WHAT WE DO:
We educate young children in a respectful and evocative learning environment, helping them grow into self-aware, empathetic, capable learners for life.
WHY WE DO IT:
Nearly 3,000 years ago, King Solomon stated in the Book of Proverbs, “Educate a child in their youth…and [the mindset and lessons] will stay with them forever.”
The experiences and relationships we have in our earliest years have a direct effect on the adults we become.
During the first of years of life, the brain (the only organ not fully formed at birth) develops; much of its “wiring” is laid. There is much research indicating that the child’s personality is pretty much formed by the time they reach seven years of age! Our goal at Zimmer is to help our children maximize their potential of this stage of development with a strong foundation of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health.
HOW WE DO IT:
Our methodology is shaped by the shared values of Judaism, and constructivist approaches to early childhood including Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Waldorf. These manifest in every aspect of the child’s day: The structure of the daily schedule; the physical design of the classroom; the curriculum; and the interpersonal relationships between the children and adults.
1. Every child has a spark of the Divine within, and deep reservoirs of competency and capability.
Too often, society either undershoots (patronizes) the child, or overshoots (misses their developmental abilities). When we envelop the child with developmentally-appropriate expectations, and empower them with the necessary tools, they rise to the occasion. Visitors to our school are often amazed at the quality of our children’s “work product,” and interpersonal interactions.
2. A child’s mind is open to learning when their emotional needs are met.
Of course, our goal is for our children to become learners for life. However, a child’s emotional wellbeing is a precursor to intellectual rigor. Enveloping the child in a nurturing, loving atmosphere, and respecting their individuality – each with a unique voice and unique strengths, is at the heart of meeting their emotional needs. The peacefulness that pervades our school is a result of this attitude.
3. True freedom happens within structure.
Discovery and open-ended creativity thrive within the framework of a consistent schedule, classroom rules, and organized and clean spaces. Perhaps paradoxically, boundaries produce possibilities because the child knows what to expect. They feel safe to explore within the structure of our classrooms.
4. The teacher should be fully "present" with the children.
A healthy classroom is dynamic, and the role of the teacher is to capture the myriad learning opportunities that present themselves throughout the day. When a teacher is completely engaged, the opportunities for authentic learning are maximized. Our teachers prepare carefully and intentionally, but with assessments in real time, they can adjust a lesson or take advantage of the teachable moment that arises organically.
5. The learning should be visible.
The child’s work – both the process and the product – is documented and showcased. This provides a concrete forum upon which the teacher can re-listen, re-visit, re-see the child’s growth. This helps the child build pride in their work and gain a sense of accomplishment, and, of course, the parents have a window into their child’s learning!
6. Teachers and parents who work in partnership are impactful.
When a child is fortunate enough to have a seamless flow between his home and school life, it fills them with a sense of security and clarity. We work to build two way communication and trust with our parent body so that we can provide consistent messages to our children. .
7. The physical environment has great significance on the child’s learning.
Creative and inspired spaces – organized, well-lit, and filled with meaningful and interesting objects – invigorate the child’s learning. Reggio considers the environment “the third teacher.”
8. Time spent in nature connects the child to the world around them.
Today’s technological world deprives us of the many benefits we reap from fresh air, running fields, planting veggies, and caring for animals. Connecting with nature builds within our children a sense of appreciation and responsibility back to the world from which we get so much.
9. Humor, always humor.
Laughter and spontaneity have a way of making any endeavor more productive.