Toras Chaim’s vision is to strengthen the bonds of the Jewish community through the education of its youth.
The Chumash Program follows the content recommendations of the Torah Umesorah day school curriculum. In this program, the students learn the content of the חמישי חומשי תורה, the five book of the Torah. The program focuses on skills acquisition, essentially training students to become independent Chumash learners by the time they graduate the 8th grade. Our students acquire a Hebrew vocabulary of close to 1000 Chumash words that make up over 90% of the text. Students learn the rules of Hebrew grammar and Chumash grammar specifically so that they can identify prefixes and suffixes of the main root words to effectively translate words that have familiar roots.
Students learn to read and translate Rashi as well as to analyze his questions. Girls in middle school begin to explore the fundamentals of studying with מפורשים so that they are prepared to excel at top level Jewish high schools.
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Toras Chaim's Language Arts Program encompasses the study of vocabulary, grammar, literature, and writing. The first two comprise the building blocks of language while the latter two combine those building blocks in the act of expression
The Jewish Law, or הלכה (Halacha) program teaches the children the practical rules to living a traditional Jewish life style. The program is cyclical, covering the Jewish holidays annually. Each year, the learning increases in depth and quantity as the students' capabilities increase. In addition, practical laws of davening (prayer), brachos (blessings), Shabbos, and a range of other topics are covered in between the holidays. Students come to appreciate the practical connection that they have with Hashem that can be cultivated through the performance of mitzvos (commandments).
The Torah Sheba'al Peh program is designed to introduce the importance of oral traditions in maintaining our 3,000 year old mesorah. For boys, mishna is introduced in third grade. The boys study several mesechtos including ברכות, סוכה, ראש השנה, and various others. In fifth grade, the boys begin to learn Gemorah. They are introduced the Aramaic vocabulary, important Gemorah terms, and learn to understand the שקלא ותריא, the logical give and take discourse for which the Gemorah is famous. By the end of eighth grade, the boys know how to read a prepared Gemorah together with Rashi and selected Tosfos.
The girls are introduced to the oral traditions through the detailed study of the meaning behind the prayers, as well as additional Halacha study that shows how our practice is related to the text of the Torah.
Beginning in fourth grade, Toras Chaim students study a ספר (book) of נביא (Prophets) each year. The goal is to familiarize the students with the important historical events of the early Jewish nation. The class focuses on learning the story-line, the main characters, and the important lessons encoded within the text. These teachings bridge our Jewish past with many elements of Torah law. With this in mind, our rebbeim can encourage compelling and analytical discussions with our students about our Jewish present and future.
The middle school math program is a comprehensive 5th - 8th grade curriculum beginning with arithmetic and ending with high school level algebra. We begin the 5th grade with a review of arithmetic, and move onto concepts such as fractions, decimals, negative numbers, logic, and geometry. The 6th grade is a course that focuses on advanced arithmetic skills, such as long division and operations with fractions. The 7th grade follows with a rigorous pre-algebra course. The goal is to introduce students to the rules of algebra, and teach them how to use them on a basic level, with multi-step equations, radicals, and exponents. The year ends with a module of geometry, as well as an introduction to linear and non-linear graphing. The 8th grade algebra course follows high school level curriculum. During our year together we will delve into solving advanced equations, graphing, quadratics, radicals, inequalities, exponents, statistics, as well as logic-based word problems and real-world problems. By the end of the 8th grade, most students are ready to begin geometry in high school. Students typically earn high school credit for this class, as long as they maintain an A or B average throughout the year.
Our social studies program will invest the students with essential factual knowledge but does not emphasize rote memorization of important dates or names; instead, the classes focus on developing a sense of history as reality’s narrative. Geography, therefore, is not a mere exercise in memory but an inquiry into how land mass and topography influence the course of history. Similarly, in Civics and Economics, students understand the narrative behind U.S. government and economy and history’s influence on its evolution. While textbooks are employed, the students spend much of their time reading primary sources, which provide a personal account of the events under examination. These documents do not only offer a firsthand historical report, but they also introduce students to the fact of reliable and unreliable records. The students, then, act as historians investigating multiple perspectives of the same event and use critical questioning to determine which accounts prove most trustworthy. This training renders the students more judicious when encountering contemporary modes of political dialogue and encourages informed citizenship.
The Toras Chaim Science department has adopted the STEM approach to science education. Using Next Generation Science Standards the students learn how to gather and interpret scientific evidence about issues of interest to them and their community. As a result, they begin to appreciate the power and also some of the limitations of science. They also begin to recognize that science is much more than a set of answers to be learned, but rather, a way of asking questions.
The fifth and sixth grade course integrates concepts in Life and Physical science with the studies of Astronomy, Meteorology, and Geology as well as examining issues related to human activities. Physical Science as taught to our seventh and eighth graders students. In seventh and eighth grade, more advanced physical science topics are introduced such as matter, energy, atoms, motion, thermodynamics and other aspects of chemistry and physics. Practical, hands-on lesson activities help students discover how scientists investigate the living world. Students perform laboratory activities and learn about the application of scientific methods.
A wide vocabulary provides students with a solid basis for self-expression. It not only provides them with a verbal arsenal by which to explain their thoughts clearly and succinctly, but it also equips them to better understand the thoughts of others. Using the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop curriculum, the students memorize 300 new words each year.
Grammar is the basic structure upon which language operates. Through labeling and sentence diagramming, they become familiar with common constructions and the ways words and phrases modify each other.
As students learn to identify key features of texts, they acquire a lexicon of literary terms by which all narrative is analyzed. Literature selections are appropriately scaled to each grade level, and are challenging enough to require applied effort. In this way, Toras Chaim’s literature studies develop critical thinking capacity.
No matter their future vocations and walks of life, the students will benefit from the ability to write well. Upper grade level students focus on crafting organized and cohesive essays. They learn how to grapple with multiple ideas in a single essay, how to rebut certain ideas while furthering others, and how to pursue artful sentence construction.