I’m having a revelatory moment. You know in University when you realize that all of the religions are teaching the same thing, and what’s really important is the kindness we can bring to our everyday lives. I’m starting to think similarly about early childhood education.
I’m new to the ‘where-should-I-send-my-kids-to-school.’ I do however have friends in daycare in New York, LA and Toronto. Some had spreadsheets to track the options, the pros and cons and the interviews they had to schedule and reschedule to get their 2-3 year old approved.
I have a 1-year-old and an almost 3-year-old. I scoffed at how silly all of this school debate seemed. Isn’t it just about having lots of fun at that age? It seemed how over-the-top and reeked of helicopter parenting. Then my kid turned 2 and I realized how very deeply I cared about where it was that she would be going to school. Then I pulled out the karma cleanser for having the nerve to judge anyone’s parenting – isn’t that almost always ridiculous because, man, we’re all doing our best at this thing!
I went to the Toronto Waldorf School for 9 years. I now have a home base in Costa Rica because my Israeli husband fears winter like I fear spiders. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, my newly found perfectionism was directed at finding (or founding) a Waldorf school! I was shocked and horrified to find that there was nothing, nothing even close, to a Waldorf experience in Costa Rica. Then I found Casa Sula.
I realized the moment I spoke to Margarita, Esperanza and Edgar that what I treasured about my Waldorf experience was not the pastels, thick crayons, and enormous amounts of time I spent outdoors. All of these things (including the pastels and crayons) are actually present a Sula but that’s definitely not what made my heart skip a beat. Parents of older children – excuse the fact that this revelatory moment may be just stating the obvious to you but – the Waldorf experience for me, and nearly all positive school experiences, area all about the teachers. For me this was Mr. Black. To this day I remember things that he said to me as my home room teacher from Grade 1-7. I left Waldorf at 13 as my parents opted for the much closer public school. And yet I kept in touch with Mr. Black all the way through University.
I remember walking into Grade one and being greeted by him. He was all at once a friend, and someone that I wanted to emulate, even at that very young age. He was wise, kind, and his humility left room for every child to shine.
To drive down a dirt road and arrive at the educators leading Casa Sula is nothing short of blissful as a parent. It’s not a Waldorf school, it’s not a Montessori school, it’s not a school at all – it is a place for a child to be seen, heard, cherished, elevated and inspired. The change I have seen in children attending Casa Sula, even for 3 months, is dramatic. Parents rave about sibling rivalry diminishing, tantrums disappearing, and general family peace becoming the norm.
It is so clear to me from my experience with the leaders at Casa Sula, that just like studying linguistics can lead you to understand pieces of every language, unschooling or democratic learning draws on the elements of every alternative, cutting-edge learning tool I’ve ever seen. But most importantly the teachers and leaders of Casa Sula make it truly feel like a home, a Casa, a place to thrive in the comfort of knowing that you matter.