At The End Of The Day

It’s another day over…

October is half way done, next it will be Thanksgiving and Chanukah, and I realize I haven’t really updated on how school is going for the kids.

Most of the time, I judge how their day has been by whether they are smiling when they get off the bus in the afternoon. I know that they’re happy when they jump out of the car in the morning to get on the bus.

Last week I had the opportunity to watch them at school a little bit. I volunteered to work at the Scholastic book fair. I was at school every day from about 8:30 until noon or later. And now I can say that not only are the kids apparently happy at school, but they are happy at school. I was able to spy on them with their friends at lunch, watch them interact with their teachers and peers, and see for myself that they are all happy and surrounded by new friends.

I saw how much the kids like their teachers, how they want to sit with them and chat at lunch time. The diversity of children at the school is wide, and the diversity of my kids’ friends makes me really happy. Yes, they each seem to have found the other religious Jewish kids in their grades, however, they each have friends who are completely different to them – in race, religion and nationality.

The level of learning is good. I know nothing about common core or anything else, but I do know that when my kids are not challenged, they don’t like to do their work. They all do their homework, mostly without complaint, and the amount of homework is appropriate for each grade. My 6th grader rarely has more than 45 minutes of homework, unless she has a project to do. My 4th grader usually finishes his homework during the 30 minutes of after care before the bus, and my first grader has about 10 minutes of homework. The teachers are meticulous about posting grades to the online system, which makes it a doddle to keep track, not to mention how easy it is to find out when homework is due.

Obviously, as it’s public school, Keith & I still have to provide a Judaics education to our kids. So it’s a good job they don’t have too much homework, because we learn with them daily. It also means getting up earlier than strictly necessary, so that they all have time to daven in the morning before going to the bus. The bus leaves at 7am, so we are up by 6. A number of people, upon hearing this have said things like “we could never put our kids in public school. We’d never get them to daven”. And when I hear this, it just makes me sad, because I feel that we are in a better place now as parents, in so many ways. Out of necessity, we are forced to “Veshinantam leVanecha”, something that many Jewish parents no longer do, because their kids are in day school. Nothing makes my heart swell more than watching my 1st grade daughter bowing as she says shmona esreh, which I’ve been teaching her.

Do I wish we’d done it sooner? In brief, no. I’m glad we had last year at home, happy to have had the time to get to know my children better, and to understand how each of them learns. The break was nice, and now I look forward to early release days and days off here and there, when we can just hang out and have fun.

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