Our Educational Philosophy
“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences.”
— Loris Malaguzzi, Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach
At The Gan we aim to inspire curiosity, creativity, & compassion in children in an organic way.
We incorporate best practices from a variety of educational philosophies inspired largely by the Reggio approach.
We provide many opportunities for the children to interact with materials so that they can explore; experiment and discover toward becoming independent and inquisitive learners.
The environment has been designed to support rich learning experiences and social-emotional growth.
The activities we plan, the way we organize the environment, select toys and materials, and talk to children are all designed to accomplish the goals of our curriculum.
Our school’s primary mission is to foster a love for life-long learning in our students. The curriculum skillfully weaves academic disciplines, along with Jewish values, into everyday activities.
Students learn to follow their curiosity, to think creatively, and to work both independently and cooperatively with others. Our goal is to create a vibrant community of children, teachers and families.
This is the most important element of the program, laying the strong foundation for academic learning. The children are learning to separate from family members and to feel comfortable in a school environment. The students are learning to communicate their feelings, needs and ideas in acceptable ways. They are gaining the confidence to express their ideas, collaborate and cooperate in small and large groups. Individually the students are discovering how to make friends, and how to appreciate different personalities. Differences of opinion, ideas or wants are opportunities for learning to negotiate, share and build strong relationships. Through dramatic play the children learn about the different roles people have in their family and community. As the children talk about their different interests, the teachers help them set up varied environments for dramatic play such as a doctor’s office, car wash, or animal hospital.
The walls are filled with the children’s work and written documentation of their ideas. In the beginning of the year the teachers are asking, “Is there a story or words that you would like me to write down to document what you are creating?” Soon it is the child who is asking the teacher, “Could you write down my story or how do you write….?” Speaking, listening, reading and writing are supported in each of the learning centers with books, tools and paper for writing, displays and intriguing materials.
Math is a language and a tool. The inquiry approach to math enables students to develop their own understanding of mathematical concepts. The children learn to recognize shapes and patterns, and investigate relationships among people and materials using numbers and measurements. The children begin to understand symbols as they document an interest, such as “how often do we hear the fire truck?” The children make a special mark on the paper to represent the fire truck noise. The marks are counted and then represented by another symbol, a number.
Development of fine motor skills and the knowledge of materials lead to greater expression of the children’s ideas. The teacher helps the children learn different art techniques and how to use the tools and materials. Children interact with natural materials, recyclables, clay, wire, paints, textiles and paper to make their ideas visible. The children’s art links the different disciplines together as they represent their learning and ideas in many mediums.
The curriculum starts with what the children are familiar with in the physical world and provides exploratory and investigative experiences to expand their understanding. Through playing the children naturally create their own experiments. A roadway built with blocks and ramps leads to discoveries about the speed of big cars versus small cars and how the incline of the ramp affects the speed of cars. The children are applying the scientific method when they observe, hypothesize, experiment, collect data and make conclusions.
Drama and Creative Movement
Children are provided occasional opportunities to act out classic stories interpret rhythms and express ideas through music and creative movement. Retelling favorite stories enhances literacy development, cognitive development and physical coordination. On these occasions, each child has the opportunity to write the script, direction the play, create the set design or costumes, to play a part or to be part of the audience.
Children are provided opportunities to participate in music by singing as well as using various instruments to accompany their singing and to tap and shake out rhythms and compositions of their own creation. They learn familiar songs as well as new ones. The teacher integrates music into her time with the children that relates to their projects, the seasons or their interests. We also have a music specialist come into the classrooms once a week.
Children learn about the cycle of growing by planting and caring for flowers and vegetables in our garden. Children collect twigs, stones and other natural materials that are used for projects in the classroom.
Children have daily opportunities to use their large muscles, including running, climbing, jumping, dancing, balancing, throwing and kicking. Outside, the children choose from various materials and equipment to experience spontaneous and planned games. Their small muscles are developed through play activities outside such as working in the sandbox with shovels and pails. Children enjoy stretching and strengthening their muscles while engaging in yoga with their morahs in their classrooms
Hebrew Language is incorporated throughout the day every day. Each week the children enjoy special Hebrew time with an Israeli teacher. They sing and dance to songs that are completely in Hebrew. Children will get to see their names written in Hebrew, they will create a book as they learn the Hebrew letters one at a time.