Fun, By Chaim Heller, Head of School
To state the obvious, we live in unpredictable times, filled with images we could never have imagined only a couple of years ago. These rapid changes and lack of predictability create anxiety among many of us and that anxiety finds it way to our children, some more and some less. I wish this anxiety, or fear of the future, was a new phenomenon but its not. Two years ago a half dozen college and university presidents spoke at a national conference and shared that over 25% of all incoming freshmen in their schools suffer from identifiable emotional or mental dysfunction due to stress and anxiety and that number only seems to be growing.
At SDJA we are aware of this and have been trying to bring play, fun and joy into the school curriculum. Its not that academics aren’t at the center of everything we do. They are. But they are not the only thing we do. Children need to learn that play is healthy, fun is important, and smiling and laughing is a critical part of being a well-rounded, healthy person.
It’s sometimes hard to squeeze all this into the schedule, but we have been increasingly conscious of it, and we’re trying. Purim was a full-day this year, enabling us to relax, slow down and have fun and give everyone a well-earned breather from the day to day work involved in academic growth. Our entire faculty meets monthly with a trainer in mindfulness, who teaches us stress reduction strategies that can work for us and our students, and we try to bring some of them into the classroom. And in three weeks, Friday April 8th at 1pm, we will bring all of our students, grades 4th and up, to Petco Park to watch the SDJA varsity baseball team play in a major league park for the first time ever. Parents are invited to join us as well. It should be fun.
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg from University of Pennsylvania Medical School spoke at SDJA a couple of years ago and his message was an important one: “We are not raising our children to be successful at middle school, high school or even college. We are raising them to be successful, emotionally-healthy and well-rounded 35 year olds.
And that means teaching them to breath, relax, and have fun along the way.