Preschool aims to nurture ‘artistic soul’

Preschool aims to nurture ‘artistic soul’

Anew preschool opening in West Long Branch next September aims to “discover, nurture, and develop the innate artistic soul of each child,” said Chani Schapiro, educational director at Chabad of the Shore, the sponsoring organization.

Intended to serve children ages two-four, the school — which will occupy 6,000 square feet at the Monmouth Corporate Center, on Route 36 in West Long Branch — will have six classrooms (four with bathrooms), a teachers’ lounge, and two offices.

Besides its regular classes, the facility will house a weekly Mommy and Me program for babies six months to one year old and a Mommy Take-a-Break class for toddlers 18 months to two years old. The Take-A-Break sessions will combine the standard Mommy and Me format with a two-hour break each day when parents can leave their youngsters in a supervised environment while going off on their own to perform errands, meet with friends, or just have some quiet time alone.

“We’re excited to have Robin Wander on board as director of Preschool of the Arts,” Schapiro told NJJN in an e-mail exchange. “She is passionate and dedicated and has over 16 years of professional experience in early childhood education.”

The preschool project was prompted by the void created with the 2011 closing of Center Play School at the JCC of Monmouth County in Deal, Schapiro said. “Many families have approached us, and we recognized a tremendous need in eastern Monmouth County for a Jewish preschool that can serve those who are not looking for a yeshiva setting.”

Families can get a firsthand glimpse of the preschool at an open house scheduled for Tuesday, June 4. Parents will be able to tour the facility, meet the director, and learn more about the program.

Wander described the new preschool as “the first Jewish preschool in Monmouth County to be inspired by the progressive Reggio Emilio approach and philosophy to early childhood education. The philosophy is based on the concept that children are competent and capable, they wonder, and are naturally curious.”

According to Wander, children learn best when they are given the opportunity to discover, question, and explore their world. The Preschool of the Arts will “provide the materials and support for our early learners to succeed emotionally, socially, and cognitively,” at the same time that they develop literacy, math, and science skills. Enrichment programs will include yoga, gardening, Israeli dance, gymnastics, and art and music appreciation.

Wander, whose experience includes 10 years as a kindergarten teacher, was for six years program coordinator of the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains. She helped develop and implement curricula in both secular and Judaic education, and received the 2010 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

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