How to Foster a Genuine Love for Learning in Elementary School and Beyond
The Pardes Graduate Series: How to Foster a Genuine Love for Learning in Elementary School and Beyond
Kindergarten and the elementary years are an exciting time of growth for young children. They begin to develop the brain connections needed for logic, learn to better express emotions, and form more advanced fine and gross motor skills. It’s also the best time to nurture a love of learning. Experiences with school and academics during these early years help set the stage for children to become lifelong learners.
Love of Learning Starts Early
Helping children genuinely love learning and school is an intentional process that begins in kindergarten. Students who feel connected to school are more likely to succeed as they grow older. A positive learning environment helps students explore, take risks, and advocate for themselves — all factors that lead to academic success.
How can schools and parents plant, grow, and nurture the seeds that produce lifelong learners who are happy to go to school?
Four Ways Pardes Creates a Love of Learning
The teachers and administrators at Pardes Jewish Day School have created a culture designed to foster strong school relationships and a love of learning from kindergarten all the way through elementary and middle school. When eighth graders leave Pardes for high school, they demonstrate:
- A passion for knowledge in a diverse range of subjects
- The ability to make meaningful connections between the classroom and everyday life
- A thirst for continued learning in high school, college, and beyond
Pardes graduates benefit from four key elements that help them grow as lifelong learners. These elements can be found in every K-8 classroom in our Jewish day school.
1. Embrace Differentiated Learning
Teachers at Pardes realize that learning isn’t one size fits all. Differentiated learning, designed to help each student learn in the most effective manner, is one of the foundations of a Pardes education. Teachers in kindergarten and elementary grades use a research-based reading and writing model that is designed to have students apply newly learned skills. Teachers are then able to enrich or reteach each student as needed. Elementary children are also encouraged to read books on topics that personally interest them instead of everyone in the class being assigned the same book.
2. Engage in Hands-On Projects
Project-based learning, including Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM), is harmoniously interwoven throughout the curriculum at Pardes. For example, kindergarten students have designed weight-bearing bridges with everyday materials after reading the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff and engineered musical instruments after a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum. The Makerspace at Pardes helps all students innovate, explore, and collaborate. Hands-on projects also help children connect learning to everyday life which extends understanding and retention of key concepts.
3. Build Positive Relationships
Students at Pardes are surrounded by a nurturing environment of trust and support. Teachers embrace and support each child’s personal learning style by meeting students where they are, building their confidence, and helping them learn more effectively. Other ways we build on this positive culture include:
– An advisor, who acts as a mentor, is assigned to each middle school student.
– In kindergarten and elementary classrooms, a daily Morning Meeting includes children sharing important things in their lives, a fun activity that fosters group cohesion while also practicing skills, and a daily message from the teacher that helps students focus on the work for the day.
– Middle school students start the day with an Advisory Meeting, a more advanced version of the Morning Meeting.
With these initiatives, school becomes a place where students feel safe, connected, and confident.
4. Integrate Jewish Culture and Values
Learning and experiencing prayer, tradition, ritual, culture, and Jewish values enable students to form personal connections and develop a strong Jewish identity. Through the learning of Hebrew, history, and the celebration of Jewish holidays, Pardes provides opportunities for students to connect to the Jewish people, the Land of Israel, and their Jewish heritage. Like the strong bonds that are formed between teachers, students, and peers, the rich Jewish life experienced on campus helps students feel more connected to school.
Repairing the world (Tikun Olam) is also an important element of the Pardes experience. Each grade learns about specific Jewish values and develops ways to apply these values through giving (Tzedakah), raising awareness, and taking action.
With these four elements in place, Pardes’ students are able to thrive. Rather than viewing schoolwork as a chore done to please adults, children approach the education journey with a spirit of enthusiasm.
Looking for the Best Learning Environment for Your Child?
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