Sunday, October 31, 2010

noach chazara I and II

never quite got to write up what happened when we started on friday. so even though i kind of thought that chana would get annoyed if we just plunged in and started translating, i couldn't really think of a better way. i asked her, and she couldn't think of one, and so we started. we did ok the first bunch of pesukim. she remembered a lot. then, when we got to one where there were a few unfamiliar words and i had her do it again, she got snarky. eventually she got thoroughly annoyed.

but we got through a fair amount. i would have done more with her but it was erev shabbos.

today, sunday, we sat down to do it and she has an overall negative feeling about it. i took out baby island and asked if i should read it. she said no. she started. she did again a decent amount. we made it a little past sheni. (and she asked what sheni was, and i showed her all the aliyahs).

she definitely does NOT know it 100%. but how well do i want her to know it? there are a few words that she didn't remember, like "zachar u'nekeva" species, command, gather.. these show up a lot so i'd like to review them. chazara chazara chazara.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

it's working...

we started with chazara of the 22 of 30 words. i asked chana to please do the pantomimes with me. she remembered more than i thought she would. so we are on our way.

we'll probably finish up noach this week and then we'll do chazara if i can figure out how.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


did all but the last 8. the last 8 are the newest so are the most unfamiliar. i think we'll stick with all the others til she gets them. basically we have a hand motion for just about every one. so i tell her what each word is with the hand motion. (they're actually very cute).

for island i point to my eye with my fingers in the shape of an L
for split i make a split with my fingers
for lashon i stick out my tongue
for goy i make an N with my fingers (for nation)
for palag i roll my hands around each other (mixed up)
for east i point to the right
for safah i stick out my tongue
for travel i mime a basketball and the ref signal for "travel"
for split i make 2 mountains with my hands and move them apart
for re-ehu (his friend) i just tell her :-P. oddly, i think she's beginning to remember that one (with sarah, i used to say "you think it's ra [bad] but it's not")
for hava, i make a "come on" gesture
for bricks, i say "brickettes" which is a joke from the rashi we've been doing
for chomer, i make an M with my fingers for material
for migdal, i gesture high up
for spread out, i put my fingers together and then expand them
for city, i touch my ear (for some reason this works ;)
for am, i make an N
for "hachal" i say "hitchil"
for now (ata, she knows achshav), i point "right now"
for stop, i hold my hand up
for plot, i make a little evil plotting gesture with my fingers (if you know what i mean)
for "nerda" (we will go down) i tell her to identify the shoresh, which she ALWAYS says is r.d.h. groan. instead of y.r.d
then i tell her

and then there are the last 8

i wonder how many times of reviewing these til she actually learns them.

daunting list of words

so i just copied out of the chumash a list of the words chana's been having trouble with. there are... addition to the 7 words/phrases we've been working on... THIRTY new words to work on. groaaaan

i think that's too much to drill chana at once. gotta figure out what to do about this.

almost done...

i haven't posted in a few days. we have been doing chumash. we are up to names (oh happy joy) and avram was born today. we are still having some trouble with a whole bunch of new words in the last few pesukim of the tower of babel. chana decided to write a graphic novel depicting the mixing up of the languages, with a few humorous scenarios that she keeps envisioning in her head.

i wanted to make flash cards, but chana requested forcefully that we learn the words the way she is most comfortable--verbal drill throughout the day. sigh. we aren't really done with the last batch. and now add on another 10? 15? i'll make a list this evening. the truth is, she does find this way the least painful and she is willing to do it at random points throughout the day. so who am i to say no?

and i have to figure out how we are going to review noach. i guess i'll ask her how she wants to handle it...

Monday, October 18, 2010

defeatist attitude, a bit.

rashi didn't work out so well. i thought maybe if she would just repeat and repeat the words a bunch of times, the pronunciation would sink in better. but it isn't. i even did each word/phrase with a body action (jumping jacks, pointing, gesturing, foot wiggles etc) to help anchor it. but 5 minutes later it's like her brain didn't process it.

so i said ok we'll just read it like usual. and she seemed ok with that. til she tantrummed and i put her in time out. and now we still have rashi left (oh and chazara, which i was half thinking about dropping today anyway since she reviewed all those pesukim) and she's annoyed and i'm annoyed and now jack is awake.

