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Preschool

Four Seasons Activities for PreK and Kindergarten

It’s back to school time!! Although I can hardly believe that summer has come to a close, I always get excited for a new school year.

The first few days (and even weeks) are often spent establishing and explaining rules and routines. And while sometimes I’m super eager to get to the curriculum, I know just how valuable taking the time to train the kids is! You can read more about it HERE.

Our Morning Calendar Routine is definitely one of the areas I spend plenty of time establishing expectations and routines. Part of the calendar routine involves taking a weather observation for the day. We just use this simple weather chart. Some years I have used it with the rotating cover and brad. Other years I have just laminated it, glued a magnet on the back (for the magnetic whiteboard), and clipped on a clothespin (with a magnet too). Grab it for FREE at the bottom of this post.

FREE weather and seasons chart to use in classrooms

 

And since we’re talking about weather, I introduce the seasons toward the beginning of the year as well. I’m going to be sharing some of the activities from my Four Seasons Activity Pack below.

One of my favorite way to introduce the seasons is using the book Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. Although it doesn’t explicitly name the different seasons, it illustrates the cyclical nature of the seasons through the changes we see in a tree. It’s super interactive and great for prek and kindergarten students. They just love following the various “commands” to make the tree change. Click on the image below to grab it (This is an affiliate link – which means you’re not charged anything extra, but Amazon gives me a commission for directing you there. You can read my full disclosure policy here).

After spending some time interacting with this book, we name the seasons, and then identify which pictures relate to the different seasons. After an introduction to the seasons, we do a class picture sort. Students have an individual sort as well.

The kids also love building their Four Seasons wheel to color and take home.

 

One of the centers the students love is the four seasons puzzles. There is a puzzle for each season (I usually have 2 copies of each season at the center). Students find the four puzzle pieces that match the season to complete the puzzle. Then, since the pieces are laminated, students trace the name of the season words using a dry erase marker.

 

 

Since it’s the beginning of the year, we also spend time creating a class birthday chart. This pairs perfectly with the I Love my _____ Birthday page, where students write a little about what they like about the season in which their birthday falls. We’ve haven’t done a lot of writing at this point in the year, so sometimes I just record what the student shares with me. It’s a great way to get students thinking about the seasons – since they usually can recall events surrounding their birthday!

 

 

And speaking of writing, one of the things I love most about this Seasons Activity Pack is the Seasons Word Lists. Although I encourage students to use phonetic spelling as much as possible at this point, there are definitely students who want to know how to spell every word correctly. Providing them with these Seasonal Word Lists, not only gives them a little inspiration for their writing, but each list has 20 commonly used words associated with that season – with picture clues!! It’s been a wonderful resource that we use all year!

 

While we spend time at the beginning of the year introducing and discussing the seasons, we revisit the seasons throughout the year as they change. The Seasons Through my 5 Senses, Color by Code Activities, and Emergent Readers are perfect activities to use throughout the year.

 

And since my students tend to know more about technology every year, they absolutely jump at the opportunity to use it when we’re learning about the seasons. The Dress for the Weather digital cards, as well as the Which One Doesn’t Belong digital cards are always a big hit!


If you’re interested in grabbing these activities for your class, you can find the Activity Pack by clicking on any of the images above or RIGHT HERE.

However, for a VERY LIMITED TIME, you can also get it as part of the Back to School STEAM Bundle. This incredible bundle is valued at more than $260, but it is being offered at this special price of just $19.99 – yes, that’s 92% off! But this deal only last 6 days (Wednesday, August 15 – Monday, August 20th). So, grab it while you can. Click on the image below to find out more info and to get yours today! As I am a contributor to the bundle, this is my affiliate link – just wanted to let you know 🙂

Back to School STEAM Bundle. Save 92% with this incredible STEM resource!

Hope you have the opportunity to check it out! And if you use any of these materials in your class – I’d love to see them in action!!

Grab your FREE Weather and Season Chart Download HERE.

