Educators in Jewish schools are challenged by a unique opportunity and a sacred responsibility – to provide a rich environment filled with learning experiences that underscore the wisdom, beauty, holiness and values of Judaism and Jewish heritage while maintaining a strong connection and sensitivity to the world at large. To such an end, our programs receive continual sculpting and redefining. It remains constant that our education at BJCS reflects a commitment to the premise that a child’s early years are critical for physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual development. Accordingly, we value the integrity of each child. Our aim is to motivate and challenge the student’s unique strengths as we help develop competence, confidence and responsibility with a social awareness.
We view children as creators of meaning – active learners who make discoveries from observation, exploration and personal experience. Children construct their understanding of the world through direct interaction with the environment – that includes people, places and things. BJCS teachers act as facilitators who plan for and implement experiences that help children move forward toward more complex and fuller ways of responding.
BJCS adheres to a model of education that is interdisciplinary and collaborative. Teachers use their expertise to provide basic skills and understanding while considering individual interests and the needs of the group. Learning activities are designed to move from the simple, meaningful, challenging and achievable to the more complex. The task is to engage children in activities that build on the known to master the unknown – allowing time for discovery, completion and revision. When activities are concrete and ongoing, each step of the task opens new horizons, piques new interests and provokes new questions. As physical development occurs, transition into higher-level abstract thinking dominates and allows both the educator and the learner to explore more sophisticated venues.
BJCS values the idea that Judaism teaches us to ask questions. We firmly believe that a good question is as crucial and as important as the search for a good answer. In each area of study, time is set aside to pursue questions and interests that arise as children engage in learning. This process invites students to take responsibility for their own learning. Children who feel invested discover the joy of meaningful learning and aspire to become lifelong learners.
BJCS holds a commitment to weave the fabric of Judaic values and traditions into daily curriculum. Concepts such as Klal Yisrael (community), Dor L’dor (continuity) and Tzedakah (giving of money for the needy) permeate lessons. Shabbat and the holidays present an important core of our Judaic studies. The Jewish life cycle and calendar structure many of our days. Hebrew as a living language – one that is used in conversation and song as well as in prayer fosters our connection and continuity with our community. BJCS is dedicated to supporting our parents, their families and the Jewish community in the sacred responsibility of strengthening the links that pass Judaism on from generation to generation.
Description of Classes
Mommy & Me
The BJCS Mommy & Me class gives parents and young children (usually one year and older) the opportunity to interact within a larger group and explore a new environment. By providing appropriate, age-level activities, the new “student” can engage in the most important work possible-“play!” He or she can test new skills, gain new knowledge, and engage in a variety of developmentally enhancing opportunities. With respect to the social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth of the child, the teacher provides centers that help the child move from playing alone to parallel play and eventual interaction and interdependence.
This class, designed for 3-year-olds, introduces children to their first school experience. The program is rooted in an integrated, thematic approach that encourages children to develop emotionally, socially and physically, as well as cognitively. Motivation toward active listening and personal best arises as the professional educator encourages curiosity and exploration. Children are introduced to beginning foundations of math, reading and writing. Science, art and music are presented as hands-on activities that often are interrelated. Physical education complements the program while daily Judaic studies reinforce traditional Jewish values. The beginning of individual and social awareness arises when students here begin to contend with natural and logical consequences.
This five-day program is designed for 4-and 5-year-olds who are eligible to enter Kindergarten in the following year. Keenly aware of each child’s rate of development, the teacher provides children with a Pre-K foundation in phonics, math, writing and science in a learning-rich, hands-on environment. With a focus on individual needs as well as group participation, the teacher encourages confidence and independence. Introductory Hebrew language instruction and Judaic studies are integrated into the day. Music, art and physical education further round out the program in order to provide sound, developmentally appropriate opportunities.
