The major goal of the Nursery program is to instill a love of learning and of school in every child. As we welcome our youngest Hebrew Academy citizens through our doors, we offer a program that incorporates a variety of activities to aid each child's growth and development. Staff members evaluate the progress of each child through formal methods at various points during the year, and informally on a daily basis. The curriculum and activities are adapted to meet the needs of each child.
Mitzvot and Hebrew Language
The children are introduced to basic tefillot, holiday times and Shabbat through appropriate Early Childhood materials - songs, dances, arts and crafts, cooking, stories, parties, puzzles, etc. We are concerned with the aura created in the classroom in terms of Torah and Mitzvot. We hope to transfer to each and every child in our Nursery group, a feeling of excitement, joy and pride in the fact that he/she is a Jew. Hebrew language is used in songs, games and daily classroom routine. Children are introduced to the letters of the Alef-Bet through songs and games. In addition, the Nursery celebrates Shabbat with a weekly Erev Shabbat Celebration.
Each classroom is equipped with at least one multimedia computer. Various computer programs are used in relation to ongoing curriculum matter. Students use software to reinforce and review materials being learned. Through daily use of the computers, not only do children have the opportunity to review in an exciting manner with immediate feedback, they also become comfortable with use of the mouse and keyboard.
Art work is a vital part of every aspect of our Nursery program. The children routinely “play” with paint and easels, crayons, clay, scissors, hole punchers, paste, glue and collage materials. The emphasis is on the process of experimentation and expression of creativity rather than the product.
On occasion, special crafts to reflect a specific season or thematic learning unit will be included.
Language Arts and Whole Language
Oral language usage is encouraged through a variety of Early Childhood media songs, stories, "show and tell", the tape recorder, role playing, hearing stories, telling stories, etc.
With the many educational toys and games available in the classroom, the children are encouraged to participate in activities that foster large and small muscle development, fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination.
With pre-school children, active learning is a sensorimotor component-moving experience involving listening, searching, feeling, and manipulating. Experiences in which the child produces some effect upon the world (as opposed to a sedimentary activity such as watching television) are crucial to the development of thought processes. The child's logic develops from the effort to explain information gained through active experiences.
The concept of whole language and emergent literacy is viewed as a process - not as a specific time when children learn to read. Children in our society are surrounded by the written word. "Print awareness" occurs much earlier than previously realized. Thus, within the Nursery classroom, the teachers utilize many devices which encourage the children to view the written word as a natural, functioning aspect of their environment.
Again, through the use of toys and manipulatives, we attempt to make the children aware of basic mathematical relationships.
Our readiness goals in mathematics are as follows:
- Counting numbers 1 - 10.
- One-to-one correspondence.
- Recognizing and identifying basic shapes.
- Recognizing and identifying basic colors.
- Copying and creating simple patterns.
- Days of the week.
- Time awareness.
Music and Movement
Outdoor play in our fields and elaborate playground equipment, circlegames, exercise, and nature walks on our large grounds are all part of our daily program. Children are given opportunities to use musical instruments to experiment with and to express themselves.
Teachers offer movement activities and finger plays for the children. The children learn (and often sing spontaneously) many holiday and seasonal songs. The children also learn songs connected with current social studies and science themes. In addition, they are exposed to classical music as well as traditional Jewish music.
Cooking and baking are an integral part of our Nursery program. Science experiments and themes are connected with current seasons, holidays, and social studies units. Measuring, observing the way matter changes and tasting are some of the readiness activities encompassed in both science and mathematics. Our readiness goals in science are as follows:
- Measuring 1/4, 1/2, and full cups.
- Understanding basic weather concepts; daily use of weather chart.
- Understanding seasonal changes.
- Experimenting with mixing colors.
- Planting and identifying plant and tree parts.
- Awareness of safety.
- Health and cleanliness.
- Investigating water; sinking and floating; use of sand and water tables.
- How matter changes (experimentation with cooking and baking).
- Appreciation of the beauty of nature.
The areas covered in this subject are:
- The Child - Learning and identifying one’s own name; Identification of parts of the body; Immediate and extended families;Different forms of family structures.
- Community helpers and Careers - The part the individual plays in society; Relating to what part the child’s parents and relatives play; Career exploration. Related field trips.
- Eretz Yisrael - Israel - Our special affinity as Jews with the Land of Israel. Famous places and cities in the land. Differences in culture including, dress and food. A “virtual tour” of Israel during which the children visit various special sites in the land. The children gain an appreciation for our special bond with the Jewish Nation’s Holy Land.
- Other People in the Worlds - Use of maps; differences in languages, customs, and appearances.