Adults are enrolling in preschool in New York City

By Annie Stevens

Adults are enrolling in preschool in New York City
Adults are enrolling in preschool in NYC and finger painting and show & tell are part of the curriculum

It’s been coming for awhile, look at all the grown men whizzing to work on razer scooters, for example, or how nobody seems to move out of home before they’re 30 or that words like ‘kidult’ and ‘adultolescent’ have been coined to describe this new generation of people who don’t want to grow up. We’re talking about the preschool for adults that has just opened in New York City.

Preschool Mastermind sounds like something straight out of satirical TV show Portlandia, but it’s  real live course in Brooklyn (of course it is) which people aged 18 and older can relive those glory days of finger painting, nap time, show and tell and eating play dough. The idea comes from Michelle Joni Lapidos, a 30 year-old self-styled “play concierge,” who studied early childhood education before switching to fashion merchandising, or “Miss Joni’ to her pupils. She runs the ‘school’ from her home alongside Candice Kilpatrick, an actual teacher.

The preschool is a five week experimental program, which runs at the decidedly non-preschool timeslot of 7pm-10pm once a week, with each week having a different theme. The sessions are a mix of self-help, performance art and creativity.

Lapidos started the preschool, she told The Village Voice, because people need to get in touch with the “freedom” of their childhood more.

“Adults are in this routine, this stagnation, and by tapping into the ‘play’ part of our brains by skipping or doing the things that we did in preschool, we’re bringing ourselves back to another place, another time with ourselves, maybe when we were more believing of ourselves, when we were more confident and ready to take on the world. And I want to nourish that in people,” Lapidos told the magazine.

In that sense, the school is more than games and excursions but also a way of boosting self-esteem and tapping into playfulness –while manoeuvring around our individual ‘blocks’ around creativity.

As Amanda Devereux, a 33 year-old lawyer who enrolled in the class and wrote it about it for Cosmopolitan US, says, in the class they wrote positive, affirming notes to themselves in the class (in crayon). Unfortunately this activity was given the toe-curling name of “do our prouds.”

So in some ways, it might be cheaper than therapy. The price of the course ranges from $333 to $999, excluding art-supply, snack-day, and class-trip expenses. You can also pay in instalments. Snack time includes milk (plain, chocolate or almond) and cookies (half of them ‘raw’ and one presumes, clean and paleo).

As Devereux notes in her piece, the group in the class consists of mostly women – all of them with different reasons for being there.

“The class has some photographers, some writers, some people with corporate jobs. One woman is a mother. Some of my fellow preschoolers say that they are hoping to tap into stifled creativity or return to a more innocent time. I say I’m there because it sounded fun,” she writes.

Tapping into creativity and the freedom of having fun isn’t something you often get to indulge in as an adult – with good reason. It’s a safe bet that most five year-olds at kindy don’t have mortgages, or time sheets, or teenager’s going through an angry phase. So we don’t prioritise fun and silliness. And maybe we should.

While the thought of adults sitting around in a circle making macaroni necklaces might make us cringe, is it really that bad? Self-indulgent? Maybe. Kind of silly? Perhaps. But the best thing about being an adult, rather than being an actual preschooler, is that you get to make your own choices. And you know, there were some important life lessons we learned at preschool – things like sharing, looking after your buddy, putting things back where you got them and of course the importance of afternoon snacks. Lessons that we could do well to brush up on as we get on with the busy and stressfulness of being a grownup.


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