it just seems somewhat an exercise in futility that she reads the same rashis every day for 3 weeks already and she can't pronounce the words right. what am i doing wrong? am i not accessing her preferred modality? we did it visually. we did it auditory. we did it kinesthetically. what else is there? how can i get her to remember the pronunciation?

i know the answer with the remembering words is drill drill drill. practice, practice, practice. how do kids in school end up with skills? do they?

what's a metaphor?

chana had a mild screechfest when i said we were starting by her reviewing the pesukim in the perek today. like after yesterday, it was still a surprise. but she got ok with the idea.

she has 2 questions:

1. why didn't hashem just stop them from making the tower if he thought it was a bad idea?
(actually, chana said her question was why didn't hashem just prevent them from going into the valley before they got there). (i answered because hashem lets people make choices and do what they want)

2. why does the pasuk say hashem went down when he doesn't go down to see and he already knows?

i began to introduce the concept of metaphor. chana can't quite grasp it yet.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


chana was happy enough to do rashi this morning. i realize we still need to hammer down and drill the pronunciation of some of the words. it feels like no matter how many times i tell her, she just reads it how she thinks of it in her head and doesn't even process that i'm telling her the correct pronunciation.

then we were going to do a new pasuk. i realized, though, that ever since we started the new story (tower of babel), i've been going over all the pesukim from the beginning of the perek. i think we are up to pasuk 5 today. so i warned her that she was going to be furious, and said we are doing all these pesukim, and she shrieked as i walked out of the room to tell ari to catch the spider on the ceiling that was freaking her out. so ari caught the spider, and she was sort of used to the idea.

i am in the middle of reading her a book, and i told her i would read after each pasuk. she did the first one, and i read a page. then another, and i read another. then she started flopping. and screaming etc.

and as she was tantrumming, i was thinking about how for years, when people find out i homeschool, they say, "you must have so much patience." and i always replied, "not really." if you take all the hours of the day from 8am to 8pm, or even later, then you really have lots and lots of relaxed time to hang out and to get work done. it never seemed to me to take nearly as much patience as, say, getting kids off to school in a morning rush and fighting over homework in a very short amount of time while also trying to make dinner, feed everyone, and put everyone to bed.

and yet, as i sat here today, i thought, "yes, i am patient. i am very, very, very patient." and i've noticed that i've been thinking that a lot lately. i guess patience is described as wanting to lose your temper but not. because if you're not upset, then that's not patience, is it? if i know that i go to disney world and the line will be 45 min, and i'm not upset, that's not patience.

so as chana is screaming (and oh, how i want to video this so she can see it when she's older) and i'm thinking about how patient i am and patting myself on the back and calling myself a saint (which as you know, i don't have all good days like that and particularly a week or so ago i was decidedly impatient). and i was thinking about how important it is for me to do this.

i value torah. as a jew, i want chana to have the skills to read the torah in its original language. this takes work, and effort. chana is having particular difficulty putting in the work and effort. she gets frustrated.

my voice is the voice that she will hear in her head throughout life, as she has challenges. when she confronts something difficult, that she wants to give up on, i want her to hear my voice, patient, loving, and firm. you can do this. you will do this. i see how hard this is for you. i see you struggling. you will do it. you will succeed.

not encouraging, like a life coach. but implacable, sure, sympathetic, and firm. to carry her through the frustration, through the screaming. the voice of her mom, who doesn't let her back down in the face of her own frustration, who supports her through it, who guides her through it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

the last couple of days there wasn't much to say, just the usual. today, too. chana came in after parkour and was ready to work. we did the 2 pesukim easily, and discussed why bricks have a shoresh of "lavan" even though they are red. we looked up making bricks online, and apparently they use sun to dry, not libun. i suppose we could have kept looking for oven roasted bricks. then we checked out rashi who talks about bricks being made in a furnace and he said it's called something-or-other in french. chana got a big kick out of rashi being french and when we do the rashi, instead of reading it as whatever word he uses, she says "bonjour."

she did run out of steam during the rashis. she is sick of the ones we are doing, and she remembers the translation as a whole, but she is still having trouble with 1. the pronunciation and 2. the translation of specific words or phrases. i would really like her to get that down, but it seems like no matter how much review we do, unless i specifically force her to do it that way (which invariably sparks some tantrumming), it doesn't register in her brain. advice from anyone is welcome.

it just seems like every way i turn, acquiring skills is boring drilling and review, review, review.

