Even before the pandemic made all schools go virtual, one school was focusing on distance teaching. With creative curriculum and dedicated staff, ‘Online Cheder’ is now expanding to a girls’ cheder and a mesivta as well.
Online Cheder provides small classes that inspire children and make them want to be in class. We partner with parents to ensure that our students’ chinuch and spiritual needs are met, so that they can fully absorb what they are being taught.
More than ever, there’s a need for full day online chinuch that does not compromise standards, while engaging and captivating a child’s attention. At Online Cheder the results speak for themselves. By engaging students, inviting questions and explaining each lesson, children grow to love learning. Making learning enjoyable and meaningful is also the best way to give students the motivation to memorize words and meanings, the most needed tools for a lifetime of learning.
Based on Klalei HaChinuch VeHahadrocha, any cheder has three challenges:
1) To give students the skills they need to learn
2) To motivate children to want to learn on their own
3) To develop the character of each student and to help them grow as individuals
For the above to happen, a teacher must get to know each student, reach each one in way that makes learning interesting and relevant to them and must encourage each student to take steady steps in their service to Hashem.
To be motivated, children need to learn why we do what we do. Learning pirush hamilos, the simple (yet anything but simple) meaning of the words of davening is crucial. Mishna and Halacha must open itself to discussion. Gemara needs to be taught with practical examples, ones which students can act out and relate to. Discussion as to why Torah rules a certain way is key to making all of the above meaningful, understandable and something that students will enjoy and relate to.
Online Learning Must Provide All of the Above and More
Online learning also challenges teachers to keep students interested. Asking and encouraging questions, praising students for showing initiative and finding out both the interests of students and how they best learn is the job of a teacher and the mission of Online Cheder. On a more basic level, knowing when to switch subjects, knowing when to try a different way of explaining a piece of Gemara to a child, is all the more critical and important. Small groups and caring teachers allow for children to thrive in this setting.
The Frierdiker Rebbe explains that when one learns Torah just on the surface, without trying to really understand it, that is klipas Yovon. Students delve into and discuss subjects, especially when there are key points to be made which give a richer meaning to the Torah being learned or that teach a lesson in our service to Hashem.
One example of how Online Cheder has made davening and pirush hamilos meaningful is as follows. When discussing the greatness of Hashem, discussion went to how one can see Hashgocha Protis in meaningful, practical ways. Hashem must make the brain, numerous signals, nerves and veins all work together just for a person to move one’s hand. This small example points out how Hashem both creates and runs every part of our being and every aspect of our lives. The care to every detail that Hashem shows in making our hands and feet move can be seen in all parts of life. Hashem does what is best for a person’s body and soul, caring for each of us more than a parent would for child – and caring with both our present and our eternal future in mind, at all times. These practical examples are key to explaining Hashgocha Protis and to motivating children to properly connect with Hashem.
Results Speak For Themselves
Last year, the 10/11 year old boys covered 6 mesechtos mishnayos with in-depth discussion and related halochos and minhogim. Students also learned a large part of Rav A. Chaim Noeh’s Ketzos HaShulchan, began Gemara with Perek HaMeiniach (in keeping with the Rebbe’s horaoh to start with HaMeiniach or HaMafkid) and covered much Tanya, Tanach, Pirush HaMilos and more.
Students covered ground, gained tremendous skills and enjoyed themselves. Here’s how this was accomplished:
- Making davening meaningful by teaching Pirush HaMilos and giving practical examples of key points.
- Increasing Chumash vocabulary tremendously by reading and teitching each posuk, word by word, and having children do same.
- Making Chumash exciting with Midrashim, Halochos and discussion.
- Doing the same thing for Mishnayos, sometimes with chazora games.
- Explaining the meaning of each Yom Tov and Yemai dPagra.
- Going line by line in Gemara, but giving practical and meaningful examples. We rarely used “Reuven and Shimon.” More often, two classmates acted out each side.
- Stopping to discuss obvious questions that come up when learning Tanach.
The last point on Tanach was needed and cannot be overemphasized. Children cannot be half-taught Tanach without risking serious misunderstanding, chas vsholom. Explaining that Achan was mechalel Shabbos and caused the deaths of many and that Yehoshua was trying to comfort him after he and everyone else knew his punishment serves to answer key misconceptions. That Daryevesh Madai (who later conquered Bavel) was born the moment that Nevuchadnetzar removed Yechonya as king, brings Yiras Shomayim. So do the back and forth events of Sefer Shoftim, when Klal Yisroel are saved each time that they listen to Hashem.
Parents point out how caring the teachers are and speak of their devotion to chinuch and each child. Mrs. C. Feigin describes the cheder. “Classes are interesting, engaging and fun! The teacher is extremely patient and deeply passionate about teaching. He is always changing things around based on the students needs and interests. my son came out with tons of information and a love and excitements for learning!” Mrs. S. Meretsky describes her sons’ teacher’s “kindness. patience, and positivity.” “He takes special care to ensure my boys are excited about their learning and engaged. I also deeply appreciate him teaching and explaining the depth of Tefilos. It is so important to me just my boys are given the tools to make davening a meaningful experience.” Rabbi Z. and Mrs. S. Bass explain how their son gained confidence and motivation. “Learning was with excitement and true dedication.”
The Boys Cheder has a dedicated staff, including Rabbi Pinchus Scheiner, a renown teacher whose career started in Oholei Torah and has spanned over 30 years and Rabbi Yomin Postelnik, a cheder administrator who has designed numerous educational programs and developed this program together with senior mechanchim. Both work to ensure that each child has a chinuch that truly meets their needs. Great care is taken to make lessons meaningful and to ensure that each student develops skills and most of all, the all-important desire to learn.
The new Girls Cheder is run by the equally caring and dedicated Mrs. Malkie Raskin, who inspires girls with many of the same methods outlined above, while using her unique and effective method to motivate talmidos.