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Dr. Rona Novick knows how eager parents are to better understand the issues that surround bullying. “There is nothing more important to parents than their children’s safety and happiness. Any parent who has witnessed the impact of their child being the victim of teasing or social exclusion or has seen their own child act in less than generous ways to another, wants to both understand why this happens and, most importantly, figure out how to make it better.” But, according to Dr. Novick, Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University, this is easier said than done. “Unfortunately, bullying does not always follow the laws of logic, and what we think will be helpful can make situations worse.”

Hidden Sparks is a non-profit dedicated to helping children with learning differences reach their full potential in school and life. The organization has always recognized parents as being the strongest supporters of their children, and while its primary programs focus on professional development opportunities for yeshiva and day school-based educators, they also provide learning opportunities for parents via their Hidden Sparks Without Walls (HSWOW) webinar series, an important component of their mission.

“Empowering parents and providing them with the tools to become more attuned to their children’s needs and stronger advocates can have huge yields. We have always seen the parent programs as an essential parallel and partner to our work with schools,” says Debbie Niderberg, Executive Director. The HSWOW teacher webinar series was initiated in 2008, followed by the Parent Connection series, established in 2012, and, to date, 16 webinars have taken place, all of which are currently archived and available for viewing through the Hidden Sparks website. Says local parent and speech therapist Racheli Teller, “Hidden Sparks webinars cover topics that are really geared to what I need to learn as a parent of elementary school children. [For example] I have gained so much insight into how to work one-on-one with my child to improve his reading skills and how to target his exact difficulties.”

The Parent Connection webinar series, supported by a grant from the Jewish Women’s Foundation, takes place in the evening and is free of charge to all participants. This year’s presentations, which will be later added to the Hidden Sparks webinar archive, feature speakers such as Chaye Lamm Warburg of Teaneck’s Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services discussing “Sensory Processing Strategies at Home,” and noted author and lecturer Michelle Garcia Winter presenting on social thinking in children (full schedule at sidebar). Presentations of this caliber are not easily accessed by parents. According to Mrs. Teller, “I have not found an organization which provides such easy access to relevant topics. There are some free seminars online but they make it difficult to access and often the topics are presented in a boring manner. The Hidden Sparks webinars are easy to access, interactive, engaging, and relevant.”

This year’s kick-off webinar will be presented by Dr. Rona Novick, also a Co-Educational Director of Hidden Sparks, on November 12. Dr. Novick will be speaking about battling bullying in the community, and will present on anxiety in children later in the spring. On November 12, Dr. Novick plans on parents learning, “a lot about what bullying is, and what aggressive behaviors, despite being problematic, are NOT actually bullying. What I really want parents to take away is how important they are in modeling and supporting the positive social behaviors and choices that decrease bullying in schools and communities, ways they can contribute to raising the next generation of socially responsible, and safe, happy children.”

Past webinars for parents and teachers are archived on the Hidden Sparks website HiddenSparks.org and are accessible through a link on the homepage, where parents and teachers can also add themselves to the Hidden Sparks mailing list and find out more about Hidden Sparks programs.

Sara Diament is the Director of School Services at Hidden Sparks and can be reached at [email protected]

Teacher Series and Parent ConnectionHidden Sparks Without Walls Webinars 2014–15

TITLE

DATE

SERIES

PRESENTER

Sticks and Stones: Battling Bullying

Wednesday, 11/12/2014

Teacher/Parent

Dr. Rona Novick

Getting Leor on the Guest List: Boosting Social Success for Your Students

Wednesday, 11/19/2014

Teacher

Mindy Rosenthal

More Home, Less Work

Tuesday, 12/2/2014

Parent

Zipora Schuck

All Over the Place to Keeping the Pace: Understanding Executive Function at Home and in School

Wednesday, 1/7/2015

Teacher/Parent

Mindy Rosenthal

Are You Thinking What I Think You’re Thinking? Nurturing Social Thinking In Children

Tuesday, 2/17/2015

Teacher/Parent

Michelle Garcia Winner

The Art of Teaching Rashi to the Struggling Student: Demands and Strategies

Tuesday, 2/24/2015

Teacher

Sara Chaya Farbstein, PhD

Sensory Processing Strategies at Home

Tuesday, 3/17/2015

Parent

Chaye Lamm Warburg

Helping Boost your Child’s Self-Esteem

Tuesday, 4/14/2015

Parent

Mindy Rosenthal

She Said What? (Strategies for Communication with Students and Parents)

Wednesday, 4/29/2015

Teacher

Zipora Schuck

What, Me Worry? Understanding and Managing Anxiety in Our Children

Wednesday, 5/13/2015

Teacher/Parent

Dr. Rona Novick

 


 

By Sara Diament

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