Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gemara for 12 yo

After a lot of hand-wringing, phone calls, e-mails and just things falling all over the place. I signed up 12 yo for online school for Judaics. He is in 7th grade, where he is supposed to be age-wise. He specifically asked for learning with other kids as opposed to one-on-one, but he did not want to go to school. The program is four days a week for two hours each day, and it is fully interactive: he gets to see the teacher and other students, learn bechavruta, ask and answer questions in real time, get assignments and chat with others. The catch is that it is from 11 to 1, smack dab in the middle of the day.

Here is the funny part: the administration originally did not want him in this class because he had no formal gemara learning. First I agreed with them, then we realized that the other level is too low for him, so I insisted that he attend this class with his peers. In the back of my mind was an ongoing buzz of what am I going to do with a child who will be handicapped by a lack of gemara skills? Will this approach of not pushing and introducing gemara haunt us? Now in his class, during the second week I got an email from the teacher that he is planning on having my son and his chavruta do a separate assignment since his gemara skills are on a higher level than the rest of the class. I giggled: how can a child who spent maybe six hours formally studying gemara have more advanced skills than the boys who have been studying it for the past two years? Perhaps all the hours he spent poring over Koren Bavli in shul paid off. Perhaps he is naturally brilliant. Perhaps he can pull a fast one on the teacher.

Perhaps our laid-back approach (not quite unschooling) is not so full of glaring educational holes.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Just what he needed

Do you know who's thriving at home so far? My three-year-old. He potty trained and having a potty available to use as necessary is what did it. He naps as he needs, just goes and tucks himself in and then comes out when he's awake and ready to come out. He spent close to an hour every day painting with watercolor. I just need to get him water and close the door to the sunroom. He has been painting sheet after sheet, mixing colors, using different brushes, making up stories about his creations. Then he cuts them up, tapes them, modifies them further.

He has been playing with Cliks: building swords and guns of all kinds, imagining things, creating whole worlds. He is all about weapons and shooting and fighting, yet he's extremely mellow to his younger sister. This is a healthy release of aggression.

He made a cockroach
He has been playing with his older sister non-stop. I often end up breaking up their play to get her to do her schoolwork. He sidles up with his Costco book, and he does his "math"; he just circles what he likes on every page. He recognizes a few letters. Last year in Montessori he supposedly knew him all. Now I can see that not everything has stuck, but it's ok, because he is only three and I want him to think that what he's doing right now, all this painting and building, is what's important.

We've been to the zoo and aquarium and he loves the ocean pop-up book. He keeps asking to go back. He wants to go to the park or hike trails. He often tramps around outside our large yard, digging in the dirt, finding bugs and other treasures. He rides his trike down the path full speed.
At the zoo

Childhood is short. Childhood can also be easy and not require much. I forgot how much I love this stage, when they are old enough to talk and say the darnest things (Mommy, can I help you make coffee cause I Love you). They are still little, but they can already do things for themselves. They do not have an attitude yet, but the personality is there. I am pleased to have this child back at home with me.