The Jewish Preschool of Lexington

At the Chabad Center of Lexington

Curriculum - School Year 2020/2021

INTRODUCTION

The Jewish Preschool of Lexington (JPL) follows state guidelines and creates a learning calendar for the school year as the core for its curriculum. Below is a brief description of both. Although the guidelines do not change, the themes and units changes every year or two. We invite you to participate in the programs, and we welcome your comments, your help, and your support.

 State Educational Guidelines
JPL follows The Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences established by The Massachusetts Department of Education. The Guidelines are designed to ensure that young children participate in a multitude of learning experiences, which provide the foundation for all future learning. The Guidelines include the following content areas: English and Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, History and Social Science, Social and Emotional Health, and The Arts. Using the Guidelines, the teachers create an exciting, all-encompassing curriculum that helps our students develop the skills and knowledge needed to become effective and successful learners. Using multiple teaching strategies, the content areas are integrated into curriculum planning, in order to meet the individual needs and learning styles for each child. A Parent’s Guide to the Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences is available at our school.

Implementing the curriculum

Teachers, as a team and within their respective class, develop curricular units for the ages of the children in the class; we call this “spiraling curriculum”. Each subject we introduce is explored in many ways…teachers call this a “curriculum web.” As teachers of young learners, we always keep in mind that the children are our best judges. If we see that they have great interest in a certain curricular unit we do not hesitate to expand it. Likewise, if they do not show enough interest in a planned unit we shorten or adapt it. A visiting spider in the classroom or piqued interest in a book is sometimes enough to create a new unit of study on the spot! In a play based program, the foundational skills are explored in everyday activities. Through observation, exploration, naturally occurring opportunities, small focused groups and learning centers, children are exposed to written language, mathematics, science and literacy. Our classrooms are print rich and books are always available for enjoyment and learning about the world around us. We follow each child’s lead in learning style and individual needs. A “cross curriculum” approach means whether the subject is hibernation or Hanukkah, children are invited to explore math, language arts, science, Hebrew, Israel, and social skills.

Implementing the curriculum

Teachers, as a team and within their respective class, develop curricular units for the ages of the children in the class; we call this “spiraling curriculum”. Each subject we introduce is explored in many ways…teachers call this a “curriculum web.” As teachers of young learners, we always keep in mind that the children are our best judges. If we see that they have great interest in a certain curricular unit we do not hesitate to expand it. Likewise, if they do not show enough interest in a planned unit we shorten or adapt it. A visiting spider in the classroom or piqued interest in a book is sometimes enough to create a new unit of study on the spot! While each team develops goals, objectives, and activities appropriate for the developmental level of their children, we are mindful that each child is an individual learner with his/her own learning styles and interests.

Family Programs

Over the course of the school year JPL provides families with opportunities to further their understanding and learning in both child development and in Jewish education. Our sources  vary from outside experts in the field of early childhood education, to in-house educators: our Rabbi and our teachers. To enhance our curriculum, we also have various programs for our families, including our hallmark parent/child Learn Together activities. A Calendar of Events will include information.

Grants and Special Education

“Gateways” is an organization funded by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP,) whose mission is to enable Jewish children with special needs to receive a Jewish education. We are very proud to take part in this initiative and over the course of the past 5 years we have received grants to train and support staff and families, as well as provide for some in-class help. These grants are in the form of hours provided by Gateways staff and they are crucial in helping us provide for some services and teacher training. This collaboration positively impacts our ability to support children’s different learning styles and individual needs.

Educators at JPL are trained in child development and understand the wide range of typically developing skills in young children. By carefully observing each child in a variety of settings and situations, “red flags” may be followed up by working with the child’s family. JPL works with Gateways and the child’s hometown SPED (Department of Special Education) to bring in consultants to observe, make recommendations, and if appropriate, schedule further testing. This helps educators provide the best approach to each individual child.

Judaic Guidelines

At JPL we meet more than just the Guidelines established by the State; we created an elaborate, well thought-out, and an enriching Judaic curriculum. We strive to meet Standards of Excellence as established by the Bureau of Jewish Education in the 1990’s. The BJE crowned the achievements of these standards with an honorable Magen Hagan Accreditation Award. We were one of the first five schools to receive the award in 2004 and were re-accredited in May of 2009 through a rigorous assessment process. Although BJE no longer exists, Hebrew College has created a Department of Early Childhood Jewish Education. Our teacher are involved in workshops, courses, and certification through Hebrew College.

We celebrate the rhythm of the Jewish year by celebrating  holidays and life cycle events through creative activities, music, literature and the scope of the JPL curriculum. Our children also begin the day with a short prayer (t’fillot) and say blessings (b’rachot) before snack and lunch.

