The Israeli high-school kids earning high-tech salaries

Cyber-ed program gives youth from peripheral areas training for well-paying positions at major companies even before they enter the army.

Binyamin Houri, 17, from the southern working-class city of Netivot, skipped a grade and now works at Dynamic Yield as a programmer while his peers finish high school. Yotam Salomon, 17, from Kiryat Ata in the Haifa district, has been working during school holidays and in his spare time for the past three years developing software for 3D printers at a local startup.

“I never felt like a child who is being told what to do – what I think and say always matters. I am treated just like any other worker,” says Yotam, who completed his matriculation exams in math, English and computer science ahead of schedule.

Binyamin and Yotam are graduates of a national cyber-education program, Magshimim, operated by the Cyber Education Center of the Rashi Foundation to train youth from Israeli periphery regions as cyber-tech professionals.

The program helps them train for fruitful careers and also addresses Israel’s growing dearth of qualified high-tech workers.

Among Magshimim’s 234 graduates last year, 61 worked in high-tech companies even before starting their military service after high school.

Fifteen Magshimim grads work part time at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in information security, cybersecurity operations centers, programming and QA testing.

Other teens are employed at Aqua Security, CyActive, Check Point Software Technologies, Deutsche Telekom, VIA, Hysolate and additional high-tech firms.

Their average hourly salary is ₪50 (about $14), nearly twice the Israeli minimum hourly wage of ₪28.50 and 2.5 times what their peers make in various odd jobs. When they work full time – for example, during the summer or before drafting into the military – they earn an average ₪10,000 per month, about the same as the average Israeli adult.

According to Magshimim data, 92 percent of the placements last year were at the companies’ initiative, based mostly on recommendations and “bring a friend.” Since the beginning of this year, there has been at least one inquiry per week about recruiting youth from the program.

“The collaboration with the companies represents a win-win situation – the students get a chance to gain valuable experience in high-tech and cyber-tech fields, while the companies benefit from the addition of excellent and energetic young people to their workforce,” said Sagi Bar, director of the Cyber Education Center. “This connection also creates social value, through the increased representation of the periphery in the high-tech industry.”

On February 22, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, National Cyber Bureau Chief Yigal Unna, and former Chief of Staff and Rashi Foundation Chairman Gabi Ashkenazi came to the Magshimim Ultimate Challenge event in Ra’anana celebrating 1,000 graduates since the program was founded in 2010.

Magshimim was established in partnership with the Ministry of Defense in an effort to increase the representation of young people from the periphery in the cyber and Intelligence units of the IDF and in the high-tech industry. The program also has the support of the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Lottery Fund, and the Adelis, Daniel and Davidson Foundations.

About the Author:

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a major daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.

More Kids, Less Stress?

On being a “good enough” mother.

A recent article on Today.com suggests that raising three children is the most stressful, but after that, with any additional children it actually gets easier. I don’t know who they interviewed but it certainly wasn’t me! How could it possibly be less stressful? Instead of three people that you wish to shape and nudge and help grow and control your anxiety about, there are now more! More people whose lives seem dependent on you and whose present and future happiness is to important to you that it keeps you awake at night.

Less stress? I don’t think so.

What is possible, though, is that there are certain neuroses that we let go. It is impossible (certainly without paid help) to have the house be perfectly neat when you have a large family, although why the parent quoted in the column offers “with her fourth child she didn’t bother with things like obsessively covering all the outlets with safety plugs” as an example of an area to be more relaxed about is beyond me. Perhaps obsessive sterilizing and organizing and a full schedule of Mommy and Me classes could, however, go by the wayside.

Perhaps, with more children, parents set more realistic limits – for themselves and for their offspring. One mother cited in the piece allowed her children to sign up for one sport only, a sport that did not have an intense travel schedule. Now that’s a mother with some sense of self-preservation!

The psychologist, Donald Winnicott, is famous for having coined the term, “good enough” mother. Parents of larger families perhaps set that more achievable goal for themselves.

But it’s still not easier (how can 4 or 7 or 9 possibly be easier than 2?) or less stressful. Those of us blessed with larger families, I think, have instead made a decision, actually two decisions. The first is that the stress is worth it. Jobs are stressful, relationships are stressful, anything worth doing involves stress. Accepting stress and coping with stress are facts of life. And, like many other challenges, I believe, they are affected by our expectations.

One thing that all parents have in common is exhaustion, a constant state of fatigue. We are just always tired. I have found that if I count the number of hours of sleep I got, if I feel I “need” more of “should have” more, I will always be frustrated (and sometimes resentful). But, if I accept that this is the price of living a full life, if I don’t expect to always be fresh and sharp (to ever be fresh and sharp!), then I’m okay.

I’m always quoting my favorite old kick boxing ad, “You’ll rest when you’re dead.”

I think the same attitude applies to stress. If we imagine that our lives should be stress-free, that our children should pose no challenges to us, that in other homes they are perfectly behaved and everything is working out magically for them, we will be very stressed – and frustrated as well. But if we just accept some level of stress as a reality in our lives – and the lives of everyone we know – then perhaps we can make peace with it.

We need to let go of any expectation that “it’s not supposed to be like this.” Yes, it is.

The second decision is one that should have been made at the beginning of the parenting journey but hits home more with the third child. With two children, we fool ourselves that we are in charge. With three we realize that we are outnumbered.

This is the moment, if you haven’t already, to turn to the Almighty and say “I can’t do this alone; I need your help.” Of course, we always needed His help, it’s just brought home to us much more clearly now. And, of course, this is also the only strategy that can possibly ease our stress. It’s not in our hands. He’s running the show. Big exhale.

