Today felt like a highlights reel of all the great things about homeschooling.
My morning started with K. At 9:15 the two of us snuggled on the couch while I worked with her on learning her torah reading and haftarah for her Bat Mitzvah. Then she went into the library to do her math, and Mr. December and I took a walk around the neighbourhood. Predictably, we talked about our plans for the kids, but the weather was perfect — not too hot — and it was nice to be together, just the two of us.
Back at home I suggested to E that we do some math together. I’m not going to repeat the conversation, but there was wailing and gnashing of teeth until I finally said, “Actually, we’re doing trampoline math today. Go get your shoes.” She was off like a shot.
What’s trampoline math, you ask? Or course you don’t know. I made it up this morning. First we did some mental addition and subtraction where I asked the question, and she figured out the answer and jumped that many times. Then I got her to practice writing her numbers by tracing a number of her choice and then getting up and jumping that number of times. E started making up her own addition questions and writing them out, and after half an hour of trampoline math she didn’t want to stop.
Meanwhile, K was doing math online with Khan Academy (which is an excellent resource and free, by the way). She hit a wall in her geometry book this week and we’d made very little progress since Monday, so yesterday we sat down and googled other ways for her to learn the concepts. We ended up at Khan Academy and K seemed to be able to focus and learn, so we decided to shelve the Kumon workbooks for now and have her do math online. When I came inside after trampoline math I went into the library to check on her. Lo and behold, she was still doing math two hours after she started (which is not unusual) and she had made good progress (which is extremely unusual.) What’s more, there were no tears and no yelling the entire time she was working. This might sound very banal to some of you, but seeing K working diligently without any issues is so unusual that I wanted to put it in sky writing.
The wonders didn’t cease there. After some lunch K turned her attention to writing. She didn’t get much down on paper but she was able to choose her topic and research the facts she needed; all of this was self-directed. I’m still floored.
There were more joyful moments: E read me Hop on Pop, but only after Mr. December started clowning around and reading it wrong. Later, we played a board game and I enjoyed watching E add up the numbers on the dice. Mr. December took a break around 3:00 and we biked out to drop off some food and a gift for my cousins who just had a baby. That was my workout and could have been K’s phys ed for the day if we had remembered to invite her along (oops.)
(Pro tip: if you’re bringing food to someone with a new baby, bring something that’s easy to eat one-handed. And err on the side of more food rather than less — nursing moms get hungry.)
I found the weirdest thing on Youtube today: a South African program for kids about different religions that was teaching kids about Pirkei Avot. The craft was making their own Torah scrolls out of paper and chopsticks. E was eager to do the craft, and ran around getting all the supplies before settling down to learn the art of Torah-making from a Black South African lady sitting in front of a huge cross. It was a bit odd to me, but the show was reasonably well done.
Instead of dinner, I doubled up my order of afternoon-tea-to-go so that half went to my cousins and half came home with us. We set it all up on the back porch; I brought out a basket of poetry books; and we had our inaugural “Poetry Teatime” (we got the idea from Julie Bogart’s book The Brave Learner.) In between the tiny sandwiches and scones with jam, we discovered a few new poets today and learned that (sadly) we’re not fans of Leonard Cohen’s poetry (anybody want a Leonard Cohen poetry book? Free to a good home!)
See what I mean about today being a highlight reel? We had snuggling-on-the-couch learning, jumping-on-the-trampoline learning, self-directed learning, tea-party learning. I had time to go for a walk and a bike ride and to deliver food to some new parents, and all of these things flowed into one another in their own time. It was so relaxing that I completely forgot about how I promised my friend that I’d do something for myself today, like bike to a café with a patio and have a meal without people needing anything from me. With days like these, who needs a break?