When Miles was little, we were very careful not to overschedule him. He was and actually still is a child that didn’t transition well from one activity to the next, especially since he has ADHD.
We have tried to follow one simple rule–only one sport per season. Up until last year, when multiple activity options presented themselves and Miles expressed interest in participating, we were pretty successful at abiding by this self-imposed restriction.
But, given all that, how in the world are we supposed to fit in bar mitzvah lessons?
Things were different 30 years ago when my husband and I were growing up. My husband dropped out of sports to study diligently for his bar mitzvah. I visited our cantor’s house three days a week in the mornings before school.
Now we try to cram everything in so our kids don’t have to give anything up. If that’s stressful for them, it’s even more stressful for us. I, as a mother, feel like I am driving constantly–to practices, to games, to school. I would say most parents are facing this challenge today, even if their kids don’t also struggle with ADHD.
So how did we tackle this bar mitzvah problem? The answer: We do it in bits and pieces. It’s a juggling act to be sure, but one that can be mastered.
Miles gets tutored every Sunday (or every other Sunday) for 30 minutes with this teacher. She’s wonderful…patient, kind, and most of all understands how he learns. She knows when he hasn’t practiced and knows when he has. He doesn’t get admonished and is always encouraged. We find him singing the prayers or parts of his haftarah in the shower, in the car, while he’s playing Minecraft. And that is how it should be, right? You want this stuff ingrained into their psyche six months out.
One recent Sunday morning I caught a glimpse of him wandering the house with his headphones on. They were plugged into his iPhone and he was singing Hatzi Kaddish over and over–just as he had been told to do by his tutor. We aren’t in the business of nagging him about this because that never works in our favor. All SHE asks is that he practices 15-20 minutes per day.
A few minutes here, a few minutes there. All kids–and especially kids with attention issues (and the parents that run around after them)–have to find ways to engage creatively in things that they might not want to do. Sitting at a desk, following along in his binder… not something he’s going to want to do. Strolling around the house singing along with his iPhone… something a bit more enticing. He can walk, move, dance, sing, jiggle, sit, stand, scooter, skateboard, etc, all while learning what he needs to learn.
My advice: It doesn’t matter how they learn the material as long as they learn it. Allow your children to consume information in a way that works for them–no matter how unconventional it might seem.