Co-op pre-schools - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-18-2003, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone have any experience with co-op style preschools? What did you like what didn't you like?

I am looking around right now and I think I am leaning towards enrolling my dd this fall in a co-op and just wanted some honest opinions. Thanks!!
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Old 01-18-2003, 12:24 AM
 
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I haven't participated in a co-op preschool myself, but one nearby that ran for years finally had to close because they just couldn't get consistent parent involvement. I think most of them require parents to volunteer in the school a certain number of hours or days per year, and so the program is very vulnerable if this is not happening. I'm not sure how it works if the volunteer for the day is sick, in terms of subs, etc. There would have to be a way to maintain a consistent ratio of teachers to children in order to maintain the quality in the program.

I had always wished it was an option nearby, because I love the idea of co-op run things. The one nearby closed the year before my son was to go into preschool!

 
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Old 01-18-2003, 01:00 AM
 
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I chose not to send my children to a co-op because I wasn't comfortable with how some of the parents in my community related to children, both their own and mine. That is just an opinion, though, and I guess the parents who thought that they weren't really suited to looking after other people's children would volunteer to swill the toilets or mop the floor.
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Old 01-18-2003, 07:36 AM
 
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I just started my son in a parent participation nursery school and we LOVE it! I love that all the kids are being cared for by the parents (in addition to the director/teacher, who is also a parent of one of the kids there). My son thinks it's neat that he gets to go to school and have his mom or dad there, and that other moms and dads are there. It's great to see how the parents come together to run the school. It is a lot of work, but it's worth it, to be involved in your child's education. Very rewarding.
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Old 01-18-2003, 02:43 PM
 
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at our local co-op, the teachers were such excellent role models they were a real education for parents who weren't relating well to the children. they also had regular discussion meetings and workshops about their philosophy (a lot about Bev Bos) and AP issues and so on. one unhappy Mom said she was glad to put her son in "real school, where no one expects me to clean their floors." So a co-op was not for her. We only had to be there about once a month, depending on how many days the child attended. I think this co-op now has two teachers and two rotating parent helpers there every day. At around three or four I think children enjoy the busy, very social atmosphere such a preschool can provide.
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Old 01-19-2003, 08:24 PM
 
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I think co-ops are a fantastic idea but I would urge you to really consider if your child is "right" for a co-op. I wanted the co-op and thought it would be great for my child but, in retrospect, I didn't think it through too thoroughly.

My DD's personality is just not set up for a co-op becaues she is not a laid back, go with the flow kind of kid. It was very confusing to her that I was there on some days and not on others. As a result, she would cling to me on the days I was there and cry for me on the days I was not. I stopped the co-op thing after a few weeks and enrolled her in a regular preschool and she loves it!

I hope I have another child and can revisit the co-op experience.
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Old 02-05-2003, 02:57 AM
 
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My dd is in a 3 day/wk program at a cooperative nursery school. We love it. I love being so involved, and I haven't had any problems with it until the last couple of weeks, when I've been unable to get to the errand that is my "parent responsibility." Our helper day is about once/month. My dd does fine whether I'm there (or her dad) or not--harder for her is when the regular teacher isn't there and two parents take over. Then I don't think it "feels like school" to her, as she develops quite intense relationships with adults (school teacher, Sunday School teacher, my adult friends, etc.).

I love being so involved in a preschool and cleaning the floor, so to speak. Our parent day is a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun. And quite affordable in our neighborhood.
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Old 02-13-2003, 07:44 PM
 
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I love co-op preschool! But, I am very *picky* about what I call a co-op. For example, the Y runs a co-op near us but the parents only volunteer once a month. That doesn't do it for me.

In Eugene, OR we got hooked and now go to a great co-op in WA. Anyway, DD goes 2 days a week (she is in the threes class) and DH or I go one of those days (we go Thursdays). That way there is a 2kids:1adult ration plus the teacher. Each parent has a "room" for the day (art, blocks, play, story, kitchen, sand, woodworking) and then extra tasks (either cleaning up or supervising out door play, etc...). We have a class meeting once a month in the eve and around 3 special speakers per year (this year we have had authors on "tantrum taming" and "positive discipline."). Next year, in the fours, we (DH &I) will still go one day but DD will go three days per week. It is a great way to slowly transition away from each other in prep for "real school." DD's best friend goes to co-op in the neighboring town and they to 2 days for 2 year olds, 3 for 3 year olds and 4 for 4 year olds with parents coming once a week still.

I really like it because we were looking for a totally non-educational (well, not stressed) environment. We wanted a lot of social time, especially with other adults. DD is great with other kids but has always hung back around other adults. She is much more outgoing around adults now, and boy is she friendly with kids. We also didn't want her bored and were afriad that a more traditional preschool would be not on her academic level (since she can read, count infanintly, etc...).

Another advantage is instead of like "Art time" there is activity time where the kids can play anywhere (since there are adults everywhere). So if DD doesn't want to do art at 12:15 she doesn't have to, but there will still be the opportunity later! At some preschools with lower adult/child ratio the kids have to follow more of a schedule since there are only 1-2 adults to help them (so they have to do art when its time).

