Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 10 Back To School Tips / Aliya / Olim / Israel

Heather Cohnen  - B.A., M.S., Didactic Math Tutor   
Top 10 Back To School Tips
Aliya / Olim / Israel

You know it is time for school when you smell the lovely aroma of
number 2 pencils being freshly sharpened or when you hear your child
exclaim, "I'm like…so excited to see my friends, but do
I…like…seriously need to learn another year?"

Top 10 tips to transition from summer to school mode

Tip #1
Goodbye to Summer
Commemorate the end of summer with an extra special family activity.

Tip #2
Prepare school supplies with your child, e.g.,  backpacks, homework
space, closets, immunizations, and school forms..
Create a permanent shoe place.
Get a 5 section hanging organizer for your child to pick out and store
5 school outfits for each week day. The first day outfit is always
exciting for a child to prepare ahead of time.  (even if it is a

Tip #3
Routine, Routine, Routine
The families internal clock will now need to transition to a school
schedule.  Try not to wait till last minute to institute routines for
morning and evening.

Tip #4
My Summer
The most popular activity on the first day of school is for each child
to summarize their summer vacation to the class. Let your child be one
step ahead by asking them about their favorite summer activities and
looking over summer photos and journal entries.

Tip #5
Create a weekly lunch menu with your child.  Don't forget the 10 a.m.
meal.  Most children bring a sandwich to eat and a washcloth to place
it on.

Limit the anxiety by visiting the school in advance.  Knowing the
direct path to the classroom is a great comfort.   Calm your own
jitters by knowing there are specialist to help you if any issues
arise.  I highly recommend Marci Tirshwell for educational
consultation and Bashi Schwartz for evaluations.

Tip #7
Homeroom teacher
Their role is to navigate and advocate for your child.  Culturally it
is a different educational formality with teachers in Israel.  They
want you to call them. ( Yes... on their private cell phones).  For
instance, during my family’s first year living in Israel, the first
grade homeroom teacher ,Shoshi, actually came to my home to welcome my
son. This was a very memorable experience and he still talks about it.
The homeroom teachers are not just the educational coordinators but
the social dynamic coordinator of the classroom.  If you child needs
extra translation or help during the day, they can set your child up
with help from other teachers and with a classroom buddy.  (Make an
extra effort to appreciate this buddy. It is very hard for even a
fluent Hebrew speaking advanced student to take time during a lesson
that they want to excel in, to constantly help another student).  The
homeroom teacher is also the person your child should feel comfortable
confiding in, feeling free to voice any concerns or questions.

Tip #8
English / Hebrew
Come armed with an English/Hebrew dictionary, plus for any subject
like Tanach, bring in a Hebrew/English version.
Check out English homeschool computer sites to give your child a
foundation.  Rather than becoming a learning barrier for your child, a
second language can become a great incentive to the lifelong process
of growing into a person and facing life’s many obstacles head-on.
Unfortunately, the use of graphic visual organizers are not widely
used in Israeli classrooms, and Israeli students are not provided with
access to the many visual and organizational tools available.

Tip #9
The biggest cultural shock of all.... Hafsaka
The entire school enjoys recess all together without directed
activities.  It fosters independence, creativity and freedom
and....... Send your child in with activities they enjoy.  Playing
cards, soft balls, stickers to trade, jacks, marbles, books,

Tip #10
Yes, you can actually see your child smile when talking about going
back to school with friends at a back-to-school get-together.

Cheers to a great school year!
Helpful school vocabulary that I have hanging in our homework work
area - given to me by our Olim coordinator Alissa a few years ago
Pencil                                 Eeparon
Pencil case                         Kalmar
Backpack                           Tik
Eraser                                Machak
Markers                              Lordim
Ruler                                  Sargel
Scissors                             Misparayim
Pastels                               Tziv'ei Panda
Glue                                   Devek
Crayons                              Tzevaim
Dictionary                           Meelon
Homework Terms
To circle                             Lihakeef
To trace                              Lisartet
To cut                                 Ligzor
To match up                       Limtoach Kav
To underline                       Limtoach Kav Mitachat / Lihadgish
To draw                              Litzayer
To copy                               Lihatik


  1. "Check out English homeschool computer sites to give your child a foundation."

    Would love more info - did you find study skills or actual online learning material? Any specific sites to give me an idea of what's more practical versus theoretical? Thanks!!

  2. At my son's school, a backpack is called a Yalkut... But at gan they call it a tik. Go figure...