that this accuracy indicates that there is some bit of wisdom and truth here.
Reuven is not "superstitious." Perhaps, as Ari often puts it, he is merely a bit "stitious."
In my opinion, most people in the world are either with their family or not with their family. (Ok, that actually applies to ALL people in the world). If they are sick, they will either find comfort in their family or yearn for their family. "Sick" can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. So this applies to the majority of people, since most people have some form of unhappiness that can be interpreted as "sick." This is why Sarah and I do not believe that there is anything significant in this.
I paraphrase the episode of South Park where Stan pretends to be a psychic:
Stan: "I'm getting the month... November..."
Lady: "Oh, my god! My mother's birthday is in November!"
Stan: "Oh.. I chose November because Thanksgiving is in November and I figured you'd probably have some family memories about that... but birthday works, too."
Ibn Ezra on Vayikra 19:31 (do not turn to those who speak to the Dead) says:
Those who seek to know the future and those who are empty headed say, "If not for the fact that fortune tellers and magic are true, the Torah would not forbid it." And I say the opposite of their words: The Torah does not prohibit the truth, only sheker. And the proof is the prohibition of idols and statues.
Monday, February 13, 2012
then i said, "if i were yosef, you wouldn't have to check up on me. because i wouldn't mess up and because hashem is matzliach everything i do." she said, "you are not yosef." and i agreed.
(she had been asking what it means that potiphar and the head jailor never knew what yosef was doing.)
i'm thinking about rashi yet again. what exactly are my goals? and are my lessons reflecting my goals?
i thought my goals were to understand all the words in rashi. but as chana translates it for the 5th and 6th and 7th time and asks for the same words, my patience flies out the window and so too does my determination that she should learn all the words in rashi. so my goal, such as it is, appears to be that she has a grasp of the general idea and the ability to translate most of the words.
i thought my goals were for her to read rashi fluently with no nekudos. but this frustrates her tremendously so we are using the chumash with the nekudos and only reading it without nekudos once or twice afterwards and i'm not even makpid that she read it correctly if she can read it and generally translate.
i thought my goals were for her to understand the concept of rashi. but many times the concepts are too deep for her and she doesn't really understand why he is saying what he is saying or what he is saying really means. i let that go, and figure knowing generally what he says and mostly being able to read and translate is good enough.
i thought my goals were for her to enjoy rashi. but it is often a struggle and i push her.
i thought my goals were for her to be able to read and translate rashi independently when she is older. will she be able to? i am not sure if what i am doing with her is the path to that.
when i was in high school, we did 50 mefarshim per test. we would be asked, on any of these mefarshim, al mi neemar (to what is this referring) or mi amar el mi (who said to whom). so we had to know those mefarshim cold. after doing that for a year, my skills improved drastically. sarah is not in the honors track. she needs to know about 10 mefarshim per test inside. are her skills improving? i know they are not improving drastically.
so i want chana to be able to read and translate independently. i am not quite sure how to do that. i thought the way to do it is to read and translate lots of rashis. is it? will it work? will it work if she doesn't learn them perfectly? if she learns them decently will she remember them? if she doesn't remember them, will the skills stick anyway? and let's not even get started on all those roshei teivos.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
i like chazara (i've mentioned before) because she realizes new things from reading it again, and it gives her time to brew the different issues. we had been doing the rashi of yosef coming to the house to do his "work." she asked me today if i thought yosef intended to be with potiphar's wife; she didn't think so.
she realized today that she didn't understand what it meant that hashem was going to send the bear to bother yosef. she's read that 3x, but today it hit her that she didn't understand it. i explained to her a couple of times that the bear is eishas potiphar. but today she asked me about it again. and yet, to have a discussion about the psychology of being in a leadership position and grooming himself and how that leads to potiphar's wife noticing him is not something she is interested in.
but i do think it's important to respect that she doesn't understand it. we are so quick to push answers. i sometimes think that sitting with the question is more valuable. if you answer the question, then it stops bothering them and they stop thinking about it. or, what happened to me a lot when i was a kid, you get the sense that you are supposed to not have the question anymore after the answer and so you accept it, even though it doesn't quite answer the question to your satisfaction.
also, something that i read in r' saadia gaon (maybe) is that people don't realize that thinking and drawing conclusions and finding answers takes effort and work the same way growing crops does.
another thing i was thinking about is that chana hasn't tantrummed in a while. that's another oddity about homeschooling. instead of worrying year to year if your kid is "caught up" (caught up to what, anyway??), you can take a long term view of a bunch of years. i would have thought that my kid ought to have been mature enough to not be tantrumming about her work 2 years ago. after all, she would never do that in "real" school. but yet, here we are, and i suddenly realized today that she has the maturity to express her dislike of chumash and express when she is overwhelmed without the tantrums.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
(as much as this is not very alfie cohen of me, i must point out that this is not motivating her to move any quicker than she would otherwise.) it will, however, mark the occasion as a special and significant achievement.
i wish she would finish already because she spends most of her days making movies, and is pretty frustrated with her computer. however, i strongly believe it's important to work towards things. especially expensive things.
we are in chamishi of vayeshev. then miketz, vayigash, vayechi...
