Tuesday, April 30, 2013


There is a bag of mulch sitting on my front lawn. It is about 15 feet away from a mailbox where a tomato plant is growing. I put down weed barrier, planted the tomato, but did not get around to spreading mulch on top. This bag is sitting there for the past two weeks. The weeds are poking through the sides of the weed barrier. I gaze at them guiltily every time I drive anywhere. I simply do not have time to spread this mulch around.

According to my 7 yo, today was a great day. I concur: no tantrums, no major fights. What did we do?

I had a dental cleaning, but before I left, I asked boys what they would like to put down on the schedule today. They both surprised me. 9 yo chose spelling, which we have not done since the birth of the baby, Story of the World and art. I added in Chumash without any resistance. 7 yo chose art (draw a Pokemon step-by-step) and Story of the World. I asked him whether we can just finish up math and he agreed to that, too.

When I came back, the boys finished davening and were building with Legos. 3 to asked for Barney, so I set her up and called up the boys to work. They both started with art and drew two Pokemon while I nursed. Then 7 yo got frustrated with drawing and brought some library books to read. We read about Aztecs ( You Wouldn't Want to Be An Aztec Sacrifice!) and about Roman geese. 9 yo joined us to listen.

Then 7 yo surprised me: he brought First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and asked how come we are not doing this and could we do this today instead of math? I agreed. It is easy since the lesson is scripted. We did the first two. He already memorized the poem and got what is a noun. Moreover, then he felt good that he finished all his schoolwork super-quick.

I was just rereading The Well-Trained Mind and that was making me jittery. The assumption behind a lot of work recommended there is that a child will not naturally choose to do hard things, but needs to be led to them and pushed, for his own good. Basically, spare the rod, spoil the child. It is on the opposite extreme of unschooling, where the premise is that a child will pick his own schoolwork in areas which hold his interest and learn it deeply.

I am conflicted about all of this.

9 yo finished the perek in Toldot. This was also his initiative: he wanted to finish the perek today and review everything tomorrow. He also had one page left in his chumahs notebook, so, all of a sudden, he is writing out all the words, to finish it up. I think he did 8 pesukim today.

Serendipitously, we were learning how Eisav was plotting to kill Yaakov at the same time as we read about Romulus killing Remus. I drew the parallel and said how Eisav is Edom, which is Rome. We also spoke a bit about the personalities of brothers. Now this is what I love about homeschooling: these connections arise because I know what he is learning in other subjects.

After lunch, we tackled spelling. 9 yo was taking a mid-level test and did not do so well on it. Moreover, he misspelled the words from the same rule families that he misspelled last time, two months ago. We will have to work a bit on that.

Once we finished, we loaded the bikes onto our new bike rack and drove to the park. That's when 7 yo remarked that he is having a great day. Then we had salami sandwiches for dinner, and again he gushed about how good of a day this is. Finally, when I tucked the boys in, yet again he brought it up. I am just so relieved to see this kid happy and believing in himself that he can get his schoolwork done quickly.

People come before things. That bag of mulch will have to wait.

1 comment:

  1. Not to belittle your jitteriness (and I do understand it), but SWB never intended that everyone follow WTM lock-step with every bit of curriculum included. She says herself that she put that much of the information to satisfy the publisher, not because she thinks it is the right amount nor does she think anyone who cannot get that much done is not "rigorous". For example, I do not push the literature-history connection as much as does nor as much as I think I should. Too lazy and too cheap so far, but now that my oldest is 11 going on 12, I want to incorporate more of this. Take what you need and discard the rest (and perhaps utilize the WTM fora for real-life advice)!