A Child’s Place School

A Child’s Place School
1409 West Front Street
Lincroft, New Jersey 07738

Phone Number 732 747 0141
Email  kathy@achildsplaceschool.com

Website www.achildsplaceschool.com

Kathy Berkowitz / Director

Identity of Context:

The school is located in Lincroft, a suburban community found in semi-rural Monmouth County. Proximity to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, the many lakes, rivers and woods afford the teachers and students many learning opportunities in the natural world in the nearby community. The school draws children from five surrounding school districts and is a beacon for innovative and meaningful educational practice.

A Child’s Place School was founded in 1974 in the hopes of creating a new and special place for children. It has maintained innovative and high quality programs in a long continual tradition of learning and research by staff, parents and children. Since 1993, the school has had a unique classroom of five, six and seven year olds creating a combined K/1st grade classroom that has successfully integrated progressive traditions of Dewey and others with the inspirations from Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia. The learning is shaped from long and short term projects with children working in various groups throughout the year. The concept of the atelier or studio is very evident as is the strong presence of many materials often no longer found in the typical first grade classroom. The children leaving this classroom have gone on successfully to first and second grades of various public schools, depending on their age. Alba DiBello recently interviewed four nineteen year olds about their experiences as six year olds in this classroom. They recalled with remarkable detail their work on a specific project and more importantly their feeling about being really engaged in their learning. This was the impetus for a research project undertaken by Alba Di Bello and Ave Latte which was recently been completed and presented in various locations. The school’s founder was recently honored by Monmouth County in an official proclamation declaring June 1st 2008 as Alba Di Bello Day because of her long commitment “promoting learning for young children, families, and community.”  Alba stated that, ”This recognition is really for the work done by the staff and children and parents over a long time in a Reggio inspired context, perhaps one of the first in the State of New Jersey and is therefore significant.”

Alba Di Bello began studying the work of the Reggio schools in 1987 and visited the schools in 1990 as part of the first delegation from the northeast and later became actively involved in the Hundred Languages Exhibit that was in New York City in 1995. Using the exhibit as a learning context, the staff continued to pursue their study in depth and now over half the staff has been studying this philosophy almost twenty years. An article in Innovations entitled, Reflections of A Veteran Director can be found in the Vol.5, No 2 Summer of 1997 issue. It describes some of the struggles encountered in studying and integrating the fundamental principles of Reggio Emilia with American children and families. The school’s current Director, Barbara Meinberg continues this tradition of research and study. She and the school’s owner, Linda Littenberg joined the New Jersey Delegation led by AlbaDiBello to participate in 2010 study tour in Reggio Emilia.

Our school provides support to staff seeking to join organizations and attend conferences. Currently all staff members are paid members of NJEEPRE and several belong to NAREA as well. The staff has presented in various contexts to share the story of our work and has also created Institutes at the school where professionals, pre-service, and University faculty have come to learn how these inspirations from Reggio Emilia shape our thinking about how children learn and how we are all in community together. The school was the first host site for the NJEEPRE Roundtable Discussion series that takes place each year in various locations around the state and continues to support this important NJEEPRE initiative.  The school has also held NAREA Fundamental meetings to encourage membership in NAREA and to enable people to learn more about both Reggio Emilia and NAREA. An article published in Exchange No.169, May/June 2006, Reflections on Curriculum 4 Assumptions, 5 Goals describes some of the expectations for staff development at the school and how they relate to the school’s guiding principles which are maintained by the current owners and the Director.


Return to the Index