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Sep 17 2013

A Letter from Your School Counselor About Sex

By at 1:58 pm

the birds and the beesDear Parents,

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

11 Back to School Tips to Ease Your Kids’ Anxiety

By at 11:57 am

back to schoolHave 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

Jewish Day School: My Kids Will Be Fine, But What About Me?

By at 2:00 pm

yarmulke with jewish starLater 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 →

Will My Son Be the Only Black Jew in High School?

By at 10:59 am

alina adams will my son be the only black jew in high schoolEvery 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

I Cheated My Sons Out of a Jewish Education

By at 5:04 pm

empty classroomMy 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 →

Jun 19 2013

My Third Grader Had a Terrible Year (And I Didn’t Do Anything About It)

By at 9:44 am

elementary school kids in dunce cap vintage“Where has the time gone?” my fellow third grade moms trill as end of school looms. “This year has just gone by so fast!”

Not for me. For me, my middle child’s third grade year has dragged by in excruciating increments until I was telling people I was just hoping to hang on and ride it out–like labor.

My son was miserable in third grade. And he generously decided to pass that misery onto me.

It all started when none of his friends from previous years were placed in his particular class. I agreed with him: tough break. But, he could still see them at recess and after school and, well, life is full of tough breaks, so how about we suck it up and soldier on? Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 19 2013

On My Mother’s Refusal to Label Me Special Needs

By at 10:11 am

adam w. 13-year-oldLast week, we published a blog post by Alina Adams entitled “Why I Wouldn’t Let My Son Be Labeled Special Needs.” The post, which explained why Alina declined to sign Adam up for special benefits at school that he qualified for due to an Auditory Processing Disorder, sparked a lively debate on Kveller. Many readers were interested to hear her son’s point of view on the matter, so here is a letter from 13-year-old Adam himself.

Hello Kveller readers,

I, Adam, will now offer my own opinion on my mother’s most recent article about how I wasn’t classified as special needs.

First and foremost, I would like to say that my mother’s writing on this occasion was relatively close to truth. Yes, she exaggerates once in awhile about what I said. I mean, some of her quotes seem more like summaries than it being verbatim. Still, I will now rebut and comment on this piece all about me and my problems.

The first paragraph seems to be relatively true. The thing is, I don’t remember any of this since I was a baby. About my large head, that is very true. In pictures of baby Adam, I look like a disproportionate cartoon character. About the whole talking thing, it is true that I couldn’t talk then, but I’ve made up for lost time. I can and do talk a lot more now. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 5 2013

My Children Think I’m “Daddy’s Helper”

By at 9:39 am

scrubbing the toiletI, the cool and interesting mama, have been demoted. By my kids.

Exhibit A

Unnamed child, age 9, invited me to participate in Career Day at school. Then uninvited me because “Daddy works for Crayola and you just stay at home now. I don’t think the kids at school will find you very interesting.”

For those who don’t know, I was a pulpit rabbi for 12 years before off-ramping to stay at home full-time to do a better job of caring for our kids, one of whom has autism. A difficult decision at the time and many days since. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 9 2013

Special Education Speed Dating

By at 9:43 am

I’ve heard it said that you don’t know how good you’ve got something until it’s gone. This is a story about the opposite. How I didn’t know how lacking something was until I left.

As the Yiddish saying goes, change your location, change your luck.

When we picked up and moved more than three thousand miles away from our home in order for me to stay home full-time and be a better care giver to our son, who is on the autistic spectrum, I anticipated many positive changes. The most pleasant surprise, however, has been the school system. I now realize, with that ever-clear hindsight, that our old school system was lacking. Sorely lacking. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 14 2012

I Shouldn’t Have to Explain Why I Homeschool

By at 11:26 am

This year, when all of the kids our son’s age were entering pre-k, my husband and I made the final preparations on our plan to homeschool.

We looked into all of our options and decided that, while homeschooling is by far not the only good way to educate a child, it is how we have decided to educate ours.

I thought that my explanation would need to go no further. I assumed that most people would give the same response I give whenever a friend tells me their child is going to the local school, “That’s great!”

I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry →

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