Monday, February 28, 2011

today we finished sheni and instead of reviewing rishon i decided to review half of shishi from lech lecha. we put the timer on 15 min and chana finished with 26 seconds to spare. she remembered 90% of it (though that's my feeling, not an accurate mathematical assessment).

sheni is still like pulling teeth but i think it's getting a bit easier. chana still has trouble with the shoresh נ.ש.א always mistaking it for "asa" make/do. also כ.ל.ה being "finish." i showed her that in onkelos so maybe that will help. i should probably underline it in pencil so her eyes will go there faster.

of course "ho-alti" came up and she didn't remember, and i had to flip back and show her in rashi.

i wish these words would stick. but i feel like i just don't know how many repetitions it takes to stick. and she is frustrated that she doesn't remember, and i wonder if that's because i'm giving off a vibe of "you should be remembering." which is unfortunate.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

rashi and translation

how is it possible that 15 min can feel soooooo long? chana kept saying she didn't want to do it. so even though it was short, it was agonizing. but she got through it pretty quickly. i think the issue is that she doesn't remember it fluently yet. she likes to know it fluently.

anyway, after sheni, i asked her to do rishon with ari. she really wanted to do it with me, but i didn't want to sit through the whining. she did it w/ ari very quickly and with a lot less whining. and we decided not to do rashi. there is only that one rashi, and she's pretty good at it. i haven't found another rashi that strikes me yet.

tomorrow i'm going to try to finish sheni. chana already predicted the next point will be 30, then 20, then 10. then she figured 5. i said, nope, no five. so she figured the answer was that he would kill the city if only 10 people. i'm looking forward to her reading what actually happens.

while chana was reviewing rishon, she looked, of her own accord, at rashi to help translate "ha-af umnom eled" which rashi translates as "hagam emet eled" will i also really give birth. glad she remembered to make recourse to that! in the word "ho-alti" i had her find the pasuk and the rashi and the dibur hamatchil and she again had a little fit (though not nearly as intense as last time) and i asked her why i make her do it and she muttered "so i can understand it when i grow up but i really don't want to." and she read that "ho-alti" means "ratziti" (i wanted). so i'm glad she's finding that it helps in translation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


chana asked today, why would hashem need to go down to see what is going on is sedom, when he already knows??

yup. i told her it's to teach judges that they need to see for themselves.

today we switched the order around a little bit. in sheni, there is a very long pasuk that she said usually makes her "pumped" (which is her word for "overwhelmed/done/tantrummy"). so we did that first, and then skipped over it when we got to it. thus avoiding her getting "pumped." it was her idea.

chana wants to know how many tzaddim there are in sedom. tune in to find out...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


same old same old. chana remarked that she starts off fairly happy, and then she starts screaming in the middle. it's true. probably because i'm pushing her a little past her comfort zone. we do chazara of rishon with just words. then sheni. we did just one new pasuk today because the previous ones are still fairly unfamiliar to her. the rashi was great so i think it's time for a new one.

she asked today about hashem hearing the screams of sedom. and would he not destroy them if he didn't hear screams? i explained that if elazar hits jack, what happens? she said he screams. i said if elazar doesn't hit jack, is there a scream? she said no. so i said if sedom isn't screaming, then what does it mean? she said it means they aren't being bad to each other.

she then asked how they were bad to each other. i briefly flashed to the many midrashim. the torturing of guests, the midrash about the girl covered with honey and stung to death by bees. i decided to stick with pshat and gave some possibilities about hurting each other. maybe stealing, murdering, i suggested. chana asked, what about playing pranks? i said maybe.. not sure that hashem would destroy them for pranking each other.

she asked again what is the big deal if avraham realized that sorah said he was old. would he not get over it? would he be angry at sorah? would he yell at her? would he be so hurt that he can't take it?
all good questions, i think. i said he would get over it, i don't think he'd yell at sorah. i think he would be a bit hurt that his wife doesn't think he's terrific.
she said but he is old, and sorah said that she is old, too. so it's not like she said anything about him that she didn't say about herself.
i said, yup, and you still see that hashem thought it was important not to hurt his feelings like that.
she's still grappling with that.

