Thursday, July 31, 2014

What we’re doing for school this summer.

IMG_00004865 

So did I mention we’re homeschooling again?

At least for the summer.  Does that make me the kind of wannabe / poseur I hate?  Or an earnest parent trying hard to make something work during weird, transitional times…

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I thought I’d share a quick update on how things are going this summer with our “homeschooling / summerschooling” plans. 

(It was originally going to be quick – sorry!!)

IMG_00004866It remains to be seen whether we’re going to do this long-term.  But the truth is, it feels very good.  Very, very good.

In some areas, we’re picking up exactly where we left off.  But mostly, things slipped a lot during the year.  The only area in which both kids are further ahead (besides Hebrew!) is math.

I had a few clear criteria before we started:

  1. Fun.  Whatever we ended up doing this summer, I decided long ago that it should be light.  Simple, simple, easy and fun.  For all of us.  No tedious prep for me; no overly long lessons for them.
  2. English.  Anything else, they theoretically got in school during the year.  I figured there would be the most slippage in English-type subjects like writing and handwriting.  (I was right.)
  3. French.  I miss French.  It’s a beautiful language, complements everything we’ve learned about Latin very nicely, and with thousands of olim from France flooding into the country every year, may even come in handy someday.

So here’s what we’re doing for curriculum, culled from ALL the homeschool stuff we accumulated over the years:

  1. Handwriting.  Handwriting without tears (each at their own level).  Continuing where we left off, going great.  But there has been soooo much slippage.  It’s scary looking at GZ’s writing from a year and a half ago and it’s neater than his writing now.  He still hates to write, by the way.  It’s not just random complaining (which it is my policy to ignore).  He will do many tasks cheerfully, but any task involving handwriting needs to be tailored to him and truncated in any way possible.
  2. Writing.  Writing With Ease (1 for him, 2 for her). 
  3. Reading.  McGuffey Readers (2 for him, 3 for her).  This is very intermittent.  I actually had them doing a bit of this during the school year, but then we stopped and we haven’t really made it a habit yet.
  4. Language.  First Language Lessons 2 (Naomi Rivka only).  Not going great; she’s forgotten the first half of the book, so I probably should have just gone back to the beginning.
  5. Spelling.  Rod & Staff (Naomi Rivka only).  We started this back in Canada and I still love this program!  Just wish it wasn’t so darned Christian.  Happily, I went through the thing with white out back in Toronto, changing every Jesus and Satan and Hell reference.  Oh, and de-capitalizing the word Son.
  6. Vocabulary.  Vocabulary from Classical Roots (Naomi Rivka only).  Also started back in Canada.  She didn’t like it there, and still doesn’t like it here.  It’s boring.  I don’t enjoy it either, so have ordered another roots-based vocabulary program instead.  Problem is, it takes forever to get here, so we’ll keep slogging in the meantime…
  7. Phonics.  Explode the Code 3 (Gavriel Zev only).  Just finished this today, and boy was he proud.  We continued from where we’d left off in May 2013, so it was very, very basic.  This program has always been too easy for him, but he mainly enjoys it.  Because handwriting is so hard for him, I help him out by writing the first one or two of each exercise (I make him say the letters as I write, so he’s not missing the point). I have ordered ETC 4, but (see above) who knows when it will arrive…
  8. Math.  No slippage in this area, so I’m just carrying on my Singapore love affair.  GZ has started Singapore 1A.  Naomi Rivka is doing Singapore’s Challenging Word Problems Level 3 only.  No regular math, but she enjoys the word problems.  You know, when she doesn’t hate them.  I usually just write out the next one for her and let her sit and stew with it for a while.  She is always so proud when she figures it out.
  9. Latin.  (both kids) I already had Song School Latin 2, but we hadn’t started it yet.  I was worried that they would have forgotten most of what we learned in SSL1, but there’s lots of review built in.  So far so good, and I like how this level gets into the grammar a bit more, not just vocabulary.  If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it… but it is, so we are.
  10. French.  (both kids)  Bought Nallenart French via the internet while we were still in Canada, despite reading mixed reviews.  I honestly think we could do it without the curriculum, which is pretty amateurish.  Still, I’m using it as a structured jumping-off point.  We watch a lot of YouTube videos, and I let the kids bring their stuffed animals so they can introduce themselves in French.  I’m trying to make it fun, and so far, it is.
  11. History.  Story of the World, Volume 2.  Not fun at all; probably not the book’s fault.  It just seems like such a random, tacked-on addition to our lives.  But there are nice moments, like when we read about Justinian conquering the entire area around the Mediterranean, and Naomi Rivka asked, “Did he come here?  To Kiryat Yam?”  I love being in the place where history happened.  We’re also back, intermittently, for fun, to reading through A Child’s History of the World.  Plus, intermittently, for fun, reading “Story of US,” volume 1, which is less American and more about North America and its indigenous people.  I know that’s a hodge podge.  I would love more of a “program” but right now, there isn’t time or headspace to add one more thing.

