Early Childhood Education at the JCC Indianapolis
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at JCC Indianapolis is a Level Three Paths to QUALITY provider as designated through Indiana’s voluntary childcare quality rating system implemented by the Indiana Family and Social Services administration.
What Separates Us From Other Education Services?
At the JCC Indianapolis, our teaching staff engages children in activities that promote creativity, accelerate learning, and stimulate social interaction. Everything we do in early childhood education is focused on developing skills for life and ensuring every child is well-prepared socially and academically for the years ahead.
Our full-time preschool education facility is located on a 40-acre wooded campus with walking paths, gardens, multiple playgrounds, and a fitness facility complete with pools and gyms. In summer, children frequent the on-site Eskenazi Water Park, complete with a zero-depth pool for our youngest swimmers. Children get swim lessons outdoors in the summer and indoors in our heated therapy pool the rest of the year. The JCC is an inclusive, welcoming organization that is open to all.
Benefits of Enrolling Your Child at JCC
The ECE program follows the Creative Curriculum method based on the view that children learn best when they are actively exploring a carefully constructed environment in the company of loving, professionally prepared teachers. Creative curriculum goes beyond rote learning and focuses on big ideas, interesting projects, and individual students’ passions and needs.
In addition, our program is consistent with the Indiana Department of Education’s Foundations for Young Children, which supports the use of hands-on learning. Goals are identified in all areas of development:
- Social Development. To help children feel comfortable in school, trust their new environment, make friends, and feel they are a part of the group.
- Emotional Development. To cultivate in our children self-confidence, independence, self-control, and a positive attitude toward life.
- Physical Development. To help children increase their muscle skills and feel confident about what their bodies can do.
- Cognitive Development. To encourage children to become independent learners by testing their own ideas and experiencing success and by helping them develop learning skills such as problem-solving, asking questions, and using descriptive words to express their ideas, observations, and feelings.
We carefully screen and select our nurturing ECE teachers and caregivers. Take a walk through our corridors, and you will see our staff hugging children, gently working with them on projects, and participating in fun activities. Our teachers are well-trained (and retrained each year) in the areas of child development and health and safety standards. We recognize how critical a partnership between educators and parents is during these formative years. Our teachers engage parents in their children’s learning by communicating regularly about each child’s educational, emotional, and behavioral development. Our teachers are always available to parents with the child’s best interests in mind.
Our entire facility is the children’s playground at the JCC. We play sports and games in our gymnasiums, and all children play outdoors in our enclosed playgrounds to benefit from the fresh air and develop motor skills by running, jumping, climbing, and playing. We have a garden where the children grow their own vegetables and flowers.
Our pools are a unique aspect of our curriculum. Children at the JCC learn to swim and to love water because of our “magic pool”—the Backer Therapy Pool where the water is a warm and welcoming 89 degrees Fahrenheit and equipped with a hydraulic floor that “magically” adjusts from 0 to 6 feet for great fun in splashing in the water as it slowly becomes deeper.
Children in our program are welcome to participate in any number of classes and sports activities that the JCC offers after preschool and pre-kindergarten hours. For a nominal fee, your child may participate in enrichment activities including dance classes, soccer and basketball leagues, swimming, tennis lessons, and karate. Visit our Youth programs page for details.
While we recognize that many children in our program are not Jewish, the values we teach apply to all equally. In addition to kindness, respect, and responsibility, we focus on “tzedakah,” the Hebrew word for doing good deeds and sharing with those less fortunate. Our children participate all year long in activities to perform acts of kindness not only for their classmates and teachers but for others in the community through partnerships with other not-for-profit agencies (e.g., Gleaners Food Bank).
The JCC inspires children to explore traditions by participating in Jewish holiday celebrations. We celebrate Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) every Friday and learn about Jewish holidays by discussing stories and observing the traditions of each one. The Jewish holidays provide rich opportunities for learning and different sorts of activities (e.g., dressing in costumes, parades, food preparation, candle-lighting, etc.).
We also incorporate the national JCC’s Sheva Center framework for early childhood education based on the culture and teachings of Judaism, its values, and principles as applied in everyday life.
The fundamental components are deeply rooted in the latest research on child development:
- Children as Constructivist Learners.
- Early Childhood Directors as Visionaries.
- Early Childhood Educators as Professionals.
- Families as Engaged Partners.
- Environments as Inspiration for Inquiry.
- Taking Care of our bodies (a program we call Discover CATCH).
- Israel as a Source and Resource.
To schedule a tour, please contact our Assistant Director of Early Childhood Education, Cindy Reinbold, at creinbold@JCCindy.org or (317) 715-6988.
