The Parent’s Role
Being a co-op member requires an extra bit of time and commitment. In return, families reap a host of rewards: A high-quality preschool, lower tuition rates, parenting support and lasting friendships.
- Work one day a week in the classroom (2 to 2.5 hrs/wk)
- Perform an administrative job (approximately 3 hrs/mo)
- Attend once-a-month evening meetings for co-op business & parent education (2 hrs/mo.)
- Provide a nutritious snack for the class on a rotating basis
- Support fundraising efforts (approximately 1 to 3 hr/yr)
- Take part in beginning-of-year and end-of-year classroom cleanings (4 hrs/yr)
Working in the Classroom
Parents work one day a week in the classroom. A rotating schedule is created and posted so each parent knows in advance when and where he or she will work that week. For example, staffing an activity station (sensory table, blocks, library, etc.), preparing snack or cleaning the classroom. School manuals outline how to do each job. Parents who can’t make their work day are expected to line up a substitute.
Taking on an Administrative Job
Each new class elects a leadership “Board” (Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, etc.) and divvies up a standing list of administrative jobs (class photographer, supply manager, teacher’s assistant, etc.). Incoming parents are trained by outgoing parents, the teacher and the parent educator. Board members receive even more training at a special NSCC-sponsored board training seminars.
A tuition scholarship fund exists to ensure that the co-op program remains open to all families. Each co-op contributes to the fund, and most co-ops fundraise to meet their obligation. Most co-ops also conduct fundraising to support their own projects, such as purchasing new play equipment. Co-op members are expected to support co-op fundraising efforts, but are not required to donate to the preschool directly.
Parents Are Students Too
Co-op parents are automatically enrolled as students in the NSCC Parent Education Program. The parent educator is the parent’s “professor,” a once-a-month parent education meeting is the “class” and the preschool is the “class labratory.” Parents are issued a NSCC student ID card (good for discounts and access to NSCC student services) and receive 3 college credits per quarter.
The Child’s Role
For children, co-op is a safe and nurturing place in which to explore, engage and have fun. A skilled preschool teacher designs the curriculum, using cooperative and creative play to enhance social, emotional and intellectual development. Class time is divided into carefully designed, age-appropriate learning periods such as:
- Circle Time
- Free Play
- Small Group
- Outdoor Time
During Free Play times children are free to move about the classroom, exploring and experimenting. “Stations” are supervised by parents, who work as assistant teachers to encourage and support the children in play areas such as sensory table, art center, play-kitchen, blocks and table top projects.