Danielle Lindner on Early Childhood Education Programs
A person’s childhood affects the way they grow up in aspects such as personality, social skills, behavior, and even intellect. If they do not have a good foundation, then the future regardless of how strong they are is impacted by the weak foundation. Early Childhood Education programs focus on the whole child and community involvement. When we got the chance to interview Danielle, one of the most reputable names in the Early Childhood Education Program Experts, we tried to get some valuable insights from her on this subject.
Danielle Lindner – Childrens Author and Founder of The London Day School
Danielle Lindner is a certified early educational and elementary teacher in New Jersey. After receiving her M.A. in Teaching and Elementary Education (Hons.), from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1996, she worked as a teacher, trainer and educator for over 18 years in both public and private educational institutions. An experienced businesswoman, in addition to her credentials as a recognized educator, Danielle was recently named a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur by The New Jersey chapter of Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners (LWEBW). Danielle saw a need for a more balanced approach to early childhood learning and worked with like-minded child development professionals to build an enriching, engaging and challenging curriculum that addresses the whole child, combining essential academic skills with a focus on social and emotional development. The London Day School opened its doors in 2010.
How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an Author?
I have always enjoyed writing. I started writing poetry for fun in 3rd grade and continued on throughout the years. In college I actually did an independent study on poetry writing which really helped me to hone the craft. When my daughter was born, she was afraid of the dark and I couldn’t really find a great way of comforting her. One day, I came up with the idea of a snail named Sofia who was afraid to go to sleep in her dark shell. I would read it to her and my other daughter, however it wasn’t until many years later, when I started my preschool, that I decided to have it illustrated and published. Once Sofia the Snail was in print, the stories just kept coming and my Character Education Series was born.
Children are able to relate personally with Sofia, Rupert, Betsie and Koby, How did you come up with these characters of your books?
My two children gave me some of the ideas for my characters, however I have the honor of working with so many amazing kids and parents at The London Day School and I always draw from the experiences I have with them. Sometimes a particular child will be struggling with something which leads to a great character or story, other times, it might be a common question or theme that parents ask about, leading to an idea. Each character has a flaw of sorts and other redeeming qualities that endear them to the reader. It’s very important to me as an author that the themes deal with things that children and parents really struggle with and that each story provides multiple returns to the reader. The reader should learn a valuable social lesson, be able to relate in some way to one or more of the characters, and hopefully, if done right, want to read the story again!
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a number of books that deal with topics such as going to the doctor, getting a new sibling and adoption.
Where to buy your books?
The idea behind the London Day School, How it all started ?
As a working mom of two I needed a place for my children during the day, but the only options were short preschool programs or daycare facilities. I wanted my children to have a place that fit my work schedule, but also offered them something magical and wonderful during the day, something I couldn’t even provide at home. I was looking for a place that was more like a school, with art, music, literacy, science…when I couldn’t find it, I used my background in Early Childhood Education and my desire to do something innovative and built it! After our third year I knew we had created something really special, different and quite frankly, innovative. I knew then that we needed to expand our model to other areas of the country so we could reach more families. In 2013 we started the process of franchising and are now able to offer other people, passionate about early childhood education, the chance to bring our model to their community.
Modern Age Early Childhood Education Programs, is it too much too soon
We start our program at 18months because that is when children really begin to understand how they fit into the world they live in. They are also more verbal and can take a lot away from our program. Children love to learn if things are presented to them at the appropriate age level and in a fun and nurturing manner. Our teachers will let our students be our guide. If they children are just enthralled with something we are doing in science and want more, we can add to it. If they seem not as engaged in that lesson, we can move on to something else that will be exciting for them. Have your reading circle outside on a beautiful day. Bring the older children down to do a project and mentor the younger kids once a week. The idea is not to be complacent. Keep changing things, adding things, and keeping your lessons fun and fresh.
What constitutes a perfect Early Childhood Education Curriculum?
Learning should be fun, but also have some structure. I am a firm believer in balance. Kids should be learning in a fun and exciting envrioment and be doing something new and challenging not just every day, but the entire day. One of the great things about out program, is that when most schools move to an aftercare program of all unstructured play, we actually have a full, unqiue afternoon enrichment curriculum that changes every day. Kids in the afternoon are doing STEM activities, playing outdoors and even learning Mandarin and Spanish. They also always have unstructured play during the day and afternoon so they learn how to socialize, problem solves, be creative and most of all be kids!
Can Emotional Intelligence can be taught at an Early Age? Ways to develop EQ in kids at an Early Age
Yes! Children learn best by modeling which is something we do daily in our classrooms. I am also a strong believer in treating kids with respect and speaking to them a little people who can understand concepts such as waiting, taking turns, saying thank you, saying sorry and sharing. There are always certain cases where there may be something medically going on with a child that can hinder emotional development, so I can’t say that every child, in every situation will have the same results.
Your thoughts on making STEM subjects more interesting to the Kids
We have a big shortage of STEM-related talent in the United States, and I think it’s primarily due to the fact that we don’t put enough focus on those disciplines when our children are young. Many of us had negative feelings towards these subjects in school and now find ourselves struggling to help our own children “get through” Chemistry or Biology in high school. Our program introduces kids to these subjects from the day that start in our program and continues until the day they leave. We use the words Chemistry, Biology, Ecology and Engineering as we introduce fun and exciting lessons to our kids. When a child hears that they are going to be doing a Chemistry lesson and they learn how to make slime, you can pretty safely say that the next time they hear the word Chemistry they are going to be excited. When you teach a child about engineering and give them a huge box of legos and picture cards and say “go build it.” they are going to look at engineering from a fun and exciting perspective every time. By introducing these subject to our kids in preschool we are building the foundation, the positive attitude towards STEM that hopefully with then carry through their elementary and high school career.
Tips for aspiring Teacherpreneurs
I’m extremely proud of the program I have built and the exceptional educational experience The London Day School provides for so many children, however I had a great deal of experience teaching in both a public and private setting before I was ready to set out on my own. I have also learned so many wonderful things along the way by being a mom of two amazing kids. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that they can just graduate from school and be an expert. To be successful at anything you need to learn, observe, practice and be willing to work very very hard.
Becoming truly good at what you do takes time and lots of education. I gained invaluable experience working first as a teacher for many years and then as a manager and business owner before feeling confident enough to start The London Day School. I also think it’s important to always be open to learning more.
Coping with the pressures of a Super busy Mom Managing busy Schedule and Motherhood
The best advice I have to offer is to try your best to keep some balance in your life. Being an entrepreneur is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. Being a mom, wife and successful entrepreneur takes a huge commitment from everyone in your family and you need to ensure you have their support or it won’t work. Being an entrepreneur is wonderfully rewarding as long as you are comfortable dealing with the inevitable ups and downs that come with the territory. My children have only known me as an entrepreneur so for them an entrepreneurial lifestyle is what they know as normal everyday life. Even though I give 150% to my business, I hope my girls and husband see how purposefully I prioritize family and work activities. It’s important to me that they have a lot of me in their life. I often tell my girls and others when they ask me, “what is it like being an entrepreneur?” My answer… “When you are an entrepreneur you are free… free to work any 80+ hours a week you like.