Academics » Early Childhood

Early Childhood

Our warm, welcoming and homey environment is designed to support the developmental needs of children: Cognitive, Physical, and Social & Emotional. Through these areas of development children gain the lifelong skills needed to succeed in grade school and beyond. We consider both our learning environments (indoors and outdoors) as the “third teacher”. Our environment is dynamic and changes based on the children’s needs, interests as an individual, interests as a group, and curriculum.

Our unique and innovative Outdoor Classroom allows children to extend their indoor learning alongside with practicing their motor skills. It invites them to engage in varied motion and tactile experiences.

Our Early Childhood Philosophy is Jewish, Open-Ended, and Play-Based.

Judaism/Hebrew - The goal of the Jewish Studies component is to foster a love and excitement for Jewish learning, living, and to inspire  a connection to Israel. We design our curriculum based on the Jewish calendar and the seasons. We meticulously plan and create an open-ended environment that promotes and encourages exploration and learning in multiple areas of study. These areas include General, Jewish, and Israeli studies. We teach about the Jewish holidays and include the stories, the symbols, and the songs that characterize each. In our Jewish curriculum we combine Tefilot, Brachot, Parashat Hashavua, and the Shabbat celebration. Our dual language curriculum is taught in both English and Hebrew. The children gain a deeper understanding of Jewish traditions, customs, and Israeli culture through play in an open-ended environment. Through the learning of Mitzvot, Jewish values, and Kavod (respect and concern for others), students will cultivate a stronger Jewish identity.

Open Ended - In our environment we incorporated natural and basic materials that encourage students to wonder and ask questions. We are facilitating the children’s learning by providing them with materials that spur their curiosity and encourage them to use their senses while exploring and investigating. These materials are accessible for them in their surroundings and can be used in endless ways, both indoors and outdoors. Open-ended material can be a rock, twigs, dirt, clay, egg cartons, magnets, boxes, and so much more. By engaging children with these types of materials we promote creativity and imagination. Moreover, this helps improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills across a range of ages, interests, and developmental stages. Through these materials we also teach children math, literacy, and science which supports their development of cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills.

Play-Based - Through playing and sensory experiences, we guide and support the students as they fine tune seven essential lifelong developmental skills and begin exploring the conceptual worlds of math, science, and literacy.

The seven skills that we help promote in children are: 

  1. Focus and Self-Control - The children practice various executive functions of the brain such as paying attention, recognizing, and following the rules. They work on managing frustrations or distractions while attempting to reach for a larger goal.
  2. Perspective Taking - The children learn to inhibit their own thoughts and feelings to consider the perspectives of others. They practice cognitive flexibility, reflection, and the ability to interpret situations in different ways. Furthermore, they learn to consider and understand someone else’s thinking alongside our own. 
  3. Communicating - Children build new relationships and maintain old ones. They learn to recognize, interpret, and make associations from social cues in various forms of interaction.
  4. Making Connections and Associations- Physically, the children practice disassembling and recombining assorted elements in new ways. Cognitively, they make advances in memorizing, sorting, categorizing, and developing mental flexibility.  In addition to the wide variety of materials and environments we provide for the children to explore, we nourish their creative capacities through art, music, and physical experiences.
  5. Critical Thinking - Our Early Childhood teachers encourage the children to employ reasoning used in the scientific method, which involves developing, testing, and refining theories about “what causes what” to happen.
  6. Taking on Challenges - We teach children to cope with or tolerate any unexpected or unwanted challenges. We help them see their abilities as something they can improve or adjust to help them perform better in school and grow their mindset.
  7. Self-Directed, Engaged Learning - Our goal is to foster children's motivation so they can grow to be part of a community of social learners.

Our Early Childhood Curriculum is: Emergent Curriculum

Emergent Curriculum emphasizes the process rather than the product.

In generating their lesson plans, our teachers take into account all they know about individuals and the group of children in their classrooms. They take into consideration the children’s abilities, needs, and interests.Teachers observe the children’s curiosity in action, reflect on their observations, and constantly generate fresh directions and materials to enhance and reconstruct the children’s learning experience and comprehension. This method of teaching is somewhat cyclical and is called an Emergent Curriculum. Each year is different from the previous year based on the children’s characters, abilities, and dynamics of the classroom. In essence, the learning is child driven and teacher directed.

To schedule a tour and learn more about our Early Childhood program, please contact admissions@sphds.org

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