22 May Worldschooling: Árbol de Vida, Waldorf, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Every travel leg we check with the kids if they would like to go to a school. We don’t really press them to go to a school but do present it as an opportunity to learn new things (language!). We have written a blog about worldschooling and how we integrate it into our nomadic lifestyle.
After spending three months in Tulum and the Riviera Maya without going to a school, they were ready to meet new friends and check out a new school place. So, before arriving to San Miguel de Allende, we researched the internet trying to find a school that suits our needs and wants.
By that time, Mexico was still requiring facemasks in schools (both teachers and students). For us, a requirement like this would be a no-go. Not only because facemasks don’t do anything to protect you from a virus, it is difficult, if not impossible to learn a language from someone who is wearing a facemask. So, one of the most important things we had to do was find a school without facemasks ;-).
And so we did.
We found an education community called Árbol de Vida. It is a waldorf led school in the small village of Atotonilco, around 25 minutes drive outside of San Miguel de Allende. With no facemasks. Outside in the country side. A lot of space, natural materials, Spanish spoken.
We went for an intake and communicated we were intending to stay for about 4 months. Both of the kids were accepted into the school. We agreed to the proposal to pay a little more, as we were not attending the entire school year. We paid around MXN 9000 pesos (€430) a month for two kids. This included all the materials and the food.
The school offers a large, natural playground for kindergarten kids. The bigger kids have a whole soccer field and another playground to share. It is truly a beautiful place! The school also has a community garden where different kind of vegetables are being produced. There is a small glasshouse as well and a compost area. Every day children bring the leftovers to the compost area, something my youngest is still talking about now, resulting in our garden getting a compost area as well :-D.
Isa (6) made a friend on her first day and loved going to school, she easily adapted to new rules and routines. Vesper (4) also loved going to school, but had a tough time understanding the language and accepting the limits and boundaries put by the teacher. As a result, he picked fights with other kids and sometimes hurt them too. The teacher and myself made an effort to support him through this transition into a new school and environment. I went with him for a school day to explain and translate all the routines and expectations during the day. We practiced in the house with clearer boundaries. We practiced doing activities at home that take a longer concentration span, like cutting vegetables, helping prepare the table, putting toys in their place after playing. Reading out loud in Spanish also helped. Taking him on adventures in the city and asking him: what is that? pointing at things and learning new words in Spanish.
Isa and Vesper attended the school for 3 months and both loved it! Even though it has been a more challenging time for Vesper, they both learned many new things, new songs, speak in Spanish and made friends while at the school. The type of education (Waldorf) is not necessarily the best fit with the way we raise our kids, how we travel and teach them on the road. At home the kids are being asked: what do you want (to do)? In Waldorf teachers decide what is being done on a day. This is a big change for them, but not at all wrong to experience in life.