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.