Sunday, November 2, 2008

Our Week of Learning

It was really nice to have a wonderful, normal week this week! The holidays are over. Shabbat was lovely. The time change has come. We did a lot of really good learning this week. I treasured each of those "aha" moments I saw on Amirah's and Eli's faces. What a privilege to partake in those many times a day. If they were at school I would be missing so many of them! Before kids, I really treasured those moments with students. I loved bringing a student along bit by bit, and shared in their joy when they really GOT something. Now those students are my own children and the pleasure is immeasurable. We are all really enjoying this journey.

For Hebrew, we've been working on Unit 10 (of 14) in Shalom Ivrit. This is focused on body parts and colors. We'll probably continue to work on this and learn a few more obscure colors. Amirah is still really enjoying doing Rosetta Stone Hebrew. I let her do this at will, and she generally does about 30 minutes per day. Eli is having fun with body part names because they all sound hilarious to him. :) Kriyah (reading) and ksivah (writing) is on hold for now while we're waiting for our new books to arrive, hopefully in a week or so. We've also been reading "Tale Tales in Biblical Hebrew" which has been a great supplement. Right now we're reading The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I'm excited because I pretty much understand everything in the stories. We'll be doing the same story for a week or two, I think. We also got some comic books in Biblical Hebrew called Ag Harasha. Cute little stories, and great vocabulary. Perfect for us right now.

Singapore Math has been TERRIFIC. I'm very happy with it. Amirah really enjoys it so far. We did all of unit 17, the first unit in Book B. It incorporates many little drawing activities, which is great practice for Amirah and her still-developing small-motor skills. Her math is getting pretty good! A couple of days ago I was telling her about something she did when she was two. She looked at me and without missing a beat said, "So that was three years ago and you were 37." Wow! She also figured out that to put 1-1/2 cups of flour into our sugar cookies on Thursday she could also do 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2, because 1/2 + 1/2 makes a whole. We haven't been doing fractions at all, but we sure do bake a lot! It was funny. Eli is having fun with the Kindergarten A book and so far he's keeping up with the concepts just fine. I think I'll just stretch the activities out a little and see if it keeps working for him. He's thrilled!

Handwriting has been going really well too. Amirah got a fire lit under her and charged through a bunch of the book on her own. We should finish it this week or next, and I've gone ahead and ordered the 1st grade writing book. Eli started writing his own name on his drawing projects. The letters aren't always in order, but they're all there!

Reading has been very good too. We're on lesson 60 of 100 Easy Lessons. Eli is also really interested in letters and reading, so I'm going to start giving him more alphabet activities to do so we can actually learn the names of all the letters. Raizel will go along for the ride. She's already heavily into counting and wants to know what the letters are too. Pretty cute!

We also started a once (or so) per week geography lesson using A Child's Geography. It's extremely well written by a religious Christian, but it requires only very minimal editing to be useful to us Jews too. :) We'll mostly use it as a read-aloud and do any of the activities that are interesting (and that we have time for!).

We read lots of parsha stories too, finished Farmer Boy and started The Long Winter. Amirah practically swooned this afternoon while saying, "I LOVE these books. I don't want them to ever end!!!!!"

Next week our new adventures will include learning a melacha per week (the melachos are those types of "work" that are prohbited on shabbat; there are many things that we would consider work that are not prohibited on shabbat, and many things that are not usually considered work that ARE prohibited on shabbat; I'll report week-by-week what we learned.)

I also hope to add music instruction time 1-2x per week. Not instrumental - I really don't see the need until they're 7 or 8 (unless they're begging for lessons before that). The most important things that a young child can learn at this age is to be able to keep a steady beat, develop a very good ear for music (possible for virtually everyone), and learn to sing in tune (also possible for virtually everyone unless not exposed at an early age). I splurged a while back and got a music curriculum that we're going to use that wasn't published yet while I was teaching, but I knew that when it was I would love it. It looks great. I'm going to use it to guide our concept development, and substitute many Jewish songs and verses for the usual stuff in there. Here's a link for anyone who is interested. We'll be doing lots of rhythmic work, movement, rhythm instruments (xylophones, glockenspiels, drums, sticks, rattles, etc... I have boxes and boxes of instruments!), and plenty of singing. I just have to fit it in somehow!

And another good thing... cleaning up! Charlotte Mason goes into great details in her books about developing habits and that much learning (and living) depends on the development of simple habits. We have a routine now of always cleaning up upstairs right before storytime/bedtime. Eli is really especially good at this, Raizel does the best a 2-year-old could possibly do, and Amirah sometimes fades out on us. We go fast and it really takes less than 10 minutes. This week we're going to start faithfully doing a 5-minute pickup downstairs before lunch and dinner. I set the timer, and we run around like crazy as fast as we can. It's really great when papa can walk into a warm, cozy, clean house!

All of the above really sounds like we spend a lot of time with our noses in books, but actually each lesson is pretty quick. I would say we end up with 90 minutes of academic learning + reading stories, art projects, whatever Amirah feels like doing with Rosetta Stone, and adventures. When you only have 1 or 2 students, you can do things pretty darn efficiently. Generally we learn from 10:00-1:00, and this includes snacktime, younger sibiling, interruptions, art projects, time for just Eli, time for just Amirah, etc. It has an open and relaxed feeling.

Other than learning, we've been making plans to declutter the house. We're hoping to move this year to another city and want to really weed out everything that is not worth taking with us. Sell a lot on craig's list, take lots to Good Will, pare down our clothing collection (especially me and Amirah), keep only the kitchen stuff that gets used regularly or is impossible to be without. Having fewer clothes also prevents huge mountains of laundry from piling up. We really don't have all that much "stuff" but I really want to have even less. I won't be packing all of our clothes into two carpetbags, like ma, but I sure would like to do the contemporary equivalent (whatever that is...)

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