Classroom life at Gan reflects and fosters basic Jewish values with
an emphasis on acts of lovingkindness and compassion toward others.
At Gan our goal is not merely to expose children to Jewish ideas and
practices, but even more importantly, to build children’s positive feelings
about their Jewish identity. And to emphasize each child’s potential
contribution to the well-being of the Jewish people to the world at large.
Our goal in each classroom is to build a seamlessly integrated curriculum where children’s ongoing interests and explorations connect in meaningful ways to their Jewish learning. Children explore age-appropriate ideas and participate through hands-on experiences, storytelling, and songs. As they move through Gan from toddlerhood to pre-K, children create unique and beautiful projects which express the age-appropriate ideas they have focused upon during a particular Jewish holiday.
There are seven basic areas of Jewish learning at Gan that are integrated into the curriculum and daily classroom routines: (1) Hebrew Literacy (2) Shabbat and Holidays (3) Daily Mitzvot (4) Life Cycle Mitzvot (5) Values and Personal Growth (6) Parsha (7) Prayer and Blessings.
Emotionally Responsive Practice:
As articulated by Lesley Koplow at Bank Street College of Education, emotionally responsive practice focuses on how supportive and meaningful relationships, curriculum, and environments contribute significantly to the emotional well-being of young children. Children and families who feel loved and valued by their early childhood program will feel more comfortable and secure. These positive emotions serve as a foundation for future growth across all areas of development and learning, including esteem and confidence to act lovingly and responsibly toward others.
Particularly at the beginning of the school year, when children and families are building new relationships and adjusting to a new environment, emotionally responsive practice becomes paramount. In light of this, all new families receive a home visit and an incremental schedule.
All new Gan families receive a home visit from at least one classroom teacher. A home visit offers parents and children an invaluable opportunity to get to know teachers in the comfort and security of their own home. When your child sees you interacting positively with his or her teacher, this helps to build the child’s trust in the teacher. During the visit you are encouraged to ask questions and share important information about your child and family. At the same time, please give your child enough time and space to interact with the teacher if and when he/she feels comfortable.
At the beginning of school, each family of new toddlers and 3’s receives a personalized incremental schedule. Children gradually spend more time at school each day while parents and caregivers (e.g. nanny) spend increasingly less time in the classroom. Total classroom time increases until your child “reaches” his or her regular schedule. We understand that an incremental schedule may create logistical challenges for certain families, and we are here to work with you. We have learned from firsthand experience that an extra investment of time up front often yields long-term benefit in supporting your child’s comfort and happiness at Gan.
An environment says who we are and this is who we want to be. At Gan Yeladim we strive to create an environment that expresses and influences our identity as a school as well as the experiences of those who come here. The classroom environment at Gan is set up to support children’s individual and group learning and to encourage exploration and interaction with a focus on play and cooperation. An educational environment respects children, impacts their behavior in positive ways, and gives children and teachers the ability to work collaboratively, efficiently, and productively.
Projects work affords children, teachers, and families the opportunity to participate in meaningful and deep learning experiences over time. After children explore and get to know a certain material, teachers work to take the children’s individual and group interests further and build a long-term project. There are two basic stages in project work: (1) During the searching phase children and teachers together discover an interest or problem to solve (2) During the researching phase children and teachers address an interest or problem through a practical, long-term focus in their classroom. Throughout this journey the essence of the project or interest becomes distilled and uncovered, providing an opportunity for meaningful and integrated learning.
Documentation is a verb. It is a process of making learning visible. Documentation give words to what children may not be able to express. It is a cyclical process of asking questions and trying to understand the actions, ideas, theories, motivations and interests of children. From a collection of notes, photos, videos and other recorded experiences, teachers deepen their understanding of how children learn and what interests them. Understanding where a child is at in his or her process of learning helps teachers create meaningful experiences that are respectful and appropriate for all involved. Instead of using an unchanging, pre-fabricated curriculum or set of thematic units, classroom work at Gan Yeladim evolves out of the organic collaboration between children, teachers, and families.