It starts early. No matter where you are from, or where you are – it is always there – this conscious desire and in fact sense of urgency that our children have a positive, pro-social, empowering, meaningful, long lasting experience of school. And as their parents – we are driven to find this place for them in order for that good start, that first taste, that lingering warmth that underscores the rest of their educational journey.
It is where they will make their first friends, work on writing their first name, paint something to adorn their refrigerator or bedroom walls, and learn how to say goodbye and wow how they learn how to celebrate hello.
When they are young, we scour the options – if we are so lucky to have options – and try to find a place that mirrors our own values and expectations and understanding about what makes for a good school. And the funny part of that – is that has been my experience, both personally as a parent myself, and based on the hundreds of visits with prospective parents – it is really all a feeling. A gut instinct kind of experience. You walk through a school, you hear the words, but it is in how a place makes you feel that you know if this is the place for your child.
And now, in these coming weeks and months, I will meet a new batch of earnest, inquiring, parents – who come to find out in person about this community, our program, curriculum, and who walk about and wonder if this could be the place for their child to fall in love with school.
And here’s what we forget as parents sometimes…they will love if we do too. The children feel that most of all. When parents embrace a school – so will their children. And in that hug, that hello – the child can then be nurtured. The love and trust that exist between parent and teacher, parent and place become the fertile ground from which the beauty of love and learning can take place.
Community Nursery School is a co-op – meaning that the parents are all involved in the operations, decisions, and daily life of the school. I often tout the research that supports the connection that children benefit when their parents are involved with their school. But do we really need the research to back up what we already know and feel in our hearts? It just makes sense. When a child knows his parents care enough about a school to go to a night meeting, or attend a work day weekend or take time from work to parent help – the child gets the message. School is a special place. An important place. A place where mommy and daddy get to play, too.
This year, I have the much fun of welcoming some children into our youngest group — that I knew before they were born. I can remember with each of these children when the mom told me she was pregnant. And so now those babies are Front Roomers.
One of them happens to call CNS, “freeschool”. And I think that is just beautiful. Because isn’t that really what it’s all about? A place where free play and love abound. An environment where freedom is cherished and a child’s self will is respected. Freeschool. I like it. (Thank you Charlie.)
Our connections go deep. Our love is deeper still. This is more than just a school. It is a community. And I am just so grateful to be along for the ride.