Frequently Asked Questions
What is a "Cooperative?"
The word "cooperative" may bring forth thoughts of loosely organized communes and organizations that became popular in the 1960's. In truth, a preschool/ kindergarten cooperative pre-dates all those notions and uses the word in its truest sense. A cooperative preschool or kindergarten is one in which families join together to run a preschool that stresses family involvement and the developmental growth of the child.
Edgewood Preschool Cooperative has been doing just that for over 50 years. Parents run the school by selecting and holding one of the numerous positions that are needed to run a quality program. We elect a Board to handle some of the larger tasks, but every parent has a voice and an important job within the co-op.
The teachers and part-time Director are the school's only paid staff. They are selected for their qualifications as well as their demonstrated skills in working with children. They routinely continue their education through workshops and meetings.
Each class day has a consistent schedule for the children. Each day contains the different types of learning and social aspects a child needs for his or her developmental growth: free play (free choice with many large and small motor activities available), circle time (group interaction, listening to others), snack (tummies get hungry after all that play!) and outdoor play time.
For parents, the benefits of a cooperative school are numerous. Our emphasis, alongside that of our children's development, is parent education. Throughout the year, various educational opportunities are provided, such as Parent Education meetings featuring speakers on relevant family/child topics. Since we all help out in the classroom, we also sometimes use these meetings as a time to discuss the joys and challenges of that experience as well as get to know each other better. Parent/teacher conferences are scheduled twice each year, but the teachers are available on a daily basis to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about your child. The entire school also gets together for fun at events such as Fall Hayride and Bonfire, My Guy and I Night, Polar Express PJ Night, Easter Eggstravaganza, Edgewood 500 Festival, etc.
What does Edgewood Preschool Cooperative do that has made us a fixture in early childhood education in Indianapolis?
- We have been a cooperative preschool for over 50 years.
- The length and frequency of school days is in line with the recommendations of early childhood educators as appropriate for the age of the children.
- We believe in a developmentally appropriate approach to a child's early education. Teacher-led group time is balanced with plenty of self-directed, hands-on experiences. The latter have been shown to encourage the natural learning processes of children to occur. Parents, educators and researchers have found that children of these developmentally appropriate programs are not only ready for kindergarten, but also have developed a life-long love of learning.
How do you prepare parents for their role in the classroom?
- For parents, a six-hour training session—referred to as Classroom Participation Training (CPT)— is held to prepare you in your role as a participant in the classroom. (More on this below.)
- During the summer, school families gather several times for play dates. This is a wonderful chance to meet other new and returning families (as well as the teachers) in an informal setting.
- There will also be an EPC Orientation where important information is given on the operation of the school. The teacher will show you around the classroom, so that participating parents will know where things are and what they need to do when participating in the classroom.
This is my child's first school experience. What can be done to make the transition easier?
- The summer play dates provide an opportunity for the child to meet the other children in the class, the teacher, and the other parents who will be participating.
- Each child will have the opportunity to meet the teacher and other classmates and experience the classroom at our Member Preview before school begins. There are also several other opportunities for children and parents to meet others in the school as we prepare the classroom/school for opening (Opening/Cleaning of the School, Open House, etc.).
- Depending on enrollment, often only half of the class attends each day the first week so that the environment is a little bit quieter and the children are less likely to be overwhelmed with the new situation. After that, the normal school schedule begins.
- If a child is uncomfortable with the parent leaving, we work with you to help build the child's confidence and comfort in leaving. We will never require you to leave.
Should an "untrained" parent be a part of my child's learning?
Yes. But we parents are not untrained. We are all experienced teachers simply by being parents. We are our children's first and best teachers. To prepare you for the specifics of participating in the classroom, you will attend a six-hour Classroom Participation Training (CPT) led by an experienced co-op teacher and/or parent. Through a series of observation and discussion experiences, you will learn a great deal about the developmental tasks each age level is tackling both in the classroom as well as at home. You will also gain additional "know-how" at parent meetings throughout the year. And, on a daily basis, the teachers and experienced parents are there to help you.
Is there structure to the children's day?
