Sunday, October 21, 2012

one aspect of "what homeschooling means to me"

i haven't done any chumash for a week.  chana's been doing chazara by herself and is all finished when i get home from work.  tomorrow we start the next parsha. 

aharon, who is 16 months, asked for milk this morning (ie he gestured until i opened the fridge, then he indicated the milk).  i poured him a little bit, which he drank himself.  he doesn't like me to hold the cup for him anymore.  then he wanted more.  then he wanted to carry the cup out of the kitchen.  drinks outside the kitchen for anyone under 2 is a soft limit for me (meaning i generally don't allow it but if you throw a really big temper tantrum and i'm already feeling frazzled there's a chance i might choose a spill over a nuclear meltdown of emotion).  so i took the cup away and he protested a bit, but i stood firm.  he didn't go off happily to play, so i asked him if he wanted cheerios.  he did, so i got a bowl.  as i was putting the cheerios into a bowl, he came over to me holding a plate he had taken from the pantry.

as i transferred some of the cheerios from the bowl onto the plate and put the plate on the ground so he could eat, i realized that this is part of unschooling.  i had an idea about how cheerios are to be eaten.  he presented me with an alternative idea.  instead of urging him to do it the "right" way or my way, i followed his lead.  i could see on his face, as he sat down to eat his cheerios that he had decided to put on the plate, that he was enjoying not only the cheerios, but the ideation of his theory that the cheerios can be eaten off the plate.

after a few minutes, he gestured to the bowl.  he picked up his plate of cheerios and poured them into the bowl. 

last week was parshas bereshis and this reminded me that adam was told "v'kivshuha" to conquer the world, to use our abstract capacity to master our environment and to make changes in it and to discover scientific principles and apply them, which leads to all sorts of creativity and technology.  and we also have shabbos, where we desist and put our creativity into perspective of Hashem's creation. 

i think for me, a lot of homeschooling is about giving my children the opportunity to have ideas and to try them out.  to have opinions on what they want to do and how they want to do it, and to have either the glorious satisfaction of it working as they imagined, or having it work out not as they imagined, or having something completely different and interesting happen.  i feel like this is one of the great enjoyments of being human, as well as it being part of our mission and design.  it starts early, as soon as babies start exploring, and i feel that being told to sit at a desk for the majority of the day and to do work that you haven't chosen and haven't felt a spark of desire to explore ends up quelling most people's innate curiosity and creativity.

we are creatures of will.  we have free will and we have choices, and most human beings are largely unaware of just how much free will we really have and how many choices there are.  when your childhood is full of days brimming with possibility and exploration and delightful "what shall i do today?"s, who knows what adulthood can be like?*

*everything i've ready by unschoolers who are now adults indicates that they are responsible and productive members of society. 

Friday, October 12, 2012


i came home from work today to see chana babysitting 3 boys and with the chumash open.  she was blitzing her way through rashi.  we finished bo.  we are going to do a week of chazara.  she wanted to start b'shalach, but i think she needs some review since some of those aliyas were loooooooong.

Friday, October 5, 2012

chol hamoed

chana has been initiating chumash, opening it herself, reviewing, asking me for a word here and there, chazering her rashis, asking me for a translation here and there, and then telling me it's time to sit down for new pesukim.  it is really nice when she decides to do it herself and i'm not the one who says, "we have to do chumash" "when do you want to do chumash."  i wasn't even particularly thinking we'd do it over succos.

today she reviewed the pasuk "a land flowing with milk and honey" and she remarked: "that's just drinks and toppings.  what about food?"