Goddard School is approved, expected to open next summer

Wilton’s first Goddard School, to be located at 385 Danbury Road, was approved at the Monday, Oct. 28, meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission. Issues regarding traffic flow onto Kristine Lilly Way were resolved after the school volunteered to keep a gate in place, preventing access when the school was not open.

Deborah Lee of Fairfield will be the owner of the Goddard School along with her husband, Edward. She said in a recent email they are both “very excited” to have their plans approved by the commission.

On Friday, Nov. 1, she said if all things go as planned, Wilton Goddard School should be open around June 2014.

“Our intention is to be open sometime during the summer of 2014. June is at the latest range, but so many moving parts are going on right now, so I’m not sure,” she said. “It would be a tremendous delay if we were not open by the next academic year.”

A Goddard School is a privately owned business that follows the teaching philosophy of “learning through play,” Ms. Lee said. The Wilton Goddard School will offer programs for children 6 weeks to 5 years old.

Tuition is based on the age of the child. “As the child gets older, the price decreases,” Ms. Lee said.

The owner previously had two children spend four years at a Goddard School in New Jersey, and said she and her husband are approaching the school “from the perspective of being parents of children who went to Goddard school for four years, to the owners of a school.”

According to the Goddard School company’s national website, each of its preschool programs offers “the best childhood preparation for social and academic success.

“We foster the cognitive and social development of each child through fun activities that are lovingly guided by highly trained teachers,” the website says.

What sets the Goddard experience aside from other preschools in the area, Ms. Lee said, is that the program offers “so much more in the way of safety and facilities.”

“We’ve had firsthand experience looking for schools after having children,” she said. “We vetted them out in our area, and found Goddard to be far superior in safety, care, and the education program that’s involved as well.”

Individual schools have the ability to offer a wide range of education activities, Ms. Lee said. This enables schools to be flexible to parents’ wants, and children’s needs, an idea otherwise known as the Goddard ‘FLEXible’ curricula.

“There are a bunch of different programs,” Ms. Lee said. “We can offer language programs, yoga classes, sign language classes, and so on. My children came home knowing sign language from their Goddard School lessons.”

All of the school’s lead teachers, according to the Goddard School’s website, are required to have a degree in early childhood education, or a related field, and are selected on their “ability to engage children warmly in the learning process through the use of effective and unique lesson plans.”

The school’s main audience will be dual-working parents who commute by train or car to their office, Ms. Lee said. In order to offer those parents total, full-time child care, the Goddard School of Wilton will be open a full 12 hours, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Parents have flexibility in drop-off and pickup times, Ms. Lee said, and the school will also offer a part-time care program.

“Our intention is to appeal to these people who commute every day,” she said. “When you commute, you have to be up and gone early in the morning. We want to be as flexible as possible to appeal to working parents.”

Overall, Ms. Lee said, her school will provide “full-time care for working parents with an educational preschool program throughout the day.”