Constantly recognizing this is also a challenge but we can try. This is the best coping tool of all. And it’s got the added benefit of being true.

It’s a lifetime’s work. Sometimes I’m calm; sometimes I’m over the edge. Sometimes I’m frustrated; sometimes I’ve made peace with the situation. Sometimes I give it over to the Almighty; sometimes I rail against my inability to effect change. We just have to stay in the game.

And when times get really tough, and it all seems too overwhelming, and my favorite kick boxing slogan just doesn’t do it, I turn to my favorite prayer:

“I am ready to fulfill the mitzvah of trusting in God, and of casting my load on Him. Master of the Universe, I am casting upon You my burden which is that I need….Help me to acquire/achieve it/bring it about, and as of now I remove this burden from myself. I no longer have any worry over it since I trust in You.”

About the Author: Emuna Braverman

Please check out Emuna’s new book A Diamond for Your Daughter – A Parent’s Guide to Navigating Shidduchim Effectively, available through Judaica Press

Emuna Braverman has a law degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters in in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. She lives with her husband and nine children in Los Angeles where they both work for Aish HaTorah. When she isn”t writing for the Internet or taking care of her family, Emuna teaches classes on Judaism, organizes gourmet kosher cooking groups and hosts many Shabbos guests.

Telling Kids What to Do

Are parents afraid to teach their young kids values and proper behavior in a clear, unambiguous manner?

In “The Wrong Way to Speak to Children” (WSJ), Jennifer Lehr suggests that the way most of us address our young children is, for lack of a better word, wrong. Her theory is that most of our conversation is about control – “We use it to tell our kids what we want them say (“Say sorry!”); how we want them to feel (“You’re okay!”); what we want them to do (Behave yourself!”); and what will happen if they don’t (“Do you want a timeout?”) – and compliance.

Just as an aside, she seems to allege that most of speak with a lot of vehemence and emotion; hence her constant use of exclamation marks!!

She then cites what was in her mind a painful story that led to her epiphany in parenting theory – and, of course, a new book.

It was at the end of a play date and she asked her for-year-old daughter, Jules, to thank the other mom for having her over. After a little prodding and encouragement Jules mumbled a thank you. I’m sure we are all familiar with such a situation and response. What is new is Ms Lehr’s reaction: “My heart sank. My sparkling daughter seemed so kowtowed. It was like I was a ventriloquist and Jules, my dummy.” (I don’t mean to seem judgmental but the author seems prone to extreme emotional reactions to fairly mild situations!)

If Jennifer Lehr was dealing with teenagers then I would probably agree with her that control and compliance are not the best strategies or goals.

But she’s talking about four year olds. Four year olds are not just short adults. They’re children! (My turn to use exclamation marks!) They aren’t mature enough to deduce solely from our behavior how to act. And they aren’t disciplined enough or motivated enough to act on this information even if they have superior powers of deduction. Four year olds need their parents to tell them what to do and when to do it. And to ensure that they follow through.

This is the job of parents of four year olds, a job we can’t abdicate despite Ms. Lehr’s innovative theory and writings. I confess that I don’t really understand why Ms. Lehr’s “sparkling daughter seemed so kowtowed” by the simple request to say thank you. It doesn’t seem that onerous or demanding. Is Ms. Lehr just seeing what she wants to see? Is she projecting? Is she making a mountain out of a molehill?

Hard to say but even if the author is correct and her daughter was subdued by the admonition to express gratitude, so what? Maybe she didn’t like being told what to do. Maybe she was resentful. Maybe she didn’t want to do it. But expressing gratitude and appreciation is a basic positive character trait that parents need to instill in their children, whether they resist it or not, whether they sparkle with excitement at the discovery or not.

It is our responsibility to teach the lesson of gratitude in a clear and unambiguous way. A four year old may not be thrilled in the moment but she’s being shaped into a polite, appreciative adult. Parents need to look to the future and not get too caught up in a child’s fleeting reaction.

Ms. Lehr rails against the idea of this “parentspeak” but none of us would probably be who we are today without it. And I venture to say that the world would be full of a lot more spoiled brats.

I think the world needs a lot more expressions of gratitude, not less, from people of all ages – even if it’s not always expressed with superlatives and enthusiasm.

About the Author: Emuna Braverman

Please check out Emuna’s new book A Diamond for Your Daughter – A Parent’s Guide to Navigating Shidduchim Effectively, available through Judaica Press

Emuna Braverman has a law degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters in in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. She lives with her husband and nine children in Los Angeles where they both work for Aish HaTorah. When she isn”t writing for the Internet or taking care of her family, Emuna teaches classes on Judaism, organizes gourmet kosher cooking groups and hosts many Shabbos guests.

The Four Temperaments of Children

And how to motivate your child based on their personality

“Too often parents interpret a child’s behavior as rebelliousness, when in fact she is just being true to her nature…One of the most generous gifts you can give your child is to study her temperament and once you’ve learned it, work to accept it.” Wendy Mogel, Blessing of a Skinned Knee

There are so many ways we can describe our children’s personality and temperament: fun loving, a people person, intense, shy, a book worm. A person’s personality is defined as the totality of somebody’s, attitudes, behavioral patterns, emotional responses, social roles and other individual traits that are innate, predisposed and endure over a long period of time.

Temperament is a preferred, most natural style of how we respond to the world.

I am always hesitant to label children, however understanding a child’s personality and temperament can only be a plus. Differences in personality and temperament impact a child’s behavior in myriads of ways. Take the ‘slow to warm up’ child. That child is not being rude when he refuses to kiss the out of town relatives; he just needs a bit of time to get used to them.

