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Educating Our Children

A Note to My Child's Teacher on the First Day of Kindergarten
I quietly pray that you’ll see through his anxious smile, that you’ll see beyond his neat supplies. He is just a 5-year-old boy, full of questions, bursting with ideas.
Completing the Cosmic Puzzle, One Good Deed at a Time
I know I probably shouldn’t use these cozy nighttime bonding sessions to drive home lessons to my kids, but this was just too good to pass up.
Oops! It's a Mistake!
Yes, children make mistakes, and so do we. It’s the human way, and it’s okay. Let’s just try again.
Small Changes, Big Differences
Even when internal and external factors pull on the child’s heartstrings, there are things that a parent can do to increase his or her own power of influence.
Calm Down Right Now!
Did you ever notice how contagious hysteria is?
Kids in the Kitchen
Making Shabbat “Their” Way
This was “their” Shabbat, and I noticed they treated it differently. They seemed to enjoy their food even more after planning the menu and doing the cooking. They were proud of how neat their rooms were, and took extra care to keep them tidy.
Whodunit?!
Do you really need to know?
Do all questions need to be asked? Do parents really need to know all the information all the time?
The Power of a Ruler
Learning to “measure” our feelings.
Letting Go
Let children learn according to their way, not your way! Let children learn from their own trials and errors, from their own successes and failures (obviously, while establishing boundaries and rules, and instilling Torah values).
Rethinking Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Aside from the lavish parties, there are many ways we can infuse this milestone with relevance.
Raise Your Hand if You're Humble
Today we value aggressiveness, extroversion and charisma. And yet humility is the trait most prized by G‑d.
Helping Children Develop Faith
It is an act of tremendous kindness on our part to help our children learn to swim confidently in the deep end of life, to have all the internal resources they need in order to deal with every challenge they will face.
A New Spin on Parenting
Yes, it can be uncomfortable for us to be patient and kind when we ourselves are not having such a great day. But when we flex our parenting muscles and push ourselves to be better parents, everyone wins.
Dashboard Lights
Teaching kids how to trust themselves
The older my kids get, the less say I have in the choices they make. Hard as that is to accept, I know it’s a good thing. A healthy thing. A beautiful thing...
Chickens and Childrearing
I learned that if a child wants something and we can’t let them have it, we can’t be vague about it, because with children there are no gray areas. Unless it’s absolutely forbidden, it’s permitted....
Six Ways to Teach Kids About Spirituality
Often, “the talk” comes when we’re not ready. “Where did Grandpa go when he died?” a child might ask, or “If G‑d is good, why did Grandma get sick?” Many of us never hashed out own our thoughts about these issues, and find it difficult to help our kids work through them today...
Holy Chutzpah
Keeping the faith in light of the heavier things
As a mother, I see myself as a gatekeeper of my children’s innocence. I do my best to protect them, body, mind, and soul. But life has a way of incessantly usurping my control over the content to which they are exposed...
A Sweet Education
She insulted him, rebuked him and yelled at him. He didn’t flinch, or even bat an eyelid...
Teaching Children Not to Lie
Let me ask you: when a person puts you on the spot, what is your instinct to do? Defend yourself, of course, whether you did it or not. Can we expect our children to behave differently?
Unleashing the Soul in Your Child
Can a child truly become anything he wants? To be raised with that mindset neglects one main fact—he already is someone. And that someone is not dependent on a “thing” to become...
Jewish Special Education: To Include or Not?
The Jewish Day School Dilemma
An academic self-contained/social inclusion model does not just benefit children with special needs. Typical children learn a lot from this model as well. They learn patience, kindness, acceptance and tolerance for children who may be different. These lifelong lessons will help the typical child as these students grow into adulthood . . .
Spare the Rod?
Parents usually parent in the style that they do, not because that's what's good for their kids, but rather because that is what is suitable to them, the parents, in the moment. Let's be honest here. The way that we react to our kids has more to do with us and how we are feeling than with what the kids actually did...
To Do or Not to Do?
Striving Towards Our Goals
Sailing taught me that to reach a goal, you have to strive and strain. It also taught me that sometimes, striving towards a goal requires relinquishing control and doing absolutely nothing...
Lessons from a Smoking Toddler
The public is enamored by videos of Ardi’s smoking because he is a baby acting like an adult. But in Ardi’s defense, he couldn’t be acting more like a baby! After all, what is a baby if not a little vulnerable sponge, soaking up our every mood, word, and—more obviously—action?
Eating Disorders
The pressure of dieting and physical appearance is something that my eight-year-old daughter is already aware of! Occasionally she will pat her round little belly and ask me if I think that she is fat. She is a little chubbier than some of her friends, but certainly nothing unhealthy or out of the ordinary. Should I put her on a diet?
