What We’ve Learned – And What Do You Think?

This week on the AVI CHAI blog, the AVI CHAI and Steinhardt Foundations posed the question: What would make day schools more attractive to non-Orthodox parents?

In addition to the discussion on this forum, the question was also explored on: Mixed Multitudes, eJewishPhilanthropy, Metroimma, InterfaithFamily as well as via Facebook and Twitter.

We have been excited to read the numerous comments from parents, educators, and others interested in this question. We have learned how passionate and thoughtful many are about the decisions they and/or their parents have made regarding day schools. It is clear that this issue touches on a wide range of questions many hold dear: about instilling in the next generation a strong Jewish identity, excellent academics, a nurturing environment, and so much more.

We are delighted with the array of creative ideas suggested by readers, including, but not limited to:

  • Supplementary classes for parents to become comfortable with Judaic material;
  • Connecting with local Jewish early childhood programs to create natural transitions to day schools;
  • Making the scholarship application process friendlier; and,
  • Creating programs where prospective parents could get to know day school alumni

We suspect there are even more ideas out there! What specifically do you feel would make day schools more attractive?

One emerging theme is the importance of addressing parents’ fears around the day school decision – that day school environments are different from what parents have known or that the food, and rituals may be different than what the families are accustomed. Help us out: how can day schools or Jewish communities address those fears and make day schools a more attractive option for parents?

We welcome all suggestions – and hope you will spread the word to others who may have interest and ideas on this topic as well.

Cross-posted to The Avi Chai Foundation Blog.