then when avraham asked about 50 tzaddikim in sedom, chana couldn't contain herself and asked, 'are there?' i said no. she said, 'hashem already knows if there are." then she skipped ahead to the pasuk of "vayomer hashem" (which i was fairly impressed that she was able to find, as it was a couple of pesukim ahead) and tried to skim it herself. but she got frustrated. so i wanted to help her slow down and read it, and of course she didn't want to. and i sort of insisted. and she translated, "and hashem said, if i find in sedom 50 tzaddikim in the middle of the city.." then she finished, "i won't kill them." and i said, "more than that." she said, "he won't kill the whole city??" yup.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

when reading the question: are you going to finish the tzadik with the rasha? chana said that she was asking the same question. (her question was: are there other good people in sedom?)

the review of pesukim helps. chana had been translating the pasuk with sorah: after not, will i have youth? and my master is old! and i will be young again?
today she noticed that sorah doesn't say "i will be young again?" after "and my master is old" and i explained to her "will i have youth?" is where she asked if she will be young again. so it looks like she made a better connection to the translation and the meaning.

we've been doing 2 new pesukim a day but they've been tough, each with a few new words, so maybe we should slow down. we are still only doing the one rashi from vayera but i think she finally gets it so we'll be ready to move on to another soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

so i wanted to teach chana yesterday (sunday) but we went to visit my grandparents and then i was decompressing from the drive and then chana wanted to go play with her cousin which i knew meant no work that evening or night and would probably lead to a sleepover. so chana agreed to do double work today.

i called her to come home when jack went in for his nap. we did sheni twice with 4 new pesukim which didn't take very long because we are only in the very beginning of sheni. then we did just words from rishon, and didn't do it twice. then she did one rashi twice.

chana asked why, if hashem already knows the future, he goes through a whole thought process of how he has to tell avraham what he's planning to do with sedom. why is hashem talking to himself. why not just tell avraham. why say to himself, "hmm, i have to tell avraham because he's going to be a big nation etc etc." (i said he was telling us by telling himself). chana said that hashem confuses her a lot.

then she asked why hashem didn't send avraham to save lot.

then she asked if there were any other good people in sedom other than lot. i said good question. avraham asks the same question. she begged for me to tell her. i said she'll find out soon and showed her that it's in 2 pages. she said that's not soon enough!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

questions and discussions

chana asked today why the pasuk includes the fact that avraham was sitting in the heat of the day. so i asked what information she thought that gave us about avraham. we talked about how he ran to greet the men ("and he didn't know they were sent by hashem; he thought they were just regular guys," said chana). and how he was recovering from surgery and how it would be hard to run so hot in the desert.

then she asked again about hashem leaving out to avraham the part where sara said "and my master is old." she felt bad that avraham never found that out. and we talked about whether avraham was better off knowing or not knowing that. and how it was interesting that hashem thought it would be better for his feelings not to be hurt and for him not to find out.

then chana thought it was funny that hashem said, "is it too shocking a thing for hashem to do?" when he IS hashem. which got her off on the path of hashem already knew that this was how they would react, because hashem knows everything...

then we finished rishon and chana said, "end scene."

we still have rashi and chazara.

Monday, February 14, 2011

i decided to do another round of chumash tonight. why, you might ask. did you not forget that this was the first day chana seemed ok after a tough spell? why push it?

i'm not sure. but my intuition told me it would be ok. plus we are going to an origami show tomorrow, so we won't have so much time.

so i said we'd do 10 min chazara of shishi. i set the timer, and turned it off during complaints. i think it took about a half an hr. that (for those of you who aren't mathy) is a ratio of 2 min of complaint per 1 min of translation. chana did notice that the torah seems to put in extra adjectives like sara "wife of avram" and hagar "the egyptian slave." she said we know this already, why put it in? but she didn't really stop to think about why, so i left her with the question.

then i had some mercy on her and we reviewed from pasuk 7 of rishon in vayera and not from the beginning. and it went ok. i assured her we would not be doing double chumash every day from now on.
almost done with rishon. and did 10 min of shishi. and new rashi. not too rough today. whew. chana got a good night's sleep last night.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

still not in the zone

chana had a sleepover last nt. add that to being in "slow-as-molasses-mode" and it's not an excellent combination. but one of the things i try to impart in homeschool is not just the ability to work well, when the juices are flowing, but to also find the strength in yourself to work, albeit much more slowly and with more mistakes and less access to your memory, when your brain is in less than ideal working order. i think it's important that you realize when you are not in optimal mode, and be more patient with yourself, but not think that you are completely unable to function. there is, i think, a different confidence that comes along with getting through the subject when it is hard for you.

