The Grade 1 & 2 Essentials program builds off of the foundations learned in the Kindergarten program with an added emphasis on Ontario’s developing curriculum. The program includes more substantial academic rigor in Literacy, Math, Science and Social Studies, but is delivered through a 21st century lens of Innovation, Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Global Citizenship. The Lamplighters focus continues to permeate the program by exploring the curriculum with a lens of community-based contributions – children see how their in-class learning provides them with tools to help those around them: in their classroom, in their school and in their community.

A monthly Shabbat Shuk is a main feature of the Essentials program. Monthly, Grade 1 and 2 children host a Shabbat-themed market for school families and community members. The Shabbat Shuk provides them with a greater understanding of Jewish values, traditions, financial literacy, oral and written communication…the list is endless! Our students see themselves as entrepreneurs in the community, and the proceeds from the market become math and social studies lessons on donations, community organizations and the importance of giving back. The integrated approach to learning creates meaningful connections between different subjects, general and Jewish studies curriculum, and perhaps most importantly, 21st century skills that go beyond the curriculum expectations. In addition, our Essentials students learn to be gracious and welcoming hosts as they invite community members and organizations to be hosted in their classroom. We want our children to make strong and meaningful connections with their community, and what better way to do that than celebrate the end of the week together!

Academic learning is primarily supported through small group instruction, enabling our teachers to provide relevant and skill-focused learning to children as they need it. Student-centered inquiry continues, as well, with a more intensive focus on Israel, the broader Toronto community and an innovative science and technology curriculum; Grade 1 & 2 students learn how their deeper understanding of these topics equips them to tackle some of the communities most pressing problems.


The Essentials academic program also includes:

  • Continuation of structured literacy, furthering reading and spelling with the Sounds-Write phonics program.
  • More sophisticated writing development guided by the science of writing.
  • Intensive math instruction that builds strong operational fluency, problem solving skills and math confidence.
  • Hands-on coding and robotics learning developing creativity, resilience and computer science foundations.
  • Community-focused problem solving and entrepreneurship, blending a wide range of curricular areas into relevant class projects.
  • Hebrew language learning of relevant vocabulary and the beginning of fluent reading
  • Torah stories and mitzvot with a modern outlook, providing our students with Jewish-flavoured guidelines to being Lamplighters in their homes, community and city.
  • Strong connections to Israel with an innovative, entrepreneurial focus as the “Startup Nation.”
  • And even more!