 

If you’re interested in more activities about weather, be sure to check out Malia’s Weather Activities in the Playdough to Plato shop by clicking on the image below. *This is an affiliate link, which means that while it won’t cost you anything extra, I will get a commission for pointing you there. However, I use and love her products, and would only recommend them if I believed in them!

Back to School, Homeschool, Preschool, Science, STEM, Teaching

STEM Activities

What is STEM/STEAM? Why is it important? Learn exactly what STEAM is and why it's important for us to incorporate it into our students's education.

When I was growing up, we never spent time in the classroom working on a STEM project. In fact, really the only time we referred to “stem” in school was in regard to our study of plants.

However, as I got closer to earning my degree and credential, the term STEM was beginning to become a hot topic.

And now, the term STEM –  and most recently the term STEAM – are becoming increasing popular AND powerful in classrooms across the country.

So, what exactly is it?

STEM (which we started seeing in the early 2000s), stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. And in recent years, there has been a big push to include an A in this acronym – intended to incorporate art and design  – creating what educators refer to as STEAM.

You may ask, “If teachers are already teaching science, math, technology, etc as subjects in the classroom, why is there such a push for STEM/STEAM?”

The goal of  a STEAM approach is to create a learning environment where students integrate science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics to solve real problems. STEM/STEAM challenges often ask students to work together to ask relevant questions, brainstorm solutions, communicate about potential problems, seek out information, and apply this information to create a solution.

Does it need to incorporate all of the listed disciples to be a STEM activity? No! Remember, the goal of STEM/STEAM is to encourage students to be innovative problem solvers through a variety of opportunities.

 

Who would benefit from STEM/STEAM activities?

In a word, EVERYONE!

Whether you’re teaching in a traditional classroom, homeschooling kids at home, or working with kids through tutoring, camps, or other programs, every child can benefit from STEM.

And one of the things that I absolutely love about STEM/STEAM is that it appeals to different learning styles and natural abilities. A student that might struggle in reading, may be the one who is able to come up with 3 different solutions for a STEM challenge.

Obviously, what I would present to a kindergartner would be much different than what I would present to a 5th grader, but the sooner we can teach kids to think creatively, the better!

The bottom line is, STEM and STEAM activities encourage students to be creative problem solvers – and why wouldn’t we want to develop this in our kids?

What is STEM/STEAM? Why is it important? Learn exactly what STEAM is and why it's important for us to incorporate it into our students's education.

Why is STEM/STEAM important?

25 years ago, the thought of people literally being able to carry a computer around in their pocket and be able to connect with other around the world seemed unfathomable. Even when I was in high school and technology was starting to change rapidly, I had no idea just how quickly the advancements would come!

Suffice it to say, our modern world is highly driven by the components of STEAM, and we need to develop learners that keep asking hard questions, developing creative solutions, formulating plans, doing research, and applying it to real world problems. STEAM not only exposes children to these learning experiences, but it helps them to develop an innovative mindset that we hope they will carry with them into adulthood.

Since we’re working with acronyms, I’m going to use that sane acronym to give you my top 5 reasons for including STEM/STEAM learning opportunities in your classroom.

S

Students Love It!

STEM/STEAM is FUN! Kids are naturally curious, and STEM activities are definitely driven by that! It encourages students to question, explore, and wonder about the world around them – and it’s hands-on! As a teacher and a mom, I have seen my kids fall in love with STEAM activities!

T

Teaches Cooperative Learning

The majority of STEM/STEAM projects involve students working together in pairs or teams to come up with a solution to a problem. Not only does this foster an environment where kids learn to work together, it also teaches them the value of listening to and learning from the ideas of others. Watching students work together (and celebrate together) is such a delight.

E

Encourages innovative problem solving

One of the most valuable components of a STEAM challenge (in my opinion) is that it encourages students to come up with creative solutions for problems. Furthermore, there’s not just one way to solve the problem. Different solutions can be suggested, developed, and tested. Students may come up with multiple viable solutions. All the while they are engaged in the learning process and learning from each other.

