When making Aliyah there are so many pieces to the puzzle that we try to fit together: making a living, where to live? how to get through all the lists and lists of things that need to get taken care of on that side and then this side of the ocean? One of the biggest worries for parents is their children.
Will they learn Hebrew quickly? How will they adjust to a new culture? How will they do in school in a language that is probably not their first language? How will they make new friends? And so on….
These are a few suggestions of mine as a mom of 5 children and having the experience of making aliyah 3 times (once as a young child, then as an 18 year old and finally with a family- so I’ve done it all 🙂 )
* Have a positive attitude- whatever attitude you radiate will have a big impact on your children’s attitudes. I remember an Israeli neighbor of mine described having to wear a gas mask as a child in one of the Gulf wars. Her mother made it into a game rather than a terrifying reality which helped her as a young child deal with this very trying time in a much calmer way.
* Have realistic expectations- come into the school system in Israel understanding that things are done differently here. Rules many times are not defined as clearly as we are used to, kids will have a shorter school days and it will take time for your children to learn Hebrew. Encourage them to play with Hebrew speakers and not only English speakers.
* Have your children join sports and extra curricular activities that will help them meet new kids and continue doing things they love- such as basketball, baseball, gymnastics, arts and more. Chugim (extra curricular activities) are great ice breakers between your children and the children in your neighborhood.
* Focus on your children adjusting to their new life rather than focusing on getting good grades. When we first got to Israel and our oldest was in Kita Hey- I was so worried about him doing well in school rather than him just doing well. Keep in mind our children did not make the decision to make aliyah, we the parents made the decision. Our job is to show them how great the life is in Israel and to help them integrate into Israeli society as smoothly as possible. Focus on your children’s happiness. Go on tiyulim, enjoy the great outdoor weather, go to the beach. ( Everyone who knows me knows I’m a huge beach fan- it’s the only place I can take all 5 of my kids and they will all be happy- and for a bonus it won’t even cost me anything unless I get them a barad- slurpy).
* Days off- I let my kids each have a day off every few months- “mental health day” 🙂 Getting used to life without Sundays is no party so I felt giving them some extra time with me and my husband really helped them. I think after living here more than 7 1/2 years I am finally getting used to no Sundays, but still every once in awhile I give one of the kids a day off and we have special time together.
**** Try to learn the system, be open to changes, meet the teachers, guidance counselors and everyone that comes in contact with your children.
Olim Advisors is here to hold your hand and your children’s hands during your Aliyah process. Contact us now for more information. We look forward to answering all of your questions.