During the month of January, Patty and I gave many tours to prospective LANK families. There were many issues that parents expressed interest in and varied discussions. These topics ranged from educational philosophy to ”nuts and bolts” type of information about car pools, health forms and illness policies. But, one topic that came up time and again was that of our beautiful space both indoors and outside. The physical environment at LANK is one that remains perfect for the needs of young children because it combines purposeful design elements that make play and learning seamless. Our LANK school website chronicles the history of our current building and touts the prestigious AIA Award for Architecture that our building was awarded. The reasons for the award are many. We feel that our physical space is best highlighted by the following strengths.
1. Natural light: We are so lucky to have large windows in every classroom that allow natural light to stream into every area. It is well known that natural lighting can enhance mood and disposition, while offering our students a view of the beautiful treed outdoors. Our teachers work hard to keep the windows free of clutter so that children can look out at birds, squirrels or just enjoy basking in a little sunshine.
2. Collaboration vs. Segregation: The openness At LANK was designed to allow children to move freely between spaces, and so that teachers could benefit from their colleagues’ input and expertise in an informal, natural way. Large areas for play and work without the confines of walls or narrow hallways make the work of children’s play feel accessible and unrestricted. The same is true for our directors as we see the playground from our desks, and can reach any staff member at any time. Even our bathrooms are located in areas that make sense for young children. No long corridors or hidden access at LANK!
3. Multi-purpose spaces: Ask any kindergartener which classroom area is their favorite and the “loft” is the likely response. There are actually two lofts at LANK and both can fulfill several purposes; learning nook, storage space, or quiet conference room. Likewise; our outdoor deck and multi-purpose big room can serve multiple functions as meeting spaces, gross motor areas, or just another place to hold class.
4. Playground and paths: Ours is by far the prettiest playground in the area. The tall trees which are presently home to a pair of falcons, and countless other birds and squirrels is truly unique. We recently added a dirt box for digging fun (*thank you to Dave Scanlan) and are looking forward to including an area for our preschool gardeners. The children have great fun collecting acorns, caterpillars, and sometimes just enjoying a seat on one of our wooded terraces.
For more information on how physical space can impact learning please take a look at this article: https://www.1843magazine.com/design/a-class-apart