A

Allows Us to Focus on the Learning Process

I’m definitely a “recovering-perfectionist.” And looking back, I think that during my school aged years, I definitely placed way too much focus on the outcome (the test score, the grade, the award), rather than the learning process. How I wish I would have understood how much more valuable that process is! I love that STEM is all about the learning process. Yes, the hope is to be able to create a solution to a problem, but the end goal is not what it’s all about! We’re much more concerned with the questioning, innovation, and critical thinking that’s involved in the learning process!

M

Multiple Learning Styles and Abilities are Celebrated

As I alluded to above, STEM/STEAM activities focus on an integrated approach to learning, and often tap into students’ strengths, experiences, and even learning styles that may not otherwise be shared. I have seen students that tend to be reserved or hesitant in other subject areas absolutely “shine” during STEAM time.

 

Let’s Dive In!

Are you ready to give STEM/STEAM with your kids (or are you just looking for more great STEAM resources)?

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Be sure to check out these incredible STEAM Resources!

**Note: These are affiliate links, so while it doesn’t cost you anything, I will receive a commission for pointing you there. Just wanted to let you know!

 

 

Looking for some FREE STEM Activities for your little learners who are obsessed with dinosaurs? Be sure to grab these FREE Dinosaur pattern block templates and STEM Challenge Cards below!

Dinosaur STEM activities, Dinosaur STEAM activities, perfect for preschool or kindergarten

Back to School, Homeschool, Parenting, Preschool, STEM, Teaching

Teach Reading with Confidence

 

It is hard to believe another school year has come and gone!

 

If you’re in the states, like me, summer is a time to relax, recharge, and…..start preparing for the next school year! Yes, it seems like the school year hasn’t even finished and I already have ideas for things I want to revise or implement for the coming year.

And if you’re a first year teacher (or moving to a new grade level) the stress of preparing for a new school year can almost feel overwhelming. I know that before I started my first year of teaching (and every time I changed grade levels) I found myself wondering

 

Can I really teach these skills well?

Will I be able to lay a foundation that they’ll be able to build upon in the coming years?

Will I teach enough?

Do I even know how to teach this well?

How do I even begin?

 

And when it comes to teaching reading, these thoughts especially loom in my mind. Not only do I want my kiddos to have the skills to be able to read well, but I also want them to LOVE reading. I want them to fall in love with books and not constantly feel frustrated because it’s not clicking.

 

Have you been there?

 

If you are a preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade teacher, or a homeschool momma, you know that you have the incredible privilege and responsibility of building your students’ reading foundation. Maybe you’ve felt the pressure that I have. And if you’re in the classroom, you have the added pressure of trying to meet the needs of all your students – even when they can be at such diverse reading levels! And it can be overwhelming to say the least!

 

And perhaps you’d really just love to have someone in your court, assuring you that you’re on the right track and helping you with the necessary tools to do this incredibly important job well!

 

Can I tell you a secret?

 

I’ve got the perfect person (and team) for you! I’ve joined the Reading Roadmap Team with Malia, from Playdough to Plato, and am super excited to share with you this FREE webinar training to help you teach your children to read with confidence!

 

Yes, you heard that correctly! It’s totally FREE!!

In this free training you’ll learn:

  • 4 signs kids are ready to read
  • 5 step plan for meeting EVERY students’ needs
  • 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them.
  • The step-by-step for setting up power house literacy centers
  • and much more!

 

But you have to reserve your spot today!! Just click on the box below to sign up for my affiliate webinar link!

 

 

There will be two live webinars:

Tuesday, June 19th and

Wednesday, June 20th

But you have to sign up now to get access to this amazing training!

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And let me just tell you, this course is AMAZING! I have used so many of the ideas that she shares and it has revolutionized my reading instruction! Be sure to check it out!!

