The Growing Garden Academy is unique among elementary schools in that it provides an individualized education for each child, interwoven with Jewish traditions and values. Our goals are for our students to love learning, to build character, empathy and leadership skills, all while being surrounded by a community of extended family that provides them with security and a deep sense of Jewish pride.
Setting out to build our Jewish Studies curriculum, our goal was to create a curriculum that is infused with a progressive, hands-on style that is central to the educational philosophy of the Academy. Being that the Academy is the first school in the country to employ a truly progressive Jewish Studies curriculum, the Academy developed its own original curriculum from the ground up.
Every day, students in both kindergarten and first grade spend time learning the Hebrew Aleph Bet in a fun and hands-on way such as making Aleph Bet soup and playing Aleph Bet Candyland. This method allows the students to learn quickly and effortlessly so that most children are reading Hebrew by the end of first grade.
To familiarize students with Hebrew, Alta Gordon – the Academy’s Director of Development and Judaic Instructor – uses Hebrew words, such as boker tov, (good morning) toda rabba (thank you throughout the day. Alta starts with using a few words and gradually increases the Hebrew words being used over the course of the year.
Speaking and understanding Hebrew is enforced through songs and games rather than using traditional worksheets to teach the Aleph Bet. Through finding creative ways to teach, the students can involve full body movement, collaborate, “own” and experience the curriculum well beyond the school year.
Torah, Jewish traditions, Jewish values and good character are taught through activities such as becoming Jewish super heroes for the High Holidays and learning about sound to understand the Shofar so that the students enjoy their lessons and connect in meaningful ways to Torah and Jewish traditions.
At the Growing Garden Academy, Judaism is not just another subject taught to children but a full system of values and traditions that the children learn to love and appreciate so that they develop a strong character, good values and pride in their traditions.