A Letter to Day School parents

May 18, 2020

Source: Thinking About Chinuch Blog


As teachers, we can take all our knowledge and skill and pizzazz and bring them into the classroom in our efforts to impart knowledge and hopefully a love for the subject matter to your children. However, every teacher knows that not every "canvas" is the same. Every student brings something different to the classroom - not only in terms of their ability, but also in terms of what they are motivated to do and what they find valuable and important. Teachers can try to improve those qualities of the canvas, but the truth is that those are the things that are forged at home. Even before you think your child is paying attention, they are noticing what you consider to be important and what you value. By the time a child enters school, he or she has spent four years being formed, and they will continue to build on that every day of their lives. Now that they are spending all their waking time with you, here are a few areas where you can make a tremendous impact over the next few months:

  • Tefilla - From the youngest grades, schools teach children to daven, adding more and more tunes and paragraphs each year, and hopefully introducing lessons on the meaning and purpose of davening as the students are mature enough to appreciate it. But any educator will tell you that by Middle School, you can tell a lot about the parents' attitude towards davening from the attitude that their child brings with them. For now, tefilla is being done at home, which means that your children will see you doing it. For now, there is no such thing as coming late, or talking during davening, or complaining about the chazzan. For now, all that exists are your moments of connecting with God. Let your children see how important that is to you.
  • Torah - It's almost axiomatic - the doctor's kid has the best Science Fair project, the finance guy's kid wins the Stock Market Game, and the Rabbi's kid gets top marks on Gemara tests. But while the Rabbi might not understand markets and the finance whiz might be clueless about genetics, raising a child who feels that Torah is an essential component of our lives can be done by just about anyone, regardless of their level of Torah knowledge. Find something to learn with your child, even for just a few minutes, even for just a few times a week. That little bit of time investment will communicate loads about the value that you place on Torah study and will give you new and significant topics to discuss with your children.
  • Shabbat - While we all know that Shabbat is the day for family, how much time did we devote to our family on an average Shabbat back in January? Between catching up on sleep, hanging out at the kiddush, and long meals with multiple families where the adults talk for hours while the kids eat, bentch, and run, perhaps we did not always take advantage of this most special of days. Well here we are - davening is shorter, there are no kiddushim, and meals are just with our nuclear families. To call this a golden opportunity to improve family bonds and to better appreciate the beauty of Shabbat would be a massive understatement.

Over the past two decades, there has been a massive increase in programming in Jewish Day Schools. While some of that is a result of evolving notions of education, a lot of it is also an attempt to provide religious inspiration to our students, many of whom have not been finding elsewhere as everyone's lives have become more and more busy and chaotic. With much of that chaos currently on hold, you have a chance to provide that inspiration to your children - and believe it or not, they are so willing to receive it from you. We continue to be ready to work our artistic talents on these precious canvasses - and we wish you much success in this unforeseen moment when you can significantly impact the overall quality and receptivity of those canvasses to what we have to teach them.

Looking forward to continuing to partner with you,
Your Children's Teachers

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Updated: Jul. 13, 2020