It may sound a paradoxical thing to say – for surely never has a generation of children occupied more sheer hours of parental  time – but the truth is that we neglected you. We allowed you a charade of trivial freedoms in order to avoid making those impositions on you that are in the end both the training ground and proving ground for true independence. We pronounced you strong when you were still weak in order to avoid the struggles with you that would have fed your true strength. We proclaimed  you sound when you were foolish in order to avoid taking part in the long, slow, slogging effort that is the only route to genuine maturity of mind and feeling.                                                                           

Midge Decter, Liberal Parents/Radical Children, quoted in The Quotable Jewish Woman: Wisdom, Inspiration and Humor  from the Mind & Heart, edited and compiled by Elaine Bernstein Partnow, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004

Ms. Decter offered her comment in 1975. Is it possible that in 33 years, we have learned no more?  Is it possible that we have spent the last 33 years constantly sweeping the path in front of our children so that they would not stumble, let alone tumble? Is it possible that hundreds of thousands of children, beginning the Tuesday after Labor Day, begin school in the United States following a bus ride of from 10 to 30 minutes or more while Day School children are accompanied to their classrooms by parents. Is it possible that some parents, clearly of good intention, not only carry their children’s backpacks but also unpack them, placing each item in its rightful place?

How is it that we are still unfamiliar with helpful research, or, if we are familiar with it, that something mysterious interferes with either our interpretation or our memory? I speak of the research that tells us time and again that even the most intellectually capable children in our midst will not attain what their capability predicts if they are hampered by organizational challenges, if they do not learn to monitor the passing of time, if they do not take responsibility for their own choices, actions, and behavior.

How many of our children know how to set alarm clocks by third grade? How many even know what time they get up in the morning? How many lay their clothes out the night before, help to make a lunch, can tell us the steps they follow in getting ready for bed at night or ready for school in the morning? How many unpack their backpacks, either with parents or alone? These behaviors are the beginning tasks of self-organization. Who will expect our children to master these tasks if not we? Certainly, some children have learning challenges that make organization even more difficult. However, we need to start somewhere with each child. We need to have basic expectations, and we need to know what those expectations are and why we hold them. 

How are we doing at organizing ourselves and modeling the value of planning and organization? How many of us have a folder or binder where we keep important school papers and notices? How many of us have a place in our home for supplies that may be needed for homework? How many of us have a regular time and routine for supporting our children as they approach and complete their homework? How many of us begin early with our children to help them come up with a plan for what to do with assignments and completed homework? How many of us ask them what their plan is so that they remember to turn the work in? How many of us have a large, family activity calendar posted for each family member to see and pictorial cues on the calendar for younger children? 

As I was coparenting with my husband when our children were young, I could not have answered affirmatively to all these questions. My, how I have learned! How can we, the Day School staff, with our accumulated years of teaching and parenting, offer you support as you set organizational goals for yourselves and your children?  Whatever your answers, please let us know. We share your desire to have your children realize their full potential, for only through our partnering, will your children and our students do their best.