Lindenwood International School, Paris
Lindenwood International School, tucked away in a beautiful village, in Yvelines, west of Paris, surrounded by the calm of nature offers a unique learning environment for children from 3 to 15 years old. All core academics follow the English National Curriculum and the French National Curriculum, preparing students for success in an International, British, or French high school. Students in their final year of middle school will be preparing for the IGCSE examinations, as well as the Brevet National des Collèges for families who choose this option. We talked to Eliza Sweeney, Head of Programmes at the school.
Interview with Lindenwood International School
What is the philosophy of the school?
Lindenwood International School was founded on a dream to see change – for the better – in educational institutions. Lindenwood is a school where we celebrate the uniqueness and potential of every child. We have a philosophy centered on inclusion, ecology, collaboration and care. We believe in teaching the whole child, head, hands and heart. We strive to go beyond just great academics and place equal importance on learning in nature, sports, the arts and acquiring real-life skills. We wish to ignite children’s desire and love for learning, develop their imaginations and release inner potential so that they become capable, resourceful, self-assured adults, ready to face tomorrow’s challenges. We hope to bring a strong sense of humanness, emotional intelligence & connectedness to the realm of teaching and learning.
Students follow both the British and French curriculum. How do you find a balance?
We have designed a balanced curriculum to ensure that we offer a holistic approach to learning that teaches the whole child. We place equal importance on strong academics, creativity and interactive methods of learning. A typical week at Lindenwood will see students partaking in immersive English and immersive French classes. We have allocated three days a week for our English programme, where children will cover a British curriculum and we have two days in French. On the French days, children will follow the French national curriculum with a hybrid pedagogy by Montessori, Freinet and others.
Unlike many schools, students attend classes Monday through Friday, including Wednesday. Our teachers are trained to meet the diverse and varying learning styles of our students. Teachers use direct instruction with individuals, small flexible groups or the whole class to develop necessary skills and concepts, and to promote learning among peers.
Our team has developed an integrated curriculum approach, which allows separate curriculum areas to be integrated in a meaningful way and develops student choice and ownership through activities that are tailored to their interests. You can learn more about our balanced curriculum here.
You teach languages through immersive learning. What does that mean and what are the benefits?
We offer immersion learning for French and English. This means that we teach through the language, rather than teaching about the language. This means that rather than attending a language class, we do maths, science, geography, drama and music etc. in both languages. The key to immersion learning – rather than poring over textbooks and memorizing vocabulary words – is being in an environment where you are exposed to the new language in everyday scenarios. The language therefore is not just cerebral, but becomes embodied.
There are several benefits to learning a language through immersion. When you learn a new language, you can interact with native speakers and constantly develop proficiency by adding new vocabulary and contexts to your understanding. With immersion, you have access to an authentic version of the language, because you’re exposed to native speakers and different contexts. It’s a great way to learn because it allows you to truly experience almost all aspects of life in the language you’re learning. Immersion helps your brain function like that of a native speaker. Studies show that immersion can help language learners develop the brain patterns of a native speaker. Studies and experience has proven that immersion learning leads to fast acquisition of a language than traditional “lesson” style language classes.
The school nurtures children through innovative ways of learning. Can you explain what they are?
At Lindenwood, the education and wellbeing of every child is important to us. We understand that every child is different and learns in different ways. Therefore, we have designed a balanced curriculum by implementing different approaches of teaching and learning that teach the whole child. We are informed by Howard Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligences” model, that distinguishes more than one type of intellect in a person: picture smart, body smart, self-smart, people smart… In addition to working towards uncovering the individual’s intelligences, we take time to work with every child in order to understand and discover the best method for teaching them. Some children learn best with pictures, some auditory, some through reading, some through sensorial play. And our teaching staff is equipped with the knowledge, experience and resources to adapt their lesson plans to accommodate every child’s learning best method.
We also have implemented innovative classroom design. A big focus for us at Lindenwood is managing better learning spaces. Space has the undisputable power to influence human development and wellbeing. So, our classrooms are designed with an innovative classroom layout. Apart from the large windows which allow natural light to pour in and blur the lines between the inside and the outside, we have flexible learning areas, high and low seating and tables, adjustable tables, benches and desks, floor learning spaces and even an electric bike! Movement coupled with learning has been proven to have great results. The classrooms are pure and without too many visual distractions allowing children to focus on tasks at hand but also providing a canvas on which they can project their individual identities and group creations onto.
Another way we support and nurture children in an innovative way is through our small class sizes. We only take up 15 students per class. This allows teachers the time and space to work on personalised academic and self-development programmes for every child.
In our classrooms, we also offer the mixed age approach. Combining younger with older students replicates life outside of school where we interact, work and learn with people from all walks of life. Furthermore, older children are validated in being given responsibility roles, and their self-esteem is boosted in their role as leader. The younger children are able to look up to the older students and be mentored. Another way we nurture the students in these mixed aged classes is through the ability to adapt a program for each child. A 5-year-old zooming ahead in one subject can follow a 6 year old’s programme, or a 6 year old needing a bit more revision on a subject can slow down until they are ready.
Our permaculture learning garden and our Discovery Lab are two innovative ways we teach. We do not just teach academically, but we teach with a hands-on approach to learning. Children have the experience of carpentry, knitting, gardening, where they apply theories learnt in the classroom in a practical manner.
Finally, we are attuned to the health and wellbeing of every child and the need to support emotions, not just academics. This was essential for the founders of the school, each of whom is qualified in the wellness, health, and development of children.
This is what sets us apart from other schools in France.
We have an Arno Stern space where children can go to create freely, to express emotions and we also have in-house therapeutic and wellness programmes integrated into the curriculum.
Lindenwood is situated in a beautiful natural setting. To what extent do you feel the location of the school affects the wellbeing of the students?
Surrounded by 10,500 m2 of land and nature, the children are able to stretch their legs, roll around in the grass, observe a lady bird on a flower, and breathe fresh air. Studies have proven that being in nature positively affects mental health, physical development and academic success. Research Ming Kuo “found strong evidence that time in nature has a rejuvenating effect on attention; relieves stress; boosts self-discipline; increases physical activity and fitness; and promotes student self-motivation, enjoyment, and engagement…and all of these have been shown to improve learning.”
Furthermore, students and families feel that they are really part of a great community and family when they are able to come on campus. It is a home away from home. Away from the hard, concrete jungle of Paris and immersed in greenery, school life is healthier and happier. Being in natural surroundings means we have access to the local forests, horse stables, and can engage our students in permaculture studies. All of which are opportunities limited to students in inner city school settings. And, we have chickens and goats so that students have daily experiences with animals around the school.
What percentage of students come from the international community and what percentage are French?
We welcome families, teachers and students from all around the world. We have a diverse range of nationalities, cultures and languages. As we are currently doing our enrolments for the new school year I cannot give you precise percentages, however it is a really exciting and eclectic mix.
How involved are parents in the school community?
We hope that all parents will see Lindenwood as their school too. We are building a community, a family. We invite parents to be involved in all areas of school life. Our school directors’ doors are always open for parents to come and offer insights and make suggestions. We work closely with parents and caregivers when it comes to a student’s learning, so that parents are aware of what we are teaching and so that we can support the parents to support their children in this educational journey. We also offer parents clubs, workshops and training days. Our Parents Association is founded and run by the parents of the school and everyone is welcome to take part.
How would you describe Lindenwood in 3 words?
Innovative. Ecological. Holistic.
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