so we did the beginning of rishon plus 2 pesukim. interestingly, chana started off as she's been starting off, with a tantrum and whining. i asked her how long did she think this was going to take. she was saying it's too hard, it's too long, she can't do it. she said she didn't know. i said she must have some number in her head that she thinks is too much. i said do you think it will take you an hour? she said no. i said, 20 min? she said yes. i said, you think 20 min is too much? i was genuinely surprised. because she regularly does so much more than that. for a child of her age and her concentration ability, 20 min is really not a major issue. she said yes. i said, you know that every day you do about 1.5 hr, right? then she started debating on the minutiae of what she usually does, which at least put her back into her regular "lawyer" mode and less in the "i-can't-do-this" mode that she's been in lately.

when she whined again i said this is your warning that next time is time-out. throughout the whole chumash time, she was saying she wanted to go to time-out. but she wasn't speaking chutzpadik-ly or angrily enough to get herself sent there. she kept saying she had a headache and she was so tired. i would then point to the next word. i figured if she really couldn't do it, she would escalate the complaint level, and then i'd take the cue and stop. but she never escalated it.

then we did 10 min of chamishi, which she finished in 6 with the timer (but i paused the timer when she stopped to moan and complain ;)

then we didn't do rashi. tomorrow i have stuff to do so maybe we'll skip school. or maybe i'll just do rashi.

Friday, February 11, 2011

what happens when you teach in a "not in the zone" phase

so my plans for today were to finish chazara of revi'i (we still have yet to get to that), and to start from vayera and review the 4 pesukim. being in a "down" phase i thought we should only do 2 new pesukim. but the new pesukim seduced me and chana seemed ok, so i wanted to do more. so avraham said he was going to bring them some bread to feast on, and i wanted to do all of the pesukim of the food he prepared to contrast between his words and his deeds.

so we got through the pasuk on making cakes, and we got through the pasuk on the soft, good, baby cow that he gave the lad to prepare. then chana asked a question: who is the lad?

which i thought was an absolutely fabulous way entree into "how to find the answer in rashi." i said that rashi has an answer. i wanted her to find the rashi herself.

she went nuts. why can't i just point it out to her, why does she have to do it herself, why can't she do it when she's older.

i said to her that this is a perfect pasuk to teach her how to find a rashi. (she said, "it's not a perfect pasuk to find a rashi! it's the WORST pasuk!" which even she knew was a blatantly ridiculous statement. i looked at her without speaking. then i said quietly, "please say sorry." she said sorry).

i then explained to her that first we find the pasuk we are in (i KNOW... she rolled her eyes. but when i didn't go step by step she was feeling like i'm expecting too much w/o explaining it..). then we find that pasuk in rashi. i explained to her how the pesukim are in bold in parentheses (i thought that was obvious. apparently not). then i explained to her that the dibur hamatchil is in bold, and are the words from the pasuk. then i showed her that the rashi script is rashi's comment on the words from the pasuk.

then she found our pasuk. then she had some trouble finding the dibbur hamatchil (it was the 2nd one) but she found it. then she read "zeh yishmael." then she ran away screaming.

i let her and sat down to write this. i am now going to ask her what was so bad that once she successfully found the answer, she ran away screaming. then hopefully we will finish the pasuk about butter and then we'll probably need quite a break before we get back to revi'i.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

cutting down when "out of the zone"

we did some spot review of some milim from last parsha, then 4 new pesukim from vayera. chana was whining that the 4 pesukim was tooooo much for her. she is truly in a phase where it is more strugglesome for her. when i first discovered these "waves" of "on" time and "off" time with the very first student that i homeschooled about 13 yrs ago, i realized that he had a lot of trouble with writing. yet some weeks he could plug away at his aeph-beis script and do it, and some weeks it was sooooooooo hard for him. in first grade, i used tol give him a couple of weeks off or just have him do the minimal (a few practice letters a day). it was fascinating to me that kids have rhythms (as i'm sure do adults) and sometimes the very same activity can be a breeze or sometimes it can be slow and painful going.

so when chana was younger, i would have eased up more. now i am easing up, but not to the extent i did when she was younger. but if in an easier time we are doing 1 hr of the aliyah we are in the middle of and half an hour or more of rashi/review, then now we are doing under a half hour of the aliyah we are in (part of that is because we just started a new parsha, which is convenient) and we reviewed for 15 min and did only one rashi.

we wanted to go for ice cream today (chazak!) but the store only takes cash and i only had 3 dollars. hope to rectify that next time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


we finished lech lecha!

