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The Students and Their Interests Form the Focus

October 12, 2005 By:
Jared Shelly, JE Feature
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One day, the teachers and staff at Temple Sholom in Broomall noticed that their preschool students were fascinated by the spiders they saw outside during recess. This simple fascination gave the educators an idea.

"Our approach is child-centered," explained Andi Lieberman, director of the synagogue's preschool. "We look and observe the interests of the children, and we try to build our lessons on what they're interested in."

The teachers resolved to incorporate spiders into the lesson plans by introducing books like Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah to offer the kids some lessons on Jewish values and traditions.

This teaching method could be one reason why the preschool program is going so well.

When the synagogue started it three years ago, there were all of eight students and a single classroom; since then, it has expanded into three classrooms with 32 students.

The school enrolls students from ages 2 to 5, and according to Lieberman, more than 90 percent of the children are Jewish.

Another focus of the educational program is to try to bring the Hebrew language into everyday activities.

"It's not that we're teaching Hebrew," said Lieberman. "Judaics and Hebrew are incorporated into the day. We'll sprinkle in Hebrew words, and sing songs in both Hebrew and English."

The school also offers a program every Friday to help educate parents and children about Shabbat and its practices. It's even drawn the attention of some local grandparents.

"We have lunch," Lieberman noted, "and then do an age-appropriate Shabbat education for parent and child."

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