Our co-op is for moms & pops who are do-it-yourself-ers. We are cooperatively creating our own "preschool" for our children. I started this group because I want my kids to be able to do some fun art, science and learning projects like you would do in preschool, but I'm not too thrilled with the preschool options out there. Wait lists are too long and prices are too high. I'm a former preschool teacher and I think we can do it ourselves with a lot more freedom and fun!
This is a preschool co-op. What does that mean?!
It's done by us, in our homes or somewhere free or affordable (like the park or community center). Most of our meetups are on the west side of Houston (near Hwy 6), in Richmond, or in Katy.
It's a preschool for children age 2 1/2 to 5 years old. If your preschooler has a younger sibling that you need to bring along, that is ok. It isn't a strict "teaching" environment. We let the kids explore and experiment freely so they will learn and have fun at their own pace. No hovering and no micro-managing!
And it's a co-op, so that means that each parent actually plans and leads an activity that our children will do. Don't be scared! You don't have to have any experience- just the interest and commitment. Activities don't have to be "pinterest-worthy"! Keep it simple and it will be successful. You have the freedom to bring your strengths and interests to the table. If you love baking, great! You can lead a simple baking project with the kids and teach them about measuring. Even just sitting down and reading to the kids would be a great contribution! At your first meetup, you are not expected to plan an activity or bring supplies if you don't feel ready. But, by your 2nd or 3rd meetup, you are expected to plan or help with an activity. After that, planning or helping with at least one activity per month is required for membership. When you rsvp to come to a preschool day, you'll see the volunteer spots on the calendar.
One parent from each family will always have to be present with their child at the meetup. It's not a drop-off daycare.
Right now we meet once/week in the morning to do a simple half-day preschool type schedule. We have 2 groups: one meets on Wednesdays, one meets on Thursdays, and we're always open to starting additional days & times. All groups do nearly the same thing. In general, we have a morning "circle time" where we read a story, sing a song, get to know each other and talk about the day's activities, then break up into stations. Usually as a minimum, we have an art station, a science or sensory station, a parent led music or dancing activity, and a free-play area (either toys indoors or play outside). We meet for 2 hours, with a snack break around 10:30am. BYO snacks.
Health Policy: Please don't come if you or your children are sick. Specifically: a fever in the past 24 hours, cough, green/yellow snot, diarrhea or vomiting in the past 24 hours, or a rash that you think a doctor should see.
Attendance Policy: Many of our preschool meetups have a limit to the number of people who can attend (usually 20 total, adults + children) because we meet inside someone's home. When you rsvp "yes" for an event that has a limit, please include your children as your guests (+1, etc.). If you cannot attend, please change your rsvp as soon as you realize you won't be able to attend. That way, someone on the waitlist can have your spot. If a meetup is full and you'd still like to attend, rsvp "yes" to put yourself on the waitlist. RSVP's change quickly, so if you're on the waitlist, remember to check the night before and morning of the event to see if you have been moved up the list. Also, when there are waitlists, please only attend one preschool day per week (choose either Wed or Thurs, but not both) so that more members can participate.
Membership: For the safety of the children and for the homes of hosts, inactive members will be asked to leave the group. If you are taken out and wish to still remain in our group please email an organizer explaining your situation. We allow members to have a free 30 day trial, after the 30 days are up, the organizer will email you and ask if you are planning on staying on and if so, it is a $5 fee annually to help out with dues. *All members are required to sign a waiver for participation. Please ask the host of the event for a waiver it it's your first time. We would also ask that when you fill out your profile information that you use a picture of yourself either with or without your kiddos so we know who we are expecting.
The future: if our scheduled preschool days are too far from where you live, or not at the right time or day, we can help you start your own group! It takes a leader with initiative and commitment to get a group going. It's also a good idea to have a few locations for the group to meet.
We also have a facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/momandpoppreschool/