Written By Big Backyard parent: Kim Pacini
I think we were drawn to the Big Backyard because of its name. Big back yards are fun!– they are where we play, where families convene, where we have our friends over and a space we make ours.
We are a first time family to school. When our daughter was two, she sat up in her new big girl bed on the way to sleep and told me, “Mom, I want to go to school”. Two weeks later we were visiting the Big Backyard Nursery School.
The first sign that we liked the place was being greeted with 30 pairs of little rainboots – letting us know these kids play. The feeling walking through the school is really sweet. Bright colors, kids learning everywhere, playing, cubbies lining the hallway with each kids’ cute face above their spot….the stars of the community. We were there for about an hour; my daughter was invited to play with the kids of the Green Room she would be entering. It was and is colorful, happy place.
The education model of The Big Backyard was the main draw to the school; the philosophy is that children learn best through play. Children’s interests are nurtured and encouraged as they discover at their own pace. There is a schedule that is age appropriate – for my daughter’s room (2.7-3 year olds) its knowing that circle time comes after play time. There are no computers, nothing digital: there is a 2 story kitchen and house, little couches and a shelves of books, sandtables, easels, clay, baby dolls and trains. The classes’ art projects line the wall. In her first week in school, my daughter learned about herself by making colorful handprints and looking in the mirror to say what she likes about herself. It’s adorable and good.
Other than being a wonderful place for early education, what makes the Big Backyard special is that it is a co-operative nursery school. Meaning, all families take an active role in the school’s operations: we take jobs, work events, assist in the classroom monthly, provide snacks and clean the school. I had no idea how it was going to work, but I was told it does and they were right. The Big Backyard has found its own system of operating that makes it easy. There is ample, accessible communication and a smooth flow of information based on investment among the parents and teachers.
The process of entering the school made the introduction exciting for all of us. I was in contact with a parent from the get-go who led me through the application process. Once my daughter was accepted, there were emails and a call from the Board president welcoming us to the community and school, a parent orientation night, and two days of integrating the new class to the school.
I have come to realize is that my family was drawn to co-operative education because it fits the way we operate. The emphasis on community, the feeling of where our kids learn as sacred and wonderful for them, the level of involvement in their lives really does create a sense of community that allows for childhood education to thrive. My daughter loves school, the friends she is making, and her teachers. She knows her classmates and their parents. She feels safe and in that can explore everything her imagination allows. Its what we dreamed of when we thought of nursery school and in that, we are all happy.