Ava and I are loving Teacher Annie's Friday 2s class at Explorer Preschool. My mom was asking me what kinds of things they were doing. Last Friday there was a birdseed table (like, instead of sifting and pouring sand, they do birdseed) - so cool and different! And something I would never have in my house... The art project was simple, but I never would have thought of it myself. Sheets of white paper, bottles of paint colors that the kids can choose from, plastic cars to drive through the paint. Vrooooommm!
Another big component to the Explorer experience is the Parent Education Classes (PECs). Today we had our first daytime PEC and we talked all about concrete learning (for example, a toddler examining a real rose for the first time) vs. abstract learning (for example, a toddler seeing the word "rose"). And then we talked about how this related to positive discipline and why time outs don't work (because time outs are abstract). It was an interesting exercise - every day that we are a part of this school, I am happier and happier to have found it. I hate the pressure on our preschool kids to be academically-focused so that they can be "ready" for kindergarten. I love the emphasis at Explorer on self-esteem, self-care, self-regulation and problem solving. I am no expert, but these things ring true to me as the things that they will need to be ready for kindergarten and beyond. And, while it is hard for me to imagine not using time outs at all...I am going to do some thinking about this and get some of the books that Annie recommends on positive discipline. I feel like I am constantly trying to figure out the best way to discipline/encourage/guide (whatever you want to call it) my kids - and these things help. A lot. I am a much better parent for my kids going to this school. Not perfect, by any means. But much better.