I also like that basically all the kids have a stay at home parent (since they have to be available during the day to go to preschool). We also are very "same wavelength" (most of the parents don't leave their kids with sitters often, really respect their rights/choices, etc...).

Anyway, you just have to find what works for you!

HTH, sorry for the novel,
Kay

 

 

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Old 02-18-2003, 02:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for everyone's replies. I did go ahead and register my dd for a co-op near-by. She is a very easy going little girl but very active, and I was impressed by the relaxed/understanding environment of the classroom when I went for an observation and enjoyed talking with the teachers. I think she will enjoy being in this new setting.

Many of you addressed many of the same things I was thinking about, but not very many of you addressed any issues you may have had with other parents. A friend of mine mentioned that she heard co-ops can become cliquey and she worried that if you or your child were not apart of this clique that your child would be left out or disliked. I am not sure if this will become a problem where she will be going as only one parent co-ops a day. Does anyone have any experience with this issue?

Thanks!
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Old 02-18-2003, 05:03 AM
 
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TiredX, What co-op did you go to in Eugene? We're moving there next month and I'd like to check it out. Thanks.
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Old 02-20-2003, 10:55 PM
 
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here in the bay area, there are many many wonderful (and affordable) pre-school co-ops. i looked into about 6 of them, but found that they wouldn't meet MY needs, as i'm pregnant with #2, and wanted dd to enter preschool at 2 y.o. because i needed a little bit of time to relax, and also wanted to have some "alone" time with the new baby when she/he arrives. the co-ops i looked into had only 2-2.5 hour/day programs, which would actually be more inconvinient for me, even on the days i didn' t have to work there. and the friends i have that do co-op, although they LOVE it, they all say it is a lot of work for them (fundraising, working at the school, etc.) and more work was the last thing i need right now. also, there was only 1 co-op that would have allowed me to bring the new baby while i worked, and they had a special nursery section for baby sibs of students. well, i'm, just not willing to have a newborn (especially my unvaxed newborn) in any kind of group-care situation, where she/he will have to wait to be nursed even one second while someone comes outside to get me, so that wasn't gonna work either (i was searching for a school that would allow me to work with the newborn in a sling).

anyway, in the end i found a wonderful non-coop preschool that meets all ouf our family's needs (5 hour program, affordable, good teaching staff, beautiful facilities) and dd has been gorwing there by leaps and bounds since december.
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Old 02-22-2003, 11:22 PM
 
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My dd goes to a wonderful co-op. There are two highly qualified teachers and one parent in the classroom every day. With sixteen kids, it works out so that each parent is there once, sometimes twice, a month. Also, every parent must serve on a committee. I attend all the school's fundraising events and write articles and take pictures for the local papers, for publicity.

Fortunately, the schools philosophy is very similar to my own and tends to attract people like me, who practice respectful, mindful parenting. So far, my experience has been that the other parents are really, really nice people, and so are the children!

Just an interesting note...the grandchildren of Adele Faber, who co-wrote the "How to Talk So your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk" books, go to the school, and she gives talks and workshops there!

Good luck!
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Old 02-22-2003, 11:39 PM
 
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We are just checking out a preschool and homeschool co-op that is new and in a house until they find a location. They are doing a waldorf style and kind of tweeking it a little bit with Parent Effectiveness training too.
I will see how it works out!
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Old 02-26-2003, 12:01 AM
 
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Hey Kay, you have Miss Sharon, right? DD1 and I went to that school for 3s too! DD2 and I will start in the fall.
Co-op is fantastic but I agree with another poster that the ones who have parents volunteer once a month are not the same as when you volunteer once a week. I looked into some of those for dd2 as I am having a baby in May but they just aren't the same concept.
As far as the clique thing, I didn't find it in our experience. Everyone was very nice to all other moms and kids. Sure, there are some moms you click with more than others but I don't think anyone felt left out or not liked. We continued to meet (moms and kids) during summer breaks (once a week at a park), had those kids to our birthday parties, had little reunions and/or moms night out for years. I still see some of those moms/kids and it has been almost four years.
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Old 03-14-2003, 03:43 AM
 
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I was not happy with the co-op I joined. I am very happy to help out, but the only job I could get was sitting in board meetings and reporting back to the group (we joined late). I would rather swab latrines anyday. One thing to watch out for in co-ops: is it being run by parents who really wish they were working and try to create a "work" environment for parents that focuses on B.S. rather than on kids? I mean, people are arguing and getting political about fundraising - should we sell wrapping paper or calendars.....blah, blah, blah.

That and it ended up being expensive: one session was ten meetings with all parents at every class, and it was 200 dollars a session. And there were 22 people in it. And don't get me started on the "parent educator".....

Or maybe it's my bad attitude? L.
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Old 03-14-2003, 06:47 PM
 
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Kirsten---

Yup, that's who we have. Miss Sharron is retiring this year, so you won't have her next year. I am actually really struggling right now deciding if we are doing next year! If we can't get DD into a community school, I'm not sure I want her p.s. so we might homeschool. Well, at least we have time to decide

Have fun next year!

Kay

 

 

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