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Preschool/K Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of Har Shalom PreSchool/Kindergarten? 

Har Shalom's preschool and kindergarten's beginning was in 1997, in a corner of the sanctuary with room dividers and everything on wheels. Each Friday, the teachers would roll the materials into a corner so that the community could hold services and Religious School in the same space. Our first class began with seven children, using a lot of "home made" materials. Little by little, we purchased Montessori equipment and now have the fully equipped Montessori classroom. We have grown to 35 families over the years and in 2009, a modular building was constructed for the Preschool and Religious School. 

Why Montessori?

Back in the early days, one of our teachers had training and experience with the Montessori philosophy. It seemed to be the perfect fit for a Jewish school. The holiday cycle makes for fun things to count (apples at Rosh Hashanah, candles at Chanukah, etc.). Sukkot comes alive as we give the children materials to make their own sukkah, and baking happens every Friday as each child makes his/her own challah for Shabbat.  The basic tenets of Montessori philosophy: independence, concentration, individualized lessons, and following the child all "work" within the Jewish context. 

What does the Jewish curriculum look like?

Since there is a Jewish holiday almost every month, we often have Jewish "lessons" to choose from on the shelves: matching cards for Chanukah in the language area, making Sukkot decorations in the art area, preparing apples and honey for snack for Rosh Hashanah, holiday books in the "cozy corner", and, of course, singing Hebrew songs about each holiday. A seder is held for the children during Passover, and the children do most of the preparation. Parents come in to help make matzoh balls, charoset, and peel eggs. In other words, the children learn Judaism through hands-on activities. There is lots of excitement in the classroom when holidays arrive.

Does my family have to be Jewish for my child to attend?

Absolutely not. We have had many non-Jewish families attend Har Shalom PS/K as full participants. We have gatherings of all families for many of the holidays and we find that the non-Jewish families enjoy celebrating with us. Prostheletizing is not a part of the Jewish faith. 

Why does the Montessori classroom have mixed ages?

Montessori philosophy embraces community-building, and the classroom is a microcosm of the larger community and the world at large. Older children help younger children; younger children have the advantage of watching older children read, lay out big numbers on a rug, and be mentored by their peers. The Montessori materials are multi-faceted. Younger children use them in a more concrete way; as they master the use of the material, they are then guided to more abstract thinking, such as language ("equilateral triangle") and memory games.

Why do you encourage three years in the same class?

The use of the apparatus in the Montessori class room comes to fruition in the third year.

Wed, March 3 2021 19 Adar 5781