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.