I first learned about Joy School from my sisters, who had been participating in the program with their own children. What is Joy School? It is a preschool curriculum first developed over 30 years ago where parents of children between the ages of 3 and 5 take turns hosting and teaching Joy School in their own homes. Each month the curriculum emphasizes each of ten different joys of childhood rather than focusing on academic curriculum taught in most preschools, and helps children to develop social and emotional skills. The lesson plans are easy to follow and include many suggested activities, songs, art projects, and even snacks to teach children about joy. There are hints and tips for helping the children learn to follow rules, play nicely with other, and to learn to sit still and listen for short periods of time. Best of all, the children and the parents all develop friendships and a support network that can last for years.
I was blessed to find another mother in my area who also wanted to try out the Joy School program when my boys were old enough to begin, so we took turns hosting/teaching the Joy School in our homes for several months. Unfortunately the other mother could not continue after the first few months, so since my kids were so close in age, we just had our own home school Joy School. It wasn't the ideal situation since we didn't have the social or support aspect of a group, and did take quite a bit of work and preparation each week, but I tried to be consistent and do at least some of the activities and use the stories and songs provided each week. Unfortunately I don't seem to have any photos of us during Joy School!
Dear Daughter 2 was the one child who really missed out the most on the preschool program. By the time she was 3 years old, her older siblings were already in public school. I was also running a cub scout den, and we soon had a new baby sister to boot, so I was not very consistent with weekly Joy School with her, and we still had no other families to share the Joy School experience with. I'm afraid she has always felt a bit neglected in that regard. With Dear Daughters 3 and 4 we lived near a very thriving Joy School group and were blessed to be able to join with them for five years.
Do I feel that my children missed out by not attending a professionally run pre-school? Definitely not! I loved spending the precious pre-school years with my children and feel very blessed that I was able to be home with them during those years. We read together, worked together and played together, and all of the kids knew their numbers and colors and were readers well before they began kindergarten/first grade.
The Joy School curriculum was developed by husband and wife team, Linda and Richard Eyre who have made it their life's work to strengthen families. You can learn more about Joy School and Values based parenting here.
What are some of your favorite memories with young children and pre-school years?