Nursery School FAQ


When did Temple Sinai Nursery School begin operation?

The school opened in the fall of 1992 under the leadership of Perri Iger-Silversmith.  After three remarkable decades of leadership, Perri retired in the fall of 2020, and Ali Hurewitz, former TSNS parent, teacher, and Nursery School Assistant Director, became the Temple Sinai Director of Early Childhood Education.  With nearly 20 years as a member of the Temple Sinai Nursery School community, Ali has ensured the continuity of the program moving forward.  In addition to her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, Ali holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Leadership from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education.

What license and accreditation does the school hold?

TSNS is licensed as a child development facility by the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Our Nursery School has emerged as a leader in progressive Early Childhood Jewish education. In July 2007, TSNS received notification that we achieved re-accreditation with the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) after a rigorous year-long self-study process. We received our fifth re-accreditation in 2017. This prestigious recognition demonstrates that we meet the NAEYC’s national standards for excellence.

TSNS went through a similar accreditation process with the Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning called the “Community Program in Jewish Education for Early Childhood Centers.” We are proud to have been awarded a Certificate of Commendation in Jewish Education. This award is in recognition of the school’s compliance with the Partnership’s exacting standards for high quality Jewish early learning programs.

What is the school’s educational philosophy?

We are a Developmental Early Childhood Program which emphasizes experiential “hands-on” learning. The philosophy of the school is based on the theories of Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, Erikson, Gardner, the Bank Street Model, and constructivist education, and is inspired by the practices of the Reggio Emilia Approach. Through gentle facilitation, attention to individual needs, and respect for unique learning styles, our children grow in self confidence and the ability to relate to one another. They develop curiosity and learn to experience the world in an expansive way. Planning is based on our understanding of the developmental characteristics of young children. We believe that play is the primary vehicle through which learning progresses in the early years. Sensitivity to the needs of parents of young children always underpins our efforts. In addition to providing an excellent developmentally appropriate secular curriculum, we take pride in helping parents foster a positive sense of Jewish identity for their children. Parents are involved in the daily life of the program in a variety of ways – sharing their talents and taking leadership roles in the nursery school community.

What is the religious content of the curriculum?

Children enjoy a simple weekly Shabbat observance in the classroom and a school-wide “Shabbat Sing.” Blessings are recited daily at snack time and at the optional Lunch Bunch program. We are proud of our fully developed curriculum for every classroom that includes an age appropriate introduction to major holidays. Holiday celebrations are incorporated into language, cognitive activities, and social interactions in the classroom. Jewish traditions and rituals are celebrated throughout the year.  Many of our children come from families who are not affiliated with the temple. We welcome families of all faiths and backgrounds.

Class Size?

In a typical year, average class sizes range from:

    • 2’s: 8-10 children
    • 3’s:  12-13 children
    • Pre-K: 13-15 children

Teacher-Pupil Ratio?

There are at least two teachers in every classroom. Additionally, in-house floaters are available to provide extra coverage as needed. Our teacher-student ratio meets or exceeds the requirements of the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and NAEYC.

What is the policy on Outdoor Time?

Outdoor time is an integral part of our program. Children enjoy outdoor play except in very inclement weather.

Teacher Credentials?

Lead teachers have degrees in the field of Early Childhood Education or related field like Psychology, Elementary Education, or Special Education. Assistant teachers have backgrounds of related education and experience, including the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification.

As a community of early childhood professionals, we place a strong emphasis on professional growth, providing regular in-service training for all of our faculty members. This includes attendance at early childhood workshops both locally and nationally as well as regular staff meetings.

Do you offer early drop off?

EarlyBirds Morning Drop-off (Before School Care) begins at 8:15 a.m.  

Do you offer extended day?

Again, in a typical year we offer an extended day program, but during the pandemic we will not be able to do so.  Usually Afternoon Enrichment is available for all children ages 3 and older. Afternoon programming including Lunch Bunch is available, in a typical year, two, three, or four afternoons per week until 2:30 p.m.  During Lunch Bunch, children enjoy further opportunities to socialize with their peers and teachers from 12:15 until 1:00 p.m., while eating lunch brought from home.  All children enrolled in Afternoon Enrichment programming (Rainbow Days and Discovery) are automatically enrolled in Lunch Bunch.  Children not participating in Afternoon Enrichment may enroll in Lunch Bunch as a stand-alone program.

When should I apply?

Applications for the 2023-2024 school year are now available. The date an application is received by the school is just one of many factors considered for a place in our program.

What are the priorities for acceptance?

    • Siblings of currently enrolled children, members of the congregation, and alumni siblings have priority.
    • Consideration is given to families who are interested in taking an active role in the life of the school community.
    • Date of application may be a factor.

When will I hear whether or not there is a space for my child?

We begin mailing acceptance letters and contracts in mid-February and continue to accept children on a rolling basis as space is available in our program.

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