We are back with another installment from the “real mom series
“. I have to admit I am more excited to read the other mama’s input on this topic than I am to write it… you see, Archer is 15 months old and we have just begun putting plans together for his education and boy can it be overwhelming. I am in no rush to send him off to school but living in LA, it is like so many of the comedic scenes you see on TV where to get into your preferred preschool you have to start applying basically when they are born or shortly after. I have two applications sitting on my desk as I type. I had to sign up on a wait list just to take a tour! On the flip side, I am thankful to have so many good schools available, so many preschools that foster play based learning and other important aspects like time outdoors. Through touring different pre-schools in the area, regio inspired, waldorf, montessouri… etc. etc. I have been able to narrow down the things that are important to me and here is hoping Archer get’s into one that checks off the most important boxes to me.
But let me back up… Growing up, myself, in Michigan, the outdoors was my playground/classroom. We lived on about an acre that backed up to un-developed woods and dunes that if you kept on going would eventually plop you out on the beach of Lake Michigan. It was a childhood paradise. We climbed trees, fell out of trees, collected frogs, built forts, rode our bikes down two tracks dodging trees as best we could and in the winter we ice skated on the pond, went sledding down the dunes, swam in the lake and spent countless hours playing in the sand. Being outdoors is so important to me that when I think of Archer growing up in LA with only a tiny fraction of the freedom I had and only a teeny tiny fraction of a yard to play in it makes me want to move immediately. When I think of Archer’s education I already have those thoughts of is this enough? am I doing enough? Am I socializing him enough? Should we move out of LA for him? What does growing up in a city even look like? It is so foreign to me I honestly can’t wrap my head around it. But here we are, he is growing (quickly) and in LA.
So back to the preschools… one of the preschool tours I attended (which was a full hour and 45 minutes btw) the founder talked about the importance of exposure to nature and the grounds were meticulously designed to foster an appreciation for it. There were fruit trees, all kinds of trees, a stream, and even though it is located right in the center of the city, once inside the gate you’re transported into a low canopy forest just waiting for exploration. This place definitely checked off a lot of boxes and made me think o.k. this is gooood.
Through touring and reading up on education… these are the things I’ve found the most important to me:
1: Play Based Learning. This is pre-school after all. play, play, play.
2: A Cultivation of the Arts: Having access to materials to be able to paint, draw, play dress up, move, dance, get dirty… etc. etc.
3: Access to Nature/Outdoor time: The grounds itself are important to me. There are some schools with a sad manufactured play structure and nothing else around it. The schools I loved have interesting play structures made out of natural materials, trees, a garden to grow things, and plenty of nooks and crannies for kids to explore.
4: The Size: I also like the idea of Archer being a part of a small school. He is coming from interacting with just me, Rupert, or our nanny basically all day everyday and I feel like fostering close relationships in a smaller kid to teacher environment would be a more natural transition.
I’d love to hear your input on what you’ve found important to you whether you have kids in public, private, or home school. I am such a newbie that I love to hear other perspectives. And be sure to check out the other “real mom series” mama’s views on the subject… Erin, Emily, Alex, Bethany and Jen.
and see the rest of the series here.
Images by Birds of a Feather
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Somewhere not too esthetically pleasing where art, creative play and messiness can happen without too much worry about order. Save the organization and picture perfect for you home … this is the kid’s space!
I grew up in Michigan, too (in Grand Rapids)! But I always knew I wanted to live in a city. I always thought it’d be NYC, but my husband and I live with our two kids in Philadelphia. My oldest just started preschool in February when she turned two. The “play” aspect was most important for us as well. They do art and science projects but it’s all based around play. There’s also a music teacher and if the weather is nice they’re outside for an at least an hour at the local playground. During their walks to the playground they explore nature, learn about construction sites, etc. It’s been such a great environment for her. They have an outdoor space on-site, too. We started her out with two half days because I’m home with her and we don’t need full time care, but I know she’d love to go more often and we’re thinking about upping her to three days in the fall. One of the things that sold me on the place was how amazing the teacher was with Isla when we went for the tour. We were encouraged to bring her and let her play while we asked questions and we were just so impressed. Early childhood education is so important and we’re really happy we started her at 2 years old instead of 3, which was our original plan. So anyway, good luck in your search! It sounds like you have some wonderful options! xx, Risa
at the end of the day it will be about the relationships he will make at the school. my daughter is finishing up her last few months at her preschool. she’s made some deep connections there. she’s absolutely in love with her teacher and made a best friend for life. i can already tell she will have a hard time leaving this wonderful school as she gets ready for kindergarten. we found a very special place and it’ll be hard to say good bye.
Check out Waldorf Schooling, it is everything you described and more!!
It’s really sweet that you guys have this blogosphere conversation about education, but you’re all newbies. And I think you all are on your first kid so everything seems so huge to you and so much thought is put into it. When you have multiple children, you let go some.
I would have liked to have seen a guest post or two with women who have been there and done that.
Anyway, my big kids have been in public school for 8 years now (including preschool) and it’s been fantastic for the most part. I even have a special needs kid and we live in the middle of nowhere but hit the jackpot with the most supportive special ed program. It’s amazing that God orchestrates it all – despite our planning.