Choosing a preschool that will be a good match for your child is a big decision. For parents who would like to play an integral part in their child’s preschool experience, choosing a parent cooperative preschool, or preschool co-op, can be a way for them to have an active role in the educational direction of their young student. Being a part of a co-op gives parents a chance to participate in the creative, teaching and even financial aspects of running a school.
What exactly is a preschool co-op? According to Parent Cooperative Preschools International (PCPI), “A parent cooperative preschool is organized by a group of families with similar philosophies who hire a trained teacher to provide their children with a quality preschool experience. The preschool is administered and maintained by the parents on a non-profit, non-sectarian basis. The parents assist the professional teachers in the classroom on a rotating basis and participate in the educational program of all the children. Each family shares in the business operation of the school, thus making it truly a cooperative venture. Parents, preschool children and their teachers all go to school together and learn together.”
Is a co-op the right choice for my family?
Since a preschool co-op involves a higher level of commitment from parents than a traditional preschool, it’s important to spend some time evaluating if this option is the best fit for your family.
- Parents have more direct involvement in their child’s education.
- Tuition is often lower than traditional preschools.
- Participants can feel like they belong to a “school family.”
- There is a higher teacher-to-student ratio.
- Juggling the school’s required “family jobs” with outside employment can be challenging.
- Conflicts in administrative issues can arise.
- Maintaining a permanent location for classes can be an issue.
- Fees or fines may apply for missing an assigned volunteer position.
- The co-op may have an unstable foundation if started on a “whim.”
The advantages and disadvantages of a particular co-op will differ. If you are interested in pursuing this option, try to find families that have participated in a co-op for their perspective on what they found the benefits to be.
Questions to ask yourself when deciding if a co-op is right for you:
- What is my philosophy around education?
- How much time do I have to dedicate to working at the school?
- Can I dedicate time outside of work and co-op responsibilities for tasks such as curriculum development and fundraising?
- Can I afford to opt-out of parental duties, if that option is available?
- Am I prepared to take responsibility for committing to a team where other parents and kids are counting on me to do my part?
Being part of a preschool co-op takes commitment, organization and creativity. If you are motivated by working on a team and can dedicate the necessary time, a co-op can be an opportunity to develop extended family support and be involved in your child’s education in a unique and meaningful way.
For more information on the preschool co-op philosophy and a list of resources, visit The Indianapolis Area Cooperative Preschool website at http://preschoolco-op.org/
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”16″ bg_color=”#e6e6e6″ txt_color=”#000000″]Preschool Co-Ops in Hamilton County and Indy northside
Carmel Cooperative Preschool
3085 W 116th Street, Carmel
Nature’s Pointe Cooperative Preschool
1399 Greenfield Avenue, Noblesville
Geist Orchard Cooperative Preschool
6247 West Broadway, McCordsville
Root and Wings
Indianapolis Home-School Co-Op
Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School and Kindergarten
7171 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis