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Take the Parental Involvement Pledge

December 4, 2013

By Amelia Orozco

Parental Involvement Pledge

As parents, we have responsibilities beyond that of the CEO of a company, a director of a major motion picture, or a political leader. Although some days you may feel you are all three! Fortunately, if you take initiative, parenting can be rewarding and fun. In essence, as parents we own the education of our children. Knowing that gives us an incentive to maximize its effect in our children’s lives.

Parenting and education go hand in hand because you, as the parent, are the first teacher your child knows. Parental involvement in school is something that is welcome, contrary to some beliefs that educators may not want “meddling” parents. On the contrary, anything you can do to supplement what your child’s teacher is already doing, will make your child more interested in his or her school-time activities. Following are some practical ways to start a movement of parental involvement in education that will create rippling effects long into the future. 

First, volunteer in the community and make an effort to communicate with other parents, even those in other schools. You will stay well informed on current curriculumand events as well as future plans. You will then be prepared to shape what you do at home with your child so that they can be more knowledgeable when the time comes to contribute at school.

Second, start a community group involving other parents who would be willing to take the Parental Involvement Pledge, and start making some advances in a learning environment that may seem stale to your children. Together, parents can commit to taking turns volunteering at the schools, spending time reading to their own children, and brainstorming together on how to enrich their child’s education. Some parent groups can plan field trips together outside of the normal school outings, which may address specific interests and fields of study. Create your own pledge. 

Finally, talk it up. Have lively discussions, in-person or online about parenting and the pledge to do more. Start a blog or a coffee group. Encourage other parents with your enthusiasm and passion for your community. It is not necessary to have a degree or even professional work experience. Having a desire to see your children and your community excel is more than enough to thrust you and your peers into action.

 

Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.


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Hanukkah Lessons for All Ages

December 2, 2013

By Stefanie Boron

Hanukkah Lessons for All Ages

As you may know, this year in a rare alignment of calendars, the first day of Hanukkah occurred on the same night as Thanksgiving.  Someone even coined the term Thanksgivukkah! Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November. The Jewish calendar determines Jewish holidays so the dates change from year to year. Some years Hanukkah coincides with Christmas and sometimes it is earlier in December, but overlapping with Thanksgiving is extremely rare.

This occurrence might have changed the way some families celebrated Hanukkah this year, but our family chose to keep the holidays separate and celebrate Hanukkah a few days later. We still lit the menorah on Thanksgiving but didn’t combine the dishes or traditions. There wasn’t any sweet potato kugel or pumpkin matzo ball soup at my Thanksgiving table!

Hanukkah is referred to as the Festival of Lights, as we light Hanukkah candles to remember the miracle of the oil. When the flame in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was out, only enough oil could be found to relight it for one day, but the oil lasted for eight days. Because of this miracle, Hanukkah is a celebration of faith and hope.

Children and adults alike enjoy Hanukkah. Take the time this holiday season to celebrate the miracles in our lives.

  • Make it special. So there isn’t a Christmas tree, but there are lights and presents! Decorate the house, bring out the Menorahs and dreidels and invite family and friends over to celebrate. It is our holiday season as well, so enjoy!
  • Cook traditional food. Traditional foods are potato pancakes with applesauce or sour cream and chocolate Hanukkah gelt, which are chocolate coins. Latkes are fried in the oil that we are celebrating and remembering on this holiday.
  • Spin the dreidel. The Hebrew letters on the dreidel stand for: A Great Miracle Happened There. Players usually play for pennies or Hanukkah gelt.
  • Celebrate all eight days. We celebrate for eight days because that was the duration of the miracle of the oil burning. Each night we light the menorah and say the prayers. We also exchange presents. Some families give presents every night, while some have one big Hanukkah celebration similar to Christmas morning.

After I get my shopping done I always look forward to Hanukkah! My house smells like potato latkes for days, but it is worth it!

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