HomeArticlesThinking about preschool? A cooperative preschool could be a great choice

Thinking about preschool? A cooperative preschool could be a great choice

When we were evaluating preschools over a decade ago for our now-teenage children, we both chose the Early Education Cooperative Preschool (EECP), a parent-involvement preschool that was founded back in 1969. Since that time, we have become big believers in the cooperative preschool model. In fact, we love it so much, we have since become co-directors of the EECP! With many Valley families exploring preschool options for the fall, we wanted to share some info on what a cooperative preschool is, and how it can benefit both kids and their parents.

A brief history of cooperative preschools

The idea of parent involvement in the education of young children is nothing new, but it is rare these days to find a preschool that welcomes parents as much as children. The term “co-op” was once common in reference to schools. In the 1960’s cooperative schools were popping up all over the U.S. as a way for parents to create the types of environments for their children that felt safe and welcoming — where they could be more involved in their children’s day-to-day schooling and form strong connections with other parents. As more dual working families emerged in the 1980’s through today, co-ops became a thing of the past, with the occasional volunteer stint in schools becoming the norm for the average parent.

Research shows parent involvement leads to elementary success

Recent research tells us that parents in the 1960’s may have been onto something. Studies conducted in the last two decades have shown that parent involvement in early childhood education can lead to academic benefits in the elementary years, specifically in the area of literacy development. It has also been shown that challenging behaviors are decreased when parents take an active role in the classroom, which could be attributed to increased consistency between how children’s needs are addressed between home and school.

Cooperative model offers opportunity to learn parenting skills, build community

The opportunity for parents to learn from early childhood professionals firsthand can be valuable in carrying important skills and knowledge back home and into everyday life. Co-op preschool programs are intentional about how they invite parents to participate, and they are proactive about parent education through providing opportunities for parents to learn in monthly workshops and classes. To accommodate the modern family structure, some even allow grandparents and other caregivers who are close to the child to participate as well. It truly takes a village to raise a child!

Choosing a cooperative preschool could be right for your family if you have flexibility with your schedule and a desire to get to know who your child is spending time with at school –their teachers, their friends, and your fellow preschool parents. A bonus is that cooperative preschools often impart valuable skills that could inform your parenting throughout your child’s most important developmental years.

RELATED: Preschooler not listening? Be patient and pick your battles 

Sarah Root and Nancy Wilson are co-directors of the Early Education Cooperative Preschool (EECP), a co-op preschool offering regular parent participation and educational parenting workshops. Learn more at www.cooppreschool.org



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