This is day one of a five post series about how to organize and run a preschool co-op. This five post series began on June 17, 2013 and will run through June 21, 2013. Please join in by subscribing to receive posts via E-mail, RSS, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.
If you missed a post, you can find it below.How to Organize a Preschool Co-op: Overview
Day 1: Finding and Selecting Participants
This post will focus on how to find other moms willing to participate in a preschool co-op and some things to consider when inviting others to join.
How to Find Participants
Ask! Ask your friends with children of a similar age if they would be interested. Ask the friends of your trusted friends. Ask mothers at church with young children. Join a local moms and kids group and ask new friends to join. The last two years the participating mothers in my preschool co-op are friends I’ve met through our local chapter of International MOMS Club. This fall, one mother will be from church. Ask the mothers you recognize from community events, like weekly story time at the library or weekly open play at an indoor playground. Depending on your vision, you can also create a group through sites like Meetup.com and Craigslist.com.
How to Select Participants
Now that you have an idea of where to find other moms who may be willing to participate, it is important to consider who to select. Sorry, but not just any mother and child will do. Some things I consider are what I already know about the mom. I question what and how she might be able to contribute. I need to know from the very beginning what each mother intends to offer to preschool co-op, as it will have a direct impact on how successful the school year is.
I think about her educational background and how she parents and disciplines her child. If she has absolutely no knowledge of learning pedagogy, then I know that she will need guidance in her instruction, or will have to play another role than teaching. If I don’t appreciate a mother’s disciplining, then I’m not going to be comfortable allowing her to manage my child.
I consider what the mother’s other commitments are that may impact the level of commitment she can give to our preschool co-op. Does she work? Does she travel a lot? Does she volunteer in other organizations? Does she keep odd hours (like not waking until 11am)? These things will impact how much time she can put into preschool co-op. I’ll be honest, participating in a preschool co-op requires a lot of time and energy. It would be disappointing, and a little discouraging, to find out midyear that a mother can no longer fulfill her commitments to preschool co-op. Most importantly, is everyone’s level of commitment at the same level as yours? Trust me, it is no fun doing the brunt of the work, so it is vital to be sure that every participating mother is equally committed.
I also consider the home of each mother before inviting her to join. Is there room for a “learning space” for preschool co-op, even if it has to be tucked away during non-school hours? Is the home clean? What about pets? These are important things to think about. If the home is cluttered with stuffy air and dried cereal on the floor, I’d hesitate to have my child learn there. If a mother has a disagreeable pet, then she needs to agree that the pet will be placed in the garage or in a bedroom during preschool hours.
Finally, I question if all dads on board, too. This is surprisingly important. While the participating mother may be doing all the work, it is the entire family that must make the commitment. Participating in a preschool co-op can cost a little bit of money, not to mention time and energy. Every mother needs a husband that is equally understanding and supportive of her role and responsibilities within the preschool co-op. It simply does not work to have a mother fully committed in theory because her husband does not appreciate the goals of preschool co-op and the work that goes into maintaining one.
What To Do Now
If you think you’re interested in organizing a preschool co-op among some local mothers, start by making a list of women you know who might be willing to participate. Choose one or two mothers from that list who you think will readily join forces with an equal amount of energy and enthusiasm as you. Then, together work on finding more mothers to participate using the suggestions and considerations above.
Or, start small. A preschool co-op can exist with only two mothers and their children. Or, you have have six to eight participants. The number will depend on what your goals are and what kind of preschool co-op you envision. (Be sure to tune in to the remainder of this series for more information). If you’re nervous about jumping in, then start small, with only one or two other moms. If you’re ready to jump into the deep end, then start by thinking big. You will soon find what is best for you and your family.
Sneak Peek: Day 2: Setting Goals and Expectations
Now that you have others who will join in the work and fun, this post will focus on how to set goals and expectations for the group. For example: What kind of atmosphere do you want preschool co-op to have? What about disciplining students? Are your goals academic focused or social focused? Play based or skills based learning? Etcetera.
For other posts in this seriesHow To Organize a Preschool Co-op: Overview Day 1: Finding and Selecting Participants Day 2: Setting Goals and Expectations Day 3: Selecting Learning Materials Day 4: Determining Duration and Frequency Day 5: Assigning Roles and Responsibilities
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.