The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education seeks to elevate the knowledge, skills, and performance of the early childhood educator in Jewish educational settings. Using a cohort-based model, the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education will bring current early childhood educators together to grow as educators. This will include acquiring skills to manage classrooms and centers, successfully work with families, incorporate Torah, mitzvot (good deed) and traditions into daily lesson plans, and prepare for careers as teachers or administrators in Jewish early childhood settings. This program is available as an ONLINE or an IN-PERSON curriculum.
The American Jewish University offers a BA in ECE program (ECE is Early Childhood Education), focusing on creativity and play. This two year, online program, can be used towards a BA in ECE from the State of CA, or complete the two years for independent study at half the cost, and do not receive a BA. The program is most appropriate for teachers of Early Childhood (Nursery School) until 4th grade. View the curriculum here.
There are five hours of independent course study per week, and one hour of synchronous study with an AJU instructor. The BA program is a completion BA, which means that students complete their general education requirements somewhere else, or have BA degrees in other fields and then take just the ECE courses for a BA in ECE. This BA program integrates a focused field work course each semester in which students are evaluated on their successful implementation of curriculum. The course involves six semesters, including two summer semesters, so that students can complete their degree within two years while working full time. The course load is expected to be only 10 credits per semester.
AJU functions in a pluralistic environment. There are a number of non Jewish teachers registered who want to work in Jewish (community/Reform) schools, and therefore want to learn more about Judaism, and how to incorporate it into their classes. Judaic content is incorporated into learning. Little pre-knowledge about Judaism is required. How to conduct a Jewish Kindergarten or first grade class is a focus, and are pedagogically based. For example, music, play and drama in younger grades is a focus.
The Director, Dr. Tamar Andrews, is keen on supporting participants and accommodating their needs. She has also designed JLINX.org, which is a shared space wherein all ECE students, teachers, administrators working in Jewish ECE programs share EVERYTHING! The hope is that teachers and administrators, and participants in educational programs such as AJU will all have a voice and a place to bring Jewish education together for Early Childhood Education.
“Students use their cohort for mentorship, ideas, and problem-solving, both for issues they have within their own place of employment as well as larger Jewish community issues.“
Avital Etehad, an Early Childhood Associate Director, at Temple Isaiah, a large reform Temple in Los Angeles, whose teacher participated in the program.