Established in 1978, Congregation Beth Elohim’s Early Childhood Center (ECC) is one of the most highly regarded preschools in the New York Metropolitan area. Our emergent, play-based curriculum is developed through direct observation of children’s interests and individual needs. The traditions and basic values of the Jewish culture are integrated throughout to strengthen our learning community.
The ECC follows the developmental-interactive approach to preschool education. Development means we base our curriculum and interactions with the children on an understanding of sound principles of child development. As for interactive, we understand that children construct knowledge and language through active, concrete manipulation of and interaction with the people and materials in their environment. Children learn best through the hands-on exploration of materials that are part of their immediate environment and experience. We seek to explore and develop concepts, skills and curriculum in an enriched, flexible play environment.
Our curriculum emerges from the children’s interests, ideas and experiences. Children have a strong disposition to explore and discover and are encouraged to become active participants in learning. An emergent curriculum builds on natural curiosity, enabling children to interact, question, connect, problem solve, communicate and reflect.
We firmly believe that preschool age children learn best through play. Dramatic play is an important part of each child’s learning experience at Beth Elohim. Through such play, children are encouraged to communicate and develop their growing understanding of themselves and their relationships. Through play, children access their world and develop important cognitive and social skills that facilitate their learning.
We are an inclusive community and are committed to maximizing the potential and participation of all types of learners in our classrooms. We believe individual differences between students and families are a source of richness and diversity.
Judaism in The Classroom
Children are introduced to Jewish religion and culture through symbols and stories. We introduce Shabbat and Jewish holidays in the same way we approach our curriculum, by making it relevant, meaningful, and accessible to young children.
The arrival of Shabbat is celebrated each Friday with the sounds, sights, and tastes of Shabbat in each classroom. The Jewish holidays, with their endless variety of songs, food, fragrances, and ritual objects, provide wonderful learning opportunities. Apples are dipped in honey for Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah celebrations include songs and latkes. Our Purim carnival is a big hit with children and spring brings creative interpretations of the Passover story. The school year ends with a Shavuot ice cream celebration. The basic values of the Jewish tradition are imparted through classroom projects.