Sunday, May 30, 2010

the neverending battle

sometimes i think every homeschooling teacher must ask herself at one point: what am i doing wrong? she would NEVER carry on like this at school in front of a bunch of her peers and a different adult.

so as per plan, i was doing one pasuk today. with 5 new words. so we started off amiably enough. i told her i wanted to do a pasuk, she picked a time, we started. i got out the dictionary because there were a couple of nouns i had the gist of, but didn't know specifically, and figured i'd see what would happen if i had the dictionary out and i didn't know the word either.

so we hit the first new word. i wrote it in hebrew and left a blank. she wanted me to tell her. i said, let's do the rest of the pasuk and then you should be able to guess from context. she started whining that she wanted me to tell her. i said i want her to guess. she started crying that she never guesses right (which is not true). i said let's wait and see and then i'll tell you if you don't guess right. then we got to the first verb i didn't know. i said there are 2 i don't know, so you do one and i'll do one. she agreed. she decided to do the first word (ably remembering the prefix "i will"). so i wrote down שית on the white board. she asked me to open the dictionary. i said nope. she opened it to shin. interestingly, she didn't look for shin yud, but turned to the end of the shins. i scanned the page and saw that שת was there, and had the right definition. great. i said, oh, there it is! this was a mistake. she then wanted me to point out the column. i said no, which was perhaps another mistake coz why the heck do i need her to be able to use the dictionary? i thought i decided a month or more ago that all adults can pretty much use a dictionary, so why torture her now?

anyway, she went into full blown tantrum. literally lying on the floor and rolling around crying. seriously. she's going to be 9 in a few weeks.
the new me, confident that asking her to do this amount of work is reasonable, said, "here's the white board and the marker. when you find the word, write it on the board." and i left the room.

do all homeschoolers tantrum? coz i have taught in school. they don't do this.

soon i hear her calling me, that it's all shins and no sins. then i realize that she misread the yud that i put for the shoresh as a dot on the left side. i called back that it's a shin; check the pasuk. she does, and begins berating me for writing a sin. i told her it's a shin and a yud in the shoresh, and show her in the dictionary how the shoresh is written with a yud. she says she thought that one was it. and how come i wrote a sin. and how come i wrote a yud looking like a dot. ya know what? next time i'll have her write the shoresh.

she did nicely on the rest of the prefixes and suffixes, but the whole thing was a nonstop whinefest. i could tell she was strongly controlling herself, because she was softly whining instead of screaming, like she wanted to. so i didn't call her on it. because from experience i know that if i told her she's whining, she'd start crying harder about how upset she is. so i let it go but it was pretty unpleasant.

the pasuk says "between you and between the woman, and between your seed and between her seed." chana felt all those betweens were annoying. i felt happy that it was repeated so much and maybe she'll learn the word.

she found confusing the translation "he will crush you head" meaning "he will crush you (on the) head."

after translating the pasuk, she didn't want to read the whole thing to see if she could get that first word from context. again she cried.

(and she was away for shabbos and surely did not get enough sleep, but again, if i would wait for the perfect storm conditions she'd be grown w/ no education).

i was planning to walk away again until she calmed down but she grabbed onto me, so i asked if she wanted to read it while i sat next to her. she did. she read it, and it was tricky enough to follow everything and figure it out so i did tell her the word.

the end.

i'm wiped. why is this so hard? why so much energy? why so much unhappiness? what am i doing wrong? i am NOT doing things beyond her capability.

maybe i'm doing nothing wrong. maybe translating is hard work. maybe i'm guiding her through the frustration of putting in hard effort for a valuable goal.

there were a lot of days like this with sarah, too. and we survived. and she can translate chumash.

