Learn From the Maccabees to Unlock Your Courage to Homeschool

Scan_20151106Feeling like homeschooling is going nowhere? Are you fighting to get your child to do their school work everyday? Do they seem unmotivated and just want to play video games all day? Is your spouse is starting to second guess this whole homeschooling idea? Is family pressuring you to put your child back in traditional school? Does the fear that if you put your kid back in traditional school terrify you? That they will be mislabeled as “special” and “behind” in their educational progress? Afraid they will be bullied for being label as such? Did you imagine this would be just like regular school except your child would call YOU teacher?

Homeschooling is hard and it takes a special courageous person to do it. Yes! I said courageous! Dr.  Robert Biswas-Diener from the Courage Quotient describes courage as, “the willingness to act toward a moral or worthwhile goal. Despite the presence of risk, uncertainty, and fear.

This week is Hanukkah and I’m going to show you how the courage of the Maccabees reclaiming the temple thousands of years ago can help you with homeschooling today. Because what it all comes down to is courage.

Being out numbered and overpoweredIsrael business

Approximately 2000 years ago, the Greeks demanded that the Jews worship their gods and eventually destroyed and defiled the temple with their sacrificed and statues of their pagan gods. A small band of Jews, known as the Maccabees, defeated the Syrians and the Greeks despite being out numbered and over powered. Yet, they over came their fear and destroyed the army. Then reclaimed the temple.

As a homeschooler you can also feel under-powered against the state, the school system, and even against other parents because each and every one of them is telling you to place your child in the school system. Their are truancy laws to make sure your child is in school at all times. Nosey school system administrators wanting to know your curriculum and progress. Non-homeschooling parents giving you that “look” when you tell them your child is homeschooled ,thinking you must be some fanatic. The social ostracization is enough to make you rethink this whole homeschooling thing. You end up feeling powerless and fearful of going to jail or worse, having your kids taken from you cause your a “bad parent” because you decided to homeschool.

Rebellion against the majority

The Jews also felt as if they were loosing themselves. Practicing Judaism became a crime so many Jews conformed and began to worship the gods of the Greeks. They assimilated into the society at that time.

Not long ago, homeschooling was a common practice globally. It wasn’t until the industrial age that traditional schools as we know them today came into practice. Initially they were sponsored by factories to help create the perfect worker in that field. It was not to meant to educate them above their class, but that was the result. More and more people began to follow in step and eventually it became the norm. Other homeschooler will describe this “factory” education as a reason to create docile workers which many homeschoolers feel is what is coming out of the public school systems today. Today, to homeschool is to be against the norm.

Can still be afraid, but still do it.eternal light

Do you think the Maccabees were not afraid? Do you not think that they felt a sense of crazy when faced with an army that outnumbered and out equipment them? They went in thinking, today may be the day I die. Yet, they overcame their fears and marched on with a zealousness that the Greek army could not compare as the Maccabees were fighting for the Jewish way of life for the present as well as future Jews.

We all fear failing our children. Greatest when homeschooling. Wondering if we are the best thing for them. Decision on if we are even qualified to teach. These are all verbal “weapons” that the school systems and educational government departments throw at us to make us afraid.

Speak up to the higher authority

With the Maccabees it was the Greek and their gods. In fact the first one to die was a Jew because he refused to conform. Today, in homeschooling its the naysayers. These are the school system, the Department of Education, the state, and even some parents. They are all telling you to conform. To allow your child to become this unthinkable, creative empty robot. Critical thinking in primary school has all but been eliminated. Music and Art programs are disappearing across the nation. Standardized test have become the new way to teach because that means money for the schools. If a child falls behind they are label and separated from the group. Those who excel are told to “dumb down” so they can follow the majority due to lack of special educational funding.menorah-animation

What to do

You are not powerless. You are not a “bad parent”. By homeschooling you are rebelling against the majority, traditional schoolers, and telling them that you want a quality, personalized education for your child because your child is not something that can be assembled on a factory line. They are unique and one-of-a-kind. No-one in this world can replace them. Despite what traditional school will teach them. You, too, must continue the fight to find new ways to make homeschooling successful. To put aside your fear of failing and face that fear with the understanding you might fail, but you will never fail your child. Is your child able to talk and communicate with others? Then you have not failed. You are teaching them the life skills they need to know and when they are ready to know it. When they are struggling, you step back. When they are excited, you help them run with it. Decrease your fear by stop being afraid of failing. Failing is what helps us grow. It helps us to see what works for our child and what doesn’t.