When we understand our child’s personality and temperament, we can better communicate with them and understand them in deeper ways. We can then try to accommodate their unique and individual needs. It will make both our lives easier.

So when we are dealing with a ‘slow to warm up’ child, instead of getting frustrated and annoyed with them, we will understand that they need time to get used to new situations. Then we will more likely to prepare them beforehand, stay close by until they feel comfortable and reassure them, “Right now you don’t feel comfortable, but in a few minutes you will.”

Gretchen Rubin, in her book, “The Four Tendencies” takes this idea even further. She created a framework that describes how people respond to inner and outer expectations.

There are: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers and Rebels. She contends that your tendency shapes every aspect of your behavior. If you understand your tendency then you will be able to make better decisions, work more effectively reduce your stress and most important create good habits and follow through on your goals. Knowing your tendency helps you understand why you act on your goals and why you may not on your goals.

  1. Upholders meet inner and outer expectations. They love rules, having a clear plan and are self-motivated and disciplined. Clearly tell them what needs to be done and they’ll lead the way.
  2. Questioners meet their own expectations but resist outer ones. They need to see purpose and reason in anything they do. Make it clear why what you want from them is important.
  3. Obligers meet other people’s expectations easily but struggle with their own. They must be held accountable by a friend, coach or boss to get things done. They thrive when they have a sense of duty and can work in a team.
  4. Rebels defy both outer and inner expectations. Above all, they want to be free to choose and express their own individuality. Give them the facts, present the task as a challenge and let them decide without pressure.

This information is important for parents to know. So much of what we do as parents involves how to motivate children, (i.e. get them out of bed in the morning, get them to do their chores) discipline them (deliver consequences when they don’t follow through) and help them develop and follow through on their goals (pick a topic for their history project, choose a summer camp or college). Understanding how children respond to expectations, whether they are an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel, can be invaluable. Rubin suggests that parenting strategies should take into consideration a child’s tendency or it should, “talk to” the tendency’s values.

Here is how this can work:

Upholders

If your child is an upholder, he/she will be pretty easy to raise. Teachers love upholders too. They are self-motivated and want to meet expectations. They are generally responsible about their homework and chores around the house and have all their school supplies on hand and are on time.  However, they would not be called laid back or spontaneous and can be inflexible. They cannot handle changes in plans, transitions, and dealing with situations when the rules are unclear.

Rubin encourages parents of Upholders, when up against their child’s iron clad following of rules, to explain, “Your teacher expects you to read for 30 minutes a night, but because we went to visit Grandma, it will be bedtime by the time we get home. A good night’s sleep will make you alert for school tomorrow and that’s more important than reading tonight.”

With Upholders “Those arguments will work better than…’You deserve it’, ‘The teacher won’t know you skipped one day.’”

Questioners:

Questioners are the children who are constantly asking for explanations of why they have to do what they are doing. They are often rebuked for being disrespectful. They are often accused of challenging authority, when really they are intensely curious. They will only do things if it makes sense to them. They need logical reasons to comply to any demands made of them. “Setting the table now helps dinner run smoothly. Everyone will have the utensils they need and we can sit comfortably and enjoy dinner.”

Most kids do not respond well to the typical parenting answers of “Because I say so,” “We’ve always done it this way,” “This what you have to do” or “These are the rules.” However, Questioners (and rebels) have a particularly difficult time with these types of phrases.

Many teachers appreciate Questioners because they keep class discussions going, but they also feel that they slow down the class with their constant queries and may also feel that they are being disrespectful.

Rubin points out that “Questioners can have a hard time in school because they resist doing mundane academic tasks that don’t make sense to them. It is helpful if … parents can give thoughtful justifications for why they have to complete assignments. If a questioner student asks, ‘Why do I need to know about ancient Mesopaotamia? This will never be of any use to me!’ a teacher might respond unhelpfully, ‘This is what we’re studying now, so get with the program,” or helpfully, ‘You’re learning about Mesopotamia true, but this assignment is teaching you much more. You’re learning how to analyze complex material quickly, how to pull essential ideas out of a text, how to take notes efficiently, and how to explain ideas in your own words. There are important skills that will serve you well.’”

Obligers:

Obliger children are generally easy because they like to please the adults in their lives. However, they do need external measures of accountability. Parents need to help them find systems outside of themselves that will help them enforce expectations. They have a hard time doing homework, practicing the piano or getting their chores done if someone is not holding them accountable.

Although it can be frustrating for parents, these children need gentle reminders. Incentive charts work well for these children. Positive reinforcement is a must: “That was a big help to me when you cleaned up all the toys in the family room.”

Obliger children will do well with sports metaphors: “Team Cohen is getting ready for our road trip. Let’s get the bags in the car!” “Our family works together. We are a great team!”

It is important to make sure that Obliger children don’t work too hard to please others. They are easily overwhelmed and they may lose sight of what makes them feel happy or fulfilled. They are often doing favors for their friends and are taken advantage of.

Rebels:

Rebel children are often challenging because they refuse to do what they are told to do. They like to make their own choices and they resist any expectations. They need to feel as is they are doing what they want, not what others want them to do.

Rebel children need our love and understanding, probably more so then our other children. They are often knocking up against people and limits. It can be exhausting to have an internal dialogue that does not allow you to follow the rules of society, to always feel the need to push back.

To maintain a loving relationship with these children it is important to avoid direct commands. When parents say to a rebel child, “Say thank you to Mrs. Cohen,” the child will most likely dig in their heels and refuse to comply. This may be the case even if he had planned on saying thank you on his own.

