Frequently Asked Questions About Joy School
- General Joy School Questions
- Setting Up a Joy School Group
- Joy School Membership Purchasing Questions
General Joy School Questions
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
Joy School Membership Purchasing Questions
Does each family need its own Joy School membership?
A Joy School membership, allows individuals to have access to the materials to teach in a non-commercial setting. (For more information on commercial use of Joy School, contact us).
Instead of asking groups to form a co-op through Joy School and request a group subscription, Joy School many years ago discovered it was easier and simpler for parents to purchase the memberships separately. This benefits the members in many ways:
- Small groups are not priced out just because they only have a few children participating. Even groups with one or two children can still afford the curriculum. But even big groups of 6-8 enjoy substantial savings over purchasing the curriculum as a group or commercial membership.
- Lifetime memberships give parents access to the materials through different groups and/or multiple children. For example, families who may have to move part way through a semester or year will still have their materials available and can join other groups.
- Each family has individual access to the materials, and should use it! Even if it is not your week to teach Joy School, we hope that you will review and discuss the lessons with your children. The songs are especially suited to at-home extension.
- When families pay for their own membership, they are usually committed, and commitment is vital to a Joy School co-op group!.
I’ve seen a few free preschool programs out there. What makes Joy School better and worth it?
We love to answer this question, because there are few purchases we feel will benefit you and your child more than a well-used Joy School membership.
One of the Joy School Development Team members answers it this way:
“Over the last 14 years, at least one of my five children has been in that magical preschool age, so I’ve run the gamut of preschools and preschool programs. Because of varying stages in our lives, we’ve had children participate in homeschool preschool, preschool groups, sent kids to public preschools, private preschools, and church preschools. But Joy School is something more and something special.
For example, a few years ago, we moved to a new town partway through the year. The families I knew there already had a preschool group set up and were using a free internet-based preschool curriculum. Even though I had used Joy School before, I agreed to use their curriculum, actually quite interested to see what it was like. I was bored completely. For my first turn at teaching at my house, I was assigned teaching about “Spring”. Not only did I have to spend about two hours preparing, finding materials, songs off of youtube, and printing out little coloring pages, when the kids came to my house that morning, they quickly grew bored too. The material was just not fulfilling, not rich, and not purposeful. I talked to the other moms, who had similar experiences but didn’t want to pay for a program. We talked about it and the next year, we all did Joy School. The amount it saved in time for preparation paid for itself, but when you add the quality and memorable songs, the purposeful activities and crafts, and the real impact it makes on the children, the value is compounded.
What other preschool program has lessons and songs that even your teenagers will remember and sing back to you? What other program actually aims (and succeeds) to increase the joy and happiness of preschoolers and their families? What other program will you actually enjoy teaching year after year? Thirty years of committed and fervent Joy Schoolers will back me up in saying that there is no other program as intelligent, elegant, organized, spontaneous, enjoyable, and JOYful as Joy School.”
What does this program offer in terms of academic, kindergarten readiness, or common core learning?
Joy School teaches what has been proven through research, experience, and parental feedback to be the very most important concepts and principles that can be taught to children in a preschool or co-op setting, the concepts and principles of being secure, feeling loved and capable, being open and excited about learning, and finding joy and happiness in life’s wonders. Furthermore, and perhaps even more impactfully, Joy School helps parents be more aware of their roles in helping children develop the emotional, social and intellectual tools they need to become competent and joyful children and adults.
Many groups of young children are concerned about introducing an academic program prior to kindergarten. Even though the Joy School program eschews focusing on academics prior to establishing solid foundations of well-being and security, the program most definitely stimulates their intellectual development.
For example, Joy School has also always used a variety of methods to teach basics of literacy, such as the rhyming words and syntax taught through music and poetry, making logical inferences, and understanding complex texts and abstract ideas. The discussions, activities, and stories teach important Kindergarten and Grades 1-2 literacy and language skills, such as learning to verbally respond to texts, using expanded vocabulary to engage in conversation, actively using question words and responding to them, understanding the nuances of word usage and demonstrating them through conversation, and using context clues to discover word meanings. Joy School also covers in-depth principles of speaking and listening in a way that most preschools, kindergartens, and beyond cannot even touch, partially thanks to the intimacy the co-op small group. Joy School does an excellent job of teaching language skills, of course beyond its primary purpose in providing a gateway for more secure and joyful children.
