Children in our nursery schools begin their days with morning meetings in which their teachers ask them questions about the previous day. The group spends time discussing and reflecting, then prepares for the day ahead. Because our curriculum is inspired by the innate inquisitive spirit of each beautiful child, it is a daily practice for our teachers to tailor their programs to meet their students’ needs. It is a core philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.
But how is that also a Jewish approach?
Fruit and vegetables tended in the school garden and harvested by the children are part of their meals and snacks, providing nourishment and a connection between the food we eat and how it gets to our plates. When children set the table and serve our family-style lunches, they learn to take initiative, and begin a lifelong tradition of bonding and conversing with peers and loved ones during mealtimes. When baking challah on Fridays, they learn about the science of baking, as well as the blessings for Shabbat.
When the children are out on the play yard, running around, shaking it off, and getting dirty, they are developing small and gross motor skills by climbing, running, and playing. They test their boundaries, but also learn to be resilient and compassionate to one another, to be mensches.
Children bring Chanukah light to seniors in an assisted living facility in the form of chanukiyahs as well as songs and joy. The Senior Home connections create bonds with elders and the children learn to do a mitzvah by visiting the same group every month.
The students in our Transitional and Developmental Kindergarten classes recently looked in the mirror and drew self-portraits. This led to a deeper discussion about awareness and appreciation of what makes you uniquely you.
Children learn that asking questions is just as important as receiving answers, which is an integral part of both our Jewish identity and our Reggio Emilia philosophies. What makes this special? How does this work? How does that make me feel? This is where the building of community starts and the beginning of a lifelong relationship with Judaism is formed.
Our Early Childhood Centers, on both campuses, offer rolling admission, and registration for Baby and Me classes (beginning the week of January 6) is still open.