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  • Writer's pictureSO Staff

Early Childhood Educators Gather for Annual Retreat

Play based learning is both progressive and innovative and preschool directors are eager to incorporate this approach in their schools. In a world that is rapidly changing, it is important to be conscious of early childhood education methods that will give the next generation tools for success.

Chabad Early Childhood Education (CECE), a project of the Shluchim Office, is a membership-based group of Chabad early childhood educators and directors. CECE offers resources, guidance and networking, including an exclusive peer group encouraging high quality sharing and mentoring.

“The CECE is an incredible network of Shluchos and Chabad preschool directors that enhances my life and work daily. The resources, the conference, the insight, but most of all the camaraderie and connections that I make through this network helps me to succeed!” says Yocheved Shapiro from Las Vegas, NV.

CECE organizes an annual retreat for their members, an event which is always eagerly anticipated. This year’s CECE Retreat themed, “Power To The Children,” was held in Plano, Texas, graciously hosted by local Shlucha Rivkie Block. The retreat featured a variety of workshops and lessons, including two extended workshops with Teacher Tom. Teacher Tom is renowned for his strong stance on “letting kids be kids," famous for his progressive, play-based program and for his blog, “Teacher Tom’s Blog,” where he shares his beliefs, philosophies and antics with the kids he teaches.

Teacher Tom’s keynote titled, “Speaking With Children So They Can Think,” discussed how, in a very real sense, the language we use creates reality. Tom spoke on how the specific words we use, and how and when we use them, shapes reality for our students for both good and bad. The conference attendees, joined by local directors and teachers, had the opportunity to learn about the importance of: being clear and precise with language; honoring children without commanding or bossing them; using words to create a world of facts and intrinsic motivation; creating space in which children must do their own thinking and make their own decisions; and supporting children as they learn from the natural consequences of their behaviors.

“I am filled with practical ideas and lessons to enrich my life and my chinuch.” says Leah Lang from Camarillo, CA, Shlucha and member of CECE. “I absolutely loved Teacher Tom’s message. I am so grateful to CECE for facilitating this incredible experience for me, which will ultimately benefit my whole community.”

Another highlight from this year included a workshop with Jill Rashdi titled, “Working from Your Strengths,” which focused on the whys and hows of individual working styles. Participants took an assessment which revealed each director’s “top 5 strengths” which, when utilized, can help them become better leaders. There was also a tour of a progressive and engaging child-centered facility, and a Chassidus class with Rabbi Mendy Block.

“These past two days left me inspired and invigorated to come back to my city and school to implement new ideas,” says Rivkah Denburg from Coral Springs, FL. “Being with other shluchos and educators is always wonderful and the interactions and connections will continue with lasting effects. I came to learn and grow - mission accomplished!”

For more information on the CECE Network email or visit

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