I used to want to make all the costumes for my children. But that was when they were still little. Now, I’m too busy and it is just too time consuming (and probably more expensive) to do it myself. I admit, I opt for the quickest, easiest, and usually the least expensive way… I order the costumes online (I do most of my shopping online.)
Me to one of the boys, as we are ordering: “Ok, what do you want to be for Purim?”
Only a homeschooled child…… 🙂 This is coming from a boy who struggles to read, but is able to read one of his books. He enjoys it and he is very proud of that fact that he can read it. This book is all about the life of, well, you guessed it, Shakespeare. Of course I did try to do a search for Shakespeare, but we only found a costume for Juliet. He settled for a policeman.
Many religious homeschooling parents wonder if their child is learning all the religious materials that the children are learning in school. It does not seem like the secular subjects are too much of a worry, but it is all the hebrew/chumash/dikduk/navi/mishnayos, etc. After all, only teachers in schools are qualified to teach the religious stuff. If a child is not in a school, then that child will not learn what needs to be learned, and that child’s neshama is deprived. I have to mention that not all communities are negative towards homeschoolers.
Baruch Hashem, our community is one of those accepting communities. We did have someone come talk to us, not because they felt we were not qualified to teach our children, but he was concerned about the rest of the children – the more children in cheder, the better the children are yiddishkiet wise (of the ones in cheder), and the fact that we have several children not in cheder means the rest of the children are losing out on the possible positive effects of having that many more children in the classroom. (I won’t mention that this person’s wife came up to me one time asking about homeschooling – the cost of the several children they had in school was such a strain on them. Her husband promptly (and in a nice comical way) put a stop to the conversation!)
Of course, like all other parents, we want to give our children the best possible yiddishkiet background as we can, and are always wondering if we are doing the right thing, what can be better, etc. When we were first starting out, the main website that I found was Torah U’Mesorah. I was able to request a catalog so that we could purchase different workbooks and textbooks. They also have a sister site: Chinuch.org. It is a religious website that has content that is contributed by teachers for other teachers to use and the best part is that it is free! When my oldest was in first grade, I found a wonderful workbook/worksheet set for Parshas Beraishis on Chinuch.org. I also ordered a workbook on the Morning Brachos/Shema. This was the kind of stuff they learn in the schools. My son was going to have the same education. So our grade started, and I was very excited about the Chumash worksheets. For a few months we worked through our sheets and book.
Then, one day, it happened. My son and I were sitting at the kitchen table doing our various lessons. I told my son it was time for Chumash. “Do I have to do it?” “Yes.” “Can’t I take out my brachos book today instead?” Huh? What? I have heard that if one is excited about something (and shows it), the other person will get excited about it too. I *THOUGHT* I was showing my excitement for Chumash — I personally preferred the Chumash over the brachos book! And here was my son telling me he hated Chumash. Now, that was the last thing I wanted. I did NOT want my son to hate learning Torah. That day I told my son that yes, we did have to do Chumash. However, I put it away after that lesson. We finished our brachos book, and I spent some more time focusing on parsha for the next several months. After this incident, I had to rethink my whole thinking process regarding our homeschooling.
What was my goal? Was my goal to teach what they taught in school? It took a bit of soul searching, but I finally came up with something concrete. I do know that there are other train of thoughts on this matter, but I need something that works for our family, for our children. My goal is not to necessarily teach what others teach. My goal is to have our children love Hashem and to love Torah and mitzvos. I want my children to know how to learn, to want to learn, and to have the time to learn. Unlike learning how to read, or learning math skills, you do not have to go through Torah in a specific order. Learning is not what how much you have learned. I believe learning is the fact that one IS learning and loves to learn. If one loves to learn, then they will continue to learn and the knowledge will be there, and hopefully, and then some. Once that was laid out very clearly in my mind it became easier to decide what to do.
I focused on what we were doing, and at the same time I kept, at the back of my mind, the idea that I really did want my son to learn Chumash, and I kept an open eye out for when I should try again. About a year or so after we stopped Chumash my son came up to me and started this conversation:
Son: “Mom, why am I not learning Chumash?”
Me: “Did you want to learn it?”
Me, while smiling so big inside: “Ok, we’ll start!”
He did not start immediately for I believe we started our summer, and we do take summers off in general, at least for a good part of it. We all need our breaks. However, he did get to start his Chumash as soon as we started school again, not with me, but with his new Rebbe, Rabbi Resnick. Room613.net had just started up, and I enrolled my son in his classes.
Did I do the right thing? You tell me. My son loves to learn – Chumash, Navi, Mishnayos… he enjoys it all. Would I make the same decision over again? I do not have to say it, but, yes, yes I would.
Wishing you all a Freilichin Purim!