Rubin suggests the following procedure when speaking to all children, but with Rebels it is essential:

  1. Provide information: “I think Mrs. Cohen is going to give us some tomatoes from her garden today. Gardeners usually love to share their produce. They work really hard, so let’s remember to say thank you.”
  2. Tell them the positive consequences of their behavior: “If we thank Mrs. Cohen, she will be more likely to give us more tomatoes in the future. She might even let us help out in the garden!”
  3. Give them choices: “You can say or whisper thank you. You could also make her a card.”
  4. Let them decide: “The way you say ‘thank you’ is all up to you.”

Whatever tendency your child exhibits, they need our love, care and understanding.

About the Author:

Adina Soclof is a Parent Educator, Professional Development Instructor and Speech Pathologist working with children in a school setting. She received her BA. in History from Queens College and her MS. in Communication Sciences from Hunter College. Adina is the founder of ParentingSimply.com. She delivers parenting classes as well as professional development workshops for Speech Pathologists, Teachers and other health professionals. You can find her text based CEU courses at PDResources.com and video courses at Homeceuconnection.com and SpeechPathologypd.com

5 Tips for Disciplining Your Toddler

When those terrible twos hit, many parents are unprepared for the challenge. It seems as if children are a whirlwind of activity interspersed with meltdowns and even defiance.

As always, parents can better manage their toddlers if they understand that there are very valid reasons for their (bad) behavior. Toddlers act in this way because they have become more mobile. They have moved passed the crawling, cruising stage to the running, climbing stage. Parents now need to set even more limits: “No, get down from the counter!” “Move away from the oven!”

This angers children; they can’t take all the “Nos”. Developmentally they haven’t learned how to handle frustration in productive ways, so they cry and whine and eventually meltdown.

At the same time, children are learning that they are separate from their parents. They are now starting to understand that they have their own body, thoughts and feelings. They start to assert their independence. Now they need to feel in charge of themselves. This is when they start to say “Me do it!” They get really angry when they are unable to buckle themselves into their car seats, or they are not allowed to walk by themselves in the parking lot.

 So now that their behavior makes a little bit more sense, here are five simple ways that parents can handle these toddler years.

  1. Prevention is worth an ounce of cure:

The most relaxed parents are the ones who set themselves us for success. They know that they shouldn’t take their children on an errand at the end of the day or will skip the visit to the highly stimulating amusement park. Most children (and adults) do not work well when they are hungry, tired and overwhelmed with sights and sensations,(loud noises and bright lights).

The simplest way to ensure good behavior (or at least some sort of reasonableness) from your toddler is to make sure that they are getting a good night sleep, appropriate naps and are well fed. Although it is not always possible, it’s best if you take them to a venue that is age appropriate for them, like parks, mini-amusement parks, and the baby pool.

Another trigger for bad behavior is rushing. Most toddlers cannot transition from activity to activity easily. They need a lot of wiggle room. It is helpful to give children a lot of advance warnings before you need to leave home, get them into their pajamas or before putting them to sleep.

Similarly, if you know your child spends a lot of time in the bath and hates getting out, make that a part of your schedule. Parents often know when a temper tantrum is coming. Don’t act surprised. Try to schedule in that inevitable meltdown. So if Eli usually cries when he has to put on his pajamas and it takes him about 15 minutes, until he calms down, schedule in that extra time during your bedtime routine.

2- Choices:

Since toddlers are experimenting with independence, they like to feel like they’re in control. Giving them choices allows them to assert their autonomy, but safely, because you, the parent, are still in charge. Choices foster a sense of self as children come to learn that their preferences can be communicated and respected.

Some simple choices are:

“Do you want to take your book or a snack to the doctor?”
“Do you want me to buckle you or do you want to buckle yourself?
“Do you want the blue or green cup?”
“Do you want to put your pants on first or your shirt on first?”

These questions seem as if they can take a lot of time, but can save you hours in avoiding those toddler power struggles.

3- Humor

A sense of humor is a must when dealing with toddlers; they respond so well to playfulness. When moving children from activity to activity, parents can make it fun, “Let’s pretend that the bath is the ocean and we are dolphins! We need water to live! Let’s get to the bath fast!” “Let’s pretend we are vacuum cleaners and pick up all the puzzle pieces!”

Singing is also a great way to help get kids transition, “We are going to eat dinner, to eat dinner, to eat dinner….”, “It is time to leave the park, the park, the park…” Most parents, when it is time to clean up, have definitely used the clean-up song to get everyone going.

4. Kids are never too young for empathy:

Enforcing limits time and again can be frustrating for both parties. However, limits given along with empathy can soften the blow. It sounds like this:

“You are so sad because your video is over. You want to watch another video so badly. The rule is one video.”
“It is so frustrating, you wanted to stay longer at the park. It is time for us to leave.”
“You sound so mad! You wanted another candy. The rule is one candy.”

This doesn’t mean that your child will stop resisting. You might have to use these phrases over and over again. However, it gives parents something to say that is kind and helpful while enforcing the rules. It often keeps parents calm and can be soothing for children.

5. Patience is physical.

I was complaining to one of my very smart and kind friends about how tired I was and how I seem to be losing it with more and more with my toddler. “I feel like my patience is shot!”

She said, “You need a break, you can’t raise a family if you are not filling up your on gas tank. Patience is physical, my dear!”

She is right. Patience is physical. I have a lot more patience with my kids if I have eaten a healthy dinner, had my multivitamin and gotten a good night sleep. As parents we can’t always do that, but we should strive for it. It should be our number one priority.

About the Author:

Adina Soclof is a Parent Educator, Professional Development Instructor and Speech Pathologist working with children in a school setting. She received her BA. in History from Queens College and her MS. in Communication Sciences from Hunter College. Adina is the founder of ParentingSimply.com. She delivers parenting classes as well as professional development workshops for Speech Pathologists, Teachers and other health professionals. You can find her text based CEU courses at PDResources.com and video courses at Homeceuconnection.com and SpeechPathologypd.com.

