By Laura Schiller
This morning when I left my son at nursery school, he was sitting at a table with several other three-year-olds in the midst of a leaf-art project. The children were gluing their fall findings onto construction paper, utterly engrossed in their work.
In another part of the room, two children were painting on one easel with big brushes, mixing gold and purple in large swirly strokes. On the rug nearby, a teacher read a book to a few children. Across the room, three children were sifting sand at a long sand table, laughing together as they used the sand toys to make “ice cream sundaes”. While each activity was in fact purposeful—strengthening fine motor skills, developing pre-literacy, and deepening socialization—everyone was just so happy and busy.
Before I left (after my hug and kiss!), I glanced at the Blue Room’s schedule of the day. After Free Choice time, the day would include a class meeting, movement, snack, library, open play, a special guest event (likely a visiting grandparent or sibling), and story time. On other days, the schedule often includes such “specials” as music, yoga, cooking, and science. And every Friday ends with my son’s favorite activity, Rock Shabbat, where the entire school community—all the children and teachers, the Nursery School Director Tina Lobel, and the congregation’s Cantor Bruce Halev and Rabbi Josh Katzan—come together to sing songs and dance to welcome in Shabbat. They return to their classrooms for blessings, challah, and juice. Families are invited to participate each week.
In 2015, Congregation Habonim moved to a new building at 103 West End Avenue. In the school’s current space, a sun-flooded window in my son’s classroom offers boundless opportunities for the teachers to connect their daily schoolwork with the world outside. With the fall foliage in perfect view, the children are now learning about colors and how they change when mixed together. In January, the children will use various materials to make bears that will hibernate all winter. In the spring, the children will paint with flowers. Although the Blue Roomers have only been in school since September, their artwork already hangs everywhere in the room and their friendships are tangible. On a Feelings chart on display, my son has placed his Velcro self on “Proud” every day since the teachers introduced their feelings curriculum weeks ago.
While the Blue Room is Habonim’s three’s program, the Orange and Purple Rooms are for two’s, focusing on children’s first separation and school experience, and the Red Room is the school’s pre-K program, which exceptionally prepares children for kindergarden. (My daughter, who spent two years at Habonim and is now in kindergarden, impressively learned how to read in the Red Room. She also gained early writing skills through the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum used by the Red Room teachers.)
I am deeply grateful for the early childhood education that the Nursery School of Habonim has given my children and for the opportunity for my family to be a part of this warm and loving community.
Admission for Fall 2016 is rolling.
This week Habonim is hosting an open house/ informational session on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 from 6:00-7:30PM.
Please contact the school’s administrator Roy Ramsey at 212-787-5347 or email@example.com to attend an open house or tour.