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Focus Stories

The Goddard School

by Susan Shalhoub

Featured Photo from The Goddard School

The owner of The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development in Sanford (also serving Lake Mary and Heathrow) has a special appreciation for what the school means to local families. She experienced The Goddard School difference herself, and she experienced what it was like to be without it.

Priya Abraham was working as a CPA in South Carolina when her daughters, now 11 and 9, were in a Goddard School there. They started out in the infant program, and Priya became a fan of the brand and its standards of quality care for children up to age 6. When the family moved to Florida and Priya’s son, now 5, went to a different child-care facility, the difference was evident.

“It was not the same,” Priya says.

So, with the encouragement of her husband, she decided to open her own Goddard School right here in our community.

With teachers hired, furniture moved in, security systems installed, playgrounds set up, and a mural painted inside, The Goddard School - Sanford [Lake Mary Heathrow] is now open and welcoming infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and pre-kindergartners.

Readying Children
The Goddard School features about 500 locations all over the U.S., with more than 20 here in Florida.

Priya is excited to educate parents or parents-to-be who are unfamiliar with the brand, explaining its model of play-based learning and its focus on literacy, science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.

“Children learn best through play,” says Priya, who has witnessed her own daughters progress into lifelong learners thanks to The Goddard School.

The school’s philosophy is backed by research from the Goddard Educational Advisory Board, made up of experts in child development, brain development, technology integration, and other facets of whole-child education. The board sets the foundation of The Goddard School’s play-based learning program, then teachers have flexibility to design curricula based on students’ interests and favorite themes.

A class of dinosaur enthusiasts could learn counting using small dinosaur toys, for example, with children encouraged to take three away from a group of eight to learn math. This fun method of learning has the bonus advantage of developing tactile skills, says Priya. Teachers have the freedom to customize learning in ways that will best resonate – through play. And the more play that can be done outdoors, the better.

The Goddard School’s goal is for children to be not only school-ready, but career- and life-ready, as well.

Independence, self-exploration, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills are big parts of that equation. Individualized attention is also imperative under The Goddard School model.

“We have the lowest student/teacher ratio in the area,” says Priya.

Those classes gather in a bright, secure, modern facility with an indoor gym, separate playgrounds for toddlers and preschoolers with safe surfaces and artificial turf, and a STEAM-based Outdoor Learning Center. The Sanford location on South Henderson Lane off State Road 46 near I-4 makes for easy pickups and drop-offs for parents anywhere in the Lake Mary and Sanford areas.

In addition to a unique, play-based education method, The Goddard School’s business model also sets it apart. Each school has a separate owner and director, and Priya is delighted to have experienced early-education professional Morgan Morgan in the director’s role. Both women are always on site, and representatives from The Goddard School corporate office make regular, unannounced audits to ensure quality standards are maintained.

Extras Make a Difference
Enrichment initiatives – such as yoga, Spanish, and sign-language instruction, beginning as early as the infants’ classes – are included in the curriculum at The Goddard School.

Priya hopes to soon add chess for three-year-olds, first teaching the roles of each piece in the form of a story. It’s the kind of creative lesson delivery that helps new knowledge resonate with children.

And Priya should know – she’s seen The Goddard School’s results with her own children.

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