Photo Credit: Rifka Schonfeld

I’ve been getting a lot of questions, so I thought I would answer a few of them in this week’s column. Keep those questions coming!



Q: I feel like so many first-born children deal with anxiety and worrying. Is there a connection between being the oldest and anxiety?

Studies show that much of our personalities are a result of our positions in our families. Dr. Frank Sulloway in his book Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creativity discusses the different “fates” of those born first, middle, or last. Let’s take a look at the different ways that birth order can affect personalities.



The common core state standards website explains that “today’s students are preparing to enter a world in which colleges and businesses are demanding more than ever before… The standards were drafted by experts and teachers from across the country and are designed to ensure students are prepared for today’s entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses, and workforce training programs. The Common Core focuses on developing the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills students will need to be successful.”

Standardization is the key element of the common core state standards, but there are a lot of myths and facts that surround them. I’ve outlined some of the most prevalent:


            Myth: The standards are all about skills and do not include content.

            Fact: While the standards are mostly about skills, there are specific content areas that are required. The English language arts has required reading in America’s founding documents, important American literature, and Shakespeare.

Math, on the other hand, has several key content areas: whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals. These content areas lay the foundation for algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and even calculus in later grades.


            Myth: The standards are a curriculum.

            Fact: The definition of a curriculum is a combination of course of study given in a school. The standards help create a curriculum, but are not a curriculum in and of themselves. Each teacher can decide how to best aid their students in mastering the skills and content required by the standards. There is no “right” way to implement the skills, but there are “right” skills with which students should exit each grade.


            Myth: Because of the standards, English language arts teachers will no longer be able to teach fiction. They will need to use texts about science or history.

            Fact: While it’s true that teachers of English language arts will need to incorporate non-fiction texts into their curriculum, many of the skills required by the standards can easily be taught through fiction. Therefore, teachers can use both fiction and non-fiction when implementing the standards.


Q: What do you suggest to keep my son with ADHD on track during the summer?

You can be sure that summertime for children with ADHD means that they will become bored easily and often and therefore will become demanding – of your time, energy, attention, and patience.

            Stick to routine. All children, especially those with ADHD, crave routine. Therefore, keep the morning routine the same and instead of getting into the car for school, have another organized activity (either inside or outside of the home).

            Keep a calendar. Knowing that they will go to the zoo on Thursday and bake challah on Friday will help keep them focused.

            Make reading fun. Summer is a great time to get your children involved in reading even if he or she is a struggling reader. Rather than reading the assigned books in school, take turns reading the books aloud, get them appropriate comic books, and play word games like Scrabble and Bananagrams.

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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at [email protected].