The University Multicultural Kindergarten, based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel is a unique early childhood educational model that was founded and operates in collaboration with various university partners, such as the Institute for Innovation in Education, the student’s dean, the Schwartz program for early childhood and NEVET greenhouse at the School of Social Work and Social Welfare.
The kindergarten provides child care service for local and foreign student’s children, postdoctoral student’s, university administrative and academic staff and visiting scholars. It is also open to residents of both East of Jerusalem and West, for different religions, and languages.
The pedagogical vision of the kindergarten is to create a safe space for children and parents, a hub that regards diversity to be an asset. This principle is reflected in the diversity of staff, children and families sharing the kindergarten. Regular conversation with the parents about common and individual issues including challenging topics in the multicultural encounter are common practice.
The multicultural and multifaceted model is built bottom up from the cultures and characteristics of the families and the staff in the kindergarten and based in its special location. The kindergarten is rooted in the belief that multitude of voices and opinions is possible, important and essential in the Israeli reality. The university is an ideal meeting place for a variety of multicultural and international cultures. The Hebrew University's support of the Center for Multiculturalism and Diversity and various projects at the School of Social Work and Bezalel art school, is reflected in the kindergarten's vision and work.
The community orientation of the kindergarten is expressed in the relationship of the kindergarten with the niversity. University resources such as libraries, botanical garden, theater, open spaces and are an integral part of the kindergarten and contribute to enrichment that is not generally available for early childhood settings. The kindergarten participates in festive events (e.g. the Sigd holiday, visit by the President, concerts) and even nitiates various events in the university's public space (Hanukkah –Christmas party and Purim parades, plants selling and more).
The kindergarten director, Or Alter, is a graduate of the Early Childhood Education Counseling Program at the Hebrew University, a pedagogical instructor at David Yellin College and a doctorate in NEVET greenhouse. NEVET Greenhouse documents and investigate the community and multicultural aspects of the kindergarten under the supervision of Professor Heidi Keller, Professor Edith Blit-Cohen, and Professor Dorit Roer -Strier.
Preliminary findings of the research, show evidence to the manifested topic of diversity in the discourse of the children, to their openness and interest in visitors attending the kindergarten and in their perceptions of their belonging to the multicultural kindergarten and the university.
The kindergarten has in recent years won the support of the university rector and student dean as well as the deans of the School of Social Work and School of Education.
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