Co Op Preschool

Updated on January 22, 2011
C.M. asks from Harpers Ferry, WV
6 answers

Hi. We just moved to VA from CA just a few weeks ago. I have had a hard time finding a preschool to put my son in. He is 3 1/2 year old and he was going 2 half days per week in CA and LOVED it. My daughter is in kindergarten already here in a public school, and he see's her going to school and wants to also. So, I've called about 10 preschools in the area and they are all full, even for fall they are all done with registration already. So, I found a co op preschool that does have 1 opening for this year since another kid just moved away. We went and checked it out and it looks great. Very clean, organized, only 8 kids per class, and I love that I can be a part of it and make some friends and meet new people since we are new to the area. But, it seems like a lot of work. I am a photographer part time and work when my husband is home with the kids. For the co op we have to work there in the class every 6 weeks (not a big deal, I'm happy to help out), drive on 2 field trips a year, have an official "job" at the school for the year, be involved in all of the fundraisers, go to meetings every month, plus be a sub when a teacher is sick, and take part in cleaning all the toys and everything in the school when they have their major cleaning days. I'm a little worried about all of the work involved. My husband will be gone for 3 months in training so it will just be me and the kids (which I'm already a little worried about because the kids will miss him so much. He is an amazing dad and helps me out a lot). But, does that sound like a lot of work to you or is that pretty standard for a co op? I've already enrolled him becuase this was our only option, but I might do the "buy out" option for co oping for the fall, so it's not so much work. I am also signed up for the co op training class, TB test and background checks, so that is more stuff to do also. So, what are the good and bad things about being part of a co op? Thanks!!

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answers from Washington DC on

It would help to know where you live as I know several wonderful preschools that are not co-ops that sound like they may be a better fit for you. I also considered a co-op at one point but with siblings not being allowed, that meant arranging and paying for additional childcare to fulfill the requirements. The preschool that my children attend is very family oriented, I feel like I know the kids and parents yet I don't have to do a lick of work unless I want to :) Good luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I hated co op. Just hated it. We had to volunteer in the class once a week though and we couldn't bring siblings...I had a 1 year old at the time. I remember calling my mother in December and telling her that I felt like I was drowning. I just couldn't keep up with all the "volunteer"(read:required) time that I had to put into the class as well as working part time and mothering full time. There wasn't enough time in my days to get everything done.
Being involved in fundraisers was HUGE in our wasn't just an hour or two, it was a full day. With my husband working full time and all the hours to get ready for the fundraiser and then the ACTUAL fundraiser (which again, no siblings!) it felt like too much to me.
Just know, you are going to be on your own, since your husband is going to be gone, and you need to be able to juggle mamahood, working, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, blah! I KNOW there are mamas out there that can do it...I did it too...I just didn't like it! lol I can't tell you how much more I LOVE my second son's Lutheran Church preschool. Same amount of hours a week and it costs the same as the co op did. If you do not want to do co op I strongly suggest looking into some churches in your area..they are usually about the same price!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think you pretty much listed some of the good and bad points right there :)

I think that whether or not this particular co-op is a good fit for you and your family is going to depend on a few different things.

How involved do you really want to be?

A co-op will require a lot more participation and work from you and your family than a regular preschool. Now- this can be a great thing, because you will be so much more involved, know much more about how the school is run, have more of a voice in decision making, get to know the kids and teachers much better- all things that people with kids in regular preschools often COMPLAIN about not being able to do.

But how much fun this is for you depends on SO many different factors.

Are you looking to make whole-family friendships, or just to send your kid to school? (there is nothing wrong with the latter, either. You're a grown up and can make your own friends however you want!)

Do you want to be a room mom that often? Do you like and relate to the other families there? If you don't share similar viewpoints and philosophies - at least in regards to education- it will be a lot harder for you to work with this group. Or you may make really close friendships here that will be for adults and kids, your whole family, for YEARS- if you 'click' with the group. But you have to judge for yourself if you think that's likely to happen.

How do you really feel about the quality of the education your son will get (it IS pre-school after all, and not pre-med) and the general atmosphere?

This sounds like a pretty standard amount of involvement and work for a good co-op. Everyone has to pull their weight for it to work out. Some people do this and end up LOVING it- and some people it is just too much of a time commitment. You have another child whose school is also going to be asking for your time and money, don't forget. It can be hard to balance that and no shame to you if you can't or don't want to.

But- you may find another 'family' here at this school, with other parents to help and support you while your husband is gone. I have a good friend who has been part of a MAJOR babysitting co-op for years and although she certainly has to do her share of the work and scheduling and babysitting- she has 3 kids of her own and doesn't know how she would have managed without it, since she also works full time.

Maybe you should just try it for a semester and see if it works out for you. You may love it. If you don't. I would just explain that with commitments at your daughter's school as well, you just cannot give the time they need and withdraw with no bad feelings on either side.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I LOVED our coop!!!! It may seem like a lot of work, but it really wasn't for me (I work part time too). volunteering every six weeks isn't much (I had to volunteer 2x a month)... but allows you to see what is going on with your child, how the classroom operates and get to know some of the other kids, which is really really awesome if you ask me! Like anything else, there were other parents really interested is "subbing", so you may never be asked to do this (I never had to). And the cleaning in our coop was a family thing over the weekend that was shared with another family and got knocked out quickly. I only had to do that once (every family had that job only once the whole year). We could pay people to do our jobs if we couldn't do it. It wasn't much money, but there is always someone that would be happy to do it and can use that extra money. Overall, we had a great experience. I loved being involved with my kids experience and I met a lot of neat family who was also very interested in their child's experience. The only thing I would say is that the teacher needs to be very good and respected by the parents. She needs to run the show... and the parents "help" as instructed. We had a spectacular teacher like that, so you didn't get random "teachers" depending on the personality of the parent that was in the class that day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

If I didn't work full time, I would love to do all that. Gets the little one the socialization and group learning while allowing me to be involved. I say go for it and enjoy. They are only young once.


answers from Santa Fe on

It sounds standard to me. I LOVED our co-op preschool. I got to know all the kids and most of the other parents. It was so great. I picked being an art helper the first year and that was a lot of work. I then helped with the webpage as my job the next year and it was a lot easier. We had to help do one end of month clean up and one year end big clean up. I helped in the classroom and helped with fundraisers. It did require some work, but I enjoyed it. I was working half time at the time with a very flexible job. Other co-op parents would work out a child-swap for watching kids when needed or you could pay someone to work for you if you really could not make it. The teachers we had were awesome and the other parents were all very nice people. I really enjoyed helping out in the classroom and getting to see what my child was up to! I also enjoyed going on some of the field trips. It does mean making an effort and putting time into it, so if you don't want to or cannot do this then maybe it is not for you. I would definitely do it again though!

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