At the end of a long day, it can be hard to get young children to share. “How was your day?” “Good.” “Did you have fun?” “Yes.” “What did you do?” “Play.”
Of course, the answers we all truly desire don’t come from these questions we so often ask. The answers come from the stories our children tell, the questions they ask, the ideas they share, the ways they engage in purposeful play, and the moments when they demonstrate their learning for no one other than themselves.
You’ve already read about my educational philosophy and my thoughts as an educator, but for my first Park Parent article, I’d like to share my initial thoughts on Park through my own lens as a first-time Park parent.
Peter, our Kindergartener, previously attended a bilingual Montessori preschool. It was an excellent school with talented and caring teachers, a diverse community, and a focused, play-based curriculum; however, every day was at best what I have described as a neutral negotiation to get him out of the car and through the school door.
At Park, Peter can’t wait to be at school with his teachers and his classmates. He wants to arrive early when the classroom is quiet and before anything important has happened. He runs through the door to hug his teachers, and he gets straight to work on the tasks of the day. I don’t see Peter often during the day, but when I do he is dutifully in line or skipping across the playground or embracing a friend.
At the end of the day, he runs out of ASP ready to begin an exploration, an experiment, or a new game. His plans are creative and fueled by the Kindergarten and ASP curriculums. He wants to build butterfly-forts for monarchs. He likes to hunt for “cool stuff” to add to the Kindergarten Cool Stuff collection. He is eager to show us the letters he’s working on and to demonstrate his emerging skill with addition. In just three weeks, we are seeing the transformative power of The Park School.
While there are many years ahead for Peter at Park, I am already amazed by the promise of the School, the faculty, the extraordinary community, and the students with whom Peter will learn and grow. Behind the experience of every child and parent at Park there are the critical components of a Park experience, and while these pillars shift and evolve over time in response to the age of our children they are central to each phase of the journey:
- Academic excellence in the form of differentiated instruction, innovative curriculum, and the applied learning that defines a students’ educational journey
- Educators committed to developing in their students a love of learning, an awareness of self, and the academic, intellectual, and social skills that will lead them through life
- A vibrant community built on trust and kindness and committed to supporting every student through these critical elementary and middle school years
- A deep commitment to building a diverse community that values equity and inclusion and promotes cultural competency and a shared sense of responsibility
As I reflect on these opening weeks of the school year, and I think about the classrooms I’ve visited, the students I’ve shadowed, and my own experience as a parent, I feel privileged to be a member of this community, to be a Park parent, and to be leading the finest Pre-K-VIII school in the Boston metropolitan area. Over the next decade, I will have many opportunities to ask my children “How was your day?” “Did you have fun?” and “What did you do?” And while the answers to these questions will never elicit the insights I desire, I know the answers I seek will continue to present themselves in other ways and they will demonstrate the love of learning, the joy for school, and the confidence that only Park can foster and sustain.