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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tips to Starting a Preschool Homeschool Co-op: Planning Age Appropriate Class Topics

Tips to Starting a Preschool Homeschool Co-op: Planning Age Appropriate Class Topics

We've come to Day 4 in a five-day-long series about Starting a Preschool Homeschool Co-op.  I trust that you have prayerfully considered inviting other eager homeschool mommas to join your group and that you have secured the perfect location for your co-op meetings. (This post contains affiliate links.)

Next on your TO DO list is to tuck the kids into bed, give the Hubs a big goodbye smooch, and head to the local coffee house to meet with the other co-op hopefuls in order to brainstorm co-operative class topics.  

First on the agenda is to decide if you will be a non-formal or a formal group.  



Tips to Starting a Preschool Homeschool Co-op: Planning Age Appropriate Class Topics
Actors in the end-of-the-year play

Non-formal Classes

Non-formal groups typically focus on the social benefits of co-operative learning.  They do not necessarily provide academic classes, but instead organize activities and outings that center upon building relationships or cultivating organic learning.  Offerings might include:
  • monthly field trips
  • annual theatrical performances
  • kid's choirs
  • park play-dates


Tips to Starting a Preschool Homeschool Co-op: Planning Age Appropriate Class Topics
Jousting during a study of the Renaissance 

Formal Classes

Not to state the obvious, but when I use the term "formal", I do so quite loosely.  When attempting any sort of learning experience for preschoolers, always choose flexibility over "formal".  For the sake of this particular series, "formal" refers to organized classes with particular themes or topics of study.  

That being said, when choosing age-appropriate class topics for a preschool co-op, don't attempt to replicate the same academics you are providing at home.  In other words, a co-op is not the place to teach the ABCs and 123s.  That should be done at home.  Unless your group is meeting every day and can have accurate, thorough review, the preschoolers will not be able to retain SPECIFIC facts and skills like learning the alphabet or addition facts.  It's better to focus on a general theme for the month, semester, or year.  Use this theme to create hands-on projects, field trips, games and crafts that can be done in a large group.  Sometimes it is appropriate to stick with an over-all theme for the entire year.  But, it is often helpful to pick a new theme each month or quarter.  Here are a few class topics to consider:

Community Helpers

This topic works well in a bi-monthly co-op.  Make a list of community helpers  (policeman, doctor, mayor, librarian, etc.) that you'd like to introduce to the children over the course of the entire year or semester.  Assign each community helper to a month on the co-op calendar.  At the first meeting of each month, present a new community helper by reading living literature style books, creating crafts, and roll-playing.  Then, for the second meeting of the month, take a field trip to meet a real-life version of that community helper in action!  Inquire from the co-op moms if it would be possible to take a tour of each "daddy's" job.  Learning about the profession that provides each family's livelihood would make for a great addition to a community helper unit.  Not to mention, it would be a great way to include DAD into the co-opeartive experience.

Character Qualities/Fruits of the Spirit

Use Scripture memory to help introduce particular character qualities to the preschool group.  This would be a great time to briefly introduce historical figures or missionaries that exhibited those particular qualities.  Consider offering hands-on service project opportunities every now and again for the preschoolers to practice what they have learned.  

Five-in-a-Row Style Literature Units

Five-in-a-row is a curriculum that creates unit studies out of well-known, critically-acclaimed children's books. Before Five-in-a-Row is the preschool version of the curriculum and could easily be adapted for a co-op.  Choose a new picture book each meeting and create a preschool book-club complete with hands-on activities to reinforce the concept of the books.

Mini Units

Create a unit-study style lesson plan for each of these mini-units and schedule one each month, every other month, or each semester. 
  • My five senses
  • Ecosystems (rain forests, desert, forest, grasslands, mountains, ponds, oceans)
  • The Four Seasons
  • Transportation
  • Animals 
  • Plants

Other Resources

Be sure to check out these other great co-op topic lists.  While they are not all geared to preschool-aged groups, they all provide many great ideas/inspiration and can be adapted for any co-op.  


Please join me tomorrow for a look at determining a meeting schedule and assigning parental responsibilities.

4 comments:

  1. The preschool part of the group that I attend has been learning about the seasons over this past year. This proved flexible and worked well for this group with stories, singing, craft (from making a seed book to themed playdough), art and games.
    We also had some 5-6s for whom this type of theme worked well.

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    1. A seed book...that sounds like such a fun notebooking idea for little ones! I'll have to keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Jamie Thank you so much for this week. I'm in to my 3 year of homeschooling and love it. I have one going in to 2nd and one going prek/k. We were in a co-op our first year and stop going it was just not the right fix for us. And them we got re-station to a new base. And a friend and I are talking about starting a prek co-op!! A lot of this I was thinking about but other was not even on my mind. I can not wait to sit down and talk to her. I love reading your post and watching your youtube. You have change the way I took to planning my year!! Thank you for that to. It went a lot better this year. Got the first 2 month fully done and we are back to school 3 days a week. Thank you for all your time that you put in!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to hear that! I hope your co-op plans go well and that you and your friend can encourage each other on the journey!

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