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Insights from the Intersection of Childhood and Education

Friday, September 14, 2012

Children's Books for the High Holidays

Holidays like Chanukah and Passover lend themselves more to storytelling than the High Holidays, and yet these picture book authors have managed to package the more abstract themes of Teshuva and making a new beginning in books you can reread with your children every year.

Even Higher by Eric. A. Kimmel - Here picture book master Eric A. Kimmel  retells Peretz's beautiful Jewish folktale about a rabbi who, the shtetl people believe, performs a miracle every year before Rosh Hashanah.

New Year at the Pier by April Halprin Wayland - A story about a boy names Izzy, whose favorite part of Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich, a ceremony in which people apologize for the mistakes they made in the previous year. If only it weren't for the one thing Izzy doesn't want to say out loud...

The Hardest Word by Jacqueline Jules - Ziz, a bird who lived long ago, is so big and clumsy that he can't keep from bumping into things. When a tree he knocks over destroys the children's garden, he asks God to help him fix things. "Bring me the hardest word," God instructs him, and the Ziz flies off to search...

How the Rosh Hashana Challah Became Round by Sylvia B. Epstein - This book will answer several questions at the Rosh Hashana table!

Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashana by Sylvia A. Rouss - This has got to be the ultimate book for toddlers to get into Rosh Hashana.

Talia and the Rude Vegetables by Linda Elovitz Marshall - The Rosh Hoshanah theme is background for an endearing story about a little city girl who mistakes "root" for "rude" and tries to bring her grandma some "rude" vegetables from the garden.

Gershon's Monster by Eric A. Kimmel - This is a great book to read to older kids. An otherwise devout guy is very rude and never apologizes. On Rosh Hashana he always sweeps his sins into the sea. Until, one day, they come back to haunt him...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Buddies Spread Good Cheer with Rosh Hashana Cards

Rosh Hashana is around the corner and our buddies, which means 1st/2nd graders and 6th - 8th graders sat down together last week to create colorful Happy New Year's cards for the Chicago Mitzvah Campaign, which in turn sends them out to the needy along with a Rosh Hashana goodie bag.

Not only were the students learning how to make their cards pop up, they got quite creative in decorating them with the symbols of the holiday. Most importantly, however, we hope the fun they had creating these cards will bring some good cheer to the recipients. Watch the short video below to see them in action:

Shana tova!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Ease Separation Anxiety

At the Akiba-Schechter Preschool
(photo by Matt Dinerstein)
“Fake it until you make it.” That is one piece of advice Kelli Harris, associate preschool director at Akiba-Schechter, gives parents who are leaving their two-year-old at preschool for the first time. “Even if you’re uneasy about leaving your child, don’t show it,” she said. “Cry in the hallway. Kids know when their parents feel unsure, and that makes them feel unsure themselves.”

Based on her 10 years of experience teaching preschool, Harris says easing separation anxiety boils down to 3 Cs:

Cooperation. Trust your child’s teacher. Even if you don’t know that teacher well yet, trust that she’s been doing her job for a while, and rely on her experience. See the teacher as a resource to help you through the process. Most likely, she’s been through it many times. Ask for her advice. Keep in mind that your child’s teacher wants to work with you. You’re a team.

Clarity. If you’ve been telling your child school is a good thing, and he’s going to have so much fun there, then don’t tell him you’re sorry you’re leaving him. That is confusing. When you tell your child you’re leaving, leave. Say goodbye and don’t stick around. Actions need to follow words.

Consistency. Stick with the program. Leave even if your child is crying. According to Harris, saying goodbye is the hard part, so make it swift but something your child can count on. Knowing what will happen is comforting. Most kids, Harris says, are done crying by the time you get to your car. But never just leave. Saying goodbye is an important part of the routine you’re trying to establish. Similarly, be on time when you pick up your child. Being the only one left after all the other children have been picked up is scary, especially during the first few days. Once your child understands the school routine and is comfortable with his teachers, a parent showing up late is less of an issue.

For most kids, Harris has found, separation anxiety is not an issue after two weeks. If your child is having a particularly hard time, find a classroom activity she likes, and head for that when you arrive. Get her situated and comfortable before you leave. Take that time to read her favorite book or get her set up at the easel. Bringing a lovie, like a favorite blanket, might also help, but check on classroom policy first.

Leaving your child at school for the first time is hard for parents and child alike, but minding the 3 Cs — namely, being cooperative, clear and consistent — will ease the process for you and your child. Pretty soon your child will have adjusted to the big world of school while you might still feel that little twinge at how grown up he already is.

This article was written by Annette Gendler and originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of Parent to Parent, the quarterly newsletter of the Neighborhood Parents Network of Chicago. Republished with permission.