 

Make sure you sign up today! Can’t wait to see you there!

 

As a part of the Reading Roadmap Team, this post contains my affiliate links to the webinar. I’m totally in love with the course, but wanted to let you know 🙂

Back to School, Homeschool, Literacy, Preschool, Teaching

A Meaningful Easter Snack

 

My boys absolutely love Easter. And of course, one of the things that they look forward to each year is the infamous Easter Egg Hunt!

In the weeks leading up to Easter, we probably have at least 50 Easter egg hunts in various forms, just because my boys are completely captivated by “the hunt.” They ask Mommy and Daddy to hide eggs whenever they have a chance. They hide eggs for each other. And as the actual holiday approaches, we get to go to a few organized events (either with our co-op, church, or other family members) where the Easter Egg hunt is in full swing!

As much as I love a good Easter egg hunt (my parents have actually held one for the adults the past few years), I never want my boys to miss the true meaning of Easter – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, when they were young, I started trying to brainstorm ways we could weave the two activities together. Now, of course, we’ve done the popular Resurrection Eggs – which are absolutely wonderful! However, one element was missing for my boys – FOOD! I mean, with all of that hunting, they definitely needed a snack, right?

So, we created this Resurrection Snack Mix that not only points to the true meaning of Easter but also gives them a little something to eat after using all of that energy to find the eggs!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clean, plastic Easter eggs
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Fish crackers
  • Chocolate chips
  • Small marshmallows or Popcorn
  • Any small red candy (sometimes I’ll save red M&Ms from the Valentine’s assortment or pieces of licorice – see my note below)
  • Large bowl

Now, you can do this a number of ways. If you want to place the actual snack mix items in the Easter eggs, be sure that you wash them thoroughly before filling them with the food items.

Then, fill the Easter eggs with the various items listed above. Leave at least one empty egg. Then, hide the eggs for your kids to find. Be sure to give them instructions NOT to open any of the eggs yet. Once all of the eggs have been found, come back together. Then, open the eggs and dump the contents into the large bowl. As you open each egg, explain what it represents in the Easter story.

The other option is to fill the eggs with instructions about which items to dump into the mix. For example, 1 scoop of popcorn. 1 scoop of chocolate chips, etc. I tend to prefer this option simply because 1) it takes less time to prep and 2) much fewer snack ingredients end up on the floor. If you do use this option, I recommend a 1/2 cup scoop for the popcorn, 1/3 cup or 1/4 cup for the goldfish crackers, a small handful for the pretzels (just because it’s hard to get pretzel sticks to fit nicely in a cup, a tablespoon for the red candy, and a teaspoon for the chocolate chips. Even if you’re filling the eggs with instructions and not ingredients, be sure to still leave an empty egg! If you choose this option, be sure to grab the FREE download. All you’ll need to do is cut out the paper strips and add them to the eggs.

Again, as you add items to the mix, review what it represents in the Easter story. By the time you’ve finished opening all of the eggs, your kids will have been reminded of these truths several times. Here’s what each ingredient represents:

  • Pretzel sticks – remind us of the wooden cross, where Jesus died
  • Fish crackers – remind us that several of Jesus’s disciples were fishermen and he also taught his disciples to be “fishers of men.”
  • Chocolate chips – remind us of the dark sin that we were covered in
  • Popcorn – remind us of how the blood of Jesus makes us as white as snow –
  • Red Candy – reminds us of how Jesus suffered and bled for us
  • When you get to the empty egg, celebrate that it is empty because the tomb was empty – Jesus is ALIVE!!!

Then, you simply pass out the snack mix for your kiddos to enjoy!

When we did ours this year, I couldn’t decide on small red licorice pieces for the red candy or red M&Ms. I loved that the licorice looked more like “strips,” reminding us of how He bled and died for us, but I also loved how the red in the M&Ms covered the dark chocolate (which we used to represent sin) – so literally, His blood covered the sin. So, we ended up using both!

