There are several differences between kindergarten in Israel and in the US.
- Schedule – School is 5 1/2 days per week here. The school day goes from 8-4, Sunday-Thursday, and 8-1 on Friday. We do pay a little extra for him to stay until 4, and we rarely get him to school by 8.
- Food – every day Noah’s class is served breakfast and lunch. The children are served the same dishes that adults would eat, not coddled with a special “kids menu.” A typical breakfast might include eggs, tomatoes & cucumbers, sardines, bread and gvina levana (a creamy white cheese, reminiscent of sour cream or yogurt, but its cheese). At lunch the children get soup every day, and a typical meal might also include falafel or fish balls, cooked vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, rice or pasta. The school is kosher, so no meat dishes.
- Extra-curriculars – at the beginning of the school year, the parents vote on which outside teachers will be hired to teach the chugim, or electives in the afternoon. We pay a small extra fee to have a sports teacher, music teacher, and math teacher come in once a week each.
- Government - in US schools it is not uncommon to have a picture of the President and to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but I don’t remember doing much more than that in kindergarten regarding government. In Noah’s classroom, they raise the flag each Sunday and sing HaTikvah, the national anthem. On one of the bulletin boards are pictures of the Prime Minister, President, and IDF Chief of Staff. When Benny Gantz was recently approved as Israel’s new army chief, the children were asked to bring in a picture of him from the newspaper.
- Independence – Children are given much more responsibility. For example, they help move the chairs around the room for different activities and help with set up & clean up (including sweeping and washing down the tables). This is done voluntarily. At any given time, some children are playing, while others are helping run the classroom. They don’t see it as a chore, but take pride in taking care of their space.