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Pitter-Patter of Little Feet in Chester County

October 12, 2005 By:
Jared Shelly, JE Feature
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Ellie Joseph learns about Shabbat with coordinator Ora Kesselman and classmate Carson Goodman and his mother.
Some very little feet have begun roaming the halls of Congregation B'nai Jacob in Chester County. The synagogue recently opened its doors to the K'tonton School for Young Children at Phoenixville, operated by Federation Early Learning Services, which began a year-round preschool there just last month for children ages 2 to 5.

Priding itself on a less regimented environment, the Federation program encourages teachers to link subject matter to the interests of the children.

"We want to capture their natural curiosity, as opposed to saying, 'Sit down now and learn about caterpillars,' " said Fredda Satinsky, assistant executive director for FELS.

The program also specializes in early Jewish education by incorporating Hebrew words into daily lessons.

"In learning about the fall season, we introduce words like 'leaves' in Hebrew," explained Satinsky. "We [include Hebrew in] what they're already doing, because those are things they're already interested in."

The program also stresses parental involvement; it offers lessons about holidays and Hebrew, and parents are welcome to sit in and get a quick refresher course on those subjects.

Since it opened in early September, the FELS school has enrolled just four kids, but Satinsky projects that number to rise.

In Chester County is "a growing interest in Jewish involvement," she said. "If you have a quality Jewish early-education program, it might attract more Jewish families."

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