The Early Childhood Center
The mission of the Valley of the Sun JCC Early Childhood Center (ECC) is to provide a safe, loving, Judaic-infused, experienced-based preschool education that fully prepares children for kindergarten.
The Valley of the Sun JCC Early Childhood Center (ECC) preschool program nurtures each child’s natural curiosity, intelligence, and interests while developing their Jewish identity. We are accredited to care for children ages 6 weeks to Pre-K, and provide specialty and academic enrichment classes. With low educator-to-child ratios and a high level of personal attention, your child will thrive in our preschool program.
Our infant classrooms experience a responsive caregiving environment that focuses on attachment, social relationships, fine and gross motor development and community. Our classroom activities emphasize social engagement and responsiveness, talking and listening to children and providing a safe environment to physically explore and challenge growth.
Our Toddler classrooms allow for the developing child to explore more freely, moving from activity to activity while being guided by their teacher. Activities encourage increased language, motor growth, curiosity and self-help skills.
Our Two’s classrooms are designed to support the increased independence and curiosity that a two-year-old is experiencing. This classroom focuses on increasing self-help skills, social interaction skills, problem-solving and increasing language and exploration in a guided and engaging way.
Our Three’s classrooms support children to bridge from Two’s to Pre-K. Emphasis includes increased autonomy like: following routines, problem-solving, language use and social interactions. Pre-academic skills begin to emerge and are practiced in an individualized and hands-on way to prepare for the Pre-K year.
Our Pre-K classrooms experience child-centered, hands-on learning activities that emphasize academic readiness for Kindergarten. The focus includes language, literacy, writing, math, science, and social skills designed to teach letter names and sounds, correctly writing letters, vocabulary building, math concepts, scientific exploration, and inquiry working as a community and much more.
Our preschool curriculum is child-centered, inquiry-driven and aligned with the Arizona Early Learning Standards. Each age group experiences hands-on learning opportunities that encourage their curiosity and development. Experiencing the world around us, through a Jewish lens, we are supporting children to become avid learners, build resiliency and understand that they have a crucial and unique role in this world and in our community.
As a program that participates in Guiding Stars, our facility is evaluated not only by Arizona State Department of Health Standards, but also following the Environmental Rating Scale guidelines created by the Teachers College of Columbia University. This tool supports our facility as a high-quality learning environment that supports students’ wellness entirely.
Most importantly, we want to instill a love of learning and to support our students in the educational journey that will continue their entire lives. With this, it is equally important to us that our teachers and staff are provided with appropriate professional development to continue to grow in their profession. In addition to orientation, educators attend monthly staff meetings that embed professional development topics. These meetings function as a Professional Learning Community that allows our staff to share ideas, activities and to learn from each other. We collaborate with the local Bureau of Jewish Education, Candelen, Southwest Human Development, as well as other partners to provide unique professional development seminars which help us stay up to date with our early learners. Lastly, educators are encouraged to attend external conferences and training as desired.
In addition to the educational experience offered at the ECC, we also offer a variety of enrichment programs to round out your child’s time with us.
- Reading with Ruach: is a fun, hands-on early literacy program that reinforces Jewish ethics, values and traditions. Professional Literacy Coaches visit the Three’s and Pre-K classrooms weekly to give the children additional instruction in pre-reading and writing skills.
- Jump Bunch: is a mobile sports and fitness program for children. We get kids moving, teach sports fundamentals, give kids a health and fitness foundation for life and most importantly we make it fun!
- Silly to Still SEL classes: teach children about big feelings, breathing techniques, empowering yoga poses and musical meditation. Children strengthen their social-emotional skills through the teaching of the Middot, the Jewish character traits.
- Fly Classes: catering to your whole child, the ECC also offers enrichment classes that we refer to as Fly classes Further Learning for Youngsters. These vary year-to-year and feature both academic and physical education programming to extend your child’s learning beyond the traditional school day.
- Swimming Opportunities & Private Swim Lessons: at The J Aquatics Center
The ECC welcomes families of all faiths and has a mission rooted in giving children the experience of childhood wonder through a Jewish lens. By intentionally exposing children to concepts of Tikkun Olam (saving the world) or Mitzvot (doing good deeds) our program helps students develop their own skills while also understanding that they have a tremendous ability and obligation to help others. Learning about Jewish values and cultural traditions provides opportunities that allow our Jewish experiences to be rooted in a natural rhythm and encourage our students to grow together as an inclusive and dynamic community.
Our ECC Kochavim Camp gives children from infants through pre-k all the fun of a summer camp experience! We accept a limited number of summer-only campers (children who are not enrolled in our year-round program) in our 2’s, 3’s and pre-K classes. Our campers have fun and make memories through a variety of enriching experiences, including sports, swimming, splash pad, music, art, science and activities steeped in Jewish values and culture. Kochavim Camp registration opens in mid-March.
We absolutely love the ECC! My three-year-old wakes up in the morning so excited to go to school, and practically runs to her classroom at drop-off. We love the variety of activities and learning: playtime, arts and crafts, sports, swimming, and splash pad – our daughter always comes home wiped out! Many of the teachers have been there for a long time, and seem to truly love what they do. The entire staff has been flexible, understanding, and compassionate. They take the time to get to know all the kids and families, which gives the ECC a strong sense of community. Cannot recommend The J’s ECC enough!