that didn't set the stage so great for chazara. i did a bunch of the words orally and outside (which she doesn't mind). i actually find that orally promotes more versatility. because when she reads a word, she searches her brain and knows it if she has learned it orally. but if she is asked it orally and she has only seen it, she doesn't know it. i think i've mentioned that before. perhaps it's only in her, and in more visual students it would be reversed. but she is not nearly as auditory as sarah is. sarah is an extremely auditory learner.

anyway, we limped through chazara. chana is finding the new batch to be wearying and challenging. i wish i could think of a way to make it less so. i think maybe because i didn't give her enough break. she had been active all morning, so we did it in one sitting, and maybe she would have been more mentally able to do it if she would have had more breaks or if we did it in different sessions.

oh, and i forgot to mention. my rabbi had sent me pictures of this fundamentalist christian who actually built a life sized replica of the teiva in real life. so i showed chana pictures of it. and that was pretty darn cool. (by the way, if i were teaching in a school, that is exactly the kind of thing i'd be using the smartboards for).

Monday, October 11, 2010

part II

chana came down herself. i offered a hug and she refused. i gestured for her to sit down, and we sat close, and i put my arm around her. i said i really don't think this one pasuk is a big deal. she said why do i always make her do sooooo much. i make her do too much work all the time. (which reminds me, when sarah finally went to high school, she said she couldn't believe how little work she had been doing all these years. and we laughed about how she screamed and complained about this. the truth is, though, in homeschool, you can't mentally check out when you need a break and start daydreaming. the teacher notices immediately :-P so in some ways homeschool is way more intense and focused, even though it's for shorter time). she did the pasuk in about 3 seconds. i wanted her to do the 2 others, but said should we do one today and one tomorrow, or both tomorrow. she opted, of course, for both tomorrow. hopefully it shouldn't be an argument since she agreed. and now a 7 minute break before rashi.

i don't know if anyone reads this, but i often wish people would suggest approaches or methods when i wonder how to approach teaching something.
for example, memorizing the vocabulary or suggestions to get something into long term memory.
another thing i'd like a suggestion on is that after we finish noach (and i think we have about 4.5 pages left, so it's coming up) i really wanted to do a review. i want chana to be able to fairly smoothly translate the pesukim. all of them. BUT. i know this will be an exercise in frustration. although she definitely learned a lot of vocab throughout, there is i would estimate at least 1/3 of the new words that she forgot (it will be interesting to see how many of them she actually remembers compared to my estimation). i don't want to start her translating and have her get frustrated and then furious.
so should i spend a week or 2 reviewing the vocab? should i read the pesukim and translate them first, and then have her do it? what's a good way to do this so that she is reviewing before she does the official chazara on her own, where she translates it?

part I

at a loss how today blew out of control. i was spending happy time with chana, and we agreed both last night and this morning that when jack goes in for nap, it's time for chumash. he went in, and chana sat down. i showed her the pesukim i wanted to do today. she did the first couple, which were names. the next 3 were all words we have done before. she started pouting and whining that she isn't doing a new pasuk with words.

as per our earlier discussion, i reminded her that she had 5 screams and then... i actually forgot what we had agreed. chana said i would take something away from her. was it all multimedia? (i wonder if i wrote it in this blog). she was getting very angry and i said she negotiated me down; instead of the 3 pesukim we would do one. i thought that was a decent compromise but she was refusing to do any. i said i do not understand why she is so angry; i think one pasuk is not such a big deal. she broke a keychain she was holding, told me that i made her break it. (this was something she hasn't said in a while). i said, i made you break it? she apologized for saying that (it's not that i want an apology as if she insulted me, as much as i want her to be able to recognize her responsibility for actions that she does when motivated by fury at others). as she apologized, she threw the pieces across the room. when she got to 4 screams she got up and left the room. so i guess i'm waiting now for her to come back. i hope jack naps a long time. maybe i'll give her 10 minutes and then go and insist, possibly started the cycle all over.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

