Getting Started: Framework
Intrigued? While part of the fun of homemade preschool is coming up with your own schedule and format, here are some questions and answers, plus a sample schedule to get you started.
What age group will you target? Think about when preschool starts for most children—either at three or four. Those are the same age limits you could propose for your group.
How many children you would like involved? Jeff A. Johnson, who coauthored Do It Yourself Early Learning with his wife and who runs a childcare center out of his home, suggests a maximum of eight children. Many preschools and daycares aim for a 6:1 ratio. Even six children may be a bit of a stretch if you are planning on one mom to teach at each session. I've participated in groups with eight, six, and five children. My favorite group size: five. Too many and you spend more time trying to keep everyone happy rather than engaging your little learners.
What are your goals? Decide what you want your children to get out of the experience. You might be tempted to gauge your child's learning according to how many letters she can recite or how many projects he brought home to put on the fridge. Johnson reminds parents that much of what children learn in the preschool years is difficult to quantify on paper. "There's a lot of learning taking place in young children that isn't obvious," says Johnson. "When a child is sitting working with a lump of Play-Doh she's using fine motor skills, when the Play-Doh drops, she's learning cause-and-effect relationships, when someone asks to have some of the Play-Doh, she's learning socialization skills." With this in mind, keep the goals simple for all to follow—reciting the alphabet, working well with others, listening while a book is being read, and so on.