Cooperative preschool can be a rewarding experience for your preschool child. This is a place where each child’s enjoyment, needs and feelings are of primary importance to the adults present each day: a place with new and exciting toys, opportunities for creative play and—perhaps for the first time—many playmates. Preschool allows children to enjoy themselves while learning social skills.
From the parents’ viewpoint, the advantage of preschool is that it provides play experiences under the direction of a trained and objective teacher, in an environment that is carefully planned to match the developmental needs and abilities of the preschool-age child. A step toward kindergarten, preschool introduces the idea of cooperation and group play, and allows children to become acclimated to leaving home and accepting other adults as authorities. The presence of the Assist Parents also helps facilitate the transition from home to school.
To your child, the teacher represents continuity—the one person who can be counted on to be present every school day, ready to give comfort and encouragement as your child adjusts to this new experience. The teacher helps the children to channel their emotions and to accept the rules and limits on behavior that promote good social relations.
The teacher has a complex role in a cooperative preschool. In addition to her responsibilities to the children, she is in the position of supervising your participation as Assist Parents in the classroom. She will help you to become increasingly independent and confident in your relationships with the children, and to understand your own child on the days you assist. She points the way for you to help other children in the group. She welcomes your suggestions and encourages you to initiate activities and try out your own ideas. You can benefit from her knowledge of the children; she needs your knowledge of your own child’s reactions. Together, you must strive to keep the channels of two-way communication open and to maintain a friendly relationship of mutual giving. You also share the responsibility of providing a happy play atmosphere for the children.
The unique quality of the cooperative preschool lies in the fact that you, the parent, and your child go to school together. It is true that your child goes two or three times a week, while you go only once or twice a month; but, as each of you interacts with the group — including the teacher, the other children and the other parents — the learning experience is shared.
Because the cooperative preschool is so dependent for its success on parents taking part, IT IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE THAT EVERY NEW MEMBER UNDERSTAND THE OPERATION OF THE SCHOOL. While not all parents will contribute in the same way to the school, the talents of all families are needed. As is true with many things in life, the more you contribute, the more you (and your child) will gain. While certain established requirements are made of parents, families are also asked to assume responsibility for the many small, unscheduled needs that arise in the daily operations of the school.
Through the full cooperation of the teacher and the parents, the cooperative preschool becomes an important part of the emotional, mental, physical and social development of our children.