About the Ohav Shalom Center for Early Learning
Ohav Shalom Center for Early Learning is an early childhood program guided by Jewish teachings and values and inspired by the philosophy of Reggio Emilia. We welcome all families into our community where common values are shared and diverse traditions celebrated.
In August, 2011, our Center was selected as one of three Jewish early childhood programs in the greater Pittsburgh area to participate in the JECEI* program, a comprehensive program designed to bring into our classrooms the acclaimed early childhood philosophy of Reggio Emilia as viewed through the lens of Jewish values and teachings. Our goal is to provide for the children an environment that is rich and engaging, and a curriculum that builds upon their interests and encourages them to question, to investigate, and to develop the skills necessary for future success. We are a school guided by Jewish values, inspired by Reggio Emilia, and a community that celebrates the diversity of our families.
* The Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI)* is a program supported by the Centennial
Fund for the Jewish Future, an endowment within the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Foundation and the Agency for Jewish Learning.
Reggio Emilia Inspired Philosophy
The early childhood centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy, begun by citizens of the town of Reggio Emilia
following the devastation of World War II, have inspired world-wide support among early childhood
educators for the educational philosophy and practices that underlie their remarkable achievements.
THE IMAGE OF THE CHILD
All children have a curiosity about their world and the potential to construct an understanding of their environment. Children are seen as important and contributing members of their school community.
Reggio Emilia classrooms are typically comfortable, welcoming, home-like spaces where softer colors,
natural materials, and aesthetically beautiful surroundings replace the more vibrant, commercial
materials of the usual preschool classroom. The environment is often called the” third teacher” because
a carefully planned environment provokes interest and curiosity, and contributes to the development of
AN EMERGENT AND NEGOTIATED CURRICULUM
Open-ended materials encourage imagination and creativity, and longer, uninterrupted periods of time
allow the children to engage in long-term projects that may span days or weeks. The curriculum is
developed by the educators through careful observation of the children’s interactions with materials
and the experiences which are planned to challenge and provoke investigation.
The teacher is a co-learner and collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. The educator
prepares the environment and materials, documents the children’s experiences, and collaborates with
other educators and parents to plan further learning opportunities.
Parents are equal partners with educators and children in their child’s learning. Collaboration between teachers and parents is seen as essential to providing the best possible learning environment for the children.