Torah time and Shabbat

Every Friday, prior to our Shabbat party, the children gather to hear the weekly Torah Story (Parashah). Told by our talented staff, and using special props prepared by one of our creative staff members, the main ideas of the weekly portion will come to life every Friday. Parents are welcome to join us for the weekly program and join us for Shabbat party. All JPL children and teachers come together to celebrate Shabbat with candle lighting, grape juice, challah, stories and songs. We often celebrate a child’s birthday on Shabbat where they are the Ima or Aba (Mommy or Daddy) Shabbat, help lead blessings, and share a birthday cake with the class.

Hebrew Language

Hebrew is yet another component of our daily learning. We have a rich selection of educational materials, games, books, and music from Israel. Teachers integrate as much as they can into the daily routine (snack, circle, etc.) Using props, music, stories, and songs, Hebrew language enrichment programs happen in conjunction with the various holidays and curricular units. The amount of Hebrew used in the classroom changes from year to year, and depends on the age of the children and their command of language they already possess. Our lead teachers have taken a Hebrew Language program at Hebrew College. They look forward to integrating their acquired knowledge into the classrooms and to continuing their efforts to become more competent in their use of Hebrew through staff training and workshops as well as the support of Hebrew speaking staff. We also invite parents to join their child’s class to read a favorite book or teach a song in Hebrew. While we strive to incorporate Hebrew into the school day, we also support children who are coming to us as primarily Hebrew (or other language) speakers as they learn English in the school setting.

Enrichment Programs & JPL Library

Enrichment programs supplement our weekly activities: 

  • Movement with Angela: every week each class enjoys 30 or 45 minutes of creative movement in our gym, designed to be developmentally appropriate for each age group. Angela is also able to integrate individual gross motor needs. The class also includes Israeli Dancing.
  • Sports program – Hero KidsSports (winter sessions) Hero Kids Sports is a sports program designed for all ages and levels of physical skill. They provide us with contracted programs of 6 weeks of introduction to team sports such as soccer and basketball, while teaching good sportsmanship and fun. 
  • Story Time – Sh’at Sippur: JPL’s has an extensive library, complemented by “PJ Library” book grant, will provide an opportunity for weekly library sessions where children will hear stories in English and Hebrew. 
  • JPL has a large selection of childrens’ books in every room: science books, concepts (colors, shapes, letters, math, etc.) storybooks, social studies/history, and Judaic books. In the school office you can also find a selection of books on child development. Parents are welcome to borrow books from the child-development section. The teachers also make use of town libraries to complement our own.

Additional enrichment programs for our school are very welcome. Parents are invited to suggest ideas and provide sponsorship in honor of a birthday, a grandparent visit, or another special milestone.

Some Enrichment activities we have had in the past include:

  • Traveling Trunk Show – Fall and Spring performances by Tufts University Theater Troupe 

  • Visiting Farm Animals

  • Turtle’s New Home - a puppet show by Deborah Costine

  • World Full of Flutes – Woodwind musical show and performance 

  • Rainforest Reptile Show –Live Animal Show

     

Boston-Haifa Early Childhood Educators Collaborative

JPL has been a very proud member of the Boston-Haifa Early Childhood Educators Collaborative for  over 15 years. This partnership, originally initiated by the BJE, has been supported for the past several years by Hebrew College and CJP. Some of the goals for this collaborative are to maintain contact with early childhood professionals in Israel, exchange information, and share resources. Our teachers have opportunities to meet and learn with other local early childhood professionals who are also members of this collaborative. We have reaped many benefits from this partnership, including joint learning sessions, hosting visiting professionals, exploring different learning approaches, exchanging materials, resources, and ideas. The overriding goal is to integrate Israel into our classrooms on a regular basis instead of just on Yom Haatzmaut.

 

Implementing the curriculum

Each Le      Teachers, as a team and within their respective class, develop curricular units for the ages of the children in the class; we call this “spiraling curriculum”. Each subject we introduce is explored in many ways…teachers call this a “curriculum web.” As teachers of young learners, we always keep in mind that the children are our best judges. If we see that they have great interest in a certain curricular unit we do not hesitate to expand it. Likewise, if they do not show enough interest in a planned unit we shorten or adapt it. A visiting spider in the classroom or piqued interest in a book is sometimes enough to create a new unit of study on the spot! While each team develops goals, objectives, and activities appropriate for the developmental level of their children, we are mindful that each child is an individual learner with his/her own learning styles and interests.

Parents will receive a calender of the topics we anticipate exploring at the beginning of the school year.