Bringing preschool to us

I have in mind a blog post that will need to be organized and careful, and perhaps in parts, but I’m not quite there yet. It’s about how I think Owen will be best served, at least until he’s 6 or 7 (and then we’ll see, beyond), and I want to break down the details, like where we’d fit on the radical unschooling vs rigorous boxed curriculum continuum (neither end, but leaning toward the former) and how I need to get my shit together enough to present it to other parents (and other concerned people/relatives, though they don’t actually have a say) in such a way that it works for Owen and me, and our four-person family as a whole, while making sure he’s “learning” visibly in such a way that it’s clear whatever way we are doing it is working.

But I’m about to get into detail, and I don’t want to now, so I’ll stop that direction and go the direction i wanted to aim:

I got a kick in the pants that direction this week.

I’m really picky about preschools. I have spent years teaching in them, and have been lucky enough to have been mostly in those that are progressive, emphasizing child-directed learning, no structured curriculum, and a focus on helping children (and adults) learn about other people and the world in ways that work best for them.

Now I’m in a town where a school that calls itself “play-based” might have 30 minutes of outside time or 15 minutes of “free play” with blocks or toy cars between mandatory “centers” where kids put apple stickers on the outline of an A for 20 minutes. It’s so frustrating.

Finally, I found one, a new program, montessori-influenced with a lot of waldorf around the edges. Kids would spend most of their time outside. Academics, where they were there, were couched around real play, e.g. teachers helping kids figure out the counting with montessori tools while they were selling each other rocks at the edge of the digging dirt. It was 75% of perfect, and I could cope with the rest.

But this week they announced that for undisclosed reasons, one week before opening day they’d chosen not to open.

I’m sure their reasons are good, but I’m just tired of the process.

Owen is a monkey

So I’m taking it as a hint. Rather than fuss and put him in a school I don’t find awesome, I’ve emailed our local unschooling mailing list, where I often find announcements of park days or events that are too far away for us or focused on older children, and said I’d help organize something local to me, and also my kid wants to go play at the Children’s Discovery Museum with other kids, which pushes that age level down a bit as well.


Owen is learning all the time. He’s so curious. He craves learning. He also craves socialization, and he needs a lot of physical activity.

Owen, Casey : New Year's Day 2014 : Dry Creek Regional Park

I struggle sharing good physical activity with Owen because my rheumatoid autoimmune disease is in massive flare and walking’s hard, but I’ve redoubled my focus on dealing with that, because I’ve become avoidant (fatigue, after years of trying medications that don’t work for me) and I want to do better physically so I can do more with Owen. This will also allow me to be a homeschooling/unschooling resource for getting kids Owen’s age out and about and doing things together. He loves other children so much. It’s the only way I can be fair to him.

Once the weather gets wet (oh please please please weather, get wet) we can certainly invite kids here for art-and-movie days, or other kinds of play.

Rather than go look for preschool, we’ll bring preschool to us.

uhoh, ran out of contextual reasons for photos

physics it's that sidewalk chalk time of year Owen, Chabot Space and Science Center Untitled Untitled  cablecaradventureP1080602 polarity  Owen's photography career started with a tube. freight train


3 thoughts on “Bringing preschool to us

  1. I started looking into preschools a bit because I felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job of getting Morgan the socialization she likes, but then we signed up for a gymnastics class and started a standing weekly meet up with a friend (who sometimes invites other parents along) and that seems to be doing the trick for me. (Mostly because the gymnastics class has enough free-play time that (a) she can get a little socialization and (b) I can see how little socialization there actually is between most kids her age.)

    But Morgan says she still wants to go to preschool (there are several that we walk past when we’re walking the dog), so I guess I will do some more serious looking this fall and see if I am happy with any of our local ones.

  2. Theresa, we briefly tried gymnastics but it’s a little too structured for Owen at this point. (He’s a bit older than Morgan and fits in older programs. He’s just super-energetic, and couldn’t figure out why, say, he needed to wait when there was climbing equipment *everywhere*.)

    You’re a bit luckier over on your side of the bay. Basically, the closer one is to Palo Alto, SF, or Berkeley, the better the choices are (according to my own ideas of what a good school is). They’re also more expensive than schools over here in Fremont, as the teachers tend to be paid better, the ratios are better, etc. And the cost of property or rent for the facility is higher, too.

  3. Library programs with nearby playgrounds and the child observation “class” at my local community college have been my sources for socialization and activity.

    We just won some tickets to the Discovery Museum, and we’d love to meet you there! Our household also has memberships to a number of places where you and Owen could come in as guests. (But it’s way up here in SF…)

    Please do invite us over for playdates when you have them!

Leave a Reply to Theresa Mecklenborg Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s