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Lab School FAQ

What time does the day begin? End?
School begins at 8:30am and ends at 4:00pm.  We have early care beginning at 7:30am and late care until 5:00pm.  
Is there busing to KYLS?
There is busing available depending on your location and number of students in the area. Currently there is busing available from Cherry Hill.
Does KYLS have a lunch program?  
Students bring lunch from home each day. On Wednesday we have an optional pizza lunch that families can purchase for their children.  
Does KYLS have the ability to accommodate children with diverse learning needs?
The flexibility of the constructivist classroom will allow teachers to better accommodate the needs of a wide range of students. Where additional intervention is needed, KYLS will evaluate its ability to provide proper support with the help of developmental learning specialists and educational psychologists.  
Will boys and girls be separated in school? When?
KYLS is committed to equal educational opportunities in all subject areas for both boys and girls and intends for its elementary school classes to be fully co-educational.  The Middle School program will be similarly committed to identical curricula for boys and girls, though learning will happen in single gender multi-age classes.
When will students receive their Siddur? Chumash?
Kindergarteners at KYLS daven from the Koren Children’s Siddur starting on the very first day of school.  Although children do not yet know how to read Hebrew, holding the siddur when they daven and looking at the pictures, helps them connect to the real-world experience of tefillah.  Over the course of the year, many children begin to recognize letters and words in their siddur which makes the experience even more meaningful.
In keeping with its approach of honoring the differing developmental needs of every child, students at KYLS will receive a Chumash when they are demonstrate the skills necessary to begin navigating it. For most students this will occur during first or second grade.
As such, KYLS students will not have traditional siddur and Chumash “parties” at fixed times in the academic calendar. Instead, their love for Torah and for Jewish life will be constantly nurtured in authentic, student-centered, and student-driven experiences throughout each and every year.
We will be holding a celebration and an authentic exhibition of student’s Torah learning every second year:
Will my child be ready to go to “traditional” high school after going to a “lab school” for elementary school?
Your child will not only be well prepared for a “traditional” high school, they will have distinct advantages in high school and beyond. KYLS’s developmentally appropriate skills based program will prepare them for a life of meaningful learning, by giving the students the skills and motivation they need to succeed in school and beyond.
How does a constructivist school ensure that students build skills that require constant repetition and practice (e.g., math “facts”, English / Hebrew / Aramaic vocabulary, grammar, etc.)?
Skills that require constant repetition and practice are taught in constructivist schools by offering ways for the students to practice that moves beyond rote memorization and recitation when feasible. According to the research on memory, the most effective means of insuring that this information is retained is not through more repetitions. Rather through the use of the information in ways that allows the student to generate something with their knowledge and elaborate upon it, will lead to a deeper level of processing and, in turn, memory.
How can one teacher really teach to 15 different students at 15 different levels?
Every teacher in the classroom faces this challenge. Truly differentiated instruction is only possible when the teacher has a real understanding of where each student is developmentally, is well versed in best educational practices, and is in a classroom structure that allows for it. The teacher’s role within the KYLS classroom is different than the usual assumed role of a teacher. At KYLS, teachers act as facilitators and content experts with an understanding of child development.  This allows them to really know and understand the educational needs of each student and create an environment in which each student is offered the skills to excel. In a traditional classroom, where most information comes directly from the teacher, the challenge is greater as they must deliver the information to the students. However, in a classroom structure where there are multiple sources of information, where guided independent and collaborative learning are the primary modes of instruction, the ability to design a learning program tailored to the needs of each student becomes far more achievable.
What is your ideal faculty to student ratio?
There is no perfect formulaic way to determine the ideal faculty to student ratio. This ratio depends greatly on the students and their unique set of strengths and weaknesses as well as the teacher’s ability. Looking at faculty to student ratio in the constructivist classroom is very different than in a traditional classroom. Teachers in constructivist classroom act as a facilitator so the demands are different than those of a teacher in a traditional classroom. Each multi-age classroom has a 4 teacher teaching team for between 40-50 students.  All teachers are active in the classroom the full day.  Our teams consist of a native Hebrew speaker, a Judaic studies specialist, an inclusion specialist, and a general studies specialist.  
What does Ivrit b’Ivrit look like at KYLS?
Built off the Hebrew at the Center model, the KYLS approach is to create prolonged Hebrew immersion experiences for its students that extend beyond formal Hebrew instruction and into the normal “life” of the KYLS classroom.  This is accomplished through a “push-in” model, whereby a native Hebrew speaker is inserted into the classroom for several hours each day and engages and interacts with students only in Hebrew.
Is it the school’s expectation that all students will be reading by the end of Kindergarten? In English and in Hebrew?
Reading is one of the most complex human cognitive processes and one of the most important. Reading is comprised of multiple interrelated sub-skills that come together to allow one to read fluently and understand what it is that they are reading. Each child gains these component skills at a different pace. By the end of Kindergarten, the students will have had the support and opportunity to gain these skills in both English and Hebrew reading. Some students will be able to read at the end of Kindergarten while others will have the building blocks upon which reading is built. 
How do you make sure that a typical kid will learn how to read by the end of first grade?  
