If you are thinking about preschool options, you should know about Joy School. Started by Linda and Richard Eyre when their own children were in preschool, Joy School has been taught by parents to their children and classmates for over 30 years (I'm going off of the fact that my mother-in-law did Joy School with her own children about that long ago).
The Joy School program is a co-op preschool where the moms are the teachers and the classroom is the home of the teaching mom. Class size is ideally about 6 students and is geared for the two years preceding kindergarten. This fall my will be about my seventh doing Joy School.
Here are some of the things I like about Joy School:
1) The curriculum teaches a child to better understand and enjoy who they are and the world around them. It is value oriented and includes such units as honesty and selfless service. It is non-academic, though there is an optional kindergarten readiness program the second year.
2) The lessons are completely planned out with helps, suggestions, options, and music. There are illustrations for stories and crafts that you just print out. I do confess though that it is a bit of work to put it all together, and the days it's your turn can be exhausting (but also rewarding). Look at how much fun we had the day we acted out the book Caps for Sale during the unit . (You may want to skip ahead, it's kind of long.)
3) The music deserves it's own place on the list. You can download the mp3's or have the CD's delivered, and there are several songs for every unit. Sure, some may be a little cheesy, but really there's a lot of good stuff in there. Here's are some Joy School children singing at their graduation a song from the "Family Security, Identity, and Pride" unit.
3) It is a bargain. You have to become a member of ValuesParenting, which is a $50 lifetime membership for your family. Then each semester costs $70 (or just $60 if you download the mp3's instead of getting the CDs). If you did Joy School with one child, the two years of preschool would cost $330 total. How much of a traditional preschool could you get for that? And any subsequent children you do Joy School with would be free.
4) The other moms are awesome and the interaction with them because of Joy School is a definite perk. The Joy School groups I have participated in have been made up of moms I already knew. The website also can help you find a group.
5) And, of course, being involved in what your child is doing and seeing first hand the experiences he is having is so helpful in understanding and supporting your child. It is also beneficial to get to know the other children in a way you never would just at a playgroup or play date.
If you have a preschool aged child, give it a thought. Let me know if you have any questions, or if you have taught Joy School already and have any other input.