Why didn’t anyone tell me that I’d be stressing out about finding a school for Ayva so soon? I mean, she’s not even 3, yet, and the anxiety of making sure she gets in the right program next September is just a tad bit overwhelming. There is so much to think about: does the school promote learning through play? Are the children encouraged to be creative and imaginative? Are the teachers excited to be there?
I’ve been researching preschools in the area for a few months, but last week, I (along with Ayva’s godfather) actually started going out to the schools to see them in person. We’ve been to 2 schools so far, and while I think the school we went to this week would be a perfect fit for Ayva. It’s expensive, but most private preschools are expensive, and we don’t qualify for Head Start, so whatever. I’m over the cost (more like, blocking it out of my head for now). I’d sell my blood if I had to in order to make sure Ayva’s in a school that she likes and is learning, being challenged and having fun.
The thing is, this school, the one that is a perfect fit…if Ayva were to attend, she’d be one of maybe 2 Black children. And I only heard about the other Black child. I didn’t see her. On one hand I think, “at 2 or 3 years old, does it really matter if Ayva’s the only little girl of color there?” On the other hand, I wonder how (or if) that will affect her years down the line.
My co-worker and I were talking about looking for schools (she’s looking at private kindergarten for her son), and she asked me what I wanted for Ayva. I told her that I want a place that is full of color and light, and where kids are encouraged to ask questions and teachers speak to them respectfully. I want Ayva to go to a school that has animals, and lots of outdoor play, and she comes her dirty more often than not. Sound like a lot to ask for? Well, the school we went to had all of that. And more. I mean, they had a bunny that hopped around the classroom. A BUNNY. But no Black kids.
I asked a teacher how they dealt with the issue of diversity, since, if she is accepted, Ayva would be in the minority, and the teacher was very honest with me. She said that enrollment is open to everyone, but unfortunately, because of the hours and/or the cost and/or the commitment of time needed (it’s a co-op), that not every family can commit to program. That makes sense. I did see children playing with Black dolls, and lots of multicultural books. The teaching staff is small but diverse, but more than that, they were amazing. They were listening to the children, engaging with them…they were fantastic.
So, nervously and excitedly, I’m putting in an application for the school tomorrow to see if Ayva can get 1 of potentially 8 open spots. I figure, I’m Black…I can just be especially mindful of teaching Ayva about her culture, about herself. I can be more active about finding playdates for her with all types of children, and maybe join a multicultural parenting group.
I don’t know, y’all. Am I way off base here?