Early Childhood FAQs
1. What is your school philosophy?
JCC Brooklyn Clinton Hill is a loving and caring community that embraces all families. Drawing inspiration from Jewish values and culture, we are dedicated to providing our students with a learning environment that nurtures their growth, curiosity and self-esteem. Our aim is to provide opportunities for children to develop a lifelong passion for learning, to get to know and love themselves as individuals and as members of a caring, cooperative learning community.
We are a progressive school grounded in the philosophy that children learn best through play. Our lively, hands-on curriculum is developed through direct observation of students’ interests and geared towards reaching various developmental milestones. Through explorations both indoors and outside of our classrooms we engage children’s curiosity, imagination and their five senses. In partnership with families, we strive to provide opportunities for each child to develop cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally. One of our primary goals is to foster and facilitate a love for learning.
2. What are the qualifications of your staff?
Our teachers have degrees in education and related specialties and have years of experience working in early childhood classrooms. They are dedicated professionals who know that early childhood education is the foundation upon which all other education is built. They know that learning should be a gentle and joyous process that builds self-confidence and instills a lifelong curiosity to learn even more.
3. What classes do you have?
Three Preschool classrooms (Butterflies, Fireflies, and Bumblebees). Children who are between 12 and 24 months old will be in the Ladybugs class. Children who are between 2 and 4 years old will be attending either the Butterflies, Fireflies or Bumblebees class.
4. How do you characterize the Jewish component?
JCC Brooklyn is a pluralistic Jewish Community Center located in three physical sites-Windsor Terrace, North Williamsburg and Clinton Hill. We are inspired by Jewish values and ideas and we welcome families from all backgrounds.
A joyful introduction to Jewish life, culture and holidays is part of each child’s experience at JCC Brooklyn Clinton Hill. Children become familiar with songs, customs and stories to expand their knowledge of holidays and Jewish values. The joy of Shabbat is shared by each class together each Friday.
The curriculum at JCC Brooklyn Clinton Hill uses a framework of Jewish lenses through which day-to-day experiences become meaningful building blocks for identity formation and growing kind and caring members of society:
- Masa – Journey (Reflection, Return, and Renewal)
- Tzelem Elohim – Divine Image (Dignity and Potential)
- B’rit – Covenant (Belonging and Commitment)
- K’dushah – Holiness (Intentionality and Presence)
- Hit’orerut – Awakening (Amazement and Gratitude)
- D’rash – Interpretation (Inquiry, Dialogue, and Transmission)
- Tikkun Olam – Repair of the World (Responsibility)
Children of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are encouraged to enroll, and differences in their backgrounds are recognized and respected. While Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day (as well as other non-Jewish holidays) are not celebrated at school, please be assured that a child’s mention of any home celebration is always a welcome topic in the classroom and is treated with respect and interest.
5. What special activities do you have?
We have music class twice each week. Daily classroom experiences frequently integrate:
- Music and Movement
- Story Time
- Jewish Culture
- Sensory activities
- Introduction to early literacy and math skills
Our weekly Shabbat celebration marks the end of each week with special songs and challah. In previous years, regular visits from Israeli shinshinim (community emissaries) provided opportunities to explore Hebrew and Israeli culture.
6. What is your involvement in the community?
JCC Brooklyn Clinton Hill strives to be an active member of the Clinton Hill-Bed Stuy community. We believe that children need to learn the value of community service as an important first step toward taking responsibility for the world around them. In addition to collecting items for various organizations at several points during the year, we use local vendors whenever possible and welcome visitors from local organizations to teach us about their work.
7. What does parent involvement entail?
We view school and home as a united team. Our door is open and we value your ideas, thoughts and suggestions to help make our school the best it can be. We partner with families to fundraise for our community to provide free programs and events. We enlist the diverse talents of our parents to support our program’s learning initiatives and create educational opportunities. Parents are invited to assist with projects, class parties and celebrate Holidays – Hanukkah, Passover and Purim, as well as to provide cultural enrichment for families from all walks of life.
8. What is the daily schedule like?
Welcoming Time – parents say good-bye to their child and the teachers welcome the child into the classroom. Children select an activity from one of the centers set up by the teachers.
Morning Meeting/Circle Time – children review the schedule for the day: who is here, the calendar, weather, and other things that come up in their school life.
Project Time – children participate in a project relevant to the curriculum and developmental milestones, these projects may include art, science and fine motor skills.
Snack Time – we provide daily nut-free snacks such as crackers and pretzels. Families may sign up for a snack rotation to provide fruit or vegetables to share with the class.
Playground Time – children enjoy the outdoors in one of our nearby playgrounds and increase their strength and agility in a safe and supportive environment.
Story Time/Singing/Movement – children will develop a love of reading, music and dance during this dynamic time of day. They are exposed to a wide variety of books and different genres of music.
Lunch – children who stay for the afternoon bring a packed (nut-free) lunch from home.
Rest – we provide a dedicated cot for each child and ask families to provide bedding that is sent home frequently for washing.
Afternoon Activities – children choose from a variety of curated centers and engage in a range of activities such a building, dramatic play and sensory activities.
9. How do you get to the playground?
The Infant-Toddler class uses a special six-seat stroller and children in the Preschool classes all walk to the playground holding onto ropes with rings and wear bright yellow vests. Teachers bring a first aid kit and a cell phone. Safety is our primary concern, and whenever go unless all are safe.
10. What is the student/teacher ratio?
We follow the New York City guidelines for student/teacher ratios. For Ones — 10 children/2 teachers; Twos – 12 children/2 teachers; Threes – 15 children/2 teachers. Our administrative team is always on-site ready to assist if needed.
11. How do you support children who may need additional resources?
We believe strongly that home and school are a team and that we must work together for each child to be successful. Sometimes children need extra support in different areas. It is our mission to help a family get that support so that their child can reach their full potential. We happily partner with licensed speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and psychologists as needed. We support families with the EI and CPSE processes and offer our continued support. Families are never alone with this process.
12. How do you communicate with families?
There are two formal parent-teacher conferences conducted every school year. These conferences give you the opportunity to sit with your child’s teachers, discuss your child’s development in each area (academic, social and emotional), look at your child’s work and talk about any issues or concerns you may have. The lines of communication are open on a daily basis as well. You are given the email addresses of your child’s teachers (and the preschool director’s email address, too) in case you need to send a note or ask a question. We make every attempt to answer your emails within 24 hours. Emails and photos will update you regularly on what’s happening in your child’s classroom. All around school the walls are covered with children’s work. That’s another way to see how we fill the school day. Please do not hesitate to ask a question or share a concern, suggestion or idea. We’re a community. We look forward to hearing from you!