Sunday, November 11, 2012

in defense of unschooling

Part 1.

We got a book through PJ Library in the mail, addressed to 8 yo. It's called Jeremy's Dreidel and talks about a boy who makes a dreidel with braille letters on its sides so his blind father can play it with him. Simultaneously, the book introduces what it's like to be blind and to live with someone who is blind. It highlights how much blind people can do. 8 yo recommended that we read it out loud tonight. At the back, there are directions for making a few different kinds of dreidel, including the Braille one. I noted that Hebrew Shin is not like any letter of English braille. Next thing I know, we are googling Hebrew braille charts. And the next thing after that, I find an article on the development of Hebrew braille, attached here for those who are interested. Now 8 yo wants to read that article, but it is bedtime, so I am printing it out. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Requests for more articles? Writing something in Hebrew Braille? And which category does this learning belong to? History? Language arts? Does it matter?

Part 2.

As I am tucking the boys in, 6 yo says:
-Please do not look under my bed, Mommy!
Now he really got my attention.
-Why? What do you have there?
-You will be mad, so please do not look.
-What is it?
8 yo peeks under:
-It's a book!
-Were you planning on reading in bed?
-Yes, because it is Torah! You never give us a chance to read, and it is Torah, so you have to let me read it!

It was his parsha book, the one he has been reading on Friday. Of course, he read plenty today. He read a chapter of Henry Huggins (good old Beverly Cleary!), he read Magic School Bus in the Time of Dinosaurs, but he felt that he needed to get even more reading time in, and of Torah, too.

This is a kid who did not know his letters early on, had no interest in reading (but loved being read to), and did not develop fluency till fairly recently. I am pretty sure he would not be willing to read out loud: I have to sneak it in by asking him to read the quotes in Magic School Bus. But here he is, sneaking in Torah reading, yet being too honest not to let me know that he's planning on sneaking. We compromised by me putting the book out in the living room, so he can read it first thing tomorrow morning.


  1. I love these little stories! I see them more as a defense of "not trying to fill our child's every waking moment with stimulation." Letting them explore, read (or not read), learn (or "not learn," in quotes because they're always learning), at least some of the time, and just letting them set the agenda, will almost always pay off big-time. Thanks for stopping by my blog, too! :-D