Jewish Early Childhood Educators Gear Up for New School Year at Conference (August 25, 2014)

About the Event
The 2014 South Palm Beach County Jewish Early Childhood Educators’ Conference — held on Monday, August 25 at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton — was a great success.

The conference included almost 200 Jewish early childhood educators from five of the seven preschools in the area served by the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. The conference was titled: “The ‘Growing’ Years - Building Strong Foundations - Helping our Children Succeed.”

The participating Boca Raton pre-schools included Betty & Marvin Zale Early Childhood Learning Center at the Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center; Early Childhood Center at Torah Academy of Boca Raton; Maurice A. Halperin Torah Tots Early Childhood Center at the Chabad of Boca Raton; and Nadel Center for Early Childhood Education at Congregation B’nai Israel and the Ruth & Edward Taubman Early Childhood Center at B’nai Torah Congregation.

Marilyn Nachman, Director of School Educational Services for the Federation’s Department of Jewish Education (the co-sponsor of the conference along with the Council of Early Childhood Directors of South Palm Beach County), said, “We are well aware of the importance of Jewish early childhood education in keeping our Jewish community strong in the future.”

Sessions included a Skype lesson by Emily Teck explaining the newly-revised website for Jewish educators, www.jewishlearningmatters.com sponsored by the Jack and Harriet Rosenfeld Foundation Program in Jewish Education at the University of Miami.

The next major session was titled "Talking to Young Children About Israel: As Israel Shields its Citizens How Do We Shield Our Children?” The session was led by Shlomit Karasik LCSW, Esther Lupin MSW and Dianne Matthew LCSW, social workers from Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services of South Palm Beach County. The JFS social workers role-played various scenes to stress how children are deeply affected by what the adults in their lives (parents and teachers) are focusing on. They encouraged teachers to find out their school’s policies about talking to children about what’s going on in Israel, as well as to simply validate what the children are feeling without going into too much detail.

The remainder of the conference consisted of two break-out sessions for teachers of 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds and pre-K students featuring engaging lectures with occupational therapist Mandy Hurwitz OTR/L (“Red Flags - Time to Refer”); speech and language pathologist Dr. Renai Jonas SLP (“What’s Next: Speech and Language Development”); and educator Debbie Brown, Dean of Academia, Donna Klein Jewish Academy, on “Phonemic Awareness and the Connection to the Alphabetic Principle.”

For more information about the conference, or to get in touch with any of the presenters, contact Marilyn Nachman at marilynn@bocafed.org or 561.852.3218.