didn't finish by bedtime

it was a glorious day and sunday so til chana and i sat down to do some work it was evening. she was chugging along beautifully but she really does need breaks. so she did her new pasuk just fine. and then she did it again when i asked her to, without a whimper or whine. then she plowed through the chazara. but then she had done a solid amount of chazara, and she needed a break. but it was 10 min to 9pm. and i sort of have a nonofficial policy that we don't do schoolwork after 9 coz chana would happily do work for quite a while to avoid bed. as i read that, i think to myself, well, is that a bad thing? maybe it's a good thing. ok, maybe it is a good thing, and maybe we will get back to that when i am sleeping through the night a bit more regularly and have enough brainpower to accompany her educational journey after 9pm. but nowadays i want to be done and her upstairs by 9pm (which is when she reads). and i know from experience that once i let that 9pm deadline shift a bit, it's hard to re-establish. so even though it's 8:50 and she could really use a 10 min break (and i can see from how antsy she is that a 2 or 5 min break will not cut it, since she's been powerhousing through everything and now she's saying it's too much and she keeps chatting about other things), i say that's it for tonight.

so i tuck the chumash into my pocketbook, and tomorrow when we are at her dentist appt in the waiting room i will try to chap 5 or 10 min to finish up these words. and we didn't get to rashi.

so tomorrow will be the end of this chazara, plus tomorrow's chazara and everything else. happily we aren't doing much else tomorrow so we can spread it relaxedly throughout the day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

so today i spent a glorious morning in the playground w/ elazar while jack napped and chana played at home. it was good spending some nice one-on-one time with elazar. it got me thinking that i could use some of this nice time with chana, without me trying to teach her. i hope to get on that.

anyway, then i cramped her new pesukim into the time right as jack was waking up. and although it was name heavy, there were also a bunch of familiar words like "gave birth to" and "sons of" which irritated her tremendously. i would have kept going because it there were a few more like that, but as frequently happens, i overestimated her capacity and stamina.

then we stuffed in some rashi. it's erev shabbos so i hope to get chazara in before shabbos. at least i can drill her orally, which i will. and i want to put on a couple of new words: ervas-nakedness of; iyay-islands of, and goy-nation. oh yeah, and vayishkon b'ahalei shem-and he dwelled in the tents of shem.

chana asked a great question. if kanaan lived separately from shem and yefes (we were discussing generally where their lands and the lands of the descendants were), then how was kanaan their slave? (plus she doesn't understand what "slave of slaves" means). good questions!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the ants go marching 2 by 2 hurrah, hurrah

today went quite nicely. i still don't have an answer as to how to get chana to remember these vocabulary words long term. with sarah, i always just figured the ones that show up the most are the ones that get remembered, along with whatever quirks make the brain remember some words and not others.

but at any rate, chana has become quite amenable to me drilling her at random points during the day. plus it has the benefit of accessing more modalities. when we do it in the chumash, she recognizes it by sight, but not by sound. yet if she knows it by sound, when she reads it in the chumash she knows it. (kind of like comprehension of a foreign language is easier than speech, i guess in the mind things go one way but not the other. so if she knows it verbally, then she knows it visually, but if she knows it by seeing it she doesn't necessarily know it by hearing it).

we were pretty busy today, doing a science class and parkour (which is incredibly cool, if i can digress off of chumash for a minute) and then we went to pay a shiva call and then visited my fil after he had eye surgery yesterday. so not much time for chumash.

but chana did 7 pesukim today, with no new words, though she kept getting annoyed that only the majority of them were names and there was still some simple translation to be done. she zipped through her rashis, though she still doesn't pronounce them perfectly and still cannot translate certain random phrases. she does know the translation as a whole, which is a good step. and we are currently working on 3 rashis. which she can do in under 5 min when she's in a good mood.

then i futzed around a lot and forgot to do chazara, coz i don't like it and it's a little depressing sometimes. but chana asked me to please drill her on the words. and then eventually we did it and i picked a random pasuk from a while back and she remembered it after a closer look. and the pasuk that's been soooo slow she's gotten almost 100%. and so we continue to make progress.

she asked me when the tower of babel is coming up. pretty soon!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

how to open the long term memory vault?

things went better today. we are being much more careful with each other. she only yelled once, and that was at the very end, when we were doing rashi, and i asked her to translate it by phrase instead of as a whole. she got furious, but i asked her if she knows the phrase. no she doesn't. which is why i asked her.

pasuk 23 is slaying us. she knows it all together, but cannot remember each word. so we keep practicing and practicing. and this bunch of words is not sticking. but happily, her idea of testing her outside the chumash is working. we are up to 5 words that i drill her randomly through the day.

and we are finally up to the names. the next 6 pesukim are just names. so that should give us some time to work on these vocabulary words.