Straightening It All Out
This was only a three-week workshop. After three weeks, I would become a much more effective disciplinarian, communicator and authority figure in my home...
A Teacher's Kind Gesture
When big problems loom that have no real solutions and life just seems too hard to bear, a friend can feel at a loss as to how they can help...
Dripping Water: Gentle Parenting
Think of the child as a crop. There are different ways of watering crops. You can pour water on them with rotary sprinklers, a whirling deluge; or you can conserve your energy and work on the roots, gently...
When Your Child isn't Welcome at the Playground
When my son was born, I smugly assumed that I would do better. I assumed that no child of mine would ever be the terror of the playground. However, inexplicably, as my son turned two, his sweet and mellow disposition gave way to aggressiveness...
Less Than Perfect
I woke up to the sound of my daughter screaming at her little brother. "Why did you do that?" she repeated. "Tell me! Why did you do that?" Then the door slammed...
A Link In the Chain
My Daughter's First Prayer Book
So here I sit at my youngest daughter's siddur party, my digital camera poised in one hand, and my other hand wiping away a stray tear...
Mommy 500
If I denied my baby adequate exposure to bubbles and clapping songs before he learned to roll over, I would irreparably hinder his chances of getting into Harvard...
When Sorry Isn't Enough
Frustrated and wounded by her rejection, the boy clenched his fist, leaned back, and belted my daughter right on the nose...
Controlling the Control
The hardest part is not relying or resorting to a solution that may appear harmless, is cheap, convenient, easy, mobile and works. Kind of.
The Optimal Balance
Respecting Yourself, Respecting Your Child
Many modern parents have a fear of being the big bad wolf, the scary disciplinarian who drives his or her suppressed children straight into the arms of a therapist...
Expectations
How Less is More
It seemed absurd, and yet, when I looked into my son's droopy brown eyes, I understood that this "non-invitation" was a genuine disappointment...
The Sticker Trade
Children and Materialism
A child's world may seem simple, but it is where the complex task of forging an inner value system takes place...
One Step at a Time
I held his hand until he went on the school bus; I kissed him and then sent him on his way, alone. The whole time he was in school, I found myself thinking of him, worrying about him, praying for him. The phone would ring and I'd grab it...
Special Time with My Father
Coke? My father was buying Coke!? My mother was an avowed health food nut, and Coke was not a part of our household staples. My father responded with a conspiratorial wink. I knew that look well . . .
Trade-Offs
This was the first time I had ever come to the Western Wall with a family member. In the past, I had only come alone. But now I had brought my daughter with me, and a deep sense of comfort welled up in me...
Jewish Apples
I think when children start answering the question of Jewish identity, they feel a need to categorize each person, and every object. Jewish or not Jewish? I may be Jewish, but are my shoes? My goldfish? What about the President of the United States?
How Avi Learned to Learn
Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz expressed their desire to have Avi remain in a Jewish day school environment. They were afraid, however, that his learning and behavioral challenges were too great for him to be in a dual curriculum school...
The Stranger in the Box
Protecting our children from the dangers of the Internet
Many parents are reluctant to allow their kids to spend time outside unsupervised because they fear “stranger danger.” Yet the strangers can already be in our homes.
A Psychology of Motivation
Doing good without believing in reward is the flip side of doing good only for reward. In the one case, good is constrained to the metaphysical; in the other, it is limited to a crass physical expression . . .
Teaching Our Children Responsibility
When we tell our children to run an errand for us, are we teaching them "responsibility" or are we teaching them how to transfer responsibility?
Toys Are Us
They have hardly finished surveying aisle one, the ‘nothing’ aisle with bored (board!) games and long flat boxes for children who forgot how to play with toys, when Little Boy has a brainstorm...
Choosing Homeschooling
It was a fundamental shift of mindset: we had always assumed we would delegate educational decisions to trained professionals, and enrich our children’s lives around the edges. Now, we were it...
Call Me
Since he began speaking, two-year-old Asher has learned to call adults by proper titles – much to the dismay of our friends, parents and colleagues...
Vacation Study
The scent of summer is in the air. The pools are full of happy people, winter clothes are stashed away and students have a perpetual grin on their faces-- school is almost over...
Trouble With Dinner
According to certain experts in academia, I have put my kids' entire emotional and educational futures at risk because I haven't made the family dinner an immutable, Norman Rockwell-esque fixture in our lives...
Confidence
Of course it’s important for children to have confidence and self-esteem, but there’s a rub: what if the parent lacks it? What if the parent is insecure?
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