Tuesday, May 1, 2012

toying with unschooling

Two pearls from 6 yo:

  • I know how we got out of Egypt, but how did we get there?
  • Why are there mitzvos and aveiros?

Each one of these led to long discussions. Each one of these shows that the wheels are turning, information is churning, questions are forming. I think about how learning is supposed to be a dialogue between a student and a teacher and how the questions should percolate through student's brain, not be force-fed, and then answered by the teacher and the student is left none the wiser.

Then there was discussion about life insurance with 8 yo. We drove by State Farm and he said: "It reads, car, fire, life. Why?" I explained car and fire. Life is really death insurance. I explained that, and how your premiums depend on your state of health. I gave him some numbers off the top of my head. He said that everyone should get life insurance when they are young and healthy and he will get it as soon as he can. If education is about making right choices in life, we're on our way.

I finished "Stop Stealing Dreams" and started Unschooling Rules. I am wondering more and more about unschooling. I think that my drive to get 8 yo out of the classroom was motivated by him missing out on the real world. I always took my kids to museums, zoos, parks. I was bugged when I did not have time or the ability to take them places. One of the largest benefits of being at home with all three kids is being able to make my own schedule. Ok, I am still stuck to toddler's nap, but I will be the first one to load everyone in the car and let her nap on the go, if there is a good opportunity. I know that soon enough, that nap will disappear, and I will miss it dearly...

Back to unschooling. My kids are very good with English resources lying around. If it's a book, they will browse it. If it's a map, they will study it. This morning, while opening Daisy sour cream, I was informed that the foil insert had Grand Canyon on it. If it's there, they will integrate it. However, I am not so sure how this could work with Judaics. We are living a frum life, so obviously the observance is there to be seen and copied and questioned. But, (and this is a big but), there are skills. Even Unschooling Rules presupposes reading, writing and arithmetic as basic skills. How does one get kryiah skills? Mishnayot? Gemara?

I am intrigued by Artscroll Talmud app. I think if they had one on Tanach, I would get it in a heartbeat and then just let 8 yo loose with it. He told me the other day that his favorite story is Eliyahu on Har Karmel, and that he read by himself from Jewish Children's Bible. He reads everything and anything. He finished another perek in Vayeira. He wants me to check out Rashi on different pesukim; I cannot pull that off without prep. He asks lots of questions--I do not always have answers. Worse, I cannot always look up answers.

6 yo finished K'tav BeKalut, and I pulled out Lashon HaTorah for him. He thanked me a few times for it. He is coloring in the lines. He is cutting. He is pasting. He is doing all these things that I wondered whether he can or cannot do, because when I ask him to do them, I am met with resistance. He is doing them because he wants to do them.

For now.

In short, I fret, and I wonder. I will see how summer goes. But if my boys will be looking for daily schedule, I will keep on writing it, even in the summer. Hey, that's what child-led learning looks like.

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