Friday, May 28, 2010

same old

today we had to leave early for art class, plus chana was grouchy. she had just spent a frustrating while on her art, and she wanted to relax. i decided we would do just one pasuk today. i was wondering if it would have been better to just skip it altogether. she hadn't eaten breakfast, either. sometimes i wonder why i try to do chumash like that, but i feel that if i waited for ideal conditions i'd be waiting for godot.

interestingly, as far as parenting goes, i wanted to be harsher to her (and indeed, when her tone hit a certain level i warned her). but i was kind and told her that i'd make her food, and this gesture of love calmed her down. i was pondering the irony that harshness breeds more stubborn behavior and love breeds bending, and the line between that and necessary discipline, but back to chumash.

i told her the word arur. she did decently with the suffixes though she complained greatly. the yud at the end of yemei--yesterday she remembered that was ...s of, but today she didn't (because she was cross). and she didn't remember the end of chayas (chayat) was 'of.' i imagine if it keeps coming up she will eventually.

i'd love to do another pasuk but shabbos is coming and the next pasuk has 4 new words and one that she's seen a couple of times but won't remember. 5 unfamiliar words is a lot. we'll probably have to do that slowly. the pasuk after that has 3 unfamiliar words.

it's a holiday weekend, so maybe we'll do one on sunday and one on monday. we'll see.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

easy pesukim

so today i decided on 4 pesukim. chana balked at the thought. i said she can take as many breaks as she wants. she said but she'll need like 5 breaks! i said sure. she said she'd rather do 2 pesukim. i said yup.

she did the first pasuk easily. (all 4 were pretty easy today). i'm happy to report that ממני comes easily to her now. we noted that adam ran away because he was scared because he was naked, not scared because he ate from the tree! then she did the first half of the next pasuk, and needed a break.

then we did the second half of the second pasuk and she needed a break. i asked her to guess what adam would answer to the question of if he ate from the tree.

after she read the next pasuk (after her break), i asked her if adam said he did eat or did he deny it. and she said yes and no. because he blamed the woman, but also said he ate.

then she needed another break.

then she did the pasuk about the woman.

then she did a little dance and sang, "graduaaaaation!"

ps today were words like צויתיך which need a shoresh breakdown, and the 2 suffixes. the white board makes these a dream.


then she adds a ה for צוה

and we isolate תי and ך

then she just has to figure out i commanded you or you commanded me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

much pleasanter

today was remarkably smooth, especially in light of yesterday. chana did 2.5 pesukim, starting with trepidation. she didn't want to do so much, didn't we agree yesterday we would do less, she's nervous she's going to yell at me.

but i took a look and it was 6 lines whereas yesterday was 8.5 lines. also, i went through it to see if she would need review of the prefixes and suffixes and there wasn't even one i needed to review. the couple of new vocab words were easily mimed or drawn.

zip zip zip.

chana asked some good questions. the classics, like "if hashem knows everything, how can they hide from him" and "why did hashem ask where adam was if He knew already." and she came up with an interesting one: if they ate the tree and now they knew stuff, how come they didn't know that hashem knew where they were?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

breaks and tantrums

it's been a half an hour and it's been basically nonstop tantrums and timeouts. it's hard to know whether i've been pushing too hard and that's a problem, or if i've been pushing legitimately and she's protesting but ultimately will agree. sort of like the month when i decided she'd have to get her own bowl and spoon when she was 4 yrs old and the tantrums were unbelievable but ultimately she did it and it's not an argument anymore. growing pains.

i must say that i prefer (for myself) doing less work because the days are more chilled and pleasant. for all of us. otoh, she learns less. what is my goal here, anyway??

more work with breaks

so today i went through the pesukim and wrote down all the prefixes and suffixes beforehand and asked chana what they were and we used r' winder to look them up. i had decided she would do 2.5 not very difficult pesukim. it seemed to me the 3rd pasuk had a word she was unfamiliar with and that would upset her, so i decided to stop after 2.5.

the list ended up as:

כם- you.
נו- (with dagesh in nun) him/it
ו-(with dot in belly) they
י-...s of
ו-(w/ dot above) him/his
י- he will
ת...נה-they will

turns out i forgot the prefix כ as "like" coz i thought she knew it but she didn't.
anyway, with all that to reference, she made it pretty easily through the first pasuk. then the further we got into the second pasuk, the more whiny and screamy she got. she doesn't want to do so much. it's too much. the phrase "כי טוב העץ" is too much, she didn't want to review all the words together to make sense of it, it's too hard, it's too much. i gave her a break. i wrote this. now i'll see if she can get back to it.

and she did the first half of the second pasuk and asked for another break. even though it's pretty simple, i think it is too much for her at this point and will go back to less tomorrow. but after this break she will do the next half. i'm curious if she will remember the word arum. likely not.


so the rest of the translating went off without a hitch. but then she had a question about the nakedness. so i asked her to say it so i could write it down (i used to have her write it down, but that was too much for her so now she dictates). she is currently tantrumming that she doesn't want to say it again, that she doesn't understand her own question, why does she need a question anyway.

i want her to be able to ask the question clearly and simply.

as she is carrying on, i am wondering if i am causing negative associations w/ questions. but questions are a natural result of natural curiosity. walking the line between making learning pleasant and not spoiling and disciplining when necessary. hard to know when to do what. intuition and teshuva are key.

