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Aug 24 2012

Back to School: They Know I’m a Blogger

By at 11:01 am

hello my name is bloggerI 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

Friday Night: She Got In!

By at 10:06 am

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

Friday Night: My Preschooler Made Us Celebrate Shabbat

By at 9:23 am
bialy

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 →

Jan 17 2012

We May Need to Switch to a Jewish Preschool

By at 12:48 pm

little girl with paper snowflakeI love my daughter’s preschool. It’s gentle, the director is an expert at firmly getting kids to do their best while encouraging them to be themselves, and I seriously get a huge charge out of being on-site one afternoon a week to help in the classroom. I get to watch my daughter in action with her friends, and enjoy the cheerful cacophony of a roomful of kids being amazing, curious little creatures.

But the runup to Christmas seriously threw me off, and I don’t know if I’ve done her a disservice by not putting her in the Chabad-run day school nearby.

We’re Reform. Compared to my parents, we’re pretty religious, but compared to Chabad, we’re barely on the radar. Still, their school is beautiful, fun, and well-run. Many families that send their kids there aren’t even Jewish. It’s mostly just a school that has, you know, Shabbat on Fridays and a baracha here and there.

Our school is completely unreligious and, in fact, pretty crunchy-hippie-granola. Our dance teacher is a Burning Man aficionado, we only offer organic snacks, and the kids help us rotate the compost bin. But holy crap, people. In the 24-day runup to Christmas, every single art project, every single story read at story-time, and every single CD played during open-play was Christmas, Santa, Christmas.

Wait, not EVERY one. One time, after like 3 Christmas CDs in a row, the music switched to an awful, shrieking dirge that was, of course, the omnipresent “Oh Hanukkah.” Why does it sound so freaking ominous when they sing “and while we… are playing … the candles are burning low,” as if what we really meant was that while we were playing, bodies are rotting in the shed and the moon is about to crash into the North Pole?

“What the hell is that,” the afternoon teacher muttered. “Oh. I guess someone put the Hanukkah CD in.” Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 2 2011

What My Daughter Learned at Jewish Preschool

By at 10:08 am

hebrew letter blocksA few months ago, I was freaking out over my daughter starting preschool, not because I didn’t want her to go but because I can’t believe she’s old enough for it. After a few weeks of adjustment (mostly on her part; I found the additional free time quite easy to adapt to), Ellie is a happy student at the school in a Conservative temple.

The thing is she already knows more about Judaism than I do. I attended religious school at a Reform temple from first through 12th grades, but much of what I remember is the socializing. (No comment, please, Mom.) When Ellie came home from her second day of school and said “boker tov” (good morning) to me, I thought perhaps she had sneezed.

Sometimes when she says a word I can’t make out, I wonder if it’s Hebrew for something. I know her teachers give the Hebrew as well as English names for things.

All of this has made for interesting, if not at times awkward, conversations. At home, Ellie has asked to kiss the mezuzah (we have several) and at Yizkor on Yom Kippur, she was ready to rush the ark, shouting “See ’em Torahs?” during a moment of silence. At school, her teacher asked how our Sukkot was, and I said, with downward-cast eyes, “Very nice, thank you.” We hadn’t done much to celebrate it at home. OK, we hadn’t done anything to celebrate it at home.

When I was a kid, we celebrated the Jewish holidays with the traditionally appropriate festivities: seders, break-the-fasts, latkes, challah, matzah, etc. But we didn’t keep kosher or learn to converse in Hebrew.

I love being Jewish and part of the Jewish community, and I am glad I chose a preschool where Ellie can learn more than I can teach her. That’s the point, after all. It just so happens I will get more for my money than I bargained for when I enrolled her. I’ll get an education, too.

Oct 5 2011

Sending My Kids to Jewish Preschool

By at 11:01 am

Four short years ago my entry into the back-to-school game began. I was sending my oldest to preschool, and I was excited for him, while enjoying this great milestone for both of us. Two and a half weeks ago my youngest, A. (2.5) had her 1st day of preschool just like her two older brothers. I spent all day walking around the school saying, “this is my last first day of preschool ever.”

Let me back up just a little. Although my husband R. was raised as a Reform Jew, he proclaimed to me from the day I met him that he is agnostic. Religion just isn’t anything he wants to be a part of. He did say that he had no problem with his children identifying themselves as Jewish and practicing Judaism, it just wasn’t imperative to his life. I wanted my kids to feel and identify themselves as Jewish. Given his feelings, and respecting his point of view, I took it upon myself to expose my kids to Judaism.

When it came time to look for a preschool for J., I immediately began looking at Jewish preschools. I went to the Jewish Community Center (JCC) for preschool, and I went to Yeshiva for 6 more years after that. I wasn’t intending to send my kids to Yeshiva, but I loved the idea of a Jewish preschool. My husband, however, not so much…

When it came time to find a preschool, he suddenly felt hesitant in putting our child (and future children) into a religious school of any kind. I would not let it go, though. I wanted my little man to learn Shabbat songs and have a Hanukkah performance. After we toured one amazing Jewish preschool, R. was still not swayed. I was even more determined. Once he saw our local JCC and their facilities, he thought we had found the right place for our child(ren). Read the rest of this entry →

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