Share with me and others, what is your biggest fear in homeschooling?

For me, its that my son will want to stop because I have see the progress that he has made since we started homeschooling and I fear he may want to return to traditional schooling one day.

Comment below with what your biggest homeschooling fear is.

How to make a Beaded Kippah

orginalAs a Jewish woman, you know how important it is to have your head covered when you are up at the bima. Now you don’t have to use those ugly nylon ones they have at the synagogue but you can make your OWN Beaded Kippah. I’m pleased to share this pattern with you from our Sisterhood.

Now, to be perfectly honest this can be a bit hard to do. Although many of our older ladies were able to do it, some did have issues due to arthritis. At our last beading, we had several young ladies join us and those as young as 12 years old were able to do this. The result?

A beautiful personalized beaded kippah that shines your femininity.

So let’s begin!

Materials Needed:

  • 460 (minimum) Size 6/0 beads
  • 24lb gauge wire cut to 1 @ 8″, 1 @ 12″, 4 @ 18″, and 1 @ 20″
  • pencil or chopstick
  • small barrette comb

Step 1- the base

This is the hardest step. Watch the video for clarification if the directions don’t make sense.

Take the 8″ wire. Place perpendicular against pencil leaving a small tail on one side. Take the larger tail and wrap around the pencil, then as you come out on the other side, bring it forward and wrap the 8″wire once, then once again. This will give you your first loop.

Take the pencil out of the loop. Place a bead on the wire, then create the loop again by placing the wire against the pencil with the loop and bead one side of the pencil and the remaining larger tail on the other side. Wrap around the pencil, then as you come out on the other side, bring it forward and wrap the 8″ wire once, then once again. This will give you your second loop.

Remove pencil and add another bead. Keep doing this until you have 6 loops and 6 beads.

After you add your last bead you will take the two tails and connect them to make an octagon, circular shape. Your finished product should look similar to the photo below.

Step 2 -Row 1

Using the 18″ wire, connect your wire at the top of one of your loops. Using 6 beads connect them to the next loop by wrapping twice. Add 6 more beads and wrap twice on the next loop. Continue all the way around. Finishing in your original loop. Wrap and cut off excess.

beaded kippah 2

Step 3- Row 2

Using an 18″ wire you will now connect 6 beads between every third bead as shown going in between the loops as well as at the tips. This will help form your “Star of David” in the middle. Continue all the way around. Finishing in your original loop. Wrap and cut off excess.beaded kippah 3

Step 4- Row 3

Using an 18″ wire you will connect 6 beads to every 6 starting at the top each loop of the previous row as shown. Continue all the way around. Finishing in your original loop. Wrap and cut off excess.

beaded kippah 4 beaded kippah 4A






Step 5 – Row 4

Using an 18″ wire you will now connect 8 beads to every 6 beads , starting at the top of each loop from the previous row as shown. Continue all the way around. Finishing in your original loop. Wrap and cut off excess.

beaded kippah 5 beaded kippah 5A







Step 6- Row 5

Using an 18″ wire you will now connect 8 beads to every 8 beads , starting at the top of each loop from the previous row as shown. Continue all the way around. Finishing in your original loop. Wrap and cut off excess.

beaded kippah 6 beaded kippah 6a


Step 7 – Row 6- Final row

Using an 20″ wire you will now connect 9 beads to every 8 beads , starting at the top of each loop from the previous row as shown. Continue all the way around. Finishing in your original loop. Wrap and cut off excess.

beaded kippah 7 beaded kippah 7a






Step 8 – Adding comb

To keep the kippah on the head you will need to attach a small barrette comb underneath the kippah. This will help it stay in place. To attach it to the kippah you will need to use some scrap wire and twist tie it on the kippah via the comb’s base.


I think you will find that it can be an easy pattern to follow once you get the hang of it. Leave me a comment if you feel a video demonstration would be better solution.

If you are not feeling daring enough or are having difficulty and would like to by one of the test ones I’ve made for the blog, then go to my Etsy shop to purchase them. You won’t find them in any store.

I invite those who are DIYers to purchase the pre-made kits complete with instructions so they may make one themselves without the hassle of trying to find the material. Order now while they are in stock.


