It was almost three years ago to the day that the talks about sending my first child to preschool began. He was only 15 months old at the time, and as a stay at home mom this was something that had never even crossed my mind. I soon realized there was immense pressure to send kids to “school” at a very young age. There were tours, registration fees, waiting lists, and so on….and I wasn’t ready for it.
In fact, I’d recently suffered from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and resulting miscarriage (more on this in a future post), so at the time I definitely wasn’t ready to let him go. Fast forward a year, only now with a two-year-old and a newborn, and I am positive I was not in the majority when I decided to start preschool at home with him.
Fortunately, I had a couple of friends who were also interested in this option; and one morning on the playground, the wheels were set into motion for our home preschool co-op. It seemed to be a win-win because Liam loved learning and socializing, and now we’d get to do it together.
With about seven months to plan, we added two more moms along the way for a grand total of five. Our reasons for coming together were all very diverse – one mom didn’t get into her top choice preschool and was disappointed; one had always dreamed of homeschooling her children; and yet another already had a bad experience with sending her child to a local preschool, and was willing to try anything.
I loved that we came from a variety of backgrounds: Education, Nursing, Photography, and Environmental Science; and that we each had strengths and attributes the children could benefit from. I volunteered to host school in our upstairs bonus room, and set it up much like a classroom to help facilitate learning. Each child was assigned a cubby for their belongings and a designated chair to help avoid conflict.
Children enjoy routines, so we chose specific days/times to meet each week. And so it went, for the entire school year. We experienced trials and errors, failures along with successes. However, we all LOVED it SO much, that we decided to do it again this year…adding two of the younger siblings.
With one successful year under our belts, we made some minor changes and are back at it again! We started this school year with four moms, four 3-year-olds and two 2-year-olds. Honestly, having a slightly smaller number has been more manageable and less stressful for everyone.
Why Our Co-op Works:
- We follow a schedule
- We make lesson plans
- We have classroom rules
- We use hands on manipulatives
- We assess their progress
- We share the workload, responsibilities, and the resources
- We are a support system for one another
- We have FUN
Tips For a Successful Co-op
- Be organized – be willing to move quickly between activities because toddlers/preschoolers have short attention spans
- Be patient – this is a tough one sometimes, but the expectations for my 2-year-old are significantly lower than my older son
- Be consistent – children like routines and knowing what to expect
- Be flexible – realize it’s fine when things don’t go as planned…they rarely will
- Be social – socialization is extremely important for kids (and moms), so if you’re homeschooling on your own be sure to join some groups
This experience has been VERY rewarding, and I’m thrilled that I am present daily to watch my children learn and grow. Some days are better than others, and no day is ever perfect; but the ability to do this is truly a blessing and a dream come true! It really can be done by anyone who desires this option, but it is not for everyone. There are resources everywhere, and it’s not “rocket science” (thank goodness!).