Cooperative preschool: have you heard of it? Would it be a good fit for you and your little one? How do you go about starting one? Let me give you a quick run down.
A co-op preschool is run by a group of parents. Each week/month a different parent will host “preschool,” allowing all parents the opportunity to teach. Parents provide educational and play-based learning opportunities. This is a great option for parents who don't want to go the traditional preschool route. It allows them to be more involved, to save money, and have their kid in a smaller bubble/pod, which is especially attractive in today's COVID era.
How To Start a Co-op Preschool
- Decide to start. Once you have decided that this would be a good fit, just dive right in!
- Determine the ages you want to include and how many kids you want to be a part of your group. A group of four to five kids is a good number to start with so things don't get too chaotic. Choose what is best for you and the other parents.
- Find people who would like to participate. This can include relatives, friends, neighbors, members of your church community, even people from local Facebook groups. Just look for like-minded parents.
- Schedule a meeting with all parents involved and figure out all the logistics. What will you teach? Will you follow a curriculum? How many days per week will kids meet, and for how many hours? Will parents rotate weekly or monthly?
- Create rules/guidelines of what is expected of parents. For example, you'll need a procedure for how to swap teaching weeks if something comes up. What will be the children's attendance policy? What happens when a kid gets sick? How will you handle bad behavior? Are screens okay to use in teaching? Be sure that all parents are on board with the rules/guidelines.
What Does a Typical Day Look Like?
The first thing to know about co-op preschool is that it doesn't have to be complicated--instead, keep things super simple. The host "teacher" usually will start out with a short story time, then it's lots of free-play and some simple educational activities. It should be fun, low-stress, and mainly child- led! Here is a rough schedule to help you plan: