Is A Cooperative Preschool More Affordable?

cooperative preschool affordable coop

Summer is here! I hope everyone had a nice Summer solstice. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. The weather is perfect in Portland and it’s still light out at 9 pm. Anyway, this is the perfect time to recap RB40 Jr.’s preschool experience and talk about the plan for next school year. I’m sure many of you’ve heard that it will cost nearly $300,000 to raise a kid from birth to 18. Sometimes I feel like most of that is the cost of childcare…. Here is our childcare history so far.

  • Birth until 5 months old: Mrs. RB40 took maternity leave and I took a sabbatical right after that so, Jr. stayed home.
  • 5 months until 18 months: Jr. went to a local daycare facility. The cost was $1,250/month.
  • 18 months until 2-1/2: I became a stay at home dad so we didn’t have to pay for daycare.
  • 2-1/2 until 3-1/2: After one preschool that didn’t work out, we found a preschool that could handle Jr. He went 2 days/week from 9 am to 1pm. The preschool cost $300/month.


The main reason why I wanted Jr. to start preschool was so he can learn to socialize with children his age. I don’t have any friends with children his age and I didn’t do a good job connecting with other parents locally. Most parents in our area both work full-time so the kids also go to full-time daycare so we don’t really see them much. The only time Jr. interacted with kids his age is when we went to story time at the library. Oh yeah, we see kids at the playground too. However, he didn’t know how to play with other kids. He only wanted to play to play with his mom and dad. I guess he was too young back then.

Unfortunately, he had a few behavioral problems when he started preschool. He threw toys, pushed other kids, and even got into a sand throwing fight once. Thankfully, things improved a lot after a few months and he became much more civil. Kids mature so quickly at this age so that must be a part of it. coop preschool more parental involvement

There was another boy in his class with the same high energy level and temperament so they quickly became best friends. The school had to hire another teacher to handle these 2 crazy kids. 🙂 These days, he will play amicably with any kid he sees at the playground and that’s awesome. So the socialization goal is accomplished and I’m very glad that we started preschool last year.

Note – Preschool at this age is mostly just playing and doing fun activities. I think they learn one alphabet letter per week and that’s about it, which is great.

Cooperative Preschool

Actually, this preschool was a happy coincidence for us. The first preschool we tried didn’t work out and we were just looking for some place where Jr. can go for a couple of hours during the rainy season. One day we drove to an obscure community center to check out their indoor gym and it turned out they had a preschool AND one spot available. I’m quite happy with this preschool, but next year we are going give cooperative preschool a try.

When we were looking for a preschool last year, I found a co-op preschool nearby and put our name down on the waiting list. This co-op preschool accepts kids age 3 and older so we couldn’t go last year anyway. Our name is still on the list so we have the option to attend this coming school year. I have heard a lot of good things about this preschool and it would be a good opportunity to get more involved.

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. Co-op preschools are also usually a little more affordable than private preschools. Next year, Jr. will attend 3 half-days per week and it will cost about $300/month. Other preschools in the area cost about $500/month for 3 half-days/week. So co-op preschool is a bit more affordable, but it isn’t a huge difference.

The big issue for co-op preschool is the time commitment. I’m a stay at home dad, so I don’t mind helping out. It’s more difficult if someone has a full-time job or more than one child. Next year, I’ll be a teacher’s helper in class once or twice a month. Also I put my name down for some of the easier committee jobs. I’ll be assigned one of these as I understand.

  • School Bulletin Board Director – Take care of the bulletin board. I think I can handle that. I have to get Mrs. RB40 to help me if necessary.
  • Classroom Supplies Shopper – Go buy supplies.
  • Immunization Compliance Coordinator – Collect paperwork and correspond with the school district.

Co-op VS Traditional Preschool

As previously mentioned, I’m quite happy with our current preschool and I’m a bit reluctant to change schools. The thing I like about co-op preschool is that it offers a better opportunity to connect with other families. I’ll be spending more time in the classroom so I should get to know the kids and other parents more. Theoretically, co-op preschool promotes a close-knit community via parental involvement.

It has been nice to be able to drop off the kid and have some time to myself. However, I’m terrible at connecting with moms. We only made friends with one family so far (Jr’s best friend). The interaction time is usually quite brief at drop off/pickup (hi, bye) and I’m the only dad there, so I feel a bit awkward around all the moms who seem to have a lot to chat about with each other.

