There is a present that every parent can give regardless of one's means. It's one that doesn't cost a dime and can't be bought. Yet it's likely the most valuable: Instilling a positive attitude in the hearts and minds of your children.
Many people post their favorite sayings on the refrigerator door. My mother has a great saying in Yiddish: "Tracht gut, un es vet zein gut." I have the same saying posted on the door of my office, written in English. It says, "Think good and it will be good."
Every parent I know wishes for their children to have a most positive experience in school. School is not and should not be the same fun experience as, say, an amusement park. It should, nevertheless, be a pleasurable experience for all children. Most parents would do whatever is reasonable to make sure that their children are ready for the great experience of school.
While it is reasonable to prepare children for a new school year, many parents go to great extremes. They sacrifice much to buy their children the nicest clothes, the fanciest school supplies and other items to put everything in place for their children to have a successful school year.
I don't want to minimize all of that. But allow me to share the most important thing you can do for your child to ensure a successful school year.
Share with your children positive messages about the school they will be attending. Let them hear that you are excited about the school year. Make sure that they know that your excitement is not because they will now be out of your hair. Rather, they should realize that you are excited because they are going to the school that is best for them and they are so lucky to have the best instructors.
The school that I work at has adopted "pride" as the theme for this school year. One of our teachers suggested that it would be a great benefit if all the members of the school students, parents and teachers would feel the pride of being associated with the school. All members should feel that their school is the best and they should feel proud to be associated with and part of the school.
Make that your top priority and you will be amazed at the results.
It is funny, but these things have a tendency of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. The more you focus on the strengths and highlight the positive attributes of the school, the better the school becomes.
It is acceptable and actually expected for parents to have concerns with some aspect of any school. There is no school that can satisfy every request or wish of every parent. While the concerns and issues should be dealt with, the only healthy way is by approaching the school administration directly. It is not necessary, however indeed, it's actually harmful for children to be exposed to those concerns and dissatisfactions.
There are numerous ways to instill a positive attitude about school in your children. You will be amazed at the ideas you will come up with as you begin thinking about it. Just remember that you are giving your children the greatest gift and a priceless one at that!
If you have a child who, for some reason, has already developed a negative attitude about school, there are ways of overcoming this challenge. The most effective technique is for the parents to focus only on the positive. For example, when the child comes home, instead of just asking the child how school was today, ask the child to tell you what the most positive part of school was. This creates an opening for the child to begin sharing positive details about the day in school.
Hopefully, one positive comment will lead to another and another.
May we merit to have much to be positive about and for our children to have a most positive experience in school.
JWR contributor Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg is dean of Torah Academy in Minneapolis and a columnist for Yated Neeman. Comment by clicking here.