At Torah Tots Preschool the curriculum was developed with a few goals in mind. Our primary goal is to ensure that the children are prepared for kindergarten and elementary school in Desert Torah Academy, or any other private or public school they may attend. The secondary goal is to integrate a love and passion for Judaic laws and culture into every aspect of the day.
As with the student body of DTA, the children at Torah Tots come from diverse backgrounds in regards to religious and cultural observance. Furthermore, a large percentage of the Torah Tots population comes from Hebrew speaking homes, and it is important that our curriculum reflects this variance and allows for growth and learning opportunities for all children.
The Torah Tots Curriculum was developed using the Nevada PreK standards, the Ages & Stages Developmental questionnaire and materials acquired from NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). Last summer, Yocheved Shapiro (Torah Tots Assistant Director) and Esther Rothman (a school parent with her degree in Curriculum Development), spent a few months recreating the Torah Tots Curriculum. Each unit has a secular and Judaic theme that connect to each other and incorporate developmentally appropriate math, science, language and pre-reading skills throughout the unit.
At pre-service training last August, the teachers were provided with the curriculum and we discussed the goals and implementation at length. Periodically throughout this year, we met and discussed what worked well in the curriculum, areas of improvement, and how to meet the needs of specific children who are either struggling or ahead of the confines of the curriculum. Based on the practical experiences of the teachers, the curriculum has been adjusted and fine-tuned.
One specific area that the teachers noted needs substantial improvement is the Phonemic Awareness aspect to the Pre-K curriculum. The Pre-K teachers have been working with Yocheved on developing the Phonemic Awareness curriculum to ensure that it is exciting, applicable and developmentally appropriate for each child.
As mentioned above, Judaic values are incorporated into every aspect of the Torah Tots day. This is done through songs, movement activities, brachos on food and books. Additionally, each of the Torah Tots teachers incorporates Judaic values and lessons from Jewish history and holidays into each and every skill set that they teach in their classrooms.
The Torah Tots curriculum works for each teacher and each child and is customized by the teachers and administration together to ensure that the teachers and parents are comfortable with what and how each child is progressing.