Our Educational Philosophy

Our Educational Philosophy

As a Jewish Day School, Mazel’s educational philosophy is built upon the principles of “Jewish Education”. A Jewish Education is more than gaining knowledge about Judaism. A Jewish Education is unique in that it uses these guiding principles in educating young children:

  • דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה ~ Derech Eretz Kadmah LaTorah: Character development, fine “midot” (values), and “mentchlichkeit” (ethics) are the cornerstone of education, primary even to study of academics.

  • חנוך לנוער על פי דרכו ~ Chanoch L’Naar Al Pi Darcho: Each child is an individual world and must be educated according to his or her unique “way”. To educate the child, teachers seek to understand & work with their personality, needs and strengths, differentiating instruction accordingly.

  • תורת חיים ~ Torat Chaim: The Torah is a Living Tree that gives life and joy to our daily routines. More than an academic pursuit, Judaism presents us with a guide and lens through which we find meaning and purpose in our life experiences.

  • אהבת ישראל כלל גדול בתורה ~ Ahavat Yisroel – Klal Gadol BaTorah: To love one’s fellow as one’s self is the most fundamental value of the Torah. Respecting others, empathizing and giving with kindness are key life traits we seek to instill in our students. 

 


Inspired by Jewish values, we believe that children learn best through… 

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  • A Joyful and Positive Environment: A key message that we want our children to come home with is that the school experience is fun and positive. Learning is joyous and exciting! 
  • Positive Relationships with Teachers and Peers: An open heart brings to an open mind. This is what guides our teachers in their interactions with the children, from their warm greeting in the morning to how they work with the children to engage a positive social environment that builds healthy friendships.

  • Holistic and Engaging Educational Experiences: Learning is brought alive through experiences that are truly memorable by engaging the children’s senses, imagination and natural curiosity. Dry, abstract textbook learning have no place in our classrooms. Rather, lessons are presented as hands-on experiences that engage our students’ natural thirst for learning. 

  • A "Guide on the Side" rather than "Sage on the Stage": In our classrooms, teachers guide learning, rather than become the focus of it. Thus, the child is the center of the learning experience. This nurtures independent thinking skills that are the foundation of a child’s future of learning. 

  • Language that Models Character and Values: Teachers thoughtfully use language and role-modeling to communicate to children positive character traits, such as “Kindness”, “Responsibility” and “Respectfulness”. These guide the everyday flow of the classroom and inspire children to value these “Ideas” as their own. 

  • Interaction with Developmentally Stimulating Learning Materials: Our classrooms are filled with educational manipulatives, games and learning tools that enable children to learn even abstract concepts through hands-on experiences. This allows teachers to show children what they are learning, rather than simply tell them. Great care is taken when setting up our classrooms so that each area contains just the right materials that will stimulate the children’s learning and development. 

  • Individualized Instruction: Small class sizes allow teachers to customize learning goals for individual students. Teachers will often be observed working one-on-one or with a small group of students on their specific skill-level. Teachers systematically assess children’s progress and set learning goals for each student based on performance and capability. Work is assigned to each child based on whether he or she requires more review in a particular area, or is ready to move on to the next step. 

  • Empowerment and Independence: By empowering children with the independence to care for themselves and their environment, to make responsible choices and to be creative in their own unique ways we envision our role as a school as not only to teach children information, but to empower them with the tools that will prepare them for LIFE!

 


A Word about Progressive Education 

Mazel Day School offers its students a progressive model for education. Many parents imagine a “progressive” school to be defined as having a more open-ended curriculum that is child-centered but also less structured, perhaps less disciplined. Here are some facts about a true progressive education:

  • Learning is driven by an understanding of HOW children learn and develop.
  • Careful attention is paid to the process of learning, not only on the “product” or grade. Learning in a progressive classroom will be more interactive and hands-on.
  • The teacher focuses on teaching the children, rather than on teaching the set curriculum. This means that the children’s needs come first.
  • There are defined learning goals and benchmarks, but there is flexibility in the pacing or in the modalities of learning based on different student’s needs.
  •  The teacher is the facilitator of learning, rather than lecturer (“guide on the side” vs. “sage on the stage”).

These characteristics of a progressive classroom impact not only how the curriculum is taught, but also how the types of daily activities, the classroom routines and schedule, the teacher’s language with the children and how the classroom is designed.

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 What are some benefits of a progressive education?

  • Children growing up in Western societies today need a very different type of school environment than their parents did 20+ years ago. With the advent of technology, children are born into a world that is quicker paced, and much more interactive. In addition, society nowadays places greater emphasis on the needs of the individual and especially children. This “view of the child” is reflected in the ways that parents raise their children. A “top down” approach to schooling is failing many children today, whereas more progressive classrooms are adapting to worlds of modern children.
  • A tremendous amount of research has been done in the past 15 years about how the human brain learns new information. Because progressive classrooms are built on the premise that learning is focused on the child, rather than on the teacher, these brain-based research-proven methodologies are intuitively incorporated on a daily basis.
  • The 21st century work environment values critical “out of the box” thinking and collaboration over other skill-sets. Progressive classrooms cultivate these skills from childhood, helping prepare children for future success in ways that traditional classrooms cannot. In fact, the typical traditional classroom trains children to think in a linear “check the correct box” way, and also to work in isolation and/or competition with peers.