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Create a Center-Based Home School Preschool

In my home school preschool series I have explained how we created a more traditional school setting in A Home School Preschool Co-Op.  The traditional setting worked very well for us but we wanted to move into a more Montessori center-based learning environment for our three-year olds.  In the traditional environment we moved within Units and each Lesson was then supported by the story, the craft, the music and the play time, as I showed in How to Set Up a Home School Preschool.  In a center-based environment we felt we could dive into specific letters, numbers, and activities that would cater to each child instead of teaching everyone the same letter or number for that specific day.  So, how did we do it?

center-based home school preschool

Our Schedule:

Pledge of Allegiance

Circle Time (15-20 min)

  • Hello Song
  • Calendar
  • Weather
  • Month Song
  • Week Song
  • Lesson
  • Story

Language Arts (15-20 min)

  • Montessori based manipulative is given to each child.

Craft (15-20 min)

  • Seriously?  Pinterest!

Snack Time (15 min)

  • We bring in a snack that the class shares (along with our own).

Music (15 min)

  • Mostly free play.  We allow them to use any instruments and just play fun music for them.

Bible (5-10 min)

  • We introduce a new bible story and do a short discussion.

Math (15-20 min)

  • Montessori based manipulative is give to each child.

Practical Life, Geography, Science (15-20 min)

  • We rotate these each week so that each month they will be exposed to each center.

Closing Circle Time (5 min)

  • Calendar
  • Good-bye song


Who does what?

The schedule looks easy enough but how to you turn it into a preschool?  There are two main things we created that are necessary:

1.  A Center sign up Google Doc!

  • If you haven’t worked with google docs before I highly recommend you learn to LOVE them for your home school preschool.  We created a blank document that listed off each of the areas (for each month with the dates).
  • Center Manipulative Sign Up Name Unit
    Language Arts Sandpaper Letters
    Week 1
    Week 2
    Week 3
    Week 4
    Math Sandpaper Number
    Week 1
    Week 2
    Week 3
    Week 4
    Art Crayons/markers
    Week 1
    Week 2
    Week 3
    Week 4
    Geography Globe/USA puzzle
    Practical Life
    Practical Life Garden & Cleaning Supplies
    Books Bible once a week
    Week 1
    Week 2
    Week 3
    Week 4
  • Each of us sign up for one center each week and one book for each week.  We do the same manipulative both days.  (The first day the child is introduced to the manipulative and usually needs help from the teachers, then the second day the child should be able to do the manipulative alone.)
  • This means that we only are in charge of 4 centers each month!  And the more weeks that go by the more manipulatives you have in case some one can’t come to school that day.  If someone is absent we just pull out something that we already have!  It is very convenient that our school takes place at the same person’s house that happens to not only have an amazing bonus room for a class room but also a BIG closet.  If you will be moving locations each week (taking turns at each other’s homes) try to keep all your extra manipulatives available for these crazy days.

2.  Create a Pinterest Board!

Okay, so I hate Pinterest.  I know, that sounds super harsh, but really, who has time?  Well, it’s the exact opposite when you are planning with 3 other people, it SAVES time!  We are able to pin different manipulatives for each other to see, for us to find easily, and links that we can paste to our schedule very easily.  I am definitely the one that uses it the least, but I still do recognize the importance of it.

How do I use Pinterest with how little I like it?  I have to say it is the best resource for manipulatives!  I go into the search and put “Montessori letters”  or “Montessori math” or “Preschool math (letters)” and the ideas are never ending!  There are links to free printables, which are awesome, plus I have found other home school blogs that I have started following because I loved the ideas so much!

Want some examples?

Look at this cute math idea that worked perfectly with the Transportation Unit we’re on!  It was perfect for our 2-year olds.  What about for our 3-year olds that are a little more advanced?  I had them build Lego towers, trace them as a graph on the paper, and then write the number above.  We spoke about which number was bigger and smaller and they were able to see the number.

Student Responsibilities

We also added responsibilities for each child in school:

  • Flag holder- while we say the pledge
  • Weather person- moves the weather arrow on the calendar during circle time
  • Snack helper- the child uses cups to get the snack out of the container and hand to the other children while they sit
  • Cleaners- we have two of the students help clean the table, chairs, and floor after snack time
  • Helper- helps the teachers during the day (hand out materials, etc.)

My daughter’s home school preschool co-op has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  My daughter loves her teachers, friends, and spending it with me.  The other moms have made something that seems sort of complicated into a simple, fun environment for our children to learn in.  I’m blessed to have them in my life and I hope this post helps create this amazing experience for you and your child as well!


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3 Responses to Create a Center-Based Home School Preschool

  1. Missy at #

    Hey! Thanks so much for this. I live in South America and have some other teachers-turned-SAHM friends who might be up for this.

    Question… How do you share the costs associated with the materials and snacks?


  2. Lindsay at #

    I too hate pinterest, and also NOT because it not awesome (because it is) but because of the time constraints. Ironically, I found you because of pinterest. Sending my 2 year old to preschool would have been very expensive. ($6200USD/ 3 months). My husband works away, we live in a foreign country with no help (no friends even), I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I think I can now. So, thank you. For two nights straight I have looked for information for a workable solution and your site is the best. I am so glad I logged into pinterest tonight! Thank you!!!!!


  1. A Home School Preschool Co-Op | Mom Complicated -

    […] Home schooling her with these other mommies has been one of the best experiences of my life.  I love watching each of them learn, having Taylin jump in my arms to hug me when she accomplishes something new, and sharing in all the experiences with her.  Our first school year was such a success that we decided to do it again this year.  One of our students moved on to VPK, we added the babies as students, and we changed our lesson plan into a more Montessori-based learning.  What does that mean?  Read about it here in Create a Center-Based Home School Preschool. […]

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