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I'm a mom to a beautiful 1 yo. I was just wondering about alternative education, all types. I know I do not want to send my son to traditional schooling because I disagree with a lot of it. SO! I was wondering why and where do you send your DD/DS, and what has NOT worked out for your family!
 

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It is good to look at all your options and your starting early so there is no rush. The child I take care of is starting kindergarten in public school due to financial restrictions. I would have liked to see her in a Montessori school. Personally I like Waldorf but I don't see her in a Waldorf setting (no TV policies and other beliefs of the school would not work with her lifestyle). I think she would benefit from the structure and unique learning experiences of Montessori.

Here are some websites I found that maybe helpful in looking at different educational philosophies:

Waldorf

http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/

Montessori

http://www.montessori.edu/

Regio Emilia

http://www.reggioemiliaapproach.net/about.php

Sudbury Valley

http://www.sudval.org/
 

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I hope you've been making out well looking into your child care/education options! I see this thread dates back a little bit, though I hope I can still be of help to you.

I'm a mother of two and an Early Childhood Educator and I absolutely LOVE parents to be passionate about thinking outside the box and expecting more from their child's early childhood experience than just what I call "big box daycares" that take care of children but without really going the extra mile. Limitless options, and if there's nothing in your area that you love, certainly try to connect with other parents and see what you can pull together for an alternative education co-op. I know of local families here who did this. 8 families got together to discuss what they could offer as individuals to the group in terms of time, skill, etc. And worked out a rotating schedule. Those who could not so much give child care time, pulled together resources, financed the group as needed, or offered the space to all get together. This type of co-op learning can take any shape or form and is only limited by the abilities of those pulling it together.

As far as learning styles, I find a huge amount of value in the Reggio Emilia philosophy which very much surrounds the importance of exploratory learning, putting a tremendous amount of focus on "the environment as the second teacher". A true Reggio learning environment is very well thought out, is constantly evolving to offer learning tailored to the children's current interests and aspirations, and is compiled of very natural materials.

My greatest love lies with Nature Kindergarten or Nature Preschool programs that have had success in Europe and Internationally, and we're seeing them more now in North America too. I'm not super familiar with what's going on in the States, though in Canada I know some have sprouted up in Quebec. These can vary greatly, but primarily they share the philosophy of offering children quality, open-ended learning admit the ever changing backdrop of nature. Often exploring all outdoor living options, like cooking over fires or outdoor kitchens, toileting in outdoor loos or behind a "pee-tree", napping in hammocks or within a tent or yurt type structure, and just making the most of exploration in the great outdoors. Usually about 80-90% of the day is spent outside, this of course varies by facility, climate, etc..

The Nature Kindergarten I have personal experience with really offered a huge piece of learning empathy and respect for all things and creatures. They used real tools and equipment (child sized) and the children really learned to properly, safely manipulate such things. They didn't have manufactured play equipment, they had big, fallen down trees, and living, thriving trees to climb- they'd spend time marking certain branches with red tape if it looked unsafe for climbing- how wonderful it is to put risk-assessment learning into children's hands! They cooked food over fire, and they were such, healthy, happy kids! No endless cycles of flu-bugs from the never ending, losing battles of surviving in a never-quite-disinfected-enough classroom. And children there had a great deal of space to explore freely! We're animals- we get uncomfortable, even temperamental when cramped- Elsewhere I've often seen behaviour issues arise with children, that just wouldn't come into play if they had more space and more to explore and keep interested in. Classroom, or indoor learning just isn't the best fit for everyone.

I have my own biases for what makes for the most educational, magical, wonderful experiences for children- I hope I can just offer some of my experiences and you can go create whatever it is you see best for your child. It's such a personal choice. I see forums for many learning modalities here, which is great- Montessori for example, offers a huge learning piece for a child's cognitive development, though I feel the more structured delivery of it may be more suitable for a half-day vs. full-day program, and may not be appropriate at all for the very kinaesthetic learner. Active children may fare better with a more open format that offers learning-on-the-run, or exploratory learning. This varies child to child though.

My greatest bit of advice is to be comfortable with your child's learning environment and care providers or educators. If you're at a larger centre, know you have every right to meet anyone who would be in contact with your children through the run of the day, or even hang out for the day (or two, or three...) to get the full picture of what goes on there. I love the co-op idea that I had been let in on for the fact that it's a huge networking opportunity among parents, and together you can ultimately customize the experience your children have.

Limitless options!

All the best.
 
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