Who We Are
The Children’s Cooperative Playschool is a cooperative preschool that fosters parental involvement in a play-based setting. Founded in 1972, the school began as a true parent cooperative-- meaning that parents took turns teaching and supervising a small group of children. Through the years, the school has evolved to a community cooperative preschool made up of approximately 45 families, situated between Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina. The Playschool is located on the campus of Ephesus Baptist Church, however, it shares no affiliation with the church. We are 'owned' by the members of the co-op (those paying tuition) and are led by a Board of Directors, made up of teachers and the Director. This organizational structure of parental involvement helps us stay true to our mission. Our families are those who wish to actively participate in their children's early school experience. We strive to provide a safe, nurturing, and accepting environment in which children are encouraged to develop social, emotional, cognitive, and motor skills through a play-based and child-centered curriculum.
What Is A Coop?
A cooperative is a group of people who merge their resources to meet a common need. In a co-op, all members benefit in a combined and shared way, unlike in a traditional structure of a business, where there is a pyramid or sole ownership. The co-op alternative provides an empowering, democratic, and satisfying structure within which a common societal need can be met.
"Being a member of a co-op empowers one both as a conscious consumer and as an owner-member of a highly principled business."
About Cooperative Preschools
"The first cooperative nursery school in the United States was started in 1916 by a group of twelve faculty wives at the University of Chicago. These women were responding to a new concern for the early pre-school years as valuable foundations for social and educational success." 1
"In California, the development of cooperatives was rapid. In 1927, Katharine Whiteside Taylor founded the Children's Community in Berkeley, California. Dr. Taylor is now widely recognized as the inspiration of the parent participation nursery school movement. Her concerns for the education of young children and parent involvement also included concern for families. Taylor and others worried about the degeneration of extended family networks. Nuclear families and women in particular, were increasingly isolated from associations and ties with other families. Cooperative preschools provided an opportunity for women and children to form family-like relationships with one another in a setting of reciprocal learning". 2
Cooperative preschools are beneficial for Parents, Children and the Community.
Parents gain insight into their child’s behavior by observing other children. They observe how other parents and the 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 cooperative setting. Through serving on the Board, parents learn about administration, running meetings and other skills useful to them in other areas and states of their lives. They also learn useful ideas for helping their children at home and in the world around them.
Children participate in a supervised play and learning experience with children of their own age. Equipment, materials and physical facilities are scaled to child size. 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 world, which is non-threatening and interested in them. Learning to respect and accept the rights and differences of others is emphasized. Children have hands-on experiences in creative arts, music, science, literature, and language geared to their needs and developmental level.
For the Community
Parents and children develop an extended family with friendships they carry through their lives. Parents gain a strong sense of responsibility and develop positive self worth, which carries over into every aspect of community life. The cooperative organization provides preschool experiences within the financial means of most families. 3
As a preschool cooperative, each family whose child attends the school is an owner and member of the co-op. With this come many privileges and obligations to the school.
What privileges do Co-op families receive?
Because we are a cooperative, the Playschool offers a unique environment for parents who wish to actively participate in their child's early educational experiences. Benefits to our families include:
- Parents are welcome to the school at any time, and parent participation in the classroom is valued and highly encouraged. Families are able to witness their children learning through play at any time of the day by being part of the classroom and playground experiences.
- Families are encouraged to share special interests, skills, and cultural activities with our students. Recently, family members have taught Spanish and yoga, helped students make foods or crafts relevant to particular cultural celebrations, read books about family and holiday traditions, and helped students conduct science experiments.
- There are many opportunities for parents to get to know their child's teachers, playmates and the other Co-op parents through a variety of social activities, as well as through the completion of Family Jobs. The Playschool strives to foster a sense of community amongst the families and staff.
- Families know that they are a part of a group of people who share the same philosophy of family involvement in education.
- Families get to participate in decisions that affect their child's experience at the Playschool.
What is expected of members/owners of the Children’s Co-op?
As members of the Co-op, families are required to do the following:
- Have at least one family member attend school events such as the annual membership meeting, community service days, and classroom get-togethers.
- Perform a Community Role which takes approximately 3 to 4 hours per month. Family Jobs are generally selected by the families during the summer and are held for the duration of the academic year. These jobs are essential to the operation of the school. Examples include: substitute teaching, organizing and operating our fundraising activities, cleaning, assisting in the office, performing maintenance and recycling activities, and serving on our Board of Directors.
- Participating in our fundraising activities.
- Work at least one two-hour shift at one fundraising activity.
There are many benefits to being a member of a cooperative preschool. Among them are:
- Knowing that you and your child are part of a group of people who share the same philosophy of education
- Directly participating in your child’s educational experience
- Witnessing the learning and play at any time of the day by being part of the classroom and playground experiences
- Learning from other parents, and sharing in the diversity of all the families at the school
- Participating in decisions that directly effect your child’s education
- Having fun and creating a wonderful shared experience!
- Belonging to a group that solves problems democratically