Ruth E. Cohan Early Childhood
The Early Childhood program at HACS is a warm and nurturing environment. Opportunities abound for growth and learning in the areas of physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual development. The program:
- enhances the understanding of the total child; mind, body, neshamah
- encourages children to become curious, excited, willing and responsible learners
- provides satisfying Jewish emotional, physical, and cognitive experiences and achievement
Our rich early childhood environment includes activities in the areas of art, building, dramatic play, science, math, language, emergent literacy- reading and writing, cooking, music, sensory play and social studies. Our curriculum is based on Torah and all themes come from Torah; Jewish thought, knowledge and behavior is integrated throughout the program and our real life, everyday experiences.
Art is a major emphasis for young children, when a child must use his/her mind in concert with hands and eyes. Art involvement stimulates a child’s natural curiosity, improves fine motor skills, encourages cooperation and helps children discover that they can do many things. As in any kind of creative experience, the process, rather than the product is most important.
In the house area and puppet theater, children have the opportunity to “try on” the roles they observe around them. Social skills are expanded in this safe setting. This area will, throughout the year, become a store, library, beauty shop, restaurant, office, shul, etc.
The freedom of movement and expression of sensory play allows children to explore, discover and create, and helps them refine cognitive, creative and linguistic skillsets. The children use investigative and critical thinking skills as they weigh, measure, pour and mold different materials and discover what happens, giving them the tools to feel confident and successful.
Scientific thinking is developed through observation and experiments. New discoveries are made which relate to the natural world. Discussion and experience with planting and watching things grow, sorting, classifying, logical record keeping and other experiences with the five senses expand knowledge of how the world works.
Children learn by doing, especially in the area of math. Our early childhood classroom have collections of manipulatives, including blocks, to develop mathematical thinking; shape sorting, matching, counting, one to one correspondence, and simple addition and subtraction. Block building also integrates understanding of measurement, size and balance in addition to developing original ideas and cooperation with others. Children build the mishkan, the Bet HaMikdash, the shul, the school, cities, highway systems, large buildings, homes, or fanciful dwellings.
Language and Beginning Reading
Well developed oral language is essential to the process of learning to read. Children have an opportunity to tell stories in sequence, develop an original story, explain an observation, ask thoughtful questions, make adequate responses, and draw logical conclusions. Talking and discussion should be encouraged. Children should have opportunities to participate in dictation, book making, and charting. Children begin to gain an understanding that reading is exciting and related to what they and others say which is written down. Children will begin to see that letters make words which communicate thoughts to others.
The sounds of good literature must be anchored in the ear of the young child. Good literature is read and listened to every day. Children are able to look at books on their own, share books with others, and explore the pleasure gained from books. We look at Jewish books with the symbols of our people, we read stories with Jewish values, we learn about Hashem and about the important people in the Torah.
Cooking and preparing food incorporates learning in all curricular areas. Language is encouraged by labeling tools, describing tastes and changes in the properties of matter, making contrasts and comparisons, and relating school to home experiences. Through cooking, the child sees himself as a capable doer who can control and use tools for a purpose. The important concepts of sharing and cooperating are emphasized in a cooking curriculum. We bake challah, hamentaschen,fry latkes, sufganiyot; when the parsha talks about specific foods in our Torah stories (ie lentils), we cook those as well.
Music provides an enjoyable way to allow children to move, sing, clap in concert, and use instruments. Music also includes reading, math, and language skills. We daven daily with song and praise to HaShem. We learn to sing many brachos. We also sing fun songs and we dance to music and rhythm.
Our early childhood curriculum emphasizes skills of communication, cooperation, and getting along in our Jewish and larger world. It also provides opportunities for honoring our customs, and important historical events.
Perceptual motor activities provide for the emphasis on large motor activity which is essential to the development of fine motor control. It is also another avenue for creative expression as well as reinforcing auditory discrimination skills.