WHOO HOO!! KINDERGARTEN IS ON IT’S WAY!
Talking about childcare and the education of children is often a very passionate and hot-topic for many parents. And at sometime; everyone has to start kindergarten. It’s just how, when, and where.
WE MADE IT >> elementary education for Ethan, is the next opportunity to decide upon. We will keep the discussion of each option open for each school year for each kid. We agree that Ethan won’t want or excel in homeschooling (and Matt and I are not designed for that). We agree we do not want to invest (or prioritize) our kid to a private or faith-based school. Our public school options include our neighborhood school or raffle draws into one of the 5 magnet elementary’s. Yesterday, we put our name in the bucket for the 2 magnet schools we are most interested in. And we will see what happens come January when we find out!
Schooling. If you start talking to other parents, it feels like this huge anxiety driven task filled with details, test scores, extra classes, and if you pick the wrong one terrible terrible things will happen to your family. What’s with all the pressure on parents?!? Sheesh. We thought the Daycare/Preschool discussion was exhausting.
Have we ever told you our story about this? Well, here it is….
Fact. Matt and I both work outside of the home in careers that serve our community in ways that God has gifted us and called us to be workers.
Fact. We both agreed I would work part-time after kiddos; since it seemed odd for other people to spend more hours a week with our children then we do! But we still needed someone to watch/teach/play/discipline our kids 3 days a week when we’re both working. And so placement of our kids in daycare was the best reasonable option for us. (finding a nanny or in-home seemed too overwhelming. so we researched a bit, but then decided to go with a licensed center). (Even though we have family within a reasonable distance from us, we never intended or wanted to use family as daycare, especially since our parents are busy with their own jobs).
For us, we did not need, want, or require our daycare to have any faith-based curriculum or ideals. We believe that faith-teaching comes from us, our choices, our community, our lifestyle. We just wanted to walk in, feel comfortable that our kids were going to be cared for, kept safe — maybe even loved — by their caretakers and teachers.
I remember the first daycare close to my work that we tried was a terrible fit – I rushed out of work each time to pick up Ethan and I hated dropping him off. I felt like there were just crying babies all the time laying around by themselves. (it probably wasn’t that bad, but it was my perception of it). I felt so stressed and uneasy. So we left that one.
We broadened our search to locations closer to Matt’s work and arrived at a different one and it felt like a home. Everyone knew everyone by name. And the rooms were clean and calm and music and laughing kids and sleeping babies. They catered all infant care to the individual requests of the parents without question. It was an obvious switch for us. And both of our kids did well there.
Evy is now in the toddler room and she does fabulous. Reading, singing, playing, art, writing, yoga, outside play……they are so good. Everyweek we get an email from our daycare about the curriculum our children have in their designated room. And I just want to say I am always completely and utterly impressed at the range of topics and skills they teach.
After they turn 2 years old, they start to transition to the preschool room downstairs which is EPIC! Ethan has loved it. But EVEN BETTER> this year they started a program where several of the 4-5 year olds get to bus over to another local school for 2 hours of “kindergarten immersion” where they have writing, math, reading, world….the usual school topics. After 2 weeks of it, Ethan can now write his first and last name with large or small letter in addition to numbers. He sounds out words. He defines new words. It’s amazing. He adores it!!
They have an open door policy for parents, but due to our schedules, we generally don’t the opportunity to directly observe them other than pick up and drop off.
BUT. A month ago, Matt and I got to pick up the kids early for our roadtrip and we got to sit in the classrooms for 1 hour with our kids before we left (just for fun). First. Both kids were SO SO PROUD to have us there. All the teachers knew it. Second, our expectations of how they interact with our children is exactly what we hoped and dreamed it would be. Ethan’s classroom — a collection of 3 interactive rooms for 30 kids was spotless and clean, all the teachers/helpers were young and interactive and clearly enjoyed their job. They respectfully addressed the kids and helped them to make good choices when needed. Evy’s classroom — I’m always amazed that they can get 12 one year olds all circled up quietly listening to the teacher read the book. All the toys were organized and put together well. And the frequent hand-washing and proper organization made it clear they kept things clean and safe.
If we had to do it all over again, ages birth-4 years old, we would still pick me working part time and giving our kids the opportunity to learn and play in this environment. Their teachers, the other kids that have become their friends, are all so good. It is a blessing that we have such amazing people that teach our children out of simple pure joy.
Oh — and as an example of the toddler room (age 1-2 that Evy is in right now) lesson plan for just one week :
Theme – community helpers; This week we have lots of people visiting. We have a doctor coming, the firetruck, and a police officer.
Circle Time Fun = Welcome song. Weekly learning themes == Shape (octagon), Letter (C, H), Color (blue), Word (helper, community), Number (5, 6), read theme books
Small Group Activities = Monday – Songs and Stories; Tuesday – Counting; Wednesday – Colors and Shapes; Thursday – ABC’s; Friday – First letter of our names
- Art: Syringe painting, puffy paint tooth, coloring fire hydrant, decorating police, badge and free painting/coloring.
- Blocks: Putting out the fire
- Music: “Community Helpers”
- Discovery/Science: What makes us different
- Dramatic Play: Post office
- Fine Motor: Community helper’s puzzles
- Gross Motor: Rainbow tunnel, rocking boat, and outdoor play
- Language: What are community helpers?
- Library: “It’s okay to be different”
- Math: How many fire trucks and police cars can we see?
- Sensory: Moon sand and Playdough
- Social: Different occupations around the world
- Technology: How do sirens work?
FOR REAL I am always stunned at all the fun things they get to do. Of course they love their mamdays, or “Stay at home days!!” as Ethan calls it. I get to teach them things they can never learn in class. The bond they have developed with each other, their community and friends. Plus I get to fill the quality-time love bucket to the brim on my days with them! But glory-be they LOVE going to their preschool.
So now we wait and in a couple months we’ll hear where he’s enrolled and then we have all the other options to discuss. Before and after care vs clubs and sports. School vs homemade lunches. Bus or drop off. Parent involvement and volunteering expectations. These choices just continue on. But then I take a step back and breathe in DEEP. I’m always humbled when we receive letters from our Compassion Kids telling us about the school they go to due to our support, about their favorite class. The topics they love to learn about. It is always unbelievably powerful. And a beautiful way to combat poverty. When I read these letters, and look at the crayon-drawn pictures from a classroom from Ghana, Thailand, Peru — it provides perspective. When I read the 17 year old’s goal to be an engineer in Columbia, it makes me thrilled. THIS is the power of school. Combine it with healthcare, family support and education, preventative treatment, a safe place, and Jesus-loving adults. Hello world, you are ready for the love of Jesus!
The point is I am so excited for school for our kids because I love school and love to learn (and teach). Cuddling babies had its unforgettable moments. And I’m definitely trying to savor all the good mama-moments we have together. But seasons come and go, and now we are preparing to fully live in the next one that is coming up! We will keep you posted on how this all turns out!