Early Childhood Institute
The Early Childhood Institute, founded in 1987, is dedicated to expanding and deepening the Judaic and pedagogic knowledge and skills of early-childhood educators. Our professional-development programs reach out to many communities within and beyond the Greater Boston area.
Annual Early Childhood Jewish Education Conference
Drawing on its many years of experience as a provider of professional development for early-childhood Jewish educators, the annual Early Childhood Conference offers educators teaching young children (infant through Grade 2) in day schools, congregational schools, preschools or family-education settings a series of professional development workshops designed to increase Judaic and pedagogic knowledge and practice. For further information on our annual Early Childhood Conference, click here.
Boston-Haifa Early Childhood Connection
Ambassadors (Shagrirot) Initiative: Building Personal and Professional Bridges
The Boston-Haifa Early Childhood Connection, facilitated by Hebrew College since 2009, enhances leadership and strengthens Jewish identity by creating long-lasting personal connections among Boston early-childhood educators, their schools and communities and the early-childhood educators in Haifa and their communities. The program includes two components:
- A professional and personal exchange in which educators from Boston partner with preschool teachers (“gananot”) in Haifa. These ambassadors or “shagrirot,” are involved in ongoing professional development programs and personal communication utilizing video conferences, email, phone calls, exchanges of packages and in-person seminars.
- An active local network of early-childhood educators (in both cities) comprising leaders within their respective school communities who have a demonstrated track record of helping to forge a strong sense of Jewish identity in their young students, their families and communities. They are engaged in the personal learning and integration of Israel into their programs.
Greater Boston Early Childhood Directors Council
The Early Childhood Directors Council provides a central platform for the professional development, collaboration, engagement and personal growth of a diverse community of early-childhood preschool directors. Approximately 30 Jewish preschool directors participate in the council, which is funded by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
On-site, School-based Professional Development
The Early Childhood Institute sends its faculty to teach an entire preschool staff, based on a topic of interest, at their site. The impact of learning as a community can have a transforming influence on a school. Some of the topics the ECI has offered include:
- Bringing Israel to the Early Childhood Classroom
- Fall Holidays
- Spring Holidays
- Teaching Hebrew to Young Children
- Shabbat and Havdalah: The Why, the What and the How?
- Trees in Jewish Texts and Thoughts: An Orchard of Relationships
- K’lal Israel for Young Children: Cultural and Ethnic Diversity
Community-Based, Professional-Development Programs
The Early Childhood Institute offers professional development to communities in various localities based on their needs and interest. These sessions can be delivered in person, online or a combination of both. Funded by the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, we currently serve the community of the North Shore of Massachusetts. Educators from day schools, religious schools and preschools meet five times during the semester. Topics explored in the past have included “Teaching Hebrew to Young Children: Circle Time,” “Teaching Hebrew to Young Children: Celebrations” and “Enriching the Early-Childhood Jewish Curriculum Using Children’s Literature.”
The PJ Library: Going Beyond the Books
The Early Childhood Institute provides a distance-learning seminar designed for book-based family program coordinators. The seminar’s intent is to advance participants’ skills in conducting meaningful book-based programs for families with young children. In 2010-11, the year-long series of webinars “All Around the Year with the PJ Library: Techniques and Tools for Creating Meaningful Book-Based Family Programs” reached more than 100 participants from across the country. The program is fully funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
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