Monday, June 27, 2016

Starting a Waldorf Preschool Co-op

I just found some long-ago notes on my website from when Becca (now 11) was two years old and I was planning a Baby Art Class so that I could specifically carve out some one-on-one time with her, the youngest of three children born in three years. It is so fun to look back at my suggestions.

Now I'm working on recording what Zac and I do each day in 1001 Ideas for Toddlers and Twos, as well as helping a client plan a Waldorf-Inspired Preschool Co-op. I have to admit it. I just love the preschool years!

For others who may be considering starting up a preschool co-op, we are looking at a 1 1/2 day program each week. Monday 9 am to 3 pm and Thursday 9 am to noon. Monday is Bread Day and Thursday is Soup Day. Baking yeasted bread from scratch... making a delicious and different-each-week stone soup... will provide a predictable comforting structure and rhythm to the week for these little children. And there will be a seasonal story which is repeated Monday as well as Thursday, and then the following Monday as well as Thursday. So four times. This is just two stories per month. And on Monday in the afternoons, after rest time and eating the fresh hot bread, there will be the option of a seasonal art/craft to accompany the story. Children who aren't interested in the art/craft can just enjoy their indoor and outdoor play time. It isn't mandatory.

I'll add the schedule for the preschool day to the website in a bit, but here are some more of our thoughts at this point.

Preschool Co-op Booklist

As part of creating the initial supply list and budget, we are thinking about Play Essentials. They are using a church space and are in a pack-it-in, pack-it-out situation. I came up with the idea of a quilted tabletop play mat to represent the play kitchen, consisting of just a rectangular piece of fabric and four simple burners appliqu├ęd on. She will bring wooden foods and little pots and pans, plates, cups, etc. Other play essentials are wooden tree blocks (just take some fallen branches that you'd like to use, put them in your car trunk for two or three weeks in the hot sun to dry out thoroughly, cut into lengths with the bark on, sand the cut ends, and finish with beeswax salad bowl finish which is safe for children to put in their mouths), felt gnomes (Earthways pp.82-83), a few simple bunting dolls, luscious play silks (these are where the bulk of the money will be spent... but I have read the suggestion that you can dye your own lengths of cheesecloth if funds are tight, and that the cheesecloth has that same sheer light-filled quality), and baskets of natural items such as shells, pinecones, and stones.

Additions throughout the school year:
She would like to be learning to knit alongside her 3rd grade son and so I foresee some simple knitted animals will join the play space. We also considered sewing felt finger puppet animals (Suzanne Down's excellent book of patterns) to accompany each of the seasonal stories, so that a basket of finger puppets will be in the classroom all year with more animals added as we go along.

My client is most excited about a preschool day filled with rhythm, verses, songs, and STORIES.

They were saying on the radio just today that storytelling is one of the most fundamental of human experiences. In fact, there was a fascinating piece about whether computers could be taught to create narrative writing, in particular, the sonnet. Here is the link to the challenge Robert Siegel took: Human or Machine? Can You Tell Who Wrote These Poems? (if you want to play along at home). There are voting buttons beside each sonnet.

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