“I’m beginning to hear about all these parent-participation schools...Is anyone else out there thinking about sending [their child] to one of these schools?” Circle of Moms member Jennifer M. inquires.
Is a cooperative preschool right for your child? Co-op, or parent participation, preschools often are praised for providing moms (and dads) the opportunity to be directly involved in the classroom with their child’s early education in exchange for a lower tuition.
The foundation for co-op preschools was laid in 1916, by a group of faculty wives at the University of Chicago who were looking for a way to provide social education for their children and parent education for themselves. Nowadays, the model has evolved: parents assist the professional teachers in the classroom on a rotating basis, participate in the educational program for all the children, and share in the administration and maintenance of the school.
Here, Circle of Moms members who've already joined a co-op preschool share three reasons why a parent-participation preschool might be the best choice for you and your child.
1. You Want More Bonding Time with Your Preschool-Aged Child
Several Circle of Moms members suggest co-op preschools as a great way to introduce your child to school without as much separation anxiety, since you’ll be in the classroom at least some of the time.
For example, Andrea C. started her 2 ½-year-old in a co-op nursery school because although she is a stay-at-home mom and wants to maximize the time she has to bond with her child, she also wanted her daughter to learn socialization skills and get used to what a ‘big school” is like. The co-op lets her do both.
Similarly, Dawn M. enrolled her 2-year-old daughter in a co-op preschool in Maryland because they offer half-days as well as options to attend just two or three days per week, instead of five. Plus, she is still able to spend time with her daughter. “Its kind of the best of both worlds ... the little ones get some school experience and yet they're still spending time with you,” she says.
2. You Have Time to Give, But Not Deep Pockets
Typically, tuition at a co-op preschool is significantly less than the amount charged by other preschools. The trade-off is that parents must regularly “volunteer” their time helping the students and school.
The price at Los Altos Parents Preschool, for example, “is a rock-bottom bargain because the parents volunteer/work,” a Circle of Moms member named Baidra says.
Parent participation requirements vary by school, so moms should inquire what time commitment to expect. Paige B. donates just a few hours per month to provide snacks or chaperone field trips at her daughter’s preschool.
On the other hand, as Circle of Moms member Maureen B. shares, weekly parent participation is required at the co-op in her neighborhood. Thus, full-time stay-at-home-moms who are busy taking care of a baby at home and don’t have any other help likely won’t have time to regularly volunteer at a preschool co-op like Maureen’s.
3. You Want to Actively Shape Your Child’s Education
Being involved in your child’s school has benefits. By actively participating in a preschool co-op, moms can supervise their child, assist with activities, and observe the teacher.
“[A co-op] gives parents the opportunity to participate in their child’s first school experiences,” relays Rebecca A.
Furthermore, as involved parents, co-op moms can shape their child’s education. For example, a Circle of Moms contributor who goes by "Very Bloggy Beth," recently described on The RoundUp how she and other parents at her son’s co-op developed a new sharing policy: rather than forcing kids to share everything, they allow kids to keep a toy as long as they want to. The parents all feel that this a better reflection of how adults behave.
Ultimately, if you believe that a preschooler’s education should be driven by parents, children and teachers, then a co-op preschool might be the best venue for you. “Interacting with a community of other parents who share your commitment to childhood and receiving modeling by the teacher as you help gives you opportunities to learn alongside your child.”
As Parent Cooperative Preschools International says,“[With each family shar[ing] in the business operation of the school … parents, preschool children and their teachers all go to school together and learn together.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.