Monday, May 24, 2010

still thinking about rewards

i'm reminded of alfie's point that if the work isn't too much for the student. and if the student understands the long-term goal of the activity even if the work isn't inherently interesting. then you get the same result out of a promised reward as you do if you gently remind the student to focus/continue working.

and you have the benefit of not turning the child away from the intrinsic properties of the activity.

she remembered the prefixes and suffixes

hmm. just reviewed the r' winder prefixes and suffixes w/ chana and she pretty much remembered them all.

so the trouble seems to be that she is having difficulty going from theoretical to practical. seeing it in the actual words while she's translating everything else is causing trouble.

i would recommend (though will i actually do it?) that i scout out the pasuk in advance, review those prefixes and suffixes right before the lesson, and see if that helps.

regarding review

a brief observation regarding review. before we went on to the section about the nachash, i asked chana to review what we had learned the day before. after a moment of thought, she said that a man leaves his dad and mom and sticks to his wife and adam had no parents and maybe it was talking about hashem.

it is very interesting that she did not quite remember the actual text of the chumash; she remembered her own thought process, her own question, and her own answer to that question.

seeking opinions

today chana did the second half of pasuk aleph, all of pasuk beis and all of pasuk gimel. i started by saying, "we will be doing a lot today, and i don't want an argument." truth is, she knew pretty much all of the words, and was pleasantly surprised how she zipped through it.

then i saw how easy pasuk dalet was, and i wanted to go further, but she didn't want to. i said maybe tonight. she said no. we'll see if we have time.

we didn't review r' winder and so she is still having trouble with those prefixes and suffixes. i'm going to go right now and review it, and review the rashi letters.

does anyone have any opinion as to whether it is better for a student to work through the translation himself with the teacher on standby to help him, or whether it is better for the student if the teacher runs through it first with translation, and then drills it a few times with the student until the student is fluent in it?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

be decisive

so it's one of those lazy sundays where i have a ton of time so naturally i want to do schoolwork. (yes, i can do housework, but somehow the urge didn't strike me). chana had arranged a pokemon extravaganza, so i couldn't pull her away. i told her i wanted to do work afterwards and she was amenable. we hit the books, no problem.

she pretty much zipped through adam and his wife being naked and not embarrassed. she didn't know arum but when i said "בלי בגדים" she knew what it was (and was quite surprised). she missed the flow of the translation "וְלֹא יִתְבֹּשָׁשׁוּ. " forgetting the "and not" and figured they were embarrassed (she didn't know that word even though she is familiar with it in other grammatical forms). she wondered why they'd be embarrassed if they were alone. then figured that hashem could see them. then realized that hashem can see everybody all the time, so why be embarrassed.

then we reviewed that they were not embarrassed and she thought that was as it should be, since, after all, nobody else was around.

up til there things were going dandy. she protested mildly about doing the full pasuk, but the second half was only 2 words, no big deal.

but then i really wanted to do the next half of the next pasuk. and she really wanted to play with her friend, who was there waiting to play.

the reason i didn't want to wait to do the next half, is because the word arum was in the next pasuk meaning something different. and i knew chana would never realize this unless we did them one after the other. (i must say, having pushed for it, that i don't know that it actually achieved much).

chana begged not to do it. pleaded that when she was 9 she would do more, in the summer she'll do more. i told her that we are already working our way up to more. she was starting to kick off a tantrum.

she wanted to do it later this evening, but we have plans for the evening and i felt we might not have time. i suggested in 1/2 an hour, but then i realized that elazar would likely be up.

it was suggested that my own conflicts about how much she should be doing was giving her the permission to react that way (or me not effectively cutting through it) so i decided to try to be decisive. (lol howz that for wishy washy).

