What is a Co-op?
The unique value of a cooperative preschool lies in the learning experience it offers the parents as well as the children. Overlee believes that parent involvement in a child’s preschool education benefits the entire family. From the child’s point of view, having a parent participate helps to make the transition from home to school more gradual and makes school a more integral part of the child’s life. Participation by all the parents during the year gives the child the opportunity to know many adults with varying backgrounds and personalities. At the same time, parents gain new insight into their child when they see him or her with other children and adults away from home. As parents acquire a greater understanding of the preschool child’s behavior and development, there is likely to be more continuity between methods and ideas used at school and at home. In addition, parents at Overlee play a direct role in shaping their child’s educational experience by sharing the responsibilities of setting school policies and administering and maintaining the school. The teachers provide instruction and materials as well as guidance and warm support to you and your child. They help the children learn to work and play within limits, giving them a sense of security and independence.
Being a part of a Cooperative Preschool requires an extra bit of time and commitment. In return, families reap a whole lot of rewards: a high-quality preschool, lower tuition rates, parenting support and lasting friendships. Parental involvement is the cornerstone of our preschools goals and objectives. Each family will act as a volunteer teacher’s assistant (“co-oper”) on a rotating basis, approximately every three weeks for Bluebirds and Redbirds and once a month for Yellowbirds. Mothers and Fathers participate as teacher aids. All co-oping adults will be required to undergo a criminal background check and a TB screening. Co-oping adults are also required to complete four hours of training per year.
The co-oping parent’s main responsibility is to assist the teacher with the day’s program. As the teacher’s assistant, the co-oping parent arrives early to help to set up the classroom for the school day, plays actively with children, helps the children with hand-washing and other needs, brings and serves the snack, and cleans up the classroom. When helping in the classroom, parents are able to observe firsthand their child’s triumphs and joys in what is often their first structured social situation and first formal school experience.
Additionally, we strive to nurture the whole family by providing support, partnership, and resources that enable parents to meet the challenges of parenting. We are a team of children, parents, and teachers who work together to help and encourage enthusiasm for learning and caring for ourselves, our community, and our environment. One benefit of this extensive parent participation is that such involvement has been shown to positively relate to a child’s success in school. When a child sees his/her parents in the classroom it reinforces the importance of education. Parents are educators too and they add a new dimension to the classroom and enrich school life. Parents are also an important resource for a teacher in discovering how to best reach a child.
School Improvement Projects (SIP)
All families must participate in one SIP per enrolled child. SIP’s are generally scheduled at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year, usually last three hours, and might include such tasks as cleaning the classrooms, hauling and spreading mulch and/or sand, repairing furniture or toys, and staining/sealing outdoor wooden structures. All SIP’s are scheduled on Saturday’s so as to not interfere with work schedules.
All families will be assigned one housekeeping (HKP) duty to be completed by a parent during class time (usually Thursday for YB families or Friday for BB/RB families). HKP assignments are marked on the co-op schedule. The teacher will provide instructions on your HKP day; tasks will vary according to the school’s needs at that time. Please note that you cannot co-op and do your HKP on the same day.
Overlee parents participate in the administration of the school, either by serving on the Board of Directors – which meets once a month throughout the school year – or by holding one of the many other positions.
Overlee Preschool usually holds several fundraisers each year, which may include the sale of various items, “nights out” at restaurants, label and clothing sales, and an Auction Night in the spring. All families are expected to participate in the auction and in other events when possible.
Meetings and Conferences
State and county licensing requires a cooperative preschool school to provide parent education to its membership. Our parent education is provided to our membership through speakers at Membership Meetings. Overlee parents are required to attend an orientation and two membership meetings during the year. Those who have board positions also attend a monthly board meeting.
Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled three times during the year (one in September before school starts, one in November and one in March or April). We ask parents to attend one additional evening meeting in the fall (the “class coffee”) to discuss with your child’s teacher and other class parents the goals and plans for the school year for each particular class.
Is Overlee Preschool a good fit for my family?
Overlee Preschool is a big commitment for a family. What you see going on in our classrooms looks fun, engaging and educational. Equally as important is what goes on outside of the class time: a family’s investment and experience, and the partnership with the teachers and the school community.
An important part of our school is the connection between school and families. We will give you and your child so much while you are here, but we expect your commitment in return. This is what has made our school great over the last 70+ years!