By Kisha Reid
If you listen to my podcast, Dirty Playologist, you may have listened to the episode called "NOT A School" It's the one where I tell the story of an angry parent who shouts out to me... THIS IS NOT A SCHOOL! The most ironic part was that she was upset because there was no space for her child to attend. At the time, I was offended, hurt, and a little heartbroken. I had spent so much time and energy trying to convince the world that we were a school, that play was important and that our work was valuable. It took me another three years to get to the point where I came to terms with the fact that we, in fact, are not a school. Yep, I said it, WE ARE NOT A SCHOOL!! At least not in the typical sense of the word. Do children learn here? Yes, in every single way, during every single second, but that is not what makes a school. So what are we then?
We are a venue through which authentic childhood is practiced. We provide a safe, richly stocked space both inside and out that supports the intrinsic needs and desires of children. The role of the adults in the room is to love, trust, and care for the children. By loving the children we understand their needs and support them, by trusting the children we allow them to act out those desires with little interference unless in times of real danger, by caring for the children we physically and emotionally provide what they need to explore their interests in the most meaningful ways.
I have not yet figured out what to call us, but I know we are NOT A SCHOOL! And I am OK with that, in fact, I am proud of that.
by Lakisha Reid
Founder of Play Empowers, Early Childhood Presenter and Consultant, host of Dirty Playologist Podcast and Owner/Director/Educator at Discovery Early Learning Center