School is already an integral part of K-Man’s (and therefore my) life. Two days a week, K-Man goes to one school for a few hours. The other three days are full-time at another. I drop him off five days a week and pick him up four.
Before he was even born, he was on the waiting list for pre-schools (which, by the way, is effing INSANE!), and we recently found out that he didn’t get in to the school we really wanted. (Turns out there were a few people who may have gotten on the waiting list earlier in their pregnancies…or perhaps they called to get on the list simply by announcing that they were trying. This would be like a “futures bet” – if you’re not pregnant, the penalty is you NEVER get into school, but if you are, you get your first choice. Would you take the bet?)
In the fall (yes, something like seven months from now, or what I consider to be a lifetime away), K-Man will go to one school full-time. He’ll either go to the JCC, where his is currently enrolled twice a week, or to a new school, which I toured today.
The kid is two-and-a-half, so it’s not exactly like we’re touring potential colleges. (Though, I should point out that I picked my college – UC Davis – simply because during a midnight walk, I saw some guys playing soccer. Soccer at midnight? That was my school, for sure. Maybe picking colleges isn’t all that scientific, either.) The point is that at two-and-a-half, while I definitely want some decent structure, I also want to make sure that the bulk of his time is spent discovering new things, playing and genuinely enjoying a stress free educational environment. (We all know there will be plenty of school stress to come.) Most importantly, I want to feel like the environment is nurturing.
It’s amazing how easy it is to get a vibe from administrators, teachers and even the kids just by watching the scene for a few minutes. I wasn’t on this new “campus” for more than five minutes before I knew I wanted K-Man to “transfer” in the fall. The feeling was just SO much more low key. There were amazing, fun art projects all over the walls. The kids were unbelievably engaged, and the administrator didn’t make me feel like she was doing me a favor by admitting my kid. (And, let’s call a spade a spade here – “admittance” is based upon two key factors: 1) space and, 2) my ability to write a check. Since we had accomplished the first task by waiting two-plus years, we’ll take care of the check.)
I know there are all kinds of different teaching techniques, philosophies and missions. There are religious schools, cultural schools, arts schools and regular school schools (yes, there are a few of those left). I don’t really care if K-Man can speak French (I have that friend) at three, or if he can create a replica of Monet’s Water-Lily Pond (another friend).
I’m more concerned with this, “K-Man, did you have fun today?”
“What did you do?”
“I played with (insert multiple names here) and draw pictures and pet rabbit and (x) and (y) and (z).”
“What do you want to do tomorrow?”
That’s a successful program to me. The multiplication tables, foreign languages, grammar and whatever else are going to come. He’s got plenty of time. I know, I know, there are a zillion studies that point to the importance of the development of a child’s brain and the fact that it…(sorry, I dozed off there for a minute). There are also a million other studies that now show creativity is king.
So, what do you want your kid to be when he grows up? Happy and creative. That’s my answer. Maybe it starts with his pre-pre-pre school and maybe not. But I’ll trade K-Man’s ability to name all 50 states (at age three) for a hug and smile anytime. I’ll tell ya what else – K-Man’s gonna have a new school in the fall. And, he’s gonna love it.