How to Start a Co-op Preschool
It’s Katie! Ever thought about starting a co-op preschool with some friends? It’s a great way to save on preschool costs but still have socialization opportunities for your child. My son was already enrolled in a preschool this past school year but we started a co-op preschool to give extra time to learn and get ready for kindergarten next year.
So step 1, find people who have kids the same age that you trust. This happened through my friends and some people I attend church with. The mom who had the original idea wanted to make sure all of the kids were about the same age. All of them are 4 -5 and will attend kindergarten this coming fall. She also wanted to have a few boys and a few girls. You also need to consider the parents. You want people who are reliable and committed. Also we started with 5 kids but added one more after a month or so. I think 6 is a great number.
Step 2. Have a parent planning meeting. This is what helped me decide if I wanted to join. I met the other parents (most I already knew). I didn’t feel comfortable sending my kid to just anyone’s house.
At this parent meeting we discussed a lot. We talked about the goals we wanted and what we wanted to kids to learn and gain by having this co-op. Some parents decided to not join. And this was the perfect time to decide that. At this planning meeting we agreed on times and days. Since most of the kids were already attending a preschool we decided to do just Friday mornings. But if you have kids who aren’t in preschool you might want to do 2 days a week and rotate by the week.
We also discussed a schedule. We decided to include the weather, the calendar, the alphabet song, have a craft, play time, practice writing, snack. This was the basic. My friend in charge had a detailed schedule of what time each thing could happen. We’ve all stuck to accomplishing the basics but we each do it our own way. The kids still expect the consistency of the basics. We also decided that our kids knew their colors and shapes so that wasn’t a focus. But we did assign a letter and number to each day for them to focus on. We didn’t hold preschools on days our older kids didn’t have school.
We started on paper but it all went on a google calendar. This was super helpful so if there were changes (we added a mom part way through the year and another just had a baby so she taught right before she was due) we could easily shift things around. And because it’s a google doc it’s easily accessible on my phone.
You also need to consider supplies. If you want everyone can pitch in a few dollars and you can make a preschool tote. The Dollar Store is a great place to look before the next school year starts for supplies like calendars and other teaching supplies. And of course there’s all the back to school sales in August which is a great time to pick up crayons, markers, scissors, etc.
Consider allergies. Since we included snack time it’s important to ask about any allergies that the kids might have. Who ever taught provided the snack. The last time I taught I made them quesadillas (we were doing letter “Q”) and they loved it!
Step 3, have fun! My son loves his co-op preschool and they’ve all become pretty good friends. We have a good time learning together and it’s been a lot of fun watching the kids grow over the last year.
To be honest I was nervous about joining a co-op. We already had preschool twice a week and I always hesitate committing more of my time. But since there ended up being 6 moms we didn’t do it on Fridays my older kids were out of school I only had to teach 3 or 4 times. It turned out to be fine. My kid loves it. I never had to worry about ideas thanks to the internet and pinterest! So many craft ideas and printable handwriting worksheets are available for free.
If you’ve been a part of a co-op preschool what advice do you have?