With the leisure time of summer ending as we head into the fall months, our children might begin to feel anxious about the schedules and pressure of going back to school.
I taught parenting skills decades ago when I was an elementary-school guidance counselor. Some of the key points I stressed are that parents should help children make decisions and understand the consequences of their actions.
Here are some steps that helped me as a parent when I was raising my daughter:
We talked about feelings.
We discussed why certain decisions were made.
I followed “say yes to the person, no to the situation.” This means respecting the child and letting them know that they are valued, while saying no to specific situations or behaviors.
Sharon Duke Estroff, an internationally syndicated Jewish parenting columnist, wrote an article for aish.com titled “Back to School Sanity,” in which she emphasizes the importance of study as well as downtime. She wrote:
“ ‘Six days shall you labor and do all your work’ reads the Book of Exodus, ‘and the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God [on which] you shall not do any work.’
“Our kids desperately need a time to recharge and refuel. And in Shabbat, they have it.”
Another point that Estroff makes is about the joy of learning for its own sake.
“The Mishnah states that Torah should be studied lishmah, for its own sake. In other words, we shouldn’t learn Torah with ulterior motives (i.e. getting on God’s A-list or wowing others with our biblical mastery). Rather, we should release ourselves to the beauty and majesty of the text – enjoying it in its own right.”
When we approach learning with curiosity, we are motivated learners. It enriches our life and expands our horizons.
As the school year begins, we can talk to our children and teens about what excites them, what subjects they really enjoy and how they can hone their skills in that area.
As for the subjects that they don’t like or excel at, that is also a learning experience that can instill confidence – if they can accept the challenge and grow from it.
A confidence-building example from my own life was mastering computer skills and technology, which is essential in my media and training work. This is one of my greatest accomplishments because it didn’t come naturally to me, but I have stuck with it. Now, I even try to figure out things on my own before asking for help!
School can be both a learning experience and a personal growth experience, and if we can help our children understand that, we can help them be happier learners.
PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is an award-winning radio producer, business owner and leader. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence, and is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award. Her “Positive Aging with Patricia Raskin” podcast is broadcast on the Rhode Island PBS website, ripbs.org/positiveaging.