Yes. The children in our classrooms are encouraged to move freely among numerous activities provided by the teachers each day. This freedom of choice by the children and the noise they naturally generate when enthusiastic about a project should not be confused with a lack of structure to their day. After CPT class, one can see that there is actually higher level and self-directed learning going on in this type of classroom. Each class has a certain schedule for the day's activities (e.g. free play, circle time, snack, outdoor play) so that the children know a routine and what to expect. And, of course, some necessary structure is provided by the teacher and participating parents for the safety of everyone and because appropriate socialization within a peer group is important too.
It doesn't sound as if my child will be taught to write his name or to read simple words. Won't kids from "academic" preschools be ahead of mine in kindergarten?
No. Although it is enticing and provides a sense of accomplishment for a parent to see their preschooler reading and writing, numerous studies have shown that pushing a young child to do these tasks too early is actually detrimental in the long run. Our goal is to foster a joy in learning and discovery that will serve a child over a lifetime. And, let's face it. Reading is like walking, in that, no matter when one starts, we all end up doing the same thing by a certain age. It is not so important when one starts, but rather that one feels a sense of accomplishment and joy in learning. Our cooperative preschool provides challenges for the children in all academic areas-language/reading, math, science, etc.-each day at a level developmentally appropriate for each child.
How often will I participate in the classroom?
You will participate a minimum of 2 times per month (no more than 3 times per month, although this is unusual). Sometimes you will be asked to bring snack on your participation day.
But this seems like it takes a lot of time?
Yes and no. Joining a cooperative preschool does ask more of you than a "drop off" preschool, but the time you put in is repaid many times over in countless ways both now and in the future. And, keep in mind, there are far more days that you do not participate than those that you do.
I have small children; I can't possibly make the time to co-op!
If you have small kids, this is the best place for you because we look out for each other. We take this part seriously. Parents often trade childcare for their young ones on days they have to participate, so the babysitting is taken care of-and it is free! This forges even closer friendships among families and the little ones get to be at other little ones' houses while the older child is at school. If you have a baby, family emergency or other need, the other parents arrange to bring meals in, have your children over to play, carpool with them to school, etc. You will never be left to do it alone!
Selfishly, I think I need more time to myself than your short school days seem to allow.
The length of our school day is geared to be appropriate for the child, in accordance with the guidelines from the NAEYC. Also, some co-op parents trade off childcare on non-school days so that each parent can have a day off while their children have familiar playmates.
I work full-time or part-time; can co-op work with my schedule?
Yes, in most cases. We have parents who work full-time and use personal time for the days they are scheduled to participate. Others have caregivers-- a nanny, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.--participate for them. Still others do a combination of these options. Those who work part-time usually work their participation days around their work schedules.
How will I know when I am to participate?
A parent in each class coordinates the schedule of classroom participation. This is usually done 1-2 months ahead. Before the schedule is created, each parent is asked to submit days and dates they can or cannot participate as well as their preferences for days they would like to be scheduled. Every effort is made to accommodate personal schedules. For unexpected schedule conflicts or illness, participating parents can swap days in advance, or even the morning of class.
My child has special needs. Can you accommodate them?
Yes, in most cases. Each situation is considered on an individual basis with the teacher. Every effort is made to meet each child where he/she is, and yet consideration is made for the safety and well-being of the class as a whole. If your child's special need is a food allergy, all parents in the class are told about any food allergies and are expected to bring one snack that is appropriate for all the children. If a child needs special therapists in the classroom to assist with developmental delays or conditions such as autism or Down syndrome, accommodations are readily made.
Bottom line: Why should I consider a cooperative preschool or kindergarten?
- It is the beginning of a lifetime involvement in your child's education.
- It is a chance to understand the developmental tasks your child is accomplishing.
- It is an opportunity to see for yourself how your child interacts with others--not just hear about it from the teacher.
- Participating in your child's preschool classroom makes it possible to judge for yourself if your child is ready for kindergarten.
- It is a chance to build friendships with other parents who are like-minded and committed to their families and to their children's education.
Edgewood Preschool Cooperative does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, national origin,
ancestry, age, or United States military service veteran status.
Copyright Edgewood Preschool Cooperative
ancestry, age, or United States military service veteran status.
Copyright Edgewood Preschool Cooperative
4700 Shelbyville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46237 317.721.9414 firstname.lastname@example.org