Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel
432 Scotland Road
South Orange, NJ 07079
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Release Date: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Media Contact: Caryl Bixon-Gordon (201) 796-7788
Year-Long Kindergarten Alternative Helps Children Strengthen Academic and Social Skills While Exploring the World Around Them
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., Jan. 16, 2014 – South Orange area families with children who need a little more time and attention before starting kindergarten are invited to enroll in Explorers, a half-day transitional pre-k offered by Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel‘s Iris Family Center for Early Childhood Education. The program is open to all families whose children have completed preschool, and registrations for the 2014-15 school year are now being accepted.
According to preschool director Carol Paster, “Some children don’t make the cutoff date for age or simply are not ready to start kindergarten. Our Explorers class gives them time to strengthen their cognitive and social skills in a nurturing, semi-academic environment. The program prepares them to enter kindergarten with more confidence and maturity.”
TSTI’s Explorers is a half-day program that runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; it is led by a certified teacher with a master’s degree in early childhood development. The curriculum includes various knowledge areas presented in weekly units, such as family and community relationships, science, mathematics, literacy and physical education. Themes such as planets, animals and plants are introduced to the class and explored in more depth based on students’ interest levels. In addition to academics, the weekly units also cover the creative disciplines of art, music and cooking. Students use multi-media tools including a class iPad.
“This is a very child-centric program that fosters children’s natural curiosity and encourages them to generate their own questions about the material or topics they want to study,” said Paster. “By combining academics with interactive play and cooperative games, the teachers engage the children in ways that stretch their imaginations while guiding them to become independent learners and better problem solvers.”
For example, building blocks may be used to teach math concepts as well as develop spatial abilities and awareness; journaling about a nature hike helps strengthen handwriting skills and creative expression. Physical fitness, outdoor play and off-site field trips are all part of the multi-faceted program where children explore the world around them and discover new interests in the process. Assessment and evaluation take place continuously to gauge children’s mastery of skills and concepts.
TSTI’s preschool and religious school are known for their commitment to students with special needs and those who learn differently, and the educators work closely with the local school districts’ early intervention teams. The Reform congregation’s religious school was the first in the area to educate and tutor students with special needs. The preschool has a social worker on staff to support the needs of the children and their parents as well as providing teacher training.
The Iris Center also offers an after-school enrichment program for students. A variety of activities including soccer, woodworking and mini-moviemakers allows children to extend their day until as late as 3 p.m. For more information about these programs or to enroll a child, call Carol Paster at (973) 763-4600 or visit www.tsti.org.