Philosophy of Living Wisdom School

What do you want for your child?

What are your hopes and dreams for your child? Not just for kindergarten, but for the whole of his or her life?

Financial security? A good job? A nice home?

Material goals are necessary and worthwhile. But many intangibles are surely also worth considering, such as happiness, character, and peace of mind.

boy smiling at living wisdom school, a PreK-8 private school in palo alto, californiaWe all want our children to acquire positive values and ideals, as well as a deep understanding of the meaning of life. What role will your child’s school play in helping him or her to become an inwardly strong and secure person? No influence outside the home has a greater impact than the child’s school.

Education Reflects Parents’ Goals

Little attention is paid in schools nowadays to developing children’s values. But values are the road map that helps children understand where true happiness lies. And what if your dreams for your child extend beyond material fulfillment? Will educating your child for a good job be enough?

Intellectual training is essential; it’s difficult to succeed in our culture without it. But life teaches us that success and happiness depend to a great extent on human skills such as knowing how to get along with others, how to persevere in achieving our goals, how to focus our attention, how to cooperate, and how to be a loyal friend.

At Living Wisdom School, we feel that children should benefit from the storehouse of wisdom that humanity has gathered through the ages concerning the best ways to achieve a happy, fulfilled life. We feel it is our God-given duty to teach children these essential life skills, staring at a young age. An education that gives children the tools they need to achieve both inner and external success is a useful education, indeed!

For more than forty years, we have seen that children who are taught how to have a happy life are more likely to achieve academic success as well. (Please don’t take our word for it. See What Parents Say.)

At LWS, children learn the life skills they need to be balanced, mature, effective, happy, and harmonious human beings. We call this art “Education for Life,” because we continually relate the children’s classroom lessons to life as a whole. At LWS, we study not only the great things that people have done, but the human qualities that enabled them to attain those achievements.

Secrets of Success

Before we can be happy and inwardly secure, we must know a great deal about the world around us. We need to learn to interact appropriately with the people and circumstances in our lives, because life doesn’t always mold itself to our personal expectations.

We must be ready to adjust to realities outside our own. We must learn practical skills, and we must master academic knowledge. Education for Life helps children prepare for maturity on every level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

More Than Natural Talent

First-graders with teacher Erica Glazzard, Living Wisdom School, Palo Alto, CaliforniaAt Living Wisdom School, we guide children in developing the five “tools of maturity”: body, feelings, will, mind, and soul. With health and high energy, expansive feelings, dynamic will, and mental clarity, each child can experience a gradual increase of awareness that provides them with a solid inner sense of meaning and joy.

We gauge our students’ success not only by their academic results but by the quality of each child’s attitudes, effort, and interactions with others. In an Education for Life, the children practice dealing successfully with whatever life may bring.

True Teaching is Individual

Children reveal a broader range of individual traits than adults, who may have learned to mask their individuality in order to fit in. Rather than force the child to conform to strictly standardized learning methods, we feel it makes better sense to discover the child’s essential strengths and encourage them. When children’s individual strengths are continually and consistently encouraged and reinforced, they develop self-confidence and enthusiasm for learning.

Our classes are kept small, so that the teachers can work closely with each child. The teachers are trained to assess each child’s physical, mental, and emotional development and guide the child accordingly. The teachers relate to the children much as their parents do, from the perspective of the child’s ever-changing needs. We respect and encourage individuality.

Joy in the Classroom

We feel that we have a responsibility to help the early years of each child’s life be a joyful experience, while laying the foundation for a happy adulthood.

Child with Bubble, Living Wisdom School, Palo Alto, CaliforniaIn a Living Wisdom classroom, the atmosphere is relaxed and family-like, while at the same time there is order, discipline, and a clear sense that the teacher is in charge. Living Wisdom School teachers win the children’s respect by skillfully guiding their enthusiasm and energy into the tasks at hand. The children learn that they are expected to behave with consideration and respect, and that they can approach the teacher for individual guidance.

Creating a positive learning environment isn’t, by itself, sufficient to transform the children into angels. At LWS, the same issues, interactions, and challenging transitions occur that we would expect to see in any classroom. What’s different is that the children are given opportunities to learn effective, enlightened ways of dealing with situations as they arise.

The Inner Life

At Living Wisdom School, the children’s natural spirituality is acknowledged and encouraged. Each classroom has a universal altar, with symbols from the world’s religions. The classroom may be decorated with objects that the children consider personally sacred and spiritually meaningful.

At Living Wisdom School, spirituality isn’t defined as a particular dogma or creed. Thus, it isn’t “religious instruction” in the traditional sense. Rather, the focus is on the child’s personal, direct experience of universal spiritual truths such as kindness, compassion, empathy, loyalty, honesty, and courage. The key is Self-realization – the individual realization that happiness increases as we expand our awareness to embrace ever-broader realities.

Every morning, and occasionally during the day, we set aside time for chanting, singing, quiet meditation, affirmations, prayer, yoga postures, and other uplifting activities. Through these forms of worship, the children experience for themselves what it feels like to be in harmony with a higher level of consciousness.

Children meditating at Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California
Students at Living Wisdom School learn non-sectarian, scientific breathing and concentration techniques for calming their bodies and minds and focusing attention.

When it’s appropriate, we hold discussions and answer the children’s questions about spiritual truths. The children discover that expansive feelings, thoughts, and actions increase their own sense of well-being, whereas contractive feelings and actions take that happiness away. “Right and wrong” thus become first-hand experiences of the consequences of personal behaviors, rather than a fixed set of abstract rules.

The children become deeply interested in changing their behavior when they realize that it is an effective way to increase their inner sense of joy. At LWS, children talk as readily and naturally about God, angels, saints, and the spiritual side of life as other children talk about sports or TV.

The Importance of Good Teachers

Math and science volunteer and Harvard graduate Richard Fouquet had a long, successful career as an engineer and flight manual publisher. Click to enlarge.
Math and science volunteer and Harvard and Stanford graduate Richard Fouquet had a long, successful career as an engineer and flight manual publisher.

“Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying!” This adage is especially true when it comes to selecting teachers. Living examples can inspire children much more effectively than rules. A teacher who deeply understands his or her subject is better able to awaken a similar love and commitment in the children. LWS is built around our teachers’ open-hearted sensitivity to the children in their charge. It is essential, therefore, that in his/her life, the teacher expresses the positive attitudes, spiritual and moral values, and maturity that we seek to impart to the children.

Our teachers participate in Education for Life as a lifelong process. Each teacher is deeply involved in personal development, and the teachers receive ongoing support and training to stay fresh, enthusiastic, and expansive.