Our low student-teacher ratio means that we can work closely with our students. Language development and literacy, mathematical thinking, dramatic play, social skills, and artistic expression are essential components of each child’s experience at the Early Childhood Center. Basic math concepts are introduced through cooking, block play, sorting, and categorizing materials. Children use symbolic play to try on a variety of roles and figure out their place in the world. Art activities and projects help tie together the many concepts children are learning and provide an outlet for creative expression.
Weather permitting, part of each day is spent outdoors on our rooftop playground or terrace. These play spaces offer slides, climbing equipment, and lots of room to run and explore. An indoor playroom is also available. In addition, children work with specialists for music, movement, library, gardening, and art and science.
Explore the following special features of our curriculum:
Jewish learning is integrated into all aspects of the Early Childhood Center, with regular Shabbat and holiday celebrations. The children have frequent contact with the members of the clergy and consider the synagogue to be their second home. We work to infuse the ECC with Jewish values, focusing on the “big ideas” of Judaism, utilizing the Reggio Emilia approach to education. Shabbat is observed every Friday in the classroom, with traditional blessings over grape juice, candles, and challah.
The school also gathers together in the sanctuary or library every Friday morning to sing Shabbat songs and prayers with Cantor Daniel Singer and Rabbi Samantha Natov. At Shabbat and holidays, children learn blessings, Hebrew songs, and holiday rituals. Parent involvement is not only welcomed but is also a part of the curriculum. Each Friday a different family celebrates Shabbat with the children, and there are classroom activities that include parents for every major Jewish holiday.
Families are also encouraged to participate in the synagogue’s Family Experiences, an array of activities and Shabbat services for families with children 12 and under. Young children delight in the interactive and musical Tot Shabbat Together service, which is especially designed for children 4 and under.
Music occurs in every classroom on a daily basis. In addition, each class meets with our music specialist once a week. Learning concepts are approached through music, often utilizing movement activities as well. Jewish holidays as well as curriculum themes are also explored through music.
Each class meets with our movement specialist every other week in small groups. Because children experience so much of the world through their bodies, movement is a tool that is used for learning, problem solving, and creative expression. All areas of learning — physical, social, emotional, and cognitive — are integrated into movement classes.
Every classroom offers the children the chance to use a wide variety of art materials to experiment, to explore ideas and express themselves creatively. In addition, our Art and Science Studio is available to all classrooms so that children can delve into an area of the curriculum in small groups with a rich assortment of art supplies. An art specialist or classroom teacher may facilitate this work in this extraordinary space.
Science is fully integrated into the curriculum. Children observe how properties change through cooking activities, sand and water play, and through explorations of the natural environment. In addition, children have the opportunity to garden in our outdoor spaces and may care for a class pet.
Located in a separate room within the synagogue’s library, the Early Childhood Center Library has a dedicated librarian who manages an inventory of about 3,500 children’s books — including fiction, non-fiction, and Judaica. All ECC classes have scheduled story time with the librarian every other week. In addition, teachers bring their classes to the library regularly.
Parents and ECC children are invited to use the library during regular library hours (1:00-3:00 M-F) to relax and read or to check out books to enjoy at home.