What to Expect
We offer childcare from 8 am–5 pm, Monday-Friday year-round. And for our preschool, we offer 3-day and 5-day/week options.
Our teachers use the Remini app to check in and check out children every day per Indiana State Child Care Regulations.
Please park in a designated parking space in the East lot, entering door 5, when picking up and dropping off your child. Due to traffic and fire regulations, no parking is allowed along the curb.
Parents and guardians are responsible for escorting their child to and from the classroom.
Most children require a few days or weeks at the beginning of the school year to adjust to their new environment. Please help our teachers work through this adjustment period with the children by not lingering in the classroom.
Children will be released only to individuals listed on your emergency card. Our staff is trained to verify the identification of anyone they do not recognize. If you need to add or remove names or make any other changes to your emergency card, please call the Director of ECE at (317) 715-6987.
Please be prompt when picking up your child from school as it may be upsetting to your child to wait for you. The ECE’s late fee policy is as follows:
- 1st occurrence, parent will receive a written warning.
- 2nd occurrence and after, the account will be charged $5 per minute per child for each minute of tardiness after 5 pm.
- Three (3) late pick-ups may result in a two-day suspension from the ECE program.
At times, children will leave licensed spaces to travel to other parts of the building accompanied by their ECE teachers and staff members. Please note the children are kept safe during these transitions from one licensed space to another as well as when they journey to enjoy other areas in our facility and on campus.
The Indiana Family & Social Services Administration mandates that children have a rest period (nap time) every day. The JCC ECE program follows all safe sleep requirements. All items provided by families should be labeled with your child’s name and taken home weekly for laundering.
Rest on their own individual schedules.
Ones through Pre-Kindergarten
Rest on a group schedule. Please see your child’s classroom daily schedule to check the designated group nap time. During this quiet period, the children nap on individual cots in a dimly lit room. We encourage each child to have a fitted crib sheet which covers the cot nicely, a small blanket, a small pillow, and a stuffed animal or lovey.
Children are busy every day with arts and crafts, outdoor play and simply being kids. Please dress your child daily in washable play clothes appropriate for the day’s weather, including hats, coats, mittens, and boots when necessary. Children should wear socks and tennis shoes daily. Sandals and open-toed shoes are not safe on the playground. As well, your child will need a swimsuit, shoes to wear to the pool and a towel.
The JCC provides children with a nutritious, balanced diet for lunch and morning and afternoon snack time. Because of our commitment to creating an environment of inclusiveness so that children coming from kosher homes will be able to partake in meals with classmates, all our food is kosher.
All food brought to the JCC for birthdays and special occasions must be kosher and come in the original packaging with the kosher symbol. If you are planning a party at home, we are happy to share the invitation with your child’s classmates so the entire class is invited. We would appreciate your cooperation so that no one feels excluded.
We strongly discourage children from bringing toys and fragile items that cannot be easily shared at school. Some classes may have a special time allotted for “Show and Share.” Please note that this is up to individual classrooms and that those teachers will notify you. TOY GUNS, SWORDS, or WEAPONS are not allowed at the JCC!
Please be sure that all clothing and personal items are clearly labeled with your child’s name.
For details about all the J’s policies for its early childhood education program, e.g., data privacy and confidentiality, behavior and discipline, child abuse reporting, communicable disease management, etc. download our Parent Handbook.
Each of our classrooms offer unique, age-appropriate experiences and care for our youngest members.
Full-time (8 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday). In our infant program, parents provide diapers, wipes, and baby food for meals and snacks. Our infant rooms are designed to promote continuity of care from 6 weeks through toddlerhood. Based on your child’s birthday and our school-wide transition plan, your child may be enrolled in one of our infant classrooms up to 20 months of age. Our program offers individualized care in regard to your child’s schedule as well as helping them prepare to move into our Ones and Toddler program by participating in a group schedule such as meal and nap times.
Our youngest students are able to take advantage of our beautiful facilities and outside campus through interactive buggy rides, outside experiences on one of our infant and toddler playgrounds, and the opportunity to splash and play at our Eskenazi Water Park during the summer. Starting in our Infant program, our teachers implement the creative curriculum as part of their lesson planning and turn your child’s everyday experiences into learning moments.
Full-time (8 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday). In our Ones and Toddlers program, parents provide diapers and wipes. Once your child enters our Ones and Toddlers program, based on our school-wide transition plan, we incorporate a group schedule for meal and nap times. The children participate in a scheduled gym and swim class once per week as well as experience the Eskenazi Water Park during summer.
Our teachers add in different learning experiences for our Ones and Toddlers. We continue to focus on social and emotional development as well as add in learning activities to strengthen their language and cognitive development. The foundation of our learning is through play-based activities.
