When 300 people from all segments of the Baltimore community choose to spend an evening at a lecture, it’s clear that the title and the speaker were a great fit. On February 5, Dr. Russell Barkley, foremost authority on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), spoke about promoting better behavior and self-control to produce a home of peace and harmony. Presented by SHEMESH as a parent lecture, YACHAD, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and The Macks Center for Jewish Education partnered to make the evening possible. Special appreciation was given that night to The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, whose commitment to the needs of the Baltimore community and the support of the city’s Jewish day schools are invaluable in maintaining a cohesive, effective community for all.
Dr. Barkley pointed out that parents do not get to design their children. “The parent role is more like a shepherd to a lamb than a sculptor to a block of clay,” he stated. Our children have hundreds of traits, abilities, talents and deficiencies that are theirs no matter what we do or try to teach. Our job, he went on to say, is to improve the environment, present a consistent home life of love and support, accept our children for who they are and offer them help to face and even overcome their challenges. Where we see issues or deficiencies, especially in executive function, use the extra help available in school. Dr. Barkley had one particular slide that stood out for most of the parents seated in the Beth Tfiloh Rosen Arts Center: “ Talk less, touch more.” It’s easy for children to tune out their parents, but a loving touch speaks volumes.
The parents in the audience treasured the opportunity to hear from the person they described in a post-lecture survey as “a legend and an amazing presenter.” One person wrote that Dr. Barkley was “so informative. I wish more of my friends attended – including my parents!’ A large majority reported that they walked away with “practical tips and a different attitude to [my]child.”
SHEMESH provides lectures such as this, along with professional development for general classroom teachers as well as special educators, throughout the year. As one person put it in his comments section, “SHEMESH keeps raising the standard for excellence and for helping parents understand their children.” While offering support and assistance to 600 students a year, SHEMESH recognizes that the more parents know and understand their children’s behavior, the more they can do about it, helping their children achieve better behavior and self- control. And that’s a gift that never ends!
Check the SHEMESH website (www.shemeshbaltimore.org) for updates on monthly CHADD meetings (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders), as well as programs being offered for all parents. SHEMESH is now in its tenth year of providing services to the Jewish day schools, working with principals, teachers, administrators and parents to help all Jewish children reach their intellectual, academic, emotional and social potential. We are grateful to Dr. Russell Barkley for bringing us one step closer to achieving our mission.