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Entries in Coop Preschool (2)


Love Letter to Our Co-Op Preschool


Last week, I said good-bye to a place that has meant so much to me as a parent. After four years at Little Hands (what I affectionately call a pre-preschool), we had our last class and closed the child-proof gate on a very important part of our lives.

After hearing raves from moms at our playgroup, Nic and I started our first class at Little Hands when he was 18 months old. I thought it would be a good way to get us out of the house and for me to meet some new mom friends. Little did I know that this place, and the AMAZING teachers, would be my parenting inspiration through toddlerhood and probably for the rest of my life.

I often tell people that I don’t know what I would have done without the parent education that is a major part of the Little Hands program. When we started there, I had relatively little need for discipline, but as Nic approached two, and then three, that changed big time. At Little Hands, I was able to watch the teachers, emulate their examples and ask them for advice. They helped me sort through the internet sea of discipline philosophies to find something that seemed kind, fair and effective (Positive Discipline!).

Little Hands also helped me build the community that I wanted so badly. Having not grown up around here, I missed running into people while out and about. My web of connections has grown so much through all of the parent involvement at Little Hands. Nowadays, we rarely leave the house without running into someone we know.

Nic aged out of Little Hands years ago and Z will officially be too old for next fall—kids must be under 36 months by September 1. I’m excited for Z to start at the wonderful Montessori where Nic has been for the past two years, but I’ll miss seeing him in the classroom on a regular basis and watching him learn and grown among his peers. I’ll also really miss the regular child development curriculum that has been so vital to my development as a parent.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of the boys’ teachers individually. They have each made such a major contribution to their lives that I’d be remiss not to tell them one more time.

Teacher Carol: You pour your heart and soul into Little Hands. You do such an amazing job with kids in parents in class, but it’s your level of commitment to the school and everything that it stands for that constantly astounds me.

Teacher Erika: You are my parenting idol. The way you can see a conflict coming and step in to resolve it is unparalleled. You have a keen eye that can really see what is going on with kids, and your input has been invaluable to me through the years. I feel lucky to have had you in my life at my toughest parenting moments (so far!).

Teacher Lalaine: Your connection with Z has been so sweet and true and it’s really helped him cope with his separation anxiety. You have been his safe place this year and that means so much to both of us.

I feel so lucky to have found such a wonderful parenting resource so early on. I know that Little Hands has helped me lay a foundation for parenting that will serve me and my family for decades to come. Thank you Little Hands for all of the love and learning!  

Z "graduating" from Little Hands with Teacher Lalaine.



Co-op Preschools are the Bomb


Ok, so we just started, and technically, it’s pre-pre-school, but I think co-ops are awesome!  I know what most of you are thinking, “What the heck is a co-op?” and “Pre-school, I need to be thinking about pre-school!?”  So let me back up a few steps.Nic's first day of pre-pre-school!

Not only can pre-schools have different philosophies (Montessori, Waldorf, play-based, etc.), but they can also have different structures (traditional and cooperative).  Traditional pre-schools function very much like a typical school (more like a private school, since you have to pay tuition), but cooperative pre-schools are ones in which the parents actually run the school.  Different committees do the towel washing, playdough making, accounting, marketing and anything else you can imagine (except the teaching, that's left up to trained professionals).

We decided to go with a co-op for two reasons:

  • It’s much cheaper!  Because each family is expected to perform a “job” for the school (in my case 20 hours per school year), the tuition is a fraction of what it would normally cost.
  • I get to be involved.  I get to play an active role in Nic’s early education and I get to see him in action.  It’s also a big bonus to have the opportunity to work and socialize with many like-minded parents.

Because Nic is only a year and half, this isn’t a true pre-school program—it’s more like a “mommy and me” kind of class.  We go one day a week for two hours.  Next year, he’ll go up to two days a week and the year after that, he’ll switch to a full-fledged pre-school.  After two years of that, he’ll start Kindergarten at age five.  Oh man, am I really talking about Kindergarten!?