Wednesday, September 29, 2010

on memory

it's been a bit tough to sit down to do chumash, especially with everyone home from school and chana having so many ppl to play with. so it's about 1.5 hr before yontif, and she wants to get on the computer. i chapped her to do chazara. she remembered a lot of the words, and she's going crazy as to what k'naan did that noach cursed him. i said the pasuk doesn't say anything. she said, yeah, he could be playing with toys, picking fruit for noach in his vineyard, anything!

then she said, please, please, what did he do that noach cursed him. then she looked up to shamayim like she was asking hashem to tell her.

so i said that rashi says that he hurt noach. she said where did he hurt him? i said, well, he was naked in the tent.. she didn't deduce. (which is interesting because she's been a bit shy about translating "nakedness"). so i said he hurt him in his private parts. she frowned a bit, thinking. and asked how? now i'm wondering if this was the best thing. and i'm thinking of the rashi with 2 opinions, he castrated him or raped him. so i said cut. and she said, that's weird.

she verbally chazered what noach said, remembering about k'naan being a slave and good about shem, but not the part about yefet dwelling in shem's tent. she wanted a break and started flopping, but i told her if she finished it she was done done for the day and she pressed through.

in an interesting association, she always thinks the word "avi" (my father) is bring ('l'havi'), and then she forgot and thought it was "between." because between is "beyn" ie son with a yud in the middle, and she was confusing "son" and "father." cool how memory works.

i wish wish wish it didn't take so many repetitions for a human being to remember a word translation! sigh. i guess reality is reality and we can but work with it.

hmm, i guess this never published. it was supposed to be erev 2nd days yontif.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

moadim l'simcha

yesterday i was not looking forward to chumash. and if i dread chumash, how can chana possibly look forward to it?

then again, the things we dislike about it are different. i dread the conflict. she dreads that she doesn't know it naturally, and has to work at it.

i decided i would have in mind to do a minimal amount, and then it would be more relaxed. we did one new pasuk and we did review, and it went fine. chana even asked permission to flop at one point, when i asked her to review a pasuk for a 2nd time, and we laughed and then she flopped.

today, she asked why noach would curse k'na'an if cham was the one who saw him naked. she asked why he would be a slave to his brothers if he didn't do anything. and how come noach didn't say anything about cham if he was the one who did it.

yes, i'm aware of the midrash that it was k'na'an. but that's not pshat. and i don't like to teach midrash as pshat. i asked her to think about it. she begged me to tell her. i said there was more than one answer.

i asked her what happens if a father is a not so good person. she said: ummm.. . his children become slaves?? she's trying to figure out how it fits into the pasuk. (i was hoping to say that maybe the midos of the parents are the same midos in the children, which causes certain results, but i guess that was too many steps).

anyway, then i told her we were doing 3 more pesukim til the end of the paragraph, and she said she needed to go flop. i promised her they were easy, and they were.

she asked if shem was the favorite.

we still have chazara. maybe tonight.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

sof kol sof

chana asked today why noach was naked in the tent. why did shem tell his brothers.

chana did finally sit down to do the pasuk, right as soon as jack woke up. groan.

we talked about her flopping, and she comically took many deep breaths to relax her body so she wouldn't start so rigid and irritated.

we reviewed "avi" father of and "erva" nakedness. it went just fine.

i'm not up for rashi! chag sameach!


ps. we are still "negotiating" the repetition of the pasuk. she thinks that just reading it on the white board should be enough. i want her to do it again. she left the room, came back, tried sooo hard not to yell, and ended up losing her temper and storming off. i'm holding firm, though. i think a review of a pasuk with pretty easy words that she had a lot of trouble with is not too much to ask.

and i wanted to add that i think that she had trouble today because of the overload from yesterday, causing her to come into today feeling as though chumash was too heavy to bear.

another example of how it's not the work itself; it is the thought of the work that makes it too much.

ki lekach notzarta-because for this you were created

sometimes i feel that the tantrumming is understandable. like yesterday, i was trying to cram all of chumash into an hour, with a lot of chazara and the new pesukim and rashi, and she was doing really well (and taking 5 min breaks when she got overloaded, which frankly i can see was simply not enough time for her to decompress). but i wanted to get it done, and by the end she was writhing. that's her latest. she throws herself onto the sofa (yes, she's 9) and writhes.

sometimes i think to myself that i am a saint. and i also think to myself that is it considered sainthood to not abuse your child and to behave as a mature parent, helping the child through her conflicts. yes. i'm a saint.

