We base our philosophy, curriculum, and environments on national standards and guidelines as well as inspiration we draw from the schools of Reggio-Emilia, Italy.
Our emergent curriculum encourages children to be researchers in the classroom alongside their peers and teachers. Teachers give close attention to the interests of the children and incorporate science, literacy, math, engineering, problem-solving, though-provocation, art, music, and more into the projects that the children explore.
Our curriculum is child-led and curiosity-driven and topics explored arise from children’s interests at the time.
While touring our school, you will notice that each of our classrooms has a Hebrew name. We celebrate all Jewish holidays by incorporating them into our classrooms with provocations, stories, and music, and we have school-wide celebrations for Shabbat each Friday (families welcome.) We are accepting of families of all faiths, and we talk about other holidays and celebrations around the world. We respect that our school is a Jewish environment, and we ask families to not bring or send in pork or shellfish.
Ahavah, which means “love” in Hebrew, and Bresheit, which means “beginning,” is where our amazing infant educators nurture infants from ages six weeks old to one year. Each day’s activities include singing and music, reading books, outdoor and indoor activities such as water play, and simple American Sign Language. In addition, the children begin to gain an understanding of social interactions and expressing their emotional needs. The children go outside, weather permitting, to enjoy nature and recreational activities every day. Throughout the year, these two groups of children grow and develop independent skills such as crawling, walking, and beginning to talk. In these classrooms, our primary focus is to provide a safe and encouraging environment that give our youngest children rich opportunities to explore and to help them build their understanding of their world.
Brachot, which means “blessing,” is where our older infants and young toddlers grow. Just as in the younger infant classrooms, daily activities include singing, music, reading books, various outdoor and indoor activities, and simple American Sign Language. Additionally, the children begin to gain an understanding of social interactions and expressing their emotional needs. Our goal is to provide a safe and encouraging classroom that provide the children with many opportunities to develop and grow. When interacting with young toddlers, we know that developing a routine from the first day helps set the tone for the rest of the year. Throughout the year, these children grow physically, socially, and emotionally by practicing skills such as holding a sip cup and using utensils, developing a sense of independence and self-confidence.
Neshamah, which means “spirit,” is our older toddler classroom. In this room, our toddler educators provide many opportunities for developmental growth. A daily routine helps children ease into a single nap time and to learn to sleep on cots. Throughout this year, the children continue developing their self-help skills such as learning to use a cup, eating with utensils, and learning to take care of their environment. This classroom is very busy and full of energy. Toddlers are just beginning to desire independence and may, at any moment, change their minds and want to cuddle and be “little” again. Daily activities for this group include short group times, lots of dancing and exploring rhythm, water play, sensory exploration, finger painting, imaginative play, puzzles, drawing, and simple American Sign Language. In addition, the children begin to gain an understanding of social interactions and expressing emotional needs.
Kavod, which means “respect,” is our younger two-year-old classroom and Tovah, which means “good,” is our older two-year-old classroom.. Here our teachers encourage the children to learn through hands-on, investigative experiences. This type of learning environment has a long-term and meaningful impact on the way children learn. Our amazing twos educators understand that this is an age where children have big feelings but do not always have the ability to communicate them effectively. In these classrooms, teachers support and assist children in developing important values such as caring, sharing, patience, and responsibility, as well as learning to express themselves using words and working to find solutions through teamwork. Many types of development take place over the course of the school year. The children in these two classrooms strengthen their small and large motor skills, increase their vocabulary, practice negotiation, develop cooperative play skills, and become more independent and confident every day.
Simchah, which means “joy,” and Shalom, which means “peace,” are our three-year-old classrooms. When children turn three, they shed the title of toddler and officially become preschoolers. These are the classrooms where that transition takes place. Although we use Emergent Curriculum throughout our program, it is in this year that children begin to truly embrace their influence over the direction of learning through a series of units of inquiry initiated by the interests of the children themselves. Each unit of inquiry incorporates science, math, literacy, and writing elements presented in a fun and age-appropriate way. A unit of inquiry (often referred to as investigations) can last as long as the entire school year or as short as a day, and the children are the driving force behind what is explored and for how long. Our wonderful educators facilitate these units by providing open-ended materials and provocations, process-driven art experiences, and a truly collaborative learning environment as these two classrooms work collaboratively Children begin each day in their “home base” classroom, then come together for a group morning meeting. After this, children are encouraged to explore the learning centers and experiences in both/either classroom and have opportunities to engage one-on-one with all four teachers. By valuing and elevating collaboration, our goal is for the child, the parent, and the teachers to partner in the learning experience.
For four- and five-year-olds, our Pre-Kindergarten program consists of three different learning environments: the Tikkun Olam classroom, the Learning Lab, and the Beyond.
Tikkun Olam, which means “repair the world,” is the classroom environment where the children play in traditional centers such as Blocks and Dramatic Play. It is also the environment where a greater focus is placed on writing and literacy. The Learning Lab is our STEAM room where children explore science, technology, engineering, art, and math through self-directed play. The Beyond is our outdoor learning environment consisting of the beautiful wooded hill and greenspace, as well as a creek and our brand new trail, which the Tikkun Olam Class of 2019 cleared and created themselves.
Each day, the children explore the world around them through their choice of the three environments. The day begins with a large group meeting during which the children have the opportunity to decide in which environment they will spend the bulk of their day. Each environment provides many different ways for children to express their interests and learn. Our goal is to encourage each child’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity. We love following the lead of children’s interests. Questions provide opportunities to find answers together as children explore the world around them. As the children explore each environment, they gain the skills they need for kindergarten and beyond.
Our Atelier, or art studio, presents opportunities for small groups of children to dig deeper in a laboratory-type setting, alongside an arts expert (our atelierista.) Here, they may use a vast array of materials to construct ideas and pursue answers to their own questions. Our atelier has been used by children to explore digital photography, color mixing, weaving and sewing, wire sculpture, drawing, painting, light and shadow, and much more.
Children have access to the atelier and the atelierista a minimum of once a week.
In addition to our wonderful classroom and atelier educators, we also have a dedicated and amazing staff of Auxiliary Teachers who support all our classrooms in a variety of ways.