Jan 22 2014
My daughter’s preschool teacher has created a daily task in which we, the parents, write “mitzvah notes” for our children each day. These notes are meant to describe the ways in which our children are helpful, cooperative, or did good deeds. The notes are read in class with the children, who, I am told, are excited to hear and discuss the good things they have done.
I must admit that when I first learned about this task, I considered it a burden. How, I wondered, could we be expected to come up with a good deed that our 3-year-old did each day? Have you ever met a 3-year-old? I knew it would be far easier to rattle off “not so mitzvah notes,” like so:
She refused to brush her teeth.
She refused to get out of the bath.
She refused to get dressed.
She hit Mommy.
She pushed her sister.
She screamed in my face when I tried to comfort her because I was not Mommy. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 21 2014
I had always envisioned my children growing up feeling the sense of “Jewishness” that was so special to me in my own childhood, so we started our son at a Jewish preschool at the age of 2.
But it quickly became clear that he simply couldn’t function in a classroom and was getting nothing out of school. Our journey, which eventually led to an autism spectrum diagnosis, brought with it a roller coaster of emotions and never-ending to-do lists, and dealing with all of that required me to push aside my disappointment about giving up his Jewish preschool. It had become obvious that we had to send him to a special education program to provide the hours of intensive therapy he needed. So without so much as a glance back we forged ahead on this path, and amazingly after two years he had progressed so far that he was almost unrecognizable from the 2-year-old he was before it all started.
We found ourselves at the beginning of this current school year, his last year of preschool, with some decisions to make. The special education preschool program in our new school district, as remarkable as it is, did not provide enough hours of school for him with only four short afternoons a week. We knew we should consider a mainstream preschool as a supplement to his special needs program. He would benefit socially from being around “typical” peers, but we couldn’t help but wonder if he was really ready for it. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 12 2013
The Northern California air is crisp and biting as I unbuckle my son from his car seat and slide his arms into his Spiderman sweatshirt.
“Stand right here by me and don’t move,” I warn him, reaching back in to hoist the baby’s car seat up into the air. I keep one hand on Max as the other clicks the baby seat into the stroller. Lunchbox. Water bottle. Mitzvah Star. Five dollars for challah. Baby’s blanket is on. Where is his hat?
“Stay right here, Max, there are too many cars in this parking lot. Wait for Mommy. Hold on to Bennie’s stroller please.” A wadded up diaper rolls out of the passenger seat as I grab my diaper bag. I stuff it back in before anyone notices.
“Good morning, Simon Family! Hi Max! Or should I call you Spiderman? That’s a pretty cool sweatshirt you’ve got on!”
He beams. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 3 2013
It seems that every time we go to Disney World, we forget where we park. We always have to hit the lock button on our key in order to follow the noise to our car. This year I was determined to not to let that happen, so I had my daughter count how many spaces were between our car and the tram car.
I must have looked baffled when she started counting away because she looked at me and said, “That is five spaces, Mom.” My daughter had been counting in Hebrew.
For some reason, I started to tear up. My little girl is learning another language at the age of 4. In Disney, surrounded by such a diverse crowd, you realize how important it is that your children are diversified in their language and experience. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 10 2013
Note to self: Do not send Halloween cookies to Jewish preschool.
As camp ends and the new school year approaches, I find myself going over what I remember from last year, with regards to the Jewish faith. My eldest daughter is 4 and has been attending a Jewish preschool for the last two years. Being a non-practicing Catholic, I have taken the “learn as I go” approach.
There are good Catholic and non-denominational schools available to me in my area, but I chose a Jewish preschool. My husband is a consultant and travels most of the work week. Since he is not always home I felt it was imperative for Delanie to learn her father’s faith from a place that could teach her in a way I could not.
The usual school preparation list populates my head: no meat with dairy for lunch, remember her “mitzvah notes” each week (which I admit at times I make up because there is only so many times you can write that she helped with housework or shared with her younger sister), and whatever I do, I must remember to not send her to school in her holiday (Christmas, Halloween, etc.) printed tee shirts from Old Navy. I learned that lesson the hard way last year when my daughter’s teacher told me that the school would not allow the Halloween cookies I made because it is not a recognized Jewish holiday. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 26 2013
Total disclosure. I chose Alice’s preschool because they have a pool and teach the kids how to swim. It happens to be a wonderful school, with lovely staff and facilities, but it was the pool that sold me.
The fact that it is a JCC (Jewish Community Center) and the curriculum is rooted in Jewish teachings was a complete afterthought. I even told the school director in an offhanded way, “I was really surprised about how Jewish the curriculum is.” He then called the local mental institution and told them a patient with a frontal lobotomy had escaped, because what did I think they were going to teach at the JCC? Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 13 2012
This past summer, my husband and I decided to send our toddler to Jewish preschool. We agonized over our budget to see if we could make it work. I read up on gentle separation techniques and ordered him a backpack. Since the arrival of our second baby coincided with the start of the school year, we wanted to wait until the after the new year for him to start.
January felt so far away at that point.
Fast forward to last week. And by fast forward I mean three months of figuring out the logistics of raising two kids, getting dinner on the table, and exactly how many consecutive days one can use dry shampoo without looking like Nick Nolte’s mug shot (the answer is two). And here we are at our scheduled December meeting with the preschool director to discuss my toddler joining the class in a few weeks. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 24 2012
I took my son to his first day of “school” today. Actually, it was half of a half-day, more of a parent-teacher meet n’ greet and let-the-kids-touch-everything to get everyone familiar sort of deal. I didn’t feel worried at all about sending Aiven to school because he adapts well to new situations and I know he needs to spend time around other kids. Besides, my husband and I work from home and I fear our son is getting sick of us.
About a week ago, we started getting inundated with emails from his school: class schedules, after-school programs, PTO meetings, holiday calendars, orientations, donation requests… I’m surprised there wasn’t a parent-teacher conference in there. Or maybe there was. I just had to tune it all out to stay sane (also known as denial). People: the kid’s not even 2! Is this normal or overkill? I have no idea because I am new to this whole school thing. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 9 2012
On Tuesday, I sent my husband a text message that said something like: “SHE’S IN! Two mornings a week! Phew!!!” To which he replied: “?”
Wasn’t it obvious? I was talking about preschool.
Here in Park Slope, mecca of babyhood, toddlerhood, and childhood, applying to preschool and kindergarten is almost more insane than college applications. (For example, one school has a Monday morning first-come first-served process… for which parents get in line at 4 and 5 am. When the doors don’t open until 9. In February.) For months now my friends and I have been talking about preschool. Where would each of us choose to apply? Should we just scrap the whole thing and start our own co-op with each other? How do you afford preschool in the first place–especially because you often still need a babysitter to pick the kids up? Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 2 2012
Bialy: just as good as challah.
One night, at dinner, my 3-year-old son suddenly said “Shabbat Shalom.” My husband and I both looked up with a start. I quickly managed to put together that it had been music class day at his school (which is at a temple) and he was repeating “Shabbat Shalom” from a song he had learned. This led to a conversation about Shabbat. He has only experienced it at my parents’ house and one Tot Shabbat at his school. We figured we would “do” Shabbat, eventually, when the kids got older and it was more important to their Jewish learning. He wanted to do it now. Read the rest of this entry →