anyway, that was yesterday and i did push her too hard.

today, i did not push her too hard. instead of full chazara, i decided to just review the pesukim from the beginning of the paragraph, and then do 2 new ones with only a couple of new words.

i should remember that chana doesn't like to be told she is doing more than she expected. even though in a sense it is less than expected, having to read and translate fully 4 pesukim that she already did was not something she would accept without being forewarned. so then she devolved, even though she acquitted them nicely, and even with a break, the 2 new pesukim had many tantrums. she's still in time-out. (oh, wait, she's not. she's hiding under a blanket on the couch. well, that's like time-out).

she didn't know the word "avi" or "avihem" even though it showed up 3x and i had just told her what it was. she didn't know the word "sim" was "lasim" to put. she didn't know "vayelchu" was halach. she threw herself on the couch each time i told her she knew it, and then staunchly defended how she didn't know it even after i told her what it was and she saw that she knew it. etc etc.

plans for later. rashi (maybe) and reading and translating that last pasuk again. she threw herself on the floor when i told her that.

hopefully now that she's mentally prepared, she'll do it later if i give her a few hours to recuperate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

just wanna say that chana has not tantrummed in a couple of weeks (lol as far as i remember. perhaps a more careful scrutiny of this blog will show it's shorter than my memory. either way, it's been pretty smooth lately. i'm sure a combination of her easing out of whatever difficult phase she was in, plus her exercising a great deal of restraint, plus of course me being extremely explicit, clear about consequences with a large dollop of compassion and kindness).

i noticed as i opened the chumash to prepare for today's work that we didn't finish chazara yesterday. it got too difficult, she asked for a break, and we never got back to it. when i mentioned this, chana's grin told me either she was aware of that or that she was happy to get away with it.

anyway, as it's erev yom kippur and i have a lot to do today, and jack is asleep now (though elazar is panting for the playground so he'll be disruptive), i think we will just go over the pesukim she blitzed through the last couple of days. no new pesukim. no chazara of tough words. just another experience of her doing those pesukim to see if she can navigate them without my help. let's see. 9:11-15. i would have her do pasuk 16 but there's some grammar there that would necessitate me pulling out the white board.

chana did very nicely. turns out we hadn't done the last pasuk i thought we had, i did pull out the whiteboard, and she did that and through the end of the paragraph.

she still confuses "ben" son and "beyn" between. even though i show her the yud. sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn't. she wasn't in the mood for the complicated grammar and asked me to just tell it to her. i did. i wonder if she'll remember it next time. guess we'll see next week.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

more chazara

wooo blitzed through the 3 pesukim today. not so short, either. chana knew every single word. needed a bit of hand holding through "yotzei" reminder of shoresh yatza and the suffix of the "ay." all in all an excellent job.

then i introduced a piece of a new rashi, since it gave context to the pesukim we were doing, that noach was worried about doing pru urvu until hashem promised he wouldn't destroy mankind again. it has the nice benefits of having pru urvu in a slightly different grammatical form, and the shoresh ש.ח.ת. i said it outside, told it to her, and she said she could understand that noach would feel that way. we didn't read it inside yet. coz then we reviewed our old rashi. chana insisted that she knows it already, and i sa ould seem, when there is enough sleep and 2 bowls of cereal for breakfast and a 10 minute mental preparation time of her choosing and no other kids around).

then she wanted a break for the next rashi, which she keeps pronouncing wrong but i have hopes today will be better (?? maybe?). and then the new one. and then probably another break and chazara.

rashi went well. i started chazara an extra 2 pgs back because i thought she needed it. and she needed it. despite her fairly excellent mood, she began to flag. why do i need to do this. i pointed out that she didn't know them all, so it was clear some review is needed. she did know more than half of them.

then we stopped and we still have chazara left. hope to get to it this evening. we're off to tour AC moore plus art project, and i have to do lunch and get some of us dressed and jack needs to be ready.

oh ps i forgot chana and i were wrangling good naturedly about pronunciation of the rashi, and she always reads hashem knowing the future as "ro-ah" instead of "ro-eh." when i corrected her, she said that hashem is neither male nor female, so why was i being makpid. :-P

