Elazar and I are now in a groove where I read him a chapter every night. After me being concerned about TV always being a thing before bed, unschooling won out and he asks for the book. Note to self: relax.
We are reading Danny, Champion of the World (which interestingly, references the BFG). I LOVED it when I was a kid and frankly I'm finding it a bit dull now. Elazar is content enough with it (doesn't love it like Pippi). I think the Great Brain came in to the library so maybe when I pick it up we'll give it a whirl.
Chana is having trouble adjusting to her current schedule. As you know, we haven't gotten back into Bio. I think her schedule is pretty decent: Monday is a chill day (which she needs, after the social Shabbos), then Tues/Wed she has morning class AND my class. Wednesday she chose to have lunch and club at school and the strain is telling on her. Waking up for morning class 2 days in a row and having a day from 9:30-3:00 is pretty excruciating for her. Thursday is half a chill day, since she just has my class and it's pretty late in the day. But most weeks, by Wednesday, she's ready to crack.
I think this happened to her last year, too.
People who send their kids to school are usually horrified at this point that I'm even considering her difficulties. Life is hard, they have to get used to it, most kids (especially in Yeshiva and her age) are out of the house almost 12 hours a day, how is she going to cope with real life, she needs to learn she needs to learn she needs to learn...
I've said numerous times that they don't actually "need to learn" or "get used to" these things. A homeschooler who has emotional maturity is capable of doing what needs to be done. And Chana has shown herself capable of going to class even if she doesn't want to.
The question is, is there a point?
Chana has always been a night owl. In first grade she preferred to do her work after 8pm. Jack, too, at age 2, preferred a 10pm-10am schedule (I'm trying not to future-think, but I am concerned about zman kriyas shema. Though perhaps my worry energy would be better off directed towards trying to raise a child who desires to say shema...).
I have recently read a couple of articles saying that science is seeing how acutely painful it is for night people to be made to function in the morning. I personally am a morning person and my productivity is shot after 8pm most nights. (Just when Chana is getting started...) Is it true that Chana needs to "prepare herself" for a 9-5 job when statistically, unschoolers prefer to live more frugal lives so that they can do more meaningful work suited to their taste that pays less money?
Sometimes I feel like I hear two competing views echoing around me (I know, only two? I'm lucky). One opinion is that teens don't know what's best for them; they are impulsive creatures who make poor decisions, they need structure and they need their parents to firmly put their feet down. Another opinion is that teenagers are mature and wise, they are capable of amazing things, give them their space and their freedom and always keep an open dialogue and listen carefully to their opinions and thoughts.
I've experienced both. I've been completely confused by the paradoxes of teenage-hood. I struggle with my role as mentor and guide to what is basically an adult.
Sometimes it feels like the problem is if I go in the direction of firmness when what is actually needed is bending, I make the problem much, much worse. And the converse is also true: If I go in the direction of bending when what is actually needed is firmness, I also make the problem worse. When I spoke to my Rabbi about it last year, he suggested I "walk the tightrope." Nudge, but don't nag. If I'm being annoying, then drop it. Have frank conversations where I share my views and seek to understand hers.
Anyway, this reminds me of why Chana and I embarked on unschooling in the first place. When her learning is arranged around her emotional and physical nature, Chana is amenable and a pleasure. Our homeschooling has been an utter joy filled with incredible learning. When things are off, though, she becomes grouchy, reluctant, angry, quick to fight authority, and her mind isn't as receptive to knowledge.
We will see how this plays out.