Part of being a business owner, for me, has always been kind of watching the tides come in and go out. Watching the world, watching our kids, watching our community and seeing where things might get pooled up. Listening to myself and following my own struggles—and being present enough to know when those struggles are my own or when they are more universal.
Last year, as Vivie came up on turning four, I knew that she would be capping her time at Le Village - and with me. And not just in a set number of arbitrary years, but in her development and her needs. I could feel her pushing away from me. She was ready for independent school.
I was too, honestly. I missed the freedom of lunches to shut my brain down. Increasingly, my work took me out of my Le Village home as new locations cropped up. It was stressful to have to coordinate my meetings around a break at lunch every day.
Frankly, I didn’t miss her like I used to. And she didn’t need me like she used to. We were both ready for some space.
It hadn’t been that long ago that I would have done anything to see her and be with her as much as possible—and did! I am filled with so much gratitude looking back at that time with her. As time ticked on, I found myself grasping at the edges of her toddler years and then realizing, rather suddenly, that they were over. She was no longer a baby. No longer a wobbling toddler. She was a willful strong little girl who rolled her eyes at me when she was irritated. (Jeesh when did that happen?!) She was not the same girl and I was not the same woman. My motherhood had changed and in it, changed my needs and identity…again.
And I wasn’t alone. I sipped wine and got misty eyed with seven other women in the same boat. We watched our kids grow up together. And we grew up ourselves, together. I laughed—we are the first Le Village graduating class! There is something so beautiful about being ready for something instead of being pushed into it unwillingly and we were all ready for this next phase.
It was just…Well, what do we do now?
The question echoed for all of us.
For my part, I wanted Vivie to continue to be challenged. She was already writing her name, had numbers sense to 20, knew all her lower and uppercase letters, and easily smoked through colors, shapes and the like since age 3. This, I had noticed, is what other daycares were working on at age 4. Crap. I looked at Montessori, where I knew she would thrive, but worried that my inventive little girl would not find an outlet for her creative energy there…plus they were on waitlist for eons.
I settled on what I considered one of the best centers in the area. My fellow graduating class found classrooms closer to home, or more cost effective, or within a different specialized curriculum type. We all ended up in different care settings. The year strung on and we all adjusted.
And then slowly, one by one…the reports from my fellow mothers came in:
So and so’s school is using a public facing discipline board with colors - it’s embarrassing and my kid is upset when I pick them up.
The school made me feel like they don’t truly see or understand my child. I feel isolated.
I have no idea what my child is learning—she never brings home any work, and there isn’t a ton of communication.
The teachers are using curriculum and disciplinary methodology from the 50’s. I am worried about the social and cultural learning he isn’t getting.
We are on our fourth teacher of the school year!
I took all these in with a nod and tucked it away. It fed my anxiety because, and I say this often, I know too much. The challenges facing organized early childhood education are vast. Let’s just say I have trust issues. On top of that, I felt like our older kids needed a home. I had always assumed they’d just start CPS Pre-K when they left—and then realized that decision wasn’t up to us as moms, and parents. It’s up to a very distinct and official cutoff for their birthday. Many kids had a sizable gap year, including my own.
For my part, I was having an exemplary gap year experience with our chosen program. Vivie was thriving socially. Making friends. I didn’t always agree on the curriculum, and I knew she wasn’t being fully challenged—but she was safe and happy. She was working on age appropriate material and brought home her work daily. I was also paying for it. Wow. The program had basically cleaned any free spending out. Our travel that was so imperative to our family happiness (and in my opinion, Vivie’s education) was shelved and reallocated for Vivie’s daily care and education.
So I watched, listened, and processed. After 6 months—I emailed my realtor who was helping us find franchise locations. While we are out on the hunt, why don’t we start looking for a small space very close to Le Village in Irving. I just want to see what’s out there.
The idea that had been gnawing at me for over a year was starting to take form. And it was time to test it out.
Le Village Learners will open just 3 minutes west on Irving Park Road. Our sunny little center will focus on kids 3.5 years to Kindergarten and will be an extension of our current curriculum. The biggest change is that this will be a traditional drop-off center, with more structure for our older children so that they can prepare socially and emotionally for the start of their “formal” academic journey. It’s structured to be competitive curriculum wise—with the top centers in the area, but also competitively priced.
Our parents will remain a part of the Le Village community, be allowed to work onsite at the current coworking space—but not required to stay onsite.
It’s a little space for parents and kids to grow into their independence. It’s a smaller environment with more focused learning and curriculum before they are off to the big school! It’s A nice bow as we all wrap up “the most important years.”
I am very excited to share this new program with you all. I hope that it’s a home for our Le Village family members, but also a place for new families in search of community. I am excited that we can accommodate families that do not have the workplace flexibility to work from a coworking space. I am over the moon at the possibilities it holds for all of our families.
After a year out in the care world outside of the Le Village community, I feel like I can solidly and honestly say that what Le Village does in our classrooms is truly special. Our coworking space and the community makes us unlike anything else that is out there, yes. But our curriculum and classroom environment is also outstanding. Our kids are learning at a pace that I am truly proud of–and not because they are required to, but because they have a hunger to explore. Because their parents are invested in their daily learning. And because our teachers are trained to go above and beyond to set up the foundational elements your child will carry with them throughout their life in learning.
Le Village Learners will take these foundations and build upon them. We will drive home introductions to foundational reading, writing, mathematics, world culture, and science–but in a way that is true to us. We will use tangible elements introduced in group play, combined with one-on-one guidance, or explored in quiet independence. Elements they are truly interested in will keep them engaged and hungry, day after day.
I can’t wait to show you what we’ve built!