What is a Co-op Preschool

WHAT IS A COOPERATIVE PRESCHOOL

A Cooperative Preschool is a learning place for both children and adults. The child is enrolled in preschool for one to five – half days a week. Co-op parents hire a trained teacher to plan and teach the children’s program and to lead the parents while they are in the classroom.

One or both parents enroll in a credit bearing, South Puget Sound Community College course in parent education, at no additional charge. This parent education course includes theory and practice of human behavior and development, child guidance, and age-appropriate learning activities for young children.

Parents attend classes (parent meetings) taught by a college instructor called the Advisor. In laboratory sessions (parent helping) they apply the theories and skills they have learned.

So, we have two programs under one roof — the children’s preschool and the parent’s college course.

In addition to assisting in the classroom, parents assume responsibility for the operation of the preschool as a small business. Monthly board meetings and a portion of each parent meeting are used to make business decisions about running the school.

What is unique about co-op preschools is that YOU are involved. Since this means a time commitment, it is not for everyone. However, parents can participate in co-ops at different levels. Some will be very active and enthusiastic about the business aspects of the school. Others may have little interest in the business, but provide creative ideas and energy for the children’s curriculum. Other parents may have demands outside of the school that make them unable to exceed the minimum requirements for co-op membership. The preschool structure is strong enough to support all families who can meet the minimum participation requirements. Each person contributes to the group in some way and receives benefits from their experience which may remain with their family long after the preschool years.

ADVANTAGES OF A CO-OP

Many people choose cooperative preschools because of the unique advantages for both parent and child. Co-ops have a low child-to-adult ratio. Therefore they can accommodate each child’s individual pace and learning style. The environment is safe and nurturing. Co-ops can bridge the gap between home and school in a reassuring way. Children grow from the input of many friendly, trustworthy adults.

Studies show that parent involvement in education is the factor most highly correlated with children’s school success. Parent involvement is more important than social class, teacher’s input, or curriculum. Children are delighted that we value them and their education enough to want to share intimately in their first school experience. This builds both self esteem and motivation to learn.

Parents in the co-op report an increased understanding of child development, education, and parenting. Parents increase their support networks for sharing and discussing problems and growth. They value the chance to observe other children of the same age.

Parents also develop new skills in group leadership and small business management that often are useful and/or marketable as their children grow older.

WHO’S WHO IN A CO-OP

CHILDREN
Attend preschool 1-5 half days per week. Learn to separate easily from parents, follow a school routine, and explore and discover. Learn to trust and communicate with many adults and children. Participate in many social, physical, and cognitive learning activities.

PARENTS
Enroll in college course. Sign commitment to meet minimum requirements. Pay preschool tuition and help fundraise to support school. Attend parent meetings and parent help in the classroom. Elect and/or serve on the board. Do a share of tasks necessary to run the school such as cleaning, purchasing….

CO-OP BOARD
Meet monthly. Coordinates management and operation of preschool including decision making about finances, personnel, facility, policies and procedures. Hires teacher(s). Register children for school. Orients parents. Complies with local, state, and federal business laws. Pays for insurance and implements risk management procedures. Signs an annual agreement with the college. Attends
college board training.

PRESCHOOL TEACHER
(Hired and supervised by board.) Plan learning program for children based on current ECE research theory, and practice. Functions as the head teacher in the classroom, coordinating the parent
helpers. Works with board and advisor to obtain school goals. Attends board meetings, teachers inservices and parent meetings.

SOUTH PUGET SOUND COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Provides Parent Education Program Coordinator. Provides Advisors for co-ops. Publicizes co-ops. Receives requests for information about co-ops. Arranges medical and liability insurance. Provides parent handbooks, board training materials and recordkeeping forms. Provides library, media and counseling services.

PARENT EDUCATION ADVISOR
(Hired and supervised by the college.) Registers parents for South Puget Sound Community College course. Plans and teaches skills and theory of:
1) Early Childhood Education,
2) Parenting/Family Relations, and
3) Leadership and Preschool Business Management.

Teaches through board meetings, parent meetings, classroom visits, and teacher and parent consultations.