i said in a firm, positive voice that i was setting the timer and we'd see how long it would take. a bit more kvetching but she put her nose to the grindstone. she looked at the whiteboard where it said "arumim" and said of course the snake is naked. he's an animal. i showed her onkelos and said that's why he says it's chacham. oddly, she didn't know that word but it is often the case that her brain is partially shut off when she doesn't want to do the work. therefore i was not surprised when yet again, she didn't remember the taf suffix of חית meaning "of." i roared at chaya and she remembered, and sadeh she remembered was a field when i said "don't say meadow." ("i wasn't planning to say meadow," she grumbled).

i went to shut off the timer and asked her how long she thought it had taken. 8 minutes, she said emphatically. and then joked, "and 51 seconds." i showed her that the timer said 3:27.

i am still not thrilled that i always feel like i'm rushing through chumash, trying to get it over with, trying to fit it in between other things. i think i would likely feel that way about any subject i was actually trying to teach, except that chumash is the only subject i'm trying to teach with any rigor.

Friday, May 21, 2010

post shavuos

so today chana did three halves. the first half she blitzed through. the second half was fine. i should probably have stopped there. but it was so tempting, since she read "therefore a man will leave his dad and his mom." and then she was wondering why and how and what that means. and i thought it would be great if she read the second half and answered it.

but she didn't want to which meant that it took 3x as long to do 5 words as it took to do the two halves that she had already done. whining, moaning, groaning, forgetting suffixes, complaining. even after translating she didn't really understand what it was saying, and she was so busy fighting me that she did not get the pleasure of having her question answered.

i do think, however, that had i waited until next chumash session, she also would not have gotten the pleasure of having her question answered. because the moment the question occurs, while you have that curious feeling, is the time. and it's not so easily recreated.

some questions came up on shavuos regarding chana's learning. first, that a child her age ought to have the capacity to sit and learn for hours with breaks.

i am thinking about that. according to chazal, between the ages of 5-10, the child is supposed to learn all of torah shebichtav. whether that's the 5 books or the 24 books of tanach. let's just even say the 5 books. to be fluent at reading and understanding them by the time he is 10, or let's even go crazy and say 13.

it was a challenge to get through the 5 books with sarah by the time she got to 8th grade. we did it, but i can't say she was fluent at it or had it at her fingertips as a solid basis for delving into torah shebaal peh.

i am also thinking about how i don't think kids chana's age need to be sitting for hours and studying, even with breaks. i like the idea of a childhood mostly doing what she is interested in. i have found with sarah, and i think chana will be the same, that when she wanted to go to school she had no problem sitting in class from 8:30am-5pm with small breaks. many children in schools are burnt out from the hours of sitting.
so i am currently thinking about the capacity to spend more time working and the benefits it will have on her skills and abilities, vs the benefits of a more "unschooled" and self-directed childhood.

secondly, it has come up (and my rabbi mentioned something similar) that i am not structuring chana's rewards properly. as i posted previously, my rabbi suggested that torah learning (as opposed to let's say, learning to read books or scientific inquiry) do not go in line with the instinctual nature of the child. to some degree curiosity is innate and in every tzelem elokim, but the hours of effort that are a prerequisite to serious learning is not going to be achieved naturally. it has been suggested that we wait until the child is grown enough to appreciate it (adulthood?) and then the child will seek the skills himself, like a baal teshuva does. but assuming i want to equip my child with the skills so she can learn, the hours that need to go into translation skills are not naturally inclined. i do think there is more natural interest in thought training, but i am finding that i am (perhaps mistakenly) trying to do that at the same time as the skills work, and the skills frustration is obfuscating the thinking training.

i do find that chana is trying to get through the work as quickly as possible, not inclined to linger and think about it, not inclined to do more pesukim (even though i was rewarding per amount), and vehemently opposed to review.

i am not sure how to begin structuring a rewards system that would get her to do the pasuk a number of times until she was fluent in it. and have her do a lot of pesukim.

i have been having her translate. i wonder if i would translate for her first, if that would make a difference.

also, i need to review the prefixes and suffixes with her. it seems she's forgotten most of them. i really have to make this a priority. i've been trying to get her to speak hebrew (she's got 7 words on the list of 10 words i made) and write etc etc. so much to juggle, so much to keep track of, so much so much! and she's forgotten the 6s and 7s of her times tables... so we've been reviewing that. ok, enough feeling overwhelmed. i'm going to review prefixes and suffixes with her.