As far as math and science, the curriculum also provides a fantastic foundational approach to mathematical and scientific reasoning. For example, there are a number of spacial awareness play activities, color recognition and usage activities, shape-based activities, measurement explorations through cooking, natural world exploration, and, of course, there is an entire unit dedicated to asking questions (Joy of Curiosity) which leads well into the foundations of scientific reasoning.
Joy School also helps children work on their fine and gross motor skills, cooperation, social problem solving, and group interaction, which were the benchmarks of kindergarten before Common Core took precedence.
To help parents who would like to introduce some of the rote learning that will be seen in school the following year (such as colors, letters, and numbers) and would like to have a longer Joy School day, the Kindergarten Readiness program introduces shapes, colors, letters, numbers in a more straightforward academic approach. (Most parents include Kindergarten Readiness as an additional “chunk” of their Joy School day.) And the Joy School 2.0 Curriculum, as mentioned above, very ably teaches language, comprehension, and foundational math skills. The combination of these two programs definitely covers the gamut of kindergarten readiness.
I previously bought a Joy School membership. Do I need to pay you for these revised lesson plans, called Joy School 2.0?
You have lifetime access to the materials you previously paid for. You are welcome to continue using the Joy School 1.0 lesson plans for as long as you’d like. If you have paid for at least a year of Joy School in the past, you get a steep discount and only pay $50 to upgrade to the new lesson plans for the entire year.
Some members of my group have upgraded to Joy School 2.0, and I still have the old version. Can we use them together?
This is doable, but we don’t recommend it. It would take some organization on your part because the old and new curriculum do not easily match up. The new curriculum was redesigned to give a continuity to the Joy School days and a set schedule so that children are familiar with the routine. The old curriculum does not provide that, so it will somewhat negate the huge benefits of the new curriculum if you are also using the old one.
In the past, one could also purchase Joy School, Year 2. Is this available now?
For those who previously purchased Year 2 of Joy School 1.0 from valuesparenting.com, those lessons are still available to them on this website.
However, with Joy School 2.0, the development team focused on just Joy School, Year 1. This is for the following reasons:
- Over the past 30 years, The Year 2 lesson plans were mainly used by commercial Joy Schools who had the same individuals teaching the same students over a number of years. Most in-home Joy School groups have used just the Year 1 lessons, preferring to repeat the Year 1 lesson plans rather than purchasing another year.
- Children thrive on repetition and it’s so much easier to teach the second year of Joy School when you’re teaching from lesson plans you’ve used previously!
- The new Joy School 2.0 lesson plans include options for arts and crafts and other activities so you can easily teach the same lesson the second or third year, but switch up which activities and arts and crafts you do to keep it fresh for the teachers.
What about the Kindergarten Readiness program?
For those who have purchased Kindergarten Readiness in the past from ValuesParenting.com, that program is still available to you through your lifetime access.
It is also still available for purchase for new users. There is a new introduction, but the materials have not been revised since 2004.
Will I be mailed any materials?
For the past almost 15 years, Joy School has provided its lesson plans online to its members. Members previously had the option of paying to have a copy of the Joy School songs sent by mail. Now, even all songs are provided online and are even available within the lesson plans for each access while teaching. You are welcome, as a dues-paying member, to download the music to play on your computer or portable music player, or burn them to a CD for personal, non-commercial use.
I am having technical issues. Where can I get help?
I have questions about Joy School curriculum, teaching, and how-to. Where can I get help?
What is the difference between the old lesson plans and the new Joy School 2.0?
Although Joy School lesson plans have gone through four major and several minor revisions over the last 30 years, this revision is unique because it has completely overhauled the original format of the lesson plans. Using a team of Joy School veterans, educators, editors, and graphic designers, we were able to significantly improve the already fantastic lesson plans and program. Of course, you can still use the great old lesson plans, but everyone in your group should be using the same version, whichever one you choose.
The new lesson plans offer the following upgrades, and much more:
- Lesson plans are now easier to prepare, whether you read them off of your tablet device or print them out. You can now teach the lessons easily from your phone or ipad, clicking on the included links to play a song or show an illustration when needed. Of course, you can also print out the lesson plans if that works best for you.
