Monday, February 14, 2011

Time to Call it Quits?

We really wanted the talmud torah to work. For all sorts of reasons. But it's just not working out for David. His behavior has become so bad that Kinneret and I fight it out to decide who will pick him up because we are afraid to face the teacher and get the bad report. It's too embarassing.

The truth is that he's ususally well behaved in school. We apologize profusely to the talmud torah teacher and profess our bewilderment why a kid who has never had problems in day care, school or camp is suddenly misbehaving and worse yet acting disrespectfully toward the teachers. Everytime I utter these words to the teacher I imagine him about to roll his eyes and thinking to himself, "another out-of-touch parent who thinks his kid is a perfect angel." (Actually the teacher is very apologetic about our many apologies and he says there is no reason for us to apologize.) But really, David is generally otherwise very quiet and behaved in educational settings. (Sometimes I even wish he would act out a bit or be naughty in class.)

If I had to take some guesses I'd say that the root of the problem could be:
  • He has a very long day; or,

  • He is bored because he is more advanced than the other children (because of his backround and home reinforcement ); or,

  • The environment is too informal; or,

  • A combination of the above.
Or maybe the problem is us and this is simply another instance of us not disciplining him properly?
* * *
A recent comment thread on Orthonomics went off on a tangent in response to a parent who reported that his son's school is unable to deal with the boy's suspected learning and behavioral issues. It was clear to most commenters--myself included--that there was no good reason for the boy to remain in this school and that in fact his interests were being harmed by his continued presence there.

Of course it's easy to dish out armchair advice to someone else, however when I step back for a moment should it be obvious that the time has come for us to take David out of talmud torah as well? At some level I am reluctant to do so because this means that he wins. It becomes yet another notch in his belt in his power struggle with us. Part of me wants to keep him there out of a feeling that we need to make a concerted stand and tame him. Yes, I'm well aware that this is the wrong reason to keep in the talmud torah--parenting isn't about "winning." There are some other (perhaps not entirely compelling) reasons to keep him in the talmud torah. But where exactly is that fine line that guides us how far we should go to try and work out the behavior issue (and for how long) before we pull him?


Summy said...

Is there an advanced talmud torah- for children in older grades? I know he's bright, make the advanced talmud torah sound like a privilege, let him rise to the challenge. Many smart children act out when they are bored, even a change of setting can help.

Anonymous said...

Is there a break between school and TT - does he get an hour in between to rest/play/run around/have a snack? Might a different schedule help -- i.e. instead of after school TT, a tutor for an hour after dinner?

SQ said...

I think you're setting up a false dichotomy. The choice isn't simply between leaving David in TT or taking him out. Even if you artificially limit yourself to two options, it's more valuable to compare leaving him in TT with placing him in whatever you'd replace the TT with. Thinking more boradly, you might also consider options that modify the TT setup.

Whatever you do, may you succeed and your children do well.

Abba said...


i can't imagine that another TT would be better (or for that matter even as good). the alternatives are a tutor or me.


he has a little break between school and TT, but regardless its still such a long day (public school runs longer to begin with).


i didn't mean to present it as TT or nothing. part of the reason he is still in TT is because i really don't want to pull him without having another plan in place. but if the behavior doesn't get better (i should add that he does sometimes have good days), there probably is a point at which i have to consider if there is a point to keep him there even if it is a dichotomy and there is no alternative on the horizon. thanks for your good wishes

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this is, essentially, typical for how things turned out in the 1920s.

Orthonomics said...

It is easy to play armchair pundit. Goodluck on this issue. Power struggles are really tough. . . experiencing one right now :(

Disgusted said...

You should be reported to child services. You're an abusive and seem to have no idea how damaging your behavior is to your child. The school may or may not be an issue but your parenting skills most certainly are. for the sake of your child, you need help.

Abbas rantings said...


Good luck to you too


 There are important differences between our situation and the 1920s. On the other hand, of course the obvious parallel is the long day, which i don't have a way around without moving. (His school has a longer day than elsewhere. In a school with shorter hours, the total day with tt could be the same as In MO schools, and less than in RW schools by the middle years).

In any case, I will be the first to say that public/charter + tt isn't realistic for everyone.


You are not welcome here. Go away.

Abba said...


"I wonder if this is, essentially, typical for how things turned out in the 1920s"

I should also add that I dont think any conclusions (good or bad) should be drawn from my son as "typical"

Miami Al said...

I think that you are making this about "you" and making up for not having him in Yeshiva. Clearly he is learning plenty from the stories that you are posting, but you seem really committed to Talmud Torah as proof.

Is his attendance at Talmud Torah imparting Jewish knowledge in him AND a love of Yiddishkeit. If the answer is yes, keep tweaking the schedule to make it work. If the answer is no, stop beating your head against the wall and try something different.