Ever since I mentioned it, I’ve received a ton of requests to know more about Annabelle’s co-op preschool since most of you have 3 year olds, why we chose it, and how we are preparing for preschool!
I was soooo looking forward to this particular move to a brand new city because it was a fresh start (I’ll be sharing more of this in a new vlog coming up). After being forced to move and not being able to find a new place in the town we were living, I was a bit anxious to say the least because I know how challenging it can be to move in general, but that plus having to make new friends (for myself and the kids) and establish a community around our family since my parents are moving away was a lot to take on in the beginning of 2020! I’m ALL about having a fresh start to the new year and I knew the best way we could all have one as a family is by enrolling Annabelle into some sort of a preschool.
If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know we tried drop in daycare for an
hour or two in Charleston and she loved it, but that’s just about all the semi-structured playing she’s ever done in her life. We toured some schools where we used to live last year and they were all too structured for us. We truly believe in play based education and letting little ones roam as free as possible while encouraging learning in the most natural way. Many of the schools we were touring were 2 and 3 year olds being forced to sit in a class for hours with little recess time. I wanted to make sure Annabelle would be able to go to a nurturing environment that was very hands on and that’s what we found her! Although I would have loved her to go to a Christian preschool, we found a co-op that we fell in love with.
If you don’t know what a co-op is, it’s basically a teacher AND parent run school where the parents are heavily involved. It’s at an actual school so it’s not homeschool, but the parents have responsibilities to uphold to be able to enroll their child in the said school. For example, helping the teacher “teach” once a month and assisting the students in a play based activity, choosing a role (Examples: “pet parent”- take care of the bunnies in class on the weekends, snack parent, clean up crew, etc.), and fundraising.
It sounds like a lot and I’m sure it is, but what I’m most excited for is being forced to make connections with other like minded moms. One of the most challenging aspects of being a new mom (even to a toddler sometimes) is feeling isolated. Especially since all my friends are pretty much still single! It’s so hard to find someone who would empathize with your toddler melting down in public, having to say no to a party because you co-sleep at 8pm, or even explaining why your house is a disaster because tending to two little ones is A LOT as a working stay at home mom.
I’ve always craved that sense of community with other moms who just “get me” and I almost had that in Charleston until we moved back to be near our families. Since I knew we were moving again last year, I didn’t bother trying. So this time I’m beyond excited to truly introduce Annabelle into the world of “school” even though I’ll be by her side here and there.
The school is amazing! It has a random claw foot bathtub in the center of it where kids climb in and play, costumes to put on at anytime, they can make a mess and not get scolded for it, they can dictate what types of activities they want to do and when, and it really focuses on encouraging independence and confidence from a young age. If you haven’t looked into one of these schools, I’d highly recommend it!
Annabelle’s joining in the middle of the school year, but I know it won’t be a big deal. It’s only two days a week for a couple of hours to introduce her to it all. A few ways we are preparing her for school is by getting her own backpack and lunchbox full of yummy snacks like these snack puffs with goat cheese from Kabrita. Kabrita has a ton of healthy, cow milk alternatives that are non-GMO and certified glyphosate free like baby formula, porridge, and puff snacks! I feed these snacks to both my girls and they love them! I’ve noticed that Doug and I have a slight reaction when we consume cow milk, especially Doug as we believe it contributes to his cystic acne. Ever since cutting back we have noticed a huge difference in bloating and our overall health so we are trying to reduce it in all of our foods which is why we love this alternative in an easy on the go pack!
A few ways we preparing her for preschool include:
- Having a morning ritual – This has been something that has been on and off for months. Because we both work from home, our daily routine is rarely consistent and as Annabelle has entered her toddler years, we’ve noticed her craving stability more and more so we knew it was of the utmost importance! For the last month Doug goes to work (aka the library/Starbucks) M-F from 6am-3pm and I watch the girls solo and do their morning routine. This has helped prepare Annabelle with what to expect when she starts her new school as I’ll be taking her and preparing her breakfast, etc. We also love eating a nutrient dense breakfast and Kabrita has an amazing Organic Goat Milk Porridge she loves! We do our daily devotional just us girls at the table and say a little prayer, then we get fully dressed for the day by 8:30am and head out the door by 10am to run errands. That is, until she starts school!
- Getting her a new backpack, labeling her things, and buying special “preschool” clothes that she picks out – I wanted to get her excited about the idea of her new school and what it means to have her own independence! Also ensuring her lunchbox is packed with her favorite foods like the Kabrita Snack Puffs!
- Bringing her around other kids before entering preschool – This was a big one and probably one of the most important. Even though Annabelle hasn’t been to daycare or school yet, she is a pretty social child and I do know that sometimes children are born that way, but I also believe it’s because we are pretty social ourselves when we are out and about! She probably goes to the park 4-5 times a week (or more) and we always encourage her to play with other kids and make friends. The moment she stepped into school for a tour she had already made a friend. I’ll be so happy when that continues this year since the biggest reason we are starting “school” is for socialization.
- Start “playing school” at home – I’ve been playing make believe “school” with Annbelle since she was 2 so she pretty much knows what to expect (minus there being kids around! ha). There are many free curriculums online and even the exact lesson plans you can teach your toddlers. It’s a fun way to pass the time when your solo-momming and also gets them super excited for the real thing! We even break for snack time, have “recess”, lunch, and do roll call, etc.
We’re also prepping her by telling her stories and reading books about school along with visiting before going fully. I love that I’m able to take her to explore the school before having to commit. Are your kids in preschool? I’d love to know your experience and of course I’ll update you guys on ours! I’m also looking into hybrid homeschooling (2/3 days at school with the rest at home) as an option for the future!
*A big thank you to Kabrita for sponsoring this post!