In all of our interactions, we try to think carefully about the messages we send. We strive to relate with empathy and withhold judgment.
Respect for children
We respect children as individuals who are learning and growing on their own path. We show respect for each child in all of our interactions. We alert children before we pick them up, change their diaper, ask that they help clean up, etc. We treat children as people with valid thoughts and feelings. We respect their individual needs and temperaments.
Jewish culture and celebrations
We view our classrooms through Jewish lenses. We immerse ourselves in Jewish culture. We celebrate Jewish holidays in a meaningful and developmentally appropriate way.
Our school has families and teachers for whom Hebrew is a first language. Additionally, we have English speaking teachers who understand and speak some Hebrew. Children are exposed to both English and Hebrew every day in a very organic way.
We value families and find that we do our best work with children when we understand them deeply. Teachers visit the homes of children early in the school year in order to form closer bonds and understanding. Families often provide food for a staff meeting or show support for the teachers in our school in a variety of other ways.
Our school has couches or comfortable chairs in the classrooms, so teachers, families and children can be comfortable together. We use real dishes and cutlery rather than paper plates. We want children to experience real life and learn to handle items carefully. Our classrooms have plants, pictures in frames, natural materials and are painted colors that feel home-like.
Children represented in environment
We have framed family pictures in our classrooms to represent each child’s home life. We encourage communication from families to help us represent their child. We hang up pictures of children in their school life around the classrooms.
We put a lot of thought into planning our snack menus. We make sure to include a variety of healthy foods. We communicate with families about their values regarding food, nutrition, preferences and sensitivities. We work to avoid high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
Self-expression and creativity
We strongly value creativity and self-expression. We provide open ended materials for children to explore. We allow children to take time to explore freely and create with as few restrictions as possible.
We plan our curriculum based on the individual children in each class. We observe children’s play and behavior to help us know what activities and materials to provide. We think about skills, interests, challenges, temperament, and needs rather than using pre-made curriculum. We also include seasons and Jewish holidays in our curriculum.
We work to meet the needs of the whole child: socially, emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually.
Children as competent
We view children as competent. We recognize that children are constantly learning and growing and we work to support them in that growth. We do not rush in and do things for children that they can do for themselves. Although it takes a lot of time and patience, we do not want to deprive children of the sense of pride that comes from doing things they are capable of doing. We understand the value of helping children take responsibility for their environment and their choices as they grow into members of our community.
We work to teach children how to communicate, collaborate and solve problems. We know that children can begin to be competent problem solvers at a young age. In our toddler classroom, you might hear a conversation that sounds like, “turn please?” “Two minutes”. In our preschool classroom, you might see children negotiating about taking turns and then go get a timer to help them enforce the plan they come up with.
Communication with families
We work hard to have regular, meaningful communication with families. We will always be honest and share any and all information with families. We know that in order to provide the best care for children, teachers must partner with their families.
We take pictures of children engaged in activities at school to share with families. We work hard to minimize the disruptions to children as we take pictures and rarely if ever take posed or staged photographs. We know that is nice for parents to have a visual representation of their child’s time at school. We also make notes about children’s development and keep a portfolio of each child’s school experience.
We believe that children learn best through play. We value providing long blocks of time for children to engage deeply in play. We provide many ‘real” materials for children to use in their play. We also think carefully about the environments we set up so that children have an opportunity to gain both academic and social skills through their play.
We know that children feel safe and do well when there is a predictable structure and routine in their classroom. Our classrooms have predictable schedules and children know the rules and guidelines for their class. We balance this with flexibility.
Freedom to take risks
Our school is a place where children can take risks as they learn and grow. They know that they will not be shamed when they make a mistake. Teachers will provide support, encouragement and help children to think about their choices.