Exactly a year ago it dawned on us that we needed to start looking for pre-schools for Little G for the following Fall. He was, at the time, attending a home daycare program two days a week and getting ready to transition into a full time slot in the month prior to his baby sister's arrival. Though some children chose to stay in the daycare program (which had a curriculum) until entering the Boston Public School (BPS) system, we wanted more of a traditional pre-school environment for him.
Thus started the two month long pre-school vetting program for our household that just happened to coincide with the final days of my pregnancy. We considered dozens of programs during the month of September and eventually settled on no less than seven schools that we wanted to look at more closely during the month of October, when most schools scheduled their informational visits. First on our list of schools that we were interested in (but due to scheduling craziness, last on the list of schools to actually visit) was a Montessori school that I threw in the mix because I liked the idea of the program and I was intrigued that this particular school went through 8th grade.
We had already picked our top three programs when our visit date came up for this particular Montessori school (we had already visited one Montessori program and decided it wasn't for us). We had absolutely no doubt that Little G would thrive in any preschool environment, so truth be told, we went to this final appointment because it had been on our list the longest...but we really thought we knew where we wanted him to go.
And then we visited the school. The Children's House program for 3, 4, and 5 year olds was clearly amazing, but again, as we said, we could see Little G doing well anywhere. But it was the upper school that we found incredibly inspiring. The children in 7th and 8th grade were running their own businesses! The first graders were writing journals on what they were interested in learning. The music room and art room....Holy Lord they reminded me of my own privileged* grammar school education - the programs seemed so rich and the materials and instruments so thoughtful (*one of the perks of living in a tony town is the amount of tax money earmarked for the school system; I'm one of the only people I know of all my friends who not only had art and music but home-ec and shop...every year through 8th grade)
We knew on the spot that this was the school we wanted our children to attend.
Fast forward through having a baby, applying to the school, getting accepted and enrolling to this past Tuesday when Little G attended the Open House for the Children's House program. It was a 45 minute opportunity to bring in our supplies (nap materials, indoor shoes, mug, etc) as well as meet the teacher, see the classroom, pick up our bag and car tag (for the rolling pick-up process) and meet some new friends.
Little G was really excited...he actually got to attend a "Welcome to Our School" week during their summer camp series, so he was used to the building and all. I actually snapped this shot on our way out, but put it here to show the level of excitement he had:
All of the materials...and I mean ALL of them...were out for the children to explore. I'm not going to lie...I just kept praying that Little G would keep it together and not dump everything off the shelves in one fell swoop! Word on the street is they don't actually start the year with EVERYTHING out...it makes its way back into the classroom over the course of the year.
There was a minor incident with beads...but nothing too hard to handle:
Little G loved this fractions board...see...already a scholar!
The room has a giant loom and they plan to do some weaving this year:
Just prior to getting in the car to come to the open house, Little G grabbed a snail shell from our garden and put it in his pocket. While we were at the school, he spotted a large, snail-shaped sea shell and exclaimed it was just like 'his' shell...then he ran over to the teacher across the room to show her:
He came back soon enough and found a tray with some farm pieces on it and started to lay them all out on a mat that he grabbed from a nearby basket:
Then it was on to some more scoop-able things/parents'-worst-nightmare:
The room had these fun closure boxes:
As well as a cleaning station:
A snack area:
Materials for cleaning up:
Here's a broader perspective of the whole room...so many materials!!
A washing station:
And an in-room bathroom that, as Little G says, "is just my size!!!"
Soon it was time to put on our shoes and head out again...but I know Little G felt so much more confident for the next day: the first day of school!
Before heading home, we started what I hope will be a yearly first-and-last-day-of-school tradition:
Do you have any experience with the Montessori philosophy?