Tuesday, December 27, 2011

playful parenting

we didn't start too pleasantly. i let chana choose how many pesukim she wanted. they seemed not too complicated (though a bit long) and i figured we would do 4. after the first one chana got kind of grouchy and didn't really understand it. i had also decided to let her choose chazara, and she chose the shortest aliya. i felt she should do only 10 min of one she didn't know as well, but she said she needs review of that one, too. so we stopped after 2 pesukim and moved on to chazara. once we were there (it went pretty quickly), i decided to review the rashis on those pesukim. chana protested and kind of jokingly said, "don't make me use the force." in a darth vader voice. i have been reading playful parenting by lawrence cohen, and i've been looking for ways to lighten things up with my 10 yr old. (by the way, i attempted to use pretzels as drumsticks when we took a small break to get a snack which jack found highly entertaining and chana said, "i'm not really finding this funny."). anyway, when chana started reading the rashi, with this book in mind, i started choking. chana was shocked; she thought jack was choking me. i said she used the force on me because she was doing the rashis she didn't want to do. she found this hilarious and reenacted it with me starting the translation and her choking. she complimented me on being extremely dramatic and it did lighten the tone and we finished in a good mood.

Monday, December 26, 2011

skills vs tears

i wanted to do chumash before we went to fun zone today. chana didn't want to. i threatened. we did it with tears. and rashi. got the job done, but with hatred and anger. leaving me with my usual question. is this important to be disciplined or am i making her hate it long term.

happy chanuka

Friday, December 23, 2011

no chazara today

today i asked chana if she wanted to do chumash before her friend came over. it's chanuka and short friday, so if we don't do it now, it might not get done. first chana said ok, then she said she'd rather do it later. i asked her to do it now, and we can do rashi later. she asked if we can just do new pesukim today and chazara tomorrow night (she doesn't usually like to do work motzei shabbos). so i agreed. she asked how many we were doing, and i said as many as you want. she said, "oh, you think it's going to be interesting to me?" i shrugged because i'm still not feeling so great, so it doesn't matter hugely to me.

but she was eager to see if the whole city was going to be convinced to do bris milah. i showed her there were 3 pesukim of convincing and then we'd see. she was genuinely startled that they all agreed. she was about to close the book, and i said if she reads 2 more pesukim she's going to be shocked. when she read that shimon and levi killed them all, her mouth dropped open. she imagined all of the men of her town being slaughtered. interesting how her identification went straight to the city of shchem. i told her that we are bnei yisroel and it was as if she had been kidnapped and elazar and jack rescued her. so she thanked them for being great brothers. she asked if yaakov told them to do this. i said no. she asked what happened to the rest of the town. she will find out soon.

i hope we get to rashi today, but on a short friday, it's not crazy if we don't.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

back to the old question of chazara. these pesukim are not very difficult, but could use some chazara. but chana is only doing a couple of new pesukim a day, because if she does a lot, then it makes her chazara longer.

today we just did words. it probably did not help that i was doing chana's final lice check (cleared! yay!) and aharon was crawling all over her and jack was pouring conditioner on her head and beating up aharon.

have i mentioned before that a problem i have regarding chumash is that i find it very hard to just relax and be present? yes, i have.

anyway, we would probably get through the story faster if i wouldn't make her review. why do i want her to go faster? not to cover ground per se. i think she would enjoy the flow of the narrative better if she could see it unfold more smoothly and quickly.

i don't feel like arguing over how many pesukim we are doing. but i'm not so happy with her choices. i suppose that is why i usually argue with her.

we still have rashis to do. also, i have a cold and would rather be in bed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

today i told chana we would do rashi later in the afternoon and we'd do however many pesukim she wanted. she said she was interested in this story. she did 7 pesukim. the first one was a bit complicated and we might have done just one or 2 if i chose how many. she herself said that if i would have told her to do that many pesukim she would have said no way. so the little step of letting her do however much she wants was nice today.

then we did the 5 new rashis from yesterday, and none of the old rashis even though they can probably use a review or two. hopefully we'll get back to them. the new rashis are pretty easy in terms of vocab, and with the nekudos they aren't tough. she's not ready to read them without nekudos, though.

Monday, December 19, 2011

homeschooling with the siblings

today was really one of those days that homeschooling would go better if the little ones weren't around. the morning was fine; we finished revi'i and did a little of chamishi and it was quick. finally we got to rashi in the afternoon, and i had gone through and found 5 new rashis, which chana remarked that she was flabbergasted by that amount. i told her she would read them (with nekudos) and i would translate. but jack, who was asleep when we started, began crying in the middle. elazar was throwing things and i had him in time out. aharon, who was crawling happily, crawls all over the chumash and grabs for it and eventually, when i put him further away, began crying who knows why. so we have 2 kids screaming and one kid wild and needing discipline. add that to chana who is not thrilled to be doing so many rashis.

i know i wanted to be cheerful and not rushed. but i DO feel rushed in these circumstances. i think i have to work on not conveying impatience in these situations. i'm the one who wants to "be done" and "not have it on my head." chana doesn't mind taking breaks and coming back to it.

it took a half an hour to do rashi.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

why are sundays harder even though more help is theoretically home?

did first 2 pesukim in chamishi and wanted to chazer revi'i, but chana bargained me down to half of revi'i. still getting tripped up on the same phrases. i decided no rashi today (it's sunday).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

what about socialization?

so chana wanted me to go to the library for her this morning. so i did. on the way home i was thinking more about this unschooling thing. what would happen if i just dropped chumash? never brought it up? only did it when she requests?

this got me thinking about socialization. because both are related to high school. i know chana will likely start yearning for more social interaction as she becomes a teenager. she asked to go to sleepaway camp. all things being equal, she is young. i'd like to send her to daycamp. she doesnt' want to go.

i'm kind of wondering what would happen if i just unschooled her til high school, and then high school came around, and she wants to go to high school. considering that it's really in high school that unschoolers start seriously pursuing academics.

but leaving high school aside, what would happen if i just don't ask her to do it? how many years or months would go by? i wonder.

i'm too chicken to start now. chana said she'd do it at 3. should i remind her it's 3? should i wait until she asks? though i think even if i were unschooling, if she asked to do it at 3, i would tell her it's 3 and offer to do it with her.


yeesh that took a full hour. granted, probably half of that hour was spent moving the chumash away from aharon, moving jack off of aharon, and moving aharon away from the door that elazar was swinging off of. but it did seem like a full hour of work. first revi'i, then new pasuk (just one), then rishon, then rashis.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

asked and answered

i am currently unschooling everything except chumash/rashi with my 10 yr old daughter. i am seriously contemplating completely unschooling for my boys. the oldest is 4 now, so we have a few years before it becomes an issue. (i was going to send this to you personally, and then i figured that anyone thinking about unschooling might be interested in our discussion).

i definitely prefer unschooling. i have been able to be relaxed about science and social studies, then about reading and writing, and finally even math (and i never thought that would happen!).

however, i am too nervous to unschool for judaic studies. i am considering it, though, because i feel that my daughter's chumash is lacking the love and joy of other subjects. that could be, though, because she works hard at the skills and has an unschooler's reluctance to engage in tasks that aren't driven by her own motivation.

i feel that there are two factors that give me the confidence to unschool:
1. i am absolutely certain the kids will eventually learn the skill. (eg reading and writing)
2. i am ok if they don't learn it (eg they learn what they like in science and i don't care if they never cover the life cycle of butterflies)

neither of those apply to judaic studies skills. although i am fairly certain they will learn to read (and probably write) hebrew, i am not sure that they will put in the effort to acquire the skills necessary for translation. the few unschoolers i've spoken to did feel some desire as their bar mitzvas approached. however, their parents were not orthodox and did not particularly care if they grew up and can't make a laining.

also, i understand that a lot of this type of learning would take place in the high school years. i'm a little concerned about that because i have not had much success yet in providing sufficient socialization in the high school years and my daughter went to school. i suppose it would be ok for us to unschool until high school and then if they want to go to school then they'd be motivated to learn whatever skills they need :-P

anyway, if you have older children and have unschooled them, could you describe the process of how they became interested in chumash, mishna or gemara and how they continued until skill acquisition.

i can easily see the kids being motivated here and there to ask questions, to see, to want to know.. but i find it hard to envision how they would end up being motivated to slog through the hours required to gain the skills to read and translate it proficiently.

thank you!

I agree with you on the first factor for homeschooling, but not the second.

My approach is rather that if I feel something is important for my kids to know, then I am going to find a way to make it fun, interesting and relevant to their lives, and talk to them about why I feel it is important. Then I can be sure that they will get to it sooner or later :-)

If you or your husband cannot (for whatever reason) read/learn chumash/mishna/gemara with your kids, then finding a chug or mentor or tutor can be a good option. A mentor who leads the way and sets an example is an invaluable part of a child's life. Finding the right connection and the right person is the challenge to the homeschooling parent. My oldest went to a mishna chug in the neighbourhood that a neighbour started because he was having so much fun learning mishna with his son, he wanted to open it up to more boys and do it all together. My son loved it - it was fun and interesting. Mainly, I think, because this particular man had a knack for connecting the text to real life.

After a few years, the neighbour wanted to stop doing it. Another neighbour tried to take over, but it wasn't the same, and the boys in the group were a bit older (and most had crazy long hours of school) and it just stopped happening... However, my oldest had already developed the skills required to learn mishna and, ultimately, that is what I care about - not how many mishnayot he has memorized. The nice sequel is that since then my oldest teaches mishna to his younger brother and sisters. I love hearing them learning together, and seeing the enjoyment being shared and passed on :-)

My husband used to learn chumash with the kids, but a couple of years got "bored" with going over the same stories again and again. So I have been trying to take it over. It's very hard for me to make the time to sit and do it with the kids because we're very free-flowing unschoolers, and also out of the house a lot. So I try and focus on Shabbatot. I prefer to keep sessions short and fun and interesting, to maintain their interest, and so far so good. I think :-) I find that I'm referring to halachot, chagim and stories in the Tanach here and there when talking with the kids - so then that often prompts a desire to learn it "inside" the text, to understand it better, get the complete story, etc.

