Welcome to the ECC
Where Learning is Child’s Play!
Temple Shaaray Tefila is a Reform Jewish congregation with a traditional spirit. We celebrate, teach, and observe the most worthy values and ideals of our Jewish tradition: Torah, mitzvah, and tzedakah. In doing so, we connect our members and their families to each other, to the greater Jewish community, and to Israel. Anyone who seeks a warm and vibrant Jewish community will feel comfortable in our congregation.
The Early Childhood Center (ECC) at Temple Shaaray Tefila is committed to creating the finest early childhood experiences, enhancing self-esteem, and encouraging learning through hands-on activities and exploration while incorporating a positive Jewish identity. Our philosophy is to provide a warm, nurturing and stimulating environment that will promote the social, emotional, cognitive and physical growth of the young child. We weave the Judaic teachings through all areas of our curriculum.
Celebrate, Learn, Play, Connect:
At the Early Childhood Center at Temple Shaaray Tefila, our four core values are:
Temple Shaaray Tefila Values
- Celebrate: We celebrate our Judaism through holidays, weekly Shabbat experiences, mitzvot and tzedakah.
- Learn: We encourage a love of learning by providing a rich, loving and safe environment that gives children the building blocks necessary to become enthusiastic and confident learners through multi-sensory experiences, discovery and problem solving. Our developmentally-appropriate curriculum enables learners to build strong habits of the mind, critical thinking skills, resiliency and focus.
- Play: Through play and guided with best practices developed by early childhood experts, children are active participants in the learning process.
- Connect: Children interact with their peers, and create a community within their classrooms as well as within the Early Childhood Center.
Mission Statement and ECC Curriculum
The ECC at Shaaray Tefila embraces individuality and helps lead children on the magical journey of growth with respect towards personal development while regularly infusing Jewish values and traditions into classroom life. We provide a developmentally appropriate hands-on environment for every child.
Our program emphasizes the development of the whole child: intellectually, cognitively, socially, physically and spiritually. We develop our curriculum around the interests of the individual child and simultaneously infuse opportunities for specialists in nature, art, music, movement and monthly social action experiences. Students learn about their rich Jewish heritage both in their classrooms and through weekly Shabbat celebrations with our Rabbi or Cantor, songs and stories.
All classes have the opportunity to learn with weekly and monthly specialists.
- Comprehensive Nature Program including our own organic garden. Each class meets weekly to learn about our world, its plants and animals, and tending our garden.
- Music Class led by Kenny Green, founder of the Westchester Klezmer Program, Inc. Using his unique style of song leading & interactive storytelling, Kenny engages the children each week as he leads every class in songs both Jewish and secular.
- Naturalists from Westmoreland Sanctuary lead monthly hands-on and developmentally appropriate science education classes that feature an inquiry-based approach to live animal exploration.
- A state-of-the-art sensory gym right here in the ECC. We are fortunate to have an OT here in our school, providing a safe, fun and inviting environment for movement and exploration, helping children gain a sense of self, build confidence, strengthen their core and improve their flexibility and balance. By bouncing, jumping, climbing and more on our equipment, our children will reach goals related to attention, movement, strength, motor skills, balance, language, and social interactions while having a blast!
Description of Our Classes
This program was thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of young children. With an intimate setting of two adults and just up to eight children, our Separated Twos Class helps children develop independence, communication skills and a sense of self as well as encourage socialization.
Children may attend 2 or 3 mornings a week, 9:30am -11:45am.
2 Year Old’s Program
The twos programs provide an opportunity for peer socialization in a group setting. Children learn to interact with each other in a supportive and nurturing environment laying a foundation for a smooth transition into a five-day a week threes program the following year. Through play and modeling children learn to connect with others, create friendships and develop skills to communicate with adults other than their primary caregivers. These classes provide a happy learning environment that fosters confidence, independence and exploration.
Children may attend 3 mornings a week or 5 mornings a week, Mondays through Fridays, from 9:15 am – 12pm.
3 Year Old’s and 4 Year Old’s Program
These programs are designed to allow children to learn through engagement, experience and interaction. Children are encouraged to ask questions, experiment with new materials, solve problems and learn social skills. Emergent Curriculum, coupled with a clear working knowledge of the New York State Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core, enables us to ensure kindergarten readiness for our students. Our students develop the confidence and abilities needed to make a smooth transition into a traditional kindergarten setting. Teachers guide the children through activities and social interactions and encourage their developing curiosity about their world and their enthusiasm for learning.
School begins each day at 9:15am and ends at 12pm. All students are invited to stay for Afternoon Adventure, which runs Mondays through Fridays from 12pm – 2pm. This program provides an opportunity for your child to delve into exciting educational opportunities after our morning school sessions each day.
Our Studio Space
Inspired by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy and Emergent Curriculum, the studio is a place where our learners are invited each week to create. Filled with materials, both new and recycled, the students are encouraged to explore, get messy, and play. Some amazing creations have included recycled pizza box art, 3 dimensional sculptures, weaving activities, and studies of numerous artists, followed by inspirations to create individual works of art based on the artists the children are learning about here.