another thing that came up was a friend of mine was telling me how her daughter used to be so frustrated about writing. and then, the teacher this year taught them "scaffolding," which is a very step-by-step process of showing them exactly how to write and what to write. and now her daughter doesn't complain or have trouble. which reminds me of alfie's point that before a rewards system is structured, it is important to consider what we are teaching, if the child is capable, if it is interesting, and the method we are using. perhaps before thinking about rewards, i need to think about how i am having her translate and if it is the most effective for her.
i also need to think about what my goals are. yes, i'd like her to read and translate. but more specifically, how do i want each chumash session to go? right now i don't think either of us are enjoying it all that much.

i did mention to chana that i think she is old enough to do more pesukim than she is currently doing, and she was receptive to that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

and stuff

so i told chana to do the whole pasuk today. it isn't very complicated. she said 1/2 now, and half this evening. which was much less argument than i thought i'd get. i agreed.

it was a review of a previous pasuk. before, it said hashem formed all the animals and brought them to adam to name. this pasuk says and adam named all of the animals. so chana kept getting annoyed that she read it already.

she almost remembered that קרא was called and not happened, when i mimed it. she still didn't remember that the saf at the end of chayas (chayat) hasadeh was "...s of." but it will come up again. sadeh she didn't remember, but when i said, "don't say 'meadow'" which is what she called it last time, she said field. :-)

then she asked for the computer. i said if she does the second half of the pasuk. she started whining it was too much. i said she doesn't have to do it, but i want the computer and i was willing to trade it for the second half. she opted to not trade.

she is amenable to doing the second half of the pasuk later. that assumes i have time.

unrelated, other hebrew curriculum information:

i showed chana the rashi letters this morning. we divided them into easy, medium, and i-never-would-have-thought-the-letter-would-look-like-that. she seemed to enjoy seeing the rashi letters.

chana can now speak 4 out of the 10 words on the first vocab list i compiled.

i made a list of skills i'd like chana to work on in the long term:
reading fluency, a prerequisite for
writing hebrew better
speaking hebrew decently and confidently
copying hebrew into script (my homeschool neighbor said she was going to do that and i think it's a great idea to get better writing fluency and speed. but it's too much for chana now).
reading without nekudos (this because sarah's reading is a step above atrocious. so i'd like to ramp that up)
reading rashi (as opposed to translating rashi).

i'm still thinking about how to approach rashi. goal: to be able to read and translate rashi. i was thinking the other day that maybe just practicing reading rashi would provide some fluency without the additional translation pain. (in addition to the translation work)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

double chumash today

chana was sitting around and things were kind of quiet and she didn't want to do parsha so i asked her if she wanted to do reading or chumash. she chose chumash. why? because when she finishes bereshis, she is planning to get a cell phone w/ service. (reward).

so the vocab in the second half of the pasuk was not hard. but the literal translation ends up:
and all that he will call it the adam live animals (nefesh chaya--actually live spirits) he is his name.

chana realized that "the adam" belongs by "he will call it" coz we've seen things like that a bunch of times already (see? repetition is useful).

but the whole rest was confusing. she didn't realize that this meant that adam named the animals. when i explained that to her, she was excited. "so THAT'S how the animals got named!" (i guess she didn't think yet about adam speaking a different language..)

btw, chana astutely did not understand about adam being alone seeing as how in the previous perek, hashem created people as male and female.

rabbi says

so i got my rabbi to weigh in on the ol' alfie kohn question. perhaps my summary was not as good as it could be. but r' says that no matter that a child has inherent curiosity. and of course learning should be as intrinsically enjoyable as possible. however. by nature of learning, there is only so much learning that is going to be enjoyable in line with the instinctual enjoyment of the child. at a certain point, there is going to be skill work, or some sort of training that is not going to be enjoyable. the child has absolutely no motivation to do that work. and no incentive to improve his current skill level. without rewards.

