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1) What is your approach to early childhood education?
Our emergent curriculum is built on the premise that your child is a competent and capable individual with the potential to construct her own knowledge about our world. Our approach is inspired by the philosophy and educational practices of the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. We are guided by developmentally appropriate practice and believe that through the passionate pursuit of play, children focus on their interests and make meaning of their world.
Emergent curricula together with Jewish values provide the core principles of our approach to early childhood education. Our teachers serve as guides and researchers as your child explores through sustained project work--a process that draws on deep knowledge of child development. Literacy, science and mathematical concepts are woven into the natural work of the classroom.
2) What will my child have gained when he or she leaves the JCC preschool? How do you prepare children for kindergarten?
By the end of preschool, your child will be well-prepared for both the academic and social requirements of the kindergarten class. We place a high priority on creating a supportive community--learning to care for others, being respectful and doing good deeds. Our teachers provide opportunities that foster a positive self-esteem, including resilience, independence, appropriate ways to express oneself and empathy towards others. Each day, through our emergent curriculum and fine motor activities, we help to develop the early literacy, pre-writing and language skills needed for a successful start to kindergarten.
3) What is the classroom ratio of children to teachers?
For all of our classrooms, we meet or exceed state licensure requirements for student: teacher ratios as well as classroom size:
• Toddlers/K’Tonton - 9 children with 2 teachers.
• Three-year-olds--16 children with 2 teachers.
• Four-year-olds -18 children with 2 teachers.
• Pre-K 4 & 5 year olds - 10 children with 1 teacher.
In addition to our classroom teachers we have 6 floating assistants that provide extra help where and when needed.
4) How long has your staff been with the JCC? What is their educational background?
Our experienced team of early childhood educators is our most valuable resource. Many have been with us for at least a decade. Their professional training ranges from Associate to Master degrees. They are passionate about their work, they love our children, and are all deeply committed to providing an excellent early childhood experience.
5) Do you have to be Jewish to attend?
Children from all religious and cultural backgrounds are welcome to attend. We create an inclusive environment where we promote universal Jewish values of kindness toward others, caring for our planet, respect toward elders and the importance of caring for our community and for those less fortunate. We reflect Jewish culture by organically integrating values, traditions and customs into our curricula through music, language, literature, expressive arts, cooking, dance and play. Every Friday we share in the beautiful Jewish traditions of Shabbat, and our children enjoy celebrating Jewish holidays through a variety of activities.
6) What is a typical day like for children there?
Children arrive between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m., depending on their family’s needs. The day opens with an exploration period, when children play in interest areas such as art, science or a writing center, followed by a circle time and project activities. Then it’s time for outside play on our secure playgrounds; each age group is fortunate to have their own playground right outside their classroom door. We also have access to the auditorium and gymnasium during inclement weather.
Lunchtime runs from 12:00 to 1:00, including time for quiet play and a story. Some of our children leave at 1:00, while others stay for rest, followed by mid-afternoon snack, activities, reading or outdoor play until it’s time to go home at 5:30. We offer optional Enrichment Activities for our preschool children between 1:00 and 2:00, such as Cooking, Storybook STEM, Micro Soccer, Little Dribblers, Super sports, Red Cross Swim Lessons, Gymnastics and Spanish.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, our music teacher joins each classroom for a half-hour music class. Red Cross swim lessons take place on Tuesday or Thursday, depending on the classroom, for our three, four and five year olds. On Friday mornings, we all join together for a school-wide Shabbat celebration in our common room.
7) Does my child need to be toilet-trained to attend?
No, your child does not need to be toilet trained. We strongly believe that each child is ready to be toilet trained when and only when he is ready. We work closely with you and your child to reach this stage of independence, following your parenting philosophy. To facilitate the process, every classroom includes a connecting bathroom with private, child-sized toilets.
8) What is your sick-child policy?
We do our best to balance the health and safety of all our children with the needs of working parents. Essentially, we will ask you to pick up your child if she has any of the following symptoms:
• A fever of 100˚F (by mouth) or 99˚F (underarm)
• Any rash suspicious of a contagious childhood disease
• Vomiting accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, rash or diarrhea
A more detailed Health Care Policy is available upon request.
11) How do you ensure my child’s safety?
• Entrance to our preschool requires a swipe card.
• Anyone picking up your child must have your written authorization and an ID.
• We maintain qualified staff ratios at all times.
• All teachers carry emergency cards and any necessary medications throughout the day.
• Attendance requires check-in and check-out.
12) What is your cleaning routine?
All “mouthed” toys and tables are sanitized and air-dried several times during the day. Each evening we have a full maintenance staff that cleans and vacuums the entire center. In the summer, we close for a maintenance week to steam clean carpets, wax floors, and repaint classrooms.
13) How do you communicate with parents? How do you monitor my child’s progress?
Most teachers see parents daily at drop-off or dismissal. If we miss you, we’ll put a note in your child’s cupboard about their day. Of course our staff is available via individual conference, email or telephone for questions or concerns.
Twice a year, in the fall and spring, you will have a conference with your child’s teacher. The spring conference is an opportunity to see their entire portfolio for the year and discuss their progress.
14) What is your approach to discipline?
Children are not born with social skills; we feel strongly that our teachers be role models for positive social behaviors, this combined with redirection and positive reinforcement has proven to be very successful.
15) What are your rules regarding food and food allergies?
All food served at the JCC is kosher like, in keeping with Jewish dietary laws. Our preschool is nut-free (both peanut and tree nut). If your child has other food allergies, we adapt the classroom and class activities so that your child will feel included.
16) Are you accredited or licensed?
We are fully licensed by Early Education and Care of Massachusetts. In addition, our center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This accreditation process is very stringent with only 10% of early childhood centers nationwide earning it.