As a cooperative, parents participate in all aspects of school management and work alongside each other in the classroom. Joining our cooperative preschool means you are joining a strong community of families who value involvement in their child's community and their introduction into the world of education. Our families understand that parent involvement is an invaluable basis for a life of learning, living and being. As we work together we learn about each child and develop a bond as parents.
How many times will I work in the classroom?
Parents (and authorized family members over the age of 18, caregivers, or nannies) are assigned to work in the classroom 2-3 when our roster is at capacity. In some circumstances, parents are scheduled more or less days in the class, depending on our enrollment numbers and the needs of our community of families.
Is the classroom work schedule flexible?
Yes, as a community we work together to communicate our needs and to support each other. At the onset of the school year, parents are encouraged to communicate their scheduling needs. The schedule remains flexible throughout the year, as parents submit their scheduling needs each month prior to the set calendar for the coming month. Another benefit of being a part of a community is that we cover for each other when unexpected events arise that interfere with our preschool responsibilities. With parental authorization, grandparents and other caregivers are welcome to work in the classroom in place of parents who work full time outside of the home. Parents remain involved through our monthly parent meeting and responsibilities outside the classroom.
What is the parent's role in the classroom?
BOCP families are responsible for a maximum of one weekly 2 ½-hour classroom work shift for each of their enrolled children. Parents assigned to work in the classroom will be given a detailed timeline of responsibilities. Generally, these responsibilities include setting up the art center, welcoming the children as they enter the classroom, participating in imaginative play led by the children, reading books with the children, supporting the children as they explore various play-based activities that enhance their development, and gently encouraging the children to stretch outside their preferred activities to build other play-based skills. Other parent duties include facilitating turn taking, working through socially challenging moments, nurturing and guiding children through their big feelings, setting the stage for outside play, helping the children line up, encouraging the children to join circle time, and maintaining a healthy and organized classroom by cleaning the space daily.
What is the curriculum?
Our curriculum is inspired by the Reggio-Emilia educational model founded in Italy. We hold that the parents are the first teacher, the teacher and students are the second teacher, and the classroom environment and natural materials are the third teacher. We follow an emergent curriculum that facilitates rich play based experiences that lay a rich foundation for later more cognitive based learning in grade school and beyond. The children's interests and curiosity guide our themes and the directions they expand. Brain development research shows that children learn best through hands-on exploration in places where they feel safe and free to explore. The teacher takes great effort preparing a beautiful classroom with natural materials that inspire a depth of expansion that is not available with prescriptive materials. The natural materials also stimulate multi-sensory learning. This model of education trusts the child's innate drive toward understanding the world. Children's emergent interests are demonstrated in the class with documentation and shared by the teacher monthly at the parent meeting. Emergent teaching plans are distributed at the parent meetings and on the school's private Shutterfly site.
What about kindergarten readiness?
We observe and reflect on the children's expanding development and educational needs. We trust that most of the skill sets the children need for kindergarten readiness will emerge in the moment they have the cognitive, behavioral, and social and emotional foundation for them. We lightly use Handwriting Without Tears curriculum to support the 4's pre-writing skills and prepare them for kindergarten (many of our alumni use HWOT in their kindergartens). In the winter quarter Parent Educator Kerste Helmes holds conferences with all parents to reflect with and dialogue about their child's individual skills and kindergarten readiness as applicable .
What is the ratio of students to teachers?
Most days, our adult to student ratio is approximately 1:5 (4 adults to a maximum of 18 students). During class there is 1 preschool teacher and 3 working parents at all times. As a cooperative, parents may participate in the classroom at their discretion. Many parents who are not assigned responsibilities on a given day choose to offer additional support.
What is the yearly tuition?
Tuition changes yearly. Currently the Caterpillar program (3-year-olds), held on Tuesdays and Wednesday, is $140 a month and with a one time fee of $86 for field trip/supply fee/insurance. The Butterfly program (4-year-olds) which meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays is $200 a month with a one time fee of $125 for field trips/ supply fee/insurance. Everyone pays a $75 registration fee to secure a spot in our preschool when enrolling. Roster positions in the programs are secured upon receipt of the registration fee and operate on a first come, first serve basis.
Is fundraising mandatory?
No it is not. Every year our parent run board sets a fundraising goal. The entire preschool body decides on how to use the funds raised. We encourage our parents to participate in fundraising through activities like: poinsettia and wreath sales, coin collections, car wash tickets, or writing a personal check. We welcome all fundraising ideas as parents join our preschool!
Your preschool is on a church campus, is there a religious affiliation?