I usually focus my Tanach time on my youngest - it's amazing how fast the 11yo (and sometimes the 14yo) gravitates closer to listen too... I also don't "translate" chumash for them - at most I will repeat a phrase in more modern Hebrew by way of explanation, and then (where possible) show them how that correlates with the text.

Incidentally, my 16yo wasn't comfortable and fluent with reading/writing Hebrew until a couple of years ago. He knew the tefillot (by heart), but reading was a struggle he was not interested in. Then he wanted to take a maths course... and the rest is history :-) I had spent those (worrying) years talking to him at any opportunity, but without pressure, about how important reading and writing are, and that at some point when it matters to him, and when he's ready, he will pick up those skills. Well, he did. It worked. (He's now working on a maths degree (bachelor's) at the Open University, and all the course materials are in Hebrew and of course he has to submit his homework in Hebrew.)

And sometimes we end up going a few weeks without learning any chumash -- just the way life flows. I don't get worked up about it. It's similar to having a week or so of not practising violin for whatever reason. We get back to it all when we're ready.

My husband has learned a little bit of gemara with the oldest, but they haven't managed to hit on a subject that'll hold my 16yod's interest. If anyone has any suggestions of what parts to learn with a math-oriented teenager, I'd appreciate it. I was not taught gemara, so i can't step in there and help. I did start going to a gemara shiur for women at one point, but it was so boring, I left. That could have been due to various factors, but it still means I'm left in a position where I can't help my son to learn this.

I care about my kid getting the skills to learn, so that they can spend the rest of their lives learning (and enjoying). I don't need them to complete a siyum or learn by rote any quantity of anything. I think that different focus is also a relevant and important factor.

I hope this helps,

thinking more about unschooling

we had a week and a half off because we had a little vacation and then came home to lice. so it was a bit tough getting chana back into the swing of things, which had me question more and more her negative attitude and got me thinking about unschooling again. after this post, i will post the question i posed to the orthodox homeschooling message board (to which there has not yet been a response).

i decided yesterday to just do one new pasuk and just do revi'i (usually i like to do an old aliya as chazara, but she was so negative). we aren't that far in to revi'i so i figured it wouldn't take so long, but as often happens, chana's dread made it so that we argued about starting for longer than it actually ended up taking. if she dislikes chumash so much, is it because i am doing it wrong? is it her personality? is it because i unschool her in other areas and she is not used to applying herself so hard to something she dislikes?

personally, i think it is a combination of all three. an argument about unschooling is often that the kids will grow up to be adults who are unable to apply themselves. i think at this point, with a decent amount of unschooling children growing up to be functional , responsible, contributing citizens, coupled with the millions of children who have gone through the school system yet shockingly are still unable to apply themselves to things they dislike, makes me not too worried. when i first started homeschooling, i thought long and hard about what my educational goals were. (i may have mentioned this before).

1. basic skills necessary to get a job (reading etc)
2. a sense of responsibility so that they are emotionally capable of showing up to work on time and can be relied upon to do the job
3. the ability to have enjoyable relationships in marriage, family and friends
4. a non-idolatrous view of judaism and the ability and desire to learn torah.

but i'm getting distracted. my point is, sarah is extremely responsible and trustworthy and i believe chana is making excellent progress on this as well. furthermore, many people in life apply themselves more when they have the confidence and freedom to follow their interests, which unschooled children are quite skilled at.

so i think that my tendency to feel rushed and to put pressure and to radiate slight disapproval when the student doesn't know a translation is DEFINITELY contributing to negative feelings. it would be incumbent on me to work really hard to be in a pleasant state of mind during chumash and to make jokes and radiate positivity. this would probably go a long way.

it might even offset the negativity she feels about applying herself and working hard.

(thanks a lot for helping me "talk" that out, make it conscious, and hopefully improve).

anyway, yesterday she did really well at rashi despite the long break. we still have not read them in the chumash without nekudos. perhaps that will be for tomorrow. today we did just one more pasuk, and i let her choose which aliyah to review, and she chose shlishi because it is so short.

tomorrow we will hopefully read those rashis in the other chumash, do one more pasuk, and review rishon or sheni, her choice.

Friday, December 2, 2011

erev shabbos chumash

erev shabbos. a short shabbos. tough to get work in. we aren't having company, so food is fairly minimal. chana woke up at 10. we negotiated to do work at 11. i have to make a decision between fractions and chumash these days. after 6+ months of hiatus in math, chana is finally grasping it again. i am doing it the way i wish i could do chumash. slowly, pleasantly, with no agenda in mind other than that she fully and completely understands what we do. and to stop before she gets overloaded.

i haven't come to that place regarding chumash. it's about skill of translation more than understanding, i feel rushed to press forward, i want to accomplish.
all of these things remove the joy and relaxation from chumash can cause it to be something that is a chore rather than a pleasure.

practically, chana did shlishi today and then zipped through the old rashis (which we are still doing with nekudos) and then did 4 new rashis with much complaint. the last two, she just read and i translated for her. she griped, "but even if we do that, you are still going to ask me the shoresh, and i'll say i dont' know, and you'll say try, and i'm going to get annoyed." i agreed.

hopefully we can chap a couple of new pesukim today after candlelighting, but if not, not.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

today chana asked to do chumash so she could do it before she went outside to play. that was a nice change, her urging me to do it and her getting the chumash and her asking me to come. since we reviewed rishon yesterday, i figured we would do just one new pasuk in shlishi and the other pasuk in shlishi that we did yesterday, and do a full chazara of sheni. she looked at how long sheni was and made a face. i asked her if she wanted to do just 15 min of it. she agreed and i got the timer.

as i mentioned, i really like that she pauses for any discussion and only times the actual translations. she finished sheni with over 3 minutes to spare. the whole thing took about 20 minutes.

we still have rashi left.

Monday, November 28, 2011

the anti-alfie

today elazar and jack's tablet came. i told chana that if we do milim in rishon and part of sheni, and finish sheni and finish rashis, then she could play with it (ie set it up, since she's the most computer savvy person in the house). we finished very quickly and she kept pushing me to do more when i had to take breaks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

what negative things am i teaching in the course of chumash lessons?

so today i violated "never go against a sicilian when death is on the line!!!" again!
today it took the form of "never do chumash when chana hasn't eaten."

she woke up 11am. she was babysitting at 12:30 (ok, we also violated "don't do chumash when you have to crunch it into a small time"). i spent the first 20 min of her learning doing fractions. having nothing to do with chumash, we have dropped her math curriculum since last year before pesach because fractions were confusing. i have been feeling like maybe she might grasp it better, so yesterday i suggested it, and the idea was well received and so i did a little lesson this morning.

then we took a break and did chumash. ideally, we would have left chumash until after she babysits. ideal for her. for me, i like to get it done so it's not on my mental list of "things i have to do today." as always, this becomes a conflict of better for my emotional state as the one in charge of the household vs better for her emotional state as the learner. although i believe that you will get the best "bang for your buck" ie "intellectual work for the effort" if you go based on the learner, if the teacher's emotional state is not taken into account in this imperfect world, ain't nobody happy.

but truly, whenever i push because i don't want it hanging over my head (which begs the question: if I feel like it's hanging over my head, and it's a responsibility i want to get over with, how am i possibly supposed to imbue chana with love of learning?), it ends up sort of backfiring because chana is not in an optimal state. and really, for me to be rushing to get it over with is not an optimal state for me, either. ideally, i'd like to be relaxed, have nothing else to do (ha! haha!) and look at this as a time for me to chana to enjoyably explore the torah.

anyway, i asked her if she wanted to do new pesukim first or chazara first. she chose new pesukim. we decided to finish sheni since it is pretty short and simple. we did the new pesukim pretty easily. and we reviewed the story of yesterday's pesukim outside.

then it came time for chazara. there were, what, only 6 pesukim and not difficult ones? (i didn't mention in yesterday's post that chana accidentally did an extra pasuk because she just kept going). she started whining that she didn't know one of the words. (which was from that brutal chamishi from last parsha that i didn't push). i told her what it was, but she kept whining. she had a headache. she doesn't know the words. she can't do this.

then i got annoyed and said i'm not listening to you talk to me like this.

which was fine with chana and she just sat there. this is a dynamic that we get into often
("how do you homeschool your child?" like you do any other parenting! with all its attendant conflicts, mistakes, etc). but then we only had 10 min until she was being picked up to babysit and i still had 5 rashis to get to, 2 from yesterday and 3 new ones.

so i said to her i wanted to get going. she, rightly but obnoxiously, countered that i was the one who told her we weren't doing more until she calmed down. and now i wanted her to go. but she wasn't calm yet. naturally, she said this in a rude voice because she wasn't calm and i was pushing her. you gotta love (not) how you (me), the parent, create these ridiculous scenarios by saying one thing and then pushing another. i sent her out of the room (thereby being more ridiculous and punishing her for her tone which happened because i was not giving her time to calm down). then i followed her out of the room and told her that we don't have time, and i'm being pushy, and i apologized and told her to eat, and i was choosing 2 slices of american cheese because we don't have time for her to leisurely eat a bowl of cereal (which i knew she'd prefer and which takes her 5-10 min to eat). she looked daggers at me (she's got a finely honed "evil eye" or "look of death," as i like to call it) and took the cheese.

