We've been at Bigelow for three years and I now have two children there. This is a truly wonderful school and community. The teachers are outstanding and are particularly good at teaching children how to negotiate peer relationships. The school environment is warm and very loving. I particularly appreciate the fact that siblings have opportunities to see each other during the day. And while I loved Bigelow when it was in a basement, the school is flourishing in its beautiful and light-filled new location: the classrooms are full of life, the large community room provides a central playspace and gathering spot, and the natural playground (which is still evolving and growing) is a lovely outdoor space. As a cooperative, Bigelow requires and welcomes lots of parent participation, which makes the experience that much more rewarding for everyone. Being present in the classroom and serving on committees means we get to know other parents, children, teachers, and staff. I love the communal lunch program; families take turns bringing in food for the entire class, so my children get a rich variety of fresh home-made meals. I can't say enough good things about Bigelow!
My son is in his second year at Bigelow and we have had a wonderful experience there. There are a couple of things that really stand out: During naptime, the teachers lie next to the kids on their mats, holding their hands, singing to them, whatever it takes to make them feel comfortable and safe. I love that sweetness and genuine caring that I've found in all of the teachers at Bigelow. I also love the community lunches. Parents cook a hot meal for the class (once every few weeks) and the kids all sit together and eat. It's a special place and my son has been so happy there.
My son attended Bigelow for three years, and this cooperative day care was everything our family had hoped for and more. The teaching staff is excellent-I could go on and on about the craft projects, free play philosophy, exposure to music, opportunities to cook and grow plants, learning about animals, and the periodic redecoration of classroom areas to mark the changing of the seasons/new classroom themes. The Bigelow community turned out to be an incredible resource. Most importantly, I never felt anxious about my child during the day while he was there. Great teachers, great peers.
As previous reviews have indicated, the state of Bigelow's current physical space is not ideal for a daycare center. It presents numerous challenges to the teachers and parent helpers. That said, if one spends a moment observing the children in the space it becomes obvious that the children love the space and are not being held back in any way by its shortcomings. This will only improve at the center's new home, where the space issues will be non-existant but the staff and teaching philosophy and community commitment will be unchanged. Bigelow has an unbelievable future. As a parent of a child who has almost three years left at Bigelow, I am looking forward with a lot of enthusiasm!
My daughter truly bloomed in the two preschool years she spent at Bigelow. The teaching staff is incredible--most have either a degree in early childhood education and/or have been with the school for upwards of fifteen years. Turnover--the bane of most preschools' existence--is a non-issue here. And it's only going to get better. The downside of Bigelow is the cramped physical space (It's in a church basement, and the church has been trying to get a new tenant for years) but the parents have identified a spacious new location and have recently secured the funding to renovate it. It *is* a parent cooperative, so the demands on parent time can seem onerous--but the up side is that it creates a true community to support the curriculum. It has beeen well over a year since my daughter moved on to kindergarten, but the parents we know from Bigelow still arrange play dates, pass around hand-me-downs, and care for one another's kids in a pinch. If you're just looking for a place to park your kid while you're at work, Bigelow is not for you. But if you have even a modicum of flexibility in your work schedule, come see what committed parents and great teachers can do together.
Bigelow has been a fantastic experience for our son and for us as parents. We have found a healthy, inviting, warm, and incredibly culturally diverse environment at Bigelow. Our son has enjoyed his time at Bigelow, has made great friends, and (although not our focus for a day care) has been well prepared academically for kindergarten. Bigelow is a co-op which requires significant involvement from parents which sometimes feels like a chore but that's we signed up for and as a result of being more involved, we have also made great friends in the other parents. The physical plant and the landlord issues are not ideal but are being dealt with in a comprehensive and mature fashion and will, I am confident, result in an even better situation than the already great set up.
This school is in constant turmoil. There are ongoing issues with its landlord (it is in the basement of the church) and they never know year-to-year if the lease will get renewed. There are also considerable financial issues. Yearly tuition increases do not lessen your burden as a parent. To save money, they force parents to work in the classrooms. If your child is there at least 4 days a week, you are required to spend 3 hours each week in the classroom. Working families have to burn their vacation time to meet these demands. Or you can pay them up to $50 to have a replacement. The only positive about the school is the quality of the teaching staff. However, with all of these other issues I gladly withdrew my child.