BOCP is independent of the church and has no religious affiliations. Our cooperative preschool is part of the Bellevue College Parent Education Program and is a research based program. As a non-profit organization, we are able to maintain low tuition costs, by renting space from a church. We currently lease from Church of the Resurrection and have a positive working relationship with their administration.
What is your playground and preschool classroom like?
Our playground is located outside of our main door. We have a slide, a swing set, a play house, small garden, lawn space, a balance beam, stumps to climb, and a large sandbox. As we continue to fundraise we will continue to renew and expand our outdoor learning space. Our classroom is a large, light filled room. We have room to gather for circle time, explore through arts and science, engage in dramatic play, and work fine and large motor skills for appropriate development. Our environment is purposefully and flexibly created to cultivate curiosity and invite the children to engage the materials and activities. We work diligently to set the stage each day. Natural materials create a sense of calm and tranquility, nurturing and a place to pause is valued, and every resource is carefully considered for its purpose.
What does a typical preschool day look like?
Class begins at 9:30am. As families enter the front door, parents guide their child in hanging up their coat, using the bathroom, and washing hands. The classroom is set up with specific experience-rich activities. Parent teachers are stationed at activities facilitating the children's engagement with various mediums. Children are encouraged to try each activity but not pressured. The children are prompted into circle time, where the children learn through music, strengthen listening skills and following instructions, practice sitting still and participate in a teacher led activities. Snack time follows, where polite interactions are modeled and children are guided to clean up their own area and push in their chair. Outside play is a time for further growth as the teacher and parent teachers observe and help the preschoolers navigate social, emotional, and physical experiences.
How do you discipline and address challenging moments?
We believe children try their best, especially at preschool. If a conflict arrises between two children we position ourselves at or below the child's eye level, reflect their needs/ desires and feelings, maintain safety, model social skills, and help them work it out. If a child is having a hard time at a particular task we treat the child with respect and offer empathy, validation, verbal redirection, and alternatives to meet their needs. Our reading area is purposefully nurturing and cozy and many children eagerly find comfort here with an adult to work through difficult feelings.
Can parents come on days that they are not scheduled to work?
Parents are welcome to come on days where they are not assigned in the classroom. On those days we ask the parent make themselves available to help with the classroom duties. We ask parents to give the children space to play and explore by sitting quietly with a warm and attentive posture, rather than stand over the children as they play and explore. Our educational philosophy respects the child's innate movement towards expanding their own development, so we practice respectful observation, trustworthy distance, and allow the children to learn through trial and error. Adults intervene when prompted by the children and encourage their independence.
Do the preschoolers go on field trips? How does the field trip process work?
We plan many local community field trips through out the year. The development of the children in the Butterfly Program is more conducive to regular field trips. However, the Caterpillars are invited to field trips as it seems developmentally appropriate. Field trips for both classes in the past have included: fire station tour, library tour, salmon hatchery, and tide pool exploration. For the Butterflies we have done more intensive tours: Bakery Tour, Kidsquest Museum tour, Museum of Flight, ect.
Can any caregiver work in the classroom?
A parent or caregiver attends with the child. We welcome moms, dads, grandparents, nannies, aunts, uncles, or siblings over the age of 18 to attend with the child. Ideally it is the same adult who is involved throughout the year, though there is some flexibility.
What is the purpose of the monthly parent education meeting?
Bellevue College has been providing reputable parent education for many years in the greater Seattle area. Parent Education is led by a Bellevue College Parent Educator who specializes in enhancing parent awareness of their child's developmental needs and navigating the challenges that various temperaments and developmental stages present. Parent education is an opportunity for parents to expand and grow. It is also an opportunity to feel the shared experience of raising children... it's beauty and it's shadow side .
When do you accept new students?
Open registration for the upcoming school year begins January 31, 2017. Families desiring to join the coop for the current school year are accepted when the program rosters have openings. Enrollment is secured with receipt of the registration form and registration fee.
Do you provide childcare for siblings?
For the convenience of parents with younger children, we offer parent-run sibling care. This is a separate entity from and operates independently of our Co-op Preschool. The sibling care room is located on-site, across from the Preschool’s main room. Parents participate in sibling care by sharing duties of child care during the time your child is in preschool. All families that participate share equally in the cost of covering insurance fees. This cost will vary dependent on how many families participate. Scheduling of sibling care is handled by the parents who are involved in sibling care and added to the monthly calendar. It has been a positive parent driven collaborative effort. Additionally, a parent working in the classroom or sibling room may wear their infant in a secure baby carrier. What are your tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 school year?