I recently wrote the post about a how to do preschool circle time when you have limited space or when your classroom needs to be mobile. In case you missed it: Circle Time for the Mobile Classroom. This is the result of a home school preschool co-op some friends and I run together. Since then, I have received several questions about how it works, so I thought a full post devoted to answering these questions would be helpful.
What is a home school preschool co-op?
A home school preschool cop-op is just what it sounds like. It is a group of parents who, for various reasons, have chosen not to put their child in a formal preschool but would like their child to participate in a similar education prior to entering kindergarten. It is run completely by the participating parents (moms) of the co-op. Each member contributes in specific and equal ways.
How does your preschool co-op work?
In my preschool co-op, we have a total of six participating moms, including myself. Three of us rotate teaching from our home for three months at a time throughout the school year. Two moms contribute by making math and reading manipulatives and games. These moms also work as aides in the “classroom,” too. The final mom has a lot on her plate, so she contributes money every month that gets put into an envelope to be used for materials and supplies needed for specific units.
How often and how long does the preschool co-op meet?
Preschool is twice a week from 9:00am to 11:30. We mainly follow the public school’s schedule, but we decide as a group when and how long to take breaks for holidays and such.
What is your daily schedule like?
A a group we agreed on setting aside a specific time everyday for formal math and reading lessons, centers, pre-writing practice and usually some science and social studies. The teaching mom writers her own daily schedule, so the time allotment spent in each subject area can be changed. Mine looks like this on most days:9-9:15–welcome and morning circle time 9:15-9:45–phonemic awareness and phonics followed by literacy centers 9:45-10–writing centers 10-10:15–snacks and recess 10:15-10:45 direct math instruction followed by math centers 10:45-11–science or social studies 11-11:30–thematic activities, arts and crafts, sensory play, or more science or social studies
Sometimes the order of instruction does not take place exactly as written above, but the time allotment stays about the same everyday no matter the order.
Do you use a specific curriculum?
Yes and no. I am in the process of writing our phonemic awareness and phonics lesson plans which I am adopting from StoryTown’s kindergarten curriculum. (I have access to this curriculum through the college where I am teaching). For math we are doing a play based curriculum. I have written a scope and sequence for the school year based on recommendations from the book Teaching Mathematics in Early Childhood. Two moms in our group are making all the games and manipulatives needed for each strand of math. Writing practice is mostly made up of centers that target fine motor skills, such as beading noodles or tracing lines. Science and socials studies applies to the monthly theme, which is chosen by the teacher. I plan to post weekly about what we have been learning.
How old should your child be to start a home school preschool?
I participated in a similar preschool co-op last year, when William had just turned two. By the end of the school year he had learned nearly all of his letter names and sounds, and learned all his shapes, colors, and could count rather well. This year, the ages range from three to four years, William still being the youngest, but the abilities vary greatly. Some of the participating children don’t know any of their letter names and sounds, while one is ready to learn how to read by blending, which is why we chose to add a phonological and phonemic awareness piece that the premade kit curriculum we bought last year did not include. See my post What is Phonological Awareness? for more information.
It is too late to start my own home school preschool co-op?
Absolutely not! Some moms start by doing a weekly academic centered play date. Two moms in my group began by simply getting together twice a week during the summer to do one alphabet and one math activity each time they met. You can begin with something basic and through planning and meetings with participants you can work your way to something bigger.
You can follow my blog via E-mail or Facebook this year to gather ideas and advice on how to put one together and begin mid year, like after Christmas break, or you can always start fresh with the new school year.
Beginning September 14, 2012 I will post about our week at the home school preschool co-op, including lesson plans and ideas. I hope you will return every Friday for more about my preschool co-op!