What I did was organize my home along Montessori principles of order when we started regularly having school here. Some of our other moms who host organize their homes in other ways, but this is the one that worked for me and I think the kids respond well to it. I have certain toys that are kept “put away” all the time and brought out only when they are the focus- Thomas train set, the “rainy day” toys (which is anything with a battery), some of the games and some of the puzzles. I keep the same setup for all playdates, more or less. I rotate many of the toys every 4-6 weeks- I always leave the favorites like the toy farm out, but one month I might have Pooh books and Pooh character toys in a basket, and the next Dinosaurs, the next dogs, etc, and if they stop playing with something I put it away for a while and put out something else.
If they aren’t in the mood, we vary the schedule. Rainy days it’s typical for them to be in massive freakout mode and refuse to sit for circle time. So we do extra music time or have a change of clothes and do puddle stompin’ time instead. We use all the living areas of my first floor for school- we eat in the dining room, we prepare snacks and lunch in the kitchen, we have circle time in the study, and free play in the living room. My back yard is fenced and shady and we use that heavily. I also have a sun porch with a concrete floor, where we do art and have a sandbox. I have a big bulletin board I found at a thrift store where I display the kids’ artwork and “announcements.” I know it sounds like we’ve given my entire home over to preschool, but really it doesn’t feel that way. It pretty much looks like any family home. You can see pictures on my personal blog: http://semelesriches.blogspot.com/search/label/home%20organization
Do all members have to host in their homes?
Absolutely not. If you feel comfortable hosting we’re happy to come to you. Otherwise we will coordinate a schedule of locations that does not include your home.
Am I required to prepare a lesson on days when I am teaching?
If you feel comfortable doing so, you are welcome to prepare all or part of the plan for a given day. We hope to schedule some planning workshops where we’ll put our heads together on lesson plans so there is a supply of pre-made plans to draw from if you are stumped. One person will be the “lead” teacher, in charge of planning, on any given day, and it’s up to you whether you feel ready to “lead.”
What about reserving a public space at a church or library?
If none of your members have a suitable space, this might work for you, but I prefer to have the option to customize the space to suit the children. Efforts at customizing children to suit their environment are, in my opinion, doomed to fail.
Also, you will probably find that using a public space that is not dedicated to your group limits your options somewhat. Messy activities like art and cooking may not be possible because you have no way to limit the damage!
Some churches may have suitable spaces, such as the church nursery, available for use by groups during the week. Be sure to ask if their liability insurance will allow you to have a few moms in charge of all the kids- regulations differ for childcare offered for the purpose of religious instruction, and their coverage may not extend to your purposes. Library regulations do not permit operating a drop-off group in library meeting rooms in Virginia.
What about siblings? Twins?
Younger siblings who are too young to take part in class are welcome to attend with Mom when she is teaching. So far this has always worked just fine. Siblings, including twins, who are old enough to participate are welcome. Families with more than one child in class will be asked to cover a proportionate share of the schedule.
Isn’t a lesson plan too much structure for such small kids?
Nope! Our “plan” is really a bag of tricks. If it’s working we roll with it, and if it’s not, we pull out something else. If their creativity takes them in another direction, we get out of the way. Starting a lesson with a plan is like leaving the house with an umbrella when they are calling for rain. You might not need it, but then again, if you do, you’ll be awfully glad you had it along!