Lindgren Nurtures Intellect and Independence Through Play
Young children are natural scientists, artists, inventors, and communicators. Our focus is on developing the innate intellectual abilities of each child. Focusing on the process rather than just an end result, we allow children to develop the skills to think on their own. Learning springs from direct experience and interaction with people, places, animals, nature and other objects. Discoveries are a delight and learning is a joy.
In 1944, during WWII, Jean and Theodore Lindgren realized that children needed a safe, joyful place to be while both parents helped with the war efforts — and that peaceful, comforting surroundings were vital for them to become playful learners and empathetic, socially responsible, useful people. The same is true today: young children need a safe haven to buffer the stresses of modern life.
The Lindgrens were inspired by the new movement of the British Infant Schools, Froebel's German Kindergartens, the Kindergarten movement in the U.S., Columbia University's experimental "Four-year-old group," and later the U.S. federally funded "Nursery Schools." These programs were designed to help preliterate children become school-ready. Through play, story reading, singing, and manipulative activities, children would gain socialization, self-discipline and an education of basic skills. During the Great Depression and WWII, Nursery Schools became necessary for mothers that had to work.
Following the movement, Jean began teaching a few students in the small guest- house of the 350-acre Bentkamp Estate in Closter. Surrounded by open fields and
wooded hillsides, the children had room for endless outdoor discovery, along with the chance to meet farm animals and practice gardening — not only a wartime rationing necessity, but a rich source of learning.
Jean and Theodore purchased a sand quarry, part of the Harold Gill farm, to create the Lindgren School. There was not a single tree or blade of grass. They planted trees, created gardens and lawns and hand-built the school with the help of friends and neighbors. Theodore was the carpenter and Jean was the mason. Their collaborative designs and efforts created the beautiful campus we enjoy today. Now, after 70 years of updates and additions, located next to the 135-acre Closter Nature Center, Lindgren is an oasis: large sunny classrooms, a natural sand playground, natural wood climbers,
flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, barns and sheds for the animals — a rich environment for learning.
*Piaget, Froebel, Steiner, A.S. Neill, Holt, Montessori and Socrates, to name a few.
Why play? Because play just comes naturally.
It is social. Play presents opportunities for children to navigate social interactions and problem solve issues that arise, building the foundation for valuable life skills.
It is open-ended. With limitless possibilities, children are encouraged to explore areas and tangents that otherwise might not have been uncovered. This allows them the opportunity to invent their paths, making them their own.
It is independent. Children are encouraged to make their own choices, fostering independence and confidence.
It is enlightening. Children experience “aha! moments” that they create for themselves, which rewards them and encourages them to further explore.
It is attainable. Children work and play at their own level, allowing them to feel safe and empowering them to try new things.
The Right Balance of Freedom and Structure
At Lindgren, freedom of choice is offered within the clear structure of routines and age-appropriate rules of behavior. Freedom within borders allows for inspiration and empowerment while also instilling responsibility, cooperation, social graces and respect for others and nature.
Watch the school and summer camp video to learn more.
Nature is integral to our curriculum. Outdoor play is healthy and essential. Children need to run, climb, swing and explore. Lindgren is situated entirely on sand. Millions of years ago, areas of Closter were ocean bottom. The landmasses shifted, water receded, and the sandy ocean floor became our present landscape. This natural 3½-acre sanctuary includes shady trees, flowering bushes, big rocks, gardens, and a paved tricycle trail. Our natural wood playground structures include climbers and slides, a four-car train, a sand house, a spinning tire swing, swing sets, a boat and dock, a stage, and an outdoor bathroom and sink.
Our spacious fenced-in playground is a natural setting for fresh air and free movement. We have barns and pens for our donkey, horse, pony, pigs, goats, chicken, and quails. We also have bird-feeding stations, and access to the woods, trails and ponds of the adjacent Closter Nature Center. Lindgren provides a stimulating, safe place where children can be in direct contact with the elements of nature—earth, air, plants, animals, and sun.
“Family, special, warm, caring…the words that come to mind about this wonderful nursery school, where we have sent our son for the past two years. Every morning, our son gets so excited because it’s a school day—and he is learning and growing so much. He is outside almost every single day, getting his body moving and getting fresh air. He is surrounded by teachers and staff who care so much and love being there. We could not be happier with our school choice.”
Parent, Summer Camp
“The quality of care, instruction, and compassion that my daughter received here has far exceeded my expectations. For maintaining such incredibly high standards so successfully all these years, we want to thank you. Never did I think I would be so happy to pick up a sand-tinted, dusty, grinning toddler, covered in paint. I love that she is able to collect rocks every day. I love that she can play so freely as much as she likes. I love the low-key way in which holidays and celebrations are feted. And I love that her sensitivity is handled with such individual attention. I have never felt even a moment’s hesitation leaving my daughter with any member of your staff.”
Claudia Jannucci, Parent and Lindgren alum
“Lindgren is physically and philosophically unique. They understand that early childhood education is not only about academic readiness, but really about the emotional and social development of children in their first setting outside the family. The staff is very loving and I'm sure that there is no one there who views their work as “just a job.” The sheer longevity of the school speaks to how wonderful it really is. It is the same place where my siblings and I went to nursery school.”
Parent and Lindgren Alum
“Lindgren embraces the philosophy that children learn and grow through play. Childhood is honored at Lindgren, fun is integral to each day, and the teachers and staff respect each child and her unique path.”
Parent, Nursery School
“Lindgren Nursery School is a magical place for children. All children are given endless opportunities to explore and discover through play. As a parent and an educator, Lindgren was a wonderful place for both my children to learn and grow socially, emotionally, and academically.”
Nicole Alpern, Elementary Teacher, Closter, NJ
“We feel all four of our children have thrived in the Lindgren environment of encouraged exploration, kindness and firm, yet subtle, structure.”
Parent, Summer Camp
“I chose Lindgren School because, honestly, there is no other school in Bergen County that I felt had such a unique and special way with its students. The philosophy was key in my daughter’s early development. She had wonderful teachers, and was able to play with all types of kids while learning through play. At the school—and now camp—she has learned to garner relationships with peers, while enjoying everything Lindgren has taught her. She socializes beautifully, has a fantastic yoga tree pose (!), and isn’t afraid to be herself through and through. It is the most beautiful learning environment! My daughter and I have made lifelong friendships at Lindgren.”
Beth Thomas Cohen, Parent