Friday, February 3, 2012
FAQ: how will your homeschooler (especially your unschooler) learn to persist through activities s/he doesn't like doing?
There are some underlying assumptions in that.
- ife has many unenjoyable activities that you have to do, whether you like it or not. If you can't, then you won't be successful.
- school trains you to do things you hate doing. for hours and hours. therefore, school (in this regard, at least) prepares you better for life.
There are many, many opportunities for children to learn persistence and responsibility. Having them clean up after themselves. Making them accompany the family out when they'd rather stay home but are too young. Sticking out the 4 pottery or robotics classes you signed them up for when they aren't super enjoying it (I just pulled that example out of thin air--that never happened. Nope). I think responsibility is taught by the family environment, by having mutual respect: you respect them and you respect yourself, which teaches them to respect you and themselves. Being able to follow through on responsibilities is an outgrowth of security, respect, clear expectations, and consistent consequences. Being able to tolerate doing something you don't necessary like doing because you are part of a social unit is an outgrowth of an emotionally healthy social unit.
A frequent misconception is that you have to push kids to do something so that they will be capable of doing it when they are older. This pushing often happens when they are too young. I found that if you leave it alone for 3 years, many of the things that are painful and difficult become easy. For example, most 4th graders find 1st grade work extremely easy. Most 7th graders find 4th grade work easy or manageable. This tells me to let the kid play when s/he is young and if you let them do work 3 years behind, they can do it in a fraction of the time and it's a pleasant experience. Or, even more exciting, they already know it. Somehow! And you have made those hours of pain obsolete.
Do you have any idea how much we PREVENT children from persisting through things?
I'm beginning to think we are backwards. We don't let children work on things while they are interested and trying and trying and trying to figure it out. And then we force them to do meaningless (to them) activities that attempt to teach many of the things we are not allowing them to discover on their own.
One reason we don't let them persist is because we have feelings seeing them getting frustrated. Another reason is that we don't understand the best way to teach and learn, and we want to show them or teach them how to do it "right" or how to do it better or the best way or a more efficient way. We don't realize that these are our own feelings we are putting onto them. Learning by figuring out and by not succeeding perfectly the first time, and by playing around and seeing what happens next, is the most efficient and most interesting way to learn. Leave them alone. My children have screamed and cried in frustration while playing video games and while playing blocks, but they don't want to stop because they want to get it. Let them get it.
Let children explore their environments. You have no idea how much they learn about how things work by playing, experimenting, observing. You sit them in a classroom and talk about "scientific method" when if you leave a kid alone you will see them devising hypotheses and doing experiments and observing results, which lead to new hypotheses and experiments and deductions. But right now, by the time children are out of preschool and into elementary school, they've forgotten how to fiddle around with things because they are never allowed to.
When children have a plan or goal, they are usually very willing to put in lots and lots of hard work and persistence in all the steps necessary to achieve it. If they have a childhood with many such situations, then they experience that persistence is necessary for their goals. But they experience it in an enjoyable way, instead of in a torturous way. They learn that life is about ideas, which then need hard work and persistence to make those ideas happen. Perhaps the underlying assumption of this FAQ is that life is about ideas that other people have for you, and you are required, against your will, to go along with it.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
so we started chamishi. chana was delighted to find that we are back to yosef. the first pasuk she found hard enough that she didn't want to do anymore. interesting because she knew most of the words, but putting it together to find the meaning was a little complicated. then she whisked through the rashis.
so overall, not a particularly productive day. but we crept forward. tomorrow i plan to do those rashis without nekudos, to see if she can graduate.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
then, without me asking, she reviewed yesterday's new pesukim which were a bit complicated, and we did the rest of the aliya.
she said that the babies were not named for tamar's other husbands. i said maybe the last name, like "johnson."
she noted that the twins and birth order was similar to yaakov and eisav's birth. she had been hoping for a girl baby.
going through the 5 pesukim, the 2 yesterday's pesukim, and the new ones took about half an hour.
rashis she zipped through. she's been reading them in hebrew and asking me for the few words here and there that she doesn't know. maybe friday or next week we will try them in the other chumash and then she can "graduate" them.