Monday, February 12, 2018

One by One

My plan is to homeschool--formally, when the girls reach "kindergarten age" I mean, since learning is already a constant in our home just as it is in many other homes. Given who my oldest is shaping up to be, I'm pretty confident that homeschooling--in our current context--will be the option that allows her to excel the most, and I can see the youngest being very similar in nature. 

While we do attend and have attended a few toddler-focused community programs where parents stay and participate with their children, my three-year-old hasn't been to any sort of day care center or school.   Recently, though, we visited a local preschool, as I was considering enrolling her in one for the upcoming school year to give her a chance to run around with others in her age group and do whatever else is done in such a facility. I mean, I'm not crazy about it (neither is she), but it's something we were looking at. 

Well, the school we visited was great. There's plenty to keep children occupied and learning-- toys, a writing station, outdoor painting, play dough, reading area, drama, puzzles, blocks, building materials, and plenty more. The classroom has an easily accessible restroom and low sinks, the playground is safe and contained, and the overall environment is suitable for the little bodies that occupy it for 5-8 hours a day.  There are three kumu (teachers) in a class of twenty, emphasis on a second language (Hawaiian), eight field trips a year, and students take their own food (which works great for people who are funny about what their babies eat, like me). Beautiful landscape, with mountains all around, etc.

Much about the experience was positive.

So, from the time I left up until this point in which I'm writing these words, I've been trying to figure out why I'm so irked by it!  I mean, something about the entire situation was really working me internally.

Granted, several of the present preschoolers' fascination with my baby's hair translated into their little hands being all in her head at any given point during the 20 minutes we were there, the director's perfume was bothersome, and the space felt tight. Still, as far as preschools go, it's likely one of the best in the area in terms of its offerings. There's no legitimate reason why it should have been getting on my nerves the longer I stood there making sporadic conversation with the teachers while my (suddenly shy and mute) child entertained herself on one side of the room by messing around in a play kitchen.

Sliding at a park after the school visit.

The more and more I sit with this I realize that for all that the preschool is good for, there's a reason why I'm considering an alternative approach to education.  Seeing my child in that setting made it clear to me that it's not the right environment for her.  Having had her with me nearly every minute of her short life since birth, this is something I can feel and know rather than verbalize.   So, while I would certainly recommend that particular preschool, I know for sure that we will have to pass on it and keep moving forward with what we've been doing.

This experience inspired me to read a book that I randomly discovered on our book shelf one day.  (Free or cheap books from the library will have any book lover hoarding books they don't even know they own.)

 There's probably much to be learned from the ways in which young children are related to in different cultures when it comes to schooling.  I'm only a few pages into the first chapter but can tell this will be a true eye-opener. 

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