Our Kindergarten program is designed to meet the standards of Florida Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACSCASI). Excellence in all academic areas is reached through emphasis on “personal best,” recognition of areas of strength, and areas for growth, and engagement in appropriately challenging tasks that motivate the learner. Concentration on the emotional, social, physical and spiritual development, as well as the intellectual development helps the learner understand that he or she is a person that is a sum total greater than just one part. Judaic studies reinforce a major underlying BJCS premise: that of becoming a mensch (a good human being) through interaction with Torah, Torah values, Jewish history and heritage. Our children engage in rich experiences that provide ample opportunities for doing Mitzvot (commandments, proper deeds) as they integrate general and Judaic studies.
Our First Grade program builds on initial skills and concepts that were addressed in Kindergarten. It further strengthens these concepts as it builds upon them to broaden the child’s learning horizon. Studies in language arts, math, science, social studies, the arts, Judaics and Hebrew evolve and often overlap to create an interwoven study program. Students begin to develop independency in reading, as reading at home becomes part of the daily homework assignment.
Second grade is a time of gaining confidence and proficiency with the written word. From reading speeches, to writing speeches, from giving speeches, to articulating them second grade focuses on word abundance that gives breadth and depth to our every day living. With complimentary interest in Caldecott winning literature and a keen eye for innovative school wide presentations and productions second grade affords learners the chance to go beyond their classroom and impact our greater BJCS learning community. Field trips to an Orlando Philharmonic presentation, various King Center plays and local parks adds an exploratory dimension to the year. Thus, while standards and core curriculum remain front and center tangential expeditions keep interest strong.
The educational philosophy for grade 3 is to continue to learn and enjoy! Each month book reports that explore themes that are either home or school related celebrate our lives! With daily writing, using narrative and or expository forms, written words share topics that apply to us directly or indirectly. They provide opportunities to extend vocabulary and writing skills. Scientific experimentation that reflect curriculum and state standards prepare students for first time entry into the Brevard County Science Fair process. This endeavor, a school highlight, is particularly exciting as it integrates areas of language arts, mathematics, science and sometime even social studies. With a nod toward comparisons and contrasts this year also looks at communities of today as well as of long ago. From there new innovative ideas and productions are given a go ahead for development. The classroom is continuously filled with student hands on designs! (The completion of student multi dimensional maps is quite a class favorite!)
Fourth grade students are engaged in community. Florida history and geography prevail throughout much of the studies. With special local fields trip particular to Brevard County and Florida in general students gain tangible feel for what it means to have a present and past. With guest speakers students learn why intergenerational activities are important. Community reigns strong-both of the classroom community and the larger local and state community. Age appropriate language arts, science and mathematics lessons integrate Florida lessons to varying degrees. Students learn that getting along is crucial as beginning leadership skills are nurtured. With an understanding of “younger helps older” students learn that actions taken on the playground must reflect the courtesy and kindness that are more readily used in the classroom. Community is the key word in fourth grade!
Our Fifth Grade class regularly utilizes abstractions. With the ability at this age to more fully understand and play with words and language, intermediate students extend learning into all areas cognitively noting when a particularly explanation are of symbolic, literal, and/or figurative. Math and science projects necessitate utilization of basic formulas and/or paradigms while providing opportunity for extension and application in cross over areas. Individual responsibility is complimented by “team” cooperative participation as different learning styles and strengths gain personal and group recognition. Judaica, Hebrew, music, physical education, media classes, etc. all stand as focal areas that broaden student learning.
The Sixth Grade student will continue having critical thinking skills. He or she will extend critical thinking skills in all learning areas in a variety of ways including ways that present a tangible product. Analysis of work and attention to detail focus student learning and production on carefully constructed and reflective finished pieces. Interpretation, identification and basic research skills will provide underpinnings for working successfully in each learning area. Continuation with participation in the County Spelling Bee and Art and Science Fair will provide opportunities for cognitive development as well as oral presentation. Music, physical education and art will provide additional opportunities for display of creativity. Judaica and Hebrew will round out the curriculum.