January 31, 2009

Moving Forward

As most of you know, it's been my little dream to have my own escuelita, and what I mean by that is, having it outside my home. I've rambled about realizing this is my calling in this lifetime, and have been consumed with logistics and researching what it takes to launch a preschool, and doing it successfully. I obsessed over the name, the logo, and then the website. Next came the stress of finding property. This, I knew would be the hardest part.

Do we lease? Do we buy a home and convert? Either way, this is a HUGE step for me. If we buy a 2nd home, there are many stipulations. And then there is zoning, and HOAs and other red tape. If we lease, we're in it for only year, and can decide if we want to purchase property later.

This last year, I've been researching what makes a quality program. An amazing program. The bottom line is, it comes to staff. This was confirmed [again] for me yesterday, when I read through the current issue of a local parenting journal [Parent-Wise]. And what is sad is this is where most centers skimp.

"Typical parents judge a daycare center or preschool based on if it's safe, clean, and in their budget, rather than on how well the center provides emotional care and intellectual stimulation."

I'm going to be quoting a lot here, just because when I'm at the point in my journey when I ask myself, why am I looking for such specific qualifications with my staff, I can come back to this, and be reminded.


"Nearly all childcare workers in this country--be in-home daycare providers or degreed teachers at a fancy private preschool--are severly underpaid. As in all professions, without quality workers, you put out a poor product. Quality childcare workers are responsible for managing groups of children while developing enriching classroom activities, both of which require a wealth of knowledge about child development and early childhood education. Too many parents, however, don't understand the breadth of knowledge required to care for young children at the expense of hiring and maintaining those people."

Quality begins with an educated staff. Period.

"An NACCRRA report revealed that the educational levels of childcare workers in Texas were quite low--this could be because Texas required childcare workers to only have a high school diploma or GED before working with children. Austin fares no better, despite its highly educated population and progressive nature. The results are unfortunate, given that childcare studies unaminously find that the college education level of staff is the most strongly correlated factor in quality care"

"The early years are critical, and they need to be spent with those professionals who have made that committment to children. Paying people to make that committment is expensive. And often, parents can't afford, or don't want, to pay the price necessary for good quality care.

"Childcare costs should be near the top of a household budget, probably second on the list after mortgage [or] rent", says Lynn Payne a child care referral specialist at FamilyConnections in Austin. However, this does not mean that the more expensive a program is, the better. The real question is, how much of the center's tuition goes back to the staff."

"In 1985, I chose to drive a 10-year old car so I could pay a little more for child care tuition," says Dawn Leach, director of the ACC Children's Lab School, "I have never regretted that choice."

Choosing a good daycare or preschool is a lot of work. And in the end, you get what you pay for.

So, when I am putting so much thought into what materials and furnishings will go in my school, designing a natural environment that engages senses, an environment that provokes wonder, curiosity, and intellectual engagement, and the fact that I'm seeking educated staff, whom I will need to compensate well, I wonder, will families see the value in this?? Or will they want something that is cheaper?

Today we went in and met (again) with the landlord of a commercial property we have been considering. Prime, prime location. It's a bit larger than I'd like to start off with, but has large classrooms and a room which could be converted to an Atelier (Art Studio). I initially rejected it because the price made me very nervous and I would have to start big. We went in and gave him our proposal. A proposal I would feel comfortable with as a start up preschool. A proposal that involved cost modifications and changing up some of the aesthetics of the property.

Well, he agreed! YES! He agreed! I am so overwhelmed right now. I was expecting him to tell us we were out of our minds. And I was ready to walk if he did. BUT, he said yes! He's going to run it by his father (who still oversees some things with this property), and we have not signed anything yet, but my hopes are high.

And hopefully, this photo here, will come to fruition.

January 27, 2009

Mia turns Three!

This weekend, we joined Mia's birthday celebration. Her mama put together a huge pachanga (spanish for birthday bash) at Acrotex Gym. This venue was a GREAT idea. I don't think I've seen this many children at a birthday party since living on the border. The kiddies had a blast playing on all the equipment and I think the parents were equally as excited!

Happy Happy Birthday Mia.
We love you very much.




And all these cupcakes, her mama made! I don't think I've seen so many cupcakes before and they were delish!

January 25, 2009

Jessica's Bachelorette Evening

Hello! I'm back! But only for a quickie. Just enough time to process a few photos, (and I mean just a few) from Jessica's bachelorette party. The wedding was last weekend, and she was such an incredible looking bride.

I think I was the oldest attendee at the bachelorette party, and after our dinner at Vivo and the lingerie party, I didn't even have it in me to join the girls downtown. Yep, I feel that old and tired. At least I had a Mandy with me, who is preggers and was ready to go to bed before I was. I wish I had time to post more (I know, I'm pathetic), however, things have been crazy busy on this end. But, at least I took a few hours to stop, and smell the roses. ;)




January 19, 2009

My Official Name and Logo (and Website too!)

Here it is. My logo.


And my preschool's official name. Terra Luz.
Terra = Earth [Latin]
Luz = Light [Spanish]

Coming up with an official name for my program took what seemed like forever, but it had to be perfect. The name had to have *meaning* for me and I wanted to show that my program is a non-traditional one. After brainstorming with friends and family, it hit me. Terra Luz.

The logo was created by the talented Mark Anderson. I love how the logo evolved and I'm relieved that Mark was able to get inside my brain and create the vision I had. And he did it beautifully. The sprouting tree is young and playful, and will grow like the children who I work with now and will work with in the future. The circle gives the feeling of cohesiveness and of closeness which I have with the children and the families of my program. The sun is beautiful because embedded in it, is the moon and evokes the rhythm of nature. The circle is not closed, shows that this is a place for *open-mindedness* and allows for flow. I also think the opening resembles an arm beckoning one to come in and play.

I would like to share this clip from a Reggio-inspired school. I posted this on my private blog, but thought it was worth sharing here. Now, if I can only find property to expand and move my program offsite. If you want to take a peek at my website [that the talented Kiwe of the O'Mamas put together], you can check it out here.

This is my *why*.

January 14, 2009


Hello Blog,

I know you've never gone THIS long without hearing from me. You see, I've been swamped, and I mean CONSUMED with working on my business plan for my escuelita. Feels like a rollercoaster over here.

I even have proof. This is what my study has turned into.
A huge room of gigantic Post It Notes. And the giant dry erase board you can't even see, has been written on and erased about 50 times with our brain dumps.


When I return though, I will be sharing something really cool. Stayed tuned!

January 01, 2009

Spider House Cafe

Domi and I rediscovered the awesome Spider House Cafe on the drag by campus. So we went twice in one week. The 2nd time, we were joined by some good friends.

Domi LOVES Anjalika. He adores her. He was so worried about her when we heard about the Indian bombings since she was back home visting family during that time, and he kept asking if we had heard from her. He was relieved to hear she and her family were safe. And then wondered if she would be back in time to accept his invitation to his Winter Concert. I told him she would not be back in time, but maybe next year. ;)

Within minutes, Domi found a way to sit next to her on this bench. And poor girl. I think he gave her his cold (I thought he had allergies!). I just love how my son loves my friends too. And Tanya, just so you know, Jay was asking why you weren't there. In his words, "
Tanya. Yeah, she's cool".