Thursday, August 8, 2013

back to school?

Today we did so much, that it is possible to say we started the school year.

By the time I got up, 9 yo was dressed and davened. He took out recycling as an extra chore, for a fee. He is still getting the logistics of it, but I am glad that he is doing it. The rest of the kids had breakfast and got dressed. I did chumash with 9 yo first. We finished Breishit, and he was happy. He remembered Rashis from yesterday, but did not ask any questions on frankly bizarre pesukim at the very end of Breishit. He finished the family tree of Adam and asked, when are we going to Six Flags for a siyum? Hearing this, 7 yo got upset. I showed him that we were on 12th pasuk of Lech Lecha, and had to finish the perek at 20th. I asked him, how many more pesukim do we have? He used fingers and toes to figure out that it's 8. He is also getting the idea of gemmatria. Once he saw the amount, he wanted to do extra, so today we reviewed and did the last pasuk of the first aliyah. She asked about the word sheni written in his workbook, and I explained what that meant. I had to remind him about sh'va na and nach as he was reading.

9 yo started mishnayot this week with a local rabbi. They started on Succah, we'll see how it goes. We are aiming for three times a week for the next month. He is reading nicely, and tonight when I reviewed it with him, translating quite well, too. He explained a few things to me.

Yesterday we went to a sand workshop with homeschool co-op. There they asked everyone to make a name tag.  I called up the boys to make their own. 9 yo took care of it, while 7 yo hesitated in writing his own name. 3 yo looked up at me and said that she cannot write her name, and I assured her that I will write it for her. 7 yo could not complete the task until I wrote his name and he copied it with great frustration. I was panicking: the whole idea of unschooling is that when the need arises, the skill is taught, yet here was a clear need, but no desire to learn. Moreover, he definitely should be able to write his name! So while 9 yo was learning mishna, I called 7 yo over and said that I will teach him to write his name, for future use. He asked whether it will include last name (ours is long). I sad, yes. He promptly threw a fit, said he cannot do it, does not need it, I can't make him, etc. He left to his room. I was plenty busy with the other kids, especially since 3 yo wanted help with aleph-bet book and I was holding a fussy baby. Five minutes later he came to show more frustration. I was nervous about disturbing 9 yo and his rebbe. Finally, I told 7 yo that he can either write his name, or any word that he likes; I will write it for him to copy. He asked about when his Handwriting Without Tears will arrive (he asked for it the other week, only he was crying and called it Handwriting With Tears). He is convinced that it will fix all his troubles with writing. I sad that we can track the package after he writes something, since the book will not be teaching him how tow write his name. Then he said he wants to write something easy, like the word "easy". I jumped on it. He had such hard time forming letters even when the model was right above... I am not so sure whether unschooling writing will work for this kid. Handwriting With Minimal Tears is supposed to arrive tomorrow, we'll see how that goes.

A bit later I showed the boys the math texts I got for the upcoming year, so that they will be familiar with what we'll be using. I ordered Math Mammoth for 9 yo (per his request) and Spectrum Math for 7 yo. I asked 7 yo when we would like to get started on math and he said, tomorrow. A bit later I showed 9 yo all of his math and asked him the same question. He said, never. I said that it is not an appropriate response. He said, fine, I will do some pages today. I sort of sat next to him and sort of held 3 yo on my lap. He was slogging his way through division problems. They were not hard, but I wondered to myself why they would start the text with division as opposed to some review of last year's material, or place value, or some warm-ups. At some point he got frustrated, and his multiplication was shaky, especially of the higher numbers. I ended up writing in some answers for him, he solved the problems in his head. This was taking waaay longer than I anticipated. 3 yo was restless and 7 yo started his song  that nobody pays any attention to him or spends any time with him. I said, you could be doing math and getting attention, if you want. He said that he will open his book and see what's in there. Here is the cool part: he decided to do the first two pages! They were easy, and he did it boom, boom, boom, except when he was asked to spell out 13 and 8. He froze there, and no offers of writing them down and copying worked. Meanwhile, 9 yo finished his math. As we were closing his binder, I noticed that he was in the middle of a paper stack. Then it hit me: instead of doing the first lesson, he did the first lesson of the second workbook! No wonder it was hard, and did not feel like warm-up! The good news is, maybe we do not need to spend so much time on the first section. Math Mammoth is very thorough, which is another way to say "boring"...

In the middle of the day, the kids found pipe cleaners and Styrofoam balls and designed all sorts of things out of them. The balls were poked and produced quite a mess that required vacuuming. The boys fought over who will vacuum it up.

At taekwondo, both boys got their green belts. 9 yo got his gear yesterday, and today was a sparring day, so they got to suit up and fight. During the car ride back, they discussed who got kicked where and whom did they kick. I, personally, could do taekwondo without the sparring part, just the discipline and moves.

Before we left for taekwondo, I made flounder for dinner. When we got home, 9 yo raised a bit of a stink that it's not tilapia, so I put him in charge of making a vegetable to go with dinner. I had to nurse anyway. He chopped up a garden cucumber and then peeled a carrot into strips and mixed it all in a bowl with some Italian dressing. Voila! He felt quite accomplished. The flounder turned out to be a hit despite not being tilapia, not a piece remained.

I am still trying to figure out what makes the boys tick the way they do. When 9 yo was working on that hard math and was getting frustrated with writing stuff down, he told me that as long as he does not need to show any work, he can do anything, "even that thing that Einstein did". I said that in math you cannot just have theory, you need proofs. 9 yo has so much ga'ava ( pride, self-esteem) that he almost always needs to be slightly deflated to reality. 7 yo, on the other hand, has none of that. I need to reassure him that he can do it, he knows it, he is able. I wonder whether 7 yo gets along better with people because no ga'ava gets in the way.

1 comment:

  1. You may have already tried this, but my daughter has trouble with writing, and I have found that she is better at/enjoys writing more with large motor movements. For instance we have a shallow box I filled with salt, and she loves practicing writing in the salt. It helps her learn how to form letters without the frustration of forming the letters with a pencil. She also likes using a large whiteboard to practice on. She can write bigger and mistakes can be quickly erased so she doesn't have to spend lots of time erasing and feeling frustrated. Tracing is also great for when she's really in an, "I can't do this!" mood. I acquiesce to writing out her name/the word in dots and she traces the letters. Hope this helps some! You're inspiring!