(hee hee all these periods reminds me of how the rambam throws in periods).

r' said rewards can be designed so that the students don't do as little as possible to just get the rewards. that is called a badly designed reward system.

r' said it is important to make sure the students do experience the enjoyment of the learning so that the rewards can be phased out. the rewards are to get the student into the pool. the learning must be enjoyable enough to keep them swimming.

if a child has no desire to do it and IF it is something necessary for intellectual development (like working hard at refining the thought process or learning or refining skills or getting to the next level when they are satisfied where they are) then rewards are a training for delaying gratification. until they have the skills to get intrinsic enjoyment.

is the pasuk too long? no

today's half-pasuk was long, but not difficult. chana wanted to stop earlier, and said she'd stop when she didn't know a word. when i told her she knew all the words, she got huffy and whiny. i ended up disciplining her. it was effective, but she was a bit sniffly the rest of the time.

i just want to clarify a dilemma that we have regarding torah learning:

we want the child to feel good and to have positive associations with torah. but how much of that makes us hold back in proper discipline and appropriate "nudging" or pushing to work harder to acquire skills. it can't all be fun and games, can it? or can it?

given that as per alfie, a teacher has to make sure the material is doable and interesting. but if the teacher thinks that is the case, and the student is misbehaving, is there a reluctance to discipline because of the fear that it will lead to negative feelings in the future to torah? is this legit?

as always, we must walk the path of the golden mean. take each incident as an individual case, use wisdom, and think about it afterwards.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

any grammarians out there?

i learned that ארץ is nekaiva. is gan? chana was surprised that it is to work "her" and guard "her."

Friday, May 7, 2010

riding the bribe wave

chana did another 3 pesukim today. whiz bam boom.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

OT: homeschool hysteria

i think a homeschooler periodically gets all freaked out and worries. i think this is normal, and it keeps us honest. ie it is good to have regular assessments to see if the days are going well, the kids are generally learning, and the things you are absolutely anxious about--it's probably time to do a short lesson on them.

for some reason, for the last few days i've been ridden with concern about chana's long-term ivrit ability. (yes, i'm sticking this in the chumash blog even though it's not chumash). part of me feels that my anxiety is silly, because sarah's abilities, though not particularly stellar, were certainly adequate and she matriculated just fine.

but i've been oddly stuck on the idea that i'd like chana to be more facile in speaking and writing ivrit. all week this pressure has been driving me, and i've been trying to figure out what i could do (in addition to figuring out what is driving this weird anxiety, but this is not a psychoanalytic blog). i tried to get chana to speak hebrew. it was not that successful.

today i came up with a plan. i googled "popular ivrit verbs" or something like that. and i found a site with a list of words. i went through it and i picked out 10, and then another 15 or so. i wrote down the 10 for chana, and i am trying to get it from english to hebrew. hebrew to english she can translate pretty easily, since i speak to her in hebrew. but i want her to have the hebrew words at her fingertips. i theorize that if she has about 50 common verbs and 50 common nouns on the tip of her tongue, then speaking hebrew and after that, writing hebrew, shouldn't be like pulling teeth. so today i gave her the list (because she was asking for ways to make money. i know alfie is not for this but she's begging and i don't think it's all that bad for her to memorize some verbs for cash). out of 10, she knows 3 and learned a 4th. learning the 4th entailed me shouting periodically, "hey, chana, how do you say angry?" and she said כעס. hopefully, after we have the words, i can start her speaking more sentences and writing more and getting a better handle on the grammar.

perhaps this will be our summer project. darn, i really wanted to teach her rashi letters. but there are only so many things i can stay on top of at once.

argument against alfie?

chana is desperate to earn money because she wants a game. so today she asked about her checks chart. (as per alfie, once you've promised rewards and then the kids don't get it, they perceive it as a punishment...). so i said she can have checks. she calculated how much the work was worth in checks, and how much she could get.

then she zipped through her half pasuk. then she did an entire pasuk. then another half pasuk. it was so pleasant.


she still did not want to do more than that, though. i guess more than that is too much emotionally.

now she's reading hebrew. then she's going to write hebrew.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

what are your goals?

one of the things i had to do, back when i was homeschooling sarah, was figure out what i wanted to teach and how i wanted to teach it. as per the franklin planner school of thought (and steven covey et al), the best way to figure out the details of your plan is to figure out the broad principles. then the things you need to do to achieve your principles become clearer.

i was reminded of this yesterday when i read in alfie kohn: "i can think of no better use of 15 minutes for any of us who are parents or teachers than pausing to think about -- and even to list on paper -- the long term goals we have for our children. what would we like them to be able to do, to want to do, to feel, to be like in the years to come?"

