Gan Shalom Early Childhood Education Center

Gan Shalom provides a Jewish education for preschool-age children based on a developmental approach to learning. The program is committed to strengthening family life through the transmission of Jewish values and traditions.

Geared for children ages four months through four years, the program includes parent-child classes, a two, two-and-a-half and three-year-old nursery school and junior kindergarten classes. Extended day programs are available for two to four-year-olds.

Gan Shalom, Temple Sholom’s premiere Early Childhood Education program has been in existence for over 34 years. As part of Temple Sholom, we provide an enriching and inspiring Jewish early childhood education preschool, which is based on a Reggio Emilia developmental play-based approach to learning. The program is committed to strengthening family life through the transmission of Jewish values and traditions through play.

“My wife and I were looking for a nursery school that would give our daughter a solid foundation – academically and spiritually.

We found both at Gan Shalom.”Barry Gork, Temple Member

Geared for children ages four months through five years, the program includes parent/child classes, drop-off classes, lunch and enrichment classes. We also have an extended day program available for parents to customize to their schedules, which operates year-round from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Gan Shalom uses a developmental approach to learning in which children’s play is viewed as an indispensable precursor to the academic world that awaits them. Children learn to be part of a larger group as they practice skills of sharing, befriending others, transitions and independence. During classroom exploration, children experience the freedom to experiment with new ideas and imitate different roles through pretend play, while incorporating Jewish values throughout their day. Our classroom environments are thoughtful and carefully planned to foster independence and confidence.

The Reggio Emilia Learning Philosophy

At Gan Shalom we also use the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. The Reggio philosophy is based on the recognition that young children are competent and capable and have many ways in which they can express themselves, and that we, as educators, must tap into those ways and engage the children in their learning. This means that projects begin with teachers observing and questioning children about the topic of interest.

Based on children’s responses, teachers introduce materials, questions, and opportunities that provoke children to further explore the topic. Concepts that we weave daily into our curriculum are: math, science, language development, creative arts, music, movement and drama. We also introduce Hebrew and Judaism by exploring and experiencing traditions, rituals and holiday celebrations. During free play time, children choose learning centers where they can problem solve, explore, and experiment.

Educational Programs

Parent-Infant and Parent-Toddler classes are held once or twice weekly (depending upon age) during the school year as well as over the summer months.

The goals of these classes are:

  • To enable parents and children to spend uninterrupted time together, fostering their enjoyment and mutual respect of each other
  • To provide a setting where parents and children may clarify their understanding of age-appropriate behavior and skills
  • To create an environment which will strengthen the family's identification with the Jewish community
  • To foster independence and socialization in a safe, accepting environment that provides appropriate opportunities for growth and development
  • To enable the child to gradually extend trust from parent to other significant adults
  • And to enable the child to practice and begin to master his/her ever growing skills of separation, socialization, and individuation.

Nursery School classes are held 3 mornings a week for 2 year olds and 3 year olds, or 5 mornings a week for 3 year old and 4 year old children. Classes are two and one-half hours long, except the full day Junior Kindergarten which is six hours long, including rest and lunch.

As with the Parent-Child Programs, goals include the continued development of socialization and independence in a nurturing environment, and integration of family and school within a Jewish context. Additionally the Nursery Programs help the children form a positive Jewish self-image and provide stimuli and opportunities for growth and development in social, cognitive, intellectual, and physical skills.

A typical morning would find the children:

  • Engaged in free play
  • Singing together and sharing their experiences during group time
  • Trying a science experiment
  • Enjoying snack time
  • Following through on assigned classroom responsibilities for the day
  • And creating projects related to the unit of study or upcoming holiday.

Children receive all readiness skills to assure a successful transition to kindergarten. The Jewish calendar cycle and holidays play an important role in the classroom. Shabbat is celebrated each Friday, with parents baking challah on a rotating schedule, with the children. Special holiday celebrations with families are scheduled throughout the school year, both during class hours and at other times. Hebrew is introduced in the classroom informally through songs and games so that the children become thoroughly familiar and at ease with the language of their religion.

The Summer Camp Program consists of two 4 week sessions. Sessions are 3 mornings a week for 2 year olds, and either 3 or 5 mornings a week for 3 and 4 year olds.

The Summer Camp Program is a continuation of our Nursery School Program in which the natural outdoor setting will be utilized to stimulate children’s awareness and interest in the world around them. Weekly curricular themes revolve around nature and the community, and the children spend a great deal of time outdoors (weather permitting). Campers also enjoy in-house field trips such as storytellers, the traveling zoo and circus performers. Children in the oldest camp programs are given instructional swimming once per week. For our younger campers and parent-child campers we offer water play in our wading pools and on the playground.

The Extended Day Program begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m. Children may attend a varying number of days per week depending upon the age of the child.

The Extended Day Program has as its basis the recognition that families can combine positive parenting with the pursuit of careers and/or education. We offer a nurturing environment, in a safe, well-maintained physical space, where parents can be confident their children are receiving a program that is developmentally sound and rich in Judaism. The program is a combination of structured morning activities integrated into our Nursery School Programs, followed by a nutritious lunch, a monitored nap, and a full afternoon program that provides time for children to explore different enrichment activities and continue the weekly theme.

Afternoon enrichment classes are held Monday through Thursday afternoons for our nursery children and Monday through Friday afternoons for our Junior Kindergarten children. Children may enroll in any number of days per week, as desired.

A variety of classes are offered such as:

  • Music
  • Hebrew & Jewish storytelling
  • Cooking
  • Creative arts
  • Drama
  • Science
  • dancing

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