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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Several parents in my playgroup are interested in starting up a co-op preschool for our three-year-olds in the fall. The deal is that each parent in the group will host one week and teach one week (at a different house - you will not be the teacher in your own house). I have been interested in doing this since the idea was proposed to me a few months ago. We are supposed to have a meeting about the details this week.

(Before I get the inevitable WHY WOULD YOU EVEN DO THIS WITH YOUR INNOCENT THREE-YEAR-OLD comment... Mommy works full time and is burned out. I am more interested in doing this for the break it will give me, as well as the social skills my son will gain in a group setting. I would be paying for a regular preschool, but I am so broke it is not even funny. I don't care about academics, but I do want to offer him more than sitting at home with a mom who can't stand to spend one more morning gluing things. Ahem.)

So I was all gung ho and happy about the co-op preschool, envisioning DS having a good time with his little friends... then I read through the list of names of the moms who were interested and my heart sank.

A few months ago we were at playgroup and another little boy hit mine in the face with a train. My son was fine (well, you know, he cried, but calmed down quickly), but as soon as it happened, the other little boy's mother grabbed her son, took him into the hall and beat the crap out of him.
I mean, you could hear her hand just hitting his little body. Then she took her kids and left. I shudder even recalling the event. And of course, she is one of the parents who is interested in belonging to the co-op preschool. They haven't even come to playgroup since the incident happened.

Gentle, respectful discipline is one of the things that is non-negotiable for me. I demand it of myself, my family, DH, pretty much everyone who comes into contact with DS. I thought, since the playgroup was a LLL/AP group, that spanking parents wouldn't be allowed, or at least they would have the courtesy to refrain from that type of behavior while in the group. As I said, if that mother had continued coming, we would probably have left the group.

I am now really torn over what to do about this. I think this opportunity could be really great for me and DS, but there is no freaking way I would feel comfortable with this woman in charge of the class, nor would I want him in her house. Hitting others is not allowed by anyone, ever, even guests, in my home. Maybe that is unrealistic of me, but there it is.

There is one woman who is kind of the de facto leader of this whole thing... my mother thinks that I should appeal to her to make sure that the rules for the co-op clearly state that gentle discipline will be the only thing allowed. My mother also thinks I am being a little hysterical, and she thinks the spanking mother needs a break just as much as I do... but Mom also agrees that she may not be a good candidate to be the "teacher."

Should I just give up on this altogether? We are just in the preliminary stages of this now... the spanking mother may not even end up doing it... I just don't know.

x-posted in Gentle Discipline

ETA... it's two hours per day, two days per week.
 

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Oooh this is a tough one. On one hand, I would feel uncomfortable with this woman being in charge of my child. I would definately talk to whoever is in charge and make it clear about GD being used AT ALL TIMES NO EXCEPTIONS. On the other hand, maybe she is a stressed out mama, who doesn't know any better, or doesn't have all the wonderful resources we here at MDC have. Your ds is three right? So I am assuming he is verbal enough to tell you if anything happens which he is uncomfortable with, right? I would talk some comfort in that, I would not leave a non-verbal child. I guess it depends on how much you want/need the time. I totally understand you about needing some time, especially with a 3 yo. And I do think SOME time with other kids would be good if HE wants that. Honestly, if it were my dd, I wouldn't do it. But I am known to be obssesive and way overprotective. I only leave her 2x a month, during her nap, only with my mom (who is VERY AP), for 2-3 hours, and I call 2-3x.
So there it is...my $.02
 

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How about you just skip the days it is at her house or when she is teaching. You don't have to explain why, just don't show. However, I would probably talk to the leader anyway. Discipline policies most certainly should be part of the initial organization anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Yooper
How about you just skip the days it is at her house or when she is teaching. You don't have to explain why, just don't show. However, I would probably talk to the leader anyway. Discipline policies most certainly should be part of the initial organization anyway.
When she hit her kid it was at another person's house. I simply will not allow that type of behavior in my home. I would feel uncomfortable having her in my home knowing that she has no personal problems with hitting her child there. My DS is very active, her DS is extremely possessive, they don't really get along, and I was so hoping to avoid this kind of situation. Sigh.
 

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Since the co-op is in the planning stages, it sounds like you still have an opportunity to suggest some guidelines. Positive, gentle discipline would be on my list of requirements. Hopefully, there will be some sort of meeting to go over rules. And maybe the mother in question won't be there so you won't feel like you're in the hot seat! But in a group teaching situation, discipline issues will need to be addressed.
 

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The discipline issue is basically why I left two coop preschools last year. The first one is the one we started attending when dd was 11 mos. We enjoyed it a lot and made friends but we were initially going once a week and all the moms were always there. When the kids got to be 2.5-3, they entered the pre-3 class, which is twice a week and moms drop off one of those times. This seemed ok until one day when I was there with my child and witnessed her getting chewed out by another mom. A mother who is constantly having a lot of behavior problems with her child told my child (who had touched her child lightly) that we should NEVER touch other people without asking first. She yelled this at my child. This is not only developmentally impossible (what 2 and 3 year old can ask "can I touch you" before touching a friend? But, it was out of line for her to discipline my child at all since the coop guidelines specifically state that only the teacher can discipline the kids or that child's parent and it must be done respectfully. After that, I realized that parents were either ignoring the kids or overdoing the discipline, so we quit that school.

We moved on to school #2, which I thought might be different. After a few days, my child (who I thought was enjoying class) started talking to me about school in a way that made me realize that it was very stressful for her to not know the names of the parents and other children. Because we started this school in January, they were already past naming games. But, there were other new kids that session. I started to watch and realized that no one, not the teacher, not the parents, not the kids, ever introduced themselves or asked anyone else's names. And, most of them did not wear their name tags. I was introducing myself to the kids, but I am a trained teacher so I guess maybe I just do this naturally. I realized that not knowing the names was too stressful for my child. I talked to the teacher and she asked everyone to wear the name badges but they did not and nothing changed. That, combined with the overuse of bleach solution, made me realize that we were not ready for preschool yet. So, again we quit.

I guess my advice is that if you are uncomfortable with this arrangement, don't do it. You cannot control what the other parents are doing in so loose an arrangement. If you really need some time off and cannot afford preschool, what I've been doing is sharing babysitting duties with a friend. Once a month or so, I take her son and dd and I play with him for a few hours and then we switch on another day or two that month. It is free and I trust her and I know how my child is being treated and I trust that the environment is healthy. For actual preschool, I am looking for one that is small, not run with untrained parents, and environmentally healthy (no bleach solution - they can use tea tree oil or use the bleach after kids have left and still be within health codes.)

Follow your heart and take care of your child.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Boongirl, I think your experience is exactly what I was dreading. This is a tiny group - several of the moms who were interested are pregnant and I just don't see how we're going to keep any semblance of order if we have members dropping like flies over the next few months.

One person dropped out this morning, and that leaves five who are still interested. A lot of those people have younger children, so what would happen if the younger child were sick? How would the teaching mom watch over her younger child while trying to teach?

I think with a group this small, illness would decimate us over the fall and winter months. It sounds like a good deal on paper, but I'm just not sure it would work.

Last but not least, we're non-religious, and some of the other moms are extremely religious - I don't want to come in one day and hear my child learning "Jesus loves me..."

I just don't think this is going to work. I think it's going to be a disaster, quite frankly. I think it will work until the illnesses start, and then fall apart.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lisac77

Last but not least, we're non-religious, and some of the other moms are extremely religious - I don't want to come in one day and hear my child learning "Jesus loves me..."
\
I think for this reason alone you should not do it...or find a different group.
 

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I'd have the same concerns - with that mom - and in general. I wouldn't really consider myself qualified to be a preschool teacher (academic or play-based) -- and same for the other mothers. We have little kids - we are all basically newbies at this? I think what you are describing is more like a childcare coop?
 

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My experience with child care co-ops has been really great--but what you're describing sounds *much* more elaborate than anything I've seen.

1. Is one parent going to be in charge of 5 kids?? Usually when there are more than 3 kids, the parents chip in together and hire a nanny to help them. You might be able to get a grad student in education or a real teacher or something to help you. This also gives the kids some consistency, since the hired person is always there even if it's a different parent. This also helps with burnout/being overwhelmed etc.

It also seems odd that one parent has them for a whole week, and then you switch. Usually people trade days of the week, not whole weeks--how can you get a work schedule going if one week of the month you're not available?

2. Co-ops are all about cooperating. Not showing up and not giving a reason is VERY bad form. And you must all be on the same page with everything, and you must be able to discuss discipline etc. issues. (BTW you are asking for the hitting mom to lose it if you leave her alone with 5 3-year-olds.) If you have problems with other people's styles, you have to get that out there. (They probably don't like yours either
...)

It sounds like you're hanging out together because you're all mothers, not becayse you actually like each other. I have had the best luck with people who I'd want to spend time with even if we didn't have kids. You might want to try for a new group of people that are more on your wavelength (and you might even find a co-op that already exists that needs another person). Try Craigslist.com, yahoo groups for parents in your area; post signs in local cafes, supermarkets, etc.

3. There is nothing wrong with a 3-year-old spending some time away from Mommy with other kids/adults if it is a nurturing happy situation and it helps Mommy be a better mommy. Anyone who might lecture you on that is, well, wrong. So no need to feel defensive about it.

4. Finally--*child care* co-op makes more sense to me here than 'preschool.' I would keep it very low key and not worry about 'teaching' anything formally, especially if nobody has any background in early childhood education. Reading stories, making stuff, looking at nature, doing some music--that's what 3-year-olds need. Unless you are all Montessori certified, I wouldn't even get into 'teaching' very much at all--you're all bound to have different ideas/methods/philosophies, and it does not serve the kids well to have something inconsistent week after week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The mom who proposed the idea presented it as a co-op preschool vs. just teaching her daughter preschool at home. She thought having other children involved would make for a better social experience. She certainly did not intend for it to be a childcare co-op (which would be great, if such a thing existed around here). My intention was to use it to grab a break every couple of weeks.

Nothing is set in stone, but there was supposed to be a teacher mom and a helper mom (the one who's hosting the school that week). Because my DS is, well, active, I had intended to stay in the house and help with him as needed (but spend the rest of the time reading a book or whatever). I am fully comfortable and friendly with two of the moms, but I am completely uncomfortable with the spanking mom and her kids, because her son is very agressive and he and my son clash so badly. My son gets along great with the girls and less active boys, but the combination of him and an agressive boy is a recipe for disaster (for some reason he seems to attract their attention,
).

Now that I have thought more deeply about the potential issues with this situation, I agree that it seems kind of silly to teach these kids, but that is the original purpose of the group.

I think I will probably attend the planning meeting and see how serious people are about it. But I don't think it will work with so few children.
 
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