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September 11, 2013

A Montessori Tot School Co-Op

I have been hinting on social media for the last couple weeks that I'm starting a Montessori inspired tot school co-op with a few people in my area.

Well, the co-op starts Friday! And, I couldn't be more excited. Many of you may be asking: What exactly is a tot school co-op? For me, it means having the same group of children do tot school activities together regularly. It also means getting some help preparing activities that I don't do as frequently on my own. 

I got this idea awhile ago, but I wasn't sure that anyone would be interested  in joining me so I've sort of just been sitting on it. See, every time we have people over Henry asks if we can play at tot school. He loves learning with other kids. And, if there aren't kids around, Henry will still find someone to join him at tot school -- he is frequently joined by a baby doll, stuffed animals or his blankey. 

I think it makes sense for kids to want this. Montessori stresses mixed age classrooms where children can teach younger kids and learn from older kids. I think learning with others seems to just come naturally to young children. Thankfully, a few of my close mom friends were really interested! Bonus, all the kids already are friends, so we don't have to worry about how they will work together. 

We have decided to use my classroom for the classes, since I already prepare tot school materials regularly and have a prepared environment. We will mainly stay in my classroom because I figured  if we stayed in a similar location every week the kids may have an easier  time getting into the work. 

We will meet every Friday for an hour and a half. There will be five children between the ages of two and three plus Henry. There will also be two babies under a year old. So, its going to be a full house. Their parents will stay the entire  to time to help keep the peace and help their children work. Each week, different families will rotate bringing a snack for the group and a craft for the kids. We will also rotate to others houses for special themes that each family wants to host. 

Each week, I will prepare tot school as I have since Henry was 12 months old. We will have special themes -- like our theme this week  is Back to School -- for holidays and special occasions, but otherwise we will continue to work through the alphabet. We are going to start at letter R, since that's where I am with Henry, but then cycle through them all again once we reach letter Z. 

My new classroom also has space for more traditional Montessori works {including the pink tower, practical life trays, etc} that I've either purchased or made. These will stay out for longer periods of time and be available during the co-op time for the kids to work with. 

I'm so excited to see how it works! 

Does anyone else run a Montessori, tot school, or preschool co-op?  Anything I should anticipate? Any tips? 


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The Pajama Mama
The Pajama Mama said…
This is awesome! I so wish I lived near you!
Heather said…
This is so awesome! I can't wait to hear all about it.
Kaysha said…
What a great idea! I wish we lived close enough to participate! Most parents think I'm nuts for doing what I do!
melissa said…
This sounds so wonderful! We started a co-op last year, and it has been wonderful. It really is great to see my kids connecting with the same children ... and for me to have a chance to connect with their parents, too. Can't wait to hear how it goes!
Lindsay said…
My mom started a co-op when I was two. It grew from five similarly aged kids to an entire co-op school "alternative" up to the 3rd grade. (Well, there was one third grader.) It was a lot of work but the parents ran everything, hired teachers and rented space in an old church. It wasn't Montessori, but it was a very "hippie" and art and play based learning co-op. The friends I made there at age three are still my best friends, were in my wedding party, there when Ethan was born, etc. It was always in the back of my head and I always wanted that for Ethan, too!

So far, I've only found one person who doesn't think I'm nuts for doing what I do with Ethan. It seems no one really "gets" it. I would LOVE to do something like this! Until then, I'm living vicariously through you and Henry!!!!
Amy @ No Greater Honors
Wow! Sounds like a great deal of planning that will be extremely well worth the time put in to it! :) I can't wait to hear how things go once you get started - wishing you the best!!! :)
Anonymous said…
I love this idea and it's something I would LOVE to do with my circle of friends, however I'm not sure who would go for it either. What a fantastic thing to set up!
Bliss said…
This is wonderful and exactly what's been on my heart for about three months now. I wanted to wait until the girls hit 18 months. How did you find parents to participate? I put a feeler out to my local homeschool group on Facebook, but they all but crucified me for wanting to do anything with the name school in it for 18 month olds. I can't wait to read this whole blog to find resources and ideas. Thank you so much for this!!!