What Advice Would You Give to Schools and Parents as the Year Begins

The school year and it’s accompanying challenges begins this week and next.

How would you rate the school’s overall effect on your children’s relationship to G-d and Torah?
a) Positive
b) Neutral
c) Negative

What best describes your approach to schooling
a) Try to help my children fit into the system
b) Develop good relationship’s with the teachers so they can address my children’s special need
c) Try to contain the damage caused by the limitation of the system

What piece of advice would you give to the schools?

What piece of advice would you give to parents?

4 comments on “What Advice Would You Give to Schools and Parents as the Year Begins

  1. I can tell you that much needed frustration can be avoided if parents call the teachers and try to have homework and assignments modified during times when the student is particularly busy or under stress. For example, if the family will attend a chasunah, please inform the teacher that Shimmy can’t do his 50 math problems that night…but tell them AHEAD of time, as opposed to coming in with a note the NEXT day. Make a plan with the teacher…very often the teacher is much more open to this proactive planning then just sending a excuse the next day (and if Shimmy lost the note, then what??)
    If a grandparent is ill and the child is effected, communicate this right away and make a plan with every teacher to lessen the load (all the more so if a parent is ill.) If mom just game birth and in the hospital, tell the teacher, as having only one parent at home is a huge stress, even if neighbors are helping.
    It is so important to keep everyone involved…teachers will work with you.
    One last vent…I am 1000 percent against homework across the board, period. I won’t get started with the reasons, but necessary review can be done is school. This includes limudei kodesh, but I’m not elaborating. However, since we’ve been brainwashed to think more homework means the kid must be learning alot in school, there is loads of homework. But it can be lessened if really necessary. Please call the teachers.

  2. We had an altogether positive experience with elemenatary school. Our approach would be: all three prongs. Definitely parents and kids should fit in so that they cannot be labled BT/BT kids so easily. Not that their background should be hidden, but it shouldn’t be a point where others can visually point the child out as different. I found it very important to have a close kesher with the rebbe/morah/teacher during the school year, being polite and grateful and a mentch. Whatever you put in to that relationship comes back for your kids benefit, esp. if the kid needs particular attention or modification of the curriculum.

  3. Rabbi Dovid Sitnick, the Menahel of Yeshiva Siach Yitzchok in Far Rockaway (where my three boys went from K through 8) used to say that the Rebbe tells his talmidim, “Kivud Av v’Eim,” but the parents have to teach the children to “Respect and Honor Rebbe.”

    Don’t let Shabbos meals turn into complaint sessions and criticism bouts. Keep that negativity far away from the Shabbos table. Let Shabbos seudos be an opportunity for the kids to take out their parshah sheets and give over what they learned that week. That should be followed by positive reinforcement (“Yasher Koach, Yanki. Great job”).

    Chazarah (repetition and review) is vital for older boys (Grade 5 and up) who are learning Gemara. If Gemara review is impossible in fatherless homes or where the father does not know enough Gemara to assist his sons, it may be helpful to pay a bochur to learn with the boys.

    In households that have both toddlers and school-age children, it is important to help the older children find a clean and quiet place where they can study and do their homework without being disturbed by the babies. If the living room is too noisy and crowded, the older ones may need to have desks and chairs in their bedrooms, with locks on the doors to keep out the little kids.

    There are two great new books out on safety: Bracha Goetz’s rhyming book, “Let’s Stay Safe,” and the recent reprint, “Yoni Ploni Never Talks to Strangers.” Parents need to discuss the issue of personal safety with their children, even very young kids. Even very young children should know their full names, addresses and telephone numbers, plus that they can “trust a mom with kids” but “stay away from strangers.”

    Work hard to keep lines of communication open with your children, so that they know they can tell you everything. A lot goes on during a school year, and you want to make sure that your children feel comfortable about talking to you about what happens in school. You don’t have to be, and in fact you shouldn’t be, your children’s best pal: however, you also should not be a policeman. Especially don’t fall into the trap of the “bad cop, good cop” routine, making one parent the “bad cop” who always doles out the punishment.

    Let your home be the oasis of shalom in a stressful challenging world, for both your children and for your spouse (and even for yourself). Home should be the place where every family member can kick off shoes, relax and feel comfort and security. Get a couch that permits kids and adults to put their feet up both literally and figuratively. Allow kids to walk in through the door after a tough day at school (and your spouse after a tough day at work) and chill out for a few moments, grab a healthy snack and a drink, before tackling the mountain of homework and study.

    Many families have said they enjoy walking together to and from shul on Shabbos. Make the walk home a special time for warm family bonding and not a Lashon Hara bashfest.

    May we all be matzliach to have our children have a successful, happy and healthy upcoming school year.

  4. The school assumes part of the parents’ task to raise informed, enthusiastic Torah Jews. Parents have to do what they can, in their particular situation, to make sure the school does its part, while they do theirs.

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