FirstLine Schools / Louisiana Children’s Museum Partnership
THF Supports Education Initiative
In September 2020, The Helis Foundation provided funding for a New Orleans school to operate and host in-classroom learning at the Louisiana Children’s Museum. In-person learning for Langston Hughes Academy, a FirstLine School, began Wednesday, September 23 for kindergarten and Thursday, September 24 for pre-kindergarten scholars at the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans City Park. LHA teachers are using the LCM’s hands-on exhibit galleries and vast outdoor learning landscapes as their classroom for the remainder of the 2020 semester.
“The Louisiana Children’s Museum is a content rich learning lab grounded in the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education where environments, both indoors and outdoors, are used as the teacher,” says Julia Bland, CEO of the LCM. “While the pandemic has created many challenges, it has also inspired a unique opportunity to collaborate with LHA and offer an exceptional experience and learning environment that is not only healthy and safe but built specifically for early learners.”
The museum was designed around a comprehensive educational framework and essential early childhood learning experiences that are focused on literacy, health and wellness, arts and culture, and the environment. The collaboration with Langston Hughes Academy puts into practice the thoughtful and distinct learning opportunities infused in every exhibit gallery and outdoor environment that create a depth of experiences, inspire discovery, and nurture curiosity in young learners.
Evidence suggests that outdoor classrooms are among the safest and healthiest learning environments for both students and teachers amid a pandemic. LCM’s vast outdoor learning landscapes include an Edible Garden, Toddler Landscape, Wetlands, Music Hummock, Cistern and Runnel, Pelican’s Perch, Floating Classroom, and Labyrinth.
Indoors, the LCM exhibit galleries will extend learning beyond the traditional classroom setting. Teachers are utilizing LCM’s exhibits including Move With The River, Make Your Mark, Dig Into Nature, Follow That Food, the Talk and Play Literacy Center and expansive Studio In the Park to explore and immerse students in core developmental concepts. Moreover, the LCM was designed with an advanced indoor air filtration system that ensures indoor air quality.
The LCM learning partnership with LHA and FirstLine Schools was possible with support from The Helis Foundation.
“Part of The Helis Foundation’s mission is to support the well-being of the New Orleans community, especially in times of dire need. We believe innovative ways to educate students are critical to the health of our community, and we are proud to ensure that students can continue their learning during this global health crisis,” said David Kerstein, president of The Helis Foundation.
Learning in a children’s museum environment creates endless opportunities for early learners to explore their interests, make connections to culture and the community, express their creativity, and share ideas. For teachers, the LCM creates a shared educational experience and provides ideal environments for experiential and cross-curricular learning, blending informal and formal learning.