Lower School

Lower School

 

The foundation of learning begins here.

Our Lower School, which comprises Kindergarten-Grade 4, offers a rich and engaging curriculum in both general and Judaic studies. Every part of the school day is planned to offer each student a challenging, well-supported, and nurturing learning experience. We encourage students to ask questions, to entertain viewpoints different from their own, to develop their powers of observation and analysis, and to think for themselves. Our goal is for children to learn how to learn and to take joy in the process, enhancing their confidence and motivation to tackle new material. Careful attention is given to ensure that students master the critical skills involved in reading, writing, and mathematics, as these will form the foundation of all further learning. Students begin to develop a broad knowledge and understanding of fundamental concepts in science, social studies and history. Students also start to formally study Hebrew and Russian languages, and take their Judaic Studies to the next level with the introduction of Chumash (Torah) in the Second Grade. Our qualified and enthusiastic faculty brings the curriculum to life through analysis of text, thoughtful discussion, projects, and field trips. They emerge as confident individuals, ready to meet the challenges of Middle School.

  


 

Our Curriculum

At Mazel Day School, we employ curricula that is well-researched and at the cutting edge of the education field. Here are a few highlights from our dual curriculum of excellence in both General and Judaic studies, surpassing even NYS Board of Education curriculum standards:

Advanced Mathematics and English Literacy Program that builds the foundation of each child’s academic education through individualized instruction that allows children to progress at their own level, depending on ability and learning style. 

MATHEMATICS is taught using the Singapore Math approach as implemented in the "Math in Focus" curricula. 

    Math classes today look different from the way they did when we were children. The emphasis is on conceptual understanding and not just procedures and practice of them. We use the workshop model to engage learners in inquiry and worthwhile mathematical tasks, proving their thinking and communicating it to their peers. Implicit in our work is the belief that real context, representation, and discourse are critical to learning.  

    Why Singapore Math?   

    In an independent study by The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Singapore scored at or near the top in mathematics for 4 studies in a row. United States academics who noticed this trend began marketing the Singapore Math curriculum in the United States, in an effort to bring up the mathematics level of our country. Students who use this curriculum are better equipped to handle higher level math and thinking skills, especially as they approach middle school.

    QUALITY VS. QUANTITY

    Singapore’s approach is to teach basic concepts very thoroughly as they will lay a very strong foundation for higher thinking and processing skills required later on.  In general, Singapore is designed on the premise that it is vital to establish a strong foundation for numeracy, critical thinking and problem solving early on, and teach skills and concepts very thoroughly, prior to moving on to the next topic. This is one of the “secrets of success” that makes Singapore produce such high results in the long run.  Thus, compared to other math programs, Singapore Math will teach fewer concepts at a time more thoroughly instead of touching upon many topics, and not mastering any (“mile-wide-but-an-inch-deep”).

    THINKING DEEPLY

    Another aspect of Singapore Math is developing critical thinking.  Unit topics in Singapore Math are taught and discussed in a variety of ways to enable students to look at problems from different angles and creatively figure out a solution. Much of the curriculum is done through discussion, interactive experiences and creative problem solving in the classroom. 

    NUMERACY

    A large part of Singapore Math will be devoted to developing an understanding of numeracy. The concept of numeracy requires a deep understanding of what numbers represent and how to manipulate them. A child who has a strong foundation in numeracy can later develop strategies for addition and subtraction (and eventually multiplication and division) without having to rely always on using a pen and paper, their fingers or other manipulatives. For example, a child with a strong sense of numeracy will see the number 97+35 and will automatically take 3 from the 35, put it to the 97 to make 100 and come up mentally with the answer of 132 without having to use algorithms to solve the problem.  Thus, a large part of the math program is spent on number bonds and bar models-both of which are strategies which help children develop that strong sense of numeracy.

    LONG-TERM INVESTMENT

    Research has shown that though at times Singapore Math may seem much more basic than other curriculums, because of the way in which the math is taught in first and second grade, laying a strong foundation for mathematical understanding, by the time children reach third grade, they outpace their grade-level peers using a different math program. 

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ENGLISH LITERACY instruction follows the Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop model, an educational research organization at Teachers College of Columbia University.    

    Why TC Reading and Writing Workshop?   

