The Preschool Co-op
Picture this – a little, one-room school house full of sweet, curious toddlers learning and playing together with their parents. The students are seen as children, and they thrive in a place where they can grow and become independent at their own rate. This is the reality of a preschool co-op, which has many treasures and benefits for both parents and their children.
1. Community Now
I work one day a week in the classroom with my son as a workday parent. There are two other workday parents, as well as the head teacher and her assistant. The teachers are both there daily, while the workday parents have a set schedule and are all assigned monthly duties. Additionally, there is a monthly parent-teacher meeting.
In this co-op setting, you instantly feel like a major part of the school’s community. The parents, teachers, and school board work together to run the school. You help organize fundraisers (such as the ice cream social) to raise money for the school. Everyone cares and takes an active role in ownership of the school. Each parent knows the impact they have within this community and sees their influence daily. You get to problem-solve with the teachers and other parents in order to come to a viable solution for all. You get to actively participate in the school community rather than be a spectator.
2. We Are Family
Working in the co-op makes you super accountable in your job. You want to take good care of not only your child (and the school), but the other children. You truly want to be best friends with all of the preschoolers because you hope that the other moms and dads embrace your child in the same way. When a child falls, there’s a parent there to pick up that child as if she/he was their own. This setting also speaks to traditions of years past, when everyone knew each other at school and lived close by.
3. Learning to Be Independent
As a workday parent, you witness your child progressing through the developmental milestone of becoming independent. Some days you’re there and others day you’re not. Your child gets used to this ebb and flow of your presence, which helps them to become independent. Because of the small family feeling in the school, your child is also relieved of the pressure to grow up too quickly.
The preschool co-op is a wonderful mix of educational learning and home life. Your child learns about colors, shapes, how to use scissors, getting along with others, and riding a scooter while being surrounded by caring parents. The rules of society do not permeate the preschool co-op walls, but rather home life wafts through them. The home-life connection is truly felt by all, especially the children.
4. Parents Have Fun, Too
Another great benefit of the co-op is that you get to have fun! You get to play outside, kick a soccer ball, build towers in the sand box, and turn on your creative juices during art time. You’re able to slow down and show them how to glue and draw pictures. At snack time, you can sit and pontificate about Halloween costumes and upcoming holiday plans. Being a workday parent can be easy, lighthearted, and silly at times.
Other times, you feel compassion for a parent or a struggling student. You reach out to a confused child or give a supportive smile to an exhausted parent. And when you are struggling, you also receive this support and compassion! You learn the tricks of the teaching trade, as well as helpful and effective phrases and tactics to support the students. The on-the-job training is very popular and appreciated by each workday parent!
Daily Treasures of the Preschool Co-op
As a workday parent in a preschool co-op, you are gifted with daily treasures. You walk your child inside the school, knowing the day’s structure and list of activities. You feel confident in the other moms and dads looking out for the best interest of their child and yours. When you drop off your child, you know that he/she has arrived at his/her second home. The preschool co-op is a wonderful setting for raising your toddler, and I am so grateful that my family (including my son) is part of one.