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

playground work

it's been a long day, so i'm not even sure how much i remember. let's see what i can reconstruct. we were heading out to the beginning of no-school picnic, and i wanted to do chumash first. i think i've written before what a terrible idea it is when i try to get us dressed, make food, and do any type of academics when i'm trying to leave by a certain time. add into the mix that elazar got a phone call for a playdate in the playground this morning, and we're batting .000. anyhoo, i told the playdate "sure" and threw together some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some apples and carrots (chana won't eat pb&j btw) and ran out to the park.

it actually was a nice idea to do work in the playground. i started out doing chazara from the beginning of noach. she forgot the first couple of pesukim, and i began to despair, but happily it was premature. (not that despair is really appropriate anyway). she got into a groove and did remember a significant amount of the pesukim. which is delightful. we couldn't chazer all of them because it was too much, so after a bunch we went to our usual chazara.
every time she needed a break, she would pop onto her scooter and do a few rounds. or climb up the monkey bars a bit. or swing a little. then she'd come back ready to do another pasuk. it was really really nice.

then, this evening, we finished up chazara (just the last 2 pesukim). the new pasuk was complicated. as much as she translated it, she had a really hard time decoding it. i don't blame her. even reading rashi, i wasn't 100% sure what the pshat was. ("spill blood the person in a person his blood will be spilled...") the gist was that murder is not allowed and as per rashi, the murderer gets the death penalty.
the second half of the pasuk is that this is because hashem created Man b'tzelem elokim. so chana couldn't even comprehend what that meant. hashem has no form. that got her started thinking about what was before creation.
i wanted to convey to her that the pasuk was saying that murder is not allowed because Man is b'tzelem elokim. it was complicated getting her to comprehend that. i asked what if a person kills a dog. she said no, killing Man is worse. why? because he gave birth to all people. no, i said, not adam harishon. all people.
i said tzelem elokim is the ability to think. i was wondering if she'd say that animals think, too, and then we would have discussed the difference. but i think just grasping the basic idea of the pasuk was too much.

we did another pasuk, too, which was easy. yay. and tomorrow's are easy.

rashi she is still having trouble with the pronunciation of the one we are in the middle of. but i think she's getting better. hopefully by the end of the week. and we are still in the middle of the big one.
if she had already known the pronunciation of the one we are in the middle of, i may have started a new one that elucidated the pshat of some of these tricky pesukim we are doing now. but she didn't, so we didn't.

Monday, September 13, 2010


forgot to mention that last week chana did work at night, and she is ON at night. she works so so so much better at night. it's a pity that i'm all wrung out at that time, and usually still putting the littles to bed. she remembers the vocabulary better. she makes connections more easily.

anyway, this morning she did a new pasuk. frankly, i'm not even sure what the pshat was. 9:5. the basic idea being no killing people. but some odd stuff about animals killing ppl. it didn't bother chana that she didn't understand it.

that's kind of one of the sad things about working on skills. it is so enormously consuming that there is little intellectual energy left to think about nuances of the pesukim. but i guess this is building the foundation, and later, if she has the skills, she can process the nuances.

chazara is dragging. dragging dragging. but we slog through. chan's been pretty good natured about it.
here's an oddity. although i've been having her read the hebrew, she recognizes the words visually and based on their location on the page. if i read her the word and ask her to translate it, she doesn't remember it. she has to see it, and see it in it's home. i wonder if she would recognize it in a different chumash. i think perhaps tomorrow i might try that.

i also would like to do a grand chazara of words from the beginning of the parsha. i told her i want to, but this week is a busy week with trips. and if we do that she may need a lot of breaks.

we reviewed the rashi on lo yishbosu, which she is having trouble remembering the pronunciation but not being difficult about reviewing it more than once, and added on a phrase in the rashi about hashem knowing the future.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


so this morning we did 2 new pesukim with minimum fanfare. chana didn't understand how there were 2 words for "fear" (and hashem will place the fear of people on the animals) and so i substituted the word "terror" for one of them. she also noted that people do not eat grass.

then, instead of chazara, i decided to do a grand rashi chazara today. we went through all the rashis we've done since the beginning. they are:

4:22 dh "naama" (which has the word 'ishto' in it, chana's kryptonite).
6:6 dh "and He was sad to His heart" which she is still in the middle of
6:14 dh "make for you an ark" (chana did not remember that ק"כ was 120)
7:13 dh "in the middle of this day"
8:22 dh "they will not cease" which she is still having trouble with pronunciation

i was pleasantly surprised how much she remembered and how generally accurate her pronunciation was.

