FIELD SCHOOL

What a joyous place to learn and grow! Here, every child is treasured for exactly who they are, and educators partner with children to grow skills for compassionate dialogue and Jewish literacy. Every day here ignites children’s agency and choice: to give and receive, collaborate, grapple with Jewish text and ideas, challenge themselves and each other, and feel confidence and pride. Through it all, the structure of our days remains constant, offering children a reliable, warm, and caring environment in which they thrive. “It’s the easiest day to get out of the house in the morning,” a parent said. “My child loves coming here after school!”

Many ways
to be Jewish.

The Field School is a vibrant place. Children’s Jewish learning is fully entwined with their own burning questions about themselves and the world; they’re grappling with questions that matter to them. Children dive into Jewish text with friends, wrestling with ideas and nurturing new insights into existence through clay, blocks, dance, dialogue, and a hundred other “languages.” Children’s in-depth, long-term projects spark collective reimagining of Judaism and children alike. Here, children experience the power and humility of knowing that their voice matters.

Programs.

FULL SERVICE AFTERSCHOOL

Sessions offered Monday – Thursday afternoons, for children in nursery through high school. Children explore Judaism, Jewish texts, and Hebrew language through play, creative arts, music, construction, science, stories, games, and more! Infants and toddlers attend sessions with a parent or caregiver on Sunday mornings. After school transportation from local schools available. Sessions include snack, quiet time, physical play, Hebrew learning, and Jewish exploration. Children in kindergarten and older attend at least two sessions/week. Jewish Enrichment Special Days and Camp is offered on parent-teacher conference days and at the end of the summer. Interested in learning more? Review our age-based groupings and session days /times or peruse our downloadable 2024-2025 enrollment packet.

Shalom Chaverim
(“Welcome, Friends!”)

Stories, singing, arts, playing, and more. Our youngest children explore Judaism through the textures, sounds, sights, smells, and rhythms of the Jewish year. Shalom Chaverim meets on Sunday mornings.

Shorashim—Anafim
(“Roots—Branches”)

​​Nursery – 5th grade children develop Jewish literacy through long-term, project-based exploration of Jewish ideas and Hebrew language. As they grow, children continue to acquire greater independence in projects, materials, and sources.

Arazim
(“Cedar Trees”)

Middle and High School youth choose from weekly study groups, leadership programming, volunteering, and more! Past study groups have explored Jewish holiday celebrations and biblical archaeology.

You belong here!

Our community is made up of many different kinds of families. We celebrate the unique backgrounds, stories, and perspectives of each family in our program, and we know that each member of a child’s family is an essential part of that child’s growth, learning, and identity. At the IJE, you can expect to be welcomed and honored for who you are. If you are raising a child to be Jewish but are wondering whether you or your family are “Jewish enough” to belong here, the answer is “yes!” Please give us a call! We’d love to meet you.

“That was the best day ever. I was at the IJE ALL DAY!”
— Martin (first grade, age 6)

Family Resources

For enrolled families, log in to access our holiday resources, favorite songs, Field School directory, and more!

How we do it.

We believe that children are capable of deep, authentic Jewish learning from a young age. In fact, when their natural curiosity, empathy, and desire to understand the world around them is truly welcomed and engaged in Jewish learning contexts, children not only learn Judaism, but become creators and owners of a vibrant, personal, engaged Jewish story and worldview.

Rather than offering children “answers,” educators invite children to follow their curiosity into discovering their own Jewish interpretations and place in our ancient and ongoing Jewish conversation. The process – and the outcome – is that a child’s Judaism is fully entwined with their profound questions about life and their commitment to pursuing dignity for all people.

Comfort with the Hebrew language, and a working vocabulary, are essential to developing confidence in owning the texts of our centuries-old Jewish conversation. Hebrew is embedded into the auditory and visual environment and in the routines of our day, so young children pick up the language naturally. Children of all ages play games in Hebrew, often choosing how they would like to engage with the language that day. Hebrew is also woven into our physical playtime for younger children. During a daily “Hebrew time,” older children practice reading and writing in Hebrew, discover basic grammatical principles, learn key vocabulary, and master chanting a core set of prayers in Hebrew.

