This year the education ministry started a new project known as Bayit Ham, or "warm house." A few times a year groups of 4-5 children meet at one of their homes for an activity planned by the parents.
Considering how much parental involvement is for the project, I’m surprised at the level of compliance. It seems that most everyone I know, across different sectors and locations, seems to be participating. I think it’s only for first and second grade.
We hosted ours last week. We got a list from the parents’ committee with the names of the four girls to invite. My daughter checked which day worked for them (we also get a range of dates) and prepared written invitations. We planned the activity: making blintzes for Shavuot, a quiz bingo game for Yom Yerushalayim, and a simple art project.
We invited the girls for 5:15 PM, a normal time for after-school activities here in Israel. When only one had shown up by 5:30, I called a couple of the girls’ homes. One mother said that she didn’t have a car today. She lives about a mile away, but the girl who did show up lives only a couple of blocks from her. Another girl’s mother wasn’t home. The third mother apologized for not letting me know, but there were too busy. I’ve always made a point of getting my daughter to this activity (even when I sat shiva!), and I don’t understand why the others didn’t. It really was not fair for us to prepare for a group of 5 and have only 2 girls participating.
After I called one of the mothers on the class committee she saved the day by shlepping her daughter and niece, who is also in the class, across town to our house. The girls had a fun time in the end, and so did I.
A couple of Facebook friends object on principle to this program, saying it’s not their job to make sure the kids get socialized. I see their point. On the other hand, kids today often spend much of their afternoons in front of the TV or in organized activities. And there are always children who get left out and need a little help. Another friend said it give the parents a chance to get to know the child’s classmates and see how everyone interacts.
So have you ever hosted a bayit ham, or a similar social activity imposed by the school? How did it work out?