i decided to give her a 4 hr break and do chazara later. hopefully we will get to it.

she brought up again about hashem knowing everything and knowing the future (i can't remember now why she brought it up) and i said that's the rashi we are doing. and she remembered that sarah answered the question and with more thought she even remembered sarah's answer. (another nice thing about homeschool is that sarah was around when chana was doing the rashi and it became a discussion amongst the 2 of them). i remember now. chana was imagining hashem creating chava from adam. and imagining the rib. and thinking it was gross. and figuring that it probably floated out of adam's body (because if hashem took it out, He probably just floated it with telekinesis) (and she fluttered her hands, making a floating rib). and then she said that hashem, if he had known that all this was going to happen, could have made a different adam. and i said that is an excellent point. and THEN we got into hashem knowing what is going to happen. or something like that.

then i said i would give her an enormous break. of 4 hours. is that satisfactory? and she said no (kidding). and i said what would be a good break. thinking she'd say til tomorrow or til after rosh hashana. but she said til she died. and then i guess i made a sad face and said, really? it's sad to me to think of you going your whole life til you die and not learning any more torah. then she started crying and hugging me and said she was kidding. and i hugged her back and thought that was an excellent opportunity to point out that so many times i'm kidding and she takes me very seriously. and that now that i understood it was a joke, it was clever. and we talked a bit about how i want her to know torah and that's why i teach it to her. and she said daddy told it to her (when he used to do parsha stories in the evenings) and she knows it already. curious, i asked her if she thought i knew all of torah (figuring if she said yes, i'd ask her why she thinks i keep studying it, hoping to lead into a discussion about basic knowledge of torah and infinite knowledge of torah). and she said no. and i asked her if she thought she knew all of torah. and she said no. but she knows a lot.
then she started asking about hashem's favorite. i wasn't sure who she meant. avraham? yaakov (yaakov is chana's favorite). no, it was moshe. and did moshe know the whole torah. and i said yes that moshe knew the whole torah.
but then i told her 2 stories that i remembered from the gemara about moshe rabbenu and rabbi akiva. one about moshe being in r' akiva's shiur and not understanding it, and hearing that it was halacha l'moshe misinai. chana asked a couple of times how it could be that moshe was dead and in r' akiva's class. i explained it didn't really happen, it's a story to explain something. (she did not ask what it meant that r' akiva was teaching something that moshe didn't understand and quoting moshe, and i didn't push it). then i told her the story about moshe seeing hashem drawing the crowns on the letters and asking hashem why, and hashem saying that r' akiva will learn things from them. then we went to google and google imaged "crowns on letters torah" and found a picture of klaf and were able to see a bunch of words with crowns on them. chana got a big kick out of the little crowns.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

how to handle chazara?

we were doing just fine until i decided to do a second chazara run today. the new pasuk was good. i was on the fence about doing 2 new pesukim, but decided for my own sake as i'm cooking for rosh hashana i'm not going to push it.

but i think i'm having trouble with chazara. we've been sort of zipping through it, just doing the new words instead running through the full translations of the pesukim. plus, as i said, the words are piling up and we sort of move on before she's really very fluent in the past ones. plus, even if she is fluent, we haven't been going back to the beginning and reviewing. so she forgets.

i wonder how memory makes the transition out of short-term-memory into 'permanent knowledge.' how much practice/drilling would one need? we do not seem to be hitting it.

i'm toying with making a list of all the words of noach that she needs to review and just going through them every day. i imagine the same problem will arise; that the length will get too overwhelming. maybe when it gets too long, i need to cut back on new pesukim and spend more time on fluency? do i keep asking this question?

in happy news, chana continues to enjoy the rashi. we also are doing a new rashi on yasbisu meaning day and night won't stop. simple pshat. she's not so happy to be doing 2 rashis at once, but she's tolerating it. and i really want to review our old rashis. gotta get on that.

