In the colorful and naturally designed playground of Temple Beth Torah Leonie Arguetty Preschool, children rush to the water hose to get their buckets filled. “One at a time,” teacher Sharon Lowenstein said. “Everyone will get a turn.”
The children at the preschool get excited every time they’re asked to tend the freshly planted butterfly, herb and vegetable gardens. With help from teachers, they worked hard to plant the three gardens. In January 2012, the children planted their first garden in a box. That first seasonal garden consisted of mostly vegetables and herbs.
At the beginning of this school year, the students planted the expanded gardens, now including the herb and butterfly gardens. At the beginning of spring, the gardens have begun to sprout, and the students are getting to see firsthand how the plants have grown through their tending.
The gardens are just one of the many interactive activities that Temple Beth Torah Leonie Arguetty Preschool provides for its children.
Preschool Director Sandra Wilensky wants students to gain hands-on experience. “We teach the children new concepts and topics experientially,” she said. “Through our drop-off program, which children start at 2 years old, they learn best through things they can do themselves.”
Whether it’s classroom or outdoor activities, the temple’s preschool focuses on keeping the children engaged and interested in what they’re learning.
“For classroom-type activities, we put pictures on the walls of what the children learn about,” Wilensky said. “For example, when they were learning about the grand masters and new artists, they saw themselves as artists.”
Teachers at Leonie Arguetty Preschool are advised to teach subjects such as art on an interactive level.
“The best way we are going to teach the children concepts about art and artists is not just through books and pictures that they have to see and listen to as if they are being lectured to, but they’re actually going to experience it,” Wilensky said.
Children are able to learn the distinctive characteristics of each artist through hands-on experience.
“When they learned about the artist Jackson Pollock, they painted the way he painted,” Wilensky said. “And when they learned about Michelangelo, they laid under a table on a mat and painted up like he did at the Sistine Chapel.”
Temple Beth Torah Leonie Arguetty Preschool is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is one of the highest standards for excellence in early-childhood education.
“Due to our high standards, we attract many people from the community here through word of mouth,” Wilensky said. “Our students are not only of Judaic faith, but we do teach principles that are based on Judaism and is also relatable to all people.”
The preschool has two teachers for every classroom, one teacher and one assistant, plus an additional floating individual who goes wherever needed. “We have nine classrooms right now with capacity for a tenth room,” Wilensky said.
Temple Beth Torah Leonie Arguetty Preschool has an ongoing enrollment period, and now is accepting students for next school year. Students can start at the beginning of the school year or, if they are new to the community, can start anytime, as long as the school has room.
The preschool is located at 900 Big Blue Trace in Wellington. For more information, visit www.templebethtorah.net or call (561) 793-2649.
ABOVE: Temple Beth Torah Leonie Arguetty Preschool students with teacher Sharon Lowenstein and Director Sandra Wilensky in the herb garden.