August 23, 2014 at 7:50 AM
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Primrose School of Berkeley Heights is open and will host a community celebration with ribbon cutting Grand Opening on Saturday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at their school located at 260 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Primrose School of Berkeley Heights joins a national family of accredited early education and care schools for children, families and communities with a balanced approach to nurturing "Active Minds, Healthy Bodies and Happy Hearts." They serve infants through kindergarten and after school children.
"I am excited, sometimes I walk around the school and I have to pinch myself that it has come true," said franchise owner Amina Gunaratne. "To me, this is a lifetime of dreaming and planning coming true."
This has been a 10 year journey for Gunaratne, who was an accounting and finance executive, who relied on child care centers for her two sons who are now 10 and 11 years old. "I see my boys and through them I see this journey," said Gunaratne. She drew aspirations from her children's experiences and searched for an answer for quality care.
She received that phone call that every parent dreads -- her two-year old son had split his head open on a metallic bookshelf sharp corner and she needed to come pick him up. The caregiver never called the EMS.
"That experience really changed my whole outlook," said Gunaratne. "I was devastated because I thought I knew what to look for in quality care and quality safety."
Her desire to be in child care and early education came from her personal experiences as a mom. "I continued to have these experiences and I felt I was making compromises," said Gunaratne as she enrolled her children in various centers.
"Why can't we find a place that had a strong curriculum? Why couldn't we find a place that had teachers who had consistency on how they were trained and how the lesson plans were being implemented? Why can't there be a place that has outdoor space for our children to play in? Why does my child have to go in the basement?" she asked.
"It took us 10 years to find it. I see the things that I wanted for my kids and I see it here," said Gunaratne.
After much research and performing due diligence checks on various franchises, Gunaratne found a facility that she could believe in. Her husband, Ace, received an alert about Primrose Schools expanding to the East Coast. "This was four years ago," said Gunaratne. Primrose's success and support, along with their belief of approaching each day with joy, appealed to her. Two years after signing, they found the Berkeley Heights location.
Primrose School of Berkeley Heights is licensed for 200 children. "I have a really great opportunity to have a quality educational program, a quality care program," said Gunaratne. "It is supposed to be like a home away from home."
"I fundamentally believe in the Primrose experience," said Gunaratne. "I know we offer a premier experience to this community and I know these families need that."
"There needs to be a strong educational component early on, to foster learning from the beginning."
The Primrose Schools' curriculum and lesson plans are developed by the dedicated Education Team at Primrose Corporate. We have a team that have PhDs and Masters in Early Childhood Education dedicated to each age group, said Gunaratne. "We know that a child at two and a half has a completely different attention span than a four year old."
There is research and thought behind what is appropriate developmentally for every age group said Gunaratne. Their classrooms are designed for each age group separating the infants, toddlers, early preschool, preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.
Lesson plans are put together through a corporate Curriculum Director and reviewed with her 25 teachers on staff in Berkeley Heights. The teachers implement the lesson plans and use their own creativity said Gunaratne.
The lesson plans are enhanced with a Character Development Program with the introduction of the "Primrose Friends". "This month Peanut is celebrating his birthday and he teaches honesty. The lesson plan would include Peanut and what he likes," said Gunaratne. Percy, the Primrose Rooster and school mascot, teaches the children about courage.
Primrose Schools follow a balanced philosophy between academic and enrichment activities.
"Now, with the Common Core, so much focus is on children having certain level of skill sets, certain cognitive and aptitude capabilities," said Gunaratne. "How do you bring all of that about if you are not in a school setting?"
When families started enrolling, the families wanted the full day kindergarten program. The Primrose Program incorporates the Common Core requirements with reading, writing and math activities.
The school follows a healthy menu initiative with the food prepared in their warming kitchen and delivered to the classrooms.
Outside, the children will enjoy connecting to the environment in the Primrose Patch with gardening cucumbers, carrots and pumpkins. The abundant outdoor playground is sectioned with age appropriate equipment.
"Now we have the construction behind us, I want the management team to deliver on what we have been promising and talking about. It's time to deliver on that," said Gunaratne. "I want to be able to do that five years from now, 10 years from now - with the same passion and vigor."