- The “Joys” have been consolidated into 10 Joys, and each lesson also has a specific name and number for easier reference. They are now much easier to follow and easier to plan out: all the changes were carefully considered through research and discussions with veteran Joy Schoolers.
- All the lessons now also follow the same format so that the children can feel comfortable with an easy flowing routine from house to house, week to week. Plus, teachers know what to expect and how to plan the day, again, drastically reducing the needed preparation time.
- There are now more activities and crafts contained in each lesson plan, so parents can choose which ones will work for their group at that time and save the unused activities or crafts for subsequent years or for at-home follow up with their own children. Also, activities and crafts continue with the original Joy School focus on keeping the crafts simple, but purposeful.
- All of the needed links, songs, and illustrations are embedded in the pdf so you can easily click to the material to play/view it, and then click back to the lesson plan.
- The main “Lesson Plan Outline” allows you to click down to the section you are on in the lesson: no more scrolling up and down through the lessons.
- The lesson plans include all of the lyrics for the songs.
- We will also continue to add Joy School specific support, such as discussion groups, helpful tips, videos and preschooling links. A team called the “Development and Member Support” has been hired to assist the original Joy School founders in helping the Joy School program be more accessible for more families, while still of course maintaining its integrity, focus, and well-founded and well-researched approach.
- Future improvements will include new illustrations for stories, photo examples of the craft activities, and podcasts and videos for teacher development.
- The Joy School 2.0 lesson plans will also be annually updated to correct mistakes or improve activities according to member feedback, so please let us know what we can do better to serve the wider Joy School family!
What do my dues cover?
Your lifetime membership dues pay for lifetime access to the Joy School version you paid for, and all the accompanying illustrations and music. This is one year of lesson plans: two semesters of 62+ lesson plans, which should take you through nine months of Joy School. It also helps pay for the enormous number of hours spent by our professionals revising, reorganizing, and updating the lesson plans and adding easy accessibility to the music and art. In addition it pays those who man our online help line if there is a question or a technical problem.
Setting Up a Joy School Group
How do I start or join a Joy School group?
Joy School group sizes can range anywhere from one child to more than ten. The dynamics of teaching several children can be very rewarding, but some moms have also had especially amazing experiences with the program when doing it one-on-one with their child(ren).
If you decide that you want to teach Joy School with other moms and rotate houses and teaching days, there are several ways to get that group together. Many moms assume it would be best to join an existing Joy School group or to find other moms who are doing Joy School and form a group with them. But that is not necessarily always the case. Sometimes it is better to form your own new Joy School group, with other moms who you already know and trust, and who live close to you. Here’s why:
- You already have relationships with those who are going to be teaching your child — you know that they care personally about your son or daughter and vice versa.
- Your Joy School will be much more convenient and efficient if it is made up of moms who live close to you and can take turns picking up and dropping off as well as taking turns teaching.
- Sharing materials, sharing ideas, brainstorming about how to make Joy School better, and working on outings and activities for the children are all easier with existing friends and within your neighborhood.
- The moms in your group are more than just rotating teachers. They will form the mothers’ group that you will socialize with.
- If you know the other moms in your group well, they will give you valuable feedback and insight to your own child. Children don’t always act the same when they are with their parents, and you want information about how your child acts and behaves when you are not there.
- You want your child to be exposed to your best friends, and you want to create memories for yourself and for your child with those you will know and stay in touch with over the years.
So then, what is the best way to go about forming a Joy School group?
If you know another preschool mom who is ready, join together; or if not, join Joy School yourself and get your lessons and materials.
Then think about the other preschool moms you know and consider which of them would be the best teachers and the most fun to do Joy School with. Start with just one or two other moms. Most Joy School groups start this way. It is rare to be able to just go out and find five or six of your friends who are ready, willing, and able to do Joy School. But if you find just one or two, you can get it going and then add other moms as the word gets out and as they see what a good thing (and what a good deal) Joy School is. Have lunch together or meet somewhere and show them the materials and the Joy School website. Let them hear samples from the songs and see the activities and go over the list of joys. Discuss the Joy School advantages of
- extremely low cost
- powerful, complete lesson plans and music and activities that teach life’s most valuable joys and make it easy to be a good teacher even if you have never taught before
- An online Joy School community where moms can share ideas, discuss lessons, get help, and share the Joys of Joy School
- In-home follow up on each Joy that gets husbands involved
- In-home “systems” that make communication better and discipline easier
- Having the time off when you are not the teacher
- Knowing your child is being taught by one of your good friends. (This is just a partial list — tell them why you love Joy School and what a difference it can make in kids’ lives and in the happiness of the whole family.)
