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Thoughts from Malkie Herson

Shabbat Shalom from Malkie

Breitman Hebrew School and the Zimmer Preschool will be hosting our annual Friday night Shabbat Dinner.
But what is Shabbat?
Last week, I posed that question to my teenage daughter. She said, “Shabbat is just different to weekday. No matter what is going on during the week, I give myself permission to let it go when Shabbat arrives.” My other daughter nodded in agreement, “Yeah, it’s like chaos, chaos, chaos. And then Shabbat. A day to exhale. It feels so relaxed.”
The truth is I love the hectic nature of life. I thrive on frazzled nerves and impending deadlines. I love noise and energy. But I cannot imagine life without Shabbat. For me, Shabbat is a time to slow down. Like a mini vacation amidst the hectic-ness of life. On Shabbat, I regroup. I read. I rest. I play board games with my kids. I take long walks, and have even longer conversations. And, without the loud “you-got-to-do-this-and-that-and-the-other...right now!” pounding in my brain, in the context of the calmness of the Shabbat day, I get to know me.
Six days a week we focus on earning a living, pursuing an education, working towards our goals. But once a week we stop. We get off the treadmill called ‘life’ and from a relaxed perch we self-assess. It’s like a rest stop on a fast-paced trip: We take a good look at the map and review the directions; we satiate ourselves with food and drink; we stretch our legs so that we are better equipped to handle the rest of the drive. For this 25-hour time, rather than pursue goals, we assess them. We reflect upon them. Personally, Shabbat seems to lift me above the pressures of the clock and the calendar. It’s within time, but it seems to transcend time.
In today’s fast-paced, mega-everything world, it sometimes feels as if we’ve lost the art of getting to know our core selves. It seems as if we live in a world that is on ‘reaction-mode’ rather than ‘proaction-mode’. So, when we explore Shabbat with our children, using age-appropriate language (more info to follow in each class’s newsletters), we discuss this ever-important idea of self reflection. We discuss how Shabbat is a t ime to think about our week and the choices we made. That is called ‘reflect’. We discuss that there is surely a lot to be proud of as we review our past week. So we celebrate. Shabbat is a day to reflect and to celebrate. Reflection and celebration. Two such powerful tools!
I can’t honestly say that I utilize the ‘Shabbat tool’ anywhere near its potential. But whenever I do, I feel much more control over my own life. And, as I am knee-deep in the work week, just knowing that Shabbat is waiting for me at the end of it all, makes me feel safe.
Shabbat Shalom
A Shabbat filled with peace...

How can we build self confidence in a child?

As I walk through the hallways of our preschool and peek into the classrooms I am always amazed by the sense of confidence that our children seem to have. Their art and writing impresses me as I see such individuality in the work. Indeed, our school's mission is to create an environment that strengthens children's sense of self, their sense of confidence. Our educational philosophy is premised upon the idea that children will succeed cognitively when their emotional foundation is solid.

How can we build self confidence in a child? One way is by seeing children as competent. And letting them know that we see them that way.

A mother presented me with this situation: Every morning, her three young children (ages 1, 3 and 5) rush to cuddle near her in bed. Sounds sweet. Except there are three children and mom has only two sides. Mom was curious how to approach this situation. She wanted to offer a solution to her children, but she wasn't sure herself as to what to say.

Here's an easy and effective idea: Ask the child to come up with a solution!

All too often adults are quick to offer solutions. Solutions that - given the chance - our children have the capacity to come up with on their own. And their solutions are often more creative than we adults may have come up with!

All too often society underestimates the capabilities of children and assumes that the child does not have problem-solving skills, indirectly sending a message to the child that they need an 'outside source' to solve their problems.

Here's how mom can respond to the children, "I love snuggling with you. But there are two sides near mommy. One, two. (Concretize this 'spatial reality' by pointing and counting.) And there are three children. One, two, three. What do you think we should do about it?"

Quite frankly, had I been the one to suggest the solution, I would have simply offered that the children take turns. Such a practical, adult solution! The 5-year old child, however, offered this creative idea, "Maybe, every morning, we should see who is sad or scared or needs mommy most. Like maybe they had a nightmare. And then we decide like that."


By allowing this child the opportunity to come up with her own solution and to practice problem-solving skills, it also showed mommy that this 5-year old child has a sense of empathy, an ability to put her sibling's needs above her own. Empathy is not an easy skill, and - like every other skill - takes practice to perfect. Imagine, by offering an adult solution, as opposed to opening it up to the child, this child would not have had the opportunity to practice these social-emotional skills!

Learning is a gift. And it can only be accomplished first-hand. No one can learn for us. So, let's allow the learner (the child) to carry the beautiful weight of a learning experience. Let's put the 'burden' of learning on the learner's lap. 

Have a wonderful week,
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