For more than a decade Hapaot Center has been opperating "Nitzanim" (In Hebrew: flower buds). A proffesionally led program aimed to strengthen the skills and proficiencies needed by children to suceed in school.
"Nitzanim" is based on the Reggio Emilia approach and on the understanding that children learn best when learning is experiential and linked to their interests. Therefore, each month the children, together with the program providers, choose a topic which excites them. Around this topic, the providers plan experiential activities that aim to enhance children's school readiness skills. For example, a group might chose to create a "restaurant": they'll create bills and coins to pay at the restaurant, thereby practicing mathematical concepts and quantitative thinking; they'll make menues, thereby practicing writing and copying from the board and improving fine motor skills, etc.
"Nitzanin" puts a special emphasis on enhancing not only academic skills but also the social and emotional skills children need to succeed in school. Each year about 60 kindergarteners participate in it at the center, and another hundred 1st and 2nd graders receive it in grade schools in Tirat Carmel.
"Nitzanim" activities in schools for 1st and 2nd graders:
"Around the World": Led by an occupational therapist together with the class teacher, this program is provided to children who show motoric, grapho-motoric or learning challenges. The program aims to improve skills that support learning, such as understanding instructions, breaking down tasks to manageable stages, planning and organizing.
"The Secure Circle": This program is dedicated to enhance emotional communication and active listening in children. It focuses on understanding my feelings and those of others and enhancing social skills by understanding concepts such as empathy and reflection. The sessions are experiential and fun; the activities include arts and crafts, dance and games. The children share about every-day conflicts and learn how to solve them in nonviolent ways. The teachers are encouraged to broaden the discussions and to use the learned tequniques during the rest of the school week.