New class sincere on leaving no child behind

Just because a child turns 5 doesn’t mean he’s ready for kindergarten.

That’s why Temple Isaiah in Lafayette is adding another class to its eight-year-old preschool, Gan Ilan (“tree garden” in Hebrew).

The new developmental class, called Rimonim (“pomegranates”), will accommodate 12 students who have grown beyond preschool but don’t yet have the skills to succeed in kindergarten, which has become increasingly rigorous.

It’s not unusual for children to need another year to help develop their social or fine-motor skills, said Ginger Morris, co-director of Gan Ilan.

“We’re calling it ‘developmental kindergarten’ because we want to look at each child and see what they need to be ready for kindergarten,” she said.

The developmental program fills a hole, she added. In the past, parents who knew their children weren’t ready for kindergarten often didn’t have an alternative program to help their children prepare. They had to choose between two unattractive alternatives: either send their children to kindergarten knowing they might not be ready, or keep them in preschool another year even though it might not be challenging enough.

“A lot of parents were practically in tears that we didn’t have something right here to give their child continuity,” Morris said.

Gan Ilan shares space with Contra Costa Jewish Day School at Temple Isaiah, so expanding their preschool program is a natural fit, she added.

Rimonim will build upon the Judaica children learn in preschool. Teachers will expand the lessons about Shabbat, holidays, Hebrew letters and vocabulary. A tzedakah project is also in the works.

“There’s a certain fragility with knowing your child is not ready for kindergarten, and we’re also hoping to give parents confidence in their children,” Morris said. “We also want their children to have confidence in their own abilities.”

Rimonim will begin in September and meet five days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette. Monthly tuition is $850 for members, $975 for non-members. For more information, call (925) 284-8453 or email [email protected].

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.