Books and school supplies aren't the most important things your children need to bring to school this year—solid values are. Rabbi Shmuley says it's important to discuss with your children the 10 most important values they should exhibit and encourage them to use this year:
1. Character. "More than just getting As and Bs, first and foremost, do teachers say your kids are polite? Are they courteous to their friends and other students?" Rabbi Shmuley asks. He says children need to be good people first and good students second.
2. A thirst for knowledge. Rabbi Shmuley says it's important to see your children wanting to learn. "Grades are important, but they're just a barometer as to the state of a child's mind," he says. "Parents should want to see their kids read at night, bring up interesting conversations at dinner and be a well-rounded individual."
3. Dignity. Do your kids make everyone feel important—from their math teacher to the bus driver? Do they let others know that they are special? "Maybe there are kids in your child's class who need help with a subject that your child is good at. If there is a new kid in class who just moved to town and doesn't know anybody, encourage your child to reach out to them," Rabbi Shmuley says.
4. Passion. Your children don't have to love every single subject in school, but whatever tasks they "get," encourage them to tackle those tasks with enthusiasm, Rabbi Shmuley says.
5. Patience. Education is a lifelong experience, and good things come to students who can see in the long term, rather than just the next test, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Ask your kids to think about practicing patience at school—from the way they raise their hand to the way they line up for dodgeball," he says. "Patience is a lifelong skill and a rare quality in today's hectic society. Help your kids develop it early."
6. Being. Help your kids learn how to just "be" and let them know that no matter their successes in school, as long as they can be themselves, their potential is limitless. "Don't think that anything you do at school will define you," Rabbi Shmuley says. "Whether you're a great soccer player or head of student council, you have to feel comfortable with yourself."
7. Purpose. "A child's purpose is not to be a great test taker, but to find the thing they're good at," Rabbi Shmuley says. "Tell your kids that 'it's not about you,' and help them find something larger than themselves."
8. Friendship. Make friendship a gift that your children give without expecting anything in return, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Tell them it's a truly good person who is nice to the 'uncool kids' at school," he says. "Being there for their inner circle of friends is important, but it is the truly honorable child who extends friendship to others without expecting anything in return."
9. A Sense of Wonder. Schoolchildren are learning new subjects and expanding their horizons every day. Rabbi Shmuley says you should help them feel inspired by learning new things. "Cynicism is what destroys the wonder in our lives," Rabbi Shmuley says. "Children should maintain that important sense of wonder and curiosity."
10. Family. No matter how busy your children are and how many teams and clubs they belong to, Rabbi Shmuley says they have to remember that they're part of another really important team—a family. "Tell your kids to make an effort to spend time with their poor, neglected parents, and even eat dinner with them once in a while too!" Rabbi Shmuley says.
"Education today is too narrowly defined as what happens in class. However, the principle education a child receives is a moral education that determines their character. Giving your kids character-building ingredients are the principle form of educating our children, so they can serve as a light and blessing to others."
Published on August 18, 2008