What if I still can’t find friends or neighbors who want to do Joy School—how do I form a group?
This is when our Joy School Forums can be very helpful. There may be other moms in your area looking for a group to join, or you might find a perfect group to join in your area.
Good Luck, and thanks for being part of what we think is the greatest (and happiest) preschool parents network in the world!
What does a typical Joy School weekly schedule look like?
There are dozens and dozens of varieties of a Joy School schedule. They range anywhere from once a week for two hours, to two or three times a week for five hours. Of course, the schedule will depend on the age of the children and the families’ availability.
The lessons were originally written to provide lessons for Joy School twice a week, 2.5 hours each day, with the same family hosting both lessons for the same week. The new lesson revisions, Joy School 2.0, keep with that framework, but provide enough activities that could fill over 4 hours each day, twice a week, giving the parent teachers the opportunity to choose which activities will work best with their group, or using them all. Realistically, however, it works best to provide 2-2.5 hours of structured Joy School time for children of this age. Many Joy Schools who have children who will attend Kindergarten the following year keep those older kids for an extra half hour at the end of the morning to practice Kindergarten skills. In the end, it is totally up to each group to decide on a schedule.
Here is a personal account from a Joy Schooler:
“With my group this year, we had a group of five four-year-old girls and one four-year-old boy. We had Joy School twice a week (Tuesday and Friday) from 9-1pm. This worked for us because we all lived fairly far from each other, so the moms wanted enough time to run errands or go back home and come back while the kids were at Joy School. We fed them a large lunch instead of a small snack time like the lesson plans suggest. We also had longer free play time and were able to do most of the activities in the lesson plans.
With my other three older children, we always had a 2.5-hour Joy School, twice a week.
My sister’s group had four two-year-old boys, and she enjoyed having Joy School once a week for two hours. She just spread the lessons out so that they only used one semester’s worth of lessons over six months. Joy School was a great success and all of the parents look forward to increasing the frequency this year now that the boys are turning three and longing for longer Joy School time.
Furthermore, most of my groups have had the same parent teach both lessons for the week, but I’ve also done it where it isn’t the same parent both times. I personally prefer teaching both times in the same week so I can have some continuity with the lessons, and so I have longer stretches between when I teach again.”
What does the schedule look like over the semester/year?
When you purchase a Joy School membership, you will have access to sample Joy School semester schedules so you can easily fill in your groups’ rotation.
The Joy School Curriculum provides lessons to cover two lessons per week from September 1st-May 31st, with a two week break in December. Of course, groups will probably take other breaks to coincide with public school holidays or schedules, vacations, etc.
Also, don’t forget to schedule regular Parents’ Meetings to discuss the upcoming events and curriculum. (See the Start-Up Manual and Sample Schedules.)
When your group has more lessons than time available, you may want to combine lessons, or have families do lessons at home.
How should we divide up the lessons between families?
First of all, designate (or volunteer) a Group Leader. The group leader should personalize the Suggested Schedule for the group and maintain and amend the schedule through the year. You can also visit the Start-Up Manual, page 10, for a breakdown of the Units. The group leader should also do or delegate the following: make assignments for the Joy School box materials (see Start-Up Manual), ensure that the group has good communication via email or other methods, and make sure that special events and field trips are preplanned. Sometimes one parent (usually a veteran Joy School parent) is willing and wanting to do all of this on their own, but it is still good for the other parents to volunteer to take on at least some of the Group Leader responsibilities.
There are many ways that parents have divided up Joy School teaching, but they all fall roughly into two methods.
Note: If you are teaching twice a week, Joy School recommends having the same parent teach both lessons in the same week to help with continuity. Plus, it seems that most Joy School switch to this pattern eventually (for whatever reason), even if they start by having different parents teach in a week.
- Setting Up a Rotation: Each child’s family teaches in order, such as A, B, C, D, E, and then repeat again. Weeks can be switched around as needed. This method really helps parents (and kids) remember who is teaching next.