5 Ways to Stop Your Kids Getting Spoiled this Chanukah

Chanukah is a highlight of the year for the Jewish family! Delicious latkes, beautiful songs and unforgettable family experiences.

But for most of us, these aren’t the only memories we have. Many of us have seen our kids show more interest in their presents than in the family celebration. Siblings fight over gifts and donuts and before we know it our beautiful holiday devolves into an exercise in self-indulgence.

How do we ensure that Judaism’s beautiful values are not lost amidst our Chanukah celebrations?

1. Appreciate the Givers

Help your kids to appreciate the people who bought them gifts. Encourage them to text or email a photo of them using the present they received, together with a personalised thank you message.

2. Donate

Jewish teaching and psychological research both emphasise how what we do influences who we are. If Chanukah is a festival of taking, our kids become materialistic and feel entitled. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Have your kids put money in a tzedakah box each evening before opening presents. If they receive Chanukah gelt, teach them to give 10% of it to charity.

There are other ways of giving over Chanukah. If you are in the northern hemisphere then Chanukah falls in the Winter. This is a time when clothing is particularly needed by those who are homeless. Socks are the most needed (and often least donated) item of clothing. Go with your children to a shop and pick out one or more pairs to donate.

3. Spread the Joy of Chanukah

Chanukah can be a very sad time for those living on their own or away from their families. Make some Chanukah cards and then go on a family visit to a Jewish residential home to celebrate with the residents. You can check out this excellent page which gives ideas for doing it in the most meaningful way.

Or take latkes or donuts to a sick or lonely neighbour.

4. Set Limits

Whether it’s the number of latkes or the amount of time playing on the iPod during school vacation, teach your child boundaries. While it’s not good to be overly strict, it’s important that sometimes the answer they hear is ‘no’. Teach them to realise that they won’t get their way through screaming and rude behaviour. This also applies to your toddler – don’t wait until they are five before you teach them how to behave!

5. Setting the Example

The most important rule – what you do matters more than what you say! Set the example by talking openly about the things you appreciate this Chanukah.

Chanukah Sameach!

by Rabbi Anthony Knopf

Rabbi Anthony Knopf  is the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Ora in Montreal. He previously served as Associate Rabbi at Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue in London and as Rabbi of Camps Bay Shul in Cape Town. He has received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, and also has a BA in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge. He is married to Carly and is the proud father of Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami.

10 Guidelines for Healthy Discipline

How to administer effective discipline without hurting your child.

While it may be the least enjoyable part of parenting and educating, discipline and consequences are fundamental. A child who is not disciplined and never admonished will not only be less motivated to strive for more, but may actually sink from the level that he has already achieved.

But the art of discipline is tricky. When done incorrectly it can leave lasting damaging effects. Criticizing a child the wrong way can hurt his self-esteem in the long run.

These 10 guidelines are designed to foster healthy discipline and consequences.

1. Remember: Nobody is perfect

When it comes to our own personal shortcomings we easily overlook or make excuses for our deficits, saying, “Nobody’s perfect!” Children are entitled to the same consideration. We need to temper our immediate reactions to their misbehavior with the knowledge that they’re not finished products. Keeping this in mind helps us be more forgiving and tailors our response to a more tempered and productive one.

2. Know when to overlook

We may be tempted to notice every wrongdoing of a child, perhaps to show them that we are on top of a situation. This can be a big mistake. Some behaviors can and should be overlooked. If a child did something that was totally circumstantial and you are not concerned it will be repeated, the best thing is usually to just keep quiet. You should work on noticing three times as much good in your child than bad. The more good you notice and comment on, the more the child will strive to earn that positive attention from you.

3. Give your child the benefit of the doubt

Children deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt just like adults. Before you scold a child, show him that you take him seriously and ask him what happened. Really listen to what he has to say. You may not want to accept every excuse or fabrication which he will offer, but it is invaluable to show a child that you are not judging him until you hear him out. You’d be surprised how many times you may actually be mistaken about his behavior, or at least about his intentions.

4. Let the child save face

Even when you feel sure that you must rebuke or even give a consequence, start your message with something positive. Tell your child that you understand that he probably didn’t really intend to do anything wrong, or that you understand that he may have been provoked into doing it. The fact that you demonstrate empathy and understanding preserves his dignity without justifying the behavior in any way. As much as your child may resent being scolded or punished, he will at least feel that you listened to him and don’t think any less of him.

5. Never get personal

No matter what the situation is, never tell your child that he is bad or that you are very upset with him. Talk about the behavior, talk about the situation, talk about what happened, but don’t make it personal. Let your child know unequivocally that you believe in him. Tell him that it is because he is so special and has so many fine qualities that such behavior was inappropriate. When you label a child, that label may stick in his heart forever. You may intend to motivate him to improve but you could be doing just the opposite, ultimately hurting his ego and self-esteem in the process.

6. Don’t make comparisons

Don’t compare your child to anyone else. Even without saying anything negative about your child, any comparison to a sibling or classmate can be hurtful. Each child is unique. Aside from feeling that he will never match up to the one he is being compared to, it is hurtful to know that his self-worth is being determined by somebody else’s measuring stick.

7. Your message should be about the future

When you harp on the past, making your message all about what happened, your child may see it as your way of getting back at him for an inappropriate action or behavior. To succeed in discipline, steer your message toward the future, so that it will come across as a message of love and concern. Be clear that you are looking ahead and are confident that your child will do better in the future. The more your mindset is future-focused, the more positive, hopeful, confident, and optimistic you will come across. Don’t imply that you feel the future will be more of the same, as you may be setting yourself and your child up for exactly that.