An added bonus to making this snack mix is that it will last for 3-5 days if you keep it sealed well in an airtight container. And this means you can continue to draw their attention back to the true meaning of Easter.

I hope you enjoy this fun snack mix! And if you’re interested in other Easter activities that focus on the true meaning of Easter, be sure to check out my Christian Easter Activities below.

If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes. Leave me a comment below – I’d love to hear all about it! And don’t forget to grab your free download below!

Faith, Family, Holidays, Homeschool, Parenting, Preschool

7 Different Ways to Use Dot Markers

 

My kids and I looooove using dot markers!

Not only do they help kids with their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, but there is really no clean-up for Mom! Yep – no paintbrushes, no water cups, no paint pallets – it’s simply the dot markers and the paper. Seriously, it can’t get much easier than that when it comes to art!

I love that the dot markers can be used for skill-focused activities as well as free creative expression. The boys love the bright colors and the ease of use – and that they last for so long!

There are so many educational and fun ways to use these and I wanted to share a few of my favorites today!

  1. Letter and/or Number Recognition

When my boys first began working on letter recognition, they absolutely loved getting to “dot” the letter on the page. Because using the dot markers made the task so simple, they were really able to focus on the letter recognition skill and have fun in the process. Since this was an activity they asked for repeatedly, I’ve made my A-Z Dot Pictures available for FREE below! Just click on the picture to grab your FREE set!

 

  1. Patterns

Again, the simplicity of use makes these a perfect tool to use when teaching patterns. Since there’s no cutting or gluing this is a great way to practice simple patterns, especially when you’re short on time!

  1. Color by Code

This works similar to the letter and number recognition, except with this activity you can work on distinguishing between different numbers, letters, and even sight words.

  1. Graphing

Kids love to take surveys of neighbors, friends, classmates, and family members, which can then be translated to a graph. However, keeping the graphs accurate can get a little tricky for little guys. Using dot markers can really help with this – especially if you use a different color for each option. My kiddos have always been thrilled with the results!

 

  1. Resist Art Projects

Both of my boys love doing arts and crafts projects, but I am not a super crafty person. But using dot markers for tape-resist art projects have given us some pretty great results. You simply tape off the part that you want to keep white, and then the kids can just go crazy filling in the rest of the space with the dot markers. We usually keep it simple by doing a simple shape with the tape, but I have seen others actually tape the outside of the project so that the kids are actually filling in the shape with the dot markers (kind of like a stencil).

 

  1. Mazes

I’ve already mentioned how we have used dot markers to identify letters, numbers, and sight words, but this option allows your students to practice putting these elements in order. For example, you might have a maze where students have to follow the alphabet A-Z. Or perhaps they’re following counting numbers from 1-20. We’ve even used this type of activity in practicing spelling our names. Using dot markers not only makes it easy for them to fill the space for the maze, but it also makes the path at the end very clear.

 

  1. Free Creative Expression

Dot markers are so easy to use, my kids love them for just creating pictures of their own. They come up with some of the most creative ideas. And if you want to work on fine motor skills while still letting your kids get creative, there are a number of printables that have adorable graphics with space for kids to “dot” in the pictures. This allows them to be creative while still focusing on being accurate with the dot markers.

We absolutely love using dot markers, and I hope this post gives you a few new ideas on how you might be able to incorporate this wonderful tool in your learning.

Do you have other ways that you love to use dot markers?! Leave me a note in the comments – I’d love to hear about it!

Back to School, Homeschool, Preschool, Teaching

Homeschool Preschool: Letter of the Week

When I was first blessed with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom I  was overjoyed. I soaked up all of the snuggles, hugs, “conversations,” and time with my boys.

 

However, as my firstborn got older, and I came out of the fog of having a newborn, I craved more structure.  Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, but I wanted to start implementing a regular routine in our day. I still loved just getting to spend each day with them, but I knew I wanted to begin working more intentionally with my oldest and create a daily routine that would work for us all.

