The Los Angeles Preschool Offseason

And just like that, our little preschool is quiet. Stealth mode. No more sharing, no more not sharing, no more shrieks of delight, no more enveloping thrum of focused study. It’s just…dark.

Summer is a strange time for any Los Angeles nursery school. This brightly colored, vital place, this great groaning vessel of toys and manipulatives whose sole purpose is to deliver fascination to little minds, is suddenly without its cargo. Walk by the building and you might imagine that it’s shuttered, in stasis. A cocoon.

But like any cocoon, there is plenty going on inside. Summer is when Culver City preschools take a week or two off so their teachers can relax, recharge, and promptly begin planning the coming year. What does your preschool do in August?

Review, Review, Review

We talk about the year gone by, discuss the progress of our students and explore the various ways we might improve. This free-ranging postmortem can cover anything from the tools in our classrooms to the methods we employ for conflict resolution and individual care. The goal every year is simply to get better—more effective, more inspiring. Preschool is a formative time when kids are learning how to manage their feelings while they’re learning how to count. It is a moving target, and one can always learn from mistakes.

What’s Next?

Then the fun part begins: planning the curriculum for the year to come. Different Culver City preschools do this part differently; our approach is a lively collaboration between my wonderful teachers and myself. We comb through possible topics in search of the best mix of interesting facts and enjoyable activities, rigor and revelation. This past year included some great units on dinosaurs, outer space, communities and water. Who knows what 2013 will bring?

Adventures

Of course no curriculum is complete without a chance for the kids to get their hands dirty beyond the walls of preschool. Field trips and planned events are popular features at Butterfly Garden, those “big deal” special opportunities to touch and see everything we’ve been learning about. Certain sojourns are perennials by now: the Natural History Museum, the zoo. Others may arise from the opportunity of a touring exhibit or a local kid-friendly event. Filling the calendar this way is a joy for us.

Everyone on Board

And then there is the matter of filling up our school. I am grateful to run an organization that has been called one of the best preschools in Los Angeles, and thankfully, interest remains high. Pulling together all the documentation for our newest parents is a full-time job in itself—we create an updated handbook every year, send out forms, applications, legal documents, and of course the latest CD of every month’s classroom music.

Busywork

Finally there are dozens of logistical tasks to be squared away before any school year. Permits and plumbing, fees and financials—California’s not the easiest state to navigate for a home-based preschool, but I can say with some hard-won pride that I am an old pro. We manage to remain fully accredited and ready to go by September every year, and I am especially proud of our sterling safety record.

Lay the Foundation

In a sense, summer is a little like preschool itself: a chance to lay the groundwork for everything to follow. We approach this season with the same love and energy we bring to every class we teach. Truth is, it’s a pleasure for us, and worth it when I see all the little kiddos show up in their tiny finery on day one. That’s a day no parent ever forgets.