Do you remember your first big decision? Did you make a pro and con list? Did you discuss it with a friend or parent? Were you so torn between the choices that you couldn’t decide? According to a study at the University of North Carolina, adults make 35,000 decisions every day. From deciding to hit the snooze button one more time to figuring out what to cook for dinner, our days are filled with options.
The best way to make effective decisions as an adult is to have more opportunities to make decisions as a child. From choosing clothing to wear, to packing one’s lunch, to deciding which after school activity to join, children can take a more active role in their day. School provides even more opportunities for decision making; the more choices that students have, the more invested they’ll be in their education.
One of Yavneh’s Fundamental Beliefs is that learning is meaningful when it is relevant. As our students enter middle school, we provide more options for students to study topics that are of greater interest to them as well as to explore new topics. In previous years, our elective offerings have included: rock band, performing arts, debate, Innovation lab, Tool 101 and journalism. This year, we’ve added: multimedia arts, 3-D printing, cooking, stock market, yoga, and wearable technology.
Cooking with Morah Judy has always been a popular elective and with all of the time we’ve been spending at home it has become even more important. In addition to learning cooking skills, our students learn to appreciate flavors and are more open to trying new things.
Especially in times where so much is out of our control, maintaining student choice is essential. For our annual Middle School Science Fair, students started by formulating research questions and narrowing their focus to determine what type of project would best answer their questions. Some chose traditional experiments while others prototyped inventions that help perform a task and others created models. Choosing to work with others or by themselves, students spread their thinking and work over several months and are looking forward to sharing their work at a virtual Yavneh Science Fair in March.
There is also choice involved in the leadership opportunities throughout middle school. From deciding how they will teach the younger students the middot (character traits) as part of Keshet Krew to picking which mitzvah they’ll focus on for Purim, our students choose to engage as leaders of Yavneh. By making many choices at this young age, students gain ample experience and help them as their decision making grows in importance.