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Pre-school alternatives

Next year my first son will be four and ready for some sort of pre-school. The word on the playground is that preschools are a hot topic. I live in Southern Maryland and don't know if it is like this everywhere but here are the options where I live:

Public pre-school: difficult to get into if your child isn't behind in any sort of way with a relatively stable home and family life.

Private pre-school (what most kids here do): there are lots of church pre-schools here, mostly Christian-based. They are very expensive (I don't have a number to give you but it seems way too expensive to be paying monthly) and the good ones have a 2-3 year waiting list. Basically, the second you know you are pregnant is the time to get your name on the list.

I've looked into Joy School because I remember my mom doing it with me and my brothers when I was young. It costs a little bit up front but overall the cost is much cheaper. It is closer to home where I can control it more, they still get the benefits of being taught by someone other than me, and they can still benefit from peer interaction.

I was wondering if anyone has successfully run a pre-school from their home or as a coop with other moms, like Joy School or a FREE one. We are all smart moms who are creative and capable. I was just hoping someone could give me some experienced advice.


Bridget said...

Wow - it sounds like you have a ton of options! When our oldest was 4 we were lucky enough to move where some moms were already setting up a fun little preschool and it was a really good experience. We just did it once a week for the lesson and would shoot for a "field trip" a week (we went to museums, police station, a high school to listen to the orchestra, etc.). It was perfect for us because it was free and it was good practice at listening to other adults. We have three-four other families that we worked with and would picked topics at the beginning of the semester so that we weren't duplicating. It was really fun and I hope when our next child is that age we'll live in a place where something like this will work again!

The Mortensens said...


I just did a co-op with moms in our ward this past year. Next week is our last week. It was GREAT. E-mail me and I can send you some more info! We rotated teaching, there were six of us, so I taught every six weeks, and only 4-5 times the whole year, I think. We did twice a week for 2 hours. At the beginning of the year, we met and discussed our lesson outline and picked topics. We really enjoyed it and it was simple and a great way to begin preschool!

Let me know if you want more info!

Ella's Bow'tique said...

I would be interested in that info as well!


Jacki said...

Hi- I'm a random person who saw a link to your post on And I'm from maryland originally! Here's my two cents on the topic:

I've done both Joy school and coop preschool in the last two years with my kids. Joy School was great to teach the kids social skills and lots of gospel values- responsibility, identity, service, etc. But I didn't like having to print all my lessons off the computer, and having so many lessons depend on the other teacher's diligence or sucess (some units activities build on the weeks previous). Also, the lesson's order of activities and timeline vary alot from lesson to lesson, which made it confusing and harder for the kids, in my opinion. But Joy School is full of great ideas, and I use the lessons now for FHE activities. It was great as a beginner's course for me to learn how to teach 4 and 5 year olds. And it comes with all kinds of original music, but that part was kind of lame in my opinion.

This year we did a co-op preschool, that focused more on academics. One letter and number a week, with the other day focusing on a general topic- the solar system, butterflies, money, etc. We had a rough outline of each day- 20 mins for worksheets, circle time with calendar and pledge, a craft or experiment, free play, large movement play, snack, books, music time, value lesson. Then lunch at the end. We made a schedule at the beginning of the year, planned out field trips about every 4 weeks. I felt like once I got the hang of teaching, it was incredibly easy to find ideas for lessons- thank goodness for blogs and worksheet websites! There is no shortage of preschool ideas, songs, and curriculum out there on the internet. Good luck! Ask around in your ward, chances are there's others who would like a similar scenario.
-jacki daley

The Paynes said...

We did a similar thing. Age 3 was a loose-academic based 2 hour, once a week coop. Age 4 we did a pre K and now most of our kids(there were 9 total) are reading a little before Kindergarten starts. We met a few times before school started and made an outline of what we wanted to teach, which weeks we were responsible for and the topics we wanted to cover. We had a math book for everyone, did science, art, storytime, writing names, phonics(Zoophonics), and music and PE. It was hard work on our days to teach, but the kids really got a lot in those lessons. It was more structured like Kindergarten will be. I am glad we did it!