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 individual needs. 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 at a rate that is most appropriate for him or her.
2. What are the qualifications of your staff?
Our teachers have advanced 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 what makes young children “tick” and are committed to the idea of guiding each child through the individual process of discovery. 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?
We will have one Infant-Toddler classroom (Ladybugs) and two Preschool classrooms (Butterflies and Bumblebees). Children who are between 12 and 24 months old by September 30, 2019 will be in the Ladybugs class. Children who are between 2 and 4 years old by September 30, 2019 will be assigned to either the Butterflies or Bumblebees class.
4. How would 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) as well as in pop-up spaces. We are inspired by Jewish values and ideas and we welcome all families regardless of background.
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 (parents always welcome!).
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 welcome 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 will be treated with respect and interest.
5. What special activities will you have?
We have music class twice each week, as well as occasional special visits and activities led by parents and other members of the community. Daily classroom experiences frequently integrate:
- Music and Movement
- Story Time
- Jewish Culture
- Science and Cooking
- Found/Recycled Art
Our weekly Shabbat celebration marks the end of each week with special songs and snacks. Regular visits from Israeli shinshinim (community emissaries) provide opportunities to explore Hebrew and Israeli culture.
6. What will be your involvement in the community?
JCC Brooklyn Clinton Hill strives to be an active member of the Clinton Hill-BedStuy 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 will parent involvement be like?
We view school and home as a unified team. Our door is open and we seek your ideas, thoughts and suggestions to help make our school the best it can be. A parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. We appreciate the diverse talents of the parents in our community. Parents will be involved in activities and projects in our classrooms and invited to accompany the children on any out-of-school trips. Parents will also assist with class parties to celebrate holidays — Hanukkah, Passover and Purim – as well as end-of-the-year celebrations.
8. What will the daily schedule be like?
Welcoming Time – parents will say good-bye to their child and the teachers will welcome the child into the classroom. Children will choose areas in which to play.
Morning Meeting/Circle Time – children will discuss plans for the day: who is here, the calendar, weather, and other things that come up in their school life.
Play Time – project for the day. All playareas are open.
Snack Time – healthy snacks are provided or brought from home.
Playground Time – children will enjoy the outdoors 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 their interactive time of day. They will be exposed to a wide variety of books and different genres of music.
More playtime – Open activities
9. How will you get to the playground?
The Infant-Toddler class uses a special multi-seat stroller and children in the Preschool classes will all walk to the playground holding onto ropes with rings. Safety is our primary concern, and we will never go unless all are safe.
10. What is the student/teacher ratio?
We follow the New York City guidelines for minimum student/teacher ratios. For Ones — 10 children/2 teachers; Twos – 12 children/2 teachers; Threes – 15 children/2 teachers. We also have additional student teachers, assistants and specialists in our classrooms. Of course, parents are always welcome, too!
11. How do you support children who need services?
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 work to help a family get that support so that their child can reach their full potential. We have wonderful connections with licensed speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and psychologists. We support families with the CPSE process and will accompany them to meetings at the Dept. of Education for support. We work with each family to find what support their child needs. Families are never alone with this process.
12. How do you communicate with families?
There will be two formal parent-teacher conferences conducted every school year. These conferences will give you the opportunity to sit with your child’s teachers, discuss your child’s development in each area (academic, social, developmental, emotional, and creative), 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’ll be 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 will 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. Our doors are always open to you. 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!