If you’ve been keeping up with my social media, you know that the past few months of my life have been a little… rocky. Everything that I knew has changed.
First of all, at the beginning of March, I had a major flare-up with my chronic illness, Intracranial Hypertension/Pseudotumor Cerebri. For much of the month of March, I was almost completely blind. I had to have brain surgery to put in a shunt to save my vision. I was out of work for two months because of all of this.
During that time, the church decided to shut the preschool down. It just wasn’t profitable for them–and despite all the good we did for the community, it could no longer continue. I had three weeks of work left when I returned. I was devastated–I’d put so much into that place, and it’s heartbreaking to see it go.
My vision improved after the surgery, but still not well enough to drive. This makes the prospect of finding a new job almost impossible. I was riding in the car with my mom one day when she mentioned how she baby-sat to earn an income when I was preschool age. Um, hello. Light bulb moment.
I can baby-sit.
I don’t have to leave my house–children can come to me! Wa-hoo!
My New Sort-of Daycare
In Indiana, childcare providers are permitted to have 6 children in the home before we must become a licensed in-home daycare. This summer, I plan on starting out slow with just a few school-age children before I take the leap to become licensed. My son’s best friend will be here, along with a few other kiddos, most of whom I’ve worked with in one way or another.
When the church preschool closed, so did our summer day camp. So when I posted online that I was looking for kids to watch this summer, I had my spots filled within 45 minutes, despite being a ten minute drive from town. It helps that I know SO many local kids & their families!
I have lots of fun hands-on activities planned this summer, borrowing ideas from the summer camp and incorporating plenty of nature play, sensory play, and open-ended art activities.
Learning on the Homestead
My family lives in a rural area surrounded by fields and trees. Just 100 feet from my house is my parents’, and my brother lives just down the hill. Beyond that, our closest neighbor is a half mile away. When you wander around our property, you’ll find gardens of flowers and vegetation. There’s so many opportunities to learn from nature here.
I’ve been studying the concept of wildschooling, made popular by Nicolette Sowder. She says, “Wildschooling is a movement designed to honor and support our innate, inexorable bond with nature and lend a voice to our inner wild.” While I’m new to the term itself, the idea of bonding with nature is something near and dear to my heart. I grew up running around barefoot on this farm; I feel truly connected to the earth when I can feel it against my feet. (I know that makes me sound like a hippie. Shut up.) My husband also has a deep respect for nature; he’s fascinated by the wildlife we discover out here. In a tech-obsessed world (our family is no exception, mind you) we are doing our best to strengthen our son Holden’s bond with nature. I’m so excited to bring more children into this environment.
Coming this fall: a nature-based, play-based preschool
What I’m most looking forward to is my new idea for a nature-based, play-based preschool group. My plan is to have four preschoolers in my home, starting in August. I still have some big decisions to make as far as the length of the day–whether it will be part time or full time–but this will be my chance to incorporate some wildschooling and Waldorf concepts. At this age, the environment is their curriculum.
We’ll plant and grow things, we’ll make mud pies, and we’ll learn about the nature that surrounds us in a collaborative way; the very idea of wildschooling is that nature is another member of the family or class. It’s not just the backdrop for our learning.
A blessing in disguise.
My feelings about the preschool closing vary between anguish and relief. I enjoyed most aspects of my job. I’ve never been happier at any other place of employment. However, this gives me a chance to adopt my own curriculum and teach in a way that makes sense to me. The hippie way, I guess. :)