We use two different assessment tools for reading:  MAP Assessment and Fountas and Pinnell Assessment.  We administer each of these 3 times a year.  We use the data from these assessments to help us determine what skills students have mastered and what they need to focus on next.  For example, when we use the Fountas and Pinnell Assessment, it tells us what independent and instructional reading “level” a child is on.  We then know what books to use for independent and instructional reading as well as what skills to work on next.  The beauty of using assessments is that we can target the learning for each individual child. For Kriyah we use the “Hebrew Dibbles”, Madyk to assess reading/fluency growth.  
What is typical for first grade achievement in Limudei Kodesh?  
In most schools, students learn to master Hebrew letters and nekudot in 1st grade along with basic pre-Chumash skills.  Chumash learning in earnest generally does not start until 2nd grade.  At KYLS, we recognize that learning, and the development of reading skills in particular, develops on a continuum that spans multiple grade levels and ages.  Therefore, our flexible, multi-age approach offers children who are ready to move into Chumash earlier than 2nd grade the opportunity to do so, while affording those children who need more time the opportunity to move at their own pace.  The progress of all children, however, is charted on our continuum of skills which is structured under the following categories; Foundational Elementary, Lower Elementary, Lower Middle School, and Upper Middle School. The skills that are within normal limits are included in each span.    
Will there be tests and grades in this school?
Tests and grades are tools for assessing student progress. At KYLS we believe that constantly assessing student knowledge and skills is vital to the educational process and that there are many different ways to do so. Assessment is most meaningful when it’s interwoven with teaching and occurs through teacher observations of students at work, student projects, exhibitions, portfolios as well as carefully constructed tests. Grades often do not reflect the whole picture of a student’s performance and are often influenced by things outside of the student’s actual performance. Much like child development that resides on a continuum, so does student performance. Assigning a letter or a number can be detrimental to and non-reflective of a student and her/his ability. Charting student progress along a continuum of articulated learning goals and objectives offers a more nuanced and accurate reflection of student achievement. Consistent communication of this progress to both the student and his/her parents is an integral part of the KYLS approach.
What is a continuum of skills?
A continuum of skills is a way of organizing the sequence of skills that build in complexity from one level to the next. We use continua of skills for all major areas of skill learning: Limudei Kodesh, Ivrit, Reading, Writing, and Math.
Do the students know who is ahead and who is behind?
Part of normal child development is a child’s growing sense of where he or she is relative to others. However, ensuring that this sense remains within healthy limits is something that we are highly sensitive to. At KYLS, we celebrate each child's unique strengths and weaknesses. Our block schedule, in which children are grouped differently for various subjects and activities, downplays any social distinction that might otherwise arise from diversity of academic growth and performance. Most importantly, one of our foundational pedagogical principles at KYLS is that metacognition and reflection are critical to the learning process.  That means it is essential that we teach children to recognize - on their own - what it is they know and what they don’t yet know, so that the proper next step in their learning journey comes clearly into focus.
When will students start to learn Navi, Mishnah, Gemara?
For most children, Navi will be introduced in 4th grade, Mishnah in 5th grade, and Gemara in 6th.  However, the flexible, multi-age approach at KYLS will allow students to begin such subjects earlier or later depending on their needs and ability.
What does it mean to teach Chumash, Navi, Mishnah, and Gemara in a constructivist model? Are they not going to go pasuk by pasuk, mishnah by mishnah? How do you give students a choice in learning material when they lack the skills to learn the material on their own?
Teaching Chumash, Navi, Mishnah, and Gemara in a constructivist model means taking these sacred texts that serve as the basis for all that we do as Orthodox Jews and allowing students to make meaning of them through the analytical abilities and textual skills that they are developing. Students will still be following the order of the pasukim and mishnayot as there is significance to their specific order. Students will be given choices throughout their studies in ways that can make the material more personally meaningful. Before students have gained sufficient skills to learn the material on their own, they can choose particular angles, such as areas for more-focused study or particular commentaries of interest that the teacher can help them explore. Students will also be empowered to make choices about the means through which they demonstrate their understanding.
Isn’t it better to teach kids to respect authority, especially in an Orthodox Day School, than to question everything and assert their independence?
Appropriate respect for authority in a Day School is imperative. Students’ independence and encouragement to question things is done within a context that has clear parameters and in keeping with our age-old mesorah for doing so. Students’ ability to question assumptions will in fact allow them to gain an understanding of their own, which will result in a greater respect than one that is simply imposed upon them.
How do you address conflict and disruptive behavior?
We believe that conflict and disruptive behaviors happen as a result of “something.” We work with our children to be reflective - to understand what that “something” may be, try to understand the other person's perspective, and consider alternative responses for the future.  We include parents in this conversation at the point that we feel parents can help by continuing the conversation at home or at the point that we feel it is a repeated behavior and therefore we need to inform parents.
In what part of the day does middot development take place?
Refining middot, social and emotional learning, as well as character development, are integral parts of what we do at KYLS. Contrary to the way in which most middot programs are structured, the research on character education is clear that effective growth in these areas requires sustained focus on a limited number of values and traits, which are reinforced by all teachers and administrators at all times of the day. As such, beyond it being a focus of morning meetings and Chevra check-ins, every opportunity is taken during the course of our children’s learning to use the content as a springboard for conversation regarding these areas.  In addition, our students are regularly given opportunities to reflect and learn more about themselves and their feelings .