Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

February 20, 2007

Mountain View Parent Observation

Filed under: Parenthood — by mvmommy @ 5:53 pm

There is a lot of pressure to preschool these days. Who knew!?

When I was having my first child, I wasn’t thinking… after this c-section I should run down to Bing Nursery School at Stanford and get him on the wait list. You might think, who does? Well…. apparently….. a LOT of people!

Within the first year of Andrew’s life, people were already asking me about preschool and what I was going to do. And then I was pregnant with Justin, and I thought – I had better get on this! Who knows whether I’d ever leave the house again after giving birth to a second child….so I started touring schools and going to preschool fairs. There was such an abundance of preschools that it was overwhelming:
* 2 days, 3 days, 5 days per week schools
* 2 hrs, all morning, all afternoon, all day schools
* academic focused schools – where they learn Spanish & reading skills
* play-based schools – where they focus on social skills
* Waldorf, Montessori, High Scope, Reggio Emili philosophies


Apparently some kids even start preschool at 2 now! Holy Cow! For parents who had one year of preschool education between the both of us, this concept was a little foreign. When I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, I wasn’t really expecting to only have two years with my child before shipping him off to school!

So the more Nathan & I discussed this Silicon Valley pressure to send our kids to the best preschool so that they can graduate from Stanford and become doctors….the more we decided it was time to get back to basics. Which is just about the time a girlfriend told me about the Mountain View Parent Observation program.

The name sounds a bit odd for a children’s preschool environment. What are we observing? Sounds like we drop our kids off and then sit back to spy on them while they play with other kids. Is that it? Since it’s based off of a co-op type structure – where parents are involved in the classroom and assisting the teacher – what type of parents/children does a program like this attract? These were the questions running through my head, when I went to the Open House to check it out.

Whatever my expectation was, I was thrilled when I got there. The facility was just as I hoped it would be. There was a lot of grass, and small hills for the kids to run around on and kick balls. There was a great sand, trucks, and digging area. A small path ran in a circle so that the kids could ride on their tricycles. An adorable little house was outside with a tiny kitchen and table set inside. There were swings, and climbing structures. And there were art projects and paints. And that was all just the outside.

Inside there were tables and small chairs set up for puzzles, play-dough, tea parties, art and well… you name it. There was scheduled music, singing and dancing time. And there was a bookcase full of age appropriate books to read. The way I describe it makes it sound enormous, but it’s not. Just well laid out, clean, airy, and fun. It was made for 2 & 3 year olds… and I got a wonderful sense of joy and freedom while being there.

And as for parent involvement – the parents I met were wonderful. Normal people who were looking for a place to bring their kids so they could learn to interact with other children, and get used to a teacher and structured program… but without the pressure. Just fun. Parents stay and play with their kids, so they get a chance to observe how their children interact in a social setting. And parents also help with art & music time. And besides the kids making new friends… the parents seem to be forming friendships as well. And for the last 45 minutes of the day, the parents leave the kids to play in the yard with 4 rotating parent-aids … while the rest of the parents meet with the teacher about developmental issues for children ages 2-3 (potty training, sharing, temper tantrums, etc). So not only are the kids learning, but the parents are too!

After visiting many preschools – none made me feel as good as this tiny little school did.   The program itself wasn’t different than any other program on paper… however, the obvious care and consideration that went into it, was head and shoulders above the rest.   So I signed up & prayed that we would get in. Sure enough we did. Our assigned teacher was Teacher Nancy on Thursday mornings. School started in September (Andrew was a little over 2 years old), and we’ve been going for 6 months now. Andrew loves it. And I love it more.

I wasn’t ready to send my 2 year old to a formal preschool. I didn’t want to give up these years of his life already – that was why I am staying home. Yes, at the same time, I don’t want him to miss out on learning how to behave with other children and teachers. So this was a perfect situation. Teacher Nancy is hands down the nicest teacher and person that I have met in any of the preschools I have visited. I am so disappointed that this is only a one year program geared for 2 year olds. In fact, if I could find a way to do a co-op preschool for Andrew when he was 3 & 4… I might just do it based upon the wonderful experience I have had here. However, the scheduling doesn’t work out when you factor in both of my children’s needs – they are too close in age to pull off the logistics.

Next year, we move Andrew to an ‘drop-off’ preschool – Children’s Center. He will attend 2 days a week, for 2.5 hours each time.  Overall, that is not much preschooling – when you compare it to other programs. But I think that is just fine for a 3 year old. When he is 4, we will send him there for 3 days a week. And I think that will be just fine too. He’s going to be in school all day everyday soon enough. No reason to rush things. In fact, we picked this preschool because they seem to have the same philosophy as we do – kids grow up quick, don’t miss out!

However, after learning so much about Andrew this year while observing him at school, I am going to miss knowing him so well. He’s still my child, and I spend a LOT of time with him. However, there is a difference when you watch him respond to other kids and authority figures in a school setting…. vs. … watching him at a play-date or playing with his brother at home. I have seen sides of his personality I would not have seen otherwise. And I have been taught things from Teacher Nancy, that I couldn’t have gleaned from reading books and going to parent workshops.

I will miss this special time I shared with Andrew. But I am looking forward to sharing it with Justin next year. He’s going to be 2, and he qualifies for the program. So we will have an entirely new experience with Teacher Nancy. I am sure I will learn even more. I can’t wait!



  1. It is so nice to read this-
    My husband and I have been feeling the same way-
    Should we find a 2 year old pre-school.
    we came to the conclusion that the best thing for him was to be home with his mommy and at the same time we did not want him to miss out on social interaction- we herd about the 2 year old parent observation and now we are on the waiting list for next year crossing our fingers-
    we just came from the open house yesterday beaming-it has such a wonderful vibe.
    Im just glad that we are not alone out there-wanting our kids to be kids and not start all this crazy pressure before he is even potty trained.

    Comment by Maxsmommy — March 18, 2007 @ 2:50 pm |Reply

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  3. […] I took my youngest son his Mommy & me preschool. It’s once a week and only for 2 hours… and all that it involves is parents playing […]

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  7. I really like this article. It is so true and thanks for sharing the stories with us. I feel exactly the same about preschool as the kids start too young, but if you start them late, they might have problem social with other kids. It is always a very sensitive and personal choice.

    Comment by Faye — January 6, 2011 @ 10:05 pm |Reply

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