What is Joy School?

Joy School is a highly-acclaimed and developmentally appropriate preschool curriculum for three-, four- and five-year-old children. Based on the book Teaching Your Children Joy by New York Times best-selling authors, Richard and Linda Eyre, the Joy School preschool program has had over 250,000 participants since its inception over 30 years ago. The Joy School curriculum has been used by many commercial preschools throughout the country, but Joy School began as and continues to primarily be a curriculum used by families in co-op preschools where parents take turns hosting and teaching Joy School in their homes.

Parents form a neighborhood group (usually three to seven families) and download the materials needed to conduct a twice a week do-it-yourself preschool – rotating from home to home, with each mother taking her turn as teacher. With Joy School your trusted friends and neighbors are the other teachers. You take your turn teaching and then have more free time while the others take their turns; and the cost of Joy School is less than one-tenth that of the average commercial preschool.

Every member of your Joy School group will receive on-line access to the Joy School lesson plans, music, and artwork. We have divided the Joy School year into two semesters. The first semester goes from September through January and the second semester goes from February through May if you follow the recommended schedule.

The basic idea behind Joy School is that preschool children need to have fun as they learn social skills and develop positive character traits as they get ready to start school. To do this, the Joy School curriculum approaches each of 12 major “Joys” of childhood, one by one, spending several preschool sessions on each Joy. Starting with the most tangible Joys at the beginning of the school year, the curriculum progresses to some of the more complex Joys as the children gain maturity during the school year. Parents use the Joy School lesson plans, newsletters, notes, suggested books, and original Joy School music to address each of the following themes or joys:

  • The Joy of the Body
    Taking good care of our bodies, learning about our five senses, etc.

  • The Joy of the Earth
    Appreciating and respecting the earth

  • The Joy of Honesty
    Understanding the importance of telling the truth and the joy of being trustworthy

  • The Joy of Sharing and Service
    Realizing the joy involved in making others happy

  • The Joy of Order and Goal Striving
    Learning the joy of taking care of our things and working hard to accomplish tangible goals

  • The Joy of Making Good Decisions
    Learning about choices and consequences

  • The Joy of Interest and Curiosity
    Celebrating and enhancing children’s desire to explore and learn

  • The Joy of Spontaneous Delight
    Cherishing and enhancing children’s natural ability to enjoy the moment and get excited

  • The Joy of Trusting and Trying
    Learning to try new things as they trust those who love them and will help them in their efforts.

  • The Joy of Being Myself
    Celebrating each child’s unique abilities and attributes and helping children build self-confidence.

  • The Joy of Imagination and Creativity
    Cherishing and enhancing children’s natural imagination and creativity.

  • The Joy of Family and Friends
    Appreciating good relationships.

For a complete understanding of the Joy School philosophy, go to our partner website, eyresfreebooks.com, read the book Teaching Your Children Joy by Richard and Linda Eyre.

What do children do at Joy School?

As committed, loving, and talented teachers guide children through a balanced combination of organized activities (crafts, songs, stories, discussions) and unstructured supervised play, the Joy School program helps children:

  • Understand and appreciate themselves and the world around them as they embrace the joys of childhood and learn to find joy in positive character-building activities
  • Build positive friendships and social skills as they learn to play well and work well with others
  • Get excited about academic learning as they learn and practice pre-academic skills involving colors, shapes, letters and numbers as well as participate in activities that build fine-motor skills (cutting, coloring, gluing, building, etc.)

What does it do for parents and families when their child is enrolled in Joy School?

Joy School helps parents:

  • Be an active participant in their child’s preschool learning. Parents receive short notes each day letting them know what their child learned, they attend regular parent meetings to learn about the upcoming units and share ideas and concerns, and they help reinforce what’s learned in Joy School as they listen to the Joy School songs with their child and gain ideas from the Joy School newsletters and the valuesparenting.com website
  • Reinforce the positive character traits they want their children to develop
  • Develop a supportive network of committed parents as they attend regular parent meetings and get to know the parents of their children’s friends
  • Get new ideas about parenting as they log on to ValuesParenting.com and give and receive good ideas about parenting

What does Joy School NOT offer?

Joy School is not:

  • Day care
  • An unstructured play group
  • A heavily academic program that tries to teach children to read and do math before entering Kindergarten

What are people saying about Joy School?

I went to Joy School when I was little and I still remember a lot! I especially loved the unit on Spontaneous Delight and remember when the teacher let the air popper pop popcorn all over the room while we danced around in glee. It was so good for me to see that there’s a time and a place for doing fun, silly things. And I’ll never forget the time we went to sing to some elderly disabled people during the unit on Sharing and Service. Our teacher prepared us well and we were so excited to see the smiles on the faces of those sweet “grandmas and grandpas”!

I was a pretty shy little kid and was so scared to start Joy School. But the small group setting and curriculum of Joy School was perfect for me. I gained a lot of confidence as my teacher helped me feel special and as I got comfortable with the other kids. My favorite unit was on the Joy of Being Myself (formerly called the Joy of Individual Confidence and Uniqueness). I still have the “All About Me” book that I made in that unit and I love showing it to my kids.

The other day I overheard my son singing a Joy School song – ‘When a thing is hard to do, I don’t sit and cry, I just make a happy face and try, try, try…’ I went in there and saw him working away on getting his boots on. He usually gets so easily frustrated when he can’t do something right away. This unit on trying is certainly helping him!

I’ve taught at many different preschools and I was so excited when I finally found the Joy School curriculum. There’s nothing else out there in a preschool curriculum that really teaches little kids so many meaningful things in such a fun way.

I love that Joy School keeps the parents involved. The parent meetings are always fun and informative and I love that my daughter brings home a CD with all the songs for each unit so we can listen to it all the time. Every Joy School day, my daughter brings home a note saying what she did that day and that’s very helpful. At her old preschool, I was always asking her what she did that day and she couldn’t remember most of the time so I felt pretty out-of-the-loop.

When I decided to fork over the cash to put my son in preschool, I decided I wanted a program that would have a real curriculum and I like to know what specific things he’s going to be learning. The Joy School program fit our needs perfectly. I don’t want him just playing around with other kids in a supervised setting – that’s fine, but I can do that with an informal neighborhood playgroup. If I’m paying for preschool, Joy School is the very thing I want my child doing.

From a Kindergarten teacher: “When I get my new students each fall, I can always tell right away which ones are Joy School graduates. They come to school confident, good at making friends, and ready to learn. I have some students who come already reading or way ahead on math which is fine, but not necessary. The social skills that the Joy School kids have really help them do well in my class. And they all know their letters and numbers and all that as well.

Note: To set up or find out about running a “commercial” Joy School, click here.