since i didn't seem to have time for all the academic things i wanted to get done. or i had time, but the students were SO resistant. so i had to figure out what i wanted from their education.

using multimedia

today there were 2 new words: בדולח and שוהם. i found google images of them to show chana, and she admired them.
then i asked her to do half of the next pasuk, because it was so easy. she resisted, but did it in 2 seconds.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

and studies back it up

some researchers studied the factors that helped 3rd and 4th graders remember what they had been reading. they discovered that HOW INTERESTED the students were in the passage was THIRTY TIMES more important than how "readable" it was.

hello, chana.


as i write this, i have to question the poor choices i make regarding chumash.

jack was in bed
i was ready to do chumash

i was trying to wait for chana to finish what she was doing, she wanted 2 more minutes, and jack was stirring, and i was getting antsy wanting to do it before i had to attend to him, and i finally abruptly told chana that jack was stirring and i wanted to do it NOW.
chana was hungry, and food was almost ready
elazar was jumping around and on top and wanting things and attention

chana was whiny, i was tense, and i was not as nice about handling elazar as i could have been. add jack starting to whimper a bit on the monitor (btw, he has settled back into his nap and i haven't even taken him out after all), and chana saying "i don't understand" in a particular whine, i started having that bursting angry feeling inside my chest.

a result of my choices.

i think in homeschooling it's a common mistake for me to want to get things accomplished or done, without thinking about how they are getting done and at what price. granted, i have to have that mental taskmaster over me, to make sure i keep my long term goals in mind and we are setting up learning to achieve that.
but after a learning session like this, i often think it might have been better to lose a day rather than have it go like this, with me having that tense need to get through it, whimpering chana and elazar craving attention. (bear in mind, this was under 5 minutes. probably not a major part of their day).

but when homeschooling with young children, you have to balance that with the knowledge that if you let a day slide by because of that sort of situation, soon the majority of them slide by and then you lost a bunch of years...

one of my homeschool friends said the year she had a baby was always a lost year. she has a lot of children...

anyway, specifically, chana couldn't remember zahav. she couldn't remember "haaretz hahi" was "this land" even though when i said it verbally, she understood. it did not help that elazar was literally bouncing off of us.

thankfully, it was only 4 words, all of them known the chana, and she knows that the gold in that land was good. (really, why is the torah telling us this?)

Monday, May 3, 2010

and i waited for her to want to do it AND everyone was napping

crying, tears, moaning, whining today.

that aside, lots of tricky details.
הוא הסובב
he the surrounding
literally "it's the one that surrounds"
"the" means "the", but sometimes it means "that"
(i know that will come up sooo many times)

the word חוילה means villa, but i'm not sure what is going on. the river surrounds the land of the villa that has gold?? what land of the villa?

all this information on the rivers.

whatever it is. tomorrow's half is easy.

the question of rashi

so yehuda posted that really nice looking chumash, which got me thinking about rashi. (since there is none in that chumash). i think chana would enjoy using that chumash, not least because there are so many shorashim translated at the bottom of the page (no dictionary! it's right there! can you imagine?). then i started thinking about how to do rashi.

the way i did rashi with sarah is 1. teach rashi letters. 2. choose rashis that are extremely pshat oriented on pesukim we are doing. 3. have her read them and translate them in a separate learning session on the same day.

i was not sure if this was the best way to go. personally, i am a big proponent of pshat being clear in the student's mind. and drash is separate (if at all, for a young child). even though the rashis were pshat related, i do think sometimes there was still confusion.

i'm wondering now if perhaps rashi would be best as a completely separate study? the problem, though, is that we would have to read the pasuk first, and chana would hate that. a benefit of the rashis i chose with sarah is that they did expand the understanding of the pshat of the pesukim she was doing.

i also have to remember that reading rashi (without nekudos) and translating rashi are 2 separate skills. sarah's skills at rashi ended up being average/mediocre, and if possible i'd really like to shore up chana's rashi skills. i'm just not sure how to go about it. rewards don't seem to be particularly motivating for her.

a side note, she has thus far resisted learning the rashi letters (as she has resisted learning division and multiplication w/ carrying with more than one row on the bottom, all three of which i think she will pick up quite quickly). she says she'll do it this summer.