Welcome to the Temple Beth Sholom Foundation School Community. The early childhood years are critically important to developing deep value systems, positive dispositions towards learning, and healthy social and emotional behavioral attitudes. Our teachers strive to provide a meaningful foundation, within the framework of a Jewish setting, for learning and developing in a loving, nurturing and enjoyable environment. We are dedicated to the intellectual, spiritual, social, physical, and emotional development of your child. Our school provides an organized open environment in which children investigate their world at their own pace through play and discovery, in relationship with others. Children are encouraged to communicate ideas and feelings, and to work cooperatively, enabling them to learn from one another.
We are so proud to have earned National Accreditation as a program of excellence from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Gold Seal of Excellence from the State of Florida.
Our Foundation School Shared Vision: The Foundation School Community is built within a welcoming and collaborative environment where listening is key, thinking is visible, communication authentic and reflective practice on-going. As teachers we continually strive to recognize and actualize limitless possibility. Our Jewish roots ground us and influence how we live daily supporting our decision making and approaches. Our practice is guided by our belief that children are competent. We are committed to strengthening our deep understanding of child development and children's rights to constructively learn and grow in an environment that nourishes their spiritual, cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. We are committed to the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, making the world a better place. The importance of relationships is recognized as a thread through which the fabric of our community is woven creating strong partnerships amongst staff, families and children.
Relationships are a central focus in our program. We strengthen our relationships with children through our dedication to observation, listening, emergent curriculum development and conscious discipline. Teachers enrich relationships with one another through on-going reflective conversations, retreats, professional development seminars and meaningful daily interactions. We deepen our relationship with families through our commitment to open communication and by welcoming families to join our school community.
Our teaching staff is highly qualified to work with young children. Each teacher meets state licensing requirements to work with young children and our on-going learning includes specialized professional development in early childhood education and practice. Teachers have many roles in our school: teacher as mentor, teacher as researcher, teacher as scribe of children's thinking. Teachers collaborate as a team to develop a shared vision. Time is set aside for on-going reflection of their daily interactions and practice in order to inform their planning and understanding about meeting the ongoing needs of children.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY "Each child brings his own blessing into the world." Yiddish folk saying
The Foundation School is a family center. It is a place where community and the nature of the relationships within the community are valued. The Foundation School Staff is committed to supporting family involvement. Parents, grandparents, and siblings are welcome to share in the daily life of the classroom: projects, cooking, story time, holidays, Friday Kabbalat Shabbat and more. The staff is committed to insuring that every child receives a high quality Jewish early childhood experience that nurtures his or her spiritual, social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic and physical development while supporting the competencies that will shape his or her mind and disposition for further learning and growing. The curriculum is both stimulating and enriching. The environment is inviting for children, families, staff and visitors alike, fostering a true sense of belonging. This framework encourages the development of both interdependent and independent attitudes that lay the foundation for reciprocal relationships to form within the community.
Our staff appreciates that each child and family comes to school with a unique set of experiences, feelings and characteristics. We have a caring environment that respects the rhythms and time frames of each child. Our school setting encourages the development of strong bonds and lasting friendships. Respect for the individual is a very important value that guides our daily practice.
REGGIO EMILIA / CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY APPROACH The Foundation School staff has been studying the Reggio Emilia approach for the last six years. The philosophy and practice of the school is being informed by the work done in Reggio Emilia as well as North American Reggio Inspired Centers. We are on our journey towards implementing a Reggio Inspired Jewish Program.
In the Reggio Emilia approach, the child is viewed as a competent, strong and resourceful learner. Children learn to ask questions, catalogue what they already know and go to sources to get answers to their important questions. As children are valued and honored in this dynamic process, they discover more of who they are; they discover their skills and their needs and learn to work with others to create, imagine, design and process. In this learning approach children are not asked to fit into a particular mold but to define themselves and honor their true selves. This style of learning is very congruent with Jewish values because it honors both the community and values each life. The Torah gives us the laws of Kedoshim (holiness) and emphasizes how we should act towards our neighbors. This ability to love others grows out of our ability to love ourselves.
Through the development of an emergent curriculum, learning is powered by children's curiosity and teachers' expertise as observers and facilitators. Curriculum is built upon what children already know and are able to do. Teachers and children construct a curriculum web to map out concepts related to a topic or theme of particular relevance to children. Relevance comes in many forms. A theme may be chosen because it relates to our calendar, i.e., the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The theme of 'babies' may be a topic of interest to some children in the class because of the experience of their own changing families.
The curriculum web will map out the connecting of many themes throughout the year. Some themes will be expanded into a project. When a project is selected by the teacher and a group of children, it may take many weeks to unfold; a project, worthy of investigation, must relate to the child's life and have possibilities for concrete investigation and construction. The curriculum web is a way to connect ideas, to scaffold learning and to give concrete representation to the thinking process. It helps us to understand the children's development of wonderful ideas.
The documentation of children's work and progress focuses on the children's experiences, memories, thoughts and ideas in the course of their work (process). Observation of the children in Reggio indicates that children learn from each other and are stimulated by each other's work made visible through the documents displayed. When careful and attractive documentary displays are developed, children learn that their efforts, intentions, and ideas are taken seriously. Teachers are able to better plan based on the evaluation of children's work as it progresses. Our own Grace Sherman, as Atelierista (art specialist), will share her expertise with us and provide rich creative art experiences which will deepen our children's relationship with and understanding of different art materials.
JUDAIC PROGRAM Moral and spiritual development can be supported, nurtured and enhanced in a quality Jewish Early Childhood Program. The Foundation School program provides opportunities for children and families to make connections to their Jewish heritage through weekly Kabbalat Shabbat every Friday morning with Rabbi Glickstein, Rabbi Davis, Rabbi Pomerantz, Rabbi Morrison, Cantor Segal and Cantor Haas and our weekly Havdalah celebration every Monday morning. Additionally, when children construct their knowledge of self and family through Jewish experiences such as celebrating the holiday cycle, sharing the Torah through story, and engaging with Israel throughout the year, the foundation for building the necessary connections is laid that can lead to developing a sense of Jewish identity and the formation of Jewish values.