Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wren is sick

Wren has been sick for the past few days. He has had a nasty cough, was lethargic and sad. He still has a big cough this morning but feels better - he has been playing and talking a lot although his cough worries him.

I just dropped Frost off at the school bus. He has a publishing party today for his "literary essay". He is very proud of it.

I have been touring preschools recently, trying to find a regular morning program for Wren this fall. Its been both interesting and confusing. For the first time, I have been looking at paid private preschools rather than co-ops and small two day home playgroups. The noticeable difference is that many more parents in these preschools are both working and they are really looking for someone to do something SIGNIFICANT for their money.

Significant = observing them, loving them, teaching them math, reading, science. Its incredible what these kids have thrown at them. I guess I have always been in the free-range co-op environment followed by KapKa and public school. I've never really been part of the rarified atmosphere of the independent private schools. Its really not me.

Until now, I had thought that "of course I would send my kids to a private school if money was no object" but I am rethinking that. Starting from preschool kids are constrained by a web of control. Montessori, Regio Emilio, pure Waldorf. Its all lovely in small amounts but despite all that beautiful pale wood ALL these environments feel extremely artificial to me.

They reflect an adult concept of beauty and investigation.

I am starting to get a rebellious identification with public schooling and minimal early childhood learning. Keep them messy. Give them space.

That said, I find I have more sympathy with these messy free spaces when there are fewer children in them. I think young kids can get ample socialization with 6 others. They don't need a class of 25!



Wren: "I love my ninja lego so much. Almost as big as a mountain of gold!"
Frost: "Wren made a metaphor!"


Heather C. said...

Shannon, we missed you a lot today but glad Wren is feeling better. Hope he got some sunshine.
We can talk more about this later if you're interested but have you looked at The Children's School? It is "modified Montessori" and particularly the classroom Evan (MWF) is in is very warm, VERY loose with the Montessori (his lead teacher Cinda is a musician) and only 11 or 12 kids with 3 teachers. We love it, it is a wonderful place. It is a very reasonable cost also.

tamusana said...

That metaphor is very similar to a simile :-)

no, I'm not criticizing in the least... just jealous that Frost is talking about metaphors at age 8.

By the way, Shannon, I thought of you the other day while we were driving in the car and listening to The Magician's Nephew (prequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). True confessions: I've never read any of the Narnia books, which would explain why it came as such a revelation to me to hear Polly say the line: "You beastly, stuck-up, obstinate pig!"

I learned the word "obstinate" from you. Many many moons ago, as I remember it, you used to parade around saying "I'm a stupid, obstinate, stubborn pig!" OK, the wording is not exactly the same; that could suggest that my recollection is faulty, or your rendering was rough. Either way, it didn't surprise me to figure out (35 years later) that you may have picked up the line from a book!

Hmmmm... does any of this ring a bell?

As for preschools: I can't really comment on the Seattle scene, but I can say that:
(a) the boys spent an excellent year at a Montessori school here in Geneva (Kenji had just turned 3, Luca was 5);
BUT, that said,
(b) Kenji is thriving equally well at the public school next door to us (he did pre-K last year, he's in kindergarten now).... and we're saving enormous sums of money.

Luca might have been happier staying at the Montessori for primary school--I think it suits his free-spirited, creative personality more--but in terms of pre-schools, I agree that space+freedom to be messy+small size makes for a great experience.

Shannon said...

Tam, I am interested in your description of Montessori as good for a free-spirited and creative personality. Over here, the criticism of Montessori is that it is too constrained, controlled, rational.

The whole thing is driven by The Method of the Scientist following incremental stages.

The Montessori classes I have visited, at least the pure ones, are quite individual in The Work - each child is observed and given the next Work. The most traditional classroom had 2 hours of "the children's work" which was hushed and focused. Then half an hour of play.

The alternative school - Waldorf inspired - is all about Play. It includes almost 2 hours outdoors with ropes, a row-boat, swings etc. They bake bread. Its almost all free form group play without guidance of activity. The guidance is about inspiring and sharing.

I am naturally, somewhere inbetween. I haven't found the place that is a real balance between literacy and numeracy play / activities which are fun AND outdoors open play and social play.

Its a hard one.

It was a simile.

Josh couldn't resist that too.

I asked Frost and he said it was a simile but he forgot at the time.