As Jews, we take education seriously, we always have. Every day, in Shema, we reiterate the importance of Jewish education, “Veshinantam L’baneicha” However, nowadays, we seem to have taken it to a new level, every parent seems to be on edge when it comes to discussing their child’s academic abilities. Parents are worried when their child is not succeeding in school and are constantly monitoring homework, grades, and school attendance.
All this can backfire. Children are feeling a tremendous amount of pressure. They often feel as if their parents will only love them if they do well in school. Many children lose their motivation, thinking that they will never measure up to their parent’s expectations. Other children will fight back, and get bad grades just to resist their parent’s constant vigilance and intrusion.
Furthermore, children used to be in charge of monitoring their own, homework, grades and attendance. This built responsibility and accountability. By not allowing them to be in control of their schoolwork, we are depriving them of the tools they need to be capable and dependable adults.
Finally, children are losing their natural love for learning. We need to help them get it back and feel successful at school. Here are 3 ways we can do that:
1. Know that Success Comes in Many Different Packages:
We all know people who were awful at school and still seem to be successful at life. Actually, I can think of many friends, relatives and acquaintances who never succeeded in school but have become outstanding in their given professions. So we can relax about school. It is not the be all and end all predictor of a successful life. Once we start to ease up about school, our children will feel it. They won’t feel as pressured to succeed and they might actually start to learn just because learning is fun, challenging and stimulating.
2. Find Your Child’s Strengths:
Learning does not have to just happen in an academic setting. Everyone has their own talents and their strengths. Help your child figure out what theirs are (Just know that there are many children that are late bloomers- that is okay). Don’t worry if your child’s interest varies from day to day, year to year. In essence, they are not being wishy-washy or irresponsible; they are just trying to find what they are good at. Once your child finds what they like to do, help them cultivate that interest. That does not mean you need to invest a lot of money, or your time. The library, google, or a local class, can provide him with the information that he needs to pursue his hobby. This is also learning. Being an expert on a topic that is not school related can boost a child’s confidence making them feel capable about their ability to learn.
3. Give Children a Break:
Our children are in school for many hours. In order to learn, our brains need a break. Make sure that children are getting lots of playtime, preferably outdoors. Letting children relax when they get home, getting children to sleep on time and making sure they have a good breakfast before they leave in the morning, can also go along way in helping to make sure that they are successful in school.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.