Monday, September 6, 2010

the anti-alfie

i asked chana how much she would like to earn (she's been asking for ways to earn money anyway) to do a massive chazara of parshas noach when we finish. ie going through every pasuk and translating it. i had in my head 10 dollars, and chana said 20, and i said deal. her eyes rounded. really?

it is yet to be seen if it will actually motivate her sufficiently. not to mention that we're only about halfway through noach (but the last bit is a lot of genealogy).

i would like to state for the record that i agree with alfie that a reward means to the child that the money is more valuable than the skills of translating chumash. i agree that ideally a teacher would make learning skills so interesting that the child wouldn't need the motivation of rewards.

i am taking an "easier" way out. alfie maintains that this will end up with the child having a more negative attitute (acc to his research, rewards de-motivate in the long term).

it is true that the child may be demotivated to read and translate simply for the sake of reading and translating. reading and translating IS difficult and painful and can be boring. i'll have to hope that the glory of the ideas of torah will provide motivation, and she'll call on the skills i bribed and pushed for.

and she'll realize that when she was 9, she valued money more than skills. but her parents valued torah so much that they were willing to pay her to have the building blocks.

Friday, September 3, 2010

yes it's the 18 minutes before shabbos but i'm sitting here nursing and there is so much i wanted to share. chana was so on today. we had a trip to see animals so i tried to get some done before we left. we did a massive pasuk (32 words!) and she translated fine, but it was a lot for her to keep track of, even with the white board.

she asked some good questions. regarding hashem smelling, i asked how He could smell. she said he can do anything! i said can he make himself a body? oh. i asked how he could smell, and she said, "he can smell something fishy!" which i enjoyed because of the metaphorical use of the word smell.

then she asked about adam being Ra from youth. but adam didn't have a youth! (after i explained what "youth" means ;). then she said she didn't think that young children who can't control themselves are bad. good questions.

and it turns out my rashi is a good choice after all. because she kept getting stuck on the lashon of "don't you admit that hashem sees the future?" she said it should be "do you admit that hashem sees the future." saying "don't you admit" implies you don't.
that was an excellent catch, chana. so i explained to her that somebody was trying to trip up the rabbi. don't you agree hashem knows the future? YES. but it says hashem was sad when he was going to destroy Mankind. yes. but why was he sad, if he knew the future.

oh, seeing chana's eyes light up with total agreement and understanding is a joy to behold.

good shabbos. this was one of those erev shabboses where jack and elazar are crying and i'm trying to cook while doing school. ha. we're going to finish chazara on shabbos.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

and so it goes

went through 2 pretty big pesukim today with minimal fanfare. chazara of words went well. had to take a 10 minute break before rashi. we are slooooowly working our way through the rashi.

chana has been working really hard at reigning in her temper.

we did find an oddity in today's pasuk. it says the animals left the ark "l'mishp'choteyhem" according to family. first chana surmised that meant all animals were one family. then she figured it was with their babies. i said the midrashim say they didn't have babies on the ark. (though now that i think about it, some animals whose lifespans are shorter than the time of the flood would need to if they were going to survive the flood. the more you think about this, the more complicated it seems. noach had quite a task).
chana suggested i daven and ask hashem for the answer.

there is a veeeerrrry long and complicated new pasuk for tomorrow.

i wonder if when we finish the parsha, if it would be worthwhile to take a few weeks and review the whole thing. we aren't even halfway done, so maybe it's premature to think about this.

so for rashi, i wanted to do 1 1/2 lines which chana thought was an outrageous affront. and she always attempts to negotiate. i told her i would translate it for her, and i said it to her in english. she screamed that she had no idea what i just said. i said i would say it again, and again, and again until she understood what i was saying. it was at this point we decided a break was in order. when i came back, she was used to the idea. she read it pretty smoothly (again, i try to choose rashis specifically that are pshat oriented and that have easy words in them). she got stuck, believe it or not, on ששאל. she insisted she didn't remember the shin prefix. i had to use it in a sentence before she sullenly figured it out. then sha'al was no problem. and ro'eh gave her trouble. she wanted me to translate it for her. i wanted her to read it and then i thought she'd be able to figure it out. she didn't want to read it. (this is one of those things where i wonder if maybe i should just tell her because she is SO adamant, but i feel like she ought to know it and i don't mind waiting while she figures it out and i think it's important for her to push through the frustration and through the feeling that she can't do it and see that she can. who says in homeschool there is no training of this sort?). she begged me to tell her. i kept saying that i know she knows it. (in the past we have had blowouts where she INSISTED that she doesn't know it and i am positive that she does. finally, it happened enough times that she saw i was right and i pointed it out afterwards and told her that she yelled at me but she really did know it, and i finally built up some credibility that when i say she knows it, she doesn't stubbornly dig her heels in that she doesn't know it). she kept saying, "i can't read it, mommy, i can't read it. please tell me." and i asked her to tell me letter by letter. which she finally did, and then realized she knew it. whew. this is her personality.