A Back To School Tidbit: Part A

By: Aaron Joseph. With all of Lakewood returning to ‘School Year Routine’ over the next few days, a couple of itty bitty tidbits from an insider’s perspective may go a long way in making the school year seam far shorter and more successful. A well rested student is key:

While school days can go anywhere from six hours to twelve or more, depending on the students age, well rested students allow for the day to pass by on a high- if not on the fly. While only a parent knows his or her child best, Rabayim and teachers immediately pick up on this all important key facet and already detect the entire household framework from the get-go- all this just based on how well-rested you child and their student seems. Of course there are the every-so-often cases, but that is an exception to the rule. (I personally recommend not sending a very tired child- do everyone a favor- allow a late start or early pickup!)
 
A tired child does not perform very well at all, surely not contributing to a controlled and rigid environment most any functioning classroom demands. On the flipside, should the classroom be “loose,” a tired child’s tired disposition is enhanced.
 
Naturally, the good afternoon teachers mostly understand that the student has already placed many hours into his school day by the time they arrive at their class. Some afternoon teachers can mange by being more forgiving, some cannot. This may have to do with the management style, or the class body and subject. However, understandably, the more rested a student begins his day, the more rested they will enter even into this long distance part of their day. Naturally, this contributes greatly to the relaxed disposition upon their return home.
 
Parent communication:
Contributing immeasurably to a well-rested student’s success is an open channel between his/her parent, and the Rebbi/teacher.
 
While it is a common expectation of a parent that a Rebbi or teacher would be in contact with them should the need arise, this is unfortunately a big mistake on the parents part.
 
A parent knows his/her child best. With a class size of even only 25 students, it can take a teacher a while until he truly comes to know and understand your child. This is even more so of those teachers that may have your child as their student for only 45 minutes a day, only a few times a week. Of course a child falling asleep on the desk or a fight may decidedly expedite the process.
 
Don’t wait. Call the Rebbi/teacher as soon as you can and initiate diplomacy. You must remember that while you must only keep track of your child, a Rebbi/teacher must keep track of 25+. And while it is true, that is what they are paid for; it is far easier for a parent to contact a teacher, then for a teacher to call 25+ parents in a sitting. Don’t forget- the Rebbi/teacher must be in contact with his own children’s school staff as well.
 
Certainly call if there is any concerns that need to be addressed, even small subtle ones, as it would greatly enhance and expedite a Rebbi/teacher’s understanding of your child, then for them to come to detect it on their own – and perhaps miss out on opportunities to assist in that area. A good Rebbi/teacher will bemoan the fact, and it is unfortunately common-place to hear an expression similar to “if only I would have known earlier!” Don’t try to test the student or Rebbi/teacher by seeing if whatever it is- is detectable even this year. Give a heads up.
 
Even if your child is the perfect student, call a Rebbi/teacher. It behooves the Rebbi/teacher to hear expressions from a parent like: “Keep me posted on any last thing,” or “let me know if there is anything that arises that I should be aware of.” Firstly, how it the world can a Rebbi/teacher be fully expected to meet your criteria of need to know, and secondly, as much as you don’t like to think so, a Rebbi/teacher is a human-being as well, and may simply not be up to your “on-demand” information. You the parent call periodically. A good Rebbi/teacher wants your child and their student to succeed to their maximum, they will be happy to give you the time.
 
Don’t be a nuisance. Allow a Rebbi/teacher time to implement their classroom structure before you become the world’s greatest critic. In all orthodox schools, this can, and usually does last until a few weeks after the Holiday period. Always allow a Rebbi/teacher the benefit of the doubt- no matter what- as a wise man one time told me- YOU WERE NOT THERE! This is of course until you make contact with the Rebbi/teacher, and then if the need arises, you can contact the principal.
 
Never worry about “going over a Rebbi/teacher’s head” and contacting a principal. First of all, a principal is a big part of the education process. Contact a Rebbi/teacher first though, as the usual fist question of any principal worth their beans will be “did you speak with the Rebbi/teacher?” Rabayim and teachers wilt take it in stride if you contact a principal about any concern involving them, and will assuredly reason that you are an involved parent that cares. They do too, and won’t mind.
 
A final piece of advice: Don’t criticize a Reebi/teacher- not to your spouse, not to a friend, and surely not to the student or any child. It WILL immediately get back to them. Surely don’t criticize them to their faces. (Save it for a principal if need be- and make sure no one is in your shouting distance!)
 
Face it; A Rebbi/teacher is doing their best. They are putting up with your creation! Yes- the one that sometimes you can’t wait to send off to school! Exhaust all diplomacy when in conversation with a Rebbi/teacher, and if need be, HANG UP. (Say the service went down or the call got dropped at a later date!)
 
It doesn’t pay to argue or hurt feelings. Aside for the fact that they will still be teaching your child beyond that point- and perhaps some of your others in the future- there is also human feelings that must be respected. Onas Dvorim always applies.
 
Finally: You know your child- don’t expect the impossible. Not from your child, and certainly not from the teacher. Expect, but not the impossible. Be reasonable.
 
Work Load/ Home Work.
There is a full spectrum of opinions vis-à-vis this. From outright child abuse, to the they simply don’t give enough.
 
As for the school work load, usually a Rebbi/teacher tools his agenda to the incoming class and the school curriculum in tandem with the school administration.
 
Regarding homework, it is speculative. Nothing is no-good, as a parent must administer some credence and express some interest and knowledge with what their child is accomplishing and studying in class. Too much of a good thing is also no-good.
 
Every child has an individual pace and has his/her like and dislikes in chosen subject. Personally, my favorite teacher was the one who let us choose the subject for homework that night. What might take your child 25 minutes can take a different child 5.
 
As a parent, you are responsible for the home welfare of your child. Don’t ‘force’ a child into tears over homework. No matter how rested they are, it has already been a very long day. Be reasonable, you know what the capabilities are and where the breaking points are.
 
If you must- allow a partial homework to be done. However- Always- I repeat ALWAYS excuse with a note and if need be a follow up phone-call. A Rebbi/Teacher will always be receptive to a finely attuned note- as amongst other things, it lends legitimacy to whatever the child’s saying, and shows parent awareness and involvement.
 
As I close this first school related article I must relate: Always, always add an extra Teffila for your child’s day. These heartfelt Tefillos work far more then any trick of the trade. Try it. (Perhaps every time you start your car- say a Kapitil- that way you wont ‘forget’)
 
Finally, may you and your child be Zoche to a wonderful and successful school year.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. This is a really nice article. I am just nit-picking on the first paragraph. I don’t think you meant “seam”, rather “seem”. Perhaps you can change it so that we precise English speakers and readers don’t get stuck on that one mistake and dismiss the article in its entirety, expecially since it really is a very well written and expressed article. Thank you!

  2. to #1

    sorry to burst your bubble but if you are from the real nit-pickers you would not say “that one mistake” – there are a LOT more 🙂

    what kind of sentence is the following? Of course there are the every-so-often cases, but that is an exception to the rule.

    and the following usage of vis-a-vis is incorrect (it is used when comparing items): There is a full spectrum of opinions vis-à-vis this. (the correct word is regarding)

    and is “As a parent, you are responsible for the home welfare of your child” talking about the welfare of the home or the welfare of the child at home?

    and so on and so on … 🙂

Comments are closed.