It’s time for some good news. If you’re looking for inspiration in the early childhood world, look no further than Cheryl Ryan and the brand new Red Oak Community School.
Her motto: “No grades, no homework, no testing.”
Like many parents, Cheryl noticed that kindergarten options were not good for the kindergarten-aged child. Cheryl’s from Columbus, Ohio, and already had her children at SYC (the Columbus preschool School for Young Children that inspired my books It’s OK Not to Share and It’s OK to Go Up the Slide), but SYC doesn’t include kindergarten. So what did she do? Together with a group of like-minded parents and teachers, she founded a new school catering to 5-8 year olds.
What’s amazing is that Red Oak went from idea to reality in just one year.
“People ask me: ‘Why didn’t you just homeschool your child?'” Cheryl told me. “This was easier.”
That’s right. According to Cheryl, starting a brand new school is fairly simple. Cheryl and her fellow visionaries brainstormed, filed for nonprofit status, found funding, hired teachers, found a building, and enrolled 35 students. Their first “let’s do this” brainstorm happened in August 2015. By September 2016, the school opened its doors to kids. Initially Red Oak is a K-2 school, with plans to expand up to age 14.
It’s a school where children love coming. It’s joy-filled learning with a strong dose of nature. Red Oak is a model for what we can do about kindergarten. So many caring adults lament that “kindergarten is the new first grade.” We need more kindergarten options that are healthy, good fits for children.
Worried about kindergarten options in your area? Start your own school.
- find your tribe of like-minded families
- file the paperwork
- find a teacher(s) and space
- enroll eager students
That’s the simplified version (setting up a school rules vary by state) but if you are dreaming about creating a place where kindergarten-aged children can THRIVE, then find out more about the nitty-gritties and listen to Cheryl’s shining example on our podcast interview. Cheryl was a guest on Renegade Rules podcast. Listen to the interview.
We all need inspiration. The world needs developmentally-appropriate kindergarten programs. If your town doesn’t have one, why not give your dreams some action and start one now?
Have any new kindergartens started in your area? Who are the visionaries who started a program you admire? Could you be another visionary?