Why choose a co-op?
Co-operative preschools are the best place to learn alongside your child. Parent participation and seasoned educators means lots of helping hands and individual attention for each child, with regular opportunities to discuss a child’s progress. Parents have a voice in decisions and policy-making ensuring that our curriculum and programming is up-to-date, meaningful, and responsive to the needs of our parent community. A co-op school recognizes and celebrates that parents are the most important teachers a child will ever have.
What exactly does it mean to be a co-operative school?
A co-operative school is owned and operated by its membership--the parents of enrolled students. Members perform all administrative functions of the school, direct policy, and participate in the classroom environment. In comparison, a traditional school will have a paid staff that determines policy, runs the business of the school, and parent classroom participation is limited. At a co-operative school, the parents assist the professional teachers in the classroom and participate in the educational program of all the children. Parents, children, and teachers go to school together and learn together.
What are the benefits for the PARENTS of the co-operative model?
Parents gain insight into child behavior by observing and interacting with all children. They observe how other parents and professional teachers handle various situations and gain greater understanding and enjoyment of their own children. They can share their experiences and expertise with others while working together. Through serving on committees or on the Board, parents learn about administration, running a non-profit, and other skills useful in other areas of their lives. The co-op model also provides an affordable early education for children, up to 50% less than a traditional school. Finally, they make friends! Participation in the Co-op builds a thriving parent network that can last for years!
What are the benefits for the STUDENTS of the co-operative model?
Children participate in supervised play and learning experiences with children of their own age, as well as adults other than their own parents. The children are able to find security and a feeling of belonging in a nurturing way by having their mom or dad and other parents in the classroom. They learn by exploring their environment, interacting with their peers, participating in hands-on creative arts, music, science, literature, and language geared to their needs and developmental level.
What are my responsibilities as a member?
In addition to paying tuition (comparatively low versus a traditional school), each family is expected to assist the professional teachers in the classroom on a rotating basis*, serve on the Board of Directors or a committee of the school, and help with fundraising efforts.
*While parent-helping in the classroom is not required at the Co-op any longer, it IS encouraged!
What does parent helping entail?
Parent helpers are just that--helpers! Ms. Ann and Ms. Diana provide the teaching, structure and leadership of the class. Parents participate in circle time, read books, play games, help with art projects, eat with the children at snack time and assist on the playground.
Who are the teachers at the South County Pre-K Co-op?
Ann Collins (Head Teacher & Director ) and Diana Gasch (Assistant Teacher) are our amazing, gifted, and experienced teachers! Ms. Ann believes a child’s play is their work and has structured the curriculum around this philosophy. You will find they both have endless amounts of love, encouragement and patience for our children.
How much does it cost?
We are fortunate to be able to keep our tuition costs very low because of member participation. Monthly tuition is $160 for the 3's and $205 for the 4's. Our extended day program is an additional $55 per month (currently only one extended day is available).
If I want to parent-help, how often would I work in the classroom with my child?
It's up to you! Typically for classes that meet twice a week, a parent attends once per month. For classes that meet three times a week, a parent attends one to two days a month. This model provides a gentle and gradual transition to independence and kindergarten readiness.
Can a nanny or grandparent work in class, instead of a parent?
Yes! A nanny or grandparent can fulfill the parent help responsibilities as long as they have completed the background check and health forms just as a parent-helper would.
How will my parent-helper day be determined? Will it be the same every month?
You will work with your designated class representative parent to schedule your parent helper days. We are very flexible!
What is the adult/child ratio in the classroom?
Classes have no more than 16 children enrolled, often 12-15, with two teachers and one to two parent helpers. As such, our adult to child ratios are typically 1:3 to 1:5. This is in keeping with our insurance requirements and state mandates.
What fundraising does the school do, and what is my expected contribution?
Our main fundraiser is an annual dinner and auction, typically in March or April. Each family is asked to donate or solicit one $50 item as well as purchase tickets to the event. All other fundraisers are optional.
Is South County Pre-K Co-operative licensed by the state of Maryland?
Yes! We follow all Maryland State licensing for early childhood care and education and we are inspected annually by the Maryland State Department of Education.
Who do I contact if I am interested in enrolling my child, and what are the next steps?
You should contact our enrollment chair if you are interested in joining. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or call 410-798-5650. As space allows, we enroll throughout the year. Registration for the next school year begins in mid-January for returning families and late January for new families. You are welcome to contact us at any time during the year to schedule a tour, ask questions and inquire about space availability; class enrollment can shift during the year.