Hebrew Review Ideas for Your Kids This Summer
Repetition is key when learning how to read Hebrew and chant Bar and Bat Mitzvah blessings. If you don’t memorize the letters and vowels in the Hebrew alphabet, you simply will not be able to read Hebrew. During the school year when your child is attending religious school, he or she is able to study the Hebrew letters and Hebrew prayers on a weekly basis. But what happens during the summer when school is not in session? So much of the progress made is lost. Nobody wants to have to start back at square one and re-learn that material at the start of a new school year. Especially not children. So, it’s important to remind them what a little practice over the summer will do for them come September.
But it’s summertime and who really wants to practice Hebrew daily? The good news is that you don’t have to. Enjoy summer camp, eat lots and lots of ice cream, and take many day trips to the beach. With these tips and tricks, you can spend 10-15 minutes a week reviewing Hebrew and Bar/Bat Mitzvah prayers over the summer and you’ll be just as confident in your Hebrew abilities in September as you were in June.
Hebrew Letters: Summer Review
If your child learned the Hebrew letters over the past school year, it would be best if they review the Hebrew letters and vowels using flashcards once a week. They can create their own flashcards or they can purchase on Amazon; I have an entire post dedicated to the strategy of using Hebrew flashcards to learn the aleph bet. There are 26 Hebrew letters, 5 final letters, and 13 or so vowels (depends on the method of teaching ) for a total of approximately 44 flashcards to review. Once a week, go through them all once. Make two piles — the letters and vowels that you immediately recall and a pile for the ones that have escaped your mind. Review the pile with the letters and vowels that need more work and place the ones that you now remember back into that first pile. Continue the process until all of the letters and vowels are known. This should take about 10-15 minutes per week assuming that these were all letters and vowels taught over the past school year.
If your child needs help learning how to handwrite the Hebrew alphabet in either cursive or print, I also have a dedicated Hebrew handwriting page with both free and paid worksheets that can help anyone keep up over the summer.
Your child can also practice the Hebrew alphabet by downloading the app Write It! Hebrew from the App Store. WIth the app, you can review exactly how to correctly write each Hebrew letter — stroke by stroke — and then test your ability to write and recognize what you’ve learned.
There are also some Hebrew games that your child can play which might be slightly less effective, but probably more entertaining than simply using flashcards. There is an online version of the Hebrew memory matching game which can be a fun way to spice things up while reviewing Hebrew letters.
Hebrew Reading Practice
If your child is comfortable with all of the Hebrew letters and vowels, but needs to improve the speed in which he or she reads, 10-15 minutes of reading Hebrew words once a week during the summer is sure to be beneficial. My English-Hebrew dictionary has a number of worksheets that have Hebrew vocabulary words on one side of the page and the English transliteration on the other side. Choose a new category each week, print out the worksheet with the topic of choice, fold the paper in half vertically and have your child practice reading words in Hebrew.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah Prayers
It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the prayers that will be chanted at one’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah. These prayers are usually learned over a one to two year period. Even if you have a blessing perfectly memorized during the school year, the prayer will get rusty over the summer if not practiced on a semi-regular basis. Nobody wants to forget the chant and have to begin learning the prayer again, especially when school restarts and you have homework and sports and dance too.
I recommend running through each prayer that was learned over the past year twice each week of summer. It’s perfectly fine to say the same prayer two times in a row for that week; the recitation does not have to be spaced out over multiple days. Blessings are probably two and a half minutes or so on average, so depending on how many prayers you have learned over the past school year, this should take you somewhere between 5 minutes and 30 minutes per week.
Hopefully you have an audio recording of the prayers or your synagogue has a page on their website with the audio of each required prayer. The chants do vary from congregation to congregation. It’s really important for the student to practice the prayers WITH AUDIO and not just on their own. It’s so easy for someone to learn part of the blessing’s chant incorrectly. When the melody is practiced wrong over and over again, it creates a bad habit that is not easy to rectify. If there is not a recording available, B’nai Mitzvah Academy has a free page where you can listen to all of the B’nai Mitzvah blessings at either a slow pace or at a normal speed and you can also download a copy of the Hebrew prayer itself.
Do you have any effective tips to help your child practice Hebrew over the summer? Let us know in the comments below! And, don’t forget to check out these other posts on the BMA blog!