What is Joy School and What Are Its Advantages?
Joy School is a highly-acclaimed and developmentally appropriate preschool curriculum for three-, four- and five-year-old children that is used by families in co-op preschools where parents take turns hosting and teaching Joy School in their own homes. Based on the book Teaching Your Children Joy (available for free at Eyres’ Free Books) by New York Times #1 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. In 2015 the Joy School curriculum and lesson plans were completely updated and revised, and now Joy School is modernized, current, and better than ever. We call it Joy School 2.0.
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 the others take their turns. The cost of Joy School is less than one-tenth that of the average commercial preschool.
Every member of your Joy School group pays for online access to the Joy School lesson plans, music, and artwork. The Joy School year is divided into two semesters. If you follow the recommended schedule the first semester goes from September through January and the second semester goes from February through May.
The basic idea behind Joy School is that it is more important to give kids a social and emotional head start than an academic one. Preschool children need to have fun and experience joy as they learn the social skills and develop the positive character traits that will get them ready to start school. As a recent article in The Atlantic points out, by the time students who had attended academic-oriented preschools were in first grade, “…their attitudes toward school were deteriorating. And by second grade they performed worse on tests measuring literacy, language, and math skills.” Kids can get burned out and lose their enthusiasm for learning if they are pushed too early and too fast. Joy School is the opposite approach.
The Joy School curriculum approaches each of 10 major “Joys” of childhood, one by one, spending several 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 and Communication
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 Goals and Order
Learning the joy of taking care of our things and working hard to accomplish tangible goals
- The Joy of Confidence
Developing confidence in yourself and your decisions
- The Joy of Wonder
Cherishing and enhancing children’s natural desire to explore and learn and their ability to enjoy the moment and get excited
- The Joy of Imagination and Creativity
Cherishing and enhancing children’s natural imagination and creativity
- The Joy of Family
Appreciating good relationships
- The Joy of Uniqueness
Celebrating each child’s unique abilities and attributes and helping children build self-confidence
Be sure to read through our frequently asked questions for much more information on setting up Joy School groups, membership questions, and how Joy School works.
The Advantages of Joy School
- Low Cost. Because Joy School operates like a co-op, each family just pays their share of the development and administrative costs, and the cost is from one tenth to one fiftieth of the cost of most commercial preschools
- The Curriculum. Preschool years are the most impressionable time of a child’s life, so why not teach them the most important thing of all—how to be happy, how to preserve the joys they were born with and how to learn the joys that come less naturally. From the Joy of the Body and the Joy of the Earth to the Joy of Imagination and Creativity to the Joy of Order and Goal Striving, Joy School is the most exciting and beneficial preschool curriculum on earth.
- Preparation for Kindergarten. Most research shows that lots of early academics do not benefit kids over the long run. What does benefit preschoolers is learning the social and emotional skills (we call them Joys) that get them ready to learn.
- Trusted Teachers. With Joy School, your child is taught by you and by your best friends—by those who love and care for your child most. Your child learns from all the moms in your Joy School group, and you learn about your child from all of those friends.
- Detailed Lesson Plans and Materials. Even moms who have never taught and don’t think of themselves as teachers find that, with the “what to do every five minutes” lesson plans of Joy School, they can feel like instantly competent teachers. Tried and proven over 35 years, the methods, music, art, stories, and activities of Joy School will give you confidence.
- Mothers Group Friends. The other moms in your Joy School group will become even better friends as you meet together, plan together, and teach each other’s children. You will become each other’s parenting advisors and best supporters.
- Connections. There are Joy School Parents and ValuesParenting members throughout the world, and through the forums on this website, you can connect with all of them to discuss lessons, find and form groups, and be a part of what we hope will be a thriving online community.
Here are a few things people are 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 teachers helped me feel special and as I got comfortable with the other kids. My favorite unit was on the Joy of 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 we can listen to the songs 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. 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.”
Sample Lesson Plans:
- Intro Lesson 1: The Joy of Joy School Part 1
- Lesson 1.2: The Wonder of Our Bodies
- Lesson 3.3: Honesty
- Lesson 5.4: The Joy of Order
- Sample Year 1 Schedule