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Preschool 2021-22: Alive with Imagination

Guided by Jewish values, we aspire to create a joyful community where we honor the sacred relationships among children, educators, families, and the natural world.

In this community, we are all deserving of love and respect. We all have amazing potential for growth and learning. We connect to our sense of wonder and gratitude through the enduring relationships cultivated here. May we inspire one another to make the world better for this and future generations.

We believe that early childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime.

We spend every day promoting the social, emotional, physical and intellectual development of each child. At the Weinstein JCC, learning takes place inside and outside the classroom. Our children become independent thinkers and confident leaders through connecting with the wonders of the natural world through our natural outdoor classrooms & our edible school yard. Our experienced educators provide a nourishing environment for every child to learn and grow every day.


Reggio Emilia Approach

The Weinstein JCC’s Early Childhood Department is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. The Reggio Approach complements our beliefs in early childhood education. It allows us to explore curriculum methods which increase children’s creative and cognitive expression.

The basic premise of the Reggio Emilia Approach is a shared and deep belief in the strength of children’s potential for learning, exploring, and entering into relationships with their peers, teachers, and environment. Inherent in the premise is the expectation that children make hypotheses and discover connections and meanings among things and events of their daily lives.

Children have many languages for expressing and communicating. The Reggio Emilia Approach inspires us to provide the creative freedom for children to fully represent their ideas and to develop their thinking. An integral aspect in the Reggio Approach is the use of art. Art is inseparable from the rest of the curriculum, and in fact, is central to the educational process as a form of both exploration and expression.

"The Reggio Approach –
Teachers and Children…Working and Learning Together"

Donna Peters, Early Childhood Director

The Reggio Emilia Approach grows from the belief that children are rich, powerful people full of the desire and ability to grow up and construct their own knowledge. Stimulating interactions and many opportunities to communicate with one another and with caring, respectful adults help children to grow, develop and learn.

An Ethical Start
An Ethical Start™ is based on the book “Pirkei Avot – Ethics of the Fathers." It is an educational program developed to teach Jewish ethics and values to preschoolers. An Ethical Start™ was developed by the Jewish Community Center Association, which was funded in part by the Steven Spielberg Righteous Persons Foundation. An Ethical Start™ is successfully integrated into all of the Center’s preschool classrooms.

Children can also be taught through exploration of this Mishna that they have choices and that having free will involves taking responsibility for our actions, especially as those actions affect others. What an important concept for our children to understand!

The program is developed through exploration of the text, “Ethics of Our Fathers,” environmental enhancements, multi-media exploration through music, books, Peer K doll, and the emergent curriculum, which integrates with our current early childhood philosophy.

This innovative program enhances and deepens family commitment to the learning and practice of ethics and values. The six areas of focus consist of the following values: responsibility, dignity, kindness, community, tradition, and respect. An Ethical Start™ is a groundbreaking way of helping families and early childhood teachers study a classical text and develop a shared vocabulary for raising young children with respect and understanding of ethics and values.

An Ethical Start™ program is based on an imaginative character, Peer K Explorer™, an animated character and three-dimensional doll, who is our children’s “guide,” just as Pirkei Avot is our guide to value-based teaching. The multi-media approach encourages interest and peaks learning.

One of the best-known teachings of Pirkei Avot is attributed to Rabbi Hillel, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And, if I am only for myself what am I? And, If not now, when?” Pirkei Avot 1:14. This Mishna helps our children understand that they, and all other people, have innate worth simply by virtue of being human.

Preschool Registration 2021-22

Under the protocols and guidelines provided by the CDC, Va. Dept. of Health and Va. State Licensing, we have worked diligently to operate and provide a healthy and safe environment for our children, families, and faculty. We have made changes to our program based on the requirements by the CDC and responding to our family’s needs. After careful, thorough, and reflective review concerning our operating options this past year we are pleased to move forward adding more time to our full-day for working parents, as well as offering a part-day option. Our Preschool program year has added an extra week in June and we no longer have winter or spring break periods. We are providing continuous care/school in a loving and nurturing environment. We happily continue to offer a reimagined Preschool model this coming 2021-2022 school year! The children have proven to be resilient, joyful, and extremely happy to be with their peers, friends, and teachers. They continue to amaze us as they show boundless self-confidence, an enthusiasm and excitement for wondering, exploring, and learning!

