Disclosure :: This sponsored post is brought to you by our friends at McGehee’s Little Gate Preschool.
Why I Love McGehee’s Little Gate Preschool :: A Mom’s Perspective
Little Gate is Hard to Describe in Words
Little Gate is a feeling, a community, a twinkling firefly. It’s what I work hard for, it carries the hopes I have for my 3 year old daughter, Ansley Yoshiye Dinkler. During our car ride home one day this week, I thought I’d get a firsthand account from Ansley, who just entered her 3rd year at Little Gate. As much as I can explain why I love Little Gate, I’m not the one who is there every day. My girl is precocious and prolific, and she can describe her experience to me better than I can imagine it, I thought to myself. So I proceeded with an interview, lining up several softball questions.
Mom :: “Ansley, what do you like about your classroom? Is it the accounting station with the calculators? The easel? All of the books?”
Ansley :: “I’ll tell you later.”
Mom :: “Ok…Ansley, what do you like about lunch at Little Gate?”
Ansley :: “Eating it.”
Mom :: “Switching gears, what do you like about your teachers, and all of the wonderful people who work at Little Gate like Ms. Patty?”
Ansley :: “Calling her Patty Watty.”
Mom :: “Ok…not sure how she feels about that. Circling back, what do you like about your classroom?”
Ansley :: “We already talked about that.”
Alright, so I did not get as much insight out of her as I had hoped for. Thankfully, I have over 2 years of my own experience as a Little Gate parent to draw from. I am usually astonished at the things she tells me about her day (our interview notwithstanding). Her teachers recently suggested that we ask our kids what their “finger bone” is called, because they have been playing with a skeleton at school named Mr. Bones. When I asked her, Ansley said it’s called a phalange. What? I work in healthcare and I’ve never heard of that (Siri, remind me later to google “phalange”).
What it Was Like to Send My 13 Month Old to School
Ansley started to walk only a month before her very first day at Little Gate. She was 13 months old, in the one year old class, and the little red jumper was practically a maxi dress on her. I’m pretty sure her shoes were small enough to fit a cabbage patch doll. There she went, the tiniest and most precious person in my life, waddling off with her school bag. I definitely cried and so did she.
But she came home from her first day totally happy, exhausted and covered in paint. And by covered, I mean it was in her nose, it was in her bellybutton. The next week, head to toe in shaving cream. This trend continues today to varying degrees and honestly—it is deeply gratifying. Whether it’s dirt in her socks from the butterfly garden and the outdoor mud kitchen, sweaty hair from an afternoon on the playground, or paint on her sleeves from one of her daily creations, I know for certain the following: she had a great day, she was safe, she played hard, and I can therefore feel less guilt about sending her somewhere for 10 hours while I work in a job I really love.
Little Gate is Crucial for Our Dual Career Household
Which brings me to one of the things I appreciate most about McGehee’s Little Gate Preschool and a critical factor for our family: we are a double working parent household. Both of us have full time careers and a fair amount of community involvement. There are early morning conference calls and evening meetings on the regular. There is no way that we could operate our household if school didn’t offer both before and aftercare. We are a team and full utilizers of every minute Little Gate has to offer, an offering that is not ubiquitous in the time of COVID-19.
Last year, when we were able to go inside the campus to pick her up, I would sometimes spy on her on the playground. I would see her exploring, pushing herself to reach a little higher for something, hanging upside down and laughing at the “big girls” on campus who were playing soccer nearby. She loves seeing these older girls, some of whom babysit her, and they love her too. They’re great role models for her.
Little Gate Provides the Whole Package
Ansley is biracial, and her lived experience in New Orleans will be far different than mine as an Asian American woman who grew up in California’s public school system. I want her to know nothing but confidence. I want her to believe in herself and live her life without fear. Every day, Carling and I ask Ansley to say “I can do anything!” and I am starting to believe that she believes it too. I believe that her foundation at Little Gate has played a significant role in her optimism in herself, her sweet curiosity, and her growing confidence. And I can’t wait to see her continued journey there.
Little Gate is currently hosting Saturday tours and is also hosting an Open House on October 30th by appointment only.
About the Author :: Ayame Nagatani Dinkler is a working mom to 3 year-old Ansley, a wife to Carling Dinkler, and a healthcare executive at LCMC Health, a local non-profit health system. She is an active member of the community, serving on the boards of the Greater New Orleans Inc NextGen Council, Youth Force NOLA, the New Orleans Building Corporation, and the Independent Women’s Organization.