Rabbi Ross. This is an odd question, but I feel that it’s somewhat important. My 5th grade son is coming home with excellent marks in Yeshiva. He is my youngest, and has 4 older siblings. I have been realizing that he never studies at home, and does not have any homework or extracurricular work. It seems that the learning level has dropped, and the Rebbe is giving easier tests. Is this something I should be concerned about. If so, should I complain to the school, or just supplement with work of my own?
This is a fantastic question, and I’m so glad you brought it up. I would like to reply from the perspective of a Rebbe first.
The phrase, “The learning level has dropped” is a harsh statement. Rebbeim and Yeshivos are limited by the learning level of the children. Due to the evolution of electronics, children spend a lot less time reading. Therefore, their Kriah levels have dropped significantly, making learning more challenging.
As a Rebbe, this can be extremely frustrating. Many Rebbeim that I know well would love to teach more material and faster, but they are being held back. Whereas a Rebbe used to have 70% of the class keeping up at a certain speed, nowadays he might only get 40%. Failing so many boys is not an option, so in certain cases, the work was cut back. It’s not something any Rebbe or Yeshiva wants, it’s just a sign of the changing times.
Now let’s look at this from the perspective of a parent. Contacting the school might seem like a good idea, but from what I've heard, it won’t do much. The schools have a lot on their plate, and your son not having enough studying to do is really going to end up on the back burner. It can’t hurt to try, but I wouldn’t bet on it accomplishing much.
You asked if you should be concerned. The answer is an emphatic yes! If your child is capable of learning on a higher level, then he should be. Just because the current level of learning isn’t the same, doesn’t mean that your child has to lose out. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure most children aren’t looking to get extracurricular school work from their parents. Therefore, I would like to share some pointers which might help you convince your kids do some extra work for you – and for themselves.
There is a second part to this question, and that is regarding a child who has “Nothing to do”. There will be many times that your child will come to you and say, “I’m so bored”. Usually that’s a prelude to asking for electronics, although there are times that your child is just frustrated. Next week, we’ll look at some options for children that are bored. If you have any ideas, please e-mail them to me.
Have a great Shabbos.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.