Are you ready to go back to school!? I would imagine this is a question many of us are asking ourselves on behalf of our children. Starting back to school can be an anxiety provoking experience. As a child, I struggled greatly with returning to school after summer break. I would become highly emotional as I tried to wrap my head around what my school year might look like. Not to mention the anxiety that was tied up in my academic upper limit issues. I never trusted that I was a capable student, so school, secular and religious, represented all the things that scared me the most and made me feel badly about myself.
This is such a common experience! And often times one that does not completely subside. Here I am on the precipice of going back to school and I am again feeling anxious! In mid-August I will have begun my schooling to become an ordained Cantor. Will I be able to handle the workload? Will I be able to absorb, retain and/or apply the information that is being presented? I certainly feel more confident than I did during my youth, but it’s all still there.
My current experience is a reminder of how complicated school, secular and religious, can feel for our children.
In preparing yourself and your children for returning to Religious School, allow them to feel nervous. Allow them to talk through what they are feeling. Some gentle affirmations about their feelings can also be helpful.
When my son, who is about to enter Kindergarten, tells me that he is nervous about making friends, I remind myself not to cite all the reasons why he doesn’t need to worry about that, but rather I let him know that I understand that feeling. Take your time so that your children don’t rush through this process. And then, once their feelings have been expressed and affirmed, let them know that Religious School is designed to excite and create joy.
This year, our teachers and I have recommitted to creating an atmosphere that is fun! We will be creating an environment that celebrates each child and is designed to provoke thoughts and creativity and, most of all, spirituality. We will achieve this through discussion, projects, participation in Shabbat services and song.
But, most of all, we will be cultivating the most important thing to the love of Judaism, COMMUNITY.
I can’t wait to see you for the first day of school!
Religious School and Sacred Music Director