Finding the Right Pre-School

from the hand in hand blog(2)a guest post by Hannah Gauri Ma

In trying to decide on a pre-school for my then 3-year-old I was feeling very torn. I had narrowed down my search to two co-op preschools in my area. There was the one my daughter, had already been in for the last year. It was very close to our home (walking distance), just two days a week and a known quantity, familiar for my daughter—but I was not a fan of their (lack of) food policy for the kids, how structured it was and that there was virtually no green space for the kids to play in. The other one was further away (20 minutes or so in the car) but just beautiful with a huge play area in which they really encourage free play, including with mud and water—mess is welcomed. I wasn't sure I gelled with the teacher, though—would she be the best for my girl?

Meanwhile, I had discovered I was pregnant with my second child and just wasn't sure how all the driving (up to 30 minutes each way for drop-off and then 30 minutes each way to pick up—2 hours in total) would be with a baby who might even hate the car seat, as my daughter did as an infant. This made my dream co-op, up in the hills seem a little less dreamy.

(C) Cienpies Design 2009
(C) Cienpies Design 2009

I felt really stuck in my decision making process. I just couldn't find a clear ‘winner' between these two, but knew I needed to commit, soon. So, I took it into my Listening Partnership time. I talked about these two options and how weighing up the pros and cons just wasn't helping me find a school I knew would be the right one for our whole family.

I didn't have a magical breakthrough during the call. I just talked it out for about 10 minutes (as it was an extra 'emergency' listening call, initiated by my listening partner. She needed to talk something through urgently and we agreed to listen for 10 minutes each, to balance it out). I also didn't seem to go particularly deep with my feelings on it, either. But I did get to talk about it out-loud at a time I felt nobody wanted to hear me on this same topic, anymore (‘What? You are still on about the pre-schools?!')

After I hung up, it suddenly came to me. It was a false dichotomy. Okay, I felt I had toured all the pre-schools I needed to and these were the best two to consider: one close, the other deep in nature (even though what I really wanted was one that was close AND green)… but actually maybe there was a third option out there, somewhere, that would if not be perfect then at least be a better compromise, a better fit for our family than either of these two.

So I decided to go tour one more local co-op preschool that a friend had told me about… and that ended up being the one we chose (it was close enough, had a great teacher, a clear healthy eating policy, was multi-age and hit a whole load of other of my wish-list asks including a nice outdoor area for play).

Hannah-MaI had been agonizing over this decision for literally months, but it was that 10-minute space to think it through with someone listening empathetically that helped free my thinking up just enough to help me look at the same old problem in a new way—and come up with a fresh, new solution.-


Hannah Gauri Ma has worked with many families. She is certified to teach several parenting curricula, including Hand in Hand’s Parenting by Connection. You can connect with Hannah on Facebook at LovingEarthMama.

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