    The TC approach to literacy instruction presents reading and writing in it's natural form so that students develop a view of literacy as part of life.  Children come to view Words as a welcome “haven”.  Whether written or spoken, words become the doorway through which they can discover new worlds of ideas and information, as well as express their own inner world to share with others.

    TARGETED LESSONS 

    In using the workshop model, teachers give short, targeted mini-lessons in reading and writing and then the children have a chance to work independently or in groups on the skill or concept that was taught. Teachers regularly confer and work with the students, both individually and in small groups, to differentiate instruction and ensure that each student reaches his/her maximal potential. Throughout the literacy period during the year, teachers are constantly assessing the students in many areas to make sure that instruction is provided on each student’s level in order to bring up struggling students and challenge advanced students. 

Our SCIENCE Program that exposes children to a broad range of scientific experiences and knowledge, including Life Sciences, Earth Sciences and Physical Sciences. 

At Mazel, we use the FOSS curriculum for science instruction. FOSS (Full Option Science System) is a research-based science curriculum for grades K-8 developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley. FOSS has evolved from a philosophy of teaching and learning that has guided the development of successful active-learning science curricula for more than 40 years. The FOSS Program bridges research and practice by providing tools and strategies to engage students and teachers in enduring experiences that lead to deeper understanding of the natural and designed worlds. There are multiple benefits to this program including:

Students learn science by doing science

FOSS engages students in scientific and engineering practices. Students construct an understanding of science concepts through their own investigations and analyses, using laboratory equipment, student readings, and interactive technology. Students exercise logical thinking and decision-making skills appropriate to their age levels.

Integrated reading, writing, and mathematics

The FOSS active investigations, science notebooks, FOSS Science Resources articles, and formative assessments provide rich contexts in which students develop and exercise thinking and communication. These elements are essential for effective instruction in both science and language arts-students experience the natural world in real and authentic ways and use language to inquire, process information, and communicate their thinking about scientific phenomena. FOSS refers to this development of language process and skills within the context of science as science-centered language development. 

Taking FOSS Outdoors

FOSS throws open the classroom door and proclaims the entire school campus to be the science classroom. The true value of science knowledge is its usefulness in the real world and not just in the classroom. Taking regular excursions into the immediate outdoor environment has many benefits. It provides opportunities for students to apply things they learned in the classroom to novel situations. When students are able to transfer knowledge of scientific principles to natural systems, they experience a sense of accomplishment. With repeated visits to familiar outdoor learning environments, students may first develop comfort in the outdoors, followed by a desire to embrace and understand natural systems.

Our SOCIAL STUDIES curriculum is developed around EXPLORATIONS that seek to help students answer key essential questions for the way in which societies develop, as well as how they relate to the American society in which they live.

Each grade focuses on a different Big Idea, using discussion, research and hands-on projects to develop students knowledge and understanding of social studies concepts.  

Map and globe skills are interspersed throughout the lessons, helping children develop an understanding of the world we live in.

Our VALUES-based curriculum focuses on character development and self-discipline, as well as life skills (including independence, problem solving, and social negotiation).

At Mazel, we believe that good ‘Midot’ (character traits) are the foundation of an upright and moral person. Good ‘Midot’ focus on positive social interactions as well as self-control and self-regulation.  Developing good ‘Midot’ supersedes any academic learning that a person might achieve because if a person lacks these interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, how far can his/her academics alone take them?  As such, this curriculum is the focus of our year.  We continuously reinforce it throughout the day at various times—during learning, mealtimes, and recess.  Every 3-6 weeks we focus on a specific positive character trait, which is further broken down to weekly points. Using books, songs, stories, role-playing and many more activities we strive to introduce and reinforce these positive traits in our students.

While children are young and their hearts are open, we introduce the fundamental Jewish value of performing mitzvot (kind deeds) by integrating a variety of chesed (kindness) projects into every aspect of the curriculum. Students are encouraged to give tzedakah (charity) daily and play an active role in deciding how to distribute the funds. Over the year, students will visit senior centers, collect food and clothing for poor families. At Mazel Day School, our children begin a lifelong commitment to caring for others.

Our HEBREW LITERACY Program teaches fluency in Hebrew alphabet and reading skills. First grade students and above study Hebrew language and texts using the TaL AM Curriculum.

