so today chana came home from a full day of work. yup, she's working. what else are homeschooled kids supposed to do? we're going to the circus tomorrow so she can't work. disappointing. she was upset that she came home at 8:50, which was only 10 min til bedtime. i told her she can stay up and chillax (heehee, i love that word) and i went out for a walk. when i got home at 10, she told me she was going to sleep in a few minutes (we did double chumash yesterday when we found out she had an early call time this morning). i asked her to say shemona esrei. (by the way, in case you are wondering, she says the entire shemona esrei every night and has gotten fluent enough to say it in 6 minutes, which is the time it takes me to say it if i have kavana. she still says it sitting down, and she still does not know what she is saying.)
then i decided it would be a great night to begin operation: navi.
so i asked her if she wanted a story from navi. she was kind of reluctant, so i said, ok, never mind. she decided she did want one.
now one of the things that happens in chumash, and i wonder if it happens to all homeschoolers, is that when i officially sit down with my child and concentrate attention on her in the guise of doing schoolwork, she has extracted her attention from whatever it is she is doing all the rest of the day and suddenly realizes that she has my attention. so she has many, many things to tell me. all sorts of feelings and thoughts.
sometimes i think that it is foolish to distract her from talking about what is in her heart for the secondary accomplishment of feeding her some information or skills, and that this blossoming of our relationship and of her communication is what homeschooling is all about.
anyway, on a night like tonight, when the littles are asleep and ari and sarah aren't home, and i have nothing to do but follow her lead, it's easy to do chumash or navi when she pauses, and for me to pause to hear what she has to say when she begins to talk.
i decided to start with ehud. to do that i gave a little background of shoftim. as i anticipated, she didn't know who was in charge after moshe. she guessed his son? (she was quite surprised that it wasn't.) aharon? she didn't know yehoshua (we are still in the beginning of shmos).
so i opened to ehud and said that eglon conquered yericho. then i realized she didn't know the story of yericho. we will perhaps do that next. and she said her mind kept wandering. which is how she gets when she's very tired and we try to learn. we talked about his withered hand. i wondered about google imaging it, but i figured that would probably be uncomfortable. (actually, i just did and there aren't any good images. ah, there we go: hand disfigurement. maybe i'll show her tomorrow if she seems interested.) her mind kept wandering. so i said, ok, we'll pick it up tomorrow. his withered hand is important to the story. that got her all excited and she started begging.
a long time ago i read a chinuch newsletter, and the author quoted a gadol who said, "you should stop learning five minutes before the child is done." i thought that was very deep. because you want to leave the child wanting more, not leave the child wishing it was over and that s/he wanted to stop 5 minutes ago. but it's tricky--how do you know before the child is finished? it's something to think about.
anyway, begging for more is definitely an ideal way to stop, because it leaves her eager for the next time. i didn't give in, and hopefully she'll be excited next time.
so in summary, i picked a story that i remember positively from my elementary school days. i started at a time when i was extremely relaxed and had absolutely nothing else going on. i went in with zero agenda except that she enjoy herself. i stopped fairly quickly. i think she enjoyed it and is excited for more.