then she came into the room with no cheese. my first thought was that she threw it out in a fit of standing up for herself (or defiance, as the textbooks call it :-P). i asked her where the cheese was, and it was all crammed into her mouth. she broke the ice in our dynamic by being comical about this. kudos to chana for not sulking. i latched right onto that peace offering and appreciated her humor. we giggled about it and settled in to finish chumash.

the food helped and chana was perfectly happy to do the rest of chumash. as an added bonus, her ride was running late and we even had plenty of time to do the rashis.

chana asked which camp yaakov was going to be in: the one that would get killed or the one that would escape. i did the rashi (not inside) with her where he said he would fight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"never go against a sicilian when DEATH is on the line! hahahahaha---"

this line is going through my head, though more something like, "never do chumash with a preteen after having a discussion about what songs are and are not allowed on her ipod..."

let's see, homeschool rules i've violated today:

1. doing chumash while i'm hungry
2. while chana is hungry
3. in the middle of an argument about music
4. under a specific crunched time when i need to be done in 20 min
5. with no kids napping
6. with one infant being cranky

bizarrely enough, i don't think violation of time crunch really was a problem today. i chose to do 5 pesukim and 2 rashis. all easy. and she breezed through the whole thing in 12 min, leaving us 8 min to spare.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

nachas and homeschooling myself

so i translated chamishi. i simply could not do it anymore. i had chana read the hebrew (she needs some practice anyway) and i translated it. it went not to slowly. that was yesterday. today, she read shishi. i'm delighted that she read it in hebrew and comprehended it mostly, and only asked me to translate a few words here or there. by the time we got to the end, she requested translations for the last 3 or so pesukim. so i guess we hadn't done those last few frequently enough in chazara. but it was such a delight to hear her reading the chumash and i could tell she understood it by her pauses in the right places, her intonations, and her reading things that were questions as questions, etc.

i'm pretty sure that shvi'i was easy, and she said we did all the rashis, so tomorrow we are off to vayishlach!

chana's reading made me wish that i know trope. i'd really like ideally to be able to read the chumash with the proper trope, as i think it really enhances understanding and the rhythms of the text. i had been teaching myself a little haphazardly a little while back, but i ran out of steam. i kind of need to practice, like a 12 yr old boy. maybe it's time for me to set up a bribery system for myself. because i think it would be beneficial for the boys to learn it with trope. not to mention, as stroke research has shown, singing accesses a different part of brain memory than speaking. chana dislikes when i try to hum the trope. but i think if i know it, then the boys will respond to it.

regardless of alfie, in my own life i do find rewards helpful as incentives. i need to make myself a hierarchy of rewards. a smallish reward for learning all the taamei mikra (i know almost all of them already). another smallish reward for being able to sing them by name by just looking at the picture. another reward for learning, let's say, shma or another piece of chumash with it. and another reward for maybe a bigger piece. and a nice dinner out or maybe a little "party" or siyum type thing when i am able to look at the chumash and sing the words fluently.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

today went pretty quickly. sheni wasn't too tough. chana had trouble with some of it, but it went quickly. and then 3 rashis. she was still fluent in them because we've done them recently. so the whole thing took under 20 min.

chana did ask why yaakov cried when he saw rachel. i said, "good question" and she said: "it's not a question! otherwise you'll make me do a rashi!"

i said she is right, there is a rashi about it, but she won't really like it. she begged me to tell her and i said yaakov saw with nevua (even though i think it says ruach hakodesh) that he won't be buried with rachel.

then she said, "if he knew he would be buried with leah, how did lavan trick him? he knew he'd be marrying leah." i said, no, it just meant he saw he'd be buried elsewhere. she took it better than i thought. i thought she'd think that was an odd thing to cry about when he met her, and why would he get nevua about this then. but she didn't.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

chazak vayetze!

we finished vayetze. now a week or more of chazara of all the aliyos and the rashis.

there are 13 rashis that we did on the parsha.
that doesn't seem so much and i wonder how she will do on them.

as chana was reviewing, she asked a question: why does it say the God of avraham your father but then just the God of yitzchak (not "your father")?

another question: why did yaakov say hashem will be his Gd when hashem is everyone's hashem whether they believe in Him or not?

she put 20 min on the clock for rishon. and finished with 7:40 left. she also paused the timer every time she had a question or when i had to get up and deal with one of the boys. i like that it was from her own self that the clock runs for the time she is actively translating, not the time she is spending sitting with the chumash. when she paused the timer for questions, it gave us time to be relaxed and discuss.

so.. how did rashi go...

we decided to do the first 3 rashis. (even though it's "rashi day" acc to chana and we ought to be intensely focusing on rashi. the fact is that she finds it very difficult and gets frustrated very quickly). the good news is that she remembers the content of the rashis. beautifully.

the not as good news is that she is having plenty of trouble with the words and the translations.

i asked her if she wanted to start with the nekudos version but then she'd have to make her way to competently do it without nekudos. she declined.

when i told her she has to redo some of them, she said, "i didn't do it with nekudos because i didn't want to do it more than once!" i said it is not about amount of times, it is about competency.

she said she hates rashi and hates chumash.

and did i mention that aharon is having an extremely crabby day. he will neither play happily nor go to sleep. he is not very content being held, either.
ok so we took a 15 min break. chana tried to maintain that she would only read but not translate. i said she won't read and translate more than 4x. she said she wanted to do only the first rashi and do the rest at 8pm. i agreed. we did it 2 more times. tonight at 8 we will do the first 2 lines and then the 3rd rashi.

when we finished, i muttered, "torture." she said, "you're not the one being tortured." ha. yes, i am, too.

i also hate not being finished and having it on my head to come back to it at 8pm tonight.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

chamishi and shishi have been such a drag! very complicated! chana is almost done with shevii. it's short and not too hard. she would have finished it today, but she balked because then we have to be chozer all of vayetze. so we left 2 more pesukim and she'll do them tomorrow.

i make it sound so simple. but in reality we fought over the last pasuk (which was easy) and i insisted chana do it and she said no. and i said you will do it and she said, "i refuse." and i said, "if you refuse, i will start taking things away. and if you say ok, i will take another thing away. and if you say ok, i will take another thing away." and she said, "why would i say 'ok'? i would say that's not ok." and i said, "you will say, 'ok i will do it so that you won't take it away." she asked what things i would take away. i said i would start with tv, then move on to ipod, and then finally the laptop. she opted to do the pasuk, was very annoyed, and then breezed through it to herself in 5 seconds and correctly told me the translation.

as a general policy i don't like to threaten. call this not threatening if you will, maybe it was just a matter of stating consequences and then enforcing them. but i felt it was absurd that she was fighting me on this last pasuk when i knew it was easy for her and i had already agreed that she didn't have to finish the parsha.

and i have to do rashi still.

Monday, November 7, 2011

chazara or not chazara

today was rather painless. on the way to the dentist, chana did 5 pesukim from the new pasuk, and then a new pasuk. then she did another 6 minutes worth of pesukim. when we got him, she reviewed the 3 rashis we are in, 2 of them very short.

she has lately been complaining that she just wants to go forward without chazara. one argument for that is that she doesn't remember the shoresh "radaf" which we did so many times in the 4 vs 5 kings. it is tempting to just zip through and maybe when she's finished we can go through different parts in a little more detail.

(which reminds me, i haven't been doing any navi whatsoever)

but although she doesn't learn it 100% like i had fantasized, i still think the chazara is valuable. i think a lot of times one run through a pasuk doesn't give her a good idea of the flow of the words and the meaning. and reading the story a few times also brings up questions that she wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

but maybe we don't need as much chazara as we've been doing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


i lost my temper. what's the number one rule of homeschooling?

don't try to do chumash when you have other things to do.

our plan was to do it in the car. i forgot the chumash. chana remembered when we were on our way. she agreed to do it when we got home. i needed 10 min to get things settled when we got home, and by then she was doing something and not inclined to stop.

then she had a headache. then it was too much. this is before we started.

i offered for her to just do 5 pesukim before the new ones, and then to do whatever she can do in 10 min. she refused on the grounds that she'll finish all of it in those 10 min.

if it's going to only take 10 min, then what is the big deal?

i really shouldn't write this while i'm so incensed.

anyway, i lost my temper and yelled, really yelled. i can't even remember the last time i did that. luckily, chana yelled right back which calmed me down very quickly.

she kind of sulked and muttered through the rest of it and i wondered, as i often do in these cases, if this was worth it or if she'll have negative associations. blah blah.

better luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

given how yesterday and all of chamishi has gone, i've been tempted to ditch chazara altogether and just run through the pesukim like i did with sarah. but chamishi was just a really tough aliyah. shishi is back to normal.

yesterday, when chana saw that hashem spoke to lavan, she was shocked: hashem is going to help lavan??
(she then saw that he didn't).
her opinion is that the rashi that "even good of resha'im is bad w/ tzadikim" needs rashi.

also, we looked up when rabbenu gershom lived (around the time of rashi) because chana wanted t know when they stopped allowing 2nd wives. (i didn't mention sfardim). she thought 4 is rather a lot. and felt she wouldn't want to be in that situation.

we did 2 new mini rashis and chana had a minor hissy fit because it was 2 new ones. in practice, it went very quickly.

she woke up early to do chumash to go to robotics and then spend the rest of the day playing with her friend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

unschooling chumash and rashi

today chana reminded me that we were not doing chamishi anymore. i just don't think she really needs to know a lot of those tough words that don't show up so many more times and i think she has the jist of the flow of the story. so we started from the new perek in the middle of chamishi. in the middle we watched some don music videos where he bangs his head on the piano. i told chana we'd do 4 new pesukim and she said, "and we'll stop if i cry." i agreed. after the first new pasuk she said she cried and i said she didn't. and she said she whined and i concurred. but we got through the pesukim.

now break. and then rashi. it's already 8:30pm and i'm not thrilled about still doing rashi tonight.

i'm fantasizing again about unschooling til the kids want to learn to read and understand chumash. what if i didnt' have to teach anything until they wanted to learn and then they learned quickly. what if they learned to read hebrew in a month and then worked at translating with my help and rashi reading. and it took only a few months because they want to?

but what if they never want to or they want to but then run out of steam? it's too scary to unschool.

but if it would work... it would be glorious.. so easy, so pleasant

but if it wouldn't work it would be so irresponsible.. i would not have my children prepared for torah learning..

one tempting thing would be they almost definitely would not be able to go to high school, because they wouldn't have the skills.. i would be counting on them picking up the skills in high school.

must give this more thought..

