Thursday, October 10, 2019

Until The “Revolution” Comes

In my ideal world, young children would not go to preschools or day cares at all. It’s only necessary because most families in most countries depend upon them to keep their children safe while they earn an income.

Some of us are bucking that economic imperative, of course, such as parents who enroll their children in cooperative schools like our own Woodland Park, where at least one adult must be available for a chunk of time each week to participate not just in the management and operations of the school, but also in the classroom as assistant teachers. Others have found a way to homeschool or unschool. Often these sorts of choices involve sacrifice of some kind or another, in terms of income, for instance, or at the price of placing a cherished career “on hold,” at least for a time. This sacrifice may come in the form of a reduction in what we call “lifestyle” or, depending on the profession, even a complete derailment of a promising career. Most find the rewards to be greater than the cost, but others either will not or cannot make the calculation work for them, so they need something like preschool or daycare.

I will not judge parents for the decisions they make. I trust that they love their children and are making the best decision they can at any given moment. I also know that most modern parents, at least to some degree, have mixed feelings about whatever they have chosen.

Until the “revolution” comes, we will need preschools and day cares. Every weekday morning, right across the country and around the world, children are packed into cars and driven to institutions where they didn’t choose to go, often miles away from their homes, to be cared for until their parents fetch them at the end of the day. It’s at best an unnatural arrangement, really, even as it is necessary. How much better it would be for children if they did not have to go so far, if they could, in fact, stay right in their own neighborhood, on their own street. How much better if they spent their days in, say, a neighbor’s home, alongside the other neighborhood children. And imagine how much better it would be for parents who would not spend their precious time with their children, driving from place to place, scrambling to get from here to there, and knowing that their children are growing up in their own community rather then the artificial ones that tend to emerge in institutions no matter how well intended. How much better for teachers and caretakers to be part of same community in which the families they serve live, running in to them at the supermarket, working together on neighborhood projects, and being alongside them creating a wider home, not just for children, but for everyone.

The human animal has evolved to thrive within the context of community, in small groups of closely connected people of all ages. I’m thinking this morning of small in-home preschools and daycares and wondering why we are not working to make them available for more families. Even after the “revolution,” I imagine this will be what most of us would choose.

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