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No Money for Preschool? What's a Parent to Do?

Updated on October 3, 2014

No money in the budget to pay a preschool for the kindergarten-readiness of your child?

Do you find yourself with no money to pay for a preschool to get your child ready for kindergarten? What can a parent to do in a situation like this?

Anita is 32 years old, a busy mom working full-time with three children, ages 8, 3 and 1 years old. The 8 year old is involved with school, cub scouting, and plays with neighborhood friends. She puts the two younger children into a small home daycare, but she cannot afford a preschool experience for her 3 year old to get her ready for kindergarten. Unfortunately, she and her husband make just a little too much money to qualify putting their daughter in the local HEAD START Program. The home daycare owner has too many varied ages in the children she cares for to teach an effective preschool curriculum to benefit Anita's daughter. Nearby preschools and childcare businesses with preschool options aren’t affordable either! What can Anita do to help her 3 year old appropriately prepare for the rigorous kindergarten programs found in the USA today?

MOMMY & ME Preschool

A MOMMY & ME Preschool is a good option with a great many potential variables for young mothers who find themselves in a situation like this—working mothers, full or part-time, as well as at-home mothers who have the option to stay home with their children, but also may not have a preschool budget.

What is a MOMMY & ME Preschool? Simply, put—it is a cooperative group of mothers with children, ages 3 – 5, that work together in their homes to create a preschool curriculum and environment they can use to teach their children in their homes! Anita has a couple of friends with children close to the age of her 3 year old. First, they needed to:

  • agree on a couple days a week to teach a 1 - 3 hour preschool,
  • plan a schedule in which of their homes to teach class on these days,
  • begin searching for the many wonderful resources out there in the community and online, creating a basic preschool curriculum with which to begin!

These mommies also decided to make sure they plan occasional park days and field trips, adding even more fun and pizzazz to the learning of their young children.

Projects like this are not always simple…and the idea of a MOMMY & ME Preschool is not perfect one, especially being run by imperfect creatures such as humans—but that is not new. Life rarely offers perfect solutions, even in professional settings--teachers, and educational administrators and parents will admit that. However, this is a workable alternative for these young mothers and their young children programmed with a passion to learn and absorb. In fact, it has the potential of being highly successful.

Anita and her preschooler...with kindergarten on the horizon!
Anita and her preschooler...with kindergarten on the horizon! | Source

Inspired by PLAY GROUP, a MOMMY & ME (Parent-Child) Preschool gives Anita hope!

When Anita was a young child, her parents participated in a neighborhood PLAY GROUP each week along with two other families. Play groups continued until all the children attended elementary school…and then, again in the summer months for a few years. In this scenario, the children:

  • Went to one of the homes three days of the week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday),
  • The parent or parents of that home had open and structured play & learning experiences for them, and
  • Field trips/excursions were occasional, special fun adventures.

The benefits of this simple arrangement between friends were tremendous:

  • The social development for the children of these three families was immense,
  • The friendships developed were lasting between all the children, all the parents, and between the children and adults involved, and
  • Time was freed up for the parents of the other two families on their non-play group hosting days to run errands, go to a doctor appointment, etc.

Anita’s own young children need social development and close relationships with family and friends, but her 3 year old especially needs to be developing kinder-readiness skills. In adjusting the PLAY GROUP idea she experienced as a young child, she and the other two mothers created their own MOMMY & ME Preschool plan!

Reaching out for resources to build up a MOMMY & ME Preschool

Anita began consulting with her own mother, an experienced early childhood teacher, about:

  • curriculum ideas,
  • lesson plans,
  • learning activities, and
  • different workable preschool class schedules (see one sample schedule below)*

Not being a trained teacher herself, Anita was concerned…but she also felt encouraged to start simple and build on their program as they began to planning this MOMMY & ME preschool. Little by little, as they all get comfortable with a simpler structure and pace, they can add more time, learning ideas and activities to increase the preparation of these little ones for an enjoyable, successful kindergarten year.

Still in the early stages of this MOMMY & ME Preschool project, Anita and the other two mothers are hopeful for a positive outcome in getting their little ones as ready and excited for learning successfully in kindergarten…and beyond!

Is a MOMMY & ME Preschool an easy task? No.

Is a MOMMY & ME Preschool worth the effort…and can it be fun as well as productive and successful? YES!

I know that Anita is not the first young mother to set up a parent-child preschool with community and work friends (extended family members are a good option too), just as I am sure she will not be the last. Realize that a MOMMY & ME Preschool has as many varied and successful structural and learning possibilities as there are parents and children to participate in them! Think about this: Just because you can afford to pay for your child to attend a preschool program doesn't mean you have to do it. If this MOMMY & ME Preschool idea of cooperative learning in the home appeals to you and a group of friends with young children, you have the freedom to organize one as well. There are many parents of higher incomes that choose alternative methods of education, such as home-schooling, because of their own personal preferences.

Two Preschoolers Learning Together

These two preschoolers are actually cousins enjoying their learning together through the exploration of round, bumpy, and squishable balls.
These two preschoolers are actually cousins enjoying their learning together through the exploration of round, bumpy, and squishable balls.

