Frequently Asked Questions about Co-oping

Family Cooperative Preschool is a non-profit cooperative preschool, offering parents an opportunity for better understanding of their preschool child through participation in the program.  Parents help out at school, called ‘co-oping’, which enables hands-on involvement in what is typically their preschooler’s first formal program outside the home.  The co-oping piece of Family Cooperative Preschool’s program strengthens the partnership between parents and teachers and builds relationships among families.  Research has shown that parent involvement is positively related to a child’s success in school.  Our program combines the two most important ingredients for a successful first school experience: the expertise of our professional teachers and the best expert on your child ... YOU!  

What is co-oping?

Co-oping is when one parent attends school with their child and helps out during that school day.  Most of the time you are at school co-oping, you are participating in activities with your child and other children.  At ‘group time’ during the last half hour of the school day, parent co-opers clean-up the day’s snack and activities. 

Who co-ops?

One parent co-ops with their child.  Some families alternate which parent co-ops throughout the year so that both parents have the opportunity to be at school with their child.  We ask that no younger siblings, except for infants, be brought to school on co-op days.

How often will I co-op?

We ask each family to co-op approximately once per month.  Parents are always welcome to co-op more often if they would like to do so. 

Is co-oping teaching?

Every day there are three teachers working at school.  Parents are never alone or unassisted by the teachers or expected to ‘teach’.  Our experienced, professional, and loving teachers develop curriculum, set up the day’s activities, guide the children, and handle all behavior management issues.  The teachers also guide the co-opers if help is needed with a certain activity or area. 

Is co-oping cleaning?

The last half hour of the school day is ‘group time’ when the teachers and children gather on the rug in the large room for stories, songs, and group activities.  Generally during this time, the parent co-opers do some straightening and light cleaning to get the school ready for the next session. These tasks can be completed quickly with very minimal effort which allows parents to join their child toward the end of group time.

How strict are the requirements of co-oping?

The overarching goal of Family Cooperative Preschool is to provide a creative, flexible program designed to meet children’s individual developmental needs.  This flexibility and creativity also extends to each child’s family. Parents are asked to speak to one of the teachers if at any time co-oping responsibilities present a challenge so that they can work together to find a solution.  For example, families who are expecting a baby during the school year have been able to cluster their co-oping before the baby is born.

How does co-oping at Family Cooperative Preschool differ from other cooperative preschools?

Family Cooperative Preschool offers great flexibility for families.  The teachers are extremely accommodating and sensitive to each family’s situation and needs.  At some co-ops, both parents have to be on committees, whereas at Family Cooperative Preschool, it is up to each individual family to determine how they would like to contribute to the school and be part of the community.  At some co-ops, co-oping parents are assigned to one spot and stay there for the whole time they are at school, regardless of where their child goes.  This is not the case at Family Cooperative Preschool.  Rather, the teachers adjust and circulate to provide coverage.  As one current parent describes, “The teachers are so experienced and in tune with the children and their needs, they easily move around and make any necessary adjustments but all with such grace and style that it all seems perfectly natural.”

How do Family Cooperative Preschool parents feel about co-oping?

“I am a better parent to my children because of what I have learned from the teachers and for that, I am extremely grateful.”

“My child truly enjoys getting to know the other parents and the days that I co-op are considered very special days for him.  He often expresses a wish that I could co-op every day.  I feel that the parent participation is what makes the Family Cooperative special.  The children get to see that their parents are invested in their education and oftentimes it gives both the child and the parent an opportunity for some special one on one time which can sometimes be hard to find when there are multiple children in a family.”

“I feel like co-oping is a great opportunity to see your child in a school setting, to see your child in a group of children the same ages. It is a great chance to see the friends they have made. It is a great way to connect with the school and learn new tricks and ideas for making time at home feel just as successful.”

"I think it is the most fulfilling experience to have time with your child in a school setting.  It is fun and exciting to be a part of what your child is doing and creating during the day.  With such a hands-on experience, you can see the routine at school and that helps us at home too...such as with expectations, language used at the pre-school age, and how to re-enforce behavior and advance their education."

“As a mom of four girls who now considers herself ‘established’ as a mom, most of my ‘mom friends’ I met through the co-op.  I love all of them dearly and feel so grateful to have them and their kids in my life.  They truly are among my best friends!   We vacation together, get the kids together, support each other in good and bad times - and it all started at the co-op.”

“Overall, I think the atmosphere at the school, to the teachers credit, is so calm and tranquil and conducive to learning, that I look forward to any opportunities to co-op.  … Once you have co-oped one time, you quickly realize it’s a cherished time, rather than a chore on your list of to-do's.”

“It sounds like an overwhelming commitment at first, but then you get there, and it becomes a social outlet, a learning experience, a chance to be involved in your growing child's "big kid world" and all of a sudden it doesn't seem that overwhelming.  It seems like an indulgence!”