I apologize for the gap in posting time, the past few months have been quite a journey for our community. We went from Rosh Hashana, to Simchat Torah, celebrating with one another, but missing almost a month of school. As soon as we got back into the groove, the Tree of Life shooting happened and we were turned upside down as we tried to deal with a lot of questions, emotions and feelings. And then suddenly it was November and we had a Thanksgiving program to put together and another week out of classes. Don’t blink, because by the time you finish reading this, it’s probably going to be December and the winter holidays will be upon us.
One topic that always seems to come up around this time of year is gratitude and how can we help our children be grateful and thankful. This is especially timely since many of us celebrate gift giving holidays in the winter time, and children (and adults too) can get caught up in the ‘more stuff’ mindset. How can you help your child during these times and throughout the year?
Here are some resources so that you can read more about gratitude and young children:
10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Kid
8 Ways to Teach Kids Gratitude
Here are some groups and organizations that you can help out with donations:
Foster Love (I only linked their donation page, but they have a bag drive going on through December 15)
Play it Forward Pittsburgh (They are collecting donations now and through December 12. They encourage entire families, including children, to volunteer!)
North Hills Community Outreach (They have a variety of programs and volunteer opportunities)
Each year the start of our preschool year coincides with the celebration of Rosh
Hashanah, the beginning of a ten day period of reflection and introspection that
ends with Yom Kippur, the solemn day of repentance. We want to share with you
some of the ways in which your children will be learning about these holidays.
During these High Holy Days, Jews reflect on the previous year and plan for the
New Year. Rosh Hashanah is referred to as the birthday of the world, and in
preschool we relate Rosh Hashanah to the fresh, new start of school and to the
children’s birthdays which cycle around each year, marking the beginning of a new
age and new experiences for them. One of the symbols of Rosh Hashanah that is
introduced is the shofar or ram’s horn. The children will listen to Rabbi Weisblatt
blow the shofar and will try to imitate the different sounds: loud and soft, long and
short. It is customary during Rosh Hashanah to wish friends and family a sweet or
good new year (“Shana Tovah”). The sweetness of the New Year is celebrated by
eating honey cake and apples dipped in honey. During Rosh Hashanah challah is
baked in a round shape with raisins on top, the round shape symbolizing the cycle
of the year. We will also be sharing these foods in our classrooms.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a day when Jews ask forgiveness for
wrongs committed against God and others. In preschool we talk about saying “I’m
sorry” when we have hurt someone else, made them feel angry or sad. And we
practice good ways to handle our disagreements and make others feel better. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur teach the children that everyone makes mistakes, and that we will always have the opportunity to learn to do better.
A few of the songs the children will be singing:
Dip the Apples (Clementine)
Dip the apples in the honey
Blow the shofar loud and clear
Shana Tovah, Shana Tovah
Have a happy sweet New Year.
Apples and Honey
Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah
Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah
For a good, good year,
For a sweet, sweet year.
Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah.
I Like to Hear the Shofar Blast
I like to hear the shofar blast
Sometimes slow and sometimes fast!
I like to hear the shofar blast
Happy, happy, happy new year!
3. T‘ru-ah ----
Wishing you a happy and sweet new
Sara, Sandy, Shelley, Jennifer,
Jeanne, Morgan, Jill, and Bonnie
When my kids and I went for a walk yesterday we crunched through some fallen leaves. The grocery store is filled with mums and pumpkins, the air is getting cooler (or it was for a few days there), and the back to school sales are over...all signs that fall is coming. Along with fall come some very big transitions for children, namely going to school and heading off without mom and dad, some for the first time. It can be a hard time for them, and us parents too. With the first day of classes at Temple Ohav Shalom Center for Early Learning happening in a few days, I wanted to share some strategies to make your child’s (and your) transition a little easier.
We’ve got this, parents! We are excited to get to know you and your children and are looking forward to a great year of learning, exploring, and having fun.
It's hard to believe that summer is almost over! That means it's just about time to head back to school. Hear at Temple Ohav Shalom Center for Early Learning, the teachers have been busy. Recently, they had a staff meeting to begin to get ready for the new year, talking about their ideas and hopes for their classrooms and the children they will be with. They have also been working together in each of their classrooms, rearranging furniture, organizing materials and making plans for the very first days of school. We are looking forward to seeing everyone on the first day, but before then we have a couple events planned. First is a play date on the the playground, which will give families old and new a chance to meet one another and explore our outdoor spaces. The second is a Parent and Teacher Meet and Greet, which will give parents and care givers a chance to meet and talk with their child's classroom teachers. If you are enrolled already, check your inboxes for more information on these events.
See you soon!
We all look forward to those special days throughout the year when parents and grandparents come into the center to create, explore, and discover together with their children. This year we began our Thanksgiving celebration in the sanctuary where the children sang favorite songs for their families. Later in the classrooms families enjoyed special snacks prepared by the children and shared in the children’s daily experiences of paint, collage, clay, blocks, stories, and pretending!
A family potluck dinner of favorite family recipes was held to celebrate Sukkot and the Thanksgiving season. Watercolor papers prepared by the children were used by parents to trace the children’s hands and add messages of gratitude. Handprint leaves from all the families are now hanging outside the classrooms on our tree of gratitude.
This fall, as we began a new school year, parents were asked to share their hopes and dreams for their children by writing their wishes on a ribbon that would become part of a school-wide art project. In the studio the children constructed beaded wires and added their own hopes and dreams to the project. We hope that these dreams will become part of the early childhood experience at Ohav Shalom.
Our school year began in September with an evening when parents and teachers prepared photo albums for the children. A wide array of scrapbooking materials and tools were provided for the design of the album covers. Each family filled their child’s album with family photos. When the albums were presented to the children in class as a gift from their parents, the children’s excitement and delight was wonderful! The albums will now be available to the children throughout the year. For the younger children they provide a reassuring connection to home, and for the older children an endless source of conversation and sharing.
This year our garden was overflowing with gourds the children had planted last spring. Our home-grown gourds now decorate our classrooms, serve as produce in our classroom “farm market,” provide many opportunities for painting and drawing activities, and even supply additional building materials for block constructions. However, by far the children’s favorite Sukkot activity is gathering inside our indoor sukkah for songs and stories. It is indeed a magical space enclosed by fabric walls and lit only by the overhead twinkling lights. We are always reluctant to take it down, and each fall leave it up far beyond the end of Sukkot!
We welcomed old and new friends to our first days of classes. There were many reunions and just a few brief tears! The weather was glorious and shared playground activities helped forge new friendships and ease those first-day jitters. The beginning of the Jewish New Year with Rosh Hashanah was celebrated in our classrooms with snacks of apples and honey, apple printing, and the blowing of the shofar. Families brought food and groceries for the local food bank, an ongoing commitment Ohav Shalom has made to the North Hills Community Outreach. It was an exciting start – we can’t wait to see what our new preschool year brings!