It’s Education Week locally, so even though Little B is only 3.5, we have been going along to look at local primary schools. Mainly because next year is the start of the new baby boom going to school, so by 2012, the schools may start to zone. Some principals have even advised me that we need to be enrolled by the first few weeks of next year :-0
But I’m looking for a different sort of primary school for Little B. After much research, my preference is for school using The Walker Learning Approach. The Walker Learning Approach places the child at the centre of learning and teaching curriculums. It focuses on their interests through active engagement and play. Play and project based learning experiences are the main teaching tools and they also encourage creativity, and imagination.
"Children need to be allowed to be children- and parents need to know that's okay". (Kathy Walker)
There are two such primary schools doing this locally – one has told me we will probably be zoned out due to the popularity of their school but the other one uses this method through to Grade 2. They are also currently in the process of putting in a Nature Playscape to go along with their vegetable and native gardens the children use / play in.
This school also has the children go out into the local National Park and participate in local sustainable programs as well as CFA education (an important thing in a high bushfire prone area if you ask me). As you can probably guess, I’m leaning very heavily towards this second school ;-)
It should be remembered that children at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity. (Montaigne 1580)
Yet, we are also contemplating keeping Little B home until he is 6 before he starts school. Many European schools do this with great success. And the more reading I do the more I can see the benefits of this, especially for boys. Little B is a quiet friendly little boy, quite the watcher, kind and gentle. I can easily see him being lost in the cracks in a big school or even bullied. Hey I’ve seen him lost in the cracks at his kindy during first term, until I stepped in to point it out that all children should have attention not just the loud and out of control ones.
I also like the Steiner / Waldorf kindergarten programs available locally (but not the primary school ones). So this may be something we investigate further. Lots of decisions to make in the next 6-18 months, and like all parents I’d like them to be the “right” ones – right being what is right for Little B and what is right for us as a family. Not just what conforms to the mainstream or what one “should” do.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.