Friday, August 19, 2016

Still summer

It's been a while since I posted.  Chana went away for August and I'm left dangling in the middle of Camus and physics.  Aharon has been in daycamp and is lapping up the Rebbe and his puppet antics and his singing (except for mild anxiety that every time he eats without making a bracha that he is "stealing" from Hashem).  This is the first time in his life that he's been with a peer group for a prolonged period of time.  At home (I might have blogged about my dissatisfaction about this), two years ago, he was the youngest of the band of boys, always last, always miserable.  I would have sent him to preschool but he was a biter, hitter, tantrummer, and I just didn't feel that they would handle all that in the way I would have liked.  Then last year, the girls in the family of our homeschooling neighbors grew up enough to be good playmates for him (he generally plays less aggressively with girls) and he had a pretty happy year.  But this year he got to have his band of boys and it was lovely.  I would send him to kindergarten if not for the $9000 price tag.

I would say none of the boys did much academically.  This past week Elazar enthusiastically decided to write a story.  I helped him with punctuation and spelling.

He asked me yesterday for Scribblenauts Unlimited.  After he attempted to download for free and infected the desktop with no fewer than five viruses, I found out that for twenty dollars there is a desktop version available to purchase.  Sadly the ones in his current price range (he has $13 and change) are only for the WiiU which he has not been able to save up money to get.

I suggested that we spend two weeks learning and I would pay the remainder of the money.  He was enthusiastic about the idea but not thrilled about learning.  As always, I continue to be pulled in two directions.  The unschooling philsophy of patience and trust and the idea that when it is meaningful or useful or interesting, they will learn it.  And the idea that items have to be earned.

I don't think the idea of earning what you want is anti-unschooling; probably the opposite.  But using learning as a way to earn--using the "lo lishma" interferes in the lishma aspect and definitely creates some negative feelings towards learning.    Yet I persist.  Either because of fear that he won't learn otherwise, or the thought that if I just keep presenting it to him some of it might click, or the Rambam and Pirkei Avos's idea (which is not unschooling philosophy) that you tell the children to learn for what they value, until they value Torah.

What to learn with him?  I suggested hilchos Shabbos, which we learned a while back and I have happy memories of.  From his frown, we clearly had abandoned that pursuit a bit too late for him.

"That was boring," he said.

"You are two years older now," I answered.  "Maybe you'll like it."  He disagreed.

I went back to the halacha yomit that I had received in my inbox for a while.  There were fewer halachos than I thought there would be.  But still plenty to learn.  I did the first one with him.  It was under five minutes, during which he stood, picked up something plastic to play with, attached it to his face, and stepped up and down repeatedly on my chair.  But he was also thinking pretty carefully about the halacha we were learning (which is about kavana during Shema) and it was meaningful to him.

I've been thinking for months that I'd like to get back to learning a teeny bit with him every day.  But I hadn't gotten to it.  This was great.  I often feel like I love learning with my children way more than they love learning with me.  It is a joy and a privilege.

And on a final note, I was trying to daven out loud in the mornings this summer since I'm home.  I have also been trying (with mixed success) to remember to say brachos out loud.  I kind of ran out of steam to sit there davening out loud as the boys play on their tablets.  But perhaps when the school year starts I will ask them to turn down sound during tefila and maybe join me in some songs.  We'll see.  I have a different schedule this year so I won't be running out most mornings anymore.

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