Your Jewish Homeschool Curriculum Made Much Easier!

Hello Everyone!

I tried to write this post a while ago, but we have a new web hosting package and even though I was assured that I was not losing anything, I really am, and I was not able to write my post without my server resources being used up and having to wait and redo it all! So, I had to come up with another way of posting that will work until I get around to calling them and not having to spend $200 just so I can write text on my blog!

One of the big issues for Jewish homeschoolers has always been in creating a Judaic curriculum. After homeschooling for 12 years, I have finally put together a list of Judaic curriculum resources useful to Homeschoolers, and the grades they usually match up with. Most of the resources are free, and most can be found on chinuch.org. All I did was go through the resources to find the kinds of things that many homeschooling families are looking for – “What do Day Schools teach?” And then, the second question that most people do not get to for they don’t usually get the first question answered, but is in their minds – “How do I do it?” So, I went through tens of thousands of resources posted on chinuch.org and weeded out what I thought were the kinds of materials most appropriate in a homeschool setting. They are grouped by subject and then by grade range they are most suited for.

Firstly, please keep in mind that this is just a starting place! I have definitely included a lot that many people might be able to use my list to create a full curriculum for many years, however, please note that there will probably be some gaps that need filling in after a few years, so keep that in mind. There is still some information I want to include but is not on yet.

1. Most of what is posted are links to chinuch.org. Chinuch.org is part of Torah U’Mesorah. It is a teachers resource site where teachers can submit classroom ideas and worksheets for others to use. Teachers post their materials and someone at Torah U’Mesorah looks them over to make sure they are appropriate before making them available. Most of what is posted is supplementary material. Homeschooling parents are looking for complete programs or themes. I went through a huge portion of these materials to find complete “kits”. Bonus – Everything on chinuch.org is free. 🙂

2. There are other sites that I have listed. Many of those are not free but are definitely worth looking at if your budget allows.

How do you use my list? All you need to do is find the subject that you are interested in looking at, then go to the grade level (Elementary, Middle School, High School) and see if anything there fits your needs. I tried to find several options for each grade level, though I was not always successful. Just do this for each subject you are looking for.

Again, this was made as a STARTING place, and you might need to fill in the few gaps you may find. The link below will take you to a Google Document of my list. If you have any issues opening it up, please sent me a message. Extra bonus: My list is free, so please pass the link around to your friends who might need it!

Click here for the list

If you have a link that you think would be good, please let me know and I will take a look at it.

Hope you enjoy!

Learning to Grow and Change

#3 multitasking for his Cooking Merit Badge.

It has been quite a busy several months. Can’t say there has been too much homeschooling wise to talk about, which is one of the reasons why I have not written for so many long months. However, that means there are lots of pictures I can post. 😀

With Rosh Hashanah, Sukkos, our latest bar mitzvah, the week later my nephew’s bar mitzvah, a few weeks later our yearly Thanksgiving trip, the boys’ camping trip to Big Bend, Chanukah… When did we have time for school? Or, as I am typing, I am thinking that perhaps I can rephrase that: That WAS our schooling, so perhaps there really is something to write about.

I do have stuff to write about, and all those amazing trips really are one of the wonderful

Happy 16th Birthday Mr. Big!

reasons why I love homeschooling for I don’t have to answer to anyone and we really can and do make our lives as much learning as we can. However, that is not the main reason for writing. We will get that those, but there are other things.

Life changes, and we have to learn to adjust to the changes. The past two years have been very challenging for us. Our move down south was definitely not what we had in mind and that is the hard part. I am slowly, very slowly, starting to realize that what I have in mind is irrelevant. I used to think that I was very flexible. If my husband wanted a break and asked me if I wanted to go out with the family for a night to a hotel, I used to be able to pack and be ready in 45 minutes for a wonderful adventure. I am learning though, that yes, I am flexible in some areas, but in others I am not. That is the challenge.

