Tonight is Hanuka, is a magical night, a period of time when miracles are part of life so I will blame my mood on this special atmosphere, or the fact that I’ve just received home made Hanuka cookies from Fran, and that made me feel so taken care of, so spoiled, so welcomed.
It is said that all you need is a sparkle to scare away the darkness. After these past 2 days of seeing teachers talk the talk and walk the walk, I feel we are lost in the dark and a candle has just been lighted.
I was lucky enough to spend the past 2 days in classrooms in Beth Sholom, and see teachers go through their daily routine – I saw the change, but more important I saw the steps, the struggles, the questions and the desire to do the right thing – to have the child as your main focus, and to understand that he is capable, far and beyond what I’ve imagined. Just to give you a taste: I saw 2 years old eat by themselves – no bread cut in too small pieces, no baby food – real food, in normal grownup form (big sandwiches, pasta, fruits, veggies), drink milk from regular cups, 4 years old discussing about wooden structures and balance, elements that permit light to go through, kids playing the dreidel and talking about geography and monetary systems, kids analyzing spinning materials and discovering the different types of car washing systems around the world.
I could be telling you about great classrooms, amazing materials from wood, incredible playgrounds, works of art welcoming you, but the thing that blew me away were the kids – independent, responsible, working in teams, problem solvers, creative, relaxed, enjoying themselves, communicating in an elevated form – this is what I want back home. This is the generation that needs to come out of our hands, we need these kind of people in order to grow as a community, as a society.
And as the first candle of Hanuka is dancing in the windows of Jewish homes, Jewish kindergartens and schools, JCCs and synagogues, I hope that we will remember to keep on dreaming and fight for our dreams because they can come true, I’ve seen it!
Shabbat has ended and it is time to start a new and exciting week. Friday morning started perfectly – we’ve met with Naama – a symbol of strength and perseverance – you see something you know it is good, do it no matter what. She said – don’t try to change the exterior, ask the questions: why do you need something? who are you? what is your vision? what is your message? is your message transmitted in the right way to everybody else? In 2 hours she gave us basic info of how to view Early Childhood Education from Reggio Emilia perspective.
Theory is great but practice is amazing – after the meeting we got to see a kindergarten that puts in practice for 10 years all of these principles. and let me tell you it was something different, totally. Can I replicate what I saw? no. Do I want to copy paste this? no, but I want to have the same feeling, atmosphere back home – the respect for the child and its capabilities, the ongoing dialogue between kids, staff and parents.
And after all that I came home – where our host prepared an oneg Shabbat like home – we lit the candles with the kids, said the brachot, ate delicious home cooked meal and just enjoyed a relaxed and warm Shabbat.
Shabbat ended and havdala was done surrounded by kids and parents – and in all that organized chaos it was clear – they were a community, and they cared for the Jewish education of their kids – PJ library looked at Hanuka from different perspectives with the help of books – who would have thought that making a kaleidoscope is something for Hanuka, but as I read to one of the kids there, a constellation is the Hanukia that God is lighting in the sky!
On that note I am looking forward to be inlighted all through next week!
You know you had a full day when there are not enough words to express what you’ve seen, and felt and absorbed.
Family feeling – the warm airport welcoming, Fran opening her house to us for dinner, an amazing host that received us with opened arms in her house, her family, made me feel like home far away from home.
A big voice – I am coming from a place where there is no early childhood “proper” education, where sometimes working with small kids is seen like a hobby and not a real job. Today I saw a room full of 750 teachers that were professional teachers and seen as so with a strong and united voice.
Responsibility – the word of the day. I am responsible to me and to my community to take as much as I can from this amazing and unique opportunity, to improve the level of education in my kindergarten and to give a voice to the Jewish educators back home.
So tonight I am going to sleep with lots of questions popping in my mind: do I have a clear image of the child, do I communicate efficiently enough with the families, can I improve the level of education, involvement of my colleagues, to whom I can turn to for support around me? I hope the next days will help me answer part of them, but something tells me there will be more questions popping out.