Weinstein JCC Preschool Program for 2021-22 School Year 


  • Half Day 9.5 month program (9:00 am - 1:00 pm; Lunchtime included) (Sept. 8, 2021– June 16, 2022) - $9,975 total
  • Full Day 12 month program (8:30 am - 5:00 pm) (Sept. 8, 2021 – Aug. 26, 2022) - $1,750 per month

Beginning in September 2021, our Preschool program will offer the following benefits:

  • Full-day Preschool program from 8:30am-5:00pm
  • Half-day Preschool option from 9:00am- 1:00pm (lunchtime included)
  • Extended, meaningful time for outdoor learning
  • Enhanced Pre-K classrooms for 4-5 year olds to support Kindergarten readiness
  • Highly qualified, nurturing, and dedicated educators and low turnover rates
  • Personalized, small group experiences for children to build deeper and more engaging relationships with children and teachers
  • Inclusive program with highly trained, dedicated support staff
  • Specialists: Garden Educator - Cat Cowan, Nature Educator - Patsy Glazer, Judaic Specialist - Dawn Kowal
  • Ongoing professional development for all faculty
  • Daily schedules organized to avoid intermingling
  • Personalized, small group experiences
  • Playgrounds nationally certified by Nature Explore
  • Accredited by NAEYC since 1988
  • Ethical Start and Sheva Jewish Lenses (values-based learning)
  • Thorough cleaning and sanitization mandated by state guidelines (due to COVID-19)

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, we are offering limited enrollment spaces for the upcoming school year. We request that you if you are interested, please fill out your application and return it to Early Childhood Assistant Director Barbara Wise at ASAP, as limited spots are available.
Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you and your children this September!

"We are so thrilled to have our 3-year old daughter attending childcare after a long break...It is not just a place to send her each day, it’s the enriching and important experiences she is gaining that we simply could not provide her at home. She is ecstatic to see her teachers and friends every single day, she runs to them without even looking back! Being able to socialize with her peers, learning about the outdoors, singing, and playing is exactly what she needs right now...I could not ask for anything more valuable for our child. We are so grateful for the entire staff at the JCC childcare program." -A Preschool Parent


How to Enroll:

Mail your completed forms to: 

Weinstein JCC
Attention: Barbara Wise
5403 Monument Avenue
Richmond, VA 23226 

Please be sure to enclose the following with your registration papers:
1.  The registration form completed and signed (pages 8 and 9).

2.  The payment plan form with your preferred payment option selected and signed (pages 10 and 11).

3.  A non-refundable $225 registration fee.

*Please note, Weinstein JCC membership is a prerequisite for participation in the preschool program.

Scholarships are available on a limited basis. For information, contact Joey Wood at (804) 545-8605 or

The Weinstein JCC Early Childhood program is supported in part by: The Edward J. Becker Family Preschool Children's Endowment Fund, Margarete Hirsch & Suzanne Hirt Preschool Children's Endowment Fund and Dora L. Lewis Child Development Fund.

Garden & Outdoor Classrooms

At the Weinstein JCC, we believe that young children learn about their environment through direct and concrete experiences. To aid in this hands-on learning approach, we provide opportunities for exploration, discovery, experimentation and documentation within child-centered classrooms, both indoors and outdoors.

Through exposure to nature, a child’s observations and problem-solving skills are enhanced as they connect with the wonders of the natural world. Our Early Childhood program provides award-winning outdoor play spaces that cultivate imaginations and pretend play; offer hands-on experiences with sand, mud, water, dirt and flower and vegetable gardens; build visual-spatial skills; strengthen powers of observation; improve the ability to concentrate, and enhance motor skills such as coordination, balance and agility. A focus on health and wellness is promoted through our nature education, outdoor play and healthy food options.

The children will participate in gardening activities throughout the year; planting, weeding, harvesting, composting, tasting, plant identification, etc. Our Garden Educator will guide the children to explore, learn and respect the gardening process while teaching them the importance of sustainable gardening.

Our Edible Schoolyard

The Edible Schoolyard at the Weinstein JCC is a place where the whole center can go to learn, explore, eat and get dirty! We have 14 growing areas, including two raised beds with benches for easy sitting and gardening. Our gathering circle is made of boulders, and we gather there for class discussions and storytimes. Our greenhouse gives us the ability to get a head start on the seasons as well as a warm place to eat a snack and listen to the rain. It's the perfect place for a picnic and in-depth investigations.

We use the garden to produce food that the children eat during class lessons and in our snacks as well as donations to our on-site food pantry. We hold classes and volunteer days to involve the larger community, and we love seeing children showing their parents around the garden after they've been picked up from preschool or Kids' Place. Our Edible Schoolyard is a really special place, and we work very hard to care for it. We hope you'll come see for yourself how wonderful our garden space is!

Our Early Childhood Department is once again a Nationally-Certified Nature Explore Classroom!

We are pleased to announce that our Early Childhood Department has received its re-certification as a Nationally-Certified Nature Explore Classroom from the Nature Explore program, a division of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. The re-certification has been a long process, and we are honored to once again be recognized!

For more information about our Early Childhood Program, contact Early Childhood Director Donna Peters at (804) 545-8617 or