Friday, May 22, 2015

erev erev shavuos

We sat down to do Chumash and don't know how Ruth came up (maybe it was on the screen on my computer when Chana sat down).  Chana asked who it is and I said, "Don't you remember the megila we read on Shavuos?"  She was hazy on the details so I asked her if she wanted to learn it.  She said, "Instead of Chumash?"  I said yes.  She said, "And rashi?" (a reason why I think unschooling would be nice--she could actually think about whether or not she was interested in learning about Megilas Rus without bargaining about avoiding Chumash and Rashi)

She read and translated about 10 pesukim before running out of steam.  I read and translated the rest of the perek to her, hoping it would make it a pleasant learning experience.  And it was.  A few of the details came back to her.  She asked some good questions.  We had some interesting discussion.

At night, for a change, Elazar came upstairs when I was putting Jack to bed.  I told them about Ma'amad Har Sinai.

Earlier in the evening, Jack stumbled across R' Winder's book.  Since he can read English a lot better now, he did a few pages of that.  When he got to the noun translations, I had him read some of the Hebrew.  He was able to read שם (when I reminded him of the shin sound and that it was a mem sofis :-P), and he had some trouble with eretz.  I ran out of steam before he did.

Monday, May 18, 2015

algebra common core regents

I wonder if I should bother writing about the algebra regents when this is a chinuch homeschool blog.  But I have a few thoughts to share.  Chana sat down for 3 hours to take a practice test today.  As I suspected, she's solidly in the 70s.  She had one crying fit an hour in, but soldiered on and finished the test.  Preparing for the test is causing her pain, anger, and frustration.  And I don't think it's actually teaching her any more math.

I recall back to my experience with Sarah and the algebra regents.  I had major problems teaching the statistics and probability portion of the regents.  It didn't make much sense to me and I had Ari do a lot of it with her.  Guess what.  It's six years later and that subject is no longer on the regents.

I suspect that the problems that Chana is dealing with may end up with a similar fate within a decade.  Some of it is statistics.  Some of it is knowing how to use the calculator (I taught Chana algebra without a calculator and she had to learn to graph everything by hand).

I wonder why I am making her sit through this test.  I had wanted to prove to me and to herself that she could excel in the academic standards set forth by society.  Instead, she will get an average score and we've spent hours doing problems with her saying "What does this have to do with algebra" and "I can't remember how to do this because it's arbitrary."  And now she despises math.  She doesn't want to do any math next year.  It's going to take a year before I can convince her to do geometry.  And will she ever have the joy of learning algebra II and trig?

The 75% that she does know indicates, in my opinion, a pretty decent grasp of algebra, with some careless mistakes and some forgetfulness.

The other disadvantage that Chana is working with is that there are only 2 official tests for her to study from (the test was changed this past June, and there is only June and August).  In addition to learning algebra, Chana had to learn how to take tests.  When Sarah was taking the regents, there were years and years of algebra regents for her to practice from.  We went to the NYS regents website and printed test after test after test.  Chana had a little booklet with 4 practice tests and 2 actual tests.  She did the 4 practice tests already in order to learn what types of questions are on tests.  And she took one regents as practice.  I'm saving the last one for after she studies some more.  But what should she study?  The best way to learn how to take the test is to take more tests.  It's mid-May.  She has a month which would actually be ample time for her to take more and more tests to improve her test taking skills.  Unfortunately, those tests aren't available.  I think this, too, will affect her grade.

It's a good thing that the state is perfectly satisfied with a 70 on the regents, and that this test is actually meaningless in terms of her life and her educational goals.  From a homeschooling perspective, I do feel that a professional teacher would almost certainly have done a better job at teaching this course than I did.  If it were truly important, I suppose I could have gotten her tutoring to better prepare her for the test.  I believe that she is good at math, and has the brain capacity to score above a 90 on this test if she had been taught more adeptly.

Perhaps this is an indictment of homeschooling, that a student with the capacity to excel is doing average work.  Or perhaps this is an indictment of testing, where a student with the capacity to enjoy math ends up despising it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

anxieties et al

Chana despises and loathes prepping for the algebra regents.  I wonder why I am putting her through this.  Just because I want to prove we can?  I am positive she will pass, but I don't know if she will get above a 70.  She has to sit down and take 3 hours and do a whole test.

I'm looking forward to teaching chemistry with an eye towards understanding it in a real way + enjoyment.  I hope Chana will get a sense of what strides the field of chemistry has made in understanding how nature is the way it is.

A sad thing is that Chana doesn't really enjoy Torah learning.  I have wondered for a while if this is because I made a mistake in over emphasizing skills and under emphasizing the more enjoyable aspects of thinking about Torah.  But when I try to bring something up for discussion, she says she is bored and doesn't want to think about it.  Is this her personality?  Is this rebellion against what I am trying to promote?  Is this based on how I've chosen to educate or has nothing to do with it?  Who knows.  I daven frequently that I am able to convey our values to her and recently I started davening that she should love Torah.  I am hopeful that davening for that (in addition to possible help from above) will keep me focused and keeping an eye out for relaxed opportunities to share with Chana what is lovable about Torah.

I also hope that Chana will enjoy learning next year in the classes she takes in high school.  I also worry next year is going to be nonstop carpool.

Now moving along to Elazar worries.  He is in 2nd grade.  He is still absolutely incapable of sitting down and concentrating with zitzfleish.  I was thinking this morning that although I say he is ADHD, when I just think about himself regarding his own capabilities, and not what a child his age "should" be doing, he is happy, engaged, and learning a lot.  My nephew (age 5, and who does have the ADHD diagnosis) is being pressured to sit down and do homework and read and he's not even in 1st grade.  It pains me that an active kinesthetic learner is being unnecessarily tortured that way.  No doubt if Elazar were in school, we'd both be miserable.

I do worry that he can't sit down and learn Torah.  But I guess I have a few more years before I become really concerned.  I seem to remember that Chana's concentration and ability took a sharp leap around 3rd or 4th grade.  And really, if Elazar is incapable of sitting and focusing, what can really be done now except be frustrated?  I will continue to allow him to learn what he wants as he wants, and to see what he is receptive towards.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

shulchan aruch yomi

I subscribed to a nach yomi email that I am enjoying very much.  Today I got an email that a shulchan aruch yomi is starting and do I want to join.  My first feeling was no.  I had a daily halacha email a number of years ago and I ended up not liking it very much.  But then I realized that Elazar likes halacha a lot.  Perhaps he would enjoy it.  So I told him that I was signing up and I would learn it with him every day.  He was neutral about it.  Somewhat less than thrilled that I would interrupt his day with it.  So I signed up and we'll see how it goes or if it plays out.