The first years in school are vitally important for establishing independent work habits and developing social skills. Both The Early Learning Center and The Academy’s programs are designed to provide a firm grounding in these areas, as well as opportunities for cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and physical growth.

Our classrooms are equipped with ample space and an abundant supply of carefully chosen, open-ended materials, including blocks, paint, clay, paper, and water. These materials, along with teachers who expertly guide their use, promote children’s active involvement and independence while also inspiring creativity and cooperation. Children use the materials to explore, experiment, and in the process, build a foundation in the academic disciplines of reading, writing, math, social studies, and science.

Because children naturally learn to read and write at different rates and in various ways, our approach to the development of literacy skills is eclectic and individualized. Teachers read aloud to their class’s daily- fact, fiction, and poetry- selecting from the wide range of books for research and reading found on the classroom shelves. Long before the children are able to decode the complex symbols that make up words, they develop a rich appreciation for books and an enjoyment of literature. As the children begin to express themselves on paper, their drawings become the basis for stories that are often recorded by teachers through dictation.

100_1314.JPGMath and science concepts are embedded within the children’s daily work with the basic materials, and become more complex each passing year. For example, children hone their understanding of volume while pouring at the water table, and their grasp of fractions and patterns while experimenting with unit blocks. Repeated use of the basic materials, in combination with informal lessons, gives children an in-depth understanding that goes beyond the memorization of facts and formulas.

Central to The Early Learning Center and The Academy are theSDC12773.JPG wooden unit blocks. Blocks, and the dramatic play that accompanies block building, offer children multiple and diverse opportunities to express their understanding of the social and physical world in which they live. From the early efforts of two-year-olds to stack and balance blocks to the dynamic communities of stores and homes built by The Academy students, the children experience a growing and vital sense of community. Working collaboratively to design block buildings, they learn to articulate and solve problems, to negotiate, and to cooperate.

Lighting of Sabbath candles.JPGUsing developmentally appropriate methods, children are taught many of the beautiful aspects of being Jewish. Judaic studies are embedded in all areas of curriculum demonstrating the unity of all knowledge. They learn stories from the Torah, about the upcoming holidays and how they are celebrated, and learn about doing mitzvoth and giving Tzedakah, charity. In The Early Learning Center, they begin to learn Hebrew words and songs. Daily, the children say a bracha (blessing) before they eat and drink. In the Academy, students are reading and writing in Hebrew while researching text based Torah studies.

We believe Art is a fundamental and natural part of the human experience, and that all children have a natural curiosity and instinct for creative expression. At The Early Learning Center and The Academy, art is an experience to be lived and shared and the process of creating art is the focus of our Art Program. The children “make art” rather than “do projects,” and the process of using art materials is the focus of the art program. Art is a daily activity in our classrooms, where children have access to paint, clay, paper, collage and drawing materials. They become familiar with the properties of these materials while they experiment and work. In the Nursery Program, the children begin to go to the Art Studio each week. They already have substantial experience in the creative process and are eager to learn about the new materials and techniques that await them. Clay and paint remain the basic materials used by the children, with new media introduced as the children are ready.   Art is heavily infused into our Judaic Studies as well.

SDC10046.JPGIn The Academy classrooms, children are placed in multiage groups. Multiage classrooms benefit students as they first learn from peers, and then have the opportunity to lead in academic and social areas. Our curriculum builds on the strengths, development, and learning style of each student. Each day, students work one-on-one with their teacher and in small family groups on language arts, reading, writing, math, and science. The benefits of a multiage classroom are multi-faceted. The younger children are surrounded by thinkers who are more accomplished in the subject at hand. The older students benefit as well, since acting as a guide and explaining how to do something requires an in-depth understanding of one’s subject.