I have almost decided to pull my ten-year-old out of Jewish Day School. She is not thriving there and has certain learning disabilities that make the dual language too much for her. My husband prefers we keep her there as he went to day school and thinks it is important that she be with Jewish peers. I am afraid we are making her hate not just school but all things Jewish as well.
What should I do?
I am going to try and fill in the blanks here, but I may be off base, please forgive me if I am!
Are you sending your daughter to Jewish Day School for a Jewish Education or for them to be with Jewish peers? While having Jewish peers (especially in high school) is a critical thing, the most important reason for a Jewish education is to dedicate and instill a lifelong Jewish identity. It is also to learn to identify with the deepest part of herself, her soul!
Before making any decisions, I suggest you speak with an educational advisor to determine how she can be supported both in and out of the school. As well, I need you to define ‘thrive’. Does that mean getting high marks? Does her not thriving mean failing or just scraping by? Or does it mean not ‘excelling’? Not all children are academically inclined and must endure years of learning in a style that is counter to their natural intelligence. I have many friends who have four kids in 4 different schools! Our Torah teaches us to “raise a child according to his/her way.” This means that each child needs to be addressed as an individual, taking into consideration both their academic and intellectual needs AND their spiritual needs.
What does Judaism look like in your home? Does the school provide all of the Jewish content? Might you consider ‘upping your game’ at home to make Jewish life feel like something beyond test scores and essays? Can you make joyous Shabbat experiences? Be part of a synagogue community? Celebrate ALL of the holidays with excitement? Learn about Jewish ideas together? Can you look at Jewish summer camps as a way of bolstering her identity if you decide to remove her from the day school system?
I know these are a lot of questions, but, in the end, your primary job is to raise up her soul while guarding her mind and body. And you as a parent know best!
Whatever decision you make, please remember that when Jewish study is relegated to the school only, it will not be perceived as pleasurable; merely another thing on the curriculum that they must endure!
Please write back if you want to brainstorm ways to ‘up your game’ or speak to your City Leader for guidance. I wish you clarity and wisdom in making this important decision.
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Our sages teach us that love occurs in concentric circles, radiating outward from our love for ourselves. How we consider our own worth and dignity will inform our relationships with each of our concentric circles – from our families to the countless creatures worthy of respect across our world.