Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I hate science experiments and art projects

It took me many years of homeschooling to admit that.  I used to read books with science experiments, thinking maybe I would do them.  I felt bad that I didn't do them, but I didn't do them.  I used to do art projects.  I didn't really enjoy them.  I finally let go and accepted that those are not my strengths.

However, I often get requests.  There are a lot of things that are not my strengths but the kids ask to do them and so I take a deep breath and give it a shot.  I'm not a huge baker but I have made more cookies and cakes than I would have dreamed.  Once we made a cake based on ingredients Elazar learned about on minecraft (flour, eggs, sugar, milk, oil).  It wasn't bad.

Jack got a lulav and esrog for Succos.  He went to shul with them and did hakafos and naanuim.

He asked me if we could make esrog jelly after Succos.  And I said sure.*

I did a google search ("easy esrog jelly") and read a few recipes.  Who knew it takes three days to make it (and it took me 6 days because the weekend happened in the middle).  We put the esrogim through the food processor and covered in water, let it sit, simmered, drained, replaced water, etc. for 2 days.  Then tonight we boiled it with sugar.  Eventually I added some pectin.  I read that if you accidentally overcook it, you end up with more of a candy than a jelly.  Hey, esrog candy! That sounds fun!  Unfortunately I wasn't able to do that and it appears we have jelly.

I'm not sure what exactly to do with esrog jelly.  I didn't bother jarring it because what are we going to do with it?  But it has a nice jelly consistency.  

I don't think I would ever, ever, ever have made esrog jelly if I weren't homeschooling.

*After he asked three times.  I like to make sure they are serious and really want it before I commit to such an undertaking.

Monday, October 19, 2015

not getting back into the groove

The Chagim are over.  So now it's time to do all those things I kept waiting to do until "after the chagim are over."  I'm adjusted to my work schedule.  I am not quite adjusted to Chana's class schedule.  But I have hopes that will happen in the next month, especially as she hasn't yet had a full week of school.

So now I've been thinking about how to reincorporate homeschooling into Chana's schedule.  We finished Hamlet and finished a basic approach to Chemistry.  We have not finished Devarim yet (we are in Perek 19 out of 34).  We are nowhere near doing Nach, Jewish History, or Chumash with mefarshim on a deeper level.  I asked Chana if she thinks she will want to take the SATs (or ACTs) or take the community college route (for the first way she needs to focus on math) and she said she didn't want to think about it now.

My main goals are to focus on the mathematics in Chemistry, read The Importance of Being Earnest, and finish Devarim.  I've asked Chana to give me an hour a day.  She has agreed.  In practice, though, it's complicated.  For example, today, after class, I dropped her off at a friend, and she is planning to stay there until 10pm, when Ari can get her.  Tonight, if she remembers and I am still awake, we will start reading Oscar Wilde.  Tomorrow we made an appointment for 3:30 to spend an hour on work.  This assumes nothing comes up.

Even if we do eke out a few times a week to learn together, I'm finding that not doing Chumash every day makes it that we don't remember what we are up to and it's harder to get back into the subject.  The lack of continuity is affecting the learning.

I am trying to just stay pleasant in the midst of this upheaval in our schedule.  Elazar (grade 3, age 8) is not in a learning phase.  He is still very happy and busy all day.  But he gets extremely antsy even sitting for learning for 5 minutes.  We are truly unschooling him because anything else turns sour quickly.  I'm curious to see how this experiment goes.  It's slightly nerve-wracking.

Jack (grade 1) has not been in the mood to work, either.

Aharon (4) is working on the aleph beis.  Right now he can recite them when I point to them in order, but if it's mixed up, he can't.

It's good that nobody is in a phase of intensive learning now, so I don't feel so bad that I'm just running around all day and not having time to teach anything.  On the other hand, I'm feeling nervous about it.  A lot of times over the course of homeschooling I have felt that in putting one child's needs over the others, the others are suffering.  I've had this conflict many times and I suppose the consequences of that are the consequences, and we make the best choices we can and take into account as much as we can.  It doesn't stop my heart from hurting when I feel that I can't take care of one child's needs because a different need is taking precedence.

On the up side, homeschooling is a long term proposition, and unschooling holds the hope that when the boys are older they will efficiently and quickly learn the Torah skills and information that Elazar is resisting now.

Another up side is that the kids are happy.

I'm also beginning to feel like I have free time some days.  I hope that means I am adjusting and that I can begin to fill that time with some of the things I'd like to be doing instead of using the time to relax.  Right now, my sanity is important and I use that time to recuperate and chill.