What to do when they ask you about the S-word

IMG_1372Your parents are asking about IT. Your in-laws are asking your husband about IT and he’s wondering about it, too. All of a sudden everyone is worried about IT. The idea of what is going to happen if your child doesn’t get IT.

The BIG S-word.


Because it’s SO necessary! It is VITAL for your child very existence. Let’s not mention they have never once asked how many friends your child has nor how their socialization in school was going.


Because they just assume that it’s happening at school. Like through osmosis. Yet, not everyone makes friends at school. Sure they are forced to work together at times, but a good chunk of their education is spent in solidarity. At their desk and testing, they are not allowed to talk to each other unless it’s at the prescribed time. Usually at lunch or recess. So while your child is in class for about 8 hours, he is ACTUALLY only socializing 1 hour of that. IF that! Some schools have removed recess and have limited lunch to 30 minutes. So in that short time kids are cramming food in their mouth and “socializing”.

And those kids who are shy or are the socially awkward? What happens toIMG_1351 them?

They are typically bullied and isolated. I know because that was my son. His problem wasn’t that he couldn’t make friends. He had plenty of that in his old school. It was the type of friends he wanted to make. He didn’t like the kids at his school because they did things against his values.. So that ended up leaving him isolated. The teachers did nothing to promote “socialization”. Their aims were just to get the kids to pass the state test. Teachers could care less about kids socializing.

Then now how are they to socialize?

The same way adults do. You get involved in your activities that allow you to meet people who share those interest. Your children will do the same thing.

The first thing is my son loved baseball. He met many boys and they all seemed to get IMG_1354along. Not all sports go through the school. We found many alternative sport leagues. (Check your local YMCA if all else fails.) When my son was no longer interested in baseball we moved on to….

….Drum lessons! Just cause your kids aren’t in school doesn’t mean that they can’t learn to play an instrument. My children play the violin, flute, guitar, clarinet, and drums. Not one learned their first note in school. They all had private lessons first.

One organization that has ALWAYS been inviting of homeschoolers is the Boy and Girl Scouts. My son has made some solid friendships within their organization. The thing is, if your child is not happy with one troop, if your city is large enough, you can asked to be placed in another group. My son’s troop is very active and we let him participate in most events even though it’s through the local catholic church. (There are no Jewish Boy scouts in our area.) They have always been respectful of our faith.

Your kids only want to play video games?? Good. Yes, I said that. Good. Get them a online subscription and you won’t regret it. (Just make sure everyone is practicing online safety) Children learning about how to deal with online friendships is just as important as offline friendships. With our world being so digital it’s important that they learn how to deal with people from all ages and cultures. Games like Minecraft and Call of Duty are all great games for kids to work on team building.

One of the best ways children can learn about others is in synagogue. We send ours to Hebrew Sunday school and they have made many Jewish friends that way, but even if your shul doesn’t have a school they can still meet others by going to service. Encourage them to have conversations with adults. In today’s world, the ages of your coworkers will vary from the same as you mother to even your grandmother as more and more people are working later in life. Learning this skills now will only help them in the future.

Some will say, that their child can still get all of this and still stay in regular day school. That is when you must ask yourself and them, then WHY keep them in regular day school for socialization if they are continually getting it from another source and they are getting positive friendships vs the possible negative friendships. With these friendship I never worry about him falling in with the “wrong crowd” because his friendships make up MY crowd and so will your child’s. That is what you tell family because a traditional school setting is not the sole source of socialization.


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The Secret Method of How to Teach Your Child Was Hidden in the Bible

David boredHe won’t do his work again. He’s just sitting there; head down on the table looking at the paper as if the work will just magically be completed if he looks long enough. It’s another frustrating day teaching English. You don’t blame him. You hated English in school, too. Except when they played movies. SchoolHouse Rock ROCKED! It’s the only reason you know what a conjunction is AND its function! (Admit it, you just sang that song!)

This is what you thought homeschooling was. He fills out the paperwork and you basically take on the role of “teacher”. Correcting his work, giving him grades; but now you’ve hit a wall. He’s refusing to do any work. He wants to play video games and watch TV. Anything but learn about conjugating verbs.

