A Reggio-Emilia Preschool, Italian-Style (or why Bing Nursery School may not be perfect…)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been out of it for two weeks. I had hip resurfacing surgery back on March 26, then I was swamped working on the video below. I’m doing very well now, limping but doing just about everything again. I’m sorry for the hiatus, but I’m back, stronger (and more cantankerous) than ever…]

I just shot and edited the video below about La Piccola Scuola Italiana (LPSI), a wonderful Reggio-Emilia inspired preschool in San Francisco. I am very happy with my son’s preschool, Bing Nursery School, one of the most prestigious, sought-after nursery schools in the US. However, I prefer LPSI. Unfortunately, we live in Palo Alto, CA, 40 minutes away from LPSI.

Why do I prefer LPSI to Bing?I have four reasons:

  1. While both are Reggio-Emilia inspired, LPSI is run by people who went to the best Reggio-Emilia schools in the world – in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Bing is run by people who have studied this approach from Stanford University in the United States. So, LPSI has the Reggio approach running through its veins more than Bing, and it works fabulously. This fact is quite evident in the video.
  2. LPSI is small and family-like, while Bing is much larger and laboratory-like. Classes at LPSI have 12 students each, while classes at Bing have 36. Kids get to know each other much better at LPSI, and teachers (and administrators and cooks!) regularly hug and kiss the kids.
  3. LPSI has a cultural/linguistic theme, while Bing doesn’t. That cultural/linguistic theme is Italian, and it gives the whole community more of a unifying purpose than just a great preschool. Thus, the parents, Italians and non-Italians included, form an exceptionally tight community. The school is not just about the kids. It’s about the kids and Italian language and Italian culture. If you care at all for the latter two, having this theme creates more bonds among parents, kids, teachers, and administrators.
  4. LPSI is Italian. Yes, I’m Italian-American, but even if you’re not, you’ll have to admit that Italian language and culture are pretty wonderful, aren’t they? Besides, what other preschool can boast that they have their own cooks from Italy who cook gourmet organic Italian lunches for students (and staff) every day?

LPSI, flush from the success of their fundraiser last weekend, is considering expansion, either to a K-8 school in San Francisco or to another preschool in Palo Alto or elsewhere in the Bay Area. I vote for the latter. How about you?

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7 Responses to A Reggio-Emilia Preschool, Italian-Style (or why Bing Nursery School may not be perfect…)

  1. dhaval says:

    Very nice article and video. Please keep this coming!

  2. guest says:

    My favorite preschools in the area are The German-American International School and Leaping Lizards. GAIS seems very similar to LPSI. Leaping Lizards provides an extraordinary opportunity for kids to play in nature in a small group environment. I was lucky that my kids were able to participate in both schools.

  3. bccp says:

    Interesting. Have you checked out Menlo Atherton Co-op in your area on Middle Ave. Would love to know your thoughts. It now has 2 teachers, both from Bing, but really small class sizes, and only 4 classes for the entire school year. Yes it is play based, and yes there is a parent education part of it, that reminds parents how to play. We recently just started going, and love it so far.

  4. Mike Lanza says:

    We did check out MA Co-op. In fact, we enrolled our son there last year because of the great things we heard about it, but dropped out after the parent orientation night. We just couldn’t get comfortable with all the time they demanded of us. I guess my wife and I are stuck in the old-fashioned idea that school is for teachers, not parents.

    I still do think it’s a great school for parents who want to put in the time they demand there.

  5. Mike Lanza says:

    We did check out MA Co-op. In fact, we enrolled our son there last year because of the great things we heard about it, but dropped out after the parent orientation night. We just couldn’t get comfortable with all the time they demanded of us. I guess my wife and I are stuck in the old-fashioned idea that school is for teachers, not parents.

    I still do think it’s a great school for parents who want to put in the time they demand there.

  6. winterlantern says:

    My daughter is near preschool age. We submitted an application to Bing purely due to its reputation and the general play-based idea. Since your son goes there, could you comment more on what things you particularly like about Bing, and what you don’t like about it? Thanks.

  7. BRnanny says:

    I’m a child development student and I nanny for a italo-american family whose child goes to LPSI. She’s is not yet in pre-school age so she’s been going to spazio gioco (a playgroup for toddlers) twice a week. Since at spazio gioco a caregiver has to be with the child I’m there with here and able to experience the school. I love to say that in the past 3 months that she’s been going there I have with her learned a little italian, met wonderful people and seen those children grow and learn a lot. It’s been 3 months and most children who could barely speak english at the begining now can say a couple words in Italian, they also learn routines, and how to share, they have physical activities that help they develop. I love LPSI (minus a few admmistrative issues) and I have learned a lot with them. I sure hope they would expand southward in the peninsula as we live a good 40 minutes from San Francisco and the drive is not fun.