Innovative Primrose School Teaches Character Development in Young Children

It is a typical afternoon in suburban Chicago when 19-month old Emily Hart sees her parents through the classroom window and realizes that it’s time to leave her friends and teachers at Primrose School in Long Grove. She’s spent the day there, and she begins to pout as she clings to her father and mother, Erik and Keri Hart of Lake Zurich. The Harts have come to pick up Emily, but little Emily wants no part of the school day ending.

“She never wants to leave,” Keri confessed, while attempting to soothe her daughter.

Wait. A child who doesn’t want to leave school?

“It is actually pretty common here,” Jenny Wierzchon acknowledged. Wierzchon, along with her husband Rich, opened the newly built Primrose School in August.

Wierzchon has spent her entire career in early childhood education and was so impressed with the Primrose model of early education, started 30 years ago in Marietta, Georgia, that she and Rich purchased a franchise.

“It’s the best curriculum I have ever seen,” she said, adding that many of the students at her school are children of teachers that appreciate the way Primrose Schools nurture an early, lifelong love of learning.

The school accepts children from six weeks to pre-kindergarten, and also has after-school and summer programs for students up to 12 years old, with plans for kindergarten classes in the future.

According to Wierzchon, the Primrose philosophy embraces a research-based “balanced learning” approach that includes character development as part of each day’s lesson plan, using 12 beloved character puppets (one for each month of the year) and other unique learning tools to develop empathy, good manners, compassion and kindness, among other core values, at an early age and in an age-appropriate manner. Even infants have a curriculum, focused on developing motor skills, curiosity, and wonder.

The Wierzchons opened the newly built school, located on McHenry Road just north of Route 22 in Long Grove, in August. The building boasts a high tech security system, a commercial kitchen run by a full-time chef, onsite WiFi, Wii games for the older children, and iPads for students and teachers alike. Teachers can send parents on-the-fly photos of milestones and activities or provide them with an end-of day digital or emailed report.

“You really have to experience the school firsthand, with a tour, to understand why Primrose is so different,” said Wierzchon.

“It feels like a family atmosphere,” said Keri Hart, who eventually soothed her daughter Emily by telling her they’d be back again soon.

NOTE: The public is invited to an Open House at Primrose School on Saturday, February 11 from 9:00 a.m. till 11:00 a.m., at 3985 N. Old McHenry Road, Long Grove, IL 60047

Phone (847) 438-3175  
Hours: M-F 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  
Website:  www.primroselonggrove.com