Popcorn, Yomim Tovim, Yomim Tovim and More Yomim Tovim!

Rosh Hashanah has come, Yom Kippur will be here in less than 24 hours.  I have been trying to think of something to write, but nothing popped into mind.

Baruch Hashem we have been busy.  Our annual Scout popcorn fundraiser is in full swing now, with $4000 worth of popcorn already bought – and that does not include the chocolate flavors that we could not purchase this round (the chocolate melts too easily we are told.)  I am told the popcorn is much better than last year and not to mention it is in tins again.  (All popcorn is OU-D, with the plain unpopped kernels OU-Parve – anyone interested? 😉  )

This is the best and worst time of the year.  The best time for the boys to work on their socialization skills and go door-to-door and talk to all sorts of people – from young to old, from cranky to nice, from English speakers to non-English speakers.  They also get lots of exercise for they do a lot of walking!  It is the worst time for Daddy and Mommy have to go and take them all over, not just once, but twice when we have to deliver to the wonderful places that bought.  But soon it will be over and we are hoping that the older two will have earned enough to go to one week of Jewish Scout camp in the summer (the number 3 boy has one more year before he can go!)

We sure hit our new year off to a good start with missing the first 1.5 days of Room613!  Several boys thought they read there will be no classes the ENTIRE week, not just for Rosh Hashanah.  But after talking to my sister and a friend on the second day after Rosh Hashanah, I found out they were wrong.  Lesson learned: Read my emails more closely… It was not a total loss, I tried to add more secular work into the 2 days that would have been missed because of Rosh Hashanah.

We did not delve into Yom Kippur last week too much, probably should have, though I had other unrelated things on my mind.  Sometimes I find it hard to balance personal learning and introspection with teaching the boys and helping them out with the same things.  We did talk about some of the basic prayers and their meanings.  I also found some nice Kol Nidre songs on Youtube to help get us in the mood.  One thing I told the boys is that they should read the davening in English – especially the Al Chets.  Since all the davening we do is for us, not Hashem, how are we supposed to put ourselves in the correct frame of mind if we do not even know what we are saying?

This week we worked on Yonah and the Whale.  I found some nice one page versions for preschoolers and a cute song for the little one, as well as a translation of the Vilna Gaon’s work on sefer Yonah.  That is set for high school, however, my older boys are getting some of it.  They just had chapter 1 on chinuch.org, however, I was able to find the full English version at the  Daf Yomi Review website.  We are not going to finish what we have, but that is fine, that leaves more to learn another time. My youngest wanted stuff to color today, but the computer we use for printing was being used, so I will hopefully print out a copy of Yonah and the whale for him to color tomorrow while we sing our song or I’m working with the older boys.

Sukkos is right around the corner, and it is always tough to do Sukkos learning with very few days – I feel I should spend several days on Yom Kippur, and not just rush through it to start Sukkos material, but then I feel Sukkos gets jipped!  I did buy nice 8.5 x 11 charts from Torah U’Mesorah on Sukkos many years ago.  I do not always go over them with the boys, but I think it is time to do them again.  When the older boys were younger, I did manage to do several projects such as a styrofoam esrog and foam/feathered lulav, however, lately we have been focusing on getting the sukkah all up and set that we do not do very many crafts for we are also still doing school work.  We are fortunate for the front entrance to the house has three walls already and all we need to do is add schach on top.  We have most of the schach (about 70 individual bamboo sticks), but it is not quite enough, and we always have to figure out where to find more!  I think I will need to come up with one nice decoration they can each do, the previous ones are getting old.  Oh, and I think I have one more styrofoam ball the youngest can paint as well as some green foam.  I think an older brother might like to spend some quality time with his youngest bro. 🙂

I am going to finish up, drink more liquid, and try to finish getting myself ready for tomorrow night.  Wishing everyone a Gemar Chasima Tovah and an easy fast!

I was asked *THE* question

I am usually a very confident person, especially when it comes to our homeschooling, but for some reason, when *the* question was put to me recently, I felt very not confident and my mind went blank.  It is not like we have not been asked that question before – after all, we are now in our 8th year of homeschooling!  So, for my mind to go blank was very not like me.  I do not know why I froze.  It could have been just the way the question was posed, the tone of voice she used perhaps put me on the defensive side, and it could have been because it was someone who has known my kids for many years and all of a sudden she asked this question.  Or, just a combination of it all.  (Photo taken from here.)

Anyone who has homeschooled knows what *the* question is, it is the most famous question a homeschool parent is asked (and yes I can even hear some of you snickering!): “What about SOCIALIZATION? Do your kids SOCIALIZE?”

I think everyone understands the importance of these two words, but I am not sure how many people actually understand what they mean. Socialization means a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. In other words, taking children out to various places, stores, the market, etc. and teaching them how to interact with the various kinds of people from various walks of life is teaching them socialization. Socializing means to make social; to seek or enjoy the companionship of others. So, having my children become friends with each other and playing with each other (as well as some peers) would be socializing. (Definitions from dictionary.com)

I thought I saved an email from one of my homeschool email lists that had a beautiful response to this question, but for the life of me I cannot seem to find it anymore.  I would like to post it if I do find it.  In the meantime, I would like to post part of an article that was sent to me by my sister from the August 19, 2009 Homeschool.com e-zine. (The article can be found here.)

For centuries, children have learned socialization within the context of their own family and community. Institutionalized education is relatively new to the human condition. It is, and it always has been, through the home environment, that children learn the vast majority of their socialization skills.

Research supports this.  According to Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization by Richard G. Medlin, “Home-schooled children are taking part in the daily routines of their communities. They are certainly not isolated; in fact, they associate with–and feel close to–all sorts of people.”

He continues, “Home schooling parents can take much of the credit for this. For, with their children’s long-term social development in mind, they actively encourage their children to take advantage of social opportunities outside the family. Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well. And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society.”

This and other studies support the irony of the socialization issue in homeschooling that we have known for years, which is that traditional schools are actually more on a path of de-socialization.  In traditional schools students learn to stay in a class to which they’ve been assigned and are grouped according to age and academic level, and generally with students from the same geographic area and socio-economic background.

So in a sense, as I like to say, many people are homeschooling because of socialization reasons.

That seems to sum it all up very nicely.  I take my children all over the place – to stores, to the market, on other errands that need to be done.  They learn how to talk to various kinds of people, and people of various ages.  Oh yes, they also get to play with peers, they attend Scouts and we try to get them into camps when we can, among other things.  Some other ideas for socialization are:

  • Getting involved with homeschool co-ops
  • Less structured homeschool gatherings
  • Local field trips where you meet people from all walks of life
  • Community events such as scouting, 4-H, sports, etc.
  • Volunteer.  There is usually a minimum age requirement, however, some places will allow a younger volunteer if a parent stays with them.
  • Don’t forget about online socialization.  There are many children who are registered in virtual online classes in which they meet and interact with other students.

As I am finishing up, our mailman just drove down the street after finishing his route, honked and waved to my boys as they were going on a walk.  They enjoy talking to him, and I think he enjoys talking to them!

I am posting a link to a very cute video.  When I told one of my boys I was going to include it, he quoted his favorite line (after only watching it 2 times and it was several months ago at that,) and the two of us had a very good laugh, so I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!