Ten Commandments for Parents of Students

[From "Ma'aynei Ha-Yeshu'ah" – Emor 5769]

1. "These are the names" ("Eleh Shemot" – beginning of Shemot). You should write your dear child's name on all of his supplies: backpack and canteen, books and notebooks, pencil case and pencils, pencil sharpener and eraser, sweater and jacket. A child who losses an item wastes time looking for it and he becomes upset and frustrated. And schools will turn into a giant store house for lost objects, and all of the objects will be thrown out in the end. Especially to an unorganized child, order is a lifesaver.
2. A daily planner is a planner for life. Supply your child with a good planner with dates, without nonsense and vanity, such as picture of actors, rock stars, etc… Get our child accustomed to using it. It will help him to be organized and for teachers to pass on messages. It is good education for his entire life.
3. Water. Supply your child with a small bottle of water. Drinking water in abundance is essential, both in the summer and winter. Drinking water helps a child concentrate during learning. He can also drink in the middle of the class. Obviously, do not forget the blessing before and after.
4. Leaving calmly. Prevent stress when leaving for school because of last minute preparations. You should prepare the backpack and supplies the night before. Wake up on time. Give him something to drink before leaving, and prepare him a good breakfast. Even if he claims not to be hungry, he needs energy for the entire morning. We should eat in the morning like a prince, in the afternoon like a regular person and in the evening like a poor person. You should part from one another with love and a kiss, so that a good feeling remains with him all day.
5. Rest time. Make sure your child has rest time. If he goes to bed late, he will not be able to concentrate. He will be easily bothered and fall asleep during classes.
6. Love peace. It is better to live in peace than with strife. One should endeavor to "love peace and pursue peace." Why the doubled language? The Maharal explains: "Love peace – not to initiate strife; pursue peace – if others initiate, try to flee from it and reinstate the peace. Although according to the basic Halachah, if your child is hit, it is permissible to hit back or if he is insulted, it is permissible to respond in kind, it is preferable to teach him strategies how to avoid strife and bring about a peaceful resolution. Clarify together with him when and how it is appropriate to turn to the school's administration if someone bothers him and when not to.
7. Get up and travel in the Land. Even if your child prefers to remain at home or to learn Torah, encourage him to take a trip. A trip is not only for fun but also part of a school's education.
8. Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. When your child criticizes teachers, this is an opportunity to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. One should certainly listen to the child's complains with love, but be careful not to be dragged into criticizing the teacher because then the child will be unable to learn from them. It is a delicate balance between respecting the child and respecting the teacher. Therefore, focus in on what the child is upset about and find solutions without blaming the teacher.
9. Parent-teacher conferences are an obligation. Just as a student is obligated to be present at class in school, so too are the parents obligated to attend parent-teacher conferences. And this is not only one parent, i.e. the mother, but also the father, who is involved with many important things, since the most important thing is his children. This is an obligation because of the cooperative effort between parents and teacher, from both directions: listening to what the teacher has to say about your child, and so the teacher can listen to what you have to say. And before anything, to express gratitude and respect to the teacher.
10. Give thanks. You should not only give thanks at the parent-teacher conference but at every opportunity. The teacher works so hard and does so many kindnesses for your child that you certainly should offer them gratitude for the rest of your life. Gratitude in writing and orally, in a note, on the phone, on the e-mail. Gratitude by bringing juice to the teacher's room. Thanks, thanks, thanks.