Last Thursday we all attended a new parent orientation at C’s new school. The girls went to childcare in the Kindergarten room and M and I went off to meet the rest of the new parents.
I knew when I picked this school that I was opting for something different. This isn’t your average school, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s way above average really. Instead of aiming to teach children their 3Rs and everything else you’re supposed to pick up in school, they also aim to nurture and develop the kids’ sense of self-awareness and kindness.
To put it bluntly it’s a school that follows and teaches Buddhist principles.
To put it another way, the school’s curriculum is built around teaching kindness and recognizing the good in each other and in the world around us.
I picked this school because I knew the staff would nurture my sensitive child. I picked this school because the early childhood development teacher is an artist and has built art into every aspect of the curriculum. I picked this school because I was blown away by the emotional maturity of the kids I met. I picked this school because everything I saw in the classrooms showed that the level of education the students were receiving was well above average. But most importantly I picked this school because it felt like a new home for C and for the rest of us.
I’m glad to say that the meeting we attended on Thursday has confirmed my first impressions. The staff and the parents were everything I’d hoped and expected them to be – welcoming, smart, funny, truly committed to the school, the students, and the school’s mission.
At the same time, the meeting we attended on Thursday confirmed that by opting for this school we are definitely opting to step off the beaten path. This school is different. The teaching methods are different. The way the kids are separated into grades is different. The way the classrooms are managed is different. The way the entire school community is organized is different. Different in a great way in my opinion, but different nonetheless, and it does take some courage to say “we’re opting out of test based teaching and everything else the traditional system upholds.”
It’s a good thing the school is filled with other great people who also had that courage and will help us in case we ever doubt our choice. But for now, we’re stepping off that path with our head held high and a grin on our faces. It feels like the right choice.