sadly, i flipped open to a page today and i'm pretty sure she would not know what the words that caught my eye mean. even though we reviewed them plenty. how to get these words from short term memory into long term memory? i feel like i had an education class that may have discussed this...

definitely some things are becoming part of her skills and knowledge, like riding a bike. but a lot of these words are just like studying for a test, and then you forget it. all that time drilling and how much is retained? is this the best way to do this?

anyway, i am just relieved that we got over that little hump of misery and are back to our usual interactions.

this is one of the things i love about homeschool. sure, we can work on how we interact with each other if she were in school. but we have so much opportunity this way. and so many moments where i can shore up the loving to help provide background for the more difficult moments. and i really see how we are practicing our relationship. working on it. dealing with things that aren't working. trying new things. taking into account both our positions. what nicer backdrop to learn about relationships and how they work than our Torah? והגית בו יומם ולילה

Monday, October 4, 2010

conflict. it's parenting, not teaching

absolutely brutal today. yesterday did end up devolving into a screamfest (i'm happy to report largely on chana's end, not mine, though i'm sooooooooooooo tempted). after these things happen, i think it over and feel like it's my job to enforce better boundaries and not let her scream like that. it didn't happen in chumash, it happened in math and i sent her to time out and she stayed there of her own volition until it was time to go to bed. (we were working at night).

today we did the new pesukim; they went fine. we started doing rashi, it went ok until she has this idea in her head that she doesn't have to translate, so whenever i make her it leads to tantrumming. then we were a bit pressed for time because she likes to meet some kids in the playground. and for some reason, even though we've been doing chazara for the same words the last 5 or so times, it seems like nothing is sticking. and then she shrieks i have to tell her, etc etc. i asked her what she thinks we should do since she's not remembering them, and she said do it like we did "bilti" and "lachen" because she remembers those. the way we did that is by drilling randomly outside of chumash.

so i compiled a small list for drilling. zarachem, kares, naftza, and kotz. she was getting annoyed at me about repetitively asking, but i said that's what she told me to do so she's accepted it.

at one point, she told me i don't care about her. she said i'm only trying to get her to stop crying coz i want her to learn. i said why does she think i want her to learn. she said I DON'T KNOW!!

we still haven't finished rashi. she's stomped off with the door slammed.

please note. this is not a teaching issue. this is a PARENTING issue. it happens to manifest in the teaching, since that is something we are having conflict over. but this latest stomping off was actually because i told her to go shower. she's screaming at me and not speaking nicely about a lot of things.

ps she woke jack up, too. boy do i want to go stomping up there and get into her face and hiss at her. but i won't. we did have a lovely poignant moment earlier where i tried to hug her and she plaintively cried that she wants a hug when she's so angry but she's so angry she doesn't want a hug. i knew exactly how she feels and was very understanding, and i suggested that i hug and she withdraw, or she hug and i stand still, and she said no but kept kind of hugging and withdrawing and i followed her lead.
i think i'm going to silently go upstairs and mime to her that she woke up jack. unless she's already in the shower.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

post chag

we got right back into chumash. chana agreed to do it now in exchange for me paying for a membership on some online world for her. (she pays me, and i use paypal).

how long how long how many repetitions does it take for her to learn new words? can someone just tell me? then i'd know and i would know how long it took instead of wondering why it is taking so long to sink in.

but of course, there are so many factors. she learns some more quickly than others. and some she remembers because of certain things. and some she confuses. and some just don't click.

anyway, today i told her we'd be doing 4 pesukim and she flopped and flopped on the couch before we started to get it out of her system (which was funny for both of us). she asked if she knew all the words and i said yes.

which she did. BUT she didn't remember aleh is these (like eilu) and she didn't remember toldos and she didn't remember l'holid nor did she recognize it in the form it was in, even if she would have remembered it, which she didn't. and she didn't remember banim are sons. coz she usually doesn't. so she was quite annoyed. let alone me.

some benefits of chazara. she was musing about "their faces were backwards" and she joked, does that mean their eyes were in the backs of their heads? and their noses upside down? and to smile they'd have to frown?

and she realized that slave of slaves was a difficult notion. because do slaves have slaves? good question. and how is kanaan a slave to his brothers? isn't it his uncles?

now i have to do membership and then chana gets a FIFTY minute break (negotiated) and hopefully we will get back to rashi.