At Mazel, we use the TaL AM program to help children develop their Hebrew language skills in an authentic context. Based on years of research on the principles of language development and learning patterns, this program is nurturing a generation of Jewish children around the world who are literate in the Hebrew language and equipped with the knowledge, skills and commitment they need to live vibrant Jewish lives.

The entire structure of the TaL AM program is based on the notion that the best learning environment for children is one in which knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities, using each of the five senses. In addition to studying from textbooks, students use music, games and visual aids to learn the Hebrew language and to develop a keen understanding of Jewish concepts and values.

Students develop their Hebrew and heritage literacy in a gradual and spiraled process, building new ideas and concepts a top an expanding foundation of knowledge. The program gradually helps foster Jewish identity by allowing children to explore their Jewish roots and traditions in a fun and exciting manner. By making the study of Hebrew and Judaism relevant to the children's everyday lives, the program enables them to develop a true appreciation of their heritage.

The program activates learning in all frames of mind by utilizing a wide range of activities for all modes of communication, integrating Hebrew Language acquisition, the development of Jewish concepts and values, and reading and writing skills.  In accordance with these principles, the programs create a visual and auditory Hebrew environment in the classroom which is mirrored in the students' materials, thus extending their use into the home, enhancing retention and reinforcing the learning process.

Our JEWISH LIFE curriculum teaches Jewish Holidays, History and Traditions.

More than a set of “rules and rituals”, Judaism gives our students’ the grounding and perspective to deal with any and every situation that life will present.  It brings them joy, wonder and mindfulness.  It gives them the sense that they have a purpose in life, one that only they can achieve.   It cultivates self-assurance in Jewish identity that will later become the stalwart of their adult lives.   This is the greatest gift we can provide our children.  The goal of our Judaic Studies curriculum is to transmit a comprehensive knowledge of Judaism, along with a profound commitment to Israel and the Jewish people.   Children experience Jewish traditions as cherished and beloved by celebrating the joy of Jewish living, Shabbat and holidays.  At the same time, teachers cultivate an understanding that “different families observe Judaism differently”, and create opportunities for each child to share how he or she celebrates Jewish identity in their home.  

Our school is dedicated to engaging our students in a relationship with the language, culture, land, and people of Israel. As an integral part of Jewish identity and peoplehood, we bring a far-away land to the hearts and minds of young children by focusing on connections in their personal families, the holidays and Jewish history.

CO-CURRICULAR SPECIALS INCLUDE... 

  • Russian Language and Literacy Program
  • Visual Arts Program in our specialized art room
  • Weekly Music lessons with professional music teachers
  • Physical Education Program
  • Field Trips to Museums and Educational Institutions to enhance the learning experience
  • Weekly sessions at our Successmaker Computer Lab 

 

At Mazel Day School, the process of learning is valued, not only the product. As a result, the children at Mazel truly love to learn! Learning experiences are exciting, concrete, meaningful and REAL. Teachers use a variety of methods to bring the subject matter alive, including: Field Trips, Baking Projects, Experiments, Arts and Crafts, Discussions, Songs and reading lots and lots of books.

Our classrooms are beautiful and sunny - a learning Garden of Eden, fully stocked with the highest quality educational materials, computers, and furniture.In addition, we serve a full Kosher breakfast, lunch and snack that is fresh, nutritious and child-friendly. We also offer free transportation services, early drop-off (from 8 AM) and after school hours (until 6 PM).

Most importantly of all is our focus on developing the whole child – mind, heart and spirit. At Mazel the emphasis is not only on academic performance. Our teachers work to nurture each child’s character, sense of self, social skills, and “mentchlichkeit” (fine manners and disciplined behavior).

Our teachers are hired through a rigorous screening process to ensure that they are not only highly-professional and skilled, but also have the warmth and insight necessary to truly bring out each child’s soul and spirit.

To learn more about the unique opportunities Mazel has to offer your child, to find out about tuition fees and curriculum goals, or to set up an appointment for an on-site TOUR with our Educational Directors, call 718-368-4490 today or email mazeladmissions@gmail.com. Your child will thank you!To take a virtual tour of our lower school classrooms, you can visit our photo gallery.