Co-op Preschool Can Be Pretty Involving

Whew, last week was back to school and it was quite busy for us. RB40 Junior moved to a co-op preschool this year and it will be a lot more involving than last year. Actually, it was a tough decision for us to change schools. He liked his old preschool and his best friend is still there. I hate to separate the buddies, but they’ll be going to different elementary schools anyway, so it’s inevitable. We’ll try to keep in touch and meet up for a play-date once in a while. They’ll reunite again in middle school… That’s a long way away, though. So why did we decide to change from a regular preschool to a co-op preschool?

cooperative preschool co-op
Our little dude is growing up so fast! 

What is a cooperative preschool?

A cooperative preschool is a group of families who hire trained teachers and work with them to provide a quality preschool experience for children. The parents contribute about 4-6 hours per month and take on one committee job throughout the school year. It’s only been a week, but here is my experience so far.

Teachers – The teachers at our co-op preschool are really good. They are a bit older and they have many years of experience working with children. We can tell they are passionate about their job and they care about the kids. The teachers at the old preschool were all good too, but not the same caliber as our current teachers.

Parent helper – One requirement of the co-op preschool is for one parent to supervise the class once in a while. Junior goes to school 3 times a week and I’ll have to help out in class 6 times this quarter. That’s actually not bad at all. My first session is at the end of September and I’m looking forward to it. This will be a chance to observe the kids in class and see what they do all day. We always ask what he did at school and he never tells us anything. In his words, “no, nothing.” Jeez, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when he’s a teenager.

Committee job – Woo hoo! I’m in charge of the bulletin board. 🙂 This is probably the easiest job in school. The other jobs like fundraising committee member or yearbook coordinator sound so much more involved. Oh, I delegated the actual bulletin board content design to Mrs. RB40, so I only have to pin them up at school.  Heh heh, I got off easy this year. Except she already got mad at me for pinning the pieces in the wrong spots.  Next year, I’ll shoot for toy repairperson…

Training, Meetings, and Miscellaneous – We have a parent helper training session coming up soon. The teachers will go over how we helpers should work with the kids in the classroom setting. We also have a board meeting twice per quarter and each parent has to sign up to serve as child care for one of these. There is a big fundraising auction in November which Mrs. RB40 is already dreading. We’ll also have to sign up for photographer duty once per quarter in order to have enough photos for the yearbook.  Lots to do!

Families – All the families I’ve met so far are very nice. The parents are all committed to be involved with their children’s growth. I’m sure the parents at the old preschool are as well, but we didn’t talk much because most of them just dropped off and picked up their kids without much dillydallying. The families here seem more interested in truly creating a community.

Facility – The old preschool wins this category. They have a really nice playground, a big gym, and a park right on site. The co-op preschool is much smaller and the playground is not quite as nice. There are slightly larger classrooms and another room that serves as a gym space, though, and I’m sure we will adjust.

Cost – The co-op preschool is just a little cheaper than the old preschool. The old preschool was a city-run preschool, so the cost was very reasonable. They are both around $300 per month. Other private preschools in the area cost 2 to 3 times as much as the co-op preschool. Actually, cost was the reason why I started looking into co-op preschool, but it wasn’t a big consideration in the end.

Going well so far

RB40 Jr. is adjusting very well to the new school so far. He didn’t have any problems at all when I dropped him off last week. This is a big contrast to the nightmare in 2013 where he cried until he fell asleep every day. Needless to say, that first preschool didn’t work out. We tried another preschool a few months later and he was able to adjust. He is much more mature this year and jumped right in.

Anyway, this year will be a lot more work than if we went with a regular preschool.  Mrs. RB40 isn’t too happy about this because she gets stressed easily, but I have assured her that I will be the one volunteering (mostly.) It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but we should be able to handle it. I’m pretty happy with the experience so far.

We’ll see how this quarter goes and I’ll write an update in 3 months or so. I’m pretty happy so far and I think Jr. likes it too. Would you consider a co-op preschool? It would be pretty tough if you have a full time job.

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18 thoughts on “Co-op Preschool Can Be Pretty Involving”

  1. We did a co-op preschool for 4 years (3 years w/child #1, 1 year with child #2) in Northern CA. Our time commitment was 1x a week (and school time was only 2 1/2 hours 2x/week!) That limitation aside, I loved, loved, loved the preschool. We had a good teacher, a great developmental philosophy, and the space they rented was w/in a few blocks of our house. I developed great friendships there. Child #1 is 16 and I still have great memories of my time in the toddler class (some of his fellow toddlers are now in his high-school English honors class). We ultimately switched to a more traditional (and lovely) preschool (5 hours a day/4 days a week) when I went back to work part-time, but my coop memories are some of the strongest. Good luck to you–and, yes, you lucked out with Bulletin Board duty!

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  2. I’ve never heard of co-op preschooling either but it sounds like a much better idea as opposed to sending them into preschool. As someone stated above, it would be harder if both parents are working full time but it does seem very beneficial for the parents who are willing to sacrifice the free time.

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  3. Coop preschools and daycares are pretty popular around here. I love the idea! Seems like a pretty good setup for you and RB40 Junior!

    And it does sound like you lucked out on the committee assignment. Be prepared to be asked to up your game next year 🙂

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  4. This is the first time I’ve heard about co-op preschool. What’s an interesting concept. I think it’d be quite difficult to do when both parents have full time jobs.

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  5. I used to also volunteer at my son’s preschool – not as much as you’ll have to, but even though it was very tiring, it was great getting a lot more insight into what goes on day to day at your child’s school. At this age they don’t tell you that much about what happens day to day. Also, you might pick up tips on snacks, class procedures etc and in general connect with other parents and the teachers in ways you don’t get to if you just drop off/pickup. This was especially true for me as my child was in the before/after care so I didn’t really see his teachers most days. Finally I was also very appreciative of the teachers as we were three parent volunteers in the toddler room and it was all we could do to keep the kids clean, changed and fed and we didn’t even try to “teach” anything…

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    • Thanks for sharing your experience. These kids are a bit older so I think we’ll probably be more concern about breaking up fights. My first teacher helper session is coming up so we’ll see how it’s really like. I think it will be a lot of fun.

      Reply
  6. I don’t have children, but I would absolutely consider something like this if I had the time. I like that the parents are so involved and it sounds pretty fun! Best of luck with the transition and your bulletin board job 🙂

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  7. To get more out of your child, try asking more directed questions. My wife uses, “What’s something funny that happened to you today?” “Did anything make you scared today?” “Anything make you mad today?” Good luck with your future teen!

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  8. Hadn’t heard of one and don’t know if there are any around here, but it sounds like something I would have liked to check out. I like the idea of sitting in on a class to see what they’re doing. We get a weekly email of what the focus of the week was and everything covered, but our girl similarly clams up when we try to get her to talk about it. She seems to be stimulated though, which I suppose is the most important thing for a 3 year old.

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    • Our guy just complained that he liked the old preschool better… Hopefully he’ll make more friends here soon.
      He’s just not a good story teller. Can’t get anything out of the guy, just like his uncle. 🙂

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  9. I wonder how parents who are full time do it. Do they personally have to be involved or does it just have to be someone representing that family- like another relative or a nanny?

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    • I think most families are part time or have a stay at home parent. A relative can help in class, but I think most parents want to be more involved.

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  10. I’ve never heard of a co-op pre-school but it sounds really interesting. I like the fact that the parents are involved in the school and the kids lives more so than just picking them up and dropping them off. My wife and I don’t have kids yet, but I am now curious to see if we have these in our area.

    Reply

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