OCP began in 2005 when a group of parents decided to create a play-based cooperative educational preschool that joined parental involvement with a green learning environment.
It started as one classroom with two teachers and was hosted in a family’s home. In 2017, OCP has grown to 6 classes with 7 teachers and 60 member families.
In 2011, OCP moved to a new long-term location in Oakhurst. We financed the renovation of the building and the creation of its nature-based play garden.
The founding members now serve on the Advisory Council and work in collaboration with the Board of Directors and school director, Betty Wood, to ensure that we stay true to OCP’s original mission and values.
OCP began in 2005 when a group of parents decided to create a cooperative educational environment that joined significant parental involvement with a green learning environment based on play. It started as one classroom in one family’s home with two teachers and 19 member families and has grown to six classes with 7 teachers and 60 member families. In 2011, OCP moved to a new long-term location in Oakhurst.
We financed the renovation of the building and the creation of its nature-based play garden. Those founding members now serve on the Advisory Council and work in collaboration with the Board of Directors and school director, Betty Wood, to ensure that we stay true to OCP’s original mission and values.
How The Coop Works
For parents, the time commitment in the co-op is significant, but not burdensome. OCP parents universally report that they enjoy their work within the co-op because they make a meaningful contribution to their child’s education, form lasting friendships with other families, have the opportunity to learn new skills, and gain a deep understanding of the unique education their children are receiving.
All members (one or both parents) serve on a committee and some also serve on the Board of Directors. The board sets policy and are an integral part of budget and hiring decisions. Parents regularly assist teachers in the classroom on a rotating basis and participate in workdays and other events—such as our Beat the Street for Little Feet 5K in the Spring.
Our unique curriculum and approach
Our goal is to create a positive, secure environment that encourages children to become enthusiastic, lifelong learners and self-confident, caring adults.
We follow the open and flexible framework of the Creative Curriculum and integrate key elements of other well-known curricula, including Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori, to create a play-based curriculum that focuses on the total development of the child, including cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills and language and communication.
Our teachers observe how each child experiences and interacts with the learning environment and guides his or her learning process in a mindful and developmentally appropriate way for that child.
A child’s creativity flourishes in an atmosphere of acceptance and trust.
We encourage children to be active and creative explorers who are not afraid to try out their ideas and to have their own thoughts. Children learn best from acts they plan and carry out themselves. This helps them to become independent, self-confident, inquisitive, and enthusiastic learners.
The outdoors is central to everything we do at OCP.
The children spend a significant amount of their time outside in the play garden, which was designed to create an environment in which children can explore a natural space guided only by their imagination.
Through seasonal celebrations, outdoor planting and harvesting, and bringing nature back into the classroom, we offer an environmental education in a holistic way that spurs young children to develop a deep wonder and respect for the natural world and a desire to be caretakers of our earth.
What are your hours?
We are a half day program. Our school hours are 9am-12:45pm.
How are coop preschools different than other preschools?
There are unique—and proven—benefits to being part of a cooperative preschool for both children and parents.
Cooperative preschool benefits for children:
- School becomes a special place when a parent is there to share it.
- Children develop a more positive attitude toward school.
- Children see the value their parents place on education.
- School is more easily extended beyond the classroom, leading to a lifelong habit of learning.
- Children develop a greater sense of pride and self-esteem from “showing off” their parents.
- Children build relationships with familiar, loving adults who accept each child in a safe and nurturing environment.
Cooperative preschool benefits for parents:
- Parents learn about child development and parenting through the their involvement in the classroom, at parent meetings, and co-op family events. Co-ops also can teach parents how to advocate effectively on behalf of their children.
- Families become stronger as parents develop their parenting skills and increase their awareness of their children’s development and needs.
- A co-op is a network of friends with many of the same interests and concerns, who can accompany each other through the journey of parenthood.
- It’s exciting and enlightening to observe your child interact with peers and other adults in a group setting.
- Parents have an opportunity to contribute their talents and perhaps discover new ones.
- Parents have involvement in all aspects of their child’s education and a voice in school decisions and policymaking.
- Communication with teachers and school staff is more frequent and more effective.
Tell me more about Parent-Teacher (PT) Days
As a parent-teacher, you will assist the teachers and the children throughout the school day. Besides making a wonderful contribution of your time, you also get to see your child interacting and growing. The number of parent-teacher days is determined by a) the number of children in your child’s class and b) the number of days your child attends OCP.
