The Monster’s started his third year of ‘real’ Hebrew school this week.
When I was… well, when i was closer to R’s age than the Monster’s, I started Hebrew school – first once a week, and then thrice a week as I got to third grade. The goal was to make sure that I arrived at my Bar Mitzvah armed with basic knowledge of ritual, Jewish history, and Hebrew, and was able to function in a synagogue as I got older.
And that’s where the questions about the Monster and Hebrew school really intersect.
Last year, we had no idea what was going on with the Monster. In a post that I never put up, I discussed how we were informed days before the start of the year that there wasn’t a teacher for the special-needs class, and that there was no timeline for getting one in place. (I’m not going to lie and say I was calm. Anyone who knows me knows how poorly I take things where my kids are shortchanged.) It was a bit late in the year, but the school did find a teacher, and he spent most of the year in said environment, while R was in Gan and starting to learn the basics.
Fast forward to this year, and in late August (well before the High Holydays and the start of the religious-school year), the rabbi who’s in charge of the school shot us an email – the Monster was the only child registered for special-needs classes. Don’t worry, she told us in the email, but I have a plan – we’re going to do inclusion with the Monster.
Now, the Monster’s experience with integration in regular school was an abysmal disaster. (I won’t link back – there are probably too many to illustrate that his year in General Education was horrible.) . But… we’re talking our shul, where the rabbi’s made a good effort in the last year to try to think of alternatives for this situation. He’s in the class a year behind his class, so they’re closer to where he is with his sporadic education to date, and they’ll figure out individually what to do with him in terms of Hebrew. He has his teacher from last year from the separated-class as his one-on-one. The congregation’s arranged to take an earlier-in-the-year turn to have the special-needs children’s service, to try to advertise what we have to offer.
In other words, they’re trying to make a real go of it. And we’re meeting them half-way.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know if this is going to even come close to working, given where the Monster is in his verbal ability and the like. But if you never try, you’ll never get anywhere, as they say. And the only real alternative is that I knock off the rust from 20 years of not teaching any religious school and work intensively with him, and since I’m even less likely to succeed than they are… (to be fair, I’m not doing badly in getting his Hebrew vocabulary up, but to date he’s just speaking/listening and not reading or writing…)
Still. Here goes nothing.