MAZEL TOV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

heading into a down phase

we did part of shvi'i today (the pesukim were easy so i just reviewed a couple of the words) and 2 new pesukim and the one new rashi. chana for some reason found that very overwhelming. so we ended up taking a veeeerrrrry long break (something we don't often have the luxury of doing because we are supposed to be going somewhere, but today is a stay at home in pajamas day). and then doing shlishi for chazara. which took under 15 min. i'm not sure why chana has been feeling so burdened by chumash in the last few days. but i know sometimes there are phases like that. so we are lessening the workload til it gets better. usually it's a few weeks.

in chazara, chana noticed that avraham says that there shouldn't be a fight between himself and lot, but he and lot were not fighting--just the shepherds were. good observation.

chana deserves a spongebob squareparent

i had a dream last night. i dreamt it was erev shabbos, about 18 minutes before candles, and i realized i had dropped the ball and not heated up any of the food. so i'm racing around looking for pots, taking soup out of the freezer, rushing rushing rushing. and my parents are looking at me with great disappointment. my father gave me a particularly withering look (funny, coz in real life he would never).

i woke up with a gasp and immediately thought of chana. she has complained more than once that she doesn't like my facial expression when she can't remember a word. and i thought, am i making that kind of face at her? does she feel like i felt in my dream? a little stomach clench?

then my mind flashed to spongebob. he often has a vacuous smile on his face, and he kind of keeps blinking, instead of responding. (i tried half-heartedly to find an example on youtube but i would have to wade through many episodes..) i am going to try to model myself after him. keep my expression bland, mildly pleasant, and wait. no need for a denouncing expression on my face to make a child feel bad about herself.

Monday, February 7, 2011

title <--this was chana

so today we started with shvi'i (finally done with that ever-so-long shishi!!) and we had 2 new pesukim and then 4 pesukim about sara. i knew chana would be ever-so-happy that sara would be getting some good stuff coming to her, since she had been complaining how unfair it has been to sara.

but she pouted about doing those extra pesukim. this is her personality. some kids, you tell them "we are doing some extra today. it's not that hard" and they aren't thrilled, but they are amenable. chana is not. you tell her we are doing extra, and she had an idea of only doing 1 or 2, and she digs her heels in. i told her they were easy, and that she'd like them. which they were, and which she did. but it soured her attitude.

then for chazara i decided to do a much truncated version because of her poor attitude. so i told her we would set the timer for 15 min and i decided to do some noach. (she wanted to do sheni, which she knows very nicely, and i said no). i made her hot cocoa w/ whipped cream, she took a small break, and i set the timer. she whined through it, and i remembered other times she went through these exact pesukim with a happy attitude.

so i said, chana, do you know why you are mopy and whining like this?

and she said, because i hate chumash. (she asked me today if i hated chumash when i was a kid, and i didn't remember! but i told her that definitely sarah felt the same way as she does. they don't so much hate the subject as the extreme stretching of the brain to implement all the skills it takes).

and i said, it's not because you hate chumash. it's because i made you do 4 extra pesukim today, and you can't stand it when i make you do extra pesukim that you weren't expecting, even if they are easy for you. and now you have a negative attitude and it's continuing to chazara, even though you are doing much less chazara than we usually do. and she cried a little about how hard it is, and then we moved on.

so if you are wondering how we did in noach. i decided to do the tower of bavel. i expected her to not remember a bunch of the words that we had reviewed and reviewed, like "mixed up" and "nafatz--spread out." which she didn't. so i was mentally prepared to just supply her with them. and "safa" she remembered the first time from context (a happy surprise) but didn't remember it in its various conjugations (language of, their language, etc).
i was happy to note that many of the grammatical and vocabulary pitfalls that she had fallen into at that time, she has integrated and mastered. so aside from those vocab words that i knew she wouldn't remember, she translated really smoothly and well. yay!

we finished quite before the 15 min were up, and i decided not to torture her by doing more.

we had a discussion about avraham's emotional reaction to the news of sara having a child. that he fell on his face and laughed. and chana was envisioning him, 99 yrs old, doing a bris on himself, and she mimed an old man with a shaky hand. it was very funny. i told her he was still quite vigorous even in his old age. so i don't think his hand was shaking like that.

what is going on with rashi?

i'm always wishy washying around about rashi. there are so many skills i'm trying to impart--mainly reading correctly w/o nekudos and translating (not to mention what is the general idea of the rashi plus analysis). i think i'm not sure 1. what my goals actually are and 2. how to achieve those goals.

