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Tuesday
Nov232010

preschool co-op

Bee went to a traditional preschool last year and loved it, but when I heard some friends were organizing a preschool co-op, I decided to try it. We've been having a Monday morning playgroup with these same kids for two years now, so all the children are buddies, all the moms are well acquainted with each child's personality, and the kids feel really comfortable at each home. (And I should mention that all of the moms in this co-op are pretty amazing, so I knew Bee was in good hands.)

A few details, in case you're interested:

-There are five children in our co-op, and all are 4 to 5 years old and starting kindergarten next Fall. (I think 5 kids is the perfect size for a class).

-We teach in two week rotations, two days a week for three hours, rotating houses. (It makes for a busy two weeks, but once you're in the preschool mode it's nice to stay in it for a while and then you have a little break before you teach again a few months later.)

-We follow a pretty detailed schedule so that the structure of the day stays the same no matter who is teaching. The kids are really into the order of things, and can usually tell you what we're going to do next.

-We're basing our curriculum on children's books. A new book each week which helps you figure out your art or science projects. For example, I just taught Where the Wild Things Are, so during the week we made Wild Thing masks, talked about manners and how we are not Wild Things, learned all about seeds and how things grow (like the jungle growing in Max's room), and for music had a wild rumpus dance party.

Last week we focused on Thanksgiving, and I chose the book The Story of the Pilgrims. It's not a complete history lesson, but it was perfect for this age group. During the week we learned about the pilgrims and the indians (aka Native Americans), focused on being thankful, baked pumpkin muffins, made Thankful trees with paper leaves, and dressed up as pilgrims and indians for a feast.

I remembered these paper bag vests from an old Halloween costume we did at Martha Stewart Kids, and the kids had fun fringing the bottoms and decorating their vests. We strung indian necklaces (cheerios on some yarn) and made feather headbands (grosgrain ribbon with a slit cut in it for a feather).

We also made these super easy pilgrim bonnets and hats, so the children could decide whether they wanted to be a pilgrim or an indian for our feast.

The kids and I are in charge of the decorations for the kids table at Grandma and Grandpa's this year, and I'm thinking these would be awfully cute at each place setting. Bee and C will have way too much fun chasing their cousins around while we finish dinner.

Family nearby, good food, happy kids.. all things I am truly thankful for.

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Reader Comments (16)

What book based curriculum are you using? I have been throwing around the preschool co-op idea for a while so I loved reading this post. But I haven't been able to find a nice book based study to do. I would love any ideas you would like to share :)

11.24.2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatti

I do this at home with my kids for the days when they are not at preschool. My eldest does 3 days and my youngest does 2 days at preschool and I base their home days on a book as well. I choose a book which correlates with the term theme of each boy's preschool class, for one it is "Pirates" and for the other is "Under the Sea". It makes the day they are at home fun and focused for them and for me and allows for continuity in realtiuon to what they get up to at preschool.
Cheers
Engracia

11.24.2010 | Unregistered CommenterEngracia

So FUN!
My children attend a cooperative preschool that formed exactly 50 years ago in Denver (thirty-some years ago, my brother and I were students there!). It began just as yours runs currently. It is such a fabulous concept, and I enjoyed reading about your coop!

Nina

11.24.2010 | Unregistered CommenterNina

Your co-op sounds wonderful.
I teach kindergarten and had my students make the pilgrim bonnets and hats from Martha at school yesterday. They loved it and looked adorable.

11.25.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

hi brook, loved your post, thank you for sharing it. Just wanted to write and say Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for your work and beautiful blog. xox sharilyn

11.26.2010 | Unregistered Commentersharilyn

5 kids in a class? Sounds dreamy... I'd definitely be thankful for that!

Hi Brooke! Love this concept...so do you mind if I ask what you do with the baby while you're teaching? Just thinking about how I could make this work with my friends who all have preschoolers too (and all have babies like me!)

11.26.2010 | Unregistered Commenterrae

great concept. thanks for sharing. love your blog too!

11.26.2010 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

Hi Rae.. Luckily Baby M naps for a good chunk of the preschool time and then I feed her while the kids are having their free time/outside time. It can get a little crazy if the baby is fussy, but Baby M's at the age where she can just hang out on my lap or in her swing. All the moms in our co-op have an additional baby/toddler at home.

11.29.2010 | Registered CommenterBrooke

Wow! I'm so impressed by the ideas in your post, and the comments that followed!! You've all inspired me to be more intentional.

11.30.2010 | Unregistered Commenterrosa

I so desperately wanted to do something like this for my three year old feeling bad that he was missing out on preschool this year due to finances. Of course, I got lazy and didn't get it done, but I would really love to. This post is getting me back in that mode and I think that I shall ask some of the Mama's around here if they are interested. Thanks!

12.1.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Would you mind sharing what your daily schedule is? (You had mentioned that it is structured the same no matter which house.) I do a similar coop but only one day a week for 3 hours, and I think we might benefit from having a similar structure. Right now, we all do whatever we're good at :)

12.2.2010 | Unregistered CommenterStaci in VA

I made these little bonnets and hats too! Only I'm about 23 years older than sweet Bee. Oh well, it was a crowd pleaser in the 28-32 year old bracket too! Very cute photos.

12.2.2010 | Unregistered CommenterEMILY

that sounds like a great idea and a wonderful way to spend time with your children before they start school officially next fall. good thinking!

Some neighbors and I did this last year and I loved it. I would have jumped at the chance to do it again, as my son was only three last year and still had a year before starting K, but half of our class of six moved onto K this year and the other two wanted a year of "formal" preschool.

Just to comment on a previous comment/question:
All but one of us had toddlers/babies at home. Our solution was to have a helper each week for each teacher. So our schedule was teaching for one week out of every six, and helping or co-teaching the week prior to your teaching week. Does that make sense?

The week you taught, it was up to you how you wanted the helper to help. Some had them take their baby/toddler back to their own home during class. I chose to keep my helper at my house, wrangling my one-year old if needed, or just helping out with all the small things, like washing hands and prepping for the next segment of class. Sometimes my baby needed more attention and she'd end up in his room or the playroom most of the time. Other times he was content to watch and join in with the other kids, without being too much of a distraction, and my helper wasn't needed much other than company and keeping things moving smoothly.

Just as a side note, we used Teaching Your Child Values

http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Your-Children-Values-Richard/dp/0671769669/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292818210&sr=8-1

for the basis of our curriculum. We rotated through the values in the book each week. We also had a set schedule and a "preschool box" filled with supplies, our reading rug, a calendar, and other things to maintain continuity.

Anyway, I've never commented, but had such a great time with our co op last year, felt like coming out to say something tonight.

12.19.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSabra

Love, love this idea. I actually homeschool my son who is in kindergarten. It would be great to do this w/ other homeschooling parents.

12.21.2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolina Eclectic

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