This year several parents have made similar comments - that their kids are overloaded with stress and homework from their secular schools, and they are worried about Temple Isaiah’s education program being “too academic.” Each time I hear a comment like this, I have multiple feelings simultaneously.
First, I feel compassion. Kids today are truly overloaded with academic pressures and commitments. Teachers give more homework than ever before, pressure to get good grades is at an all time high, and extracurricular activities require far more hours than they used to. Kids as young as 7 or 8 buckle under the pressure - especially the “academic” pressure they face at school. Some kids (again, even very young children) meet with tutors on a regular basis in order to improve their success in school. So I understand where parents are coming from - “my kids are overloaded,” they are saying, “they … Read More >
As a new mom, I have become a fan of a blog called “The Motherlode.” Published by the NY Times, it is described thus: “The goal of parenting is simple — to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids. The road from here to there, however, is anything but simple. In The Motherlode, Lisa Belkin tackles it all — homework, friends, sex, baby sitters, eating habits, work-family balance and so much more — subjects culled from the news, from her own experience as a parent, from the latest books and studies and, of course, from reader input.” Every day there are blog entries that fascinate me, infuriate me, or pique my interest.
One of the dilemmas facing Jewish educators year after year is whether to use siddurim (prayerbooks) that have transliteration (Hebrew words written in English letters) at tefillah. There are good arguments on both sides of the debate: If you use transliteration, it helps everyone feel more comfortable with the Hebrew and it makes the service feel more inclusive. However, the transliteration can become a “crutch,” so that children rely on it and do not look at or learn the Hebrew.
To be honest, I’ve typically leaned toward NOT letting our kids use siddurim with transliteration. I want them to learn Hebrew, and I’m afraid that if the siddur has transliteration, they will never be motivated to learn how to decode the Hebrew letters. That being said, I think it’s important to have transliteration available when parents participate in tefillah, as many of our parents are not Jewish and/or did … Read More >
About a month and a half ago I had an idea - either hare-brained or brilliant - that students in the Religious School might like to help me lead weekday tefillah with instrumentation. Many of our students play instruments, and they rarely have the opportunity to bring those talents to our congregation. And so this was my proposal to all our 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders:
“If you would like to help me lead tefillah by playing an instrument, let me know. I will write your name down and then get you a packet of music with songs / prayers from our weekday service. Once you have learned something that you’d like to lead, let me know. I will have you play it for me, and if I feel that you’re ready, we’ll schedule a time for you to lead tefillah with me.”
I thought a few kids … Read More >
I’m very excited to report that at Religious School on Wednesday, we had ten (yes, ten!) kids stay inside during hafsakah (recess) in order to continue working on their Hebrew studies with our new Hebrew program, Mitkadem. Can you believe it?! They’re choosing Hebrew over recess!
A few months ago I read a really interesting article in the NY Times about two kinds of people: Managers & Makers. Stephen Dubner (of Freakonomics fame) cites an article by a Silicon Valley innovator named Paul Graham in which he talks about how people use time. He argues that “managers” operate according to a daily schedule divided into hours. Others, whom he calls “makers,” tend to operate according to a schedule of half days or full days. More specifically, he believes that makers use time in this way because an hour or two is not nearly enough time to create the kinds of things that “makers” create. He is referring to artist-types, of course - writers, artists, musicians, etc - as well as other people who make things, such as computer programmers. The creative process can be challenging, and one needs large blocks of … Read More >
There was an interesting article in the NY Times’ parenting blog last week about teaching children to apologize:
One of the things I found helpful about the blog is the reminder to parents (and educators) that apologies aren’t only about the words. In Jewish tradition, repentance involves at least 4 steps:
1) Recognize our error/misdeed/sin
2) Apologize to the appropriate person(s) with sincerity
3) Fix the problem (if necessary… i.e. return a stolen item to its proper owner)
4) When we encounter a similar situation in the future, act differently
At this time of year - the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) - we are supposed to ask others for forgiveness. But as we do so, let us remember that it’s not our words alone that will lead to full teshuva (repentance), but it is also our actions - current and future - that will … Read More >