By Ralphie Jacobs
It’s that time of year, friends! Parents everywhere are searching and deciding what to do with their preschooler come September. More and more are turning to preschool co-ops. They’re free, intimate, and a great stepping stone to the real deal.
But some mothers dread doing a co-op, right? It’s completely out of their comfort zone. They’re either overwhelmed with having to come up with 3 hours of activities about the letter “B”, or the strict control of the curriculum leaves them feeling majorly boxed in.
I was totally one of those moms! It amazed me that I could have a degree in early childhood education and not want to teach preschool in my home.
But it all changed when one very important element was added.
Here’s the thing I think we’re forgetting: Our children feel the same way.
They don’t want to spend all day learning about one letter. (In fact research says that a letter a week is a less natural way to learn the alphabet. Teaching letters in context is much more effective.) They also want lots of different things to soak up. Bugs, baking muffins, dancing with scarves, counting beans, writing letters with salt, etc.
So I’m sharing a secret of how to make it happy and fun for everyone.
Each mama who participates in the co-op should focus on a subject that they are naturally good at and enjoy teaching. For example if she loves math, she chooses to teach math. It not only becomes self motivating, but also spontaneously increases the quality of content being taught!
She would do activities that taught shapes, have them practice counting and identifying numbers, and she’d pick books that reinforce those concepts. Plus cooking and measuring!
A typical co-op rotation could look like this:
Mom 1: Science
Mom 2: Math and Cooking
Mom 3: Music and Movement
Mom 4: Literacy
(I like to chose literacy because I really love teaching it.)
A couple more things to think about:
Here’s a basic outline for the preschool co-op that I’ve been rotating with for 5 years:
9:00-9:20 Self selected activities (such as puzzles)
9:20-9:30 Hellos and getting ready for the day
9:30-10:00 Instruction (most likely broken up into two different sections and/or areas of the house in order to keep interest)
10:00-10:30 Snack and outside play
10:30-10:50 Instruction (a great time for using books to reinforce a concept)
10:50-11:20 Cooperative play
11:20-11:30 Clean up
11:30-11:50 Lunch and clean up
11:50-12:00 Books and Goodbyes
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