Kehillah - community - is a strong value at the Jewish Enrichment Center. We set up the Enrichment Center so that children from across the community can become friends and value each other’s skills and experiences. We also want to make sure that the Jewish enrichment we offer is compelling to all of the children who step in our doors. Principles from the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education and from project-based learning help the Jewish Enrichment Center meet both of these goals.
Reggio Emilia is an approach to early childhood education which views every child as powerful, resourceful, and capable of making sense of the world. Curriculum emerges from children’s interests and questions. Teachers are co-learners with children. They set up environments rich in possibilities and provocations that invite children to engage in ongoing exploration and problem solving.
As children explore, teachers document children’s activity in pictures, transcripts, and videos. Teachers use this documentation to understand more deeply what children are grappling with and to help children reflect on their play. Together, teachers and children develop long-term projects, often in small groups, where children can practice cooperation, responsibility, and empathy.
Drawing on Reggio Emilia helps the Enrichment Center be mindful of many kinds of relationships: among children, between children and the environment they play in, children and educators, educators and parents, children and parents, educators and the larger Hyde Park Jewish community. How can children be resources for one another? How do educators support one another in continuing to grow as professionals? How are children using the materials available to them, and how might educators change materials so that children see new possibilities for play? How does the Center engage parents and community members in a meaningful way?
The Jewish Enrichment Center is a learning organization. We are committed to reflecting on our work and expect to grow alongside the children with whom we work. We’ll do our best to share our experiences.