- Early Childhood
Dear Early Childhood Families,
We have had the most wonderful first few weeks with your children! It has truly filled my heart to be with them every day. I have always believed in the competency of young children, but this year has proven so much about our Early Childhood students' resilience, their ability to do more than we think they can and their innate love for learning. You should be proud!
While I am only able to pop in for a few minutes at a time in most of our classrooms this year, I know each room begins their day with children and teachers gathering in what we call morning meeting or mifgash boker. This daily ritual serves many purposes: to set the tone for respectful learning, establish a climate of trust, motivate students to feel significant, create empathy and encourage collaboration, and support social, emotional, and academic learning.
A greeting is an essential part of the morning meeting process and serves a variety of purposes; at this early point in the year, it is certainly important in ensuring the children know and use each other's names. However, like everything we do in our classrooms, it goes much deeper than that. As the teachers introduce the greeting they pause often to ask their students, "What did you notice?" This is where the sweet spot is! Where we get to encourage, multiply and build capacity for the children's developing understanding of how it looks, feels and sounds to be recognized, appreciated and welcomed as a member of a community, a kehillah. And how it looks to view their actions through the perspective of another.
I noticed how your eyes sparkle when you smile and say hello while wearing your mask.
I noticed you looked in her eyes.You gave eye contact.
I noticed you said thank you and said his name.
I noticed it made her feel happy.
As educators, we recognize that this type of social-emotional learning and community building is essential to creating an environment where children feel comfortable and safe. Morning meeting is experiential. It is less telling and more doing and, as such, it has the potential to lead to authentic learning of foundational life and academic concepts that stick because children see why it is important.
"What did you notice?" is a tool that can easily be incorporated into your experiences with your children outside of school and, like in our classrooms, can allow your children to think critically about the world around them and examine the choices they make as they engage with family members, friends and strangers. It also gives you the opportunity to share what you notice as you support your child in incorporating and learning your family values and expectations.
On the topic of noticing, I know many of you are noticing how much technology is creeping into your children's lives since March and perhaps even before then. Marthe Spizman and Lindsey Elliott, two of our wonderful JK educators and burgeoning podcast stars, recently interviewed Erin Walsh on their The Reflective Teacher Podcast. Erin is a parent, speaker, educator and writer. Through her Spark and Stitch Institute, Erin engages with communities across the country who want to better understand child and adolescent development and cut through the conflicting information about kids and technology. If this topic interests you, we encourage you to listen to Marthe and Lindsey's podcast (search for it on Apple Podcasts).
Another parent education opportunity you may want to explore is the Israeli American Council's free three-day virtual conference, Today's Parenting Puzzle; Piecing it Together, September 23-25. This event will bring together prominent Israeli and American academics, psychologists, social workers, thought leaders and parenting experts to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the psychological, social, personal and educational aspects of raising children today.
Wishing you and yours L'shanah tovah tikatevu ve techatemu.
Head of Early Childhood