Our first encounter with Gan Gurim was mesmerizing. Tami was so adept at keeping order in the class . The children were orderly and literally jumped up to take their turn when she called their names. Every activity was tailored to making the most of their emerging skills, and utilized multiple sensory devices. They climbed and jumped and attached velcro displays. They cooked - not just mixing pre-measured ingredients, but actually learned to cook. They went outside every day, in almost every weather, and became self-sufficient explorers. When I went by to drop off the check, my daughter Noa happened to be with me. In the time it took to hand Tami the deposit, she was sold -- she cried and said she didn’t want to leave!
One of the best features of the Gan was the Hebrew language development. We are an English-speaking family, and Noa had briefly attended a “supposedly” Hebrew “immersion” preschool before transferring to Gan Gurim. She learned a few words in Hebrew, but was not even close to either understanding or speaking fluently.
After one-half year at Gan, she understood Hebrew on an age-appropriate level, and could name objects in her environment and use play language to communicate with her peers, and answer common questions. After two more years at Gan, she spoke fluently and confidently, answering questions, recognizing the alef-bet, and was able to take a leadership role with her peers. She knew words that my ulpan Hebrew never encompassed: her princesses ran away from מכשפה (witch) and she could sass off in two languages!
She is now in 1st grade at the Berman Hebrew Academy, and is one of the best in her class in Hebrew - she holds her own with the native Israelis. When we go to Israel, she blends in seamlessly with her cousins, and we were able to enroll her in a kaytana in Jerusalem, where she was the only American.
Our experience is related in a quick anecdote. One afternoon, when we picked Noa up, she told me that she wanted “Tami to be my Ima.” My response was “Me, too!”
Gan Gurim’s only flaw is that it doesn’t extend to elementary school. We would have stayed longer if we could!
Graduated in 2014