July 18, 2010

"We're going on a hunt"

Suchitra and I spent our first real week at home together investigating preschools. I say investigating because you really have to try to dig below the surface when visiting these institutions of early childhood education. I get the sense that in Southern California, especially in certain neighborhoods and with certain price tags, many schools appear appealing on the surface. Teachers are teaching, kids are mostly happy, and the learning environment is stimulating.

However, once you dig a little deeper, then the differences in educational philosophy and how kids are actually learning emerge. We visited completely "developmental" schools, where kids ran about most of the day without too much structure (and no doubt having a ball at it). We visited more "academic" schools, one in which 2 year olds were actually expected to sit for 45 minutes and color in a worksheet! Don't ask me what I felt like doing after spending time in that classroom.

And we visited the school that Sameer and I think will be the best fit for Suchitra--a lovely Montessori school with bright classrooms, interesting learning materials, engaged teachers and expansive outdoor play areas. Suchi was completely taken with the school. She took a step into the Montessori classroom, took in the kids working on their individual tasks, and almost ran to the shelves to grab some materials for herself. She was so much more interested in these types of "toys" than in anything at the other schools we visited. I think she also liked how kids were working individually, something I think will be good for her too. She'll certainly have plenty of time for outdoor play, art, music and other good preschool stuff during the rest of the day. But 30-60 minutes a day learning focus and discipline is not a bad use of time in my opinion.

So she starts in September, 2 days a week. Hope I can keep her suitably stimulated until then!

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