Oh, yeah… I forgot:  Hebrew.  GZ has a packet of stuff that was sent home from school that we’ve been working our way through, plus we have some easy readers.  I’ll probably just have him branch out into reading real books from the library, which is the easiest thing to do.  Naomi Rivka can’t find her packet of school materials, so I’m just having her read the essays from my ulpan textbook. 

Phew!

It sounds like a lot, but I promise, it’s pretty much only two hours a day, give or take.  And absolutely NO prep for me.  It’s all very “open and go” and “do the next thing.”  Well, GZ’s math isn’t, but I feel like I have enough Singapore theory and background now to handle Grade 1 math lessons without any prereading.  I do have the teacher/parent guide, and I do glance at it every day, but it’s not a big thing at this point.

All of which doesn’t even begin to address the REAL question:  are we homeschooling now, or are the kids going back to school come September 1st? 

There’s actually no “back” about it.  Naomi Rivka can’t go back to the same school because it closed permanently at the end of June, not to mention that we no longer live in the municipality where it’s located (it was only 10 minutes away, but across a jurisdictional boundary).  GZ was only in a gan, not a real school, so all the kids his age will be moving on to Kitah Alef, probably at the local mamlachti dati (national public religious) school.

Not that any of them liked him or played with him anyway.

So the question is, toss them both into brand-new schools on September 1st… or keep them home?

I told Naomi Rivka that she doesn’t get to vote, but that I would like to know what she would prefer IF she had the choice.  She said homeschooling, definitely.  I haven’t asked GZ.  I’m worried that at his age (almost 7), he will just assume I’m letting him decide.  That is too much power in the hands of a little kid.

If they do stay home, we will have to get a lot more rigourous about Hebrew, Chumash and other Jewish studies.  We’d also have to scramble to make social connections; at the moment, we are spending all our time home alone together, which would drive us antsy if it continues indefinitely.  And when the weather and war settle down a bit, get into a pattern of regular tiyulim, trips around the country to cool places.  Maybe even learn some history.

Ah, but also – money.  It is hard, hard, hard, for either of us to get anything done with the kids home.  For that, I miss those long, quiet school days.  For a while this summer, I was sending Akiva (husband, Teddy) out of the house to work at the library, but the wifi there is apparently spotty, and now he’s suddenly back in ulpan again full time, so that doesn’t work out as a solution.  If I had a couple of mornings a week with someplace quiet to work, maybe I’d also be more productive. 

As it is, I’m back to the late, late evening hours, and greeting the kids through a haze of fatigue every morning.  And it turns out I don’t like that any more than I used to.

Still.  For now, delicate balancing act through it is… we are homeschooling in Israel.  And we like it.  Love it.

I feel like I have my kids back – and I realize how much I’ve missed them.  They’re not entirely back to normal yet, but I watch Naomi Rivka happily working alone on a project of her own after we’re done school, or GZ having the luxury of time to do what he likes, and I think – Yes.  This is why we homeschooled in the first place, and it’s still true.

Homeschooling sets us all free.

The only question is whether or not to strap ourselves back into our yokes come September.

Thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. Homeschool!!! But you already knew my opinion, right?

    ReplyDelete

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