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

who wants to do chumash on a lazy day?
finally we have nothing going on today. one would argue perhaps that it's a great day to focus on chumash. lots of time and lots of time for breaks.

otoh, i'd rather do nothing and have no responsibilities. . .

anyway, when jack went in for a nap we did part of chamishi. a double review of the pesukim she's been doing with so many hard new words. she decided to do the ones i wanted to do twice, then the new ones. she was in a good mood. we did one new rashi trying to untangle what yaakov was doing with the sheep. then we did the new pesukim and she got kind of defeated. i think because the last of the old pesukim i made her do 3x, and she said, "you said only 2x" and i said i didn't say ONLY twice, i just said twice, but she needs another go. and she got truculent and then i said i'm counting to 10 and taking away your DS for the rest of the day. i don't love threatening but it's effective. she said i was mean and i agreed with her. the new pesukim went pretty straightforwardly. it's still ages to go til the end of this aliyah. it's been a looooooooong time.

left today is rashi (the review of the 4) and chazara of the beginning of chamishi. i'm wiped.

Monday, October 24, 2011

still slogging our way through chamishi. tough language. and we did rashis (the 4 we are in the middle of ) w/ nekudos. did it in the car, there and back, to ceramics. only did one new pasuk today. i realized afterwards that the next one is pretty easy but i had already spoken. tomorrow hope to finish the perek. that's 5 new pesukim. didn't really do chazara today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

it's soooooooooooooooooo late

whew rashi was tough tonight. we did it w/ nekudos and chana did ok with it, but it was nearing 9pm and i'm wrung out by then. and every time she got distracted i got annoyed. and she told me that she feels i'm being too hard on her and it's coz i'm stressed. (and if i can get all therapy on you, the reader, this resonated w/ something ari told me this week about how i was riding everyone too hard). i think the whole rashi was about 20 min, but at the end of it i felt it created distance between me and chana rather than connection. i offered to read to her afterwards but she said she'd rather go to bed. i guess i'll give her an hour and then go try to reconnect.

i just can't stand working in the evenings. and it's chana's ideal time. aharon is having cry time, jack is still awake, and i am done. i want to be done but i have a few hrs left to the day. it's not the time to be doing chumash or rashi.

perhaps i should learn from this that the skills are not worth the negative interaction. or i can work on being more pleasant.

on the up side, these not so good days make me realize how much my constant evaluation of how it is going really does keep chumash pleasant overall. especially considering the very hard skill work involved.


today was one of those days with a lot of whining, with me asking her to take deep breaths, with her insisting that deep breaths don't help. both boys were asleep and i wanted to get it in. chamishi is pretty challenging with a lot of new words and complicated structures and i start wondering if it's worthwhile to press her on these words.

btw, there are frequency word lists "100 most commonly used shorashim in tanach" etc which makes a lot of sense. apparently if you learn those, you can translate about 80% of tanach. which is cool. i think chana probably does have most of those words. especially as the frequent ones show up enough for her to learn them just by their repetition.

we still have rashi left to do. i asked chana if she wants to do rashi w/ nekudos today. she didn't answer me because i offered that when i wanted to do rashi before chazara and she was pushing for chazara. i gave in and also allowed her to choose which aliyah to chazer because she can use chazara in all of them. she chose revi'i.

in the framework of today, i've been pondering a post about unschooling that i saw this week. a lot of it is about having a certain confidence that kids are interested in knowledge and will learn. and sometimes i wonder what i'm in such a hurry to do this in elementary school for. i read once on lookjed (jewish education message board) that kids go through 12 yrs of school and don't know gemara, and they can easily master the basics of skills in 2 or 3 yrs post high school. so why torture them? for years??

not to mention that i'm not all that excited about sending my kids to high school, and if they don't have the skills because i'm unschooling them, maybe they'll just keep going as they are going. the 2 people i spoke to who were themselves unschooled said they were interested in judaic studies in high school.

and it would seem like the joy might be more if i wait. (i always wonder that after a day of arguing).

but this goes against the rishonim and mesora of chinuch. and that is a big reason i hesitate.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

in the midst of chaos

today was one of those days where it felt like chumash dragged on for hours. though this was not the case, it was on my mind trying to get it done since 11am. chana didn't want to do work within a mere hour after waking. (when i later told her that rov haolam wakes up, goes to school, and does work immediately, she got insulted and began sulking, which led to me saying "do it or i'll leave" and her waving "bye" with her head still down, and me sending her to timeout and then threatening to take away her ds if she is not back within 2 minutes and reading rashi, and thinking the whole time how this is not conducive to pleasant associations with torah).

i wanted to start with rashi; she wanted to start with pesukim. eventually, she did 4 rashis. she did them ok. then a break. then i wanted her to review some pesukim in sheni and shlishi that she had had trouble with in the past. i'm glad we reviewed them and she did them nicely. then revii.

in the midst of this, aharon was crying and and screaming. i had asked her to do it during his morning nap and she had refused. so i was doubly annoyed. she said she wanted to do it during jack's nap, but jack is much easier to have around (when he's in a good mood).

blessedly, aharon fell asleep in the middle but it was only a short time. he woke up again and now he is asleep again and STILL we are not finished.

we have 3 new pesukim to do. in chamishi. they are tough. i'm getting grouchy and maybe i should feed myself before we dive into them.

chag sameach!

Monday, October 10, 2011

neufeld "collecting"; comparison w/ sarah; rashi

we skipped yesterday. this morning chana didn't want to go to ceramics. she was tired, she doesn't want to go, etc. we battled about that and therefore i felt it would not be a good idea to bring chumash in the car. as per neufeld, i decided to use the time to emotionally attach to her. especially considering that one of the things she said to me is, "i feel like you don't care about me!"

i said in the car, "i want to be doing chumash." and she said back, "well, now we are even. because i don't want to be doing ceramics." (just quoting this exchange for those of you who may be reading this and feel that you are the only ones arguing with your children. and this was not even a bitter exchange, and didn't even escalate ).

anyway, for some reason she didn't have her ipod with her (maybe she also wanted to connect with me) so we spent the time there and back conversing. then we agreed on a general time for chumash.

when both boys went down for naps, i told her let's do it now because they are napping. because of the numerous times in the past where she asked to wait and then someone woke up and i felt very annoyed, she agreed immediately. she settled down into revii, which we finished today. she did it to herself except for the new pesukim. and she asked me for the words she doesn't know.

(by the way, comparison with sarah: 1. sarah looked up every word and either wrote it down in a notebook looked it up in the heb/eng dictionary every time. i tell chana the words she doesn't know. i almost never told her a word. 2. sarah did not do chazara. 3. sarah translated half of every pasuk and i did the other half, and chana does the entire pasuk.)

so that was about 3 new pesukim.

then we did rashi. i had her do 3 rashis, 2 reviews and 1 new one. she didn't want to do the 2nd review one in the harder chumash (bli nekudot). so she did 1 in the harder chumash and 2 in the easier one. aharon woke up in the middle but i didn't feel annoyed with chana because she started chumash immediately.

i feel pretty good about rashi today. she covered a nice amount. "and it isn't even rashi day..." she cited as her reason for trying to refuse to do it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

we started w/ revi'i today on the way to parkour. there were only a few pesukim that we had done, and chana continued merrily on for a bunch of pesukim before she realized we were in the middle of new ones. they were leah's children. she mentioned a couple of times that rachel hadn't actually taken leah's husband, and how they all had to wait turns for their husband. on the way home, she wanted a break from car chumash. (we don't homeschool, we carschool ;)

so at home, she did sheni to herself, which is pretty short except i noticed she still doesn't know those few words she didn't know last time. and she probably won't learn them unless we do some more serious review of just those pesukim, which maybe i should consider doing.

then we did rashi. review of yaakov talking to the shepherds, which she acquitted gracefully, in the one w/ no nekudos. and 2 w/ nekudos. minimal whining about how it's not rashi day. whole thing done pretty quickly, though.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

when a pshat oriented rashi turns out to not be pshat

today is rashi day. we did just shlishi today, and 3 new (difficult) pesukim. chana convinced me that even though there are a bunch of things in sheni that she doesn't know, she can do sheni tomorrow.

so for rashi, we did the large rashi about yaakov asking the shepherds why they are back so early. even though i had her read it 3x with nekudos, there are still a number of words she doesn't know, and when we go to the other chumash, there will be abbreviations like af al pi chen, that she still doesn't know nor know the translation.

she argued quite a bit about reading it 3x. but eventually did. i also chose the rashi on "rachel bitcha ketana." i thought that it was a decent pshat oriented rashi, which shows why certain nuances of the text are there. ie your daughter and the younger.

BUT chana made an excellent point. she said she does not understand the point of the rashi. lavan did not cheat yaakov in that way; he said that it was not done in this part of town to let the older marry before the younger. and how could he know lavan was a cheater anyway; he just met him. excellent points and i think it demonstrates that she is taking the torah seriously and it showed me there are a lot of midrashim that we take for granted that actually are difficult to understand and take as pshat.

(she also mused yesterday that she is glad in our society men don't marry more than one wife).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

sunday i traded no chumash for chana taking jack out to the playground a number of times. i was recuperating from the 3 day yontif and i think it was a fair trade.

monday chana chapped rashi before we headed out to ceramics, and did sheni and part of shlishi in the car and new pesukim at home.

today, we did just milim for sheni, and entered negotiations for shlishi. i want to do the whole thing. she wanted none. i said 15 min on the timer. she demurred. i said why is 15 min too much for you. happily it did not devolve into the last time we argued over 15 min. (i made sure she was fed before we started). we got happily distracted by aharon and jack a number of times. they are very cute. (elazar is down the block playing). we compromised on doing 4 pgs out of 7, and now break, and we will do the rest later (and rashi).

in the middle, chana pretended to be a robot that was breaking and said in a robotic voice, "shutting down... cannot do work..." and then dropped her head. funny.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

rosh hashana

we reviewed sheni of vayetze. then shlishi the ones she did yesterday. then i wanted to do new pesukim. chana was arguing with me about how many (i ventured maybe 7) and i said i will put the timer on for 15 minutes. she began to argue that this is too much. i said it seems to me that 15 minutes is not too much for anything (though now that i'm thinking about it, perhaps 15 min of straight contractions or 15 min of bleeding copiously can be too much). and she said, i'm not used to that much. and i said, really, 15 minutes is not a large amount of time.

anyway, sach hakol she did 17 pesukim. after 7, she said she should have just done 7 pesukim. at that point we had over 8 or 9 minutes left and i reiterated that 15 min of chumash was not unreasonable.

most of the words were pretty simple. she got annoyed at me when i asked her to not just translate but to make sense of the pesukim. and she got annoyed at me when i asked her to translate the shoresh of the names of leah. she said, why do i have to? and i said, coz it's cool.
but i guess it's not that cool if i'm "forcing" her.

btw, her shoresh ability is improving. when she reviewed sheni, when she didn't know the word she was able to break down the shoresh and look at surrounding words to give her clues. it was nice.

now she's having a 20 min break before rashi. frankly, i would like a longer break. i may do that. i doubt she'll complain. i have to figure out which rashis to do.

on a rosh hashana note, i was thinking what i want for each of my children, and what i want in terms of my relationship with each one. ie where are my challenges and where do i need divine help. with chana, thankfully we are in a fairly amenable phase and not having too much conflict. i realized what i would like is for her to love and enjoy learning torah.

and that got me thinking about how this skill work is not so conducive to love of torah. or at least the way i'm doing it is not. as you know, i always go back and forth over this issue. do we push skills and figure it will not affect the love of learning, as long as learning is enjoyable in other venues (in which case i must make an effort to provide some of those other venues). or does every little drop affect the overall attitude? i guess these days i lean towards the first one.

i also was thinking about how what we daven for is both based on and also affects the future of our assessment of the situation. i assess my relationship with chana. i ask for things based on that understanding. and that act of standing before hashem and asking for that particular thing affects how i act in the future.

Monday, September 26, 2011

we did just sheni in the car on the way to ceramics. we did 4 new pesukim and fought about the last 3, even though they weren't that hard. chana has yet to do chazara (revi'i of toldos) and she says she'll do it later. i told her 7:30pm tonight is too late. i wonder if i should remind her or not. i'll ask her what she wants to do.

there are a lot of great, not too hard, pshat oriented rashis in vayetze, just as somebody on torch-d advised me. chana read through a couple with nekudos. i would like to do more, but she said it's not rashi day. apparently one day a week we do it more intensively.

Friday, September 23, 2011

google images

chana asked why the plishtim covered up avraham's wells if they could have used them. good q. r' hirsch does not address it. nor does a quick survey of mikraos gedolos.

google images are really valuable for showing pictures. we've used it for brimestone in sedom, fiery furnace and pillar of smoke in bris ben habesarim, dew in the brachos of eisav/yaakov, monument, and to show parsha ptucha and stuma.

chana zipped through shlishi of toldos. she resisted doing rishon of vayetze, since we are already up to sheni. but i think she needs more chazara. so we argued about that and i insisted, and her mood became dour. then we took a break before doing the 4 pesukim in rishon and the new pesukim, since she was getting bad-tempered. i put 10 min on the timer. then she got upset because for some reason she thought we were doing only 1 new pasuk. the one new pasuk had 3 new words, but the next 3 pesukim were easy so i wanted to do them. she fought that. i persisted again. she kind of cried a little but overall contained herself well. then i gave her another 10 min and we did rashi. she just read it and didn't translate it. even though i saw from the way she read that she needs a couple more sessions of translation, because she didn't pause at the right places which she would have done if she understood it. ("how do you know if she knows it if you don't give tests?")

all told i think chumash and rashi took about a half hour. but i didn't time it. calculating, i think it took about 45 min. when i asked chana, she said she felt like it took her 3 hrs.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

today is parkour. chana had a choice to do chumash in the car, but she chose to do it in the house. we tried to do it before jack woke up, but til teethbrushing and breakfast occurred, jack was already awake. but for a change he was happy to sit and feed himself breakfast, which kept him happy through chumash. today we reviewed rishon of vayetze. i gave chana the option of to herself or out loud. she chose to herself. we started with 2 rashis, since it's "rashi day" from the summer. we reviewed "i don't know the day of my death" and we did the rock one w/o nekudos. chana had some trouble with it but not terrible for the first day of no nekudos. she suggested we change rashi day to a day w/o parkour. then we did one new pasuk, because it was long and had at my count 2 words she didn't know and 1 word she didn't remember. it turns out it was 1 new word and 2 words she didn't remember. as soon as i said "crouch" she remembered that the camels were crouched. she saw the big rock and asked if hashem was going to take it off the well. won't she get a thrill when she finds out it's her hero, yaakov. did i mention yesterday that chana was in conflict about doing more because she is so excited to be in the part where yaakov meets his wives?

oh, and at one point chana and i stopped chumash and pantomimed wild piano playing to this song that elazar was listening to:


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

chana negotiates

this morning chana was going out with bubby for a haircut. so i rushed through rashi (still doing w/ nekudos) and then i wanted to get done as much of chumash as we could. so she reviewed the pesukim and then did 3 more. then i wanted her to do chazara of rishon of toldos. but she asked if she could trade finishing up rishon of vayetze instead of doing rishon. i thought that was a fair trade; we'll chazer rishon of toldos tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2011


so i chose to do the famous rashi about the stones arguing over who would be the pillow of the tzadik. little known is that rashi first gives the pshat that yaakov took the stones to build himself a fortress because he was concerned about wild animals.

chana was astonished by this rashi. she looked at me like the world had gone mad. i said, do you think this happened?

she was reluctant to say it didn't (hashem changed all the rocks into one rock; after all, He certainly can). but she did say, "rocks don't speak." and i agreed.

i told her that rashi and chazal speak in riddles, and it's a riddle.

she asked me if i knew what the riddle means.

i said i have maybe a little bit of an idea. she pressed me. i said that if i wanted to help a tzadik and she wanted to help a tzadik, maybe hashem would help us do it together.

she frowned and said, "yes, but we aren't rocks."

she has a little way to go before she grasps the concept of metaphor. actually, i had a sheet that i used to illustrate the idea that i used to use for classes. maybe i'll see if i can dig that up.
ah, friday. homeschool is always a bit tough on a friday, especially if i have to cook and especially if i'm having company and especially especially if i'm having company for both meals. and especially especially especially if it's someone i never had over before (though i am determined to keep the menu low key). anyway, jack is a late sleeper and aharon is napping and elazar is busy. so it's a perfect time. for me. but we all know that chana does not like to work first thing in the morning.

so a bit of back and forth. we started vayetze. and then she'll have a break and then do shishi to herself. but first i hope to chap in a rashi if i can find a good one.

chana asked 2 excellent questions. first of all, how can hashem be standing on the ladder? i said it's a dream. she said, yes, but how does hashem represent himself in the dream with no form (not in exactly those words). does he make a malach represent him? but a malach not like the other malachim in the dream? (because she remembered that other times malachim carried a nevua, i think to hagar for example, and said "i am hashem.")

the other good question was more of a statement. when chana makes an observation, i often say, "good question." and she says, "it wasn't a question." but it sort of is. as she translated "i am the Gd of your father avraham" she muttered "and the Gd of everybody else." which is an implied question: why say specifically the Gd of avraham when hashem is the Gd of everybody?

i'm off to find a rashi now and to coax her to do it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ambiguous and redundant

today chana reviewed the beginning of shishi while she ate lunch, and asked me for the words. it went quickly and uneventfully.

then, after an hour break, we did shvi'i. i told her i think she knows all the words and if she does, we can move on to the new parsha tomorrow w/o reviewing shevi'i. she didn't know "eim" (mother) and "v'y'tzav" he commanded. she often doesn't know the word with the shoresh of command until i say "torah tziva lanu moshe." as soon as i begin that, she knows. i've also been working at having her identify the shoresh which she doesn't do nearly as naturally as sarah used to, and she's been having fewer bursts of anger about it. i felt like she knows eim and tziva even though she had some trouble with them in that context

then we did a very small rashi about rivka being the mother of eisav and yaakov and rashi says, "i don't know what this teaches me." chana appreciated that because she often complains about there being information that we already know (and pronouns that are ambiguous).
another day with no plans. i like these days. we did rashi: in the one w/o nekudos, the new rashi (only 8 words) and just a reading of "i don't know the day i'll die" which she whizzed through. time to find another rashi.