 

So, our homeschool preschool was born. My husband is a teacher, so when he headed back to school, we started up as well!

 

At the time, my oldest was not yet 3 and my youngest wasn’t even a year, so our preschool was very basic. Lots of play, exploration, and using our imaginations. But for about an hour every day, we tried to work more specifically on skills that I felt were important for him to learn.

 

We always began our day by reading from The Beginner’s Bible and singing a verse song or two. (I highly recommend Steve Green and Seeds Family Worship if you’re looking for some) Then we moved into our alphabet work.

 

For simplicity’s sake, we started with a letter a week. I know there are so many different opinions about the order in which to do the letters – but again, keeping things simple – we just went in alphabetical order.

 

There were some foundational skills I wanted to work on with my son, but I didn’t want to be searching for, printing, and preparing a new activity everyday. So, during the summer (before we officially started our homeschool preschool), I created packets of activities that would set me up for success.

 

The purpose of these activities were to help my little guys begin to recognize and write their letters, to work on distinguishing between capital and lowercase letters, and to introduce them to the sound that each letter made. I also wanted to include activities that allowed them to practice counting objects, begin learning basic patterning skills, and even be introduced to the wonders of science. I’m a huge fan of reading to your kids, so I also looked for books that included ideas or characters related to the letter. And since kids always love a good snack, I brainstormed ideas for letter of the week snack ideas.  

 

Here’s a peek of some of what’s included in each letter packet:

 

 

 

 

 

The beauty of the activity packets was that once I had made them, I was set. I didn’t have a lot of prep work during the week because we focused a lot on play, and when we were all ready to have a little more focused time, the activities were already ready to go. I just printed the pages I wanted for the week on Sunday evening, and I truly had the rest of the time to focus on my kiddos.

 

These packets gave me a focus for the week. And since I already had these ready to go, I could be as creative (or not so creative) as I wanted – or as the week allowed. Baking, crafts, gross motor activities, field trips, art projects, games, the list goes on and on. But I actually had time to think about what those other activities could be because my letter work was taken care of.

 

And I have to say, I absolutely fell in love with homeschool preschool. I loved being able to watch my kids learn and grow. I loved seeing them get excited about learning. I adored getting to instill values that were important to our family.

 

But I also loved the fact that we could move at our own pace. If we needed a break, we took a break and went outside. If someone was sick, we took the day off. If a task was a little too advanced, we waited until he was ready. We weren’t confined to a strict time schedule. It definitely brought some much needed structure to our day, but these boys still had PLENTY of time to play and we still had a lot of flexibility.

 

And what I loved even more – I used these letter of the week packets 2 years in a row for my oldest. During the first year, when he was 2 and turning 3, we just worked on recognizing letters. We talked about each letter’s sound, but I definitely didn’t expect him to master it. I showed him the capital and lowercase version of the letter of the week, but if he was able to recognize any form of the letter during the week, I was thrilled and we celebrated. We worked on counting objects, but I didn’t require him to form numbers correctly or even consistently match a group of objects to the number in written form.

 

Then, the next year, we went through the alphabet again, but this time we focused on different skills. We moved on from just recognizing the letter to being able to write (or trace it). I started to emphasize the sound that the letter makes and we worked on finding objects that began with that sound. He started to recognize the difference between capital and lowercase letters, and he started being able to count a group of objects and point to the number that represented the number of items. Sometimes we repeated the pages we had used the year prior (mostly because he had enjoyed them so much), but we also used pages that were just too advance the year before.

 

By the time that year was over, he knew all of his letters and could identify each letter’s sound accurately. His fine motor skills (writing with a pencil/pen as well as beginning scissor skills) had improved dramatically. For the majority of the letters, he could recognize, write, and differentiate between capital and lowercase. He recognized numbers 1-10 and was proficient in one-to-one correspondence for these numbers. He recognized different types of patterns and was able to continue them. However, most importantly, he was excited about learning. He felt confident whenever we talked about school. And he was eager for more.  

