The Bellwether School: Gentle Parenting, Education, and Community


{Disclaimer: We are working with The Bellwether School to bring you this post.}


Years before we had our daughter, my husband and I had many conversations about what type of parents we wanted to be. During our childless car rides to the movies and long dinners out together, we would wistfully think about who would do what, and what we might say in one circumstance or another. When our pregnancy soon declared that this was about to be much more than fanciful discussions, we bought parenting books and read blogs about different styles of parenting. Together, we stumbled headlong into a method that worked for both of our personalities, Gentle Parenting. With various experts calling it one name or another, Gentle or Conscious or Unconditional Parenting, it is all about seeing your child as an individual; as a fully formed human being that deserves respect and understanding.

For the first few years, as our daughter thrived under this parenting style, we were happy to incorporate Gentle Parenting into our daily lives. As she aged, the conversations over dinner between my husband and I began to transform, and the word preschool bubbled up again and again. Much like those conversations we had about parenting styles long before she was born, we started to imagine what preschool would look like for her. We began searching for gentle preschools that would honor our child as a person, one with moods and thoughts and interests that were solely hers. We knew it would be hard to find that right fit, that place that welcomed her as she was, just as we did as her parents.

children's handsHow do you find a preschool that doesn’t teach from exterior requirements rather than intrinsic interests of a child? How do you find a school where you aren’t worried that who your child is might get lost in the shuffle?

I found the answer for our family when I came across The Bellwether School in Williston.

Their website spoke of a holistic education, a philosophy of learning that supports and responds to, “Each child’s whole development including intellectual, social, emotional, artistic, physical, and spiritual.” They spoke about using the intrinsic motivation of each child as a path of learning. They talked about joy. It felt like, for the first time I had found a gentle preschool that would see our daughter as we did. It was a school that would support her learning about herself and the world in the same way that we support her in the learning that takes place at home.

I had spent quite a few evenings the year prior to her entering preschool, attending open houses and making school visits. When I walked into The Bellwether School for the first time I could envision my daughter running up the ramp to her classroom, I could imagine her artwork on the walls, and I could easily see her traipsing across the grass of the playground. I could see a place for her to thrive.

girl painting with watercolorsThat was two years ago. Our daughter is now in her second year of preschool and Bellwether is everything we imagined it would be. The beauty of this school, which I had not realized, was that they didn’t just welcome my daughter into the school and the community, but they welcomed us as a family. They saw us as a part of their puzzle, one that is completed only with the involvement and interaction of everyone in the community.

My daughter is allowed to be the person that she is, at home and school.

hand bead

It is okay that she is worried about one thing and excited about another, and she is never required to fit inside a predetermined box of what a preschooler should be. Every day she comes home with some new knowledge, new experience, and new ideas about the world. Being a parent, I knew that it was essential to find people who would give her experiences outside of my skill set, that would teach her about things that are beyond my knowledge base, and that is what I see her bring home with her every day.

boys climbing a treeThe thing about Bellwether is that it is not just a preschool, it is a private school that goes through sixth grade. Those conversations at dinner between my husband and I are now about what it might look like if she could go there for kindergarten and the possibility that our whole family could be a part of this wonderful community for years to come. I can only imagine where we will be and what dinner conversations we will be having in the years ahead.

Thanks to our experience as a Bellwether family I know that my daughter is loved and supported for who she is, both at home and at school. Isn’t that something that every kid and every adult needs?



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