then we did the second half of shishi. now a half hour break while aharon snoozes and i take jack to playground. then i plan to do the first half of shishi. and i took a look at shvi'i and i think she knows all the words and it is short, so i hope chana will finish the parsha today. keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

today was another day with no plans. i grabbed chana for rashi when aharon was napping, and she breezed through it and was surprised how short it was. perhaps tomorrow i'll have her do one more reading w/ nekudos and then move on to w/o.

then we were supposed to wait for jack to nap to do chumash, but til we (i) got to it, jack was awake. i wanted to finish shishi today, which we did. but she still needs a lot of the words. i have a feeling this is one of those sections of torah that will seem somewhat new to her when she does it when she's older. she is not quite grasping the subtleties of the brachos because she is wrestling with the translation.

when she read about yaakov not taking a wife from the daughters of k'naan, she started reviewing the story of k'naan being cursed. she remembered they took the blanket on the shoulder and walked backward to cover him. so although i'd bet she still doesn't know that "shechem" means shoulder, she remembers a lot of details from the story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

today part II and III

we did it in 2 stages. 1. the 5 new pesukim and a 2o min break and then 2. the rashi.

chana asked 2 good questions: how did rivka know eisav hated yaakov, if it was in his heart? good. i had her read "ruach hakodesh" in rashi. and why would both of them die on the same day? also good. because that was the rashi i had intended for her.

she was a little bad-tempered during these 2 phases, but although her teeth were clenched she didn't raise her voice too badly. i saw she was making an effort to control herself.

so we did rashi phase one with the nekudos (and only half the rashi--8 words; i chose only the part that deals w/ pshat and not the medrash). she mostly translated it today and didn't really read it in hebrew. by the way, that's what she usually does. she doesn't really read the hebrew, just straight translates it. except when she doesn't know a word at first glance; then she reads it. so tomorrow will be emphasis on reading correctly, and another run at translation.

there are a lot of steps in rashi. aside from reading it correctly, she also has to translate the words, and then she has to understand the basic meaning of the rashi, and then she has to understand the commentary he is providing on the pasuk. it's a lot.

today part I

at least i hope it's part one and i'll have the oomph to finish up later. today was one of those days where i woke up with a to do list that was too long to keep inside my head. it was also one of those days where we had absolutely nothing scheduled. which chana really loves, so she can spend the day pursuing her projects (currently making littlest pet shop films and uploading them to youtube) and playing in the playground. ah, childhood.

i probably had a to-do list because i'm thinking of it as a catch up day. this is a bad day to go into homeschooling all together, because as many homeschoolers know, one of the rules of homeschooling is that if you're trying to do something else other than "being" w/ the kids with full mental and emotional presence, you're going to end up snappish.

naturally, jack, who is teething, was grabbing at me. elazar was doing not too terribly with a spray bottle and the hose and his trains. he is thankfully in a phase where he has a lot of activities that he likes to do around the house. jack, otoh, gets bored easily. so i decided a trip to the playground was in order, even though i really didn't want to go. so we did that. then i wanted to do chumash but chana said later. then i ended up making dr appts to go to the dr that day. we had about 1/2 an hour and i asked chana to do some chumash. she said she wanted to do it when i got back. i said, chana, you know how i always want to do it earlier and you always want to do it later, and then oftentimes later is not a good time and i get frustrated. indeed, she knew. she still wanted it later. i said next time it will be my turn to do it earlier.

sure enough, later came, and chana asked for 10 more minutes to finish her tv show. then it was only about 10 minutes until the time she likes to meet some friends in the playground. talk about crunching in chumash.

i told her to do shishi and to do it to herself, even though i am not sure she has a good enough grasp on these pesukim to follow the flow in her head w/o doing it out loud. it was going ok (insofar as she was asking me for the words she didn't remember; i am not sure she actually knew what she was reading but that's ok, at worst it was a chazara of words and she'll do it out loud tomorrow and i'll get a sense of where she is). she was asking questions about if hashem would have given eisav a bracha of wealth if it actually was eisav instead of yaakov. so she's still processing the issue and thinking about it, which is great.

as the clock crept towards the time she wanted to go out, she began to get angrier and angrier and her tone towards me got louder and more belligerent. i began to feel angry being spoken to that way. among the things i said to her were: "would you like me to yell at you like you are yelling at me?" (i think i said that more than once in different ways) and "i don't think it's fair that you pushed off doing chumash and now you are frustrated and you are yelling at me."

anyway, we took a break for her to play outside. and we have 5 new pesukim and one small new rashi to do today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

today chana translated the rashi. then we started with shishi. she did it nicely. then she did that last bit of chamishi. she still gets stuck on a about 5 or 6 words, but i have a feeling that she's going to be stuck on those for a while and it pays to just move on. i was reminded how much trouble she used to have with "your son" "his son" "his father" etc and happily she seems to have gotten a decent grip on that.

we did one new pasuk (we were doing all this in the car, which i love to do). then chana felt the second new pasuk was too hard and since i hadn't looked it over, i had her read it to me in hebrew and i said she could do it at home. which we did.

i think it's time to move on to the next rashi. she doesn't know a few words "shema" (lest), "hareni" (here i am--which i think she ought to know but she never does), "samuch" (close--she never remembers it), and maybe another one i can't remember offhand. but she learned some of the numerics of the letters (kuf = 100), and perek and da'ag. and she'll remember the concept and the general flow of the rashi. so overall it's a success.

i used to feel that i wanted her to get it 100%. why move on until she remembers all of it perfectly? but there is a point of diminishing returns in terms of her enjoyment. it's demoralizing to do the same thing over and over and it is interesting to the mind to do something new. so at this point, when i see those last few words that she keeps missing, i'm inclined to move on. even though the perfectionist in me wants to linger.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

good observations

chana asked if yaakov would have been rich if he would not have gotten the bracha.

she asked why yaakov said he was eisav "your bechor" when eisav had sold his "oldestness" to yaakov. i said it seems eisav still thought he had the bechora even though he sold it.

she said yaakov was being too nice in his impersonation because he said "get up please" and eisav didn't say please. i looked and sure enough she was right.

i did point out that eisav spoke in 3rd person to his father, which was extremely respectful, treating him like a king.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

chana gets annoyed by grammar such as "barcheni gam ani" which literally means "bless me also me." why does the pasuk say "me" twice? and i know she's going to get annoyed at the next pasuk when it says "and he said" and doesn't say who. she says that the torah puts extra pronouns in when they aren't necessary and then when you want to know, it leaves them out.

she was confused about the pasuk where yitzchak didn't know what happened but then said "gam baruch yehiyeh" without saying "yaakov did it."

luckily, we chapped rashi before i took the boys out this morning, so that was already done. she read it in the hard chumash and i translated it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a little vort

today i warned chana well in advance that when jack goes down for his nap, it's chumash time. instead of doing the entire chamishi (which is very long), we just reviewed the last bunch of pesukim that she needs a bit more work on. then we did yesterday's 2 pesukim, which, not surprisingly, she didn't remember too much of. though she did remember some. yesterday, btw, she said, "his cursers will be cursed and his blessers will be blessed... hmm... i know that already. where do i know that from?" and i said, "avraham."

(and that just reminded me that everyone always says that eisav got the money and yaakov got the bracha of avraham at a different time. but it seems like at least this portion of avraham's bracha "blessers will be blessed and cursers will be cursed" was supposed to be for eisav (had he merited), ie whoever is running the govt.)

chana remembered the part about being the prince over his brother, because we discussed that yesterday. which just goes to show you that context aids memory.

so for rashi, today was the big transfer to the other chumash. w/o nekudos. well, chana balked. and tried to wiggle out of it. but since i didn't overload her on translation, she hadn't hit saturation point and she didn't collapse when i insisted.

and seeing the difference between the rashi w/o nekudos and the one in the chumash we usually use, i am reminded again why i prefer the more difficult rashi. first of all, it had "amar rabbi" as an abbreviation. which chana dislikes, but i like her to see so that she'll know it. and it had the ages as hebrew letters "kuf kaf gimel" instead of written out. and less punctuation. all of which irked chana, but i prefer her to learn on that.

but i think it's been a nice method to start on the easier one, with everything all spelled out, and then to transition to the more difficult layout, after she's already familiar with it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

i'm not sure what deal we made, but chana was supposed to do double chumash today. i traded the double chumash for one chumash and one rashi.

i did milim for chamishi, but she still had to do 7 pesukim reading and translating, and she ran out of steam and began whining. i only had her do 2 new pesukim because they are a bit complicated, but chana completely wound down by the second half of the second one and didn't want to do anymore. we wrangled back and forth and she finished it, but she didn't quite understand it and she didn't want me to review it.

we used google images to look up "dew." we had a bit of fun when chana realized that yitzchak thought he was telling eisav he was going to be a "gvir" over his brother, but he was actually telling yaakov. so chana asked, did yaakov end up a gvir just because of the bracha? but didn't hashem help him? i explained that it was a nevua. and hashem was letting yaakov know he was going to be a gvir, even though yitzchak thought he was telling eisav he would be the gvir.
chana wanted to know what it meant to be a gvir. i said if eisav was the gvir, then he would be in charge of running the country. but chana said they ended up being different countries. and i said yaakov's country would be in charge of eisav's country.

chana still didn't want to read rashi w/o nekudos (but i think either tomorrow or the day after we will attempt that). and she didn't want to translate it. but she was able to summarize extremely accurately the main points. there are a few words she won't remember, but that's ok.

