Finding the Right Yeshivah

Q: I am a mother of three boys in a large frum community in the U.S. As my husband’s yeshivah, growing up, was not the yeshivah of his choice for his sons, it was difficult to find a yeshivah which would accept them. I think that yeshivos were skeptical as to why my husband did not choose his “alma mater.” The fact that the schools we were looking into differed from his upbringing made certain school administrators quite uncomfortable. Perhaps they thought that his sons, too, would be “rebellious” — I can’t say. Tuition is not a problem for us, and my husband makes it a point to always pay tuition in advance.

With this in mind, my sons only got accepted to a more “second- class” school. Besides children of the hanhalah and rebbeim, most children are in this school because they didn’t fit into other schools. In this way, I don’t feel that my sons are getting the attention they deserve. One child definitely has social issues and learning problems. My second son had great problems sitting still, in the past. We’ve been in family therapy, and it has been greatly helpful. However, whenever we have setbacks with our sons, the school doesn’t call us and inform us of their issues in school. It’s as if my sons are the least of the school problems — I really don’t understand why they don’t call us.

A: For schools that seem to be “homogeneous,” with one “type of family” attending, there are families who feel claustrophobic, living in this environment. Yet their loyalty keeps them attending their “alumni” schools, as this value is overriding in their minds and hearts. You chose a different response to your husband’s disappointment in his yeshivah experience, and with this choice, came new challenges.

You mention that children in your sons’ yeshivah have more complex issues than your sons’ academic and social issues. In cases where you feel that you are not getting enough response from the school, you need to acquaint yourself with the most accessible member of the school team (be it the rebbi, principal or assistant teacher), and work on behavior mod systems, and extra learning opportunities available through local boards of education.

If you feel that the type of boys in the school are not what you desire as companions for your sons, you need to create a standard of excellence within your own home. This is in areas of Yiddishkeit and academic expectations.

And if you truly desire a change in your sons’ school, you should acquaint yourself with teachers (and possibly board members) in the school where you would like your children to attend. A parent needs to see what the school envisions as the “desirable student,” and work on the above-mentioned standard of excellence, to arrive there. If the new school sees a valid positive reason for your son’s transfer — which includes their having students whom they are proud of — changing schools can become a realistic possibility.