This article originally appeared in the Brooklyn Paper on June 15, 2018.
BY CAMILLE SPERRAZZA
It sometimes seems that Rivendell School, for children ages 2–5, is the best-kept secret in the Gowanus area.
The beautiful, modern building is an inviting environment, surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, and gardens.
The school has its own garden, too, tended by the children. It’s all part of Growing Connections, the hands-on program that allows the children to experience planting and harvesting. They get to feel dry and wet soil. They water plants. Then, they share the fruit, vegetables, and herbs that they have grown, taking pride in seeing it all from start to finish. At the same time, they learn valuable and age-appropriate science lessons about composting, the life cycle of seeds, and how the changing seasons impact gardening. They see for themselves that soil, water, and sun are essential to growth.
Brigitte Yohe, the Growing Connections teacher, says, “Children have watched their Halloween pumpkins decompose and become soil throughout the long winter months.” Now that spring is here, “They see first-hand how the seeds left inside germinate and produce a beautiful new pumpkin plant.”
Every day is Earth Day at Rivendell, where the children collect food scraps from lunch to share with composting worms. They separate their trash into the correct recycling bins, learning at a young age to become responsible world citizens who respect the earth.
This positive environment is in keeping with the philosophy of Maria Montessori, who believed that a more peaceful world begins by nurturing each child’s spirit with kindness, compassion, and love of learning. Such activities also encompass the school’s philosophy that emphasizes the power of team-building activities.
Children from all backgrounds, and with a variety of learning styles, are welcome, as the school’s philosophy stresses the importance of learning to get along with everyone. Accepting and respecting differences among people has lasting benefits for everyone.
Rivendell offers inclusive programs that promote excellence in early childhood education. Emphasis is placed on learning designed for different levels of readiness, and the school is committed to providing support to the families that it serves. There is a generous child-to-teacher ratio in every classroom at Rivendell as well as extra support for students who need it. As a result, the school is a place where children thrive and learn together.
“Rivendell is a special place for our daughter and for us,” say Rivendell parents, Angela and Scott. “What our daughter learns from working alongside her peers has helped her become inquisitive, empathetic, and kind.”
The history of Rivendell dates back to 1977 when the pre-school opened in a Park Slope brownstone called The Children’s House of Park Slope. In 1998, it was incorporated into Rivendell School, which was founded in 1995.