FLORHAM PARK, NJ - Morris County mom Danielle Lindner had a dream. Today she’s a few months shy of celebrating the one year anniversary of turning her vision into a reality. Lindner is the director of The London Day School, a pre-school in Florham Park. The school, serving students ages two to five, opened in June 2010.
“Parents haven’t been able to find this mix between a schedule that works for them and the educational balance that they want for their children,” she said. Pre-school hours are 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. but the school offers early drop off and extended care.
The day is chock full of enriching play and stimulating lessons; supplemental activities such as music, yoga, organic gardening, Mandarin and Spanish are offered at no additional charge. “We are really enrichment-based and try to expose kids to a lot of different things all day,” Lindner said.
Lindner has a masters in elementary education and is a former pre-school, kindergarten and computer instructor. While working at a corporate job she struggled to find an early childhood program suitable for her two young daughters. “I decided someone needs to do it and put something together,” she said.
It took two years of hard work before opening her school. She had to be approved by the town, convert 5,000 square feet of office space into a school setting, pass all 179 requirements from the state’s Department of Children and Families, develop a curriculum, hire teachers, and the list goes on. In fact, for a pre-school director the list doesn’t seem to end.
But Lindner was rewarded with success. Six months after opening the doors of The London Day School, she was operating at capacity (she is licensed for 53 students) and now maintains a waiting list. She plans to open a full day kindergarten in the fall of 2012.
“My daughter really blossomed here,” said Shelly Verma, a Madison resident and mother of a three-year-old. “She used to cry to come back to school on a Saturday or Sunday.” Verma, a former project manager at IBM, is now interning at the school. She is interested in becoming an early childhood educator.
“There’s a lot of focus on the motor skills in the art projects that they do,” she said. She especially liked the project where the children made robots out of recycled materials such as paper plates and tin foil.
Parents receive daily written communication from the teachers. The report includes what their child did during center time that day, what they ate, books they enjoyed reading, the number of dirty diapers changed, and more.
“The best thing about our school is the staff,” said Lindner. “They’re all wonderful.” She only hires teachers certified in early childhood education. During a recent visit the teachers ate their lunch at the little tables and chairs with their students. Afterward one teacher vacuumed the carpet while another managed the post-lunch bathroom rush. “The teachers are very nice, very warm and very friendly,” said Verma. The London Day School has small classes and a low student to teacher ratio.
A global perspective is incorporated into the learning environment. “We teach the kids the world is bigger than their classroom,” said Lindner. For instance the school participates in an art exchange with international schools in Venezuela and Barcelona.
Another focus is civics which the school calls character education. They teach respect, compassion and care for individuals and for their communities. “All the skills they’re eventually going to need in the corporate world they need to learn as two-year-olds,” said Lindner.
There’s lots of nurturing, mind expansion and character building behind the blue doors of the building off Ridgedale Avenue. “The biggest problem parents have at the end of the day is that kids don’t want to leave,” Lindner said.