What does it mean to be a co-operative school?
A co-operative school is a school (typically non-profit corporation) owned and operated by its membership. As a member (you have a child currently enrolled in the school), you with the other 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 on a rotating basis and participate in the educational program of all the children. Parents, preschool children and their teachers go to school together and learn together.
What are the benefits as a parent 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 through active participation in their education. They have the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise with others while working together in a co-operative setting. Through serving on the Board, parents learn about administration, running meetings and other skills useful in other areas of their lives. They also gain valuable ideas for helping their children at home. The co-op model also provides an affordable early education for children, often more than 50% less than a traditional school. Lastly they make friends! Lasting friendships form at the Co-op between like-minded families.
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. An opportunity is provided to interact with 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 of the South County Pre-K Co-op?
In addition to paying tuition (comparatively low versus a traditional school), each family is required to provide snack or drink in the classroom at least once a month, serve on the Board of Directors or a committee of the school and help with fundraising efforts.
***Parent-helping (This element has recently changed at the Co-op) While parent-helping in the classroom is not required at the co-op any longer – it IS encouraged!
What does parent helping entail? I’m not a teacher! Parent helpers are just that. Helpers! Ms. Holly and Ms. Ann provide the teaching, structure and leadership of the class. Parents participate in circle time, read books, play games, help with art projects and prepare snacks.
Who are the teachers at the South County Pre-K Co-op?
Holly McKee (Head Teacher & Director ) Ann Collins (Assistant Teacher) and Diana Gasch (Teachers Aid) are our amazing, gifted and experienced teachers! Holly and Ann believe a child’s play is their work and have 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 to join the South County Pre-K Co-Op?
We are fortunate to be able to keep our tuition costs very low because of member participation. Monthly tuition ranges from approximately $150 to $195, depending on enrollment numbers. Also the extended day option is $55 per month per class (currently only 1 extended day is available).
If I want to parent-help how often would I work in the classroom with my child?
Up to you! Typically for classes that meet twice a week, a parent attends one day a month. For classes that meet 3 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? What if our family can’t be in the classroom?
Absolutely, a nanny or grandparent can fulfill the parent help responsibilities. As long as they full-filled the background check and health forms just as a parent-helper would.
How will my class workday be determined? Will it be the same every month?
Your designated class representative parent will schedule your parent -help/snack/or drink helper day. There is infinite flexibility in scheduling your parent help days.
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.
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; you can 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.
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.
Why choose a co-op?
Cooperative preschools are the best place to learn right along with your child. It lets parents participate in their child's education, have a high adult-to-child ratio; meaning lots of helping hands and individual attention for each child, have excellent teachers who regularly update their knowledge and skills through ongoing education, give parents a voice in decisions and policy -making allowing parents and children to build a great foundation of respect and cooperation, give parents a chance to celebrate those fleeting first years with their children, provide regular opportunities to talk with teachers about their child’s progress- no waiting for conferences, recognize that parents are the most important teachers a child will have.