Lightbridge Academy is a popular daycare and preschool chain with around 100 locations in the United States.
Offering a popular childcare solution for working parents, Lightbridge Academy positions itself as an innovator in educational child care, with a custom curriculum that’s based on learnings from great minds such as Montessori and Piaget.
While Lightbridge Academy undoubtedly offers more than a typical daycare center, parents should be aware that the rates are usually higher too.
So, is Lightbridge Academy worth it? Here’s a full review!
Real parent reviews of Lightbridge Academy often focus on the incredibly well-thought out curriculum, loving teachers, and great communication from the staff. Parents feel in the loop here and take comfort in knowing their kids are in the best possible hands.
As far as negative reviews of Lightbridge, some parents mention merging of rooms (putting infants and toddlers together) when class sizes are too small, and some parents have had issues with staff not being careful enough around food allergies.
In this Lightbridge Academy review, we look at what you can expect from the daycare service for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age kids.
We’ve also included reviews from real parents whose kids attend, to help you to know what to look out for when you arrange a tour of your local center.
What is Lightbridge Academy?
Lightbridge Academy is a childcare center chain with almost 100 centers located across six states – New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.
In the coming years, more franchises will open in Florida and Maryland.
Lightbridge was founded in 1997 when Guy and Julia Falzarano opened their first center by the name of Rainbow Academy before changing the name to Lightbridge Academy in 2014.
The company is very much a family business, with the Falzaranos now grown-up kids working in the head office to oversee the string of franchises.
Lightbridge Academy Teaching Philosophy Explained
Here’s what and how your child will learn when enrolled at Lightbridge.
The Lightbridge Academy philosophy is that “Just as every point on a circle is equidistant from its center, each person whose life is touched by Lightbridge Academy is equally important.”
Children, parents, staff members, franchise owners, and the community come together as a family to create a ‘Circle of Care’.
The core values of Lightbridge Academy are to develop meaningful relationships with all members of the Lightbridge Academy family, with children at the center.
More than just a daycare center, at Lightbridge every moment is seen as another opportunity to learn.
The state-of-the-art childcare centers aim to provide a nurturing ‘home-away-from-home’ environment where each child’s potential for academic success is unlocked.
Lightbridge Academy offers its own curriculum called ‘Seedlings Early Childhood Education Curriculum’.
This has taken inspiration from some of the greatest minds in early education including Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, Fredrich Frobel, Howards Gardner, and Loris Malaguzzi.
Examples of how these theories are put into practice include…
- Piaget – Lesson plans build on the skills each child acquires at various stages of development
- Montessori – Focussing on the development of the whole child
- Frobel – Acknowledging the importance of play in a child’s growth
- Gardner – Each child is allowed the opportunity to gain information in the way he or she naturally gravitates to
- Malaguzzi – Using child observations to aid in planning for child-led exploration
Lightbridge’s Seedlings Early Childhood Education Curriculum uses a multi-sensory approach to learning. For example, children will look at letters, hear the sounds and sign the words.
The Lightbridge Curriculum includes:
- STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art & Math are taught from an early age
- Reading & Writing Readiness – Hands-on lessons that develop motor skills
- Singing Sprouts – Exploring music through singing, movement, and instruments
- Spanish Sprouts – Learning the basics of counting, colors, and everyday communication in Spanish
- Signing Sprouts – American Sign Language is used throughout all age groups
- Yoga & Mindfulness – Kids learn how to use breathing to relieve stress, calm their minds and nervous system.
Lightbridge Academy Day To Day Procedures/Typical Day
All Lightbridge Academy centers are open Monday through Friday.
Most programs are available from two to five days per week.
At Lightbridge Academy, kids are grouped into six programs:
- Infants – Stimulating the five senses through play
- Toddler – Exploration of math, science, problem-solving, vocabulary, and art
- Preschool – Theme-based lessons to strengthen emerging skills in reading, writing, science, technology, and math
- Pre-K – Planned lessons to strengthen skills in reading, writing, science, technology, and math, plus a focus on effective communication
- Kindergarten – A full and extended day program with a hands-on, multi-sensory approach that utilizes the latest technology
(Is it OK to skip preschool and go right to kindergarten? Read more here.)
Lightbridge Academy also offers a summer day camp for elementary school-age children. Each week has a new theme such as Wild West or Mad Scientists.
In addition, Lightbridge Academy offers a backup child care plan.
If your regular caregiver is sick or on vacation, Lightbridge allows you to reserve the occasional day here and there when you need it.
Security and communication
For a small fee, Lightbridge Academy offers the ‘ParentView Internet Monitoring System’.
This enables parents to view the video cameras in their child’s classroom at any time.
As well as the cameras, each center has coded entry systems that use the latest fingerprint scanning technology and silent alarms for maximum security.
There’s also the ‘Parent eCommunication’ app which parents use to see daily reports, photos, videos, and reminders.
It includes information about what your child ate, how long they napped for, and when they used the potty.
Morning and afternoon snacks are provided. Some Lightbridge Academy centers also offer lunch for an extra fee.
You always have the option to pack meals for your child.
The opening hours vary depending on the center, but days are generally long.
Typically, Lightbridge Academy opens at 6.30 or 7.00 am and closes at 6.30 or 7.00 pm.
