We, at Torah Tots Pre-school are a Reggio inspired Daycare with emergent enriched programming. Through the use of educational resources such as the How Does Learning Happen Pedagogy we operate a comprehensive, child oriented-adult supported program with a strong connection to our Jewish affiliation.
CHILD-INITIATED AND ADULT-SUPPORTED EXPERIENCES
Our comprehensive and developmentally appropriate curriculum is based on the following principles:
· Project Work: In depth studies of concepts ideas and interests which arise within the group are considered as an adventure. Projects are children initiated and teacher framed.
· Collaboration: Children are encouraged to dialogue, critique, negotiate, hypothesis and problem solve through group work which promotes a sense of group membership and uniqueness of self.
· Documentation: Pictures of children engaged in experiences, their words as they discuss what they are experiencing, and the children’s interpretation of those experiences are documented and viewed as an important tool in the learning process for children, teachers and parents.
· Environment: A child’s environment is the “third teacher” and great attention is given to carefully organizing spaces for one, two, or three children. Documented children’s drawings, plants and presentations from a child’s outing are displayed as presentations of the dynamics of learning.
· Language and culture: Torah Tots values the richness of language and cultural diversity. Children are exposed to the Hebrew language and Jewish culture as part of their diversified educational experience. The children learn the Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew vocabulary and songs as well as a daily davening music circle.
The children are exposed to a Literacy Rich Environment, learning that letters have meaning, using letters to read and write their names, friends names and words related to the concepts explored in the classroom. The children use the Handwriting Without Tears program to strengthen their prewriting skills and to be fully prepared for JK.
Assessment is also an important part of the curriculum. Our staff consistently observes the children and their progress. The staff use documentation as a way to assess each child’s strengths and to set new goals.
INTEGRATING TRADITION AND JEWISH PRIDE
Lesson plans at Torah Tots are built around the events influencing the children at the time that they are being taught. Weather changes, special animal habits, national celebrations and holiday seasons all determine what will be brought into the classroom at any particular time of year. All these are laced into the general curriculum to allow the children to learn from what is going on around them.
During the season of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, when it is traditional to dip apple into honey and blow the shofar (a ram’s horn), we take the opportunity to make the holiday a scientific experience! The children learn all about apples, honeybees and how they make honey and about the different kinds of animals with antlers. During Chanukah, when it is traditional to light a Menorah in the home, the children learn about fire safety, firefighters and how they help our communities. This is the pattern that follows our curriculum throughout the year and provides the children with experiences that give them pride in their tradition!