- Dividing the Weeks: Count the number of weeks and divide by parents. If each parent has five weeks in the year that they need to teach, you can insert the parents’ names on the schedule where they need/want to teach, and then fill in the rest in a sort of rotation. This works well if you have one parent who has something that will prohibit them from teaching during a stretch of time during the year, such as having a baby, a deadline with work, travels, moving houses, etc.
If parents are Joy School veterans, they might request to teach certain lessons that they particularly enjoy or already are well set-up to present. The “Dividing the Weeks” method works well for this.
Of course, most groups use a combination of the two: a rotation method that also accounts for major schedule disruptions. Don’t forget to check the local public/private school calendars to account for Spring Break, Fall Break, Winter Holidays, etc.
As far as special events and parents’ meetings, it is sometimes best to divide those up first and then do the lessons so that one family doesn’t have the majority of work near Christmas, for example. The main events (most are optional and have flexible dates) are: Halloween Party (Unit 2 or 3), Nursing Home Visit (Unit 4), Christmas Program (Unit 4), and Graduation (End of Unit 10). Most special events are fairly simple to host: the host parents need to provide the venue, but the other families all bring refreshments and help with the program. If one family has a home more suited to hosting groups, that family might offer to host all of the events, but the other parents need to be sure to do the majority of the work for putting on the event.
There are also a few field trips that might work best at homes that are in close proximity to the field trip location: Nature Walk (Lesson 2.2), Garden Visit (Unit 2.4), Nursing Home Visit (end of Unit 4), Library Visit (7.3).
What do we do if families need to change weeks/reschedule?
If a family needs to change the week that they are teaching, they should take care of that trade themselves, and then tell the Group Leader, who will make the change on the schedule. For example, if Family B finds out that they have an important meeting on October 14th, the week they were supposed to teach, they should first approach Family C to see if they can switch weeks. If not, they should then ask Family D, then Family E. Once a trade is made, Family B should tell the group leader who will then email the group and change it on the schedule.
If your group prints out their schedule and keeps it in the Joy School box, then Group Leader will need to reprint the schedule for each Parents’ Meeting or at the beginning of each Unit. Otherwise, the Group Leader can just email the amended schedule as often as needed, or even better, keep a “living” schedule on Google Docs or similar document sharing program that the other Joy School families can access whenever needed.
In a last minute emergency change, sometimes another family/parent is able to take on the lesson. This is the best case scenario, especially because it is sometimes very hard for the other parents to adjust their morning if they were planning to not have a child with them, and then all of a sudden they do! If no one else is able to trade the cancelling parent at the last minute, the cancelling parent should offer to teach the lesson either on another day that week or in the future.
What if one family has more than one child in the Joy School group?
There is no definitive answer for this question, because it really depends on the group. Generally, the lessons should be divided up according to the number of children, which means that a parent with two children in the group should teach twice as often. (But, they only have to purchase one Joy School membership, since memberships are sold by family, not by child). However, sometimes this is an undue hardship for that family, especially those with babies or heavy work schedules. For that reason, some groups do a modified rotation, such having the two-child family teaching 1.5 times as often, or having the two-child family teach the remainder weeks in a divided schedule (for example, if you have five families (six kids), but there are 34 weeks, four of the families would teach six weeks, and the other family (with two kids) would teach ten. Or sometimes that parent with two kids in the group takes on a larger portion of the carpooling, is the automatic substitute teacher if another parent cannot teach on their assigned day, runs all of the special events, or hosts all of the parents’ meetings and handles all of the group leader responsibilities. In any case, the Joy School program highly recommends that the family with more than one child take on a larger share of the responsibilities so that the other families do not feel it is unfair as time goes on, even if they profess at first that they do not care.
Note: Usually, a two-child family will just offer to teach more often or take on more responsibility because they recognize that they need to. However, if they do not, you could have the group leader ask, “How would you like to handle your teaching responsibilities: would you like to have both of your weeks in a row, or would you like to teach every three/four weeks?” or, “Instead of having you teach double what the other parents are teaching (six weeks), would you like to just teach 9 weeks total?” or, “What do you feel about taking on all of the special events (or Joy School box maintenance, parents’ meetings, etc) instead of teaching a week for each child? Would that be better for you?”
Are there Joy School holiday lessons?
