Why Is Early Childhood Education Important?

Students Learning at Early Years Programme

The “early” in Early Childhood Education is generally defined as the period of time between when a child is born and when he or she first enters kindergarten, which is normally between the ages of 4 and 6.

During this time period, young minds are like sponges, soaking up as much knowledge as they can while also learning how to walk, talk, interact with others, and learn about “right” from “wrong.” For example, they may not understand why water boiling in a pan on the stove is dangerous, but when properly “instructed” and directed, they can learn that they should not touch it. Similarly, they can learn positive behaviors through a logical rewards and consequences that get them to understand what is expected of them as they make their way through life and take on greater responsibilities in the process.

Early Childhood Education is more than just teaching basic educational skills. It’s also a time to gain critical emotional and social aptitudes. This is why the staff, administration, and teachers of Strelitz International Academy so firmly believe in inquiry-based education—as opposed to the standardized curriculums used in public school. It’s why we chose to meet the rigorous demands of becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB®) candidate school, offering their Primary Years Programme (PYP) to students between the ages of 3 and 12 (kindergarten through 5th grade).

The IB® is an international educational foundation founded in 1968 with a mission to create a better world through education. The PYP seeks to nurture a child’s natural curiosity so they can take control of their learning. With teachers acting as collaborators to education, the environment created helps students excel in their studies as well as their personal growth, addressing the overall needs of the child as a whole.

The base for the IB’s educational programs is built on the Five Approaches to Learning, which include:
– Thinking skills
– Communications skills
– Social Skills
– Self-Management skills
– Research Skills

We understand that every child learns differently. We believe that by being an IB® program elementary school with small classroom sizes, teachers have a better opportunity to interact with each of the students and can provide additional assistance if they hit any roadblocks along the way.

Through inquiry-based learning, those students can build a better understanding of why things are the way they are, and what their responsibilities are and will be as humans–at home or school, in their communities, and as citizens of the world. This forms a lifelong love of learning that helps our students excel as they travel down their chosen paths.

It also helps children form lifelong relationships with other students that will serve them well as they move forward with their education and then into the real world. This can be instrumental in helping them get good jobs, starting businesses together, collaborating on projects, or just moral support from a trusted peer.

We invite you to come join us, learn more about our curriculum and our dedication to helping children learn so we can get their journey started.

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at Private School

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at SIA

One of the greatest things about being a Jewish Day School, a member of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, as well as an International Baccalaureate (IB®) Primary Years Programme (PYP) candidate school servicing Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk is that we get to have a lot of fun while we learn. This includes learning about the history of the Jewish religion and culture including the customs and traditions we follow.

We saw an example of that recently when we celebrated Purim at school. Our Early Years Program students learned about and fulfilled the four mitzvot of Purim including:
–    Hearing the Megillah: Our EY students not only had an opportunity to hear the Megillah, they then set out to help make a copy of it. Each class from the toddlers to EY4 created a panel that depicted the story of Queen Esther, the heroine of the tale, when the panels were brought together. The toddlers through EY3 students got to hear the Megillah read in person by Morah Elyssa, while the EY4 classes were able to stream the reading in real time through the miracle of technology.
–    Mishloach Manot: The second mitzvah of Purim requires us to give gifts of at least two different kinds of food to others. Each class fulfilled this mitzvah by creating gift baskets filled with Purim treats that were then given to our office staff and our school security guards, Ramon and Mark.
–    Give Tzedakah: While most of our Purim celebration was about having fun while learning, the third mitzvah is teaching the importance of giving tzedakah. This is a Hebrew word meaning “righteousness,” but is commonly used to signify giving charity. This is viewed as a moral and ethical practice, which is not only good for the recipient(s), it’s an important part of building good moral character and developing good citizens of the world.
–   Have a Festive Time: You don’t need to ask Early Years students twice to have a good time, so this was the easiest mitzvah to fulfill. Our students participated in costume parades, played games, rocked out at a dance party, and enjoyed lots of delicious treats including popsicles, cotton candy, and hamantaschen, the famous cookie that is named for Haman’s ears. These cookies commemorate Esther’s victory over Haman and his plot to destroy the Jewish people.

Many special thanks for the teachers who helped make this celebration memorable and joyful for all of our students. We all had an amazing time celebrating Purim and the coming of Shabbat.

Looking for a Jewish Day school serving Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk? Come visit Strelitz International Academy and let us tell you more about our International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP). The mission of the IB program is to build a better world through education. Our mission is to enrich the life of the whole child, to develop compassionate, lifelong learners, and to promote a social and global consciousness that encompasses a profound respect for all humanity. Please join us!

What is The Secret to Learning?

Students of Early Years Programme

When it comes to education, young people are like sponges, ready to soak up as much as they can from the environment around them. However, as Lorna Orleans, our Director of the Early Years Program notes, if they are not “engaged” in what you are trying to teach them, you might as well save your breath. However, when children are engaged, they begin to ask lots of questions, especially in a group environment where they can share ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter at hand.

According to the International Baccalaureate (IB), an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland that was established in 1969, there are five Approaches to Learning (ATL), that are important in the development of young minds. Those approaches including:

  1. Thinking Skills
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Social Skills
  4. Self-Management Skills
  5. Research Skills

At Strelitz International Academy, we understand the importance of getting students involved as opposed to having them memorize facts and figures, then being able to recite them back at an appropriate time (tests). We also understand that different students learn in different ways, which is why the five ATLs are also so important. This is just one of the reasons why we are not only one of the best elementary schools in the Hampton Roads area, we’re also one of the best affordable private schools, ready to provide your students with lessons and experiences that make learning fun. More importantly, keeping them engaged helps them to satisfy the five Approaches to Learning.

Some recent activities noted by Lorna Orleans showing these principles in action include:

    1. An EY2 class learning about shapes from food. In addition to eating crackers that were both square and rectangular, they made pizza, noting that it is traditionally round, but when cut into pieces they make up triangles.
    2. In an EY3 class, instead of simply reading to students, the teacher read a story to the class first, then prompted them to create props they could use when retelling the story at home.
    3. Our EY4 teachers guide their students in drawing connections they hear about in “read alouds” with moments from their own lives.

We encourage our parents to continue these learning moments at home or even when on vacation with their children. Learning is a life-long pursuit. Let’s keep it fun and interesting.

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