HomeJULY 2024The ABC’s of Childhood Learning

The ABC’s of Childhood Learning

Autonomy, Belonging, and Community are at the heart of our approach

Every childhood educational journey begins with learning your ABC’s. At IHDS, we aim to redefine these ABC’s of childhood learning in order to allow children to grow into confident, connected, compassionate individuals and future leaders.
    A is for autonomy. We believe that when children are given opportunities to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions, they develop a sense of competence. It is from this sense of competence that crucial characteristics develop such as possessing a positive self-image and sense of purpose. Additionally, intrinsic motivation develops from emphasizing child autonomy in early learning. In designing an educational platform that stimulates curiosity and ignites young minds, it is vital that intrinsic motivation becomes the goal.  We have found that when a child engages in activities and lessons out of genuine interest and curiosity rather than external rewards (like grades, stickers, etc) it leads to a profound emotional investment in their own learning. It’s therefore no surprise that our students always seem to put in more effort, persist through challenges, and take well-earned pride in both their personal accomplishments and those of their classmates. IHDS sees its students as invaluable in their contributions to our overall learning environment and mission because they are actively engaged both emotionally and cognitively. This is part of what distinguishes our Jewish day school from others.
    B is for belonging. Our inclusive Jewish community is open to all families. From the orthodox to the non-practicing or interfaith, every child at IHDS is valued equally both in the academic world as well as in Torah studies. What unites us is not our specific practice of Judaism but our Judaism in and of itself. It’s through our identity as Jews that we help our students understand the importance of solidarity and mutual support from the onset of their educational journey. By interweaving Hebrew and Jewish Studies every day within our “Joyful Learning” curriculum we aspire to connect these early experiences of belonging to lay the foundation for long -term involvement and commitment to Jewish Life. This philosophy of inclusivity bred in our classrooms extends beyond the confines of our gates. Studies have shown that an early childhood education that fosters a sense of belonging teaches children to respect and appreciate diversity not just within their own communities but from a global perspective as well.
    C is for community. A supportive community provides children with a sense of security that helps children feel safe and valued. Our students are active participants and leaders in their classrooms and along with their dedicated teachers, “co-captain” their ships. Allowing students to have a say in their learning fosters a sense of agency, making IHDS students feel valued and respected. Additionally, interacting with their diverse group of peers, many of whom learn differently from others (and therefore possess unique strengths,) fosters superior skills in communication, cooperation and conflict resolution. This not only strengthens children’s connections to each other but creates a meaningful bridge with older generations, allowing them to learn from the experiences of others. This vital sense of community helps ensure a strong continuity as children grow up valuing their heritage and the ethical and moral lessons Judaism promotes. This inspires our students to live lives of purpose in order to teach and inspire future generations.
    When we talk about ABCs at IHDS, we mean more than just the basics. Autonomy, Belonging, and Community are at the heart of our approach, guiding our students to become independent thinkers and valued community members making a positive difference wherever they go.

Jennifer McNight is an IHDS parent, an Educational Therapist and A Board member of Irvine Hebrew Day School.


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