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 →
Nov 19 2013
It’s a big year at our house. This September, for the first time, my 14-year-old began taking the subway to school by himself, my 10-year-old began taking the city bus to school by himself, and I began leaving my 6-year-old at home alone for short stretches.
As with many of our previous milestones, all came about due to necessity. My oldest first started coming home by himself on the bus at the age of 9. His toddler sister had just transitioned from two naps to one, and the time she chose to do it in was exactly during his school pick up. Trying to put her down any earlier would have been too early, and any later would have been too late. So we armed our 4th grader with a Metro Card and a cell phone and assured him he was ready for this grand adventure. (Several parents in his class disagreed with our assessment and generously let us know how they felt.)
A year later, we decreed that not only was he experienced enough to also take the bus to school, but that he could bring along his kindergarten-aged brother. Now he was the one who disagreed with our assessment. Not because my oldest thought he couldn’t handle it, but because his brother was, to quote, annoying and obnoxious and refused to hold his hand while crossing the street, even though we’d mandated that he must. In that case, a stern talking-to with the younger made the older more amenable. That and my agreeing, despite being against allowances, to pay him for his pain and suffering. It was still less than what an adult babysitter would have cost. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 5 2013
This week is Red Ribbon week at my daughter’s school, where they educate the kids on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. She is in kindergarten. It had not yet occurred to me to talk about this at home, as she is 5 YEARS OLD–but she came home yesterday with some interesting things to say.
She was given a red bracelet with the red ribbon logo on it. She told me she was not to take this bracelet off or people would try to give her drugs. She also said she had to wear this bracelet while she was sleeping, or the tooth fairy might try to give her drugs as well. Hmm, when did the tooth fairy turn into a drug pusher? Things sure have changed since I was a kid.
Some parents in the class were upset that the school was teaching the kids about drugs at such a young age, and before they themselves had a chance to broach the subject. But I was used to it. When my daughter was in full-time daycare, the school did many things with her first before I did them at home; things like weaning from the pacifier, sleeping on a cot, and toilet training. I saw the teachers as experts–after all, they have training in this; I am just an amateur. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 14 2013
Whatever my kids do, be it school or extracurricular activities, they are either on financial aid, a merit scholarship, or work/study (i.e. they study while I work for the organizations in question).
We simply wouldn’t be able to afford Jewish Day School or after school classes any other way.
The rule of thumb, as I understand it, is that you’re not supposed to tell kids that they’re on financial aid. You don’t want them to feel different.
I want them to feel different. I want them to understand and appreciate that the privileges they have are thanks to some very generous people contributing more than their own fair share, so that my kids can enjoy the same advantages as theirs. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 10 2013
Parenting has been compared to many things. I like to compare it to playing darts while wearing a blindfold. Because so often, it really does feel as though it’s just a stab in the dark.
Except when it works.
Some theory you have or some tactic you use works. And then, for one moment, you feel like a freakin’ parenting expert.
Which is exactly how I felt when I overheard the following conversation between my kids Lilly, age 10, and Jacob, age 6. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 17 2013
Welcome to yet another school year!
Congratulations on setting your student up for success. I’ve wandered the halls and sat in on classes the first couple days of school and your students are all well-equipped and appear to be ready for the school year. I’ve seen highlighters being used, homework assignments being filed away in binders, and chandeliers hanging in lockers, which is a very classy touch, I might add. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2013
Have you ever really thought about all that goes on during your child’s day in school? Each time they switch classes, it can literally feel like stepping into another country. Each teacher has different rules, expectations and customs.
Do you raise your hand to go to the bathroom, or just go? Are you penalized for handing in an assignment late? Can you call out an answer, or do you need to raise your hand? Can you eat in class? Imagine how much more overwhelming this can be for students with executive functioning and organizational issues. Here are a few strategies that parents and teachers can implement to help ease back-to-school anxiety and navigate the academic jungle.
1. Before the start of the school year, visit the school and walk around, find the restrooms and other important places. Also let your child check out the playground and play. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 28 2013
Later this week, both of my children will begin a new school year at a local Jewish Day School.
At the moment, we are in the whirlwind of the preschool year excitement–picking out new backpacks and shoes, finding out class assignments, and registering for after-school clubs. These are all activities that I recall with fondness from my childhood (who else remembers how exciting it was to get that new Cabbage Patch Kids plastic lunchbox and matching thermos–do they even make those anymore?). Read the rest of this entry →
Every year, just like clockwork, The New York Times writes their annual article expressing shock that the most competitive public high schools in New York City are primarily Asian, with a much lower proportion of black and Hispanic students then there are in the overall system.
They charge that the test is racist and should not be used as the sole criteria determining admittance into a New York City Specialized High School. (I am not going to get into the politics of that charge, except to note that the argument to use other, less standardized factors such as letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities was initially introduced in America specifically to keep Jews out of elite universities, for fear that there would otherwise be too many of them. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 24 2013
My oldest son graduated from the 8th grade last week. His father and I picked this particular school for its academic rigor. By the time his nine years there were up, my son had visited England, passed Algebra 2, read Virgil (in Latin), played Katherine in a full staging of Shakespeare’s Henry V, and drawn a map of Europe freehand, including mountain ranges and bodies of water, with only the latitude and longitude as guidelines.
We were ecstatic about his education and how well it prepared him for the future.
Though the school is ostensibly non-denominational, their crest does feature a cross. When my son inquired about it, he was informed that the cross represents all religions. (He thus proceeded to refer to it as The Cross of All Religions for the past several years. It was funny the first time. Not so much the 74th.) Read the rest of this entry →