Joy School provides some American holiday supplemental lessons that can be used in place of or in conjunction with the regularly planned lessons. The Joy School DMS team hopes to add holiday supplements for other countries’/cultures’ holidays in the future. The exception is December: Although Joy School is not affiliated with any one religion, the unit named The Joy of Sharing and Service teaches about Christmas and use Christmas traditions and songs to teach about service and sharing. The Christmas story and the traditions surrounding that story are especially well suited to teaching that Unit, and we have had positive feedback from our many non-Christian Joy Schoolers that they enjoyed sharing these traditions with their children.
How do I find other parents/families to do Joy School with?
Talk to friends, neighbors, acquaintances who have children your child’s age. Most parents start thinking about preschool programs a few months before their child turns three or about six months before school starts, so its important to start asking around before everyone is enrolled in other programs.
To make it easy for you, following is text you can copy, paste and personalize in an email to other parents you think might like to be part of your Joy School group:
Have you heard of Joy School? I’ve checked it out and it seems like a really great way to offer our children a really affordable and top-quality preschool experience. Over the past 40 years, the Joy School program has been used by over 200,000 families around the world and has recently been completely updated and enhanced. Joy School provides a group of 4-6 families with overall instructions and detailed lesson plans for two sessions of preschool a week (including music, crafts, stories and visual aids). Parents trade off teaching their collective children in their homes (so each parent in the group teaches every 4-6 weeks – depending on how many families are in the group). With Joy School, I love that parents get to be so involved in their children’s preschool education, I love that my children get to be taught by my trusted friends, and I love the price.
But the best thing about Joy School is the focus of the curriculum. The Joy School curriculum is centered on the concept that the goal of preschool education should be to help children be happy, well-adjusted and confident and that developing their various capacities for “joy” will set children up for success in school and beyond. Each month, Joy School focus on a different theme – some examples include the Joy of the Body, the Joy of the Earth, the Joy of Sharing and Service, the Joy of Honesty and Communication. You can read more details about the philosophy of the program and how it works by clicking here.
Lifetime membership to the Joy School materials costs just $150 per family and once you pay, you can use the lesson plans and materials forever. With regular preschool costing about $250 per month for tuition, I feel like $150 per forever is a pretty good deal!
I would love for you to be part of the Joy School group I am putting together. I think you and your child would be real assets to our group and that you would really enjoy participating in Joy School. Please reply by _______ to let me know if you’re interested and if there are other families you can think of who may also be a good fit.
In addition, you can post a comment on our Joy School Forum, stating that you are looking for interested parents in your area.
Really, if you can find one other parent who is interested, you can put your heads together and think of other parents that the two of you can invite. Or you can start your group with just two moms and add others down the road if you like. No need for a big group! While 4-6 children is typical, 2-3 works great as well.
How old are children that participate in Joy School?
The curriculum is designed to work very well for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. Children understand things and internalize things in different ways based on their age and maturity level, but most children in this age bracket will enjoy most activities suggested in the lesson plans. You can simplify activities for certain children and make them more intense for other children who need more of a challenge. Most Joy Schools have mixed classes of 3, 4 and 5 year olds and find that this works very well as children learn to help each other and follow the example of the older children in their group. Parents of very precocious 2½-year-olds have found that their children are ready to start, however, being potty trained is a definite prerequisite.
Really, each age has its advantages and delights when teaching. Some parents report that they simply love teaching a wide-eyed group of two years, while other parents appreciate the attentiveness and “really getting it” aspect of teaching five year olds. And who can dispute the fun of teaching a totally immersed group of three and four year olds with all of their comments and perceived drama? Probably the best advice is just to try not to have too diverse of a group age wise: not only does it make it easier to gear your lessons towards a specific age group, but it also creates a group that can “grow” through Joy School, doing two or three years together before starting kindergarten.
How many kids should we have in our Joy School group?
The ideal size for a Joy School group is four to six families/children, but two or three children can work well too. Sometimes, one or two families join Joy School and then, when they have an established group that other children/parents can visit, their group expands.
Can I do Joy School with just my own child?
Absolutely! Joy School works really well for parents teaching their own child in their home. Parents have especially amazing experiences with the program when doing it one-on-one with their child(ren).
Is Joy School a homeschool program?
