Overview/Cooperative Preschools


OCP Overview

Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool (OCP) is a non-profit parent cooperative overseen by a board of parent volunteers. The school was founded in 2005 with the goal of creating an ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse community united in part through its commitment to parental involvement in children’s learning and development. A cooperative preschool such as OCP is a private entity operated by its members—the parents of the students—and staffed by professional teachers.
Co-ops recognize that parents are the primary educators of their children. Parents are actively involved in virtually every aspect of the school, sharing their talents and interests in the classroom, on the board of directors, and in various committees. OCP’s program creates a special community that gives parents and children the opportunity to learn, communicate, play, and grow together.

Cooperative Preschools – What are they?

A cooperative preschool is a private, non-profit entity run by its members, who are parents of the students. The school is operated by the parents and staffed by professional teachers. Co-op philosophy recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children and encourages parents to share their interests and talents in the classroom, and in the greater co-op community.
Today, cooperative preschools are enjoying a renaissance thanks to changing attitudes towards work and family, and to many parents’ desire to play a larger role in their child’s development and education. Families who seek out co-ops are committed to being actively involved in the life of the school.They have an active willinginess to contriubute to their child’s school and education. Co-ops bring families with young children together around the issues of education, parenting, community, and care. Co-op parents have the willingness and ability to be a significant part of their child’s school and education. Cooperative preschools are not for every family. For a cooperative preschool to be successful, each family has to be committed to creating an enriching and safe learning environment for their child.

This direct parental involvement makes the cooperative a unique educational opportunity. The children grow in mind, body, and spirit as teachers and other parents nurture them with acceptance and kindness. Co-op preschools also help moms and dads become better parents by offering hands-on parent education. By helping in the classroom, observing the children, and communicating with teachers and other parents about their experiences, parents can discover more about what their children need to thrive.

Cooperative Preschool Benefits for Children

  • School is special 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.
  • Parents have involvement in all aspects of their child’s education and a voice in school decisions and policymaking.
  • Children build relationships with familiar, loving adults who accept each child in a safe and nurturing environment.

Cooperative Preschool Benefits for Parents

  • Families get stronger as moms and dads develop their parenting skills and increase their awareness of their children’s development and needs.
  • Parents can learn about child development and parenting throughout the co-op — 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.
  • A co-op is a network of friends with many of the same interests and concerns, who can accompany each other through the good and the challenging times in parenting.
  • It’s exciting and enlightening to observe one’s 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

How a Cooperative Preschool Works

What are the expectations for the parents in a cooperative preschool?
Co-op members serve on the board of directors and on committees. They make budget decisions, hire staff, and set policies. Members also help out in day-to-day ways. Parents rotate certain daily responsibilities. For example, parent-teachers assist in the classrooms and rotate the responsibility of bringing a daily snack. Co-op families also participate in work days and put time into a wide array of projects such as:

  • Admissions activities
  • Special events for fundraising
  • Community outreach
  • Other special projects

For parents, the time commitment is significant but not burdensome. Parents 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 and have the opportunity to learn new skills.

The strength and quality of a co-op is a reflection of what member families bring to it. Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool strives for an ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse community that is united in its commitment to parent involvement in our children’s learning, growth, and development. What unites our members is the shared belief in the importance of the family-school partnership and in the idea that communities as well as families play a vital role in a child’s development.

Information in these pages regarding co-ops and how they work was gratefully borrowed and adapted from Parent Cooperative Preschools International and Agassiz Preschool in Cambridge, MA.