8. Be clear and make sure you’re understood

When reprimanding or implementing a consequence, make sure that the “what and why” is extremely clear to the child. Before taking this step, ask yourself if the scolding and the consequence are necessary and appropriate for this circumstance. Was the child warned? Was the child aware? Will the child understand it, or will he assume it to be cruel and unfair punishment? When you feel comfortable with what you are about to do, be clear about what made you unhappy, and what you expect changed in the future. Be specific and on both the nature of the wrongdoing as well as your expectations.

9. Cushion any discipline with love

Your general attitude toward your child or student should be a loving and caring one. When there is enough love in advance, the discipline and consequence will not arouse intense negative feelings. Right after a consequence or rebuke is given, try to lift the negative energy right away by moving straight back into positive, loving mode. Don’t be afraid that by doing this the child will think you’re just kidding. If you made yourself clear, your message was heard, but now your job is to make sure that there are no residual negative feelings that can erode the relationship and trust. Without retracting from the punishment or warning in any way, win back your child with loving words and behavior.

10. Err on the side of caution

If you are unsure about whether or not to discipline, err on the side of caution. When you are worked up and angry you may not be thinking clearly. Chances are that if you wait till you are less emotionally involved, you will make a better decision. Even if you forgo the opportunity to rebuke when you should have done so, you’ll be doing less damage than if you do rebuke when you should not have. When in doubt about if you should hug a child or rebuke him, an extra hug will probably be the smarter choice.

Discipline is essential for children to grow up as responsible and confident adults. Implementing these ideas will help you discipline at the right times and in the most healthy and effective way.

Abiut the Author:

Rabbi Shimon Gruen is the founder of Leha’ir, an organization that offers classes, workshops, teleconferences, and counseling geared to promote conflict resolution and relationship building, with a special emphasis on parents and educators. Rabbi Gruen specializes in practical tools for marriage communication, classroom management, effective teaching, and success in the workplace. His forthcoming book Never Get Into a Conflict Again, will be published in Fall 2017.

This Is What Your Child May Not Be Learning in The Classroom

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, more than 2 million American children are homeschooled. That’s a huge increase from 1980 when only about 10,000 families in the U.S. homeschooled their kids.

What was once an alternative practice is becoming mainstream. Contrary to what some people believe, homeschoolers aren’t missing out. In fact, they may be exposed to a more comprehensive set of experiences and skills than children who attend traditional schools.

Homeschooled students tend to score up to 30 percent higher than traditionally educated students on standardized and achievement tests. They are also just as socially and emotionally intelligent as anyone else. Perhaps this is because they’re learning things that aren’t available in the average public school.

Learning How to Learn

Some experts say that traditional schools are raising children to be little encyclopedias. Teachers focus on the amount of information that kids can memorize. The kids that fall short of remembering all the facts feel like they’ve failed (and may also receive lower grades). This wipes out their desire to learn.

According to Amanda Lang, who wrote The Power of Why, “Curious kids learn how to learn, and how to enjoy it—and that, more than any specific body of knowledge, is what they will need to have in the future.”

The world is constantly changing. Students need more wisdom than knowledge to keep up. If they have a desire to learn, they’ll continuously search for answers instead of striving for the highest marks or the biggest reward.

The other problem with rote memorization is that it usually bypasses conceptual learning, according to The Atlantic. Reciting the 50 states in alphabetical order is impressive, but is it really helpful if students can’t identify them on a map?

Memorization that comes from raw rehearsal doesn’t necessarily help children learn concepts. It simply allows them to remember information at the surface level. However, repeated use can be a beneficial form of memorization. With this process, children end up automatically memorizing information because they have repeatedly used it in practical and applicable settings.

More Time For Practice

Some kids get on the bus at 6 a.m. and don’t get back home until after 4 p.m. If they have to finish up their homework and have dinner, they don’t have much time left for extracurricular activities. Flex ED argues that homeschooling allows children to focus on their interests.

Many parents who homeschool say that their children complete their academic work in much less time than students who go to school outside the home. This leaves more hours for practicing athletics or hobbies.

When students are immersed in doing something they’re passionate about, they’re more likely to develop a love of learning. When playing sports, kids can learn about anatomy. When drawing in a sketchbook, they can learn about shapes, color, and relativity. Giving children more time to develop their interests can lead them to become powerful explorers and free thinkers.

Research shows that the decline of playtime has led to increasing reports of anxiety, depression and attention problems in children. Scientists at the Institute of Social Research say that children between the ages of 6 and 17 spend about 7.5 hours more a week on academics than they did 20 years ago. About 32.5 of those hours are spent in school.

An increasing emphasis on schooling and adult-directed activities has gotten in the way of kids’ free time. Children don’t just get to explore their interests while they play. They also develop the skills necessary to:

  • Solve problems

  • Communicate

  • Follow rules

  • Apply self-control

  • Gain a sense of mastery over the world

When children have the opportunity to make their own decisions and direct their own actions, they gain a sense of confidence. This self-assurance reduces their risk of developing emotional disorders. Kids also learn to develop coping mechanisms for intense emotions through play. Homeschooled children are more likely to have the time available for copious amounts of free play.

Getting Creative

Many public schools are more concerned with being politically correct than helping kids think on their feet, according to William R. Klemm Ph.D., author of Blame Game, How to Win It. Although Klemm believes that public schools don’t require children to do enough memorization, he does think that conformity is valued over individuality in educational institutions.

