M graduated from Explorations Pre-school 2 weeks ago. (I can finally say where she went now, without fear of exposing too much of her life on the blog.) And yes, dear mom friends (especially my co-crying mommies Tanya and Eliza), I was weeping in the end. Did my mom and dad ever cry at my graduations? Or am I just a sissy?
Was it the teachers’ video of the kids talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up? Or the kids’ rendition of True Colors in Song and Sign Language? Or the final goodbye speeches from Teacher Calvin, Teacher Trish and Teacher Mags? (Of course it’s all of these right?)
I blame the waterworks most on Teacher Didi (Didi Manahan is the Directress of Explorations). It all started with her simple opening speech done in their small classroom, with no fancy sound system and no fancy stage. It made me realize that my husband and I made the right choice in putting M in Explorations (and yes, the tears are coming again as I write this!!).
Here is Teacher Didi’s speech posted with her permission:
The Senior Pre-Kinder curriculum is the apex of Explorations’ curriculum. Many of the children have been with us for 3-4 years. Many people congratulate me on how smart and articulate the children from Explorations are and how successful the program is. As a Directress of a school, I ask myself, are the children’s intelligence and language ability true measures of our success as a school?
By attending our program for 3-4 years, our graduating Senior PreK children have become communicators. Their vocabularies and language outshine older children and maybe some adults who did not have the opportunity as they, to use language to share opinions, discuss ideas, plan together, express and regulate their feelings, and relate to one another.
They know how to collaborate towards a common goal. Through their preschool play in the blocks area, dramatic play, or their culminating activities, they initiate, plan, designate, implement, and collectively take pride in their joint efforts. These are skills so highly prized in the workplace.
They are 5 and 6 years old and they can analyze similarities and differences between experiences they encountered, they can find multiple and creative ways to solve problems at work and play.
For many of the children, they have advanced levels of reading and math unlike typical preschoolers.
But I still ask myself, are these the measure of our success as a school? To a certain extent, intelligence and language ability are a measure of success, but have we succeeded as a school?
I know in my heart that can’t be enough; those qualities are only a partial measure of success. I can only consider that we have succeeded if you can answer yes to the following questions.
Is my child joyful? Does she approach each day with eagerness that there will be something new and thrilling to encounter and learn for the day? Does she, despite technology, delight in the simplest things? Does she, when having made a mistake or encountering a problem, face these with humor? And if it was truly a rough day, does she have the joyful hope to know that “tomorrow is another day”? Is she empowered by joy?
Is my child kind? Does my child accept everyone, include everyone, despite their differences? Is he gentle, fair, and firm in resolve even when his feelings are wronged? Does he speak and act kindly because he knows that everyone should be respected and loved? Is my child generous? Is she generous with her time? Is she generous with her possessions? Is she generous with her affection because she trusts in the goodness of others? Is she generous with her ideas and accepting of the ideas of others? Is she generous in her positive regard towards others even if those others might think, feel and believe differently from her? Is my child patient? Is he patient with himself and with others? Does my child know that things don’t come so easily, that one has to work and strive to achieve or possess things? Does he know that when he fails, he must persist until he is certain that he has tried and done his best? Is my child patient with others because he knows that no one is exempt from mistakes and we all have the capacity to rise above these? If you have answered yes to my questions, then I can say that we have succeeded as a school. With you , I share in your pride and prayers that our children will continue to grow in joy, kindness, generosity and patience as they leave us and move on to other schools.
Teacher Didi is right. M is smart. She is generous. She is a happy child. She does love learning. She wants to do things for herself and not to compete with others. For that, I am thankful that Explo was part of our lives for the last 2 years. I am thankful that the people in the school are so passionate about the progressive values that they teach the kids. It shows in how they work with kids, how they work with the parents and why I am always so touched that I always tear up (why?? why??).
The tuition in Explorations is higher than most pre-schools but to us, it is totally worth it — in money and in tears.
♦ Thank you also to Teacher Marissa, Teacher Nica, Teacher Trish, Teacher Tere, Teacher Thrina, Yaya Jas, Yaya Rose, Yaya Pearl, Ms. Charish, Mang Eugene, the really helpful guards, admin staff, and other yayas.