Anyway, this particular co-op preschool has a very good reputation and many positive reviews. If it doesn’t work out, we probably can go back to the previous preschool, so I’m not too worried. I’m looking forward to be more involved at preschool and see how kids interact with each other. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

Do you have any experience with co-op preschools? Would you send your kid to one? I guess another option is homeschooling, but I don’t think I can handle that.

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12 thoughts on “Is A Cooperative Preschool More Affordable?”

  1. I’m not a parent, but as a frequent babysitter I definitely think it’s important for kids to socialize and learn cooperation with their peers, which is why I’m not for homeschooling. Never heard of the coop pre k, but it sounds interesting.

    • I’m not sure about homeschooling either. I’m sure it works for some kids, but I’d rather go the traditional route first. If that doesn’t work out for some reason, we’d be willing to try homeschooling.

  2. We’re more comfortable with preschools geared towards working parents. Not just the volunteer aspect but all the other stuff parents have to remember like spirit days or bringing things in.

  3. Co-Op preschool is a fine idea & a good deal. RB40Jr. is learning to socialize, so when real school starts, he already knows how to do it, and he’s ready to learn. Nip any behavior no-no’s in the bud, early, and he’ll catch on quickly to play nice = lots of fun friends. Not unlike training a dog, if I must say so! Just be confident, positive and correct the behavior.
    As an older parent, with the kid just finishing college, I think school districts are important, especially the high school they attend. A great public high school, w/great teachers/staff, got my kid the scholarships to finish college debt free. Almost a full ride scholarship. Not too early to plan ahead for big college $$ savings! PS- The moms LOVE to hang out and swap parenting notes w/dads. Enjoy!

    • We are thinking about moving and we really want to stay in the area with a great public high school. The housing price is just so expensive, though. We’ll keep looking. Thanks for your comment.

  4. We send both of our kids to a co-op (actually our oldest is done as of last month) and we are very happy with the experience. Affordability is one aspect, but we realize that there’s much more that is just as important, such as the time commitment, the interaction, and the involvement that you are expected to put in as parents. My wife stays at home with the kids, so couple that with the fact that she desires to be very involved with our kids schooling, and co-op was a perfect fit.

    It does seem as there are less and less of them. When we started searching, Google showed that there used to be around six pretty close by at one point, but we were only down to a couple, as some had closed and others had converted to traditional pre-schools. I’m guessing that as more and more people choose to have both people work, the opportunities to participate in a co-op diminish.

    • Thanks for sharing. There are quite a few co-op preschool in our area. It’s too bad about the diminishing number in your area. I think you’re right about both parents having to work. It’s tough to take on more tasks when you already have a full-time job.

  5. Interesting – I’ve never heard of co-op preschools! So far Mr. RoG Jr. has been strictly staying at home with me, but we have at least 1-2 playdates per week with other 2 year olds, and tons of play time with his older siblings and other neighborhood kids and their siblings.

    Like you, I’m mostly interested in the socialization aspects of preschool while kids are 2-3 years old. Our older 2 kids didn’t have any formal preschool (other than a semester of half day, twice per week play time preschool for 1 kid), and they have been doing phenomenally well in elementary school so far.

    I guess I’ve been lucky to have lots of friends and neighbors with kids about the same age as my kids, so we create the play time/socialization time organically. I’ll have to look into co-op preschools in another year or so as Mr. RoG Jr gets closer to age 4. Now that I have time to drop him off for half days and volunteer at the preschool, that would work out well for us. And $300/month isn’t too much for us for just 1 year.

    • It’s great that the kids have a lot of friends. We rarely have playdates, but I’m trying to get more going. I’m just terrible at arranging these kind of things. Our neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of kids so that’s part of it too. There are quite a few co-op preschool in our area. Portland likes co-ops in general. 🙂

  6. I don’t have children, but I definitely like the concept of a co-op preschool, especially the communal aspect of it. If I were a stay at home parent, I would enjoy helping out and meeting the other parents.

  7. I also sent my only daughter to a cooperative preschool before, aside that it’s very affordable, you will also gain a lot of friends from other kids’ parents. I was assigned to volunteer twice a week before, helped to prepare the children snacks and foods.

    • I’m looking forward to making more friends at school. It’s tough for me because I’m an introvert and a stay at home dad.


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