A home for everyone…continued

Posted By on Feb 29, 2020 |

So, I’m still reflecting on the thought of a daycare as home. I’m actually kind of entranced at the thought. Can a school be a home?

I recently hired a couple of new teachers. One of the references was so spot on with the description of the person that I emailed a few weeks later to say thank you for the most accurate recommendation I had ever received. The recommender responded that by hiring the teacher, I had made a difference in the life of that person. I wonder — had the teacher found a home here?

A baby visited this week; one who will be starting at Oak Lane next week. He and another baby just gazed at each other, then smiled. They seemed so happy to see a little person their own size, who wanted to play and smile, too. Had those babies found a new brother/sister, a home?

Two preschoolers were overheard chatting in the bathroom stalls yesterday. Clearly these two children, comparing their experiences at that moment, were extremely comfortable with each other. (And, bodily processes in general. Smile.) Just like siblings who share a bathroom at home.

A parent spent some time reading with her child in the evening before they left to pick up a sibling. What a nice piece of home right here at school.

How does this happen? Our teachers are very intentional about creating spaces in their classrooms, space for quiet time and circle time and centers and building giant designs using every single block/piece of train track. The result might look like a typical daycare, but a lot of thought and intention has gone into creating our physical spaces. And, re-creating them to fit the needs of the children using them at the time.

Even more time and attention/intention has gone into creating a welcoming atmosphere, a community and culture that accepts differences while working and playing together. Oak Lane was conceived as a Quaker school and retains that identity. The families who choose to join our community not only (literally) buy into those values, but live them every time they partner with teachers to help a child, every time they take the laundry home to wash, bring in a snack for the school, contribute to a pot-luck dinner, volunteer to run our fundraising auction, and sacrifice a Saturday morning to clean up our playground. Our kiddos are taught not just to ‘play nice’ but to respect the work of other people as well as the people themselves. Teachers become collaborators, not just with each other, but with children, parents, and, yes, even the director.

When I interviewed almost a year ago to become director of Oak Lane, I was hoping to find a place where I could bring all of me, where every day I could become my best self, even on days I might feel like my worst self. Our motto is Learning to Live…Together. Does that make a home? On days when a parent emails (with quadruple exclamation points) that her child who is sometimes sad and clingy at drop-off time instead hugged and kissed her and went over to a teacher for multiple hugs – oh, yeah, that’s when our school has become a home.