 

The next year, my oldest was 4 going on 5, and so we moved beyond simply working with a letter a week; however, by this point, my second son was now two going on three, and I already had all of the materials I needed to start working with him.

 

And that’s part of the beauty of these digital resources – you can print and re-print pages as often as you like for your kids or class. No need to go out and purchase additional copies! You are set!

 

I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed using these resources with my boys – and then with the homeschool co-op that we are  a part of.

 

If you’d like to get a taste of what these packets offer, you can sign up to receive my FREE Letter Ff Activity Pack HERE

 

Can’t wait to see how you use these!

And if you’re ready to grab the complete Letter of the Week Bundle, you can grab it HERE.

Homeschool, Parenting, Preschool, Teaching

Can I Really Start My Own Co-op?

 

 

Community. It’s something we all long for, need, and yet often resist because sometimes it just seems like too much work.

 

Now, if you’re a homeschool mom, you need this community more than ever! Yes, you seem to be talking with little ones all day, but having a conversation with another adult, especially in person, is a rarity.

 

And to be quite honest, when you don’t have a community encouraging, supporting, and pouring into you, your motivation to continue can become depleted quite quickly!

 

So, what’s a mom to do?

 

Our solution – one that has truly been nourishing to my soul was starting a co-op. On a side note, when we started, the kids were all preschool age, as you’ll see in my story below, but the principles and applications hold true for moms with older homeschool students as well.

 

Now, you might be thinking: Can I really start my own co-op? Or, my little one is only 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5), does he really need this? Or, I can barely make it out of my house as it is, do I really have the time and energy to coordinate a co-op? Or, my plate seems so full already, is the effort to attend another thing every week even worth it? The answer to all of these questions is YES, YES, and

YES!

 

I know because I wondered the same things.

 

After teaching for 8 years, I transitioned to being a stay at home mommy. I was incredibly thankful to be home with my little ones – a newborn and almost 2 – but I was completely overwhelmed. To be honest, I just survived for about a year. While I loved being home to pour into these little lives, I was exhausted. I knew something needed to change.

 

I knew I wanted to start incorporating some “instruction” into our day, especially for my then almost 3-year-old. I knew we needed more structure for our day because I constantly felt frazzled. And I definitely knew we all needed to get out and connect with other families more regularly. How that was going to happen? I didn’t know, but I started to ask.

 

The more moms I talked to, the more I found that so many moms were in the same boat. Being a stay at home mommy is HARD. Even when you have a wonderfully supportive hubby (like I have been blessed with), I truly believe it is one of the hardest but most important jobs in the world! So, we started talking…and meeting….and meeting at parks to talk some more.

 

We asked questions and discussed. We tried out different ideas – some were successful, while others weren’t. But we kept talking and meeting, praying and encouraging. Slowly but surely our co-op was born.

 

It has now been 4 years. Our little co-op of about 6 kids has grown into a much larger co-op that meets at a church because we’ve simply outgrown anyone’s home. We currently have 4 classes (grouped by age) and will be adding a 5th class next year. To be honest, I have been blown away by the way our community has grown, and it is truly a testament to how much we crave that community.

 

The friendships that have grown out of these weekly meetings are some of our most treasured – for the kiddos and myself. They have both learned so much – not only academically, but socially, spiritually, and yes even physically. They’ve learned about listening to authorities (other than mom and dad). They’ve learned about conflict resolution – when that one special toy just seems to bring out the worst in them. And I must say, I’ve been quite impressed with their academic growth! Personally, I’ve learned that I am not alone, even when it feels like no one else understands. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect – and neither do my kids. And I’ve learned that the push to get breakfast done, everyone dressed, and out the door with their school supplies (most of the time), is worth it every time.

 

It has truly been a blessing to our family! If you’d like to read more about Starting Your Own Co-op Group, you can check out my guidebook HERE:

Homeschool, Parenting, Preschool, Teaching