Project SEEDProject SEED (Supporting Early Emotional Development) is a collaboration between Westchester Jewish Community Services and the Jewish Education Project and is designed to help synagogue-based nursery schools offer support ECC families and staff by providing a school Social Worker. We are so pleased to have a SEED consultant in our school this year. Jen Schmelkin, LCSW, is our school consultant/Social Worker and an integral component of our school community. She works together with teachers, parents and our ECC Director to understand children developmentally and address challenges in the classroom with behavior, curriculum, and group dynamics. She is available to support parents individually and in groups to understand their children and to obtain help if needed to facilitate their child’s optimal development.
Social Action Activities are included in our curriculum on a regular basis. The children participate in meaningful activities monthly, such as making pies to donate to Neighbors Link, sandwiches for Midnight Run, and recycled paper projects for Tu B’Shevat.
Our Parent Association meets monthly with the director and helps facilitate special events, projects and fundraisers.
Our Grandfriends Program invites our own Temple “grandfriends” to volunteer their time to join us in the classrooms during school hours. This is a wonderful opportunity for the congregation’s Adults at Leisure to become involved in our ECC and also an enriching experience for our youngest learners!
- Eight acres of landscaped grounds, located in the heart of Bedford Corners
- Natural light filled, air-conditioned classrooms
- Spacious playground
- Organic garden
- Large indoor play space
At Temple Shaaray Tefila, we welcome young families as they start their Jewish journey.
Our early engagement programs include:
- Gym with Benny, Bim Bam with Kenny Green and Toddler and Me.
- Tot Shabbat:Tot Shabbat is celebrated on the second Friday evening of every month. ECC families are welcome to join us for a family-friendly Shabbat service!
- Holidays:Special Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover celebrations.
The ECC can be reached at 914-307-0472.
Judaism is Fun!
A Jewish Approach to Early Childhood Education
Students learn about their rich Jewish heritage in their classrooms and through periodic guest appearances with our Rabbi and Jewish Education Staff.
Children have an opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage through music, stories, and holiday programming, as well as weekly Shabbat celebrations. Our Rabbi and other members of the Temple staff are actively involved in the ECC, providing a sound foundation for a well-rounded school experience. Families are included and encouraged to celebrate the holidays at school with their child.
Learning with our Rabbi and Cultivating Relationships
Our Rabbi spends time with our learners, teaching them about our heritage, our history, and learning about who they are.
Weekly Shabbat Celebrations
Every Friday morning, our ECC celebrates Shabbat as a community with our traditional rituals, story and song. Different parents from each class are designated as Shabbat Parent for that Friday. Our wonderful music specialist, Kenny Green, leads shabbat songs with every class on Friday mornings. In addition, Kenny Green together with Rabbi Wilfond, lead our monthly fun and musical Tot Shabbat services on the second Friday of the month at 5:30pm.
Summer Fun at Shaaray
We offer an 6-week summer program for toddlers and preschoolers that is open to children enrolled in our regular school-year programs as well as children who will join us only in the summer. Based in our classrooms, we offer a balance of outdoor play, water play, large and small scale arts and crafts activities, sports, theme days, mud play and music, ultimately providing a nurturing summer experience for young children not quite ready for a full-day camp experience.
Our 2-year-old program is a great introduction for children entering our 2s classrooms in the fall. It meets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thrusdays from 9:15 to Noon. Please note this is a gentle separation program.
Our 3 and 4 year-old program meets Monday-Friday from 9:15 am – Noon with the option to stay until 2pm for extended fun. Brown bag lunch is sent from home and served daily at noon. We are nut-free and allergy aware.
We invite all families to our weekly Family Shabbat Celebration on Fridays at noon. Dismissal directly follows Family Shabbat.
Summer Fun Staff:
All groups are led by trained early childhood professionals (usually teachers from Shaaray Tefila) assisted by camp staff who join us for the summer. All of our indoor play spaces are fully air-conditioned.
For interest in Summer Fun please contact Patty here.
Parents Seal of Approval
“The ECC has been a great experience for both of my kids. The teachers and staff are very caring and attentive; and the facility and playground are located in such a nice setting.”
“We moved into the community last summer and Temple Shaaray Tefila welcomed us with open arms. As a young new family we have met great new friends and attend fantastic social events through the ECC. The kids love the bright open and cheery environment at preschool. Needless to say, we are lucky to have such a prosperous resource so close to home.”
“I love the fact that my four-year-old goes in with a smile and comes out with a smile every day. My first grader cherishes return visits and regularly states how much he wishes his elementary school was more like Shaaray. The benefits extend well beyond the classroom. We have all developed lasting friendships with other children and parents from the ECC.”
“We have been so happy with our experience at Shaaray Tefila and the ECC. We have made so many wonderful relationships with people who truly feel like family. Our kids too have made such strong friendships and have gotten so much out of the nurturing environment and the wonderful teachers at the ECC. It is a very special place that has come to feel like a second home to all of us.”
“Both of my daughters love school. They cannot wait to go in every morning, and miss it on the weekends. I attribute this entirely to the ECC. It is a warm, wonderful place filled with learning and laughter.”