Preschool Alternatives: Forming a Co-op

1st Day of School
1st Day of Preschool 2012

It was almost three years ago to the day that the talks about sending my first child to preschool began. He was only 15 months old at the time, and as a stay at home mom this was something that had never even crossed my mind. I soon realized there was immense pressure to send kids to “school” at a very young age. There were tours, registration fees, waiting lists, and so on….and I wasn’t ready for it.

In fact, I’d recently suffered from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and resulting miscarriage (more on this in a future post), so at the time I definitely wasn’t ready to let him go. Fast forward a year, only now with a two-year-old and a newborn, and I am positive I was not in the majority when I decided to start preschool at home with him.

Fortunately, I had a couple of friends who were also interested in this option; and one morning on the playground, the wheels were set into motion for our home preschool co-op. It seemed to be a win-win because Liam loved learning and socializing, and now we’d get to do it together.

Home Preschool Classroom
Home Preschool Classroom
Home Preschool Classroom
Teaching Resources and Manipulatives

With about seven months to plan, we added two more moms along the way for a grand total of five. Our reasons for coming together were all very diverse – one mom didn’t get into her top choice preschool and was disappointed; one had always dreamed of homeschooling her children; and yet another already had a bad experience with sending her child to a local preschool, and was willing to try anything.

I loved that we came from a variety of backgrounds: Education, Nursing, Photography, and Environmental Science; and that we each had strengths and attributes the children could benefit from. I volunteered to host school in our upstairs bonus room, and set it up much like a classroom to help facilitate learning. Each child was assigned a cubby for their belongings and a designated chair to help avoid conflict.

Children enjoy routines, so we chose specific days/times to meet each week. And so it went, for the entire school year. We experienced trials and errors, failures along with successes. However, we all LOVED it SO much, that we decided to do it again this year…adding two of the younger siblings.

Preschool Co-op
Our Home Preschool Co-op
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically…” Martin Luther King, Jr.

With one successful year under our belts, we made some minor changes and are back at it again! We started this school year with four moms, four 3-year-olds and two 2-year-olds. Honestly, having a slightly smaller number has been more manageable and less stressful for everyone.

Why Our Co-op Works:

  • We follow a schedule
  • We make lesson plans
  • We have classroom rules
  • We use hands on manipulatives
  • We assess their progress
  • We share the workload, responsibilities, and the resources
  • We are a support system for one another
  • We have FUN

1st Day of Preschool

Tips For a Successful Co-op

  • Be organized – be willing to move quickly between activities because toddlers/preschoolers have short attention spans
  • Be patient – this is a tough one sometimes, but the expectations for my 2-year-old are significantly lower than my older son
  • Be consistent – children like routines and knowing what to expect
  • Be flexible – realize it’s fine when things don’t go as planned…they rarely will
  • Be social – socialization is extremely important for kids (and moms), so if you’re homeschooling on your own be sure to join some groups

This experience has been VERY rewarding, and I’m thrilled that I am present daily to watch my children learn and grow. Some days are better than others, and no day is ever perfect; but the ability to do this is truly a blessing and a dream come true! It really can be done by anyone who desires this option, but it is not for everyone. There are resources everywhere, and it’s not “rocket science” (thank goodness!).

Have you ever considered homeschooling your child?

Nicole O
A Gulf Coast Florida native, Nicole relocated to Jacksonville to earn her Nursing Degree at the University of North Florida (UNF). It was there she met her football-loving husband, even though they didn’t date or marry until many years later. She is currently living out her dream of being a stay-at-home mom to their three beautiful, blue-eyed children (Liam, 6, Declan, 4, Leighton, 1). Their daughter made a dramatic debut in October 2014 arriving 17 weeks early following a car accident due to a placental abruption. After spending 4 months in the NICU and coming home on oxygen, they recently celebrated Leighton's first birthday. Prior to becoming a Lego enthusiast and referee, she enjoyed her role as a Clinical Specialist for St. Jude Medical. An athlete her entire life, it wasn’t until after she started having children that Nicole discovered her love of running. She's completed many 1/2 marathons, a marathon and a couple sprint triathlons, with a goal to finish a 1/2 Ironman in 2016. When she’s not snapping photos, she enjoys attempting a Pinterest project, an occasional glass of wine, or a night out with friends. This mom loves to plan and organize everything, except what’s for dinner!


    • Thanks Megan! I’m sending my 4 year old to VPK next year at a nearby church and will continue at home with my little one. I’m leaning towards doing kindergarten the following year though!

  1. Awesome! I love your room and your talents are cool! Everything fits perfectly. I know having a few numbers are much manageable but who knows you might be expanding this preschool co-op to a new level soon.

  2. Hi . Im scare, just new around here and i feel my 21/2 yeard old need to socialize more…just mommy thing isnt fun for him ….please what should i do or go?


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