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Discovering Your Ideal Early Childhood Education Program

March 24, 2014

By Rachel Greenspan, Early Childhood and Family Engagement Director

There was a child went forth every day,

And the first object he looked upon, that object he became,

And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,

Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.                                                                    

As Walt Whitman suggests, the wonder of childhood is something to hold dear and nurture.  Only in the last few years has the importance of early childhood education emerged as critical for young children.  Research demonstrates that through deliberately designed, stimulating environments, brain development in children can be optimized and the window of maximum opportunity is from birth to age three.  Furthermore, the research - from the early days of the Head Start programs to the growing number of preschools and K4 programs in the public arena - demonstrates that children that have benefited from quality early education experiences.  Results show these children have greater social and emotional maturity, have an increased ability to stay on-task, are more independent workers and overall have a better attitude toward school.

The benefits of providing an early education experience are clear, but the choices of schools can be overwhelming.    What differentiates individual programs, first of all, is overall philosophy and approach to children.  High-achieving schools, like our own JCC Gan Ami Early Childhood Education Program, clearly believe:

      • In the uniqueness of each child
      • Respect each individual child’s developmental path
      • That learning takes place through play and hands-on experiences
      • Children are encouraged to develop creativity and critical thinking skills
      • Provide the building blocks for individual growth
      • Build partnerships with parents.

By asking a few questions, parents can easily determine if the school truly respects each child’s uniqueness and his or her individual growth pattern. Then there are the practical questions::

      • Does the school have a written, developmentally appropriate curriculum?
      • Do the school - and the interactions you observe between children and teachers - suggest that the school is safe and nurturing?
      • Has the school built in programs to build community and community support among its families?
      • Is there enough enrichment opportunities such as gym, movement and music?
      • Is their evidence of early childhood expertise among the staff?
      • From a Jewish perspective, can you see evidence of a well-developed, integrated Judaic curriculum including values, holiday celebration and Hebrew?
      • And last but hardly least, is there evidence of fun, laughter, warmth and creativity?

The JCC Gan Ami Early Childhood Education Program strives to create such an environment and is a very special place where young children explore the world and imagine the universe. 

Come visit us in Whitefish Bay or Mequon -  You’ll discover the right place for your children!

For more information click here or call 414-967-8241.