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Early Childhood Education (ECE)

V’shinantam L’vanecha- You shall teach your children...
- Deuteronomy 6:7

CAJE believes that ECE educators are both early childhood educators and Jewish educators. Through our work with the 27 Jewish early childhood programs in Miami Dade County, CAJE aims to create a learning environment where directors and teachers can exchange ideas and grow together.

CAJE’s Early Childhood Education work includes:

  • Convening regular meetings of the Jewish Early Childhood Professional Network (JECPN). The network, comprised of ECE directors, gathers to share resources, explore trends and innovations in ECE and advocates for ECE and its practitioners.
  • Piloting the Jewish Resource Specialist Initiative (JRS) in 5 Jewish Early Childhood Education programs. (See below for details.)
  • Providing quality professional development opportunities, both local and national. ECE educators have participated in the Paradigm Project and Boulder Journey School Conferences, and the Reggio Through a Jewish Lens Seminar, subsidized generously through CAJE’s community funding.
  • Collaborating with PJ Library and PJ Goes to School on teachers’ professional development programs and promoting opportunities for family engagement.
  • Consulting and coaching are offered to all our educators as a way to reflect on their practice and broaden their vision as education leaders.

To view a comprehensive list of all Early Childhood Education Programs, click here.

For more information on CAJE’s Early Childhood Department, please contact Yehudis Smith at 305-576-4030 ext. 113 or YehudisSmith@caje-miami.org.

How Can We Better Engage Our Families with Young Children? The JRS Initiative

The Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE) and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation (GMJF) are thrilled to announce the official start of the Jewish Resource Specialist (JRS) Initiative.  The JRS Initiative brings together five congregations and JCCs who are establishing a new teacher-leader position, called the Jewish Resource Specialist, whose focus is on strengthening engagement of families with young children and deepening the Jewish learning within their Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers.  

The JRS Initiative responds to a concern highlighted in the GMJF 2014 population study.  Although Miami has a large percentage of parents who send their children to Jewish ECE programs, after the children graduate from early childhood education there is a significant family drop out from the Jewish institutions hosting these ECE programs.  Not only are we losing these families’ connections to our Jewish communal institutions, but we are also losing an opportunity to open the doors for them to explore what their families’ Jewish journeys could look like. 

National research shows that when parents have young children they are most open to connecting or reconnecting with the Jewish community; they seek out advice and information beneficial to their children’s development; they seek out friendships with parents in similar stages of life.

Participation in an ECE is the perfect time for us to welcome these families into our congregations, Jewish Community Centers and our Miami Jewish community overall, since it is the optimal time when parents seek to explore the wisdom and traditions of Judaism and experience them within a network of peers.  By leveraging the talents and resources of our ECE teachers and professionals, and specifically the JRSs, we can most certainly have a positive influence on families as they take their next steps in their Jewish journeys.

The JRS program was developed in San Francisco by the Early Childhood Education Initiative of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. It has been funded for over 10 years by Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund and the Jim Joseph Foundation. Miami is the first community to adapt the JRS program and directed by CAJE with generous funding from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. 

Kol haKavod   - kudos to the GMJF for realizing the importance of reaching out to our families with young children and supporting this 3-year pilot program.  Kol haKavod to the five ECE programs and their host organizations for rising to the challenge of engaging parents with young children.  Through their intentional work and documentation each step of the way, they are paving the way for transforming our Jewish ECEs into centers of engagement and significant learning that will impact their children, parents and teachers alike. 

Participating in the JRS pilot are: Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, Beth Torah Benny Rok, Temple Beth Sholom and Temple Judea

The JRS Initiative of Miami was developed by Joy SchandlerFor more information: YehudisSmith@caje-miami.org