Full-time (8 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday). In our Twos program, we work to embrace our learning through play with the introduction of learning centers. Our Twos program offers many types of hands-on learning centers such as art, music, manipulatives, home living and blocks to name a few. Our teachers creatively develop the lesson plans based on the interest of the children utilizing themes or letters of the week. Our Twos all have group swim and gym time. A big focus is toilet learning. We work closely with families to provide the consistency between home and school when working on this important self-help skill.
Full-time (8 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday) or 3-day and 5-day part-time (9 am–12:30 pm). Welcome to Preschool! Children enter one of our preschool classrooms between the ages of 2 1/2 through turning age 4 based on our school-wide transition plans. Our preschool classrooms participate in weekly gym and swim classes. Teachers create lesson plans that embrace the learning-through-play teaching method to engage children in activities that promote creativity, accelerate learning, and stimulate social interaction, all at each child’s individual pace. Creative expression opportunities are provided daily in our Music/Movement and Art Centers. The JCC Early Childhood Education program also collaborates with local organizations to bring in teaching artists to connect children to the arts through artist workshops and specialized performances.
Full-time (8 am–5 pm, Monday–Friday) or part-time (9 am–2 pm, Monday–Friday).
Children entering our Pre-Kindergarten program are entering their last year of Early Childhood Education at the JCC. Our teachers continue to focus on play-based learning, and we encourage children to become independent learners by testing their own ideas and experiencing success. Helping them develop learning skills through problem-solving, asking questions, and using descriptive words to express their ideas and observations allows this age group to be our most independent within our school. Our program is focused on developing skills for life so that each child in our program will be well prepared academically and socially for their elementary years.
Participation in our Early Childhood Education program is reserved for JCC members only. A child’s immediate family must maintain an active JCC family or single-parent membership in good standing throughout the entire time the child is in our program. Visit our Membership page for more details.
Please note that many of our programs are full and have a waitlist and accompanying form to fill out.
In order to comply with Indiana State Child Care Regulations, the following forms must be completed and returned on or before the first day your child attends our ECE program and then annually:
- Emergency Information Please make sure the contacts on your emergency form are aware they might be called. Only individuals listed on your form may pick up your child from the program. Please notify the ECE office in writing if phone numbers or any other information on the emergency form changes.
- Childhood History
- Permissions & Releases
- Health Record
- Medication Record
- Feeding Plan (if applicable)
- Child and Adult Food Program Form
- Birth Certificate: Indiana State Child Care Regulations require that all children must have a copy of their birth certificate on file.
Indiana code requires that we maintain documentation of a current annual exam provided by the physician of each child in our care. Please have your doctor complete the Health Record and return it to our office prior to the beginning of the school year. All physicals must be current within one year of the exam date. Faxed forms are acceptable: (317) 251-9493.
For your convenience, the JCC offers an EZ payment plan for ECE and membership fees. Payments will be deducted from your checking account or charged to your credit card on the 1st of each month. You will receive written notice in advance if there is a change in the monthly fee.
Cost varies by age and will be discussed during your initial tour. Please note that a membership at the JCC is required for all families in our preschool program. The JCC offers need-based scholarships for memberships.
If you are leaving the ECE program, we require a two-week notice. Please note that JCC memberships require a 30-day notice if you want to cancel your overall membership to the J.
Child Abuse Prevention
We take action to protect children in our care as a Darkness to Light “Partner in Prevention.” All staff members are trained in this award-winning Stewards of Children® Program for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention.
We have achieved “Partner in Prevention” status, a designation by the nonprofit Darkness to Light that is awarded to organizations that take extra steps to protect the children they serve by training staff to understand the issue of child sexual abuse, identify unsafe situations and practices, and react responsibly in the best interest of the children they serve.
One in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. We earned the “Partner in Prevention” designation by providing Stewards of Children training to more than 90% of our management, staff, and volunteers. This evidence-informed program is scientifically proven to help participants prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.
“Partner in Prevention” was created as a national standard to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations that take child protection seriously by implementing policies and training staff to prevent child sexual abuse.
Darkness to Light is an international non-profit organization that leads the movement to end child sexual abuse by educating and empowering adults in education, youth-serving organizations, and communities. Darkness to Light has affiliates in all 50 states and 16 international locations.
Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, is a federal law stating that:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The JCC partners with the Domestic Violence Network. For more information about Title IX, please visit https://dvnconnect.org/title-ix/.
Unplanned School Closings
If the school will not open or will have a delayed opening due to inclement weather or for any other reason, parents will receive a text via the Remini app.
Building closings are posted on the JCC website.
You may always call the JCC at (317) 251-9467 for confirmation that we are operating under normal hours.