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.
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!?