Language is one of our most powerful educational tools. We use intentional language to build children’s confidence; connect children with each other, Judaism, and the world; and to assert a belief that children can grow and master difficult skills. At the beginning of the year, each group collaboratively crafts its list of classroom expectations, and throughout the year, children explore what it looks like and sounds like to act and speak in a way that represents our shared values and expectations. By consistently using language in a way that validates children’s experiences, honors their best intentions, and supports their autonomy, decision-making, and capacity to take responsibility for themselves and their peers’ well-being, we help children grow into confident, empathetic community members. With encouragement and support, the children also learn to use language compassionately to resolve conflicts, build consensus, and challenge ideas respectfully and constructively.

Just as we believe our language matters in helping children take power over the learning, growth, and communities, we also believe the language of Jewish texts and traditions is an essential part of supporting our children’s authentic participation in the ancient and ongoing Jewish conversation, whether or not they are ready to begin engaging with the original Hebrew or Aramaic of ancient texts. We create several translations of each text we study in a given theme, ensuring that each child encounters a developmentally-appropriate translation that keeps as close as possible to the structure, word choice, and rhythms of the original. This helps children grow familiar with how ancient Jewish texts sound and flow, as well as supports a practice of close reading and valuing the interpretation of minute details within a text.

We value and celebrate the wide range of Jewish perspectives, beliefs, and practices within our community. When children share and discuss each other’s widely varying views about God, Jewish texts, Jewish traditions, or Israel, we create a community that represents our values of inquiry, self-expression, listening, reflection, and creative exploration. Exploring multiple perspectives in a respectful community strengthens children’s empathy and offers them more possibilities for shaping their own place in the world. We emphatically affirm and support the diversity of belief and practice among our community members, and our values are reflected in our use of language that honors a diversity of Jewish beliefs and practices as equal and authentic.

We use the auditory and visual environment to make our values visible. Our classrooms are designed thoughtfully with fabrics, comfortable furniture, and natural materials to create community gathering areas, a wide variety of cozy, flexible spaces for quiet work or rest time, and room to move around in, so that each child can meet their individual needs for noise or quiet, interaction or privacy, and stillness or movement. We offer an environment rich with Hebrew print and spoken words to support children’s familiarity with Hebrew language. Jewish objects and special Jewish books inspire curiosity and connect children to our shared history and tradition. Reggio Emilia-style documentation supports children in revisiting previous ideas and tracking their growth (and the growth of their peers) throughout a theme.

We believe that in order to develop an authentic, complex, and resilient Judaism themselves, children should see people of all ages living, creating, and transforming their own Jewish ideas and experiences. Accordingly, we design frequent inter-age group and inter-generational experiences. From the nursery children playing a Torah text with middle-school leaders, first- and second-grade children interviewing third- and fourth-grade children about their interpretations of a rabbinic text, and a visit to the middle school classroom from the local chevra kadisha (Jewish burial society) to talk about Jewish burial practices, inter-age learning is a frequent part of our curriculum. Children particularly enjoy getting to meet and interview adult community members, and this provides a wonderful opportunity to experience the range of beliefs, perspectives, and practices that Jewish adults have, as well as practicing friendly and polite greetings and thanks. Finally, by creating decorations for community celebrations, baking treats to deliver to other people and organizations at holidays, and writing thank-you notes to special visitors and people who help run our shared building, children spend time in and out of the classroom practicing building friendly and participatory relationships with the local community and other community members.

One of our primary aims is to support families in connecting with, celebrating, and sharing in their children’s learning. When children begin to explore a big Jewish question, their first frame of reference is what they have experienced with their family. The children’s home and family experiences are the starting place for exploration and discovery each theme. As part of our learning each theme, we invite immediate and extended family members to share their ideas, experiences, and questions with their children through interviews, letter-writing, and conversations. This broadens the range of perspectives and ideas the children consider, and also helps families connect with and participate in their children’s Jewish learning.

Each big Jewish question or moment of celebration is an opportunity for families to connect and learn together. We help grown-ups practice listening carefully to the profound, insightful ideas and questions their children ask, and support families in exploring their Jewish ideas, questions, and practices together. Through frequent communication with families and opportunities for participation in classroom theme learning, daily connections during our Shirah/Tefillah singing circle at the end of each session, and the Family Exploration and Celebration gatherings at the end of each theme, designed to help families discover and reflect together on their children’s theme work, we help children and families explore, recognize, and celebrate their own unique Jewish practices, ideas, and interpretations together.

WE’D LOVE TO MEET YOU!

Reach out for a 1:1 conversation with our Field School Director