In 1986, Lakewood Avenue Children’s School started in a 1924 bungalow with good bones and a lovely front porch.
When renovating this old house with the purpose to make it a residentially based school, our beautiful classrooms and outdoor environments were designed and constructed with intention, specifically to meet the needs of young children.
The classrooms are bright with many windows allowing natural light to flood the children’s play spaces. Each classroom is scaled to the size of the children in the group with lots of little furniture and developmentally appropriate toys. Children have access to furniture and props for dramatic play, block building, sensory play, exploring science and math materials, literacy materials like books and writing tools, inviting art areas, large unclaimed floor spaces for puzzles and spontaneous play, and cozy areas.
When you come for a tour you’ll be greeted by the director in our welcoming kitchen — an inviting space where we meet with parents
and teachers around the kitchen table. The kitchen also serves as an entryway to the preschool room, allowing children to stop and share anecdotes.
The preschool room is an L-shape divided into activity areas. Even when all 15-17 preschoolers are playing, it feels spacious. This space is usually full of small groups of busy children, and has just the right hum of children’s voices.
The middler room has a large window that lights the block area on one side, and windows facing the toddler yard on the other side. This classroom also has its own kitchen for real classroom cooking projects.
Special features in the toddler room include a low trough-style sink where separate taps allow four children at a time to wash their hands or spend hours playing in the water, and broad, wide steps with toddler-height railings separated from a ramp by a partial wall.
Each classroom has details specifically installed to contribute to an inspiring and beautiful environment, including tall glass shelves in front of the windows with unique glass pieces handmade by a local artist.
We have two outdoor spaces, and a full time outdoor learning teacher who programs the spaces. As seasons and the children’s interests and developmental needs change, just like in the classrooms, the play props change.
The toddler room opens up onto a large wooden deck with big blocks to build with and tables to support play with different kinds of materials, for example building blocks, sorting activities, farm and forest animals, and art materials. From the deck, steps lead to a sandbox and a grassy yard with a circular track. The toddlers love to ride bikes and tractors, push lawn mowers and shopping carts, and run and run and run around the track. Inside the track a grassy hill provides space for crawling and twirling and for lying down to gaze at the treetops and the clouds.
The backyard used by the older children is huge! It is actually licensed for 230 children, and used by a maximum of 25! Surrounded by mature oak, walnut and pecan trees that drop delightful playthings, it is shady in the summer and sunny in the winter. The backyard includes several different elevations and play surfaces, tunnels, a vast digging area, big blocks with props like steering wheels and doctor kits, and an elevated observation deck. A nature house full of natural collections, magnifying glasses, binoculars, bug catchers and dress-up clothing like butterfly wings and safari vests provide endless opportunities for children to explore the natural world, and engage in active or quiet play.
Our front yard, bordered by a white picket fence, has plentiful garden boxes in which the children plant and care for vegetables and flowers. Behind the boxes, from the front porch children enjoy experiencing the day-to-day activities of our neighborhood. Fire trucks and school buses rumble by; our trash and recycling is collected once a week by big noisy trucks, and everyday the mailman delivers mail to our rooster mailbox.
The school’s environments evolve as we continue to be inspired by the spaces in the Reggio Emilia schools, and we continuously make modifications to suit the needs and interests of the specific children enrolled.