I spent a few hours at my daughter's preschool yesterday. She'll be going to kindergarten soon and my wife reminded me that this was my last chance to spend time with the kid in this particular environment. My wife goes there all the time and comes home with a variety of germs worthy of a medical school textbook, so I guess she felt it was time for me to douse myself in the puddle of fluids known as preschool.
My daughter's preschool is a classic San Francisco school. It's highly unstructured where the three and four year olds get a surprising amount of autonomy. If one kid smacks another one, instead of getting an old fashioned whuppin', the teachers sit down with both kids to talk about their feelings and their actions in a blame-free manner. It's all very touchy-feely. To someone used to a more structured environment it appears to be total chaos, but somehow it does actually all work. It's also vegetarian. Yuck.
I went to a PTA meeting for the school last year where the parents were encouraged to write down words that described the school on 3x5 cards and then post them on the wall so that we could all discuss them. I hurriedly wrote down KIDS and smacked that on the wall before anyone else got a chance to take my word. (Score!)
One of the administrators reviewed all the cards and selected one that said GRANOLA. She seemed slightly befuddled by it and asked who wrote it. Some poor parent raised their hand and the administrator asked what they meant by GRANOLA.
"You know. Granola," the parent replied.
"No, I don't know," said the administrator, either totally oblivious to the hippie world she lived in, or just wanting to screw with the parents.
"The school. It's kind of....well...granola," the parent offered helplessly.
The administrator would not be deterred. "What do you mean by that?" she asked.
At this point another parent heroicly came to the rescue. He piped up with, "I think what they meant is organic. The school is very organic."
The administrator seemed satisfied by this answer and we were allowed to continue with the rest of the agenda.
So, yesterday morning I mentally prepared myself for children running amuck during my preschool visit. I practiced by watching my daughter out of the corner of my eye during breakfast. She had some raisins with her breakfast and kept dropping them on the table. She has been taught that any surface in the house that isn't a plate, probably isn't clean enough to eat off of. So, each time she dropped a raisin on the table, I'd see her immediately look at me, look at the raisin, and then, thinking that I wasn't watching, quickly pop the raisin in her mouth.
After a few iterations of this, I informed her that I could see her. I felt ready for the mayhem that is preschool.
Preschool, as it turns out, was anti-climactic. One kid kept snacking on the playdoh, which was pretty amusing, but it was homemade organic playdoh, so it probably won't kill him. I tattled on him anyway though. Some other kids pushed each other around, but they then attended a kiddie-summit and made nice-nice.