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Welcome to the blog section of Room613.
Here we'll be sharing some thoughts about Jewish homeschooling,
out of our unique experiences and perspectives. Kids are welcome to blog too!
We look forward to an open exchange of ideas.


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Yael Resnick
Group Co-Administrator

"Yael"

Ups and downs in the life of an imperfect homeschooling mom

May 2012 Posts

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A Learning Experience
Blog Entry

Coasting...

Monday, May 14th 2012 @ 1:56 AM

In our family, we are officially in end-of-the-year mode. We have been for a long time already—I think this feeling of coasting started when we had that crazy-warm weather a few months ago. The kids started to spend more time outside, and I guess it just started to feel like summer. Never mind that since then the weather became seasonably cool again—we had shifted gears and pretty much stopped pedaling. The interesting thing, though, is that even though I've eased (way) up on any requirements, no one has stopped learning. On the contrary, all my kids have found their own ways of learning more than ever.

My 15-year-old son completed his math course (Thinkwell) about a month ago, and on his own initiative, has found productive new ways to use the time previously dedicated to math. He's put more time into his financial literacy course, he's gotten involved with scouting, and he's been reading, learning movie editing, biking, helping around the house, and even playing basketball with his sisters. 

My 11-year-old daughter still does math most days (or at least a few times a week, when nudged), makes steady progress on an educational comic book she's been working on all year, about a girl who travels around the world, and goes to some Room613 classes. Those are her requirements right now. Beyond that, she has been pursuing things of her choice—which mostly means making other comics (including a make-your-own adventure), taking portrait-drawing lessons, reading bagfuls of library books, taking care of two ponies through our local 4H club, riding her bike, making apple pie from scratch, seeing friends, and playing basketball. Oh, and today, writing a story using as many palindromes as possible.

My 7-year-old daughter never needs any prompting to do things that are "educational." She constantly creates projects for herself—writing stories and poems and illustrating them (see her blog here), planning nature classes she would like to teach, producing art for living-room art sales (whereby she's making a bit of pocket money and learning two-digit addition along the way—even though we stopped working in her math workbook before we got to that topic), playing games (she knows how to make every trap possible in Connect Four), and doing multiplication and all manner of mental math for fun. She also just learned to ride a bicycle—watch here for the video soon!

Left to their own devices, my kids have collaborated in some surprising ways. When I least expect it, I find a pair of kids (who may have been bickering not long before) involved in a watercolor-painting session, or brainstorming a plot for a mystery movie, or timing themselves doing a workout challenge, or dressing up for a role-playing game (I'll spare my son here and assure you that the last example was done by his sisters only). 

For my part, I've transitioned into less "do your math" and more "let's go to the library" or "let's bake cookies." 

The weekly structure of certain classes outside the house continues, which gives a solid feeling to the week and, I think, makes us all feel like "school is happening"—freeing everyone to learn and do as they wish during their unscheduled time. My son does his limudei kodesh learning with several local tutors; my girls go to nature classes at our local Audubon center and learn Hebrew as part of my mini-coop with another homeschooling mom (I teach her daughter math; she teaches my kids Hebrew).

And I'm trying to ramp up the frequency of our day trips. Last week we all saw a theatrical production of The Miracle Worker, which was a rare opportunity for my son to have a theater-going experience that was professional in every way, and really appropriate and tznius

An interesting side-effect of letting go of daily learning demands has been a renewed and creative focus on the future. It's a little ironic that at the same time that we've become so in-the-moment and spontaneous, we've also become more future-oriented. I think this freedom has opened our minds to possibilities, and we're all looking ahead—to the summer, to next year—and planning what kinds of learning experiences we'd like to come our way in our next homeschooling chapter.

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