What is it?

What is it about Chrysalis that makes me so happy to work here and be with these kids?  This weekend I took a tour of preschools in Portland.  I visited about 12 classrooms.  It was fun to see so many and to be amongst teachers all day.  We poked around classrooms, took notes and pictures.  Marvelled at some decorating ideas and photos of cute kids.

Mostly I felt grateful to be doing what I am doing.  I like the size of our school 12-16 children with three teachers.  I like that it is in my home and feels like a home, not an institution.  I like the wide variety of choices the children are able to make.  There is a room with blocks, pretend kitchen, baby dolls, dress-up, fairies, animals and cars and trains.  There is a whole room for art.  And another room with task-focussed activities, puzzles, games and fine motor manipulatives.

Every school has a philosophy and almost every school is full, so people have found what works for them and their child.  I do not want to take away from any of the other programs, but here are some of the things I feel grateful for, some big and some small, but all meaningful:

Storage–we can put away things that the children do not need direct access to.  As teachers, we can put out the materials and books that complement the time of year or the things that are happening in the classroom.

Mixed age–every day we see children learning from each other, and it is not always the older kids doing the teaching!  I won’t forget the look on the 2 1/2 year old’s face when a four year old marvelled “Wow–you KNOW a lot!”

Great teachers–it is wonderful to be totally confident in all the teachers including substitutes.  We share insights and ideas and brainstorm about so many things.

Grass!  Last summer the children could be barefoot outside much of the time.  It is understandable that so many schools have bark chips or asphalt playgrounds, but I love our grass.

The park.  It is so great to be so close to the park.  Many schools have a built in playground in the yard just outside their doors, but our children have the benefit of a walk and a run each way to the park when they are getting real exercise and learning important lessons about being in the world:  holding hands, helping each other, listening to the teacher about when to cross the street, interacting with other children not from Chrysalis who may not have the same boundaries we do.

One thing that was missing when we toured the schools was the children and the parents and families.  I am sure they are wonderful everywhere.  I appreciate the contact with parents , daily and in conferences, and the chance to work with them in the important field of parenting and understanding the children we all love.

Mostly, I just feel appreciative of our program.  Will we continue to evolve and change?  Of course.  I got some great ideas I want to try.

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