We knew we wanted a childcare center that wasn’t “just a daycare” and would love our son as we do. We chose The J’s ECC because of the amazing, loving teachers and play-based curriculum, the excellent extracurricular offerings (sports, music, art, swimming, splash pad, emotional education) and its focus on Conscious Discipline. We have seen our son grow into a happy, communicative, and well-adapted young boy as he has progressed through the ECC. He has been shown an amazing amount of love, and his development as a whole person has been nurtured from Infants through his current 3’s class.
We couldn’t be happier and more grateful for the outstanding care and education our daughter is receiving at the ECC and we see the positive impact it has on her development and growth. The learning environment in a loving and caring setting by highly trained and dedicated teachers who interact with the children closely and teach them through play, art, and exercise has been a nourishing environment for our daughter and we are so pleased to see our daughter’s growth emotionally, socially and academically. Our daughter is so happy there and is always excited to go to school each day.
The ECC is our home-away-from-home! We love how involved the teachers are with our daughter, and the additional programming like Pre-K Academy has provided such a great base for not only reading prep but also a love for learning. It will be hard to say goodbye next year when we leave, but our family is so grateful for The J community and the friendships we have made over the years.
[There] is so much work done behind the scenes to makes it possible for the ECC teachers to be as incredible as they are. From the ECC Director’s tireless commitment to Conscious Discipline to the loving and friendly faces always there to greet me in the mornings and afternoons. They say “it takes a village to raise a child”. There is so much truth in this, and I am grateful and privileged that the ECC is part of our village.
The ECC at the Valley of the Sun JCC is truly one of a kind. The staff is so engaging, creative, loving & organized! The program never ceases to amaze us and it makes us so happy to see our son so happy every day. He loves his teachers & has made great friends. Moving back to Arizona from Boston, the ECC has provided us with an amazing community and has truly enriched our lives.
The J has been such a safe haven for us during the Pandemic. Our kids had a safe place to grown and learn in Camp Kochavim. Aquatics has turned our preschooler into a little fish. And the splash pad has been a place of joy and fun on the weekends. We are so grateful to have this community!
Programs, camp and membership are not just available to everyone because we can do so, they are available because it is part of who we are.
What are the Steps to Enroll?
Thank you for your interest in our Early Childhood Center! Below you will find a simple step-by-step list to help you plan for your registration and enrollment.
STEP 1: If you would like to visit our facility, please schedule a tour.
STEP 2: Register online.
STEP 3: Our Administrative Team will reach out to you about your child’s space.
STEP 4: If space is available in your child’s age group, fill out any remaining forms that will be sent to you by our Office Manager.
STEP 5: If you are not already a member, you must start your family membership during the first month that your child is attending. Please contact our Membership Department at 480.481.7090 for more information or schedule a tour.
STEP 6: Welcome to the ECC!! Information on class lists, teacher welcome letters, our communication app and more will be sent to you about two weeks before your scheduled start date! To reach us for any questions you might have you can always email us!
Frequently Asked Questions
To register your child or to be on the waitlist, you do not need a membership to The J. Once your child is enrolled, you will need to contact our membership desk at 480.481.7090 to sign up for a Family Membership by the first of the month that your child begins attending. If your child is attending our summer camp, Kochavim Camp, you have the option to send your child at the guest rate rather than becoming a member.
You can find our financial policies here.
All of our programs are 5 days a week, with a variety of options for timeframes. For those who choose to not send their child every day of the week, there is no prorated tuition.
We place all children in their age groups by their date of birth. As a school we follow the Arizona September 1 cutoff, meaning:
- Ones – Toddlers: One on or by August 31
- Two’s: Two on or by August 31
- Three’s: Three on or by August 31
- Pre-K: Four on or by August 31
- Infants: 1 adult to 4 children with a max of 8 children
- Toddlers: 1 adult to 4 children with a max of 8-12 children (dependent on DOB)
- Two’s: 1 adult to 6 children with a max of 12 children
- Three’s: 1 adult to 9 children with a max of 18 children
- Pre-K: 1 adult to 10 children with a max of 20 children
Children in our Infant to Three’s programs are not required to be potty-trained. Teachers will work with families of children who are still using diapers, as well as families that are working on transitioning to underwear.
We are inclusively Jewish. This means Jewish traditions and values are at the heart of everything we do, but as we like to say, “everyone welcome.”
For certain age groups, we are currently taking children on our waitlist. Please register here.
For our Toddlers through Two’s rooms, nap time is 1-3pm. We understand that as a child gets older, the amount of nap time needed may vary and some may not need to nap at all. In our Three’s rooms we try to accommodate both those children who nap and those who do not. The expectation is that all children, even those who won’t end up napping, lay on their mat for 20-30 minutes. During this time, teachers play calming music or an audio story. After that initial quiet time, those children who do not nap are able to get off of their mats to participate in quiet activity. Our Pre-K rooms do not have a set nap time. If your Pre-K child needs to nap he/she will be offered a nap mat and a place to lie down to rest.
While all snacks purchased by the ECC are certified kosher, the lunch that you send in with your child is not required to be. However, we do request that you refrain from sending in pork or shellfish products. We are also a nut-free facility.
We are proud to partner with Jump Bunch and Pre-K Academy to offer enrichment programs within our regularly scheduled day in both PE (for ages 2 and up) and Early Literacy (for ages 3 and up). In addition, in order to give children additional experiences in areas of special interest, Further Learning for Youngsters (FLY) classes are available for Three’s and Pre-K. You will receive our FLY brochure with a registration form for each session. Costs for FLY classes will be determined by the number of classes per session.