Skip to main content

Tot School Co-Op -- First Class

As I mentioned last week, I'm starting a tot school co-op with some friends. We had our first class last Friday and it was a huge success. There was no chaos and I was so impressed with each of the kids.

I ended up setting up three areas in the house to use for the couple hour class. First, when you first walked in, I gated off the kitchen and moved Henry's small table into the entry way. On the table I put some wooden cutting food for the kids to play with on the table. This way the kids could play while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. 

I think its important that we all go up to the classroom together. This actually worked really well, and was a great way to keep busy toddlers distracted as we all arrived and got settled. 

Second, there was the classroom. Once everyone arrived, we went up and let the toddlers loose. The parents each stayed with their child and helped them work through trays. Henry was in fine form and refused to do any work. Instead, he just wanted to play with a baby and her treasure basket. I tried to bounce from child to child to help them with their work. We worked up there for about 45 minutes. 

I think I made a mistake by not doing a little circle time where I introduced the work for the week. Henry just sort of dives in to the trays so I only introduce things after he shows interest. But for a group of kids that aren't as familiar with the Montessori method, I think an introduction might be necessary for awhile. So, I will make sure to do that next time. 

Finally, we moved down to the dinning room. For snack, each child poured their own glass of water using a real glass and real pitcher. Some had help, some did a great job on their own. They also scooped their own snack. Once snack was over, we stayed in the dinning room to make a craft. 

Each week one of the families will bring snack and a craft for the group. This week's craft was to make a super cute lion mask! The mom this week had prepped all the pieces which made for an great toddler craft. I loved watching the other kids create, Henry never gets into crafts so it was really cute watching kids that did.

As the kids finished their lions, I sent them into my sunroom for free play. The moms used this time to eat our own snack and chat -- which was really nice. I think we have decided, though, that next week we will see how it goes to send the kids back to the classroom to work more independently. This is a work in progress, so if this works, great, if not we can go back to free play.  

So, that's our routine. I'm very willing to make adjustments as the group evolves. One change I will be making is when I personally set up tot school. Usually I work on a Sunday to Sunday schedule, but this means that Henry has seen the tot school co-op materials for 4 days. I think that contributed to his lack of focus while friends were here. So I'm switching to a Friday to Friday schedule, so that the first time Henry sees the work is at co-op. This won't mean any changes for the blog, or really for me, its just a slight shift. 

Anyone have tips for me? I have zero teaching background, so any help is appreciated. 



I think it looks and sounds great! :)
Sounds great, especially for your first week to have gone so smoothly! In Henry's Montessori class I know his teacher has a bell that is rung to signal the start of morning circle as well as circle time at the end of the day. It is crazy to see how they stop dead in their tracks when the bell rings and they run over to circle! That might be a nice way to get them to organize/get the routine down in the begininng, but honestly it sounds like you are doing great as it is!
I think it's a great idea to have a little circle time to introduce all of the trays. I am really excited to see how your co-op goes because I might be starting one myself in a few months. :)

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2019

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2019 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 

So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 

First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Working from Home with Kids - A Montessori Schedule

One part of my life that I haven't talked a ton about here on The Kavanaugh Report is how I'm a work-from-home parent. Eight years ago I started to work at home while parenting full time. For the first several years, I worked as a legal writer while maintaining this space on the side. When Gus was born, I moved into working on sharing our Montessori life full time. It has blossomed into a full time career sharing content here, teaching courses, and now the podcast! Through it all, my kids have been home with me. 
This all seems more relevant to so many of us now that Covid-19 has closed schools and forced parents to stay at home and work while caring for children. I'm not going to lie - it's tough. It's hard to balance work and kids, especially when children are used to a completely different routine. But, it's not impossible! And, it can even be enjoyable. 

As I talk about in my podcast Shelf Help, we block our days into 3 hours groups. It helps me remain fle…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…