Behrman House Blog
Early childhood materials: from classroom to home
There are so many rich, wonderful ways to create authentic Jewish experiences for young children to help them grow in their Jewish identity. This is a key goal of Jewish early childhood education. It’s a goal in my household, too, whether we’re lighting Shabbat candles or singing Hanukkah songs.
The home experience has a tremendous influence on a child’s Jewish identity, and yet many parents don’t feel confident that they know enough themselves to help their children connect to Judaism. As a result many early childhood educators find that they have two populations to consider in developing their lesson plans: the kids in the room, and the families at home.
Well-designed printed materials can help. They can be used in the classroom to provide context for introducing new concepts through hands-on experiences. They then serve double-duty, by communicating the themes of the lesson to parents, and outlining suggestions for home experiences that support your work in class.
So what kinds of early childhood materials support these goals? Look for those that:
- Provide a starting point for your lesson or class session
- Offer photos that model for young children how other families experience Jewish rituals in their homes
- Provide age-appropriate thought questions to help children make connections to their own lives
- Serve as a springboard to hands-on classroom activities
- Provide information to parents about the content of the lesson
- Prompt further discussion at home of featured topics
With developmentally appropriate content that you can use in class and then send home, you can engage your students and also reach out to their families so they can gain confidence and reinforce their children’s Jewish learning at home.
Dena Neusner is Senior Editor at Behrman House. She developed the Jewish and Me: Spring Holidays and Fall Holidays early childhood classroom magazines. One of her upcoming projects is Jewish and Me: Mitzvot. She enjoys sharing Jewish experiences at home with her own young children.