i had kind of figured if you just read rashi enough, you'd be able to read and translate it. but it doesnt' seem to be working that way. i feel like we review and review and review, and although i do think if i would revisit the rashi a few months later she would probably remember the content of the rashi, i don't know if she'd be able to translate it correctly. or how much she would pronounce correctly.

i wonder if there is a methodology for rashi.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

working on sunday

so today is sunday, and i was yelling up to ari to please get jack ready for his morning nap when chana said, "aw, i don't want to do chumash now!" (she was on the computer). so what did i say? "oh, chan, i know... he's going in in 5 min. get ready." i had been planning to futz around, maybe watch supernanny, maybe clean something up, but who am i to argue with her assumption that we are doing chumash? :-D

so we started with a rashi, and i told her we would just do that one today and not the other 2 we've been working on. she then requested that we only do shvi'i. but i said let's start with perek 17 (which is 6 extra pesukim). so we started with shvi'i, and then came across an interesting rashi, so i read it to her and she translated. "whoever lives in chutz l'aaretz, it's like he doesn't have a god." naturally she said but hashem is our Gd and we aren't in israel. and then she said, "so it's not true." so i said it is true but it's hard to understand what he means.

then after shvi'i, we went back to the beginning of perek 17 and then i had her read the rashi again.

also, we noticed that there was a development that first hashem said do the bris. then hashem said cut. then hashem said where. over 3 pesukim.

also we noticed that avraham has to do a bris on all who are born in his household, and also those that buys (slaves).

Friday, February 4, 2011

so today i worked chana pretty hard. (and we still haven't done rashi yet!) i decided to start from perek 16. which means of shishi, she did perek 16 and 17 through shvi'i, and 2 new pesukim. she needed the review, and she did pretty well. but she felt it was too much. it was, grand total, about under an hour. but it was an intense hour.

she did stop in the middle to inquire how to spell wear, and contrast it with we are, we're and were. so i'll stick that grammar lesson on the quarterly, too :-P

she did envision so many different messengers of hashem coming to hagar (as per rashi). we did wonder why rashi says so many messengers (we understood why he said it insofar as it keeps saying "and the malach hashem said" but not the idea behind why hashem would send different messengers for each statement).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

a question that emerged from chazara

we were very time crunched today. which always makes me antsy. i should have given myself more of a psyching up talk to stay calm and how quality is more important than quantity. but it wasn't terrible. i thank my years of working on patience with sarah in chumash that a lot of my anxieties and impatiences have been curbed and i'm used to wiping them off my face.

we did 2 new pesukim. only one new word. then we did the long rashi we never got to yesterday. chana asked a great question. why does hashem need to make a bris? isn't he trustworthy to keep his promise?

i reminded her that avraham asked how will i know that i will inherit? which led chana right to the question--why didn't avraham trust hashem to keep his promise, or as chana put it, "tell the future?" good question.

i like how review opens up new questions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

today we had a really tough time getting started. just as we were starting, elazar woke up crying and jack was all over us, so it was tough for chana to concentrate with a whole lot of things going on around her.

in addition, chana's eye was twitching yesterday and she didn't know why. but today we figured it out, as it started twitching again as we started getting back into our pesukim. but despite her nervous eye twitch, i really didn't think it was going to be so bad. so we did it, and although i still had to prompt her for some, she generally remembered a lot of it. so we finished shishi and did the first pasuk of shvi'i, which she knew all of the words in, although it was a long pasuk.

i asked her afterwards if it was as bad as she thought it would be, and she said no. then she asked why her eye twitched. and i said because her body remembered how hard it was from yesterday and expected the same today. but happily it wasn't!

i skipped the biggest rashi today. maybe we'll get back to it?

tomorrow we will do the same thing again, and hopefully she'll have a bit more of a handle on it before heading out of shishi and into shvi'i.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

whew today was a workout. chana was up in the middle of the night and came down not feeling great. more mental than anything else, i felt. she said she could barely move her limbs, etc. we negotiated that we would only do rashi (which we didn't get to yesterday, surprise surprise) and review a few of the pesukim about hagar and do the last bit of shishi.

well. those pesukim are ones with words that chana was just having trouble remembering. so i was going over and over them. which she does not like. she kept saying it was too hard. i honestly did not feel like it was that much or that it was too hard. i do understand that she was in a mental state where things were a bit harder today, coupled with her extreme distaste for reviewing words that she is having trouble remembering. so we did it. i think it went well. i don't expect her to remember them for next time, but maybe she will remember a bit more of them. i think tomorrow we will do the same thing.