NA’AMAT views the day care center as a child’s second home. A warm, family atmosphere can be found in each of the 260 centers throughout Israel, the largest network of day care centers in the country. About 17,000 children ranging in age from infant to 4 years old attend the centers. Recognizing the importance of early childhood education, NA’AMAT pioneered preschool education programs long before Project Head Start began in the United States. In fact, the Head Start program was modeled after the NA’AMAT centers in Israel.
Innovative programs and the newest educational trends and materials are consistently used in the day care centers, which emphasize individual attention as well as group activities. Every corner of the centers is carefully planned to accommodate the needs of the children. Classrooms are arranged with activity centers and educational materials that generate interest and allow children to choose to play or work in those areas that meet their individual needs and capabilities and stimulate creative skills.
The day care centers encourage constructive play. There are no gender-specific games or toys and boy and girls are encouraged to play with all the toys. Teachers are alert for possible learning disabilities in a child.
If appropriate, the children are tested and early intervention is encouraged.
NA’AMAT day care centers are found in the most remote towns as well as in cities. Many centers are set up either close to, or at places of employment. Every day care center has a bomb shelter.
The vast majority of the staff are certified professionals. Those who are not certified are required to attend staff training programs at the day care facilities and at NA’AMAT’s pedagogical centers.
Twenty-two of NA’AMAT’s day care centers are multi-purpose centers. These centers provide a secure environment for preschool children who are orphans, have been abused or traumatized by terrorism, live in poverty or have other difficult family situations. Specialized counselors, teachers, psychologists and teachers work with the at-risk children and their families. The centers are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and also provide programs for parents and siblings.
Whenever a day care center is needed, NA’AMAT is there. It has accommodated the needs of olim (new immigrants) from Ethiopia, Russia and other countries. In addition to day care centers, NA’AMAT runs numerous afternoon programs for children ages 5-7 throughout Israel, since school is half-day.