We started the school year with one less boy at home. One boy, who actually hates change, needed so badly to have a change and go off to Yeshiva. Normally I do not believe that children should go away from home for school, however,  I understand that there are exceptions. Our one child is an exception. It took me a long time to get there. I felt I was not trying hard enough, and with a little bit more work, a little bit more proper advice, I could make things work. Yes, I did get some help, and yes, the help really worked, however, it still took me many months to realize that no, I was not a terrible mother, not a terrible teacher, it is just my child is ready for something else. I am happy to report that our child is doing well. He is happy and he is learning. What more can I ask for? He still has a ways to go, but one step at a time and with G-d’s help, he will get there.

I started the year very quiet. The whole house dynamics was so different. It was a good

Saba and Mr. Little.

thing. The other boys started opening up. I now had the ability to see what else was needed in the house. Mr. Little, who is not so little, got to have more of my attention. We are doing pretty much what we did last year – I have my Charlotte Mason for the secular and Melamed Academy for the Judaics. I have to say that the Melamed Academy has come a long way from last year. The older boys have a Rebbe for Gemara and Mishnayos and they have weekly live shiurim they attend. I have added  private tutoring with Rabbi Resnick from Room613.net. The boys have learned with Rabbi Resnick for several years, many years ago, and were really excited when I asked if they would like to have him for their Gemara now. With all that set up, school didn’t seem so bad – until you start adding in all the wonderful Yomim Tovim.

It is hard to keep up with school with all the holidays! But, I cannot complain. Amidst all the spiritual highs, Mr. Boy #3 became a Man. 🙂 Motzei Yom Kippur he had his birthday. Such

Bar Mitzvah Cousins!

a lucky boy he was this year. He was told to eat all day on Yom Kippur until the last 72 minutes and then he had to fast.  We teased him about that. We waited until a few weeks later, Parshas Beraishis, before celebrating for he cousin had his bar mitzvah the next week, Parshas Noach, and we wanted my parents to be able to easily attend both simchas. It definitely was a whirlwind of several weeks. Sukkos, Boy Scout campout again in our sukkah, two bar mitzvahs and lots of wonderful time with family. My parents were excited. I made Saba (Grandpa) learn Chumash with Mr. Little every day. It gave them something wonderful to do. Saba and Mr. Little have a special bond. They love to Skype with each other regularly and read stories to each other. My parents took my boys with them to my sister’s house, leaving my DH and I two days to ourselves!  Thanks to my parents and my sister for babysitting!

I have to say, Hashem heard my prayers and saw my tears this summer. He just decided that my time alone would be better off at a different time when I did not have to worry about making a school schedule. DH took ALL boys (well, all three) to Big Bend to camp for a

Big Bend National Park

week in December. That meant… you guessed it… I was home, All. By. Myself. Just me. 🙂 It gave me that so much needed break. I spent time on the computer the first day. I did not know what to do with myself. It did get cold here that morning, the cold front come through, though Big Bend was one of two spots in the country that was warm. On Monday, I tidied up some of the rooms and started on a deep clean of the coat closet. I had small goals, I knew better. I spent all day Tuesday cleaning the coat closet. I tossed as much as I could out – I still am working on minimalizing my house. It is a slow process. It felt so good to not feel rushed that someone is coming home, and I could just leave things if I was finished for the day and go to bed! Wednesday was my spiritual day. I did make sure I did some reading every day, but Wednesday was my big day. I decided that after the cleaning was done, this was my opportunity to reconnect. With being busy with beautiful boys, it is not usually easy for me to find time, so I made sure I made time. By the time everyone

Big Bend National Park

came home on Thursday, I was ready. I was calm, happy, and felt recharged. And I did not have to leave home, which was the best!

The big thing this year is that we finally got to see what each of the other boys were needing. Mr. Big was not doing well. Our city is big, and there are many religious family here, there are several areas in town. However, the big thing is that it is still a “young” community. There are so many children here. However, the kicker is that they stop at about 13 years of age. After that, there just are not very many kids. Our oldest is now 16 and we asked someone in the know and he could only come up with 3 boys that age. Two are out of town and the other is in a different area of town. There are basically no boys here for him. That is a big problem. That along with other things that have happened created a situation that needed our immediate attention.

