Wednesday, July 17, 2013

resuming chumash

Today I tried resuming chumash with the boys. The camp is over, Tisha B'Av passed, and we are trying to settle into our routine. I had a chiropractor appointment this morning, which meant that everyone had to be ready by a certain time. They did not mind that, but 9 yo did not want to go. I suggested for him to bring along his book (Ranger's Apprentice), and he read it the whole time.

When we got back, the boys settled with their books. I took care of the baby, waited for a calm moment and approached 7 yo about doing Bright Beginnings. He absolutely refused. I calmly walked away. About five minutes later he came to me to throw a new fit about how he does not want to do it. I listened. He told me how it makes his mouth and hands tired, all the while talking and fiddling with a toy. I pointed out how his current activities also occupy his hands and mouth. He kept churning and twisting. I tried a few suggestions, all the while time staying calm. Eventually, I asked him to bring the workbook over, so that we can take a look. He complied, much more calmly. I suggested setting a timer and doing chumash for only five minutes. He rejected that. Today, he did not want to color matching words, so I suggested using a line to connect them. I also asked whether he wants me to read the new pasuk first. He said, yes. I read and translated it, word by word. Then he read it, and quite fluently. Then he very quickly matched up the words, and even joked about how they are trying to trick him, by adding in a word without a match. I asked him to read the pasuk one more time, and he did.

The whole learning experience was very calm, and he was cooperative. I have a feeling he threw a fit beforehand to lower expectations, both for me and for himself.

Then I approached 9 yo about his chumash. He was extremely unhappy about it. I suggested we just review the first three pesukim of the third perek. He read them fluently, but broke down in the middle of translating, saying that he does not want to pretend that everything is fine. I backed off, especially since the baby started crying. When I got back, he told me that he can translate all three, and he did, peacefully. I told him that I can teach him the first pasuk with trop. This suggestion was met with a lack of enthusiasm.

He left, and I practiced trop out loud. Then I got online and listened to a baal kreh read that aliyah. Annoyingly, I do not sound anything like him. 9 yo started correcting my trop based on what he heard. In an underhanded way, this worked, as 9 yo has such a musical memory, that he can probably chant those pesukim correctly now, just from hearing them twice. I am still left to work on my trop.

It is hard getting back into routine. I am not starting school, but my plan is to integrate chumash into daily living, same way as kids get up and get dressed and daven, make it a non-negotiable activity. I am torn between offering rewards for it. Right now I told both boys that I would take them to Six Flags if they finish a chunk of learning: one perek for 7 yo and Parshat Breishit for 9 yo. I still think it is doable, but I am not sure if I want them to be learning for rewards. On the other hand, if I make it an automatic activity, I will be able to phase the rewards out eventually.

I also have to prepare myself for tantrums and unpleasantness. I find that expecting them, and tolerating them ( as long as there is no rudeness) makes them blow over much faster. They can show me how much they despise this activity, and I should not expect too much, and then the emotional negativity is gone, and they can perform on whichever level they can muster that day.

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