As the number of dual-income households are growing across America, Cheder Chabad has always acknowledged the need for an extended care program for students who have parents that are still at work at 2.30, the first pick up time.
As Cheder believes in providing the best quality care for all their students, regardless of which time of day it is, this year, they launched a new initiative to take their “After-Care Program” from babysitting to a project-based creative curriculum. More parents than ever are requesting that their children join the program, unfortunately restricted due to staffing limitations.
This initiative has a new coordinator, Judith Levitan, who has been involved in early childcare education for over a decade. She is passionate about professional development as a key to job and customer satisfaction (Bagin, Gallagher & Moore, 2012). She is currently pursuing her second master’s degree in education, this time with a specialization in Special Education.
“Parents work!”, she says, “It’s nothing to hide, we want to be contributing members of society! Let’s be proud of what we do and share the meaning we find in our vocations with our children.” She even created an attractive website to inform parents and encourage them to sign up at: https://chederchabadaftercare.my-free.website/
The unit the program is now exploring is “The unique parent contribution to society” unit. Each parent is invited to join the class and share about their career and profession. Mrs. Levitan takes much time and effort to plan and prepare explorative, open-ended activities, to make these fields meaningful to each of the children. She incorporates many of Maryland’s Early Learning Standards to ensure a diversified curriculum where student’s learning goals are reached according to each age specified learning domain (Maryland Department of Education, 2016).
The first visitor was Dr. Aryela Rosenberg, an aftercare mother and experienced dentist. She explained oral hygiene to the children, gave a demonstration and even gave each of the 20 children goodie bags! Mrs. Levitan then launch into many sensory projects with toothpaste experiments, art activities with mouth models, real props for pretend play, edible activities and daily check charts for the home to bring their learning to life. Many parents shared their children had a new excitement for caring for their teeth.
Another example is the latest unit of Chabad Houses and Shlichus. As Chabad has a cornerstone belief to help fellow Jews to discover their Judaism, each child was invigorated with their responsibility to the combined goal. The first special guest was Rabbi Sholy Cohen, a leader of a Chabad house of a nearby community who explained the unique history of Chabad Jews being sent to new places to help others. Mrs. Devorah Stolik joined the class on another day to share the work she does at her Hebrew school, an independent program that shares Jewish culture with Jewish children who attend public schools in her area. The children learned important messages of diversity, adding positivity, being kind to others and doing good deeds to shine their unique light.
The unit intends to explore many more career fields of the aftercare parents. Some future areas are many more areas such as home construction and building with Mr. Shlomy Dalfin, a local project manager, and modest clothing with Mrs. Michal Katzir, a local clothing store owner. With more parent involvement, the children’s enthusiasm is growing to see their parents teach their friends and be proud of how they help others.
“If we want our children to be proud of who they are, we are the best models!” says Mrs. Levitan. As research shows student performance increases with parents’ involvement, it is hoped that the investments in these relationships and their key values will have long term positive results for these students (Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 2012). Parents feel part of their child’s education and show much appreciation and excitement in their private WhatsApp group where they are well informed of classroom activities with a daily broadcast message. The school hopes this initiative is the beginning of bringing together teachers, parents, and students to be part of a collaborative team to best support each child in their way.