Youth & Family

Gan Ami Early Childhood

6 weeks – K4 Whitefish Bay & Mequon
More than a day care, more than a preschool, our early childhood education program helps children discover a joy of learning, starting at 6 weeks and carrying through to 4-year old kindergarten.
A little girl in a red coat is painting a piece of paper.

At Gan Ami Early Childhood Education, we are on a journey, or masa in Hebrew.

This journey is one we take in connection with one another – from the littlest infant to the most confident of K4 kiddos – from the newest and most nervous parent to the most experienced educators with decades of experience.

We know our most important job is cultivating relationships – between teachers and children, teachers and families, and the school and our community. This strong and beautifully intimate connection is deeply felt and treasured by us all.

Partnering with parents, we encourage individual development through shared experience. In this safe, inclusive environment, children can explore the Jewish values of respect, charity, kindness, and repairing the world, and celebrate Jewish tradition and culture among a diverse community of families.

Program Benefits

Infants • Toddlers • K2 • K3 • K4

If families are the soul of our program, our faculty is the heart. Their continued professional development enriches the classroom experience at every age. We make it a priority to attract and retain the best educators in order to provide families with the continuity of care and level of learning that they expect.

Our classroom teachers have the added support of specialists who design unique experiences for the children.

  • Art Specialist brings creative experiences to the classroom and in the designated art studio.
  • Music Specialist teaches music classes for the classrooms and hosts a weekly all school Shabbat Sing.
  • Gym Specialist teaches weekly gym classes for K3 & K4 classrooms.
  • Hebrew lessons for K3 & K4 classrooms with the Shin-Shins (18 yr old Israeli emissaries doing a year of service in our community).
A woman wearing a pink sweater.

Jewish traditions and values are at the heart of everything we do – celebrating Shabbat, Havdalah and holidays; saying blessings together; and noting God’s gifts to our natural world. In keeping with our values, every member of our school community is treated with kindness and respect in recognition that we are all created b’tzelem Elohim (in the image of God).

As JCC members, Gan Ami families enjoy all the benefits of membership. Parents engage with our fitness center and classes, arts programs, and family events. At the JCC, the entire family makes friends for life.


Gan Ami is rated by the State of Wisconsin as a Youngstar 5-star provider and has earned national accreditation from the Association for Early Learning Leaders’ National Accreditation Commission (NAC).

program details

Gan Ami Early Childhood believes children learn by doing. As children experiment with objects and handle materials, they make discoveries and learn new skills through play. When children leave our center, they are prepared to face challenges through communication, problem solving, risk taking, and exercising self-discipline.

Our teachers carefully prepare the classroom with learning opportunities in different interest areas. We plan child and teacher-directed experiences in art, music, science, literacy, cooking, creative movement, verbal expression and cultural foundations. Balancing activities — free choice/structure and active/quiet — helps foster responsibility, self-regulation, and confidence.

Our program is inspired by the approach of the schools of Reggio Emilia, where children are viewed as capable, parents are partners, and teachers are both guides and researchers.  Teachers receive training on this approach and parents are invited to ask questions and provide support as classrooms engage in projects and long-term studies of ideas and concepts that are connected to the interests of the children.

We are committed to developmentally appropriate practices as defined by the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC). We integrate Jewish culture and traditions into each classroom — providing experiences for the celebration of Shabbat (the Sabbath) and festive Jewish holidays.

We work in partnership with parents. Our center is open to family involvement and communication. We enjoy having families join us for lunch, snack, special days, and field trips. Parents are encouraged to share a hobby or interest with our children and an invitation always stands for you to read a book during story time or join us for Havdalah or Shabbat Sing.

6 weeks to 11 months old
Gan Ami provides a warm, nurturing environment for this precious time in your child’s life. Infants are given individualized care.

In the Infant suites, children follow their own sleep and feeding schedules. Creative sensory experiences allow them to explore their own abilities and delight in the world around them. Once babies transition into the toddler rooms, they begin a more scheduled routine to allow for group play and activities.

12-35 months old
Gan Ami provides a warm, nurturing environment for the exploration and growth that comes from this exciting time in your child’s life. Our youngest toddlers continue to receive individualized care, but as their independence skills grow, the group dynamic provides opportunities to engage in a variety of artistic and sensory experiences as well as beginning to learn about classroom routines. All programming is developmentally appropriate. The teachers support the children’s growing interests and nurture them through holding, rocking, talking and singing.

Preschool is a special time in every child’s life. It is a time for building relationships, making connections and exploring the world with wonder and amazement. The Gan Ami preschool curriculum is designed with the understanding that young children learn best in an environment which stimulates self-expression and self-discovery. Inquiry, the power of questioning, is a vital concept during this time that actually should take precedence over rote learning and memorization. Children need inspiration, time to discover for themselves and to delve into big concepts. Gan Ami teachers respect each child as an individual and strive to remain flexible with their curriculum and note the children’s needs, responding with changes as necessary.

In addition to classroom activities, children spend time each week with our school’s Music Specialist, Art Specialist, and Gym Specialist. Three year old classrooms also enjoy swimming each week in the Peck Aquatic Center and get exposed to the Hebrew language and Israeli culture through weekly visits from the Shin-Shins (Young Israeli Emissaries).

Gan Ami Kindergarten prepares children with the readiness and prerequisite skills necessary to have a successful elementary school experience and transition. Led by a certified teacher, the program’s primary aim is to enrich the children’s learning while simultaneously building their self-confidence in the academic environment and immersing the children in Jewish values, which reflect universal human values.

Relationship building is a key component of this year of development. Within the classroom, children work on conflict resolution, sharing, and sustained periods of learning and group work. Academic learning cements early literacy concepts, such as rhyming and phonemic awareness, and is easily internalized through stories, poems, songs and games.

Children are exposed to the written word constantly and explore letters, words and language in a variety of experiences. Counting and the beginnings of number operations are part of each activity, which ensures that the children understand that math is a part of everyday life.

Gan Ami believes that they key to long lasting academic and personal achievement is through the strong emphasis on social emotional learning.

Children acquire learning dispositions such as perseverance and responsibility by:
• Cleaning-up
• Keeping track of their personal belongings
• Beginning to communicate their own needs
• Getting dressed by themselves
• Being aware of personal hygiene
Children learn problem-solving skills by:
• Sharing
• Asking for help, assisting friends
• Practicing conflict resolution
• Exhibiting self-control
• Working on coping skills

In addition to classroom activities, children spend time each week with our school’s Music Specialist, Art Specialist, and Gym Specialist. Three year old classrooms also enjoy swimming each week in the Peck Aquatic Center and get exposed to the Hebrew language and Israeli culture through weekly visits from the Shin-Shins (Young Israeli Emissaries).

your family’s journey starts here

Get answers to your questions and make an appointment to tour our school, meet our educators, and learn about our enrollment process.

gan ami families are jcc families

JCC Membership is a key component to enrolling your child in Gan Ami. Families enjoy access to our state-of-the-art fitness and aquatics facilities and Gan Ami parents receive upgraded access to our premium locker rooms, free tennis, and extra discounts on fitness classes and personal training. It’s a total family experience you can’t get anywhere else.

Questions about Gan Ami Early Childhood?