Monday, May 4, 2009

Reading and Learning

We have been so busy preparing the house that there hasn't been much time for blogging! We have done some nice learning, but definitely in a more compact amount of time than earlier this year.

We have been immensely enjoying First Language Lessons. We've learned all about nouns - proper ones and common ones - and we memorized a poem by Christina Rossetti. Amirah memorizes things very quickly. I think she had it down pat after hearing it three times. Her mama took several more times to get it down! Here she is reciting the poem, with a bit of a stuffed-up nose.

We've also been doing some fun reading...

Amirah loved Eragon, and now she and papa are on to Eldest, the sequel.

We've been amused by several entertaining stories of encounters with wildlife in Animal Dialogues (with some editing by mama on just a few of the details about the humans!).

Yesterday afternoon Amirah enjoyed hearing a Sherlock Holmes story. The richness of the language is really lovely, and she wanted to know what each of the new words meant.

These may seem like unusual things to read to a kindergartener, but Amirah loves the language in these books. When she was two years old, she lugged around her 4-inch-thick copy of The Jungle Book, which is also very rich in language. She wanted to read it every day. She has a really good ear and learns things aurally in a flash (like the poem).

Something else I've been thinking about recently...

Dean and I do not overprotect our children. Keep them safe? Of course. But we let them experience the real stuff of the world in doses appropriate to who they are. Cats die. People go to war, and often that war is just and necessary. Boys pretend to battle bad guys at the front door to keep their mommies safe. There is real good and real evil in the world. By removing all of these things from our children's awareness we give them no opportunity to exercise the internal muscles they need to have developed when they are hit with life's realities (and the very things that give life meaning). With no practice, they can crumble. But if they have the chance to practice having these emotions while in a safe, nurturing environment, they can greatly increase their ability to handle "real life" with grace and courage.

As parents we radiate confidence in our children's ability to handle these varying emotions. Things happen that should make us sad, but they should not make us unable to carry on. Sadness is an appropriate response. Or anger. Or fear. I think fairy tales of old, which were much more gory than what is typically read to children these days, served just such a purpose. And interestingly, our children rarely, rarely have bad dreams. Maybe two or three times ever in my life have I comforted a son or daughter after a bad dream. Maybe.

In addition, I feel like so much of society has utterly lost any sense of modesty. Modesty of dress, thought, speech. We are losing our manners, our respect, and our reverence. Everything seems to shout "Look at me!" or "I don't care." Do we overprotect our children when it comes to matters of modesty? You betcha. Tznius (modesty) is a BIG Jewish value. It leads to dignity of spirit and self-respect.

On shabbat, I was reading a dvar torah that talked about how the Hebrew word for face ("panim") is nearly identical to the word for interior ("pinim"). Then it was pointed out that the English word "face" is closely related to "facade." Quite opposite derivations! The content of our character should match what one sees in our face and our manner, just like the ark is covered with gold on the inside and the outside. As Jews, we are charged with striving to become a true container for holiness, and making that holiness the very thing that is reflected in our outer being.

And with that, good night!


The Six of Us said...

Very very well said. Many people I have encountered assume that homeschooling is about sheltering your child from the world, and perhaps for many it is. But we feel the same, that children need to experience the world and all creation, including the ramifications of the fallen world. What a joy it is to be able to encounter these things with our children and guide them in their knowledge.

I can't wait to start Language Lessons in the fall.

Anonymous said...

I like how you analyze the world, and you bring up really interesting and thought provoking points. But where is the line you draw at how much you expose your kids to? p

alpidarkomama said...

The big lines are drawn by torah, of course, i.e. tznius, etc. :) The littler lines are really drawn by the children themselves. If a subject like death comes up, I'll give the basic information like so-and-so died this morning and we're very sad. If they are ready to know more about it, then they will invariably ask, and I honestly answer any questions they have. I also know what my children can handle and I never, ever push them to handle more than I think they can. My son used to think the military jets that sometimes fly over our house were scary, so we read books about the jets, watched them together when they flew by, and now he actually likes when they fly over. :)