Full Circle Montessori will not offer any after-hours child care. Our program does not go beyond 2:45 PM. This decision seemed, at first, difficult for me to reach.
I oscillated between two realities:
1) My belief as a child advocate, that full-time school, no matter how meticulously and lovingly prepared the environment, is too much for young children to handle. They need time at home.
2) My need as a business woman, to address the child care needs of working parents and the financial implications for my business.
My business side said – Offer extended care. If you don’t, working families will go elsewhere: you’ll miss out on generating core revenue, plus the market demands it: How will you compete with full day programs? Everyone has full day. Besides, families need it, whether YOU offer it or not – and wouldn’t you rather have the children be in YOUR program, in YOUR care – where you oversee the QUALITY?
At first glance – yes, of course. Business made sense. But upon revisiting the reasons for starting my own school, reasons spelled out in Full Circle’s Mission and Voice, I reaffirmed my belief that what is best for children does NOT necessarily correlate, or have ANYTHING to do with, what the market demands. And although a business, Full Circle Montessori School is first and foremost an entity that advocates for children. And it is from this vantage point, through this litmus test, that all decisions need to be made…this is Montessori, this is what I want Full Circle to be about. No matter what angle I took, I could not rationalize full day school care with the best interests of the child. Thus, no extended day…I had reached a decision – great. But the problem remained: there has to be another answer…
Something different is precisely what Full Circle is about: alternatives … thinking out of the box ... questioning ... asking ... finding new solutions … innovating … collaborating ... searching for new paradigms to improve the quality of life for children and their families. The school ITSELF must be what we hope we are guiding our children towards becoming. Together, we must go beyond what the child-care market currently offers, and create what is NEEDED, using the developmental needs of the child, not our own, as our guide.
That being said - How to get care beyond 2:45 pm? If a family’s situation necessitates full-time care, but the goal is to create more home-time for the child, then someone who can be at home with the child during the parent’s absence is needed. An in-home caregiver: a grandparent, an au-pair, a nanny, a babysitter, a classmate‘s parent could fill this role. Although no substitute for the parent, an in-home caregiver is the next best thing, not only making home-time possible for the child, but also alleviating parental stress by eliminating, for example, the rush to be at pick-up on time, the rush to starting dinner, and with the proper expectations outlined up front, facilitating an evening routine that is harmonious and relaxed.
Please note that I am not judging working parents – quite the opposite actually, I am sympathetic; and personally relate to both the desire to accomplish professional goals and the financial realities of living in the D.C. metropolitan area. I hope this letter conveys that Full Circle Montessori School and I hope to be your partners, in support of your family, but that this support will always draw from the vantage point of what we believe is best for children – even when this means taking a hard look at our own priorities.
I believe this commitment speaks for itself.
Tatjana Vichnevsky, Founder and Director of F.C.M.S.