Friday, September 2, 2011

another fine day. chana ate first. then we did milim. we are finally seeing the end of a very loooooong chamishi. chana noticed today that it says "yitzchak his father" when we already know it's his father. she is unclear why the voice is the voice of yaakov if (as per ramban) they had similar voices.

we did 4 new pesukim today. chana asked why yaakov wanted the bracha. why did he want wealth. why did eisav want to be part of the jewish ppl if he didn't want to keep the torah.

i just traded chana that i won't do chumash with her on sunday if she does the last pasuk in the aliyah and does our rashi. she agreed. she read and translated, and then read rashi again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

what a difference a meal makes

today we didn't do chumash until after chana had ample play time in the morning, and she had eaten 2 plates of mac n cheese. also, i decided to just do spot word definitions. so i picked out a few words from revi'i, and words from chamishi until we got to the pesukim from yesterday and the day before. so she was in a fine mood. she asked why rivka had to dress yaakov and why couldn't he dress himself. her mouth opened wide when yaakov said he was eisav the bechor. she said, "ha! i knew it took too short!" when yitzchak asked yaakov why he was so quick. she asked what was going to happen when eisav finally came. i said she would find out. she asked when. i flipped two pages ahead. she is looking forward.

rashi: we did a rashi with the nekudos (it is too darn tempting to use those nekudos rather than have her hack through it w/o. i'm selling out on my principles). she had numerous questions on why a person would think about his own death within 5 yrs of his parents' deaths. i kept saying it's just the way a person feels. she said, "what if he didn't have time to think about his own death?" and i said he will think about it within 5 yrs of his parents' death. and she asked, "what about if the parent died in a car accident?" i still think a person would think about it. but i agree it's not as compelling as if they died from a disease or age.

after chana did it once, i told her to mentally prepare herself to be very angry and then let me know when she's ready. she took some deep breaths, closed the chumash and turned to look at me. i told her i'd like her to read that rashi 2 more times. she protested mildly, but then read it again. the second time was much better. she wanted to just do it next week, but i said too much time passes and it's too chopped up. then, for the 3rd time, i suggested that i read each phrase and she translate it. she said absolutely not. she'd much prefer to just read it again. i was delighted that she was so willing to read it a 3rd time. i asked her if she wanted me to translate each phrase, and she said yes. and that's how we did it.

i truly have to be more on top of rashi if i want her skills to improve, though. on the up side, i think she still remembers some of the rashis we have done last year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

so how many times am i going to attempt chumash with a hungry student before i realize it's a BAD IDEA. the difference before eating and after is marked. which always gets me thinking about how much bechira a person has.

that aside, chana was waiting to go out to pizza w/ her cousin and i wanted to do chumash first because jack is napping. but she wanted to do it later. i insisted, and there was a lot of crying. finally she ate, and whizzed through the last 3 pesukim. i think she did them in 30 seconds. i think the crying was 100x longer than the time it took her to do the chumash. if i were better at math, i'd tell you for sure.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

chana noticed today that the text calls yitzchak's son eisav "his son" and rivka's son yaakov "her son" even though they were both both of their sons and we already knew they were their sons. she asked why and posited that it's because they were the respective favorites.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

so we did rashi today, finally. i'm such a bum about rashi. chana is trying to hold me to the once a week commitment when i wanted to do it more frequently and i just give in. and i let her read it with the nekudot, even though she really needs to learn to do it w/o if she wants to have the skills to learn from any chumash. soon enough school will start and we'll hopefully do it more often. definitely doing it w/ nekudot lessens her frustration. hopefully next time we'll do it w/o vowels.

i had her do 5 new pesukim this morning. she got upset we were doing more than one new pasuk, but then admitted that she thought i would make her do 8. anyway, she whizzed through them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

you know it's not going great when in the middle she says: "and DON'T blog about this!"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

we did one rashi, the one we did last time. she remembered the content. our next 2 wks work will be to work on the pronunciation of the words.
it's rashi day again. we've been doing chumash in the car a lot, which doesn't lend itself to blogging but makes both of us pretty happy. today we finished shlishi. and i have to figure out a rashi. we shall see we shall see

Thursday, July 21, 2011

so chana just reminded me that today is rashi day. she reminded me of this when i asked her to do a page of 3rd grade math (she's going into 5th) that goes back to the basics of fractions. so i said, oh, yeah, and after this we'll do rashi.

i was dreading rashi. earlier in the day we did 2 new pesukim, about eisav selling the "oldestness." i picked a new rashi about something chana had asked--why rivka is referred to as lavan's sister; didn't we know it already? we did the rashi with nekudos. chana had trouble with it. she is not a careful reader, didn't know words i thought she would know (anshei for example) and flopped when i said, hmmm.. instead of telling her. which is pretty much how i thought it would go, which is why i dread it. and then she complained that she didn't understand any of it; it was just a bunch of isolated words. so i went over it again and read it to her and explained it phrase by phrase. and wondered what is the point if she dislikes it so much.

oh, yeah. to get skills.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

chana just wandered by her page hanging on the wall. the one highlighted mostly with words she knows and a few here and there highlighted in a different color words she didn't remember. and she looked at it and said, "what was terem?" then she said, "before, right?" yup. so an advantage to hanging it on the wall is that sometimes she wanders by and thinks about those words she doesn't know.

too bad it's not really practical to have all of them hanging up. but maybe she'll learn the 8 words on that page.

how do you know what she learns if there are no tests

now that we started a new parsha, chazara is pretty short. and chana asked to do the beginning to herself. i prefer to have her do it out loud so i can hear how she is doing ("but how do you know if they know it or not?" i am always asked when people realize there are no tests). but it's a lot more peaceful and she has more stamina if she does it herself. so she did it to herself. a couple of times she asked for a word but then remembered it right away. a couple of words she asked and i told her.

then we got to the new pasuk and she said, hey they both had favorites. this is just like in avatar (and she said the mother liked x and the father liked y; i didn't register the names) except that yitzchak also liked yaakov, and in avatar the parents disliked the children they didn't favor.

then in the next pasuk, chana wanted to know why eisav was tired. i said, wouldn't you be tired after hunting in the field? and she said, no, why does the torah tell us that eisav is tired. i said, you'll see. she said pleeeeaaaaase tell me! please please please i don't remember what happens. i said, you'll find out tomorrow. she said, no now please. i said, do you want to do more pesukim? she said no.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

some questions

chana's chazara is going to be highlighting again, to be done later. (darn, i just remembered it's rashi day. perhaps it's not going well because i dread it??)

so today chana asked how old rivka was, and compared it to yitzchak's 40, and said "creepy.." then asked if it was legal.

she also said that eisav was never a slave of yaakov. so why would hashem say that?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

chana highlighted one page and there are only about 5 words she doesn't know on it. i think it gave her a good sense of how much she knows. but she didn't enjoy the highlighting (because it is chazara!) we finished chaye sora and started toldos today. only 3 pesukim because they are tough. there are still a significant number of words she doesn't remember from chaye sora. i'm not sure if extra chazara will help her remember them or not. i think tomorrow i'll have her highlight a page from noach and see how much she remembers. or vayera.

in the meantime, i hung it on the wall. i'm impressed!

Monday, July 11, 2011

a homeschooling rule of thumb and a new tactic

today chana did it in the car. we did chazara on the way, and shevii on the way home. shevii was quick and fairly easy, so we did it in one day.

i mentioned to chana (who was getting a headache) that i was thinking about why she feels so negatively towards chumash. because she spends the majority of the time being involved in what she DOESN'T know instead of being involved in a positive, accomplishing feeling.

so i was brainstorming with my educational consultant, emily amie witty. she suggested numerous ways for me to increase the percentage of positive chumash experience. many of them i didn't see myself implementing. for example, to spend more time doing pesukim she already knows feels like a waste of time to me (in homeschool in general i have a rule of thumb: if she knows it already, or will somehow acquire it herself in a few years, then skip it and let her do her own thing instead). i had told chana that i would calculate the number of words she knows in shishi compared with the number of words she doesn't know. but emily suggested i print out the aliya and have her highlight herself the words she knows in one color and the words she doesn't know in another color. and then she'll see how much she knows. and then display it prominently so she can frequently notice and enjoy it and/or show it to those who will appreciate how much she has learned. it's a fabulous idea. if it works out well, i will have her do it with an aliya from a previous parsha so she will get a feel for how much she has learned.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

we finished chamishi today. chana said she didn't want to do the index cards. and she thought we were up to the beginning of chamishi. so i picked a few pesukim towards the end of revii and told her to do them. she asked if she could do them to herself. i said yes. she asked me for the words she didn't know. i don't know how well she did the pesukim to herself, but there was definitely less yelling. she asked for a word, i told her what it was. then we got to chamishi and she realized that "let's ask the girl if she wants to go" wasn't in revii, so she must have done some of chamishi. she c continued to do it to herself. then we did the new pesukim out loud. chana physically acted out some of it as she was reading it, particularly falling off the camel. she wondered why rivka put a scarf/veil on. she figured it was to cover her hair. i had assumed it was to cover her face. rashi says nothing.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

whew. total time 1hr 45 min today. including 2 long breaks. i'm wiped.
so yesterday chana took to the idea of index cards with the words and definitions. we couldn't find index cards so i wrote them on a small notepad. then chana reviewed them, of her own free will, a few times.

she was disheartened that she didn't know any words. but i told her that is the point; we wrote down the words she doesn't know! she did it until she knew a few of them.

then we did new pesukim, which she entered with full vigor because she wasn't emotionally wrung out from doing chazara. (we have, in the past, done new pesukim first, but by the end she is always grouchy no matter what order we do it). at the end she said, "i wonder what is going to happen next!"


this morning we could not find the notepad. i did find some index cards, so tomorrow's chumash chazara will be chana writing the words and definitions onto them (especially as she had trouble with my handwriting). so we had to do milim from the chumash. chana was doing ok, but then she got disheartened and cranky and stopped.