This is where I got stuck. We knew what we needed to do though I had a hard time accepting things. I had my head stuck in one direction and could not shift into another

His First Day of Yeshiva!

gear. Our son needed to go to Yeshiva. He did not need to go away from home, but he needed friends. The Yeshiva here has mainly out of town boys with a few in town boys from the other side of town. It was a hard few months for me as I struggled with me and who I was. I was not a failure. From 4 down to 2. It was a hard thing to swallow. I had to swallow my ego and that was not easy. Afterall, I was “That Homeschool Mom,” for the good and not so good. I had to live up to that title, didn’t I?

No.

That is not who I am. I am a mother of 4 beautiful boys and wife to an amazing husband. As a Mother, all I want is the best for my children. If teaching them at home is the best for them, or, at least, the same as sending to them to school, and I want and can teach them, then I will. If there comes a time when something is better, then, as a Mother, I will do my best to make sure they get it. Up until now, homeschooling really was the best for them.

Chanukah with all my boys 😀

Now, after 16 years, my oldest is ready to move on. Baruch Hashem, he has a had a good first week of school and is finishing the week off with a Shabbaton. I would like to think that he appreciates at least some of what I taught him and gave him over the last 16 years,( though, that just might be my ego getting to me again. 😉 ) In many ways, he has a huge advantage over other boys, and he knows it, and in other ways he will catch up really fast. DH and I are very happy with how and what we taught them in their Judaics (as well as secular). They have learned stuff that most boys do not learn and it is stuff that puts them ahead in a big way. Mr. Big is good at perception and I do believe that he understands this. We listened to part of a shiur several weeks ago that stated that he believes that boys should be learning the material that we taught and why.

As we head on over to the second half of the school year, I am finally really excited. I have one boy who insists that he wants to remain learning at home (yeah! I can think that I

Freezing maple syrup on snow!

really am doing at least a little good,) and one boy whom I can give a lot more attention with his learning that he needs over the next few years. OH! And I can’t forget to mention that Mr. Boy #3 passed his Amateur Radio test! Another Kosher Ham in the house! 😀

Things are good. It just depends on if we can train our minds to understand that. Things are slowing down in some ways, which is helpful, so that I can focus my attention on things that need me. I am optimistic that the three of us who are home are going to have lots of fun. 🙂

 

The Good in Everything

Happy Birthday to my 12 year old! His Hebrew birthday was the past Shabbos and his English birthday is this Friday. Only 1 more year to go. The nachas from his troope practicing and his parsha singing has begun!

I apologize I did not get a post out last week. I was thinking about it, however, I spent my time finishing up my latest book (the fact that there was a sale on books last week helped with that!) This book is a Jewish Homeschool book. I write in hopes to help others. Homeschooling can be wonderful but very difficult at times. Often times we do not have any way to gauge our success or failures. Many times things seem to go wrong and we feel like a failure. This book is an accumulation of my blog postings. It also includes postings that are not posted as well as templates that can be useful to homeschoolers.  We have our ups and we have our downs, just like every other family. (The book can be purchased through Lulu.com.  I am working on getting it distributed through Amazon.com as well as in an ebook format.)

Aside for that little bit of excitement for me, I was trying to think of what I was going to write about this week. Since Chanukah is just around the corner, I had been coming up with almost free activites that the boys can do. I was racking my brain for a nice menorah for my 3 year old to make when he pulled out (on his own, without me mentioning it) his menorah from last year! He was so excited! It is a real menorah that is almost as tall as he is. I was excited as well for I had totally forgotten about it and never thought that at that age (last year he was 2,) he would have remembered it even if I had showed it to him. Well, that was one thing I did not have to worry about and it actually lifted a nice pressure off my shoulders. It is made of a nice piece of wood, decorated with paint, small wooden chips and tea lights.

I thought perhaps I could get off a little easy by telling the boys they were going to perform the story of Chanukah – complete with actors and costumes and props. They were excited and even started the process. I then figured the little one would really benefit greatly from arts and crafts, as well as the older ones enjoying themselves, so I had been looking at some fairly easy, almost free yet nice crafts. Chanukah is one of the holidays in which there is no shortage of suggestions. I did come across 2 sites that met my fancy a bit this year:

