As with other co-operatives such as housing, businesses, and even farms, Co-Op preschools are structured around (parent) involvement in caring for the children and the school as a collective. Co-operative preschools have existed for a long period of time! In many ways, they are the original “it takes a village” type of school.
Many parents express interest in co-ops because they offer greater transparency, lower tuition, and more flexible schedules. Alternatively, children have more frequent contact with their parents and guardians, which can help ease the transition from home to school.
Albuquerque Pre-school Co-operative, founded in 1965, is Albuquerque’s first parent-involved cooperative preschool and an excellent example of a Co-Op preschool that works wonders. Under the current direction of Yvette Asenap, the preschool immediately communicates to families their role in the child care and learning community. This cooperative is comprised of parent-led committees that focus on gardening, fundraising, chicken care, marketing, and playground engagement. Families attend orientation and ongoing training sessions prior to enrolling to ensure educational and quality alignment.
The Benefits of Co-Op Preschools
There are two compelling reasons to join a co-op. The first is that parents become involved in their children’s education. This can bring a great deal of joy, trust, and investment to parents who work part-time or have flexible hours. Often, co-ops have directors or teaching staff who assist new parents in teaching children according to the program’s pedagogical practices and ensure health and safety guidelines are met.
Additionally, tuition reduction is a big benefit. By volunteering, parents help keep the school’s costs down, which typically results in reduced fees. With the pressure of tuition being the main source of sustenance for the program decreased, both Co-Op directors and parents can focus their time and talent instead to ensure the children have great opportunities to learn together.
The Drawbacks of Cooperative Preschools
Simultaneously, parents must commit to the work! For the sake of continuity, families should consider whether they are truly committed to the level of involvement required by a cooperative preschool. Joining a co-op is comparable to taking on a part-time job, if not more so because other families and children rely on you to perform your duties! Parents also have to work together, and with different styles and points of view, this can be tricky. But usually, the Co-Op director can help resolve any issues that may occur.
How Do I Enroll in a Co-Op Preschool Near Me?
Wonderschool can assist you in discovering co-ops in your area that encourage active parent involvement. After locating some online, the best course of action is to contact the school and schedule a time to visit in person and, if possible, speak with parents about what it’s like to volunteer. If you’re interested in establishing a cooperative preschool, you can also partner with Wonderschool to start a program. Our tools include familiarizing potential school-creators with state regulations, marketing insight, enrollment support, and overall mentoring.