A Final Consideration of the MOMMY & ME Preschool Option

Are you a mother, father or parents of a child 3 – 5 years old that cannot afford to send them to preschool to help prepare your child for kindergarten? Would you like to create a MOMMY & ME or PARENT – CHILD Preschool to develop those kinder-readiness skills? Talk to your friends and family members with children of the same ages that live close by, check out the below kindergarten-readiness links**, and continue talking with them to plan, create and implement this wonderfully fun (and challenging fun too) learning experience: a MOMMY & ME Preschool. And since you are dedicated about this, the relationship bonding--along with rejoicing in helping your young children to develop socially, emotionally and academically--will most likely be exceptionally endearing!

* SAMPLE PRESCHOOL CLASS SCHEDULE:

(2 hours/120 minutes...adjust to your own time needs and personal preferences)

9:00 AM - GATHERING (5-10 minutes): Parents & child find their seats and do a calm, sitting activity (coloring, gluing, tracing, cutting, etc.)

9:10 AM - CIRCLE TIME (20 minutes): Activities are done together sitting in a circle or semi-circle on the floor/rug.

  • Sing about the MONTHS of the YEAR
  • Sing about the DAYS of the WEEK
  • Do CALENDAR (& daily count…acknowledging any birthdays or holidays or special events that day),
  • Letter of the Week (present and playfully practice)
  • Number of the Week (present and playfully practice)
  • Brief introduction at this point about today’s theme of fun learning
  • Stretch and do a movement exercise, fingerplay, chant, etc.

9:30 AM - LETTER of the WEEK (10 minutes): This can be done at a table or back on the floor, etc.

  • Observe the letter activity (trace with finger, crayon, toy car, in sand, etc.)
  • Sound out the letter (make the sound ongoing as you trace the letter with your finger, etc. once again)
  • Show some pictures/photos that begin with that letter sound
  • Do a quick game/activity, helping the children match the letter to the same letter, match the letter to a picture that sounds the same, or match the letter to someone saying the correct sound, etc.

9:40 AM - NUMBER of the WEEK (10 minutes): This can be done at a table or back on the floor, etc.

  • Observe the number activity (trace with finger, crayon, toy car, in sand, etc.)
  • Count out the number with like items (spoons, socks, straws, or noodles, etc.)
  • Do a quick counting game/activity, helping the children match the number to the same number, match the number correctly to a group of items that has the same number count.

9:50 AM - SNACK TIME (10-15 minutes…includes clean-up): If possible, take the children outside to eat their snack for a break from the preschool format of the house. After eating their snack, they can run around and play for a bit to enjoy a freedom-to-be-a-preschooler moment.

10:05 AM - THEMATIC LEARNING (40-45 minutes): Develop interesting and fun themes to go with letters, numbers, stories, careers, etc. to fit in the academics of reading, language, math, science, social studies.

  • Re-introduce the day’s theme with a short story/book, video, show & tell, etc. (about 5 minutes)
  • Explore theme topic together briefly with questions, thoughts and answers (about 5 minutes…a learning theme can extend for days or weeks of preschool learning, like spring, bugs, careers, etc.)
  • Have the children participate in exploratory or practice theme-based learning activities or games at a place together or rotate to these activities at 2 to 4 different stations/centers, such as the kitchen table, the floor a sofa, etc. It is recommended that a theme-related art activity be done at a table or floor with protective covering. (Each learning activity should be 5 to 10 minutes long).

10:45 AM – QUICK CLEAN-UP (5 minutes): This is when parents encourage the children to help clean up their learning activities, either done together or at stations/centers. Encourage your child to clean up after him/herself when finished at a station/center before moving onto another one to explore or practice skills in.

10:50 AM – CLOSING CIRCLE TIME (10 minutes): This is the time that the children gather in circle time again to discuss/review/share what they have learned and enjoyed. You can do songs, read a story, pass out rewards or treats (stickers, coloring pages, a game in a baggy or something small that might be related to the theme, such as a paper airplane to fly or a boat to float if the theme was transportation).

NOTE#1: This is only one example of a 2 hour MOMMY & ME Preschool class schedule. You can devise one or more that best suit the needs of your preschool group.

NOTE#2: After a preschool session, the children are usually more than ready to eat lunch and have free play. If you can squeeze it in, now would be a good time to sit down with the other mothers/parents to do any needed lesson planning and prepping of learning activity materials. The children will be mostly occupied with munching on lunches their mothers made them and playing freely with their preschool friends for another half hour or so.

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    • CILLYart4U profile image
      Author

      Cindy Bowles 2 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      Thank you so much for your additional comments, pdhast7! I have hopes to expound on this idea and share them. You are quite right! When it is your preschool adventure, there are as many options to it as there are individual people who want to create it! As an experienced and certified teacher myself, I love it when I have the freedom and capability to build a program where my students and I just really have fun learning together! A MOMMY & ME Preschool...or Parent-Child Preschool...or a OUR FRIENDS Preschool...or a FAMILY & ME Preschool (great suggestion including the fathers, grandparents, and others too)...is just that! Freedom to have fun learning together! :o)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Sounds wonderful. I hope people realize that the time can be flexible if need be: like two mornings or two afternoons and one early evening 6-8 might work for the mother who works full time. Don't forget fathers and grandparents might be available and wish to participate on a regular basis. Great Hub. :)