http://www.amotherinisrael.com/easy-inspiring-chanukah-craft-ideas/

http://www.tipjunkie.com/holiday-crafts/hanukkah-kids-crafts/

Aside from that, we have entered the last POPCORN phase. Yes, we are not done! (See why it is a nightmare for parents?! However, we like to think of it as summer camp for yummy boys, for they earn money in their scout accounts that can be used towards scout camp tuition.) We are trying to deliver all the tins and boxes – it is hard when you have only 30 minutes of daylight to do it each day. It is slow, but we are making progress. For those that we owe popcorn too, please don’t fret, we will try to get them to you within the next week. Please forgive us. We were on a roll this week when Someone thought our life was too dull. As we were on the way to the JCC to meet up with customers who bought, I got a call from DH. I needed to come to his work ASAP, and no excuses. He was in an accident. It was in the parking lot at work. So, I handed boys the phone and they called their customers and rescheduled meeting times while I changed the direction of the car.

Turns out he slipped on the little water that was left from the rain the day before (it was 50 degrees out, no ice.) It was a pretty bad accident, and we brought him to the hospital. To make a long story short, Daddy’s ankle is broken in 2 places and he needed surgery. Well, so much for some fun Chanuakah projects! From driving back and forth from the hospital to home (Baruch Hashem only 8-10 minutes away,) it was so much for pretty much everything.

We did have one of those homeschooling moments in the car on the way to visit Daddy. We had all been talking about retirement accounts and emergency funds this past week.  It is so very important to start contributing to one’s retirement account as soon as one starts working – not 1 or 2 years later.  It is also very important to save a portion of each paycheck to put into an emergency fund.  Even though they are pretty smart many things just do not internalize just by talking.

I do not remember how the conversation started, it could be that I specifically started it, I just do not remember, but I felt I could internalize this lesson. The boys have been asking for various things, and unfortunately we have had to tell them there is no money. We have a budget and we stick to it. It is very important to keep out of debt. I told the boys that it costs money to go back and forth to the hospital, it costs money to pay for the parking (even though it was VERY reasonable,) it costs money to buy the extra food and other extras we need at the moment. How are we paying for it? With our emergency fund! Baruch Hashem our cost for this emergency will not be that much extra, and when we are past it, we will shore up the emergency fund again. Even while sitting in the front, I could see some gears start to turn.

I had this grand idea that since we homeschool, our school travels with us, even when visiting Daddy in the hospital. We grabbed our supplies and books, as well as some lunch and off we were! I was very proud of myself. Unforunately, the hospital’s internet is too slow to access Room613, so that was not a go. Each boy did get 1 lesson done, so it was not a complete failure.

The boys were wonderful. They behaved themselves, were quiet, only kibitzed one time (and it was a small kibitz!) but 4 boys walking around a small hospital room while Daddy’s foot not only hurt a lot, he had a migraine despite 3 various medicines that he was given, was not really good combination. They did, however, manage to learn 2 sets of mishnayos lessons with Daddy before I took them back home. The house remained fairly intact and even though I gave them a little bit of mussar, I was very impressed with how well they kept it. I have not heard too many complaints from any of them and so I’m contemplating purchasing each of them a book as a thank you present. I am itching to buy them each a book again, books are great presents and they get read and re-read and re-read, and re-read again.  And, they are presents for not just one boy, but each boy, in his turn, can grow into it and read it. However, since money is tight, I have not been able to do it. This is accident is just the excuse I need to be able to purchase the books.  It would have to come out of our emergency money fund and I definitely would not purchase books right now if it were not for the emergency!  I think Daddy will have to agree to it. 🙂

This accident is also a great time to show Hashem’s great kindness and love. I tell the boys that everything Hashem does is good and is for the best. It is hard to see that when something “bad” happens. Over the last few days, DH and I have come up with so many brachos and good things. Baruch Hashem it happened in the parking lot at work and not while driving on the road. Baruch Hashem it was only as bad as it was, it could have been much, much worse. There was talk that Daddy was going to have to go overseas for work for up to 3 weeks. The doctor said it could be up to the end of the month before he will go back to work! Now, Daddy is not only home for a much needed rest from all the work he has been doing, he will be home for Chanukah for sure (and the boys are SOOOO excited about that!) He can even spend more time learning. Yes, it will be a long recovery, however, the surgery went better than planned and he is doing very well. There is good in everything, if we only look.

Wishing everyone a Freilichen Chanukah! May the light of the menorah shine light into your world as well!