The best way to find answers to questions about Lightbridge Academy is to contact your local center and arrange a tour.
It’s a good idea to come prepared with all of your questions about the drop-off and pick-up procedures, the meals, and the policies. You’ll find a handy list of questions to ask here.
Lightbridge Academy Tuition Examples
Lightbridge Academy does not publish the tuition fees or enrollment costs.
These vary by location, so to know the accurate rates for your child you’re encouraged to contact your local center to arrange a tour.
We’ve looked up reviews that mention what parents pay to send their kids to Lightbridge and these show that the rates are typically between $1,200 and $1,500 per month for a full-time spot.
- This Yelp review mentions a parent paying $1,400 per month
- This New York Daily News article mentions a parent paying $2,500 per month for two children
- Care.com estimates between $204 and $266 per week, depending on the location
Back-up care costs around $100 per day and is only available when space allows. [Source]
If you have two infants enrolled, the first baby gets a 5% discount and the second baby gets a 10% discount!
For preschool and Kindergarten programs, the discount is 10% for each child.
These costs might seem high, but they’re par for the course. It’s rare to find a high-quality daycare known for low fees!
Make sure to contact your local Lightbridge Academy to learn more about their specific rates and policies.
What Real Parents Are Saying About Lightbridge Academy Schools
To get an idea of what parents love and don’t love about their local Lightbridge Academy, we’ve read through hundreds of reviews on Yelp and other online review websites.
While each location is independently owned and operated, these should give you some insights into pros and cons to be aware of and to explore more before signing up.
Across all of the Lightbridge Academy locations, parents were quick to praise the teachers and often remarked on the special bonds that they had created with their children.
“The lead teacher for the infants, Mrs. Jackie was a God-send! I am not being quaint when I say that she felt like family. My daughter was able to love her like an aunt/ grandma figure.
“And I genuinely feel that Mrs.Jackie cared about all of the kids in her program. I appreciated the consistency of the days. There is a high turnover rate at a lot of daycares and yet, Mrs.Jackie was a constant. Kids need consistency. That was invaluable!”
It’s not just the teachers who received praise in online reviews, the daycare owners and managers also delivered a good service the vast majority of the time.
“I have to say the communication efforts and updates from both the Director and Assistant Director are greatly appreciated from my end.
“Not to mention, they’re incredibly attentive and responsive 24/7. I truly value this high level of customer service as a parent.”
Parents love how much is included in the Lightbridge curriculum, including things that they may not have expected to be taught to young children.
“I love all the new things my daughter learning daily through the seedling curriculum.
“Between Spanish and ASL and now they added Yoga and Mindfulness in their curriculum – what more can a parent ask for.”
The daily reports
Many parents value the reports and pictures that are delivered via the app.
“They use the Tadpole system which I loved because I got very detailed daily reports, including bathroom activities 🙂 And the pictures!
“The teachers did an exceptional job documenting each day, and I’ve saved many of the pictures to this day.”
Meals are not provided
While some Lightbridge Academies offer meals, most do not. This means that you may have to pack breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your child, so they will not get a hot meal.
“You cannot leave food daily due to expiration dates etc so that means that you have to pack a bag DAILY of food/ drinks which can be cumbersome.”
Rooms are sometimes merged
To keep with the recommended ratios, two classes are sometimes taught in one room, which may be less than desirable.
“Barely any children are in this school so they merged infants with toddlers which is extremely unsafe. My daughter was the only one not walking in an INFANT ROOM!
“One child would constantly walk on and step on my daughter and when I asked for this to be avoided, they ignored me and would even take pictures of them to send to his mother.”
More training is needed regarding food allergies
If your child has a food allergy, you may need to take extra steps to ensure that their needs are met.
One parent was particularly upset by this, though it’s likely to be an isolated problem.
“When we toured this was touted as an allergy-safe facility. In fact, no nuts are allowed in the door. We were reassured for our infant of 12 months with a severe dairy allergy he would not sit next to other kids eating dairy foods and he would be supervised during mealtime (E.g. someone sits with the kids at each table).
“What we observed was he was often put next to kids at the same table clearly eating dairy foods and the teachers were often unaware of what foods contained dairy.
“Many of the teachers are very young and did not seem to attach seriousness to the situation despite the directors verbalizing to us how seriously they took it. One day we observed our child drinking out of two other cups that were not his right in front of the watchful eyes of two teachers.”
Lightbridge Academy offers so much more than just daycare.
Rather than simply babysitting your kids and passively watching them play, Lightbridge offers a full curriculum packed with sign language, Spanish language, singing, yoga, reading, and writing.
The fees to attend Lightbridge Academy vary depending on the location, the age of the child, and whether attendance is full-time or part-time.
It’s therefore hard to know whether Lightbridge is worth it for your family without getting a quote.
To find out exactly how much a place at Lightbridge Academy costs, you should contact your local center to arrange a tour. You can then compare this with the cost of other facilities in your area.
And to compare Lightbridge with other popular daycare chains, check out:
- Primrose Review
- Children’s Lighthouse Review
- Goddard School Review
- Kids R Kids Review
- Kiddie Academy Review
- The Learning Experience Review
Hope this helps!