When children are encouraged to think like everyone else, they lose their ability to form their own opinions. Although parents can also be guilty of forcing their own opinions on their kids, the less structured, more flexible environment of homeschool may foster creativity.

Some research points to the fact that open classrooms inspire creativity better than traditional classrooms. Parents may be more likely to support independence than schoolteachers. The format of homeschooling lends itself to self-regulation and investigation. You don’t have to wait for everyone else in the class to be on the same page before moving forward.

Maintaining Health

Many students who attend school sit through health classes that are designed to get them to recognize healthy foods and exercise regularly. Homeschooled children may be able to experience the benefits of living healthfully in person.

For example, gardening with children has been shown to have benefits for the mind, body, and soul. Kids can spend an entire day in the garden and knock out a variety of essential learning. They get the physical exercise that they need.

The heavy work that is performed during a gardening session, which involves pushing and pulling, is vital to helping kids develop body awareness, according to Understood. It organizes the brain and calms the body.

Although schools are required to allow time for play, most young children don’t get enough exercise, says WebMD. At home, you could spend a full day outdoors doing heavy work or other types of activity as you learn about photosynthesis, the weather, plants, and animals or just about anything else.

Plus, gross motor skills are linked with a boost in brain function, explains Your Therapy Source. Physical activity can especially affect cognition in elementary and middle schoolers. One study showed that both fine and gross motor skills can improve mathematical performance when they’re incorporated into learning. This is much easier to do at home than in the typical classroom setting.

Developing Fine Motor Skills

Many children aren’t getting the opportunity to learn fine motor skills before they start kindergarten. This Lancaster Online article explains that when children enter school without the proper fine motor development, teachers are unable to work on academics appropriately.

This highlights two problems. One is the fact that toddlers and preschoolers aren’t getting the occasion to play and manipulate objects in order to build the muscles and coordination necessary for fine motor activities. The other is the fact that traditional schools expect kindergarteners to sit at their desks for long periods of time doing classic learning instead of working on their fine motor skills.

In February 2015, the New York Times reported that there was a dramatic increase in the number of students who needed occupational therapy. It can be argued that schools should be incorporating this type of learning into the academic setting so that kids don’t have to be pulled out for special therapy sessions.

At home, kids can practice fine motor skills in a real-life setting. Cooking is one activity that requires the use of fine motor skills. Sewing is another one. When children learn to sew, they also learn spacial awareness and patience.

Psychology Today says that children with advanced fine motor skills are more likely to do better in school. This may be because the same parts of the brain are activated when processing motor information and performing intellectual tasks. When stronger connections are formed using fine motor practice, an individual will be better able to process academic data.

When children move around efficiently, they’re also likely to have more diverse experiences at an early age. This results in an increased number of neuronal connections in the brain. More pathways can make for quicker processing of information and an elevated ability to rationalize, analyze and reason.

A Final Word: Life Skills

Many homeschool advocates stress the fact that children don’t learn enough about life skills at school. They’re referring to financial management, communication skills, home economics and how to fix things around the house. Shop class, cooking, and sewing used to be part of a basic curriculum. Now, many students don’t even learn cursive in school.

In 2011, Smithsonian questioned whether home economics classes were still relevant in today’s society. Those types of classes began in the early 1900s and taught life skills that were pertinent to modern consumer culture. They’re also starting to be pulled from schools because of a lack of funding and a rise in a technology-focused curriculum.

However, knowing how to cook a healthy meal, manage a household, use power tools or sew a basic seam can get you pretty far in your daily adult life. Homeschoolers are at an advantage when it comes to learning life skills. They can spend their time shadowing their parents as they take care of everyday duties that make “adulting” easier.

Just like traditional education, homeschooling isn’t always implemented effectively. However, it can give students a chance to excel in areas to which they aren’t exposed at school.

 

I started this blog because I love to sew 🙂 ​The purpose of this website is to provide you with sewing tips, review the latest products and most importantly, build a community for us to express our love for sewing.

4 Ways to Help Your Child be More Successful This Year

It’s back to school time. Regardless of your child’s age, there are steps you can take to help your child thrive and flourish more this year. The key is focusing daily on these habits. Our children recognize our priorities when we don’t drop the ball despite the pressures and stress of family life.

1. Daily responsibility

Putting homework and books into knapsacks nightly, clearing away your plate and fork from the dinner table, placing laundry in the hamper are all examples of daily tasks that teach children to be self-responsible. When you realize that the mess you make is yours to clean and that there is no one who is going to be accountable for your tasks but you, maturity is gained.

Parents often give lectures about being responsible but the real way of transmitting this essential character trait is through making sure that our children live what we preach.

Successful children understand that they can be self-reliant and independent. They don’t whine about their tasks. We don’t fall apart as easily if we recognize that life is about accountability and responsibility.

2. Good relationship skills

Children who are socially happy in school and know how to settle conflicts with peers will be more successful students. If you see that your child is getting bogged down in arguments with siblings or friends, make a mental note of what is happening. Is your child overly sensitive? Is she easily explosive? Does he always have to get his way? Does your child know how to give space to others-both physical and emotional? Is shyness or lack of self-confidence preventing socialization?

Social skills are not automatic. As children grow we may notice that they are being excluded. Some children are socially awkward. Others don’t know how to read social cues properly. And there are those whose parents hovered when they were little so that they are now inept in grade school, high school, even college.

A 20-year study at Penn State and Duke found that kids with good social skills became more successful as years passed; it behooves us to help guide our children.

Pay attention to the way your child deals with peers and family members. Instead of jumping in, allow your child to find resolution. If you must, speak privately to your child about the right way to apologize and forgive. (Some adults may need to brush up on these skills before teaching their children.) Open your child’s eyes to feeling empathy, giving a helping hand to someone in need, and being sensitive to other’s challenges.

