I have a 10-year-old daughter who does not want to go to school anymore. She says that she doesn’t fit in and that the other kids pick on her. She wants to stay home and get home schooled. Meanwhile her younger brother goes to the same school and he loves it and is doing well. She argues with me about this all the time and I just do not know what to do.
Potential Home Schooler
The sage advice offered by the Department of Education is to:
- Tell your child how much you love her
- Build up her self-confidence, and
- Involve her in projects that build her self-esteem.
All worthy notions, but they don’t address the problem. Youngsters need friends and have to feel part of a peer group. Keeping her home and teaching her knitting isn’t going to help. And besides, that is only running away from the problem, not making it better.
Bullying has become a nagging issue in our community schools. Boys, and now girls, are teasing, taunting, and excluding those who are not part of their “group.” Unfortunately, this clique-ish behavior is reinforced by some of the parents who support the idea of remaining above and aloof from others.
The first solution is to let the teacher know what is going on in her classroom. She is responsible for teaching and enforcing good behavior – at least during school hours. Without pointing out the culprits, you have to explain how your child is being treated by her classmates. She needs to observe the interactions between your daughter and her classmates during class, lunch, and recess. A perceptive teacher will determine who is at fault and must act to make everyone in her classroom feel accepted.
If that does not work, you must speak with the principal and members of the administration. Chances are your daughter is not the only one who is made to feel like an outsider.
Teaching proper midot is an essential part of a yeshivah education. You will be doing your daughter and her school a big hesed in bringing to light what is happening in the classrooms. With a special emphasis on “va’ahavta lere’acha kamocha” being presented in the classroom, your daughter will feel right “at home” in school.