When The beginning of our academic year coincides directly with the High Holy Days, we begin in the midst of exciting celebrations.
This can be a wonderful, fun way to begin our year.
There is no better way to begin the school year than beginning with Rosh Hashanah. We explore many topics and subjects throughout the year, but our every day message is rooted in what the children hear during Rosh Hashanah, to be sweet like honey in the choices they make.
We immediately begin to emphasize that leaders are people who choose to act with kindness.
The kids move from thinking in terms of "when will I be leader of the day" to we are all leaders when we do mitzvahs and help other.
Our youngest friend Zoey is learning to sit with her best circle manners because all her friends are showing her how with their choices at group time.
We sing a song about treating others the way we would want to be treated.
Eli: I'll put them away.
Evan: I'll help you put them away.
It did not surprise us that Evan chose to do this kind act-his friends are kind to him.
Evan was attempting the ocean puzzle by himself. Kindness was shown as children gathered around to help him complete it.
In another instance, Ozzie made art for Evan and invited him to play.
Moments like this are why, it did not surprise us that Evan saw Eli putting planks away and offered him help.
Kindness is given to friends, and they give it back.
During Yom Kippur we learn that when we make mistakes, we know what to do-we fix them.
We design the physical and emotional environment of the classroom in order for the children to feel comfortable exploring and stretching their boundaries, even if that stretch is just a centimeter.
They hear the refrains, "accidents happen/ I made a mistake, that's ok/mistakes are for learning/I can fix it/what can I do different next time?"
Soon the kids begin to say it themselves.
Ozzie had tripped on the playground. Eli said, "Accidents happen, sometimes that happens."
He stayed with Ozzie until he felt better.
The "Day sky/Night sky" collage example was knocked off the table.
Moshe: Oh... I can get it. I'll put it here.
Spills happen all the time, we know with effort they are easy to clean up.
Emily had begun a sukkah collage. She realized she had drawn something upside down and was not happy about her mistake. Morah Jillian sat with her and offered some suggestions. This happened to be the day the Efraim was a guest in the class. He offered the wise advice: You can try again.
Emily listened, but was so upset at the time she did not try again. She took a break from the craft. She went back to it later, and gave it a second a try.
Emily: I am going to try it again. I think I know what I need to do to make it how I want it. So I want to do it again.
During Sukkot we learn to value each friend. Everyone has something to teach us.
Clive was climbing the train engine. He was finding it tricky.
While Clive was taking a break from climbing up the train, Eli had climbed up.
I asked Eli if he would show Clive what he had done.
Clive followed Eli's example and climbed to the top.
This exchange was awesome. Eli (a 3 year old) was able to share his knowledge and skill with his older (4 1/2) friend. Clive was able to see that he is surrounded by friends of all ages with knowledge to share. Clive tried something new, and discovered he could do it.
We hope to build upon this foundation to help our friends develop a love for learning and a love for learning from mistakes.
The children will be encouraged as they grow and become "a little bit better every day."
We will support them and stand by them as they stretch their comfort zones taking risks to discover what they are capable of achieving.