Un-schooling is a different. In un-schooling the child decides what they want to learn. They are not learning nothing and playing video games all day (which isn’t entirely a bad thing). As parents we leave “crumbs”. It’s a method called “strewing“. This is when the kids began to question what they find and then seek it out. As Jews we are ALWAYS seeking and questioning. What is the old joke? With two Jews you will get three opinions?

The Tanakh (Bible) also dictates what we should teach our children. In Deuteronomy we are commanded to teach our children the mitzvos, laws and judgments. There are 613 mitzvahs.David Shopping

That’s a lot.

Thing is, they all don’t apply to us at any one time. However, they do apply to a variety of issues in life. There is a massive amount of laws on just business ALONE.(This covers your subjects in Math, Economics, Financing, etc.)

There are civil laws on how to interact with each other, as well as animal laws governing how to treat animals. (Perfect for fulfilling the requirements for Government or Good Citizenship.)

We have Kosher laws that dictate what we can and cannot eat, defining our Health and Nutrition. As well as Family Purity laws in regards to marriage, surprisingly leading into Human Biology.

Why do we have so many laws?

Because when the Hebrews left Egypt they left without a government to rule them. They needed these laws to survive the desert. Left without a structure they would have probably perished. I mean look what happened as soon as Moses left them alone for a minute! They were building golden calves and having wild orgies. The people needed structure and Hashem knew this.

This isn’t the only time we are told to teach our children. In the Passover Haggadah we are commanded to replay the story of Exodus to our children. (History. See where I’m going here now.) And we are commanded to study Torah which we do with our weekly Parsha. (Reading & Writing.)david desk space

So where does un-schooling fall into this?

It’s life. It’s how you, as a Jew live your life. Guide your child how to live their life according to Judaism and you are un-schooling. You’re not just sitting down with paper. There is no test. At least not a test that anyone on Earth can grade. You are just doing your day-to-day stuff.

It’s OK to add anything outside of that, just make it all based on their interest. Again, with whatever bread crumbs you put. Sometimes it’s going to be video games and that’s OK. Talk with them about their video games. Advise them how it applies to Judaism. The more they communicate with you the bigger their vocabulary will become and the more comfortable they will become with talking with others. (Spelling and Public Speaking.) Not to mention how much more they will feel part of this world as a Jew.

Start strewing now. For more ideas on how to leave the breadcrumbs, sign up now for the free “Tips on Strewing” guide by entering your name and email below.

The Doctor Has Just Taken You…

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

If you could go anywhere with the Doctor, where in all of WORLD history would you go?

Let me know. I want us to have some fun with this.

Can you imagine how fun a lesson plan built around Dr Who would be?!?!? I’m getting all goose pimply just thinking about making the lesson plan.

And that’s kind of weird for even me.

Me, personally, I would go to the British Victoria age. The world just seemed to be filled with such grace and femininity. Plus the industrial age was just beginning. ANYTHING seemed possible.

Share your answer in the comments below.




Beginning “Un-schooling”

The day started out like this:

“David, let's start with Spelling today.”

A deep sigh, slapping of workbook on the desk, slouching in his seat, some more slapping of the workbook to open the book up, loud swishes of pages being turned, and then BOOM…..

Face plowed into his spelling book, like some Peanuts character.

This wasn't the first time. In fact, the frequency of him escaping into his own world was getting progressively worse as the “school year” was going on.

That is when I decided to read John Holt's book, How Children Learn. I knew of Holt being the inspiration behind the “un-schooling” method and wondered if that would be something that would work better for my son.

First, I've always been a self-proclaimed hippie in my younger days, or maybe I'm just getting older, but reading Holt's book and reading about what un-schooling made me think “what the H*ll is this hippie-dippie sh-t!

I mean, COME ON!! Child-led learning? Let them learn what they want?

What about math?



and all the other stuff, they don't want to learn but have to?!?! That's life, right?!?

And how far can you REALLY take this?!? I mean I get it for when they are babies and toddlers, but can this really work on OLDER kids? High schoolers?

Will this screw any chance he has to go to a private college?

Well, I wasn't the ONLY one thinking this luckily and there were many resources online on those very questions. (I urge you to google it as well).

Ultimately, I landed on Sandra Dodd's website and found her e-book to be useful to ME. It was just a full collection of her webpage but I hate wading through pages and pages of web. You can purchase it via iTunes if your interested.

Well, we have been doing un-schooling for just over a week and you will never guess what has happened?

No more book abuse.

Oh, YA!