What is a Co-op? (by Christy Gordon Baty)

A co-op, short for cooperative, is an organization that is owned or managed by the
members of the group. The first co-op preschool in the United States was founded in 1916 at the University of Chicago. The founding mothers’ goal was to pool their
resources to create a childcare program that would allow them to participate in the war effort.

A co-op preschool is usually a non- profit organization. A professional teacher(s),
director and/or staff are often employed, but parents are relied upon to run the school. Parents are the teacher aides, the parents are the fundraisers, and the parents are the maintenance workers, the parents do almost everything.
Parents participate during the preschool day, at regularly scheduled night meetings, on work party days, and occasionally during off-hours for special projects. All this participation keeps down the cost of running a school a key benefit to many parents.

Co-op preschools are, by their very nature, a close-knit community. This is something many people don’t expect when they get involved. It’s like acquiring a new set of in-laws. It’s an extra family commitment. You’re all connected.
For many parents, this closeness is something they need to get used to. But it can also be a very positive experience, reminding parents of the power of participation.

One of the most personally rewarding aspects of being in a co-op is the opportunity to be intimately involved with your child’s education and their day-to-day interactions with other kids and parents at the school. You know their friends, you know their teacher, and you know their friend’s families. This familiarity gives parents a valuable opportunity to connect with their child.

It’s so important to be able to talk to you child about school. Not just say,” How was your day, how did school go?”

So, Is a Co-op Preschool Right for You?

Co-op participation can be highly rewarding. It creates a strong sense of community and can give you a valuable connection with your child.
But all this comes with a commitment of time and energy. It is the parent’s participation that makes a co-op unique.

So, if you are ready to play, clean, fund raise, be around young children, know the
other parents, and take responsibility for the school, then you are ready to join a co-op preschool.

Is Your Child Ready for Preschool?

Whether or not to enroll your child in preschool is a personal choice that should be made according to the personality and needs of the individual child. If your child does not exhibit most of the behaviors below, he/she may not be ready for the preschool experience:

  • Can leave you for an extended period of time.
  • Can work with a small group of children.
  • Can put on outerwear with little help from you.
  • Can use the bathroom without assistance. ( Underwear required-no pull-ups)
  • Asks and wonders about going to preschool.
  • Can sustain attention for a twenty-minute activity.
  • Has the physical stamina to complete the day’s activities without napping and without becoming excessively cranky.
  • Able to take care of some basic needs like washing their hands, eating and drinking without assistance. (Drinking out of a regular cup not a sip cup.)

Are You Ready to Send Your Child to Preschool?

Think carefully about what your goals are for sending your child to preschool:

  • Do you just need time to yourself?
  • Are you worried if you don’t enroll your child in preschool they won’t be ready for Kindergarten?


If you find that the main reasons you want your child to attend preschool are:

  • They seem eager to learn new things and explore.
  • They aren’t getting enough stimulation at home.
  • They seem ready to broaden their social horizons and interact with other children

Chances are it’s the perfect time to start preschool!