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How Parents Can Help Their Children Study

While every synagogue or temple has different requirements for their B'nai Mitzvah program here are some suggestions Mt. Zion Temple has for parents interested in helping their kids study.  Consult your own Rabbi, Cantor, & tutor for your detailed requirements as well as specific ways you can help your child.  Rabbis, Cantors, or tutors should advise families of their child’s progress.  While this is an occasion of increased independence, it is important for parents to work with their child in determining an effective practice schedule. You do not need to know Hebrew to help your child.  You can be helpful by:
Rabbi Spilker with Bat Mitzvah Hannah Roll-Kuhne


·1. Listen to child’s progress from week to week. They can show you how far they have come – you can “hear” their progress in how much they read. Listen for clarity and diction.


·2. Listen for reading fluency. Is your child stopping to think before each word or are they moving comfortably through the text?


·3. Please speak to the Rabbi or Cantor if there is resistance or unusual battles at home about your child’s studying or progress. We want them to feel secure.


·4. Listen for confidence in the material. Watch their posture, their face, their manner. Do they appear satisfied with their progress or are they squirming and nervous?


·5. Help them organize and manage their time to be sure bar/bat mitzvah practice takes top priority along with school work.


·6. Help them time their study sessions. Make certain they are working for sufficient periods of time. To a 12 year old, 10 minutes of Hebrew study can feel like two hours!


·7. Read over your child’s portion with them in English and help them understand what their Torah portion is about.


·8. When reading their Hebrew, ask your child to point to each word they are reading to make certain they are reading and not memorizing. This will also help you see the pace at which a child is reading. They do not ever need to memorize their Hebrew and should not consider this a goal.


·9. Help them organize their materials. Have Bar/Bat Mitzvah bag or folder. A “walkman” is helpful and they should have it with them when they will be on an extended car or bus trip, vacations, camp, etc. Time away from regular study should be avoided if at all possible! The Rabbis and Cantors will gladly provide explanatory notes to schools regarding the need for students to continue practicing while on school trips.


·10. Review your child’s written work (summary and D’var Torah). Make Sure their work is proofread before they hand it in.

These tips are reprinted by permission of Mt. Zion Temple.
Picture provided courtesy of Sue Lund Photography.