For example, if there are 7 children in your child’s class and your child attends 3 days per week, you will parent-teach approximately every 7th class day, or once every 2-3 weeks. Some parent-teacher job responsibilities may include: cleaning, preparing for arts and craft or for other projects, playing with children, helping supervise on the playground or singing songs. The parent-teacher also provides snacks sufficient for the whole class.
What will my responsibilities be as a member of the OCP community?
- Assist as a Parent-Teacher on a rotating basis proportionate to the number of days your child is enrolled
- Serve on a committee
- Participate in three designated school workdays
What is a typical day like at OCP?
- Your child is greeted by the teacher at the classroom door and invited into a welcoming environment that is engaging and safe for exploration.
- After a short welcome activity, the children gather for circle time, greeting one another and starting the day with a game, a seasonal song, a poem, or story.
- The planned activity of the day may be rooting spider plants or painting a flower pot for the plants to live in, baking biscuits in various shapes, making and playing with play dough or “goop,” doing yoga, or listening to a parent play guitar and sing.
- Children come together at snack time to enjoy wholesome food provided by the parent teacher or as part of the days activities. We talk about food, where it comes from, and express gratitude for those who provided the snack and clean up together afterward.
- Outdoor play is a fundamental part of each day where children freely explore and interact with the environment. Play is generally unstructured, and the equipment and materials are open-ended. In the sand pit, children may “bake cakes,” build castles, or dig for fossils. In the playscape, they may overturn a tree stump to investigate the creatures living beneath it, or use the stump as a stepping-stone in an obstacle course. Children are encouraged to look for and collect natural objects such as leaves, rocks, and sticks, which may be displayed on their classroom’s seasonal nature table, examined more closely in the discovery area, and/or integrated into an art project.
- Free play allows children to develop their imagination and creativity while also learning about sharing, taking risks, role modeling, and resolving conflict. Classrooms are divided into interest areas (books, blocks/manipulative, music, dramatic play, and toys) that accommodate a few children at a time.
- At lunchtime, the children come together around the table to eat a lunch they bring from home. We talk about what we’ve each brought to eat and about the day’s experiences. This is a wonderful time for the children and teachers to interact and bond with one another as a group.
- The children come together again at the end of the day for the closing circle to say goodbye to one another and as a transition to welcoming parents as they arrive to take them home.
Does OCP celebrate holidays?
OCP celebrates holidays that reflect our commitment to honoring the natural world or that expand the children’s sense of community by introducing a tradition. We want to celebrate in an inviting and meaningful way, embracing the diversity of our families and our community and minimizing the impact of commercialism and consumerism on our children.
During holiday seasons, member families are welcome to come to the classroom and enrich our school celebrations with their own secular traditions (such as cooking a favorite family meal, sharing a story, or teaching a song in another language).
Here are some of our celebrations throughout the year:
- Welcome Picnic: The new school year starts with a picnic in the play garden.
- Fall Bonfire: We celebrate our community with s’mores at the Wylde Center.
- Harvest: The children prepare soups to share with the school and family members from our garden vegetables.
- Festivus: We gather to enjoy the holiday season with a potluck and auction.
- Illumination: OCP hosts a lantern parade through our Oakhurst neighborhood.
- Grandparents & Special Friends Day: The children share OCP with their extended family.
- International Foods Day: Families provide foods from around the world for kids to sample.
- Lunar New Year: The kids make decorations and try traditional foods.
- Holi: We celebrate the coming of spring by “throwing” colors.
- Pete the Cat 5k: Our annual race brings the wider community together.
- Transportation Day: The kids bring their trikes, bikes, and scooters to school.
- Spring Fling: We have an annual spring meeting and picnic in the play garden.
- Fiesta: We gather at Glenlake Park to send off the graduating Larks.
Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool creates a nurturing community that gives children and their families the opportunity to learn, communicate, play and grow together. In this positive, family-centered educational environment, we strive to develop each child’s curiosity, empathy, confidence, self-discipline, and enthusiasm for learning.
By encouraging children to be active and creative explorers of art, music, literature, nature, and the community, we provide a foundation for acquiring the skills children need to succeed both now and in the future. We model sustainable practices through our curriculum, daily operations, and community events.