The rush to research and apply for pre-schools started quite awhile ago. It is hard to believe you need to start applying for pre-school so far in advance, but that is how it is here. Sometimes I put too much thought into things than is really necessary, but I strongly feel early childhood learning is an important part of my child's education. It may be due to having a busy boy who has boundless amounts of energy, but I want to make sure he has good practice learning to follow an instructor's directions, variety in activities, and good social experience.
While being vegan doesn't have a whole lot to do with choosing where to go, it is nice to find a place that will acknowledge and respect our dietary lifestyle. We applied two places and our son got into both. At one school the parents have a rotating responsibility for bringing in a snack and at the other it is provided by the school. They both seem pretty aware about respecting our choices, but one certainly stands out more on that front than the other. When we toured the school, we noticed a chart on the wall with each child's name and a list of common allergens and checks by any restrictions. While this is not a top factor in determining where to go, we also want to be sensitive to our son. What parent doesn't want to make life easier for their child?
Instead of worrying too much about which school, I decided to really start to discuss what we eat and why. This isn't just a vegan thing either. We talk about eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains because they are good for our bodies. It is interesting to observe how Elliott has responded. Lately he asks what everything is made from and who made it. I think this is great. So many people put little thought into it, and here is our three year old just fascinated with the components for his vegan mac and soy cheese. From mangoes, to vegan pizzas, to soup, and zucchini he wants to know where they came from and who "made it." Whether it is homemade or not, I believe it helps to appreciate the food we have to eat.
The ultimate hope from all this is that he does grow up to put thought into what he eats - vegan diet or not. I've been starting a good collection of books which cover vegetarian/vegan diets, so we can teach him what we eat. This seems to work well for some friends of ours. Their daughter is in pre-school and is completely at home asking if something is vegan. You should check out his blog by the way. It is This Little Piggy Had Tofu, clever name huh? We will find out in the fall how things go. Stay tuned.....