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The JCYS Wicker Park Family Center provides exceptional early childhood education for children ages 15 months to 5 years old. Our Reggio-inspired classrooms foster children’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth in a joyful, child-centered environment, and our play-based approach encourages children to develop a lifelong love of learning. We strive to include families of all faiths in our celebration of Jewish culture and traditions.

Our center offers Toddler Care, Preschool, and Summer Camp. All programs have half-day and full-day options available, as well as 2-day, 3-day, and 5-day schedule options.

Ready to learn more? Contact us for open house dates or to schedule a personalized tour!

Program Highlight: Super Soccer Stars

At JCYS Wicker Park, we maintain a partnership with Super Soccer Stars that gives our older children the opportunity to develop hand-eye coordination, teamwork, physical fitness, and self-confidence through a fun, non-competitive soccer program.

Child-centered learning through discovery and exploration

At JCYS Wicker Park, our curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Reggio instructors don’t teach a one-size-fits-all curriculum to every child: they encourage each child to pursue self-directed learning experiences through exploration and play while building healthy relationships with teachers and peers. The Reggio approach also emphasizes the importance of the child’s environment in encouraging active, joyful learning. Drawing on Reggio techniques, JCYS Wicker Park offers a space where all children can develop socially, physically, and intellectually.

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Social and Emotional Skills

The Reggio Emilia approach incorporates both self-directed exploration and cooperation with others as children learn to participate in the group. This provides the best of both worlds for social and emotional learning: children learn independent self-help strategies like problem-solving and perseverance but also social skills like sharing, cooperating, negotiating, and conflict resolution.

Physical Development

Outdoor play is an essential part of our curriculum – budding botanists, zoologists, and ecologists can explore plants, flowers, and the natural world outside as well as enjoying our secure rooftop play space. Your child’s time at JCYS Wicker Park will also include exciting enrichment activities like music and yoga. A music specialist comes in to work with the children every Monday and a yoga specialist comes in every Tuesday. Our partnership with Super Soccer Stars offers even more opportunities for our oldest children to develop their physical skills. Building healthy bodies takes good food: we serve our catered food family-style so that teachers can engage with the children while encouraging them to try new foods and build healthy eating habits.

Academic Foundations

At JCYS Wicker Park, pre-literacy skills are reinforced in every classroom through a child-centered approach that builds on story time, music, and art activities to develop children’s verbal fluency and reading readiness. Our curriculum also cultivates the pre-math skills and other capabilities that children will need to succeed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) classes. We encourage children to develop creativity independently through open exploration with manipulatives and large loose parts – this builds gross motor skills and encourages individual exploration. Future engineers, industrial designers, and architects can develop their spatial reasoning abilities and experiment with shapes, textures, and colors. Our staff members are trained in food safety and food allergy awareness, and we maintain DCFS standards for staff accreditation and staff-to-child ratio in each classroom.

Program highlight: Parent-tot Yoga

Upcoming dates: October 13 – November 17, 2018

JCYS Wicker Park’s parent-tot yoga class, created in partnership with jBaby, is a fun and interactive class that combines classic yoga poses with developmentally appropriate play! This class focuses on developing coordination, flexibility, strength, balance, and self-esteem, and provides a healthy and joyful opportunity for parent(s) and child to learn together. This year’s parent-tot classes will be offered on Saturdays from 9:30-10:15 AM during several sessions throughout the year. The next upcoming session is October 13 to November 17. Visit this link to check dates and register online.

Jewish culture and family engagement

JCYS programs are open to families of every faith. Children at our family centers learn about Jewish traditions and culture through inclusive celebrations. We celebrate Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) by baking challah with the children every Friday and invite one child per classroom to serve as “Shabbat helper” every week. That child chooses a family member to join the classroom for a special activity and the family receives a take-home bag for Shabbat celebrations at home.

We also celebrate a grandparent Shabbat and organize family events around major Jewish holidays, including Sukkah parties, Hanukkah concerts, a Purim party, and Passover Seders. Secular family events include a Mother’s Day brunch and a year-end party. Tzedakah projects also help connect our children and families to Jewish life and our center’s community.

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