Jewish nursery school will move, add kindergarten

March 29, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Since a handful of parents established Bet Yeladim Nursery School nearly 20 years ago, it has grown from its original home at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center to encompass more than 200 children in three locations.

Starting this fall, the organization is offering kindergarten at The Meeting House in Oakland Mills, where it will move its day-care program. Sometime next year, the nursery school that is operated from neighborhood centers in Jeffers Hill and Phelps Luck will be established at the new Beth Shalom Conservative Congregation synagogue now under construction near Route 32 and Guilford Road.

Slots filling up

Parents have been waiting for the kindergarten for a long time, as evidenced by the 16 children who already have been registered for 20 available positions.

"People are looking forward to the new program," said director Jean Grinspoon. "We've grown and we need to provide more care."

Bet Yeladim currently offers day care, nursery school and summer camp to about 230 children, ages 18 months to 4 years.

The day-care program will move from the Long Reach Village Shopping Center to Oakland Mills on the first week of July. The new location will enable Bet Yeladim to double the number of children in its program, since the current facility is licensed to accommodate only about 50.

Jewish traditions

In 1975, Ms. Grinspoon and four other parents established the nonprofit organization for their children.

"We wanted to see some type of Jewish curriculum for our Jewish children," said Ms. Grinspoon, who has a son and a daughter, Mark, 19, and Beth, 21, who were among the organization's first graduates. "We wanted them to have a real strong Jewish identity."

Bet Yeladim is open to children of all races and religions but emphasizes Jewish traditions, culture and identification.

One recent day, a group of 3-and 4-year-olds at the day-care center learned about Passover by making macaroons and covers for matzo, unleavened bread.

Younger children learned about the traditional Passover meal by making their own Seder plates, with art materials representing the various foods.

"You take it down to the basics," explained associate director Robin Adelman. "Things they eat, touch, smell and taste."

Through the years, program organizers said they have developed a reputation for a well-educated, highly qualified staff who care about children.

"What sets us apart is that all of our teachers have a four-year degree," Ms. Grinspoon said. Parents also "like the fact we have low staff turnover. Our staff is very committed to early childhood education."

Parent involvement

Ellicott City parent Lisa Emmerling is so pleased with Bet Yeladim that she will remain involved with the organization even after her sons graduate from the program.

"I like it for a lot of reasons," said Ms. Emmerling, who will become president of Bet Yeladim's board of directors in July. "It's one of the few places where anybody with a Jewish affiliation or no type of Jewish affiliation could come to one place and have a positive experience."

Ms. Emmerling's 6-year-old son, Sam, graduated from Bet Yeladim and now attends first grade at Worthington Elementary. Her 4-year-old, Max, will leave the program this year. She said Bet Yeladim has helped both understand aspects of Judaism.

"The kids get an understanding of all the major Jewish holidays," she said. "They get some basic prayer knowledge. It's definitely on their level."

Tuition varies for the different programs, with a 10 percent discount for families with two or more children enrolled at Bet Yeladim. Scholarships and loans are also available for families whose gross income does not exceed $30,000 a year.

For more information, call Jean Grinspoon or Robin Adelman at 997-7378.

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