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Lots of learning going on!

August 22, 2010 3 comments

It’s funny how things sometimes seem to come in spurts!

Yesterday ds17 celebrated the completion of a section of gemara (Talmud) that he’s been learning for two years.  We had a small family celebration after our Shabbos meal.  Then his married learning partner this morning made another celebration for him, which was very nice of him.

Ds11 and ds17 recently completed a tractate of mishna together – they’ve been learning most weekday mornings this past year.  We wanted to make an official note of their accomplishment but were a little stymied by the timing.  We had a synagogue picnic in the late afternoon today that we didn’t learn about until a few days ago.  We realized that a number of his friends would have a scheduling conflict, but to do it afterward seems like too much to pack into one day, since the picnic ended at 7 pm.

However, Monday night dh wouldn’t be there, and Tuesday night ds17 and I wouldn’t be there.  We felt it was important that ds17 be there since he was the one who learned with ds11, and dh very much wanted to be there because this is something he values very much.  So rather than have it at a time when either of them would miss it, we decided to do the celebration at 7:15 pm.

Ds11 asked if he could invite a bunch of friends, which was fine. Then he asked if I would buy a lot of ‘junk’ (processed snack foods), which I also agreed to (you would be shocked how much food coloring and sugar was served in my house today!).  And finally, he asked if he could have a swim party afterward with his friends.  And I agreed to that, too!

Since we adjusted the time late last night, ds11 didn’t have much time to notify all the friends he wanted to invite.  After returning home from synagogue in the morning, he had a very short time at home before he went to help run a carnival with a few friends.  (This is their third year doing it and they donate 50% of the profits to charity.)  Then when he came home from that, he had hardly any time before he had to leave for baseball tryouts, and met us directly at the picnic later on.  So really  not much time for making all the calls he would have liked.

In spite of that, it worked out beautifully and a good number of his friends were able to make it.  The purpose of making a mini party is to validate the effort and time he’s put into this learning, and ds11 was very happy about having a bunch of friends be there for this and it turning into a bigger social event.  Also, when we scheduled this I thought ds17 was leaving on Tuesday to go to yeshiva in NY,  but he decided to leave tomorrow morning to have a little more time to get set up there before the term begins.  So tonight really was the last chance we had to have it with ds17 present, so I’m especially glad the timing worked out.

I’m so happy and grateful that both boys have made their Torah learning primary, and that we had good reason to celebrate so much with them both in the last couple of days!

Avivah

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Categories: home education, Mishna, Talmud

Ds11 completing tractate of mishna

May 22, 2010 3 comments

Earlier this year, my ds11 (who was then 10) and his best friend initiated their own learning time together each morning after davening (morning prayer services).  They did this entirely on their own initiative, and decided to learn Seder Makkos (tractate of mishna), using the Artscroll English translation to help them understand the Hebrew wording.

This morning we made a private kiddush together with the family of his friend (our two families were over 20 people!) in honor of them completing the entire seder Makkos.   What was so nice wasn’t just that they did the learning, but that they wanted to do it.  Over the past months my ds hardly mentioned anything to me about it except in passing, but they kept it up, morning after morning.  His friend’s mother said she felt the push to do it was from my ds (because  every morning at 7:30 am his name showed up on her caller id to be sure his friend was awake on time :lol:), but my ds said it wasn’t true, that they encouraged one another equally.  It’s heartwarming to see our boys voluntarily wanting to spend their time increasing their Torah knowledge, not to get pats on the back from the adults around them, but for their own sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

You know, kids want to do the right thing.  They want to be knowledgeable, and grow in their competence.  They want to develop their character and become better people.  We adults tend to think we have to push things down their throats, that we have to make them be responsible and do what we want.  And it’s true that sometimes left to their own devices they’ll make different choices than what we’d choose (though different doesn’t mean bad).  But overall my parenting experience has been that kids do more, and do it better, when they’re listening to their own inner conscience.  When kids develop their own sense of internal motivation, it’s powerful, so much more than something imposed on the outside can be!

By the way, this morning ds16 mentioned to me that he and ds11 are almost finished with a different tractate of mishna(they learn together immediately after morning davening, and then ds11 learns with his friend while ds16 learns with his adult chavrusa/learning partner, then come home late in the morning for breakfast).  So it looks like the two of them will be making a siyum very soon – BH no shortage of occasions for festive meals around here!

Avivah