Fifth Grade Transition

Friday, 11 August, 2023 - 8:20 am


Dear Fifth Grade Parents, 

As our children mature, we hone our chinuch to match their needs.  During the fifth-grade year, the children’s conscious personalities begin budding, taking initiative, and holding the reins of their life choices. 

As this happens, our expectations for our children must shift from expecting obedience* to healthy and holy choices. Being an A student as a young child, shifts as they mature.  Some adjusted expectations become crucial for the bridge into the preteen years. 

A very young child may be dressed by their parents. When a young boy comes to school with clothing that isn’t in line with our values, it is likely a choice of his parents; it is the parent's choices being filtered down. A fifth grader begins to assert his identity and may ask his parents and even demand new items in his wardrobe. 

The overall awareness of where they fit in the social hierarchy of their class may begin to put pressure on them, and they may take on external behaviors in order to help them reposition themselves in the group.  While the healthy child isn’t dependent on others to provide him with a healthy sense of self, our parenting efforts include speaking to our children about emotional self-efficacy. 

One of the areas where social pressures come to the fore is with involvement in Professional Sports. It is important that we keep an eye on their involvement and make sure it isn’t over the top. While it may seem like no big deal, our experience shows that students begin replacing their learning with thinking about and discussing professional sports. 

Students may sit during class writing lists of professional teams or names of players and their stats. They may spend hours watching or listening to games, come to school exhausted, striving to present themselves among their friends as a sports buff. 

In addition to recognizing that Professional sports nowadays is riddled with debased messaging and values that are the antithesis of Yiddishkeit.  Our children’s motivation to place sports as the determination of their identity leads them to forget and push away their knowledge of Torah. Students may forget how to learn Mishnayos and Gemara faster than they learn new content. 

Imagine facing a deeply knowledgeable boy who mastered learning in lower grades suddenly becoming ignorant and alienated from Torah. This is a phenomenon that is becoming more and more prevalent and parents are often recruited by their children to advocate for a ‘kosher pastime without seeing the true impact is has on their children in the group. 

Please stay closely connected with your children’s social development, anticipate the changes, and help them lead emotionally healthy lives that are free to live out the vision of a chossid being a lamplighter and an influencer. As the Rebbe’s chassidim, we are raising our children to the Rebbe’s mandate that every chossid is a lamplighter and is charged with bringing light and positivity to his or her environment. 

Wishing you chassidishe nachas,

*The Torah places primacy on obedience as a path for a young child. The Frierdiker Rebbe describes this vividly in his own education when his father told him that 'why' isn't in our lexicon. 

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