I wonder a lot whether I’m doing the right thing for my children by raising them in Bali. Sometimes (ok, most of the time) I get frustrated about living in this little dirty unsafe village house (as I imagine it when my brain switches into negative mode). And I feel like I need to get us out of here into a space that’s big and bright and full of air, that we can really call our own.
I find these amazing learning and playing space on Pinterest and I want them so badly for Maya and Kiran. I have dreams of creating them somehow, at some point in the future.
Things are not so bad here and on the whole, most days, I think I am making the right choice. I certainly don’t think the educational system in the UK has things 100% right and the more I read about the origins of formal schooling and the negative aspects of it, the less good things I have to say about it. This is not to say I don’t believe in schools – on the contrary, both my parents were teachers and moving to a country where education is a privilege, not a right, I appreciate it even more. I have no plans to homeschool but I get the feeling i may well be doing a fair bit of supplemental home education in the future and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I don’t have an awful lot of faith in the local schools for being stimulating and inspiring. The ones that have a good reputation are very focused on academic results which is not what I am interested in (for at least another 4 or 5 years anyway). I was shocked at the sheer weight of text books that Maya’s cousin was taking home as a 6-year-old. His English text book was teaching grammar that we wouldn’t even touch in the uk until high school. My friend’s 3-year-old recently had an IQ test at school (wtf?)
My firm belief is that children should be allowed to learn through play. I do think reading is important and finding learning opportunities in play and everyday life but tests and sitting at desks with books for 5-year-olds? Nope.
The positive thing is that this part of the world tends to attract free thinkers and creative types and in terms of international schools we actually have some promising play-based pre-school options that we wouldn’t in the UK (like the world-famous Green school – although paying the fees would be another matter!).
I’m looking forward to exploring a few of these options when Maya turns 3 at the end of the month. It’s been over a year since she first started at playgroup – she loved it at first and then refused to go back after Christmas. I don’t’ know what happened to turn her from being happy and enthusiastic about school to crying every day until we came to pick her up, but i wasn’t going to push it.
So these are some of my dream spaces to play and learn in the hopes that i can manifest some aspects of them into our reality
Branches Atelier – Reggio Emilia inspired preschool in Santa Monica, California
Global Village Preschool, Miami, Florida
Children’s Library, Singapore
Children’s Library, Karewau, New Zealand
And in the interests of fairness, here’s one closer to home of Green School – I couldn’t find many pictures of the actual classroom as most sites are just raving about the architecture but here’s one I borrowed from pearceonearth.com – i hope to visit there very soon and maybe i’ll get some photos of my own
p.s. I know good preschools are about much more than pretty classrooms, but it does help