|A felt board is a great tool!|
1. Set a defined age range. We wanted to be sure the kids were all about the same stage developmentally. And we also needed a way to keep the group from growing and growing. Setting specific age ranges helped us accomplish this. Our group was born between Sept. 12 and May 13. We spoke with about 10 moms, but ultimately ended up going forward with seven. So far we are really pleased with this number. I think we could maybe add one more, or have one less, but it's a very good size.
2. Decide how often to meet. This can be tricky, based on everyone's different schedules. We got lucky and found a time that works great for everyone. We decided to start meeting just one morning per week, for two hours. We may increase that later, but it's a manageable place to start.
There's a few different ways you could do this. I'm assuming for these examples that you have six mamas available, like we do. You could have moms work in teams - one teaches, the other assists, and then they switch. You can space it out a little - you teach one week, off for two, assist the next week, off for two. Ultimately, we decided to put assignments back-to-back to make it easier to remember and to consolidate time off. That means that you teach, then you assist, then you're off for four weeks. And instead of teams, we staggered it to give us the opportunity to work with more people. Since we have six mamas, we decided to plan for the next 18 weeks, giving each mama three lessons to plan. Then we can decide to switch up the schedule, pick a new time, take a summer break, etc.
4. Come up with a basic lesson plan. We don't have a set schedule for each class, but we did decide on what activities would happen for each class. That means we have story time, singing time, snack time, a letter of the day, a lesson, and free play every class. We haven't figured out the perfect balance or order yet, but we're working on it. We have established that we start and end with free play, to give the kiddos something to do during parent drop-off and pick-up time. The rest we're still working on.
|Here's the basic planning sheet we used. Feel free to download for your own use!|
|Our favorite resource for topics ideas was this one.|
- Have defined spaces for different activities. We had everything in one room the first week and had some trouble transitioning from free play to lesson time. The following week, we had clean up time and closed the partition to keep the toys out of sight, out of mind. We bring a blanket to sit on for story/singing/lesson time, and we sit at the table for snacks.
- Each activity should be SHORT. Like... two minutes or less. That's about the attention span.
- Having the kids participate and take turns really helps. For example, one teacher had the kids each come get a Letter B picture and tape them to the door. They were all so excited to participate!
- This week as we sat down for snack time, we realized ALL the kids were quiet and still for pretty much the first time in their two-year-old lives. We jumped on the opportunity to re-visit the lesson (shapes) while they were eating.
It's my turn to teach this week, so wish me luck! I'll see how things go and then post my lesson plan and resource links next week. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!