Yes! and No! Joy School co-op groups have been around long before homeschooling was even close to as popular as it is today in America and some other countries, so it’s hard to categorize it into a label that really has evolved after Joy School was initially created. It works well as a commercial preschool curriculum, and a cooperative parents’ preschool curriculum, and as a homeschool one-on-one curriculum.
So, yes, it is a homeschool program because it uses the comfort, familiarity, and security of the home to teach children. It is also not heavily academic, instead focusing on what has been found to be even more crucial to happiness, security, and emotional health: reacting positively to the wonder and beauty of our lives and working towards always increasing our joy. It also recognizes that parents are great teachers of children, especially with help from a well-developed curriculum.
Joy School is also a great way for parents who have considered homeschooling to “try it out” while also giving their children a chance to have positive social interaction. Many Joy School groups have gone on to create homeschool groups as their children get older.
But Joy School is also a really fantastic way to prepare children for a successful entry into public and private “brick-and-mortar” schools. Many parents remark that their children who have done Joy School more easily and happily head off to kindergarten and do well there than their other children who have not done Joy School or have gone to a more “tradition” preschool. This is partly because Joy School helps children find happiness and joy in being themselves and delighting in life’s experiences.
How long do children participate in Joy School?
Most children participate in Joy School for two consecutive years, and many families end up teaching Joy School every year for many years as they have one child after another participate. After participating in one year of Joy School, moms and dads are better teachers, and the children are a year older. So Joy School keeps getting better and better for parents and children alike.
I’ve found other families to do Joy School with. How do we get started?
- Once you have a few families, have each family pay dues for their membership. It works very well to simply send an email to all members of your group that includes the link to valuesparenting.com/joy-school.
- Once everyone has purchased their membership, have them carefully read the Start-Up Manual, which has detailed instructions about all things Joy School and preschool co-op.
- Set up a time to have an introductory organizational meeting with the parents in your group about a month before the school will start. Again, before this first organizational meeting, make sure everyone has read the start-up manual, the two “Joy of Joy School: Getting Acquainted” lessons, and at least a couple lessons from Unit One or Two. This will make it easier to discuss your plans and questions together., especially as the Start-Up Manual has detailed instructions for your first organizational meeting.
All of my friends/neighbors have already enrolled their kids in preschool. What should I do?
Many moms have the issue you’re having with other kids in the neighborhood already enrolled or planning to enroll in preschool/daycare. Here are some points that can help.
- First of all, remember that each child/parent/family needs to figure out what works for them. In most cases, parents have spent a lot of time, stress, and money trying to figure out which preschool will be best for their child.
- It can be helpful to explain to moms that Joy School is a great thing to do in addition to another preschool if they have already enrolled their child in a preschool in the area. Many moms think it works perfectly to have their children attend Joy School two mornings a week and then attend another type of preschool two or three other mornings of the week.
- You can also help moms understand that doing Joy School will give them insights into how their child learns and interacts with other children that they simply cannot get another way.
- You can explain that the Joy School curriculum is really the best out there. It’s been used by over 200,000 families and all the methods, stories, songs, etc. are tried and true and the philosophy behind it is really important – that helping kids develop positive character traits, self-confidence, and social skills is vital to children’s happiness and success both in school and in life.
- As an added bonus, Joy School offers a great opportunity for parents to work together and form meaningful friendships.
- Be sure to give moms the link to these frequently asked questions so they can learn more about Joy School and see the sample lesson plans.
How do I get started?
Download the introductory manual first. That manual has all of the information about setting up your group and has the patterns you will need to make your weather chart, calendar, Joy School House and puppets. These items along with other supplies for the children will be placed in the box that travels from house to house.
Be sure to hold your mother’s meetings. Each mother should bring her copy of the schedule to the meetings and the group leader should download the first part of the unit you will be starting. The first part of each manual contains information about that unit and a suggested agenda for the mother’s meeting. You can work out your teaching assignments during your meetings and any other details for the group, then each mother can download the modules she will be teaching.
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
Joy School 2.0
- Includes online access to the entire curriculum (start-up manual, lesson plans, downloadable music, stories, and illustrations)
- Lifetime Joy School 2.0 membership. You only pay once and can continue using it year after year for all of your children.
- Includes lifetime VP Premium Membership ($49 value)
- Just need one semester, upgrading from Joy School 1.0, looking for Year 2 of Joy School 1.0, or already a VP Premium member? Click here.