One of our members who's been here the longest shares one of the biggest things that sets Nido apart from other options for your family - our built-in and thriving parent community.
When we were only part-time at Nido we also sent our kiddo part-time to a small, traditional, preschool program near our house. Our kid loved the other preschool, loved his friends, loved the toys, loved the teachers, and we liked the curriculum. Going to the other preschool and Nido at the same time gave us a side by side view of not only the two programs for the kids, but the way the two communities of families are run. Nido wins that comparison, hands down.
It’s not really a fair comparison. Firstly, Nido is inherently a two-part service: Montessori preschool for the children, and co-working space for the parents, all under one roof. The physical act of working there with the other parents inherently leads to building a community because of your interactions; even if you are all silently working on your laptops most of the time. But when you get a chance for a cup of coffee in the break room you get a chance for those interactions to build community, too. The water cooler clichés are true.
Though if you set aside the co-working aspect, Nido still wins because it has formed a great on-line community via the Slack App (https://slack.com/is). Slack is a messaging app that mostly targets tech savvy businesses for internal use. Its advertised to help team members communicate, and cutback on needless internal emails. If you are old enough, it’s a bit like chat rooms and IRC, but upgraded. The app works both on your phone, and on your computer, and private ‘teams’ or groups can be set up for your business.
At Nido, all the teachers and all the parents are part of the ‘team’, both literally, and virtually on Slack. Instead of having channels (aka chat rooms), as Slack originally envisioned, on “engineering”, “marketing”, “accounting”, “software”; here at Nido our channels are “classroom”, “events”, “co-op tasks”, “staff”, “random”, and “weekend_meetups”…to name a few.
On the “classroom” channel the teachers post pictures of our kiddo’s enjoying their work, and us parents let the teachers know when we are going to be running late, or are out sick. And this is where the on-line community discussions strengthen the in-person interactions. Unlike our traditional pre-school, where I would txt the teacher that my kid has a fever, I have now been able to tell our whole small school that my kid is sick, and warn the other parents to watch their kids for symptoms. Some of the best, most civil, and most caring discussions have been around what germ is circulating and how other kids have been doing. The conversation on slack typically starts with: “Hey everyone, heads up, our kid just got diagnose with croup. So, if you were in class on Wednesday with our kid, watch your kid for symptoms.” These conversations then continue with well-wishes and gratitude for sharing. At our other school, we never knew and there was no built-in way to have parent-to-parent discussions.
Slack gives us parents all a way to check in with our kids and their classroom, and with each other. The “random” channel has been great at local community building with such conversation topics as you might and might not expect from working parents that share co-working space: What diapers to use?, Goat for sale., Chocolates in the break-room., Computer monitor recommendations?, Donuts in the break-room., Can I borrow a baby carrier?, Does anyone have any children ear protection? We’re taking our kid to a Pixies show., Good restaurants to go to with a baby?, My neighbor is having an yard sale!, Any folks interested in organizing a Nido Doughman team?, Anyone know a good unix cheatsheet?, Touch-a-truck event coming to town!, etc…
There are many ingredients that contribute to Nido’s success at building community. Using an on-line messaging platform, such as Slack, to reinforce in-person community has been part of that. It’s also a great way to ask a friend across the room if your kid could borrow a pair of shorts from their kid (because hey, accidents happen), without disturbing all the other co-working parents.
-By long time member, first time Blogger, K