Our center-based instruction approach includes activities in language arts, math, science, art, music, movement, language, physical education and Judaics. The daily schedule includes time for creative play, exploration of our environment, social interaction with adults and other children, large and small group learning experiences and celebration of our Jewish and national heritage. Jewish values, customs, history and holiday observances are integrated throughout our curriculum. Our Jewish childcare curriculum promotes growth in the following areas:
Run, jump, climb, balance, use balls and ride on vehicles such as tricycles and balance bikes. We integrate the following enrichments to enhance gross motor development for our students: Kidokinetics, Happy Feet Soccer, Hip Hop/Dance and Movement and Yoga.
We encourage children to verbalize their feelings and as teachers we validate them with acknowledgment and compassion. We use words to express anger, sadness, fear and/or excitement. Teachers guide children in appropriately handling and verbalizing emotions, teaching them to work cooperatively with others and helping them to learn independent problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. We follow the method of conscious discipline when we validate children’s emotions.
Children start by learning the routines of the school and self-help skills. At a young age, children are in shared space with others. Through the facilitation of play, they learn how to appropriately interact with their peers in small and large groups. As they grow, they become more self-reliant and self-confident. As children interact, they establish the ability to play cooperatively and form friendships while developing their individual identity. For many of our students, this is the first time in a group setting away from their parents or caregivers and it is our responsibility to educate them to self-regulate and enter into cooperative play with their peers.
Our early childhood program provides many opportunities for children to learn about themselves and their world. It is also the time of the most rapid brain development. This provides the optimal opportunity to increase vocabulary, introduce new concepts and skills, creative problem solving, and divergent thinking. Our Jewish childcare curriculum meets and exceeds the VPK Standards for kindergarten readiness. Our curriculum includes thematic units such as the senses, learning about oneself, family, animals, weather and the environment, community, and diversity.
Our program also places an emphasis on the development of Jewish morals and values. We focus on how to integrate these values into our daily routines and teach them to our children on a realistic and relatable level. Each age unit focuses on the traditions and symbols that the holidays represent, taught in an age appropriate manner. Our goal is to build a moral compass and spirituality that will make the children stewards of the earth and kindhearted individuals. This will create the framework for a lifelong love of Jewish learning that will strengthen our synagogue community and sustain our people.
Teachers at the Beth El Early Learning Center have a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise in the early childhood field. We strive to strike a balance between a structured curriculum, and creativity amongst the classroom teachers to engage in units of study that interest the children as well as the teacher.
Each teacher follows a skills and milestones checklist for children ages 3 months- 5 years. Age level teaching teams meet at least once a month to plan a themed unit of study, and collaborate ideas to be used in the classroom. We encourage “team teaching”, where all unit teachers bring their strengths and ideas to meetings to share and collaborate. Teachers also allow for “emergent curriculum” based on the children’s interests which piques their curiosity and encourages participation.
Parent-teacher conferences are conducted twice a year – mid-year and at the end of the school year. Teachers will provide the parents with a completed developmental checklist, portfolio items and personalized feedback for each child based on their progress. Pre-K students receive a standardized kindergarten readiness assessment at scheduled time intervals during the year.
One of the goals of the Beth El Early Learning Center is to provide a lasting link between the child, family, synagogue and the Jewish community. We do this by providing a warm, nurturing environment that promotes a strong love for Judaism and participation in Jewish traditions. We strive to include parents in classroom programs, Tot Shabbats and congregational programming as well.
Judaic “materials” are seen in all classrooms; Shabbat candles, challah, Kiddush cups, kippot, puzzles, games and labels. Each Friday morning, we celebrate Tot Shabbat in our Kehillah Center with our clergy members, students and staff.
Children are encouraged to bring in coins to contribute to their classroom Tzedakah (charitable giving) fund, and taught the value of giving to those less fortunate.
Our Judaic specialist and clergy members introduce children to Torah studies through the use of puppets, drama and storytelling that makes Torah come alive. Every classroom teacher emphasizes the importance of doing mitzvoth (good deeds) and the Jewish value of Tikun Olam (repairing our world.)
Programming includes special events throughout the year: An Israeli Independence Day celebration, Chanukah performances and sing-alongs by our students, TuB’Shevat celebration with the seven fruits of Israel, model seders for Passover, cooking experiences, dance and more.
We strive to be a school community that teaches our students the importance of diversity and inclusion. Students will learn about different cultures and identities. We aim to create a welcoming space for children to be themselves and express their feelings. Students should know that everyone should feel safe, included and respected.