This is day five 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 Day 2: Setting Goals and Expectations Day 3: Selecting Learning Materials Day 4: Determining Duration and Frequency
Day 5: Assigning Roles and Responsibilities
Finally, it is time to assign roles and responsibilities for each participating mother. This post will focus on things to consider when assigning and taking on responsibilities and what they might entail.
Let’s cover the biggest first. Teaching. A preschool co-op needs mothers who are willing to teach. Part of the definition of a preschool co-op includes mothers alternating teaching responsibilities and hosting the preschool co-op in their homes. My first year doing a preschool co-op there were four teaching mothers and we rotated responsibilities and homes by the month. This has advantages and disadvantages. One benefit to rotating each month is that it is less likely for a teaching mother to become overwhelmed. It is less likely to get burnt out, too. A disadvantage is that children can be finicky about transitioning from home to home, so the more frequently preschool co-op changes homes, the more trouble some children may have in feeling safe and comfortable in a new place (even if it is their friend’s house).
This least year, my preschool co-op had three mothers who were willing to teach, so we chose to rotate homes and teaching responsibilities every three months. This was great for the first two months, but by the end of that second month we were all starting to feel really burnt out and spent the third month counting down days, instead of anticipating them. Three months at once was very difficult. I’m not sure that we would choose to do that again. It did however, work out well for our more sensitive kiddies when considering transitioning from home to home.
Roles of Mothers Who Choose Not to Teach
You may find that while your preschool co-op has a fine group of mothers willing to participate that not all mothers feel comfortable or capable of actually teaching. This is ok. There are several ways in which those mothers can still contribute to the group.
- Compensation via material goods
- Aiding in teaching
- Curriculum writing
The most obvious way a mother can contribute without teaching is with money or goods. Snacks needs to be paid for, and depending on the kind of preschool learning materials your group has decided on, most teaching mothers will find themselves paying for extra theme based learning materials out of pocket. Not to mention the time and energy put forth by the teaching mothers. So, a little compensation is always helpful.
Compensating mothers can also contribute by making games or manipulative needed for learning materials. One mother in my group last year basically made about fifteen math games from her own materials. That was how she was best able to contribute, in addition to the following.
The third way a non teaching mother can help out is to aid in teaching. This means that she will serve as a teaching helper. The teaching mother still does all the lesson planning, but the aiding mother helps rally the kiddos in educational activities. If you have a larger group of participating children (six or more), having a aid is helpful in containing the chaos that comes with having a bunch of toddlers or preschoolers in your home. The aiding mother can take half the children and play an educational game while the teaching mother is teaching math or phonics, and then the group switch. The aiding mother can help prepare snacks, or monitor playtime or recess while the teaching mother sets up for the next set of activities. The aiding mother can help wash hands after finger painting. There is a surprising amount of work an aiding mother can contribute.
Another way a non teaching mother can contribute to preschool co-op is by babysitting. Teaching mothers with younger children may want to teach without the interruptions a young toddler or baby may cause, as was the case for two of our mothers last year. Corinne was only a year old, so another mother took Corinne outside to play for the first hour or so of preschool co-op, then brought her back to participate in sensory and theme based activities. Or, the non teaching mother could babysit the entire duration of preschool.
The final way a mother can contribute is by writing the curriculum ff your group has chosen not to buy one. Someone has to do the hard and dirty work and get writing. It is difficult to write a reading or math curriculum as a large group, so selecting one or two mothers who either have experience or at least feel they are competent enough to do so will be best. As a group you have already decided on the goals and expectations of preschool co-op, your vision as well as what learning materials you feel are appropriate. The writing mother(s) will use that information to develop a guide. Depending on the quality and length of the said curriculum, your group may find that simply writing it is enough contribution, or you may find that that mother may be needed elsewhere as well.
What To Do Now
Consider what roles and responsibilities you feel most comfortable fulfilling. Be careful not to volunteer yourself for too much, unless there is an obvious need. The established roles and responsibilities of each participating mother should feel equal in time and fair otherwise. Once you have decided what responsibilities you are most comfortable executing, consider the skills of the other participating mothers and pencil in who you think would be the best at what job. This will help save time if a mother comes to a planning meeting and says something like, “I don’t know. I can do whatever,” at which point you will already have an idea of how that mother may best be able to contribute.
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.