Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hebrew: Print or Script?

Amirah is very secure with the alef bet now. The next frontiers looming are reading and writing. The Hebrew print letter and script letters are really different from each other. Print is only used in, er, print :) and people only write in script. In many schools, the children learn a sort of block print in K/1/2 that is quickly dropped when they learn script. There is no practical reason to learn block print except for to reinforce the shape of the letters that one is learning to read. So, since A seems to have a thorough handle on what she is reading and I don't think would benefit from the kinisthetic reinforcement of learning block print, I'm thinking we'll skip it altogether. Some of the research I've read says that teaching two forms of writing can be confusing. It's not at all like going from manuscript to cursive in English. Here's what I'm talking about:

The letters on the top (reading right to left) are in script; the letters on the bottom are print. Less than half the script letters look anything like their print counterparts.

I read an abstract of a thesis by Yehuda Perach (who is also interestingly a member of the Israeli Knesset) that explored this issue. You can download a brief in the upper right corner. He concluded that using print for reading and only script for writing was the most effective method.

I haven't decided yet. We are at the point where we could do print, but instead I think I'll forge ahead into the world of reading first. Of course first we have to get through this grand slam of holidays! :)

Most of the schooling we've been doing has revolved around the Jewish holidays. We've also kept up our daily reading lessons. We finished On the Banks of Plum Creek and today we will begin By the Shores of Silver Lake. Our enthusiasm for the books has not waned one bit. Even papa is caught up in all the excitement and can't wait to hear the next installment. We also got the first season of the television series and Amirah has been having great fun remarking which stories are happening out of order and which stories were made up by tv people and not by Laura Ingalls Wilder. :) Interestingly enough, it seems to be the episodes that smack of "social commentary" much more overtly than anything in the books. In a good way, of course, but not true to the original.

The holidays will end October 22 and I expect that on October 26 we'll move back into our more regular schedule (whatever that is). That will give us a good solid 8 weeks of learning time before Channukah, which by the way in the great scheme of Jewish holidays is relatively minor. Only its proximity to Christmas has made it so popular. It won't really alter our learning time like the fall holidays, but we'll probably take a little more time to do lots of fun outings. Gifts aren't traditionally part of the holiday, except for chocolate money. We usually give our own children chocolates and a book. Pretty simple. Light a few candles, fry a few foods in oil, sing, dance, and that's about it. But more about that later.... that's a ways off! It's really just this round of fall holidays + passover that are a great big to-do.

Back to sukkot preparations. More about sukkot tonight, I hope, since it begins Monday night!

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