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The Beginning

September 10, 2009

Chantal and I became friends through our boys. We met at New Morning School and spent time after school together when the boys would be playing. What started out as a way for our boys to get some play time, turned out as play time for us moms too. We found while we had fun working at New Morning School together and we also enjoyed doing fun things with our kids.

We started to talk of doing some business together. Wouldn’t it be great to share with others the great things we had learned to help others working with children?

Let me tell you a little about New Morning School. It is a small school set in Plymouth, a suburb of Detroit, and it is a gem. The school does so much for the students and the community and has such heart that it was an inspiration to be a part of it. New Morning School is a private, cooperative school where children are taught not only to respect their own abilities and the abilities of others but they are allowed, and encouraged, to learn at their own pace. We had both witnessed children making great gains in their academic and social abilities especially when they had a voice in the choices that they made each day.

The teachers did their utmost to make every day a challenge for each child. Parents helped as aids in the classroom, working one-on-one to assist students in whatever they may need. The students make their daily choices with the guidance of their teacher and worked towards their individual goals. The plan worked beautifully. Children learned not only academics and social responsibilities but also how to plan their day and to manage their time for larger projects. These skills end up serving them well into the future.


So, how could we take the great lessons learned from working at New Morning School to help others? How could we give to a larger community the tools and information that we have seen work over and over again? Does anyone want this information? And, just as important, would people be willing to pay us so we can still help pay for the educational expenses of our children and create an income for ourselves? Or is there some way we could just give our experience to others and, like “Field of Dreams”, the money will find a way to us?

So a little over a year ago we came up with an idea: why don’t we combine our talents. Chantal being a computer savvy programmer who loves a challenge and working with children and I am an elementary teacher who loves seeing the “lights go on” when children succeed and enjoy putting together large creative events. Perhaps we could join forces and use everything we have learned to help others. Perhaps using the internet we could reach more people and share the many ways to help children that we have used over the years.

So, after hours of talking about:

  • How would we put it all together?
  • What would we need to do to make it different than everything else on-line?
  • Would parents that home schooled their children want the information?
  • Would people like videos of lessons or explanations to give them the confidence to teach their children?
  • What would we need to figure out how to set up a web site?
  • What we would need to do?
  • What we need to learn about starting a business?
  • After months of discussing it, thinking about it and getting excited about the possibilities, we decided to give it a try. Once we decided to go with it, we didn’t want to waste any time. We knew we couldn’t complete the curriculum, lessons and fun hands-on activities for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade by the fall, but we wanted something on the web-site. We agreed that dinosaurs are always a big hit with children of all ages. We had both done dinosaur digs with our children, so we already had some ideas of things that worked. We came up with more activities for young children and set a date for our “filming” of the dinosaur dig with a group of young children. http://parentchildeducation.com/category/topics/discovering-dinosaurs/

    The day of the filming was warm, sunny and, unfortunately, windy. We hadn’t planned on windy. We set out our palm tree props but since it was so windy, they keep falling over but with the help of Jorge and a few bricks, we were able to master the wind.

    Our child actor, Chantal’s nephew, was perfect; enthusiastic and ready for the adventure. We knew we won’t be able to do retakes with a young child, so whatever happened and whatever he said, we would just work with it. It was a little unnerving to realize the fate of the video was in the hands of a 5 year old. But fate was on our side that day because he was amazing. We had only anticipated what he could possibly say and he was everything and more what we had hoped for. I’m sure it helped that we were excited and there were lots of fun activities set up for him to do.

    Now that we had the film we figured it wouldn’t take too long to edit the video down. Because of the wind we had to edit out some great shots because the audio wasn’t clear. What fun editing down the video, picking which scenes and what to add! Now to finish:

    • Selecting pictures for each activity
    • Writing out clear directions for parents to follow
    • Making the web-site look good but not too busy
    • Figuring out the code for different aspects
    • Learning Java
    • Going to the library to get more books on programming
    • Checking out links for books
    • Double checking and triple checking that we didn’t leave people in no man’s land when they clicked on a link
    • And everything else that needed to be completed that we hadn’t thought of

      We had planned on being up on-line by June 14th. Boy, we were just a little off on how long it would take to go on-line. Working together 5 days a week proof reading, working out programming glitches, how we wanted the pages to look and numerous other bumps along the way, it took almost a month before we were able to launch the web site. But launch it we did! On Thursday, July 24 we went world wide. That was exciting! We didn’t know what to do with ourselves – how does one celebrate launching a website?

      For our first office, Chantal graciously offered to use her dining room. She moved some tables so we both had an area to work on and her husband made some bookshelves. After the filming, we placed one of the palm trees we made for the dinosaur dig between the desks and hung up the pterodactyl and the “Dinosaur Dig” sign. It is very festive and is an inspiration to me every time I look at it.

      Since I was working at Chantal’s house during the summer, we have had lunch with Chantal’s two boys. Then we took a daily brain break. A brain break is where move around a bit to break up the day. It helps give the brain an oxygen boost and you can come back to work ready to go. It is recommended that everyone should get a brain break every 20 minutes or so to help with concentration. At New Morning we did brain breaks all through the day because of the difference it made for the students attention and ability to process information. Chantal and I would take usually a mile walk. After working on our own all morning, it gave us a chance to chat about what we accomplished that morning and what we needed to put on our every expanding to-do list. It has been heaven.

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