Many wonderful opportunities for learning are presented each day at the Gan. One of the most important is learning about values. And obviously (I hope), children don't learn about values by merely being told about them. When we want our children to speak kindly, we model the way we want them to communicate. When we want our children to pick up after themselves, we do it ourselves and make sure they notice.
Purim provides many opportunities for learning values. We give mishloach manot, gifts of friendship (at the Gan this is class to class). We also give to the needy by encouraging children to bring food for Ezra's Pantry. Those are relatively easy to model. The more difficult thing to model is "courage" or "being brave" or "standing up for what one thinks is right." These are tricky with young children. Our children tend to interpret things literally and can have trouble generalizing. On the other hand, our children are bright and capable human beings and we owe them the chance to practice this important human value. When someone takes their toy, we encourage them to use their words to tell the other child, “I was playing with that. You can have it when I’m done.” When someone hits, we help young children voice, “That hurt me. I don’t like when you hit me.” When children need help finding the right words or speaking to another child, we teach them it’s ok to ask an adult for help. The goal is not to create a classroom of tattle-talers, but to empower them to speak up for themselves, as well as for others. It’s hard to say, “I found this toy but it’s not mine,” or “Please don’t hurt my friend,” but we know that through modeling and gentle guidance, each child at the Gan will be able, like Esther, to speak up when they see injustice.
THESE are the important things we learn in Jewish preschool. But you all already know this. That's why you send your children to the Gan.