Lower School, kindergarten through fourth grade, is a time of great exploration and excitement. From the wonder of kindergarten when children come to school to learn to read and write and learn about the world around them through fourth grade when they are reading novels and writing to express themselves, there is tremendous academic growth. In Lower School at Pardes, children are encouraged to do their best and develop pride and ownership in their work. The students are guided by an outstanding faculty who foster their curiosity and nurture their interests. Children are prized as much for their social and emotional skills as for their cognitive skills. This understanding of the importance of considering the “whole child” makes for happy and healthy children ready to move into Middle School with confidence.
At the primary level, (grades K, 1, and 2), our Jewish studies program is based on various units with a focus on Jewish holidays, traditions, Torah stories, Israel, Shabbat, and values. Hands-on learning experiences occur when students prepare for Jewish holidays, act out Torah stories in class, sing, or work together to create artistic portrayals of Jewish symbols.
Students in third and fourth-grade study Torah stories in-depth using the Standards and Benchmarks model, created at The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Melton Research for Jewish Education. The text is analyzed through questions and discussions, just as the rabbinic sages did. The analysis is taken a step further as Midrashim about each Torah portion are read. The students create their own interpretations of the text through writing, drawing and performing their own personal Midrashim. Students receive their Tanakh in the third grade and continue to use it throughout their years at Pardes.
Our study of Jewish holidays at all grade levels fosters Jewish identity by allowing children to explore Jewish traditions using stories, dances, creative arts, and songs. Students become familiar with the meaning and observances of each holiday. Teachers introduce specific Hebrew vocabulary related to the symbols and customs of the holidays. Holiday activities include eating in the Sukkah, lighting the Chanukiah, dressing up for Purim and hearing the Megillah, and searching for Chametz before Pesach.
Our Pardes community is one in which there is respect for all levels of belief and practice. Our goal is that our students feel comfortable in synagogues of all denominations and can adapt and participate in all kinds of services.
The learning of Ivrit (Hebrew) begins in kindergarten and continues through eighth grade. For all Pardes students, the Ivrit curriculum covers basic grammar, verbs and vocabulary, as well as elementary writing skills, allowing students to read, write and comprehend simple Ivrit stories.
Students in Kindergarten are taught the aleph bet (alphabet) and begin to learn Hebrew words through speaking, singing, playing games and writing. In first through fourth grade, students participate in the multi-sensory curriculum called Tal Am. Tal Am was developed by a dynamic team of writers and teachers in Montreal and Israel. The entire structure of the Tal Am program is based on the notion that the best learning environment for children is one in which knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities using each of the five senses. In addition to studying from textbooks, students use music, games, and visual aids to learn the Hebrew language and to develop a keen understanding of Jewish concepts and values. By making the study of Hebrew and Judaism relevant to the children’s everyday lives, the program enables them to develop a genuine appreciation of their heritage and understand the need for continued, lifelong Jewish study.