This week we read in the Torah about the 10 Commandments or Utterances given, by God, to the children of Israel and the entire world. These 10 rules have become the foundation for many legal systems and generated, along with next week portion which enumerates many, many more rules, thousands upon thousands of pages of rabbinic commentary and interpretation.
Rules are an important part of helping our children grow and develop. If I had to sum up the rules that we have here at Gan Sinai I would say, "we take care of ourselves, each other, our school, and our world”. We are constantly practicing these rules giving verbal, visual and physical prompts or cues to help our children learn these social skills with our assistance.
We are also, always modeling these behaviors. If children see adults using angry language, causing pain to others or not taking care of themselves they learn that this is how we should behave. That's why our teachers work so hard to follow all of these guidelines themselves.
There is one important difference between the rules in this week's Torah portion and the ones here at Gan Sinai. Almost all of the Ten Commandments are stated in the negative, "you shall not..." Our approach is to focus on the positive: “Let’s take care of our friend and give him a hug because he is sad." Emphasizing and reinforcing positive behavior is a much more potent way to teach social skills and has the added benefit of helping your children feel so proud of the good they are doing in the world.
Maybe you can talk with your children about how "we take care of ourselves, each other, our school, and our world” while at home.