Doing the Work of Becoming a Community

The beginning of the school year is always a very busy time, being in שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten) is no exception. In addition to the Jewish content that we are learning at the beginning of the year, we are doing things like learning new routines, learning each other’s Shemot (Hebrew names) and about how we can play together. All of these are part of becoming a learning community based on empathy. We are creating a community agreement about what we want our community to be like. Children in this age range may not be coming to us with lots of examples about what people in a community do.

There is a סֻכּוֹת (Sukkot) story about a group of children who come together to make a סֻכָּה (sukkah) that is exactly the kind they want. In the story, the children are learning what they are capable of and when to ask for help, they are showing up to help each other and they are using the materials for the סֻכָּה (sukkah) with care. This matches up with three big categories that we offer the children for what might be a part of our community agreement, taking care of self, taking care of others, and taking care of materials/ learning spaces.

We also built a סֻכָּה (sukkah)! The children were enthusiastic, they took turns, they helped each other by holding beams steady so they could connect the frame of the סֻכָּה (sukkah). We collaborated on the design for the decorations and tested out materials to use for the walls.

This week we were also offered a challenge to notice when we saw examples of children taking care of others (being kind). And wow, there were so many examples! At the end of our sessions we shared back what we saw, anonymously of course!

Here are some of the kind things we noticed that children said or did for each other during our time together.

When child 1 said, “I need help”, child two went to help them right away.

“Will you play in the סֻכָּה (sukkah) with me?”

“I bet I can split these fair and square.”

“This one (food) is for you and this one is for me.”

“Let’s build a סֻכָּה (sukkah) together!”

“Can I try to do that?”

“Let’s clean up together!”

“Now it’s your turn, I’ll be second.”

“You can use my scarf if you want.”

Here are a few more photos of the children playing סֻכָּה (sukkot):

I am really looking forward to seeing how שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten) continue to become a community!

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