To put things into context:
-> This is a continuation of a series, first part of which is on my blog.
-> My son was 2 when we enrolled him and this was his first exposure to outside care.
-> When I say school, I really mean daycare!
You know how you could be searching for something everywhere when it is sometimes right under your nose? That came true for us in the school hunt.
There was K School, right down the street from me and I never thought of looking there before because I thought it was a proper school. It was, I should say, it is, a proper private school with kindergarten and elementary classes. But what I didn't know till a friend moved her daughter there was that they also had a full time toddler program for 2 year olds. Once I found that out, there was nothing to stop me from checking it out.
The first thing that hit me when I entered K school for the first time was the sunshine. It was bright, bright, bright, everywhere! The school is built so there is a center aisle, and large classrooms on either side, lining the walls. Each classroom had at least three tall french windows which brought all the light in, and created a natural atmosphere of cheer. (which made me wonder why all the other
schools shortened their window space!)
To make it short, here's what really attracted me to K school:
-> It was essentially a playschool, everything is taught through play - alphabets, month, days of the week, weather etc, but that is not where the emphasis is on. Importance is given to playing, having fun and learning to coexist harmoniously.
-> Spacious classrooms, at least more spacious than what I had seen at other places. And tastefully decorated without overcrowding the artwork
-> A huge gym, with wooden floors, which was spacious and just as bright as the classrooms.
-> A really large playground, with a 'firetruck', a 'train', a slide and plenty of sand to play in.
-> He wouldn't be stuck inside the same room all day long. Apart from two outdoor sessions, and one gym session everyday, there was also music on alternate days and he'd have to go out and sit in the common area. Lots of walking and moving around throughout the day.
-> A bonus that I hadn't been looking for were Spanish classes - at this age, it was nothing more than rhymes, songs and puppet shows in Spanish. They last for about 15 minutes twice a week
-> Unbeatable commute. It is smack in the middle of my work and home. Takes me at most 10-12 min from home or work, in peak traffic
-> The teachers seemed okay with holding kids for comfort. Then, and even now, I always see one kid or another perched on the teachers' lap. I liked that they didn't take the hands off approach in this respect.
-> No timeouts - one of the biggest pluses in my opinion. They discipline through positive disciplining...by reasoning with the child at his/her level.
-> The kids seemed a content and playful lot - not overly aggressive, but not overly quiet either. Just happy toddlers.
-> I could not send my own food - it was daycare provided, and the vegetarian alternatives were dismal compared to what he had been used to at home.
-> Their timings were not flexible - it was either a 2 hour playschool option or a full day. And we had to wait till two weeks before he turned two.
-> Slightly pricey, but the difference between this and area schools was under $50/month. And you got a lot more for the price.
After I left the first tour, I called my husband to say 'This is the first place I haven't found anything wrong with'! Two more visits later, we had confirmed that this was it.
6 months later, what I know now
-> I am happy and more importantly, my son is very happy at this place. I think he has changed a lot over the past few months, and I see the change in intangibles, in how easily he interacts with other children, how he jumps head first into a ball pit, without clinging to me, how he waits for his turn and how polite he is.
-> I wish there were a little bit more specific information on what he does during the day. There is no parent teacher meet as such, since teachers and parents chat nearly every day at drop off and pick up time. And the teachers do tell me if something was wrong, but I was hoping for some more details on what interests him...I guess this is a problem with any school in this kind of a set up?
-> What I thought were minuses before ended up not mattering at all. Food is a non-issue now, what he doesn't eat there, he compensates at home. The timings are fine, because they align well with my work. And they are open year round, except for major holidays, so I don't have to look for alternate care during breaks.
Overall, K school offered him a fantastic start - giving him the right skills at the right time. And I am pleased that my search which seemed to go on forever came to an end at this place.