AJA Offers Tips on Balancing Routine and Disruption
by Robyn Lindenberg
October and the High Holiday season often present challenges for parents, students and teachers. The routines families and educators rely on year-round are broken up by holiday dinners, services and celebrations. With November and more predictable weeks, Austin Jewish Academy teachers and parents offer advice and reflection about the value of routines, disruptions and the return to routine.
In the classroom and at home, routines allow parents and teachers to create an environment where children feel situated and secure. For young, growing people, order and structure help make sense of the ever-changing world around them. When days are less predictable, parents and teachers face meltdowns, distress, confusion and difficulty staying on track with goals. Yet, along with all these challenges, disruptions bring great opportunities.
These interruptions, and the naturally resulting spontaneity, make room for new experiences and creativity. Community members are able to reset and check in with oneself, to reacquaint with one's inner compass and priorities. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish community celebrates a new year and a new beginning. On Yom Kippur, the community atones for past wrongs and commits to doing and being better the following year. Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah encourage us to find joy in the important things in life, being together under the stars, dancing and enjoying nightly festive meals. Too much routine makes for monotony, and too much disruption creates stress. But there are things families and teachers can do to find a healthy balance with routine and spontaneity.
Set up mini routines when the big ones are disrupted. Parents can coordinate routines with transitions even when school is not in session. For example, from 8 to 9 a.m., a family can practice reading favorite books. A little work on the front end to preserve familiar routines can save families trouble down the line.
Work in the necessary processing time for understanding and making meaning of the disruptions. Talk together about why the community changes schedules and routines so drastically. Asking questions and listening carefully to children’s responses can help everyone adjust and grow.
When it is time, get back into that routine. Commit to the routines that help structure our lives, and stick to them.
In the classroom and through our Jewish experiences, adults teach children that life is full of change. There will always be disruptions. Sometimes those disruptions are predictable, like the High Holidays, while other times they are not, like natural disasters and national tragedies. We must all practice resilience and develop the skills necessary to manage change. Prioritizing balance can go a long way in terms of enjoying our time and making the most of life without sweating the small stuff. ■
For more information about Austin Jewish Academy, visit www.austinjewishacademy.org. AJA is now accepting applications to kindergarten through eighth grade for the 2018-2019 school year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour or attend an admissions event.