(oh, and today was designated once a week rashi day, and i wussed out and we did only chazara of 2 very small rashis...)

so we still have milim in half of revi'i left, and we have chamishi and new pesukim to do...

Monday, June 27, 2011

getting into summer mode. as per em's suggestion, we shall do rashi once a week only. chana said she doesn't want to do chazara, just new pesukim. but i'm not so pro that.

then i wonder if she really does learn new vocab from reviewing. i don't really keep track of how many words she remembers vs how many do not stick in her head. i just have feelings about it. which could be completely and wildly inaccurate.

but then i think, how can chazara be bad? well, aside from her hating it. but it has to help her remember at least some of the words, right? right? it seems like it does. i would estimate (perhaps inaccurately) that if she doesn't know X words, she learns, from chazara, about half of X. so if we didn't do chazara, if those words will show up a lot in torah, she'll learn them eventually. but otherwise she won't. and this way she learns about half the words she didn't know. so that's good, i guess.

Friday, June 24, 2011


we came to a resolution. when chana's tone starts to bother me, i will say, "your yelling is bothering me. scream 5 more times and then stop."

this was a process to get to. first i said, can i say, please stop, the yelling is bothering me.

chana did not feel 1. capable of doing this nor 2. desirous of not yelling.

so i said how about i say, "yell 3 more times."

we agreed to 5.

we are not sure how this will work. we will surely have opportunities to try it out. stay tuned.
so for the 3rd (? the days are running together) day, i'm providing her with the words. they are the same words, and i think she learned K.L.H in its various manifestations. and how vital is it that she learn the less commonly used words?

we did milim in shlishi, and are in the middle of revi'i, when chana started screaming and yelling. and now she's in timeout. again. i'm just waiting for her to come out. we have about 45 min until i have to go get elazar.

she's become much more confrontational in all areas of discipline, so chumash is just a side effect. it's like when people ask, "how do you homeschool your own child? we would kill each other!" it's just like any other area of interaction between us. what does a parent do in general when a child doesn't listen? there are a variety of ways to try to get cooperation. discipline, thinking about what i am asking of the child, making the task more interesting, etc (bribery, threats, yelling -- if you use those in other areas, you'll probably resort to them in homeschooling, too, and they are probably about as effective).

anyway, i'm gonna go chill til chana decides to come out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


so i wanted to tell chana i am proud of how hard she works, but i knew her reaction would be what it always is, "i don't know it, i can never remember the words etc."

so i asked sarah if, looking back at chumash, she had the impression that i was proud of her for working so hard. and she abashedly said, not really. and i asked if the impression was more that i was mostly annoyed. and she said well, she was annoying. i said, because i also felt like she worked very hard and i wanted her to know that, and i wanted chana to know that. and she said maybe i should say it very often. and i said, i did say it often to sarah. but the truth is, the overall impression she has is not that her mom was proud of how much effort and diligence she put in, but how annoying she was.

which means that I had better work on my facial expressions and my verbal expressions, and be more positive.

(devil's advocate--i do also think, though, that sometimes the tough stance is necessary!! conflicts of parenting...)


well, i waited chana out and she knocked on the door. i went over and asked if we should hug and start over. she said no, but she was mellower.

i said that we had 25 minutes until i brought sarah, and she has 2 pesukim and the new pesukim and the rashi. she said "it's so much!" i said the rashi is 5 words! i went to the chumash to see how many new pesukim we would do. the first one looked hard but the next 2 were easy. chana moseyed on over and i said the 1st one was hard but the next 2 were easy. she finished it all.

total chumash time (including a nice long time for sulking) 48 minutes.


well, i thought we started off ok. today i was in a mood where i just supplied chana with the words she asked for. usually i put more effort into trying to coax it out of her, on the (possibly flawed?) theory that the more neurons that fire, the deeper the pathways of memory. or i have her try to remember herself. it was going smoothly since i was just telling her the words, which got me thinking a. maybe i should always give her the words and b. does she really learn them any faster the other way? coz it definitely gets her more frustrated.

at the word "אדע" i said "what is the aleph and what is the shoresh" like i always do. and she started getting upset. and it went downhill from there. i think it finally blew up when we did "mispo" and i told her to look at rashi (we did it yesterday) and she yelled/whined that she can't find it. and i got annoyed and snapped at her to cut it out. (i had already tried to coax her out of her mood, joke her out of her mood, and told her gently that she's in a funk and has a negative attitude as soon as we start chumash, regardless of how it is actually going). i had had it.

what i need to be aware of (and i went through this phase with sarah, too, though i think it was age 11 and not 10), is that chana is hitting the point where when i speak strongly/firmly/harshly she is getting old enough and independent enough that she responds rebelliously. oh, yeah? speak to me that way? well i'll just slam my chumash shut and refuse to work more! and then we escalate. i (hopefully) learned from sarah how to quickly de-escalate the situation instead of making it worse.

i sent her to time out, she refused to go and started to go upstairs, i made it an issue, she backed down and went into time out (which probably means she locked herself in the bathroom so i can't "release" her).

i have 28 minutes left until i bring sarah to her regents. wish me luck in reconnecting with chana and possibly even getting any chumash done. we have 2 pesukim left to the aliyah and then a new pasuk. and a review of that rashi on mispo.

grr. i'm tempted to just leave it and do it hours later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

one of the things i like about chazara is that chana often asks questions after seeing the same information a few times. today she asked about eliezer's test: did hashem control rivka? because rivka said exactly what eliezer asked that she should say! and chana was under the impression that hashem gave free will.

so i said that rivka did control her own speech there. i gave an example. if i was looking for someone in the playground, and i was looking for someone with a DS who was good at pokemon. and i asked chana, "can you find X pokemon?" and i say to hashem, "and if she answers, 'not only can i find X, but i can also find Y and Z' then that is who i'm looking for." and just as i finished saying that to hashem, chana came to the playground and i ask her if she can find X pokemon, and if she answered, "yes, i can find that one and also Y and Z" is hashem making her say that?

so she understood. but then she felt it wasn't such a good example. (i supposed because why would i want someone who is good at finding pokemon? she said a lot of ppl can find pokemon). so i asked why she thought eliezer was looking for someone who would water all the camels. and she said he was looking for someone nice.

by the way, we did just sheni the milim and then shlishi today, and we were doing just fine and chana was in a good mood until we got to "kada al shichma" her jug on her shoulder, and chana yelled at me that the way i was trying to jog her memory was NOT right and i should have done it in such-and-such a way. and it felt to me that she was just yelling at me unjustly and i was not wrong for saying it the way i did. so i did not apologize and thereafter she became sour and dejected and slammed the chumash shut. i did not indulge this (but happily i did not feel anger and was able to remain emotionally even-keeled and respond in what i thought was best for her, vs responding from annoyance. also happily, my response wasn't much different--i was not accommodating to her hissy fit). so the last bunch of pesukim were less than pleasant. but we got through them.

then we did a very small piece of rashi which is a definition and we did it with nekudos. and i did not have the energy to fight with her to review one of the old ones. which she says she is sick of and she did so many times. {insert usual rashi lament here}

Sunday, June 19, 2011

good cop, bad cop?

did just shlishi today since chana wants to go to the beach. first she asked to do just milim instead. then she asked to just do chazara. then she asked to do it after the beach. i got into a rather fruitless argument for a couple of rounds when i mentioned that whenever she says she'll do it later, she doesn't. i guess maybe we do it later 50% of the time (though i'm not sure of percentages), so maybe she's right that we do as frequently as we don't.

anyway, then she pleaded a headache and then she asked what some easy words are and then she slammed the chumash shut and said she's not doing it because she can't remember it. admittedly her focus was particularly not good.

i reacted annoyedly and not compassionately. i can't help but think that my annoyed reactions are a major contribution to negative associations w/ the skills. though i must ask sarah. i wonder if it really makes a difference. if i reacted compassionately and lovingly and w/ understanding but still made her do the work, would she like it any better? probably not. it's hard work.

and i'm not talking about getting annoyed for her not knowing the words when it really is too much for her. (i wrote about that recently, and i do think there is no justification for that). i'm talking about not coddling her when she's having an immature hissy fit. i could have done the faber and mazlish empathy about how it's hard when you can't remember. instead, i curtly told her to cut it out and keep translating.

oh, and aharon was kvetching the whole time, which didn't help my reserve of patience. elazar was actually extremely helpful, sitting quietly next to me putting his finger in his mouth and keeping the kvetching to a minimum. jack was napping. not too bad, considering the chaos that can be.

Friday, June 17, 2011

finally chana in a good mood! not a whine today. we did rishon and sheni just milim. and shlishi (we are about 2/3 done) pesukim.

chana was eager to get through it because i told her when she finishes, i will discuss w/ ari whether or not she can download a texting app on her ipod.

yet again, "bribery" or "reward" makes a difference. though this is more the "love and logic" approach. not presenting as a reward. just saying, "sure i'll discuss it w/ daddy. right after we finish chumash."

still not doing rashi. thanks emily for your suggestion that once a week we do rashi. the question is, do we do only rashi that day or also pesukim? maybe in the summer we can do rashi on fridays or something...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the shoresh k.l.h (finish) showed up in 3 diff forms over the few pesukim we did today. hopefully after a bunch of reviews, chana will remember it. maybe.

we didn't have time to do chazara of rishon and sheni milim. maybe in the car on the way to parkour. and we haven't done rashi in ages. maybe i'm already mentally on summer schedule and not doing rashi this summer? is that a bad idea? it's just so much easier. but i hate that i'm falling down on the rashi skills. blah blah blah always singing the same sad song.