Have you heard of Ganei Agnon, the brand new (private) gan in Jerusalem that recently opened for the 2018-2019 school year on Shai Agnon Street in Katamon?
Although I live close by and happen to pass the new, colorful facility on the way to Natan’s maon everyday, I was hesitant to pop inside until I saw they were having an open house a few weeks ago.
I haven’t yet announced it officially on the blog; with a lot of happiness and a full heart we welcomed a new baby girl this past March 9th, and named her Tehila Margalit.
I’ve decided to take 6 months of maternity leave and head back to my “day job” in early September. In the last few weeks we started looking around for daycare.
We have been slightly disappointed with our options. If you haven’t already been through the search for daycare for a young child (under 1) in Jerusalem, you have the choice of a private metapelet/caretaker (very rare and hard to find), the maon (where we sent our two older boys to, which we found very overcrowded and at many times unorganized), a small, registered mishpachton in someone’s house or slightly larger space, or a private mishpachton in their home. Mishpachtons also tend to be crowded: 6 to 8 children with one caretaker.
Many of the best spots filled up even before Tehila was born.
Also, in my experience so far, this is the first time I have seen a gan, for ages 3 and under, that has any educational pedagogy. (It changes to a more structured, educational direction once they get to Gan Iria-State Sponsored gan at age 3/4+).
We have only looked and sent to Hebrew speaking gans, so I make this statement only on personal experience. I can’t vouch for any English speaking gans for ages 3 and under.
Visiting Ganei Agnon
When we went to the open house this past May 2018, we walked into the new building on Shai Agnon 22 and fell in love immediately with the design and open-aired, minimal space. The staff is attentive and kindly introduces you to the different classrooms (in our case, the one for babies from 6 -10 months) and explains to us in more detail the new type of gan they are trying to build in Jerusalem.
First, here is how they describe Ganei Agnon on on their website:
“Ganei Agnon is a new facility designed and built to a high standard, meeting all government regulations. It includes 5 classrooms, a gymboree, fully equipped kitchen, playgrounds and an office. We offer a home-like environment which includes new, high quality equipment.
The classrooms are large and airy. Children can play freely while enjoying a secure space. The design provides a variety of stimulation which encourages children to explore their environment and the world around them through their natural curiosity. The space inside and out provides learning centers that encourage discovery, play and experiential learning.”
A Mamlachti (ממלכתי) approach with elements from Reggio Emilia
After exploring the different classrooms, I spoke with the Menahelet (Director) Avigail Adler and inquired more about the philosophy of the gan.
First, in accordance with gan’s pedagogical director Dorit Garuso, they don’t commit themselves to one specific pedagogy, but incorporate elements from a Reggio Emilia approach.
Reggio Emilia focuses on having the children in control of their learning through their experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing. The children should explore relationships with other children and material items, and have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
Avigail gave me an example that if she saw one child interested in an elephant, she would find different ways of developing that child’s understanding and experience with an elephant–perhaps drawing one, reading more books about an elephant and discussing the environment in which an elephant lives, hearing stories about elephants, etc. First is taking the cue from that child that he found interest in that specific animal and developing it from there.
Although she is Modern Orthodox, the gan is “Mamlachti (ממלכתי)” which means it does not follow a religious curriculum, but has Kabalat Shabbat every Friday, connection and celebration of all the Jewish holidays, and a kosher kitchen. For the older classes, there are no morning prayers.
What makes Ganei Agnon stand out?
What I felt visiting Ganei Agnon, and for the first time in Jerusalem (for me), is a professional staff who wants to build a high standard of learning and development, with a planned focus. Every head caretaker/gannent per class has a degree in education. It feels like a warm, open and minimalist atmosphere (replicated from designs seen in Scandinavian kindergartens), and safe place to send your child with attentiveness to their specific needs.
More Details on Ganei Agnon
- Not pictured is the Gymboree and outdoor space for each class, which will be ready by September.
- This is a Hebrew speaking gan, with a potential for English speaking classes in the future.
There are three classes:
Babies. 6-10 months. Up to 14 babies, 3 staff members.
1-2 years. Up to 17 children, 3-4 staff members.
2-3 years. Up to 26 children, 4 staff members
*Another small detail, which was important for us to understand: although the physical space of the gan is part of the Kehillat Mevakshei Derech building (a Reform synagogue), it is not connected to Ganei Agnon’s philosophy and is an entire separate entity.
Here is little Tehila above playing in their new tinokia (class for babies) when visiting. We are excited for her to start at Ganei Agnon this upcoming September.
The registration for Ganei Agnon is still open.
You can check out their website in English at : www.ganeyagnon.co.il
For more information on the holiday schedule, price per class, and to set up a time to visit, you can call the gan at 02-6227470 or speak directly to the Menahelet (Director) Avigail Adler at 058-7521316.
They are located at 22 Shai Agnon in Katamon.
Please feel free to be in touch with me directly to talk more about why we are sending Tehila to Ganei Agnon next year. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org