Constructivism and Jewish Early Childhood Education

Summer, 2013

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 79, Issue 3, pages 315-334


Having an educational theory as a school's foundation is a key component in successful educational endeavors. However, many Jewish early childhood programs do not commonly use educational theory to support methods of instruction. In this study, 14 children from a constructivist-based Jewish kindergarten class are interviewed to determine how they construct an understanding of historical time. The analysis of the interviews indicates that students use higher order thinking skills multiple times, especially when the topic of study is connected to their lives. These findings support that constructivist theory is well-suited as a theoretical foundation for Jewish early childhood programs.


Many Jewish educational scholars assert that the majority of Jewish early childhood centers lack a guiding pedagogical philosophy and that there is sparse research on Jewish early childhood education. This study helps bridge these gaps by providing a qualitative description of the manner in which children understand a Jewish topic through a constructivist lens. This study offers an example of young children using higher order thinking in 11 different ways when presented with a culturally contextualized topic dealing with historical time. The results of the children's abilities in this research may demonstrate that constructivist practices are a valuable model to use in Jewish early childhood centers. Continued investigation and further studies with greater generalizability could help determine if this approach is consistently effective and further identify variables impacting success.

Updated: Sep. 30, 2013