Search
Follow Kveller

You are browsing the archive for School.

Oct 18 2012

My Kindergartner’s Going to Teach Me All About the Torah

By at 10:16 am

alina adam's daughter's consecrationThe email read: You are cordially invited to your child’s kindergarten consecration ceremony.

“What’s that?” my non-Jewish husband asked, peering over my shoulder at the computer screen.

“Uhm…” I, his allegedly Jewish wife, replied, “I think that’s what Abraham did to Isaac on Mount Moriah.”

“How come they didn’t mention that in the Jewish day school brochure?”

“I need to do some research,” I said, followed by, “Good news!  According to this link: Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 17 2012

I Send My Jewish Son to Catholic School

By at 10:05 am
baseball kid

My son Nicky at bat.

My son Nicky loves baseball. He’s really, really good at it.

Despite the looooong list of Jews who made it big in baseball, we were shocked to learn our town was not overflowing with Jewish schools that have viable baseball programs. My husband’s old Catholic school, however, (“The Hall”) has a very well-respected baseball program. So does another Catholic school nearer to us (“The Mount”). Mark Teixeira is a hometown boy who went to The Mount. We forgive his playing for the Yankees. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 15 2012

My Third Child Started Kindergaten (and I’m Over It)

By at 10:13 am

Adam's three childrenI recently sent my third child off to kindergarten. My only girl, my last baby, looking all grown up with her hair in a ponytail, wearing a backpack, clutching a lunch box. And I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling kind of… bored by the whole thing.

When my oldest went off to preschool for the first time, I read the handbook they gave us like it was The Holy Grail, terrified of making a mistake (oh, no, did I build the wrong kind of art smock?) and veering his entire educational future off-course for want of sewing ability. I attended every parent meeting and curriculum night. I volunteered for field-trips and saved his “report cards.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2012

As a Horace Mann Alumna, I am Troubled

By at 12:19 pm

johannes somary horace mannThis afternoon I attended a concert of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The first two pieces on the program were Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration and Don Juan, which both seemed fitting because I was thinking about the man I studied AP Music History with my senior year of high school, Johannes Somary. I was, and am, not a particularly musical person, but I needed a year of an arts requirement to graduate and decided instead of taking a semester of ceramics or drawing, I would do something year long and serious with a trusted faculty member whose course was supposed to be the best of what the school had to offer. I’d hoped it would open new worlds to me, to appreciate and understand music. Obviously, that I am still attending concerts and appreciating music shows Mr. Somary’s lasting impact. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 17 2012

Riding the Diversity Ticket All the Way to Jewish Day School

By at 12:12 pm

My daughter passed the grueling tests, and got into kindergarten!Last fall, I wrote about the hoops NYC parents jump through to get their children into kindergarten. We’re talking IQ tests, essays, interviews, applications, lotteries for applications, and then more IQ tests, because God forbid they should all accept the same IQ test.

The entire process lasts from approximately September of the year before your son or daughter would enter kindergarten through to the following spring, when private and public schools announce who’s been accepted–and who has been “shut out.”

My two sons attend an Upper East Side private school that is traditional and rigorous–and boys only. Which means, no matter how generous their sibling policy is, my daughter was out of luck. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2012

What’s Easiest for Mama is Best for Kids

By at 9:35 am
new york city bus stop

My kids can handle the bus.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific heuristic that, simply put, states the easiest solution to a problem is, more often than not, the right one.

I am Occam’s Mother. I believe that the easiest thing for me to do, vis-à-vis my kids, is, more often than not, the right thing. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 13 2012

Teacher’s Skirt is on Fire

By at 11:52 am

fire extinguisherEven by the standards of Waldorf School emails, it was serious. Something called “The Garden of Light” was coming. And to prepare for it, “children were not to wear loose flowing dresses and long hair should be tied back.” My daughter is pretty much basing her identity on long flowing dresses and her hair at this point, so this was not going to be an easy sell.

In addition to the ominous email, I was asked several times by Ronia’s teacher if I was going to be able to go. In general I feel like a slacker Waldorf parent, so any opportunity to curry favor is good. Plus it’s nice to see my kid during the day.

Before I left, I reread the email one more time. It was more ominous than I even remembered, directing us to sit apart from our children to maintain a festive atmosphere. My enthusiasm dimmed a bit; this would mean I would be sitting with other parents. Also, it seemed to imply that I should have dropped Ronia off as normal, instead of keeping her home and cooking pancakes to the 9:40 drop off time. Fortunately the previous Garden of Light was running late, I was able to get Ronia to class and hurry up to the queue of parents. I sat down on the only available chair and checked my smartphone email.

When the appointed time came we were led into an auditorium lit only by candles. The floor was covered in a spiral of pine branches, or as the email got me thinking, kindling. 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.

Nov 22 2011

Getting into New York City Kindergarten

By at 2:11 pm
kindergarten finger painting

Kindergarten looks great! I wonder if we can get in.

Three separate intelligence tests. Multi-page applications. Essays. Interviews. Tours. A list of achievements. Letters of recommendation. A one in 12 acceptance rate.

Ivy League university admissions?

No. New York City private school kindergarten.

And the public school process is no better.

Local, zoned schools are overcrowded to the point where even long-time neighborhood residents can’t be guaranteed a spot and are put on wait-lists that stretch into August. Unzoned schools hold lotteries due to overwhelming demand and turn away hundreds. Citywide Gifted & Talented programs last year saw over 1,000 children qualify for only 250 seats spread out over five different boroughs.

Getting your child into kindergarten in NYC is a year-long job that kicks off 12 months before they even enter the building.

And I am smack-dab in the middle of it.

You’d think, since I’m on my third child, I’d be an old pro at this by now. Why can’t my daughter just go to the school where her older brothers go? Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 26 2011

In Loco Parentis: Why Teachers Rule

By at 10:20 am
amadeus

Mozart probably never dreaded the parent-teacher conference.

In wine, truth (in vino veritas); and in parents, madness (in loco parentis). At least that’s what we teachers would joke as the season for parent-teacher (and sometimes parent-student-teacher) conferences hove into sight. Having gone from being a teacher with no kids of my own to being a parent with no teaching duties in the course of five short years, I can safely say that teachers are much healthier for children.

The truth is, parents have no perspective. And that is good and proper. Parents are hopelessly vertical, teachers hopefully horizontal. Parents are rightly obsessed with their kids and all their friends are seen through that prism. Ninth grade biology teachers see a lot of ninth grade students and, when they do their job well, as they often do, they can provide a lot of context about life as a ninth grader to parents as well as biological knowledge to students.

Parents and teachers are the adult representatives of the two great worlds of a child’s life: home and school. Being able to navigate each individually and between the two fluently is part of growing up and is just one of the reasons why homeschooling is, in principle, an extremely poor alternative. The intersection of those two worlds — the coming together of matter and anti-matter — is why older students dread the conference time of year and why parents and teachers alike greet it with fascination, hope, and dread in equal measure.
Parents give love and support but often our expectations are unmanageable. My own parents were wonderfully supportive over 20 years of education but I remember watching “Amadeus” as a teenager with my own father and him turning to me in partial jest and saying, “By the time he was your age, Mozart had written an opera and transcribed the Vatican’s secret mass, what have you done?”

Thankfully I had some ninth grade teachers who could tell him.

Tags

Recently on Mayim

Blogroll