Too many of our children sit in front of their screens completely oblivious to the people around them. Facial expressions, eye contact, body language is completely ignored or misread. They do better with emoji’s than living breathing human beings. Texting all types of emotions is easy but saying “I’m sorry,” “I’m so happy to see you,” or “I’m excited” feels clumsy. The power of a kind word, reassuring gesture, and sympathetic eye cannot be minimized. Our children are losing this vital human connection through which relationships are built and endure.

Teach your child to put down his phone, especially at dinner time. Be sure to lead by example. Sit down and communicate together. Share a funny story or something that happened to you during the day.

3. Good study habits

Children require calm and adequate time to study. Pushing off studying until the last possible minute is a bad habit. Checking texts or Instagram while doing homework ensures a distracted mind. A loud noisy environment does not encourage concentration. If you know that your child is a procrastinator, or that assignments are consistently missed as the year passes, set a goal to tackle the issue this year. Ask your child before the problems begin: what can we do to make this year better? Involve your child in the solution. Good study habits bring children to feel more secure and self-assured as they face their school day.

Parents should be careful not to put down their children’s teachers and authority figures. We must model the behavior we expect. When we speak respectfully of teachers and school rules, children understand that their behavior towards school and authority matters. We will not look away at rudeness, ignoring of tests and projects due.

4. Value effort over grades

We have come to fear failure. Many parents would rather stay up the entire night and complete the science fair project than see their child grapple with a poor grade. Take a step back and recognize that even when not doing well there is opportunity for growth. There is no life that will not be touched by disappointment. Each person will find themselves in a situation where he has fallen and must pick himself up and try again. If never allowed the experience, how will our children know the power of their efforts?

Resilience cannot be taught, it must be lived. Give your child space to grow.

Pushing the idea that grades matter more than effort strips children of discovering their inner power to accomplish greatness.

This year pave the road toward success by focusing daily on these four habits.

by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

Chinese-Israeli ed-tech startup teaches kids to code

Shanghai-based LeapLearner represents the first global venture built from the ground up by Chinese and Israeli cofounders.

Chinese students rank best in the world in standardized tests but don’t excel in thinking out of the box. Israeli kids aren’t great test-takers but have exceptional innovation and problem-solving skills.

Chinese students rank best in the world in standardized tests but don’t excel in thinking out of the box. Israeli kids aren’t great test-takers but have exceptional innovation and problem-solving skills.

LeapLearner, the first Chinese-Israeli startup, puts those qualities together in a disruptive online and offline platform to teach kids coding along with critical 21st century skills including innovation, self-learning, problem-solving, creativity and adaptability.

During the three-week self-learning program meant to be used outside of school, children as young as five are guided in examining the coding in games they play and then learn how to change variables in the code of those games. For example, in Pac-Man, children can change Pac-dots into bananas and Pac-Man could appear as a pet dog.

LeapLearner helps users progress in their coding expertise from variables to natural language programming to Java Script, culminating in an in-person or online hackathon to build a video game from scratch. This gives the kids a way to get acquainted, work together, and connect with adults who can help them advance.

“Whether you want to be a philosopher, doctor, lawyer, artist or banker, you must be literate in the language of the future,” says CEO Ami Dror.

 LeapLearner launches commercially on June 1 in Shanghai, in September in Latin America, and in early 2018 in Greater China, India and the Middle East. The multilingual platform also will be provided free to children in European refugee camps, pending a deal with a hardware partner.

“Places that give strong weight to education in the family are our target market,” says Dror, noting that Chinese families invest a high percentage of their income in their children’s education.

A screenshot of education start-up LeapLearner’s mobile platform. Photo: courtesy

LeapLearner was created in 2016 at Za

itoun Ventures, an Israeli hybrid investment firm cofounded by Dror and Forsan Hussein. Aaron Tian, a well-known Chinese math teacher, is CEO of the LeapLearner China in Shanghai.

“I had the idea for a company that teaches kids soft skills, and I wanted to start with coding because the process teaches children how to innovate and problem-solve,” Dror tells ISRAEL21c from Shanghai.

Taking advantage of cultural strengths

Dror’s close friend John Wu, formerly the CTO of Alibaba in China, loved the idea.

“He said, ‘You have to do this in China because they’re struggling in soft skills.’ So I went to China and was introduced to two top educational companies. They said it was a super-innovative idea but wouldn’t be easy because of cultural differences.”

Tian, Dror and CTO Leo Zhao not only believed they could overcome those differences but even take advantage of the best of both worlds, namely “the Israeli ability to solve problems and deal with challenges from different angles, and the Chinese way of dealing with conflicts very harmoniously and getting things done quickly,” explains Dror.

Zaitoun is the major shareholder in LeapLearner but most of its $5 million in seed money comes from Chinese investors including Wu. The company has some investors in the United States and in the Arab world “who believe in the vision,” says Dror.

He moved his family to Shanghai, where he is handling strategy and product design alongside the LeapLearner staff of about 50 people, many of whom do not speak English. Hussein is managing the Israeli end of the business in Haifa.

Dror, a serial entrepreneur who taught himself to code as a child, is a fellow at the Aspen Institute-linked Aspen Global Leadership Network. This worldwide community of entrepreneurial leaders from business, government and the nonprofit sector share a commitment to using creativity, energy and resources to tackle societal challenges.

Dror says it is the Aspen Institute GLN that infused him with the vision of making LeapLearner available for free in refugee camps and he is actively looking for ways to make this happen.

In general, however, LeapLearner users will pay a “tuition” fee for the program.