Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight


Window into the Charedi World | Mordecai Plaut, director

















Home and Family
A mother copes with an underachieving child.
Walking the Tightrope - Part II

by R. Chadshai

Q. How did Elisheva make the transition from elementary school to seminary?

It was a long & difficult road. At the end of the 8th grade we didn't know what sort of certificate she would get. The column for different subjects on her report card was almost empty. On the other hand, her behavior was exemplary and she had good grades in neatness, cleanliness, respect for school property, etc. What can one do with a daughter who has good middos and a lovely personality but is poor in her academic studies? Who would accept her? Was she to blame for her weakness? It wasn't easy to go back to different schools and beg them to admit her. At most, I would get a pitiful smile and a shrug of the shoulders or receive unsolicited advice. But I didn't give up. After everything we had been through, I decided not to lose hope. As embarrassing and discouraging as it was, I continued my rounds of the schools. I have no complaints, it wasn't through cruelty that they answered me as they did. I gave them the benefit of the doubt; perhaps in their place I would have reacted the same way.

Finally she was accepted by a vocational high school where the academic studies were complemented by courses in home economics and nursery school child-care. I breathed a sigh of relief and hoped she would manage in the practical side of her studies which she enjoyed more. I agreed to the school's stipulation that we hire a private special-ed teacher to help her out, especially in math. The teacher was wonderful. She understood Elisheva and our daughter advanced quite well. The price we paid was well invested - the results were worth more than gold!

But if I thought that I could finally relax, I was mistaken. At the end of the first year the results were still so low that it was impossible to give her grades. The school suggested that I find some light work for her to do on the outside. I insisted that she wasn't mature enough yet to leave school. "What do you care if she sits in class quietly? She's well behaved, and won't bother anyone," I asked. The administration finally agreed to keep her on without giving her grades - the teachers would only note attendance.

Elisheva stayed in high-school for four years. They understood her problems, accepted her as she was and appreciated her limited accomplishments. This helped her increase her efforts. She felt good with the girls, and tried to fit into the group. In practical work she managed very well. She enjoyed taking care of little children, since she had already done this at home and she felt comfortable with her tasks. As a result, she also improved academically. >

Q. Looking back, what can you learn from this experience?

I had no illusions. I knew that she wouldn't suddenly become a `genius' or get a job as a teacher or a secretary. And as far as I know, one doesn't pray to change an irreversible situation. I put up with the difficulties, but I didn't give in to them. I tried to help Elisheva achieve the maximum under the limited circumstances. They say it's not so important what your capabilities are, it's what you achieve with them that counts! Research shows that people use only about 10% of their real potential. What's the use of a high IQ if it's not being used? Whoever realizes his limited potential to a maximum deserves much more praise for the difficulties he overcomes.

Baruch Hashem, Elisheva is spiritually and mentally sound - she works as a helper to a teacher in a private nursery school, has a good self-image and enjoys working with children and takes wonderful care of them. She is very satisfied, and I have a lot of nachas from her. Could we have hope for better results? I am filled with gratitude to Hashem for the chessed He has shown us.

Note: Elisheva's story cannot be used as a general example and conclusions shouldn't be drawn for other, even similar cases. Every case should be weighed separately together with its pertinent details.


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