Friday, September 21, 2012

Dear Parents,
I would like to take a moment to reflect on my own appreciation for The Gan.
At The Gan we have many goals and hopes for the children.
A primary goal is a growing knowledge and understanding of Jewish values, and helping the children apply those values as they become confident, capable, young people.

As a non Jewish teacher at a Jewish preschool, I greatly appreciate the new school year coinciding with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
In the midst of new transitions and routines, new friends and new toys to learn and play with,
we begin the year with these values and ideas which frame the way we as teachers interact with the children, and how we encourage the children to speak and interact with each other.

Rosh Hashanah calls us to think of the sweet blessings in our lives.
For the children those blessings may be the toys they have, the snacks in their lunch, moms and dads.
We begin our year together thinking about all we have, and all we can be grateful for.
This conversation continues and deepens as the year progresses.
As we learn about Yom Kippur we look at all the sweet things WE can do for others.
How can we be sweet, helpful classmates and friends?
Morah Katie: If you see a friend who is looking sad, what can YOU do?
Kian: Share my toys.
Tori: Ask them what I can do.
Morah Katie: If you see a friend who is looking angry, what can YOU do?
Noah: Try to share with them, or give back what someone took from them.
Josiah: Ask them to play with me..
Morah Katie: Those are very kind things to do, we can ask them what made them angry and help them find a solution.
In addition to friends comforting friends, other acts of kindness and helping occur in the classroom daily.  
We can help sweep up crumbs.
We can share and play together.
We can help put toys away.
We begin this conversation at the beginning of new school year, yet we discuss it daily looking for opportunities to help others.

As we look forward to preparing for Sukkot, we will discover it is a celebration of unity. The 4 plants, (Lulav, Etrog, Hadas and Arava, which you will be hearing more about when they are introduced in the classroom), are all different, but when gathered together are used for a blessing.
It is when all the different children at the Gan come together that the wonder and truly amazing moments occur. For example when one child sees a friend struggling over a puzzle becoming frustrated, she offers to help because she is a "puzzle master".
Working together they share the joy of overcoming the challenge.
These moments of caring and concern enhance the overall experience for all the children.

One of the reasons the new academic year begins so smoothly is because the older children are guides for the younger children. Our returning friends gladly help the new and younger children learn the routines and expectations of the classroom community.
When we walk to the playground, our older friends hold the hands of their younger friends.
Everyone can contribute to prepare for a shared meal.
We have different abilities and  ideas, but we can all come together to create a map, a plan, a reality.
We sing and pray together, play and learn together.
Together we create the amazing place called the Gan.

The holidays help to establish the foundation of our classroom.
We have talked about all the wonderful things Hashem has given us; we have seen how we can be our best self by helping others and treating others with kindness; we know that Hashem is always with us, protecting and guiding us as we reach the goal of becoming a better Me.
Because of this foundation, the children can express themselves knowing they will be valued and respected; that each of them have an important role, and without them the Gan would not be the place it is.
Because of what The Gan is, these children can flourish and soar as they reach their goals and help to make the world around them a better place.

Morah Katie

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