Jewish Routines for Children

Creating positive educational experiences for your family.

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Routines are essential building blocks of life. Parenting books, pediatricians, and early childhood experts will tell you that routines provide young children with a measure of predictability that is necessary and comforting. They give children a sense of safety in an unsafe world. 

Routines and rituals are emotional regulators, guides to positive behavior and safety and social development, transition-helpers for children and parents, a way to decrease conflict, and perhaps most importantly, a basis for learning. Parents who establish routines and incorporate rituals into their children's lives are providing them with an invaluable foundation and tools for living a full, rich life.

From the earliest days of a child's life, parents and other caregivers can incorporate Judaism into routines and family rituals. There are some routines to which you can add a Jewish spin and other routines that are wholly Jewish. The patterns families establish for their children now will have a lasting impression on their children as they grow and develop.

reading to childrenMusic, Television, and Books

Consider the CDs you are playing in the car or at home for your children. Why not make at least some of your musical selections Jewish? Debbie Friedman, Craig Taubman, and Judy Caplan Ginsburgh are just three of the many contemporary Jewish musicians who have Jewish children's music CDs. Many parents use soothing music as part of the bedtime routine. How about Jewish lullabies?

Children's television viewing evokes strong feelings and a wide-range of opinions, but within limits and with parental supervision, television can be an educational tool. "Shalom Sesame" is the Jewish version of "Sesame Street" and provides your children with the same format as "Sesame Street," in a Jewish context. "Oy Baby" is a series of DVDs and CDs combining Jewish music with puppets and pictures for children. Set aside a special time when you and your children can watch Jewish-themed DVDs such as these together. As you are preparing for Shabbat or a Jewish holiday you can use the DVD or CD to help get the children "in the mood" and to set the tone for the upcoming celebration.

There are many wonderful children's books with Jewish themes. Some are based on biblical stories and rabbinic tales. Others focus on a specific Jewish holiday or offer a Jewish twist on an everyday theme. For ideas, check out The PJ Library, The Assocation of Jewish Libraries, and Jewish publishers such as Kar-Ben, Jewish Lights, Jewish Publication Society, and Union for Reform Judaism Press.

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Caron Blau Rothstein

Caron Blau Rothstein is the former Director of Special Projects at the Center for Jewish Education in Baltimore, MD. She is currently developing programming for Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland, OR.