Curious about what we are offering, but not ready to sign up? Come join us for a sample virtual class on Wednesday, September 23 at 11:30 am. Experience a children's class with Maura for 30 minutes followed by time with our Parent Education instructors to ask questions and learn more about our school. Register today to reserve your spot here.
Is it safe to attend a co-op preschool in the time of Covid?
Whereas we can never be 100% sure of safety, we are doing everything possible to keep all of our children, teachers, and families as safe as possible. Our initial opening will include virtual learning time only. Once we are able to begin meeting in person, we'll add one hour of outside, in-person learning with up to 5 kids, our children's teacher and one parent each week. Everyone will be required to wear masks at all times, wash hands upon arrival (with hand sanitizer available at all times), take daily temperatures, and all equipment and toys will be cleaned between each outdoor learning pod. We will be flexible to the situation at all times and can change course as needed based on state and Bellevue College recommendations.
How does the virtual learning work?
For the initial part of the school year we will be offering 30 minutes of big-group circle time for all students Monday morning and 30 minutes of small pod learning Tuesday morning each week with our Children's teacher, Maura. We will be offering an optional 30 minute virtual Pre-K class on Wednesday morning for our Butterflies. An additional 90 minutes of optional asynchronous learning content will be available to access at your convenience. We will also be offering guidance from our Parent Ed and Children's teachers on how to effectively home-school your preschooler. We will also have virtual support from our Parent Ed teachers, both in group sessions and on an individual basis.
How should we dress our children (and ourselves) for outside class?
We all know when the wet season arrives going into fall that it can get damp and cold quickly in the Pacific Northwest. We encourage you to plan ahead and dress your children in layers to keep them warm, including: ~ Rain boots, pants, & coat (or rain suit) - waterproof! ~ Wool socks - stay warm even when wet ~ Long underwear or layers of warm pants and sweaters - synthetic or wool are best ~ Hats, mittens, and scarves - again wool is best ~ Don't forget a mask for all in-person classes!
When do classes begin?
Our first day of virtual class will be September 14. It will include 30 minuets of big group circle time and 30 minutes of small group (pods of no more than 5) class. We hope to begin in-person outdoor class later in the fall as we are able, in pods of no more than 5 children, plus our Children's teacher and one parent in attendance. Each pod meets for one hour from 9-10 am, 10:15-11:15 am, and 11:30 am - 12:30 pm. When we have more than 15 families enrolled, we will add one additional pod with a maximum of 20 children total in pods of 5.
What does it mean to be part of a co-op?
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?
When meeting in person, parents (and authorized family members over the age of 18, caregivers, or nannies) are assigned to work in the classroom 2-4 times a month 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 2 ½-hour classroom work shift per week 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 STREAM focused 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 Educators Kerste Helms and Jennifer Watanabe hold 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, when we meet in person, our adult to student ratio is approximately 1:5 (4 adults to a maximum of 18 students). During class there is one preschool teacher and three working parents at all times. On Mondays and Tuesdays, during regular school hours, our Parent Educators Jennifer Watanabe and Kerste Helms are each present one day and available to answer any additional parenting questions families may have. 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?
The schedule of fees for the upcoming Fall 2020/Spring 2021 school years may be found on the Registration page.
Is fundraising mandatory?
No. 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, holiday chocolate and cheese sales, 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 two slides, a large play structure, 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 single, 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, while 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?
Typically, when class is in person, class begins at 9:30 am. 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. This year Covid has forced us to get creative about our schedule, providing various levels of virtual and in-person learning based on recommendations from the state and Bellevue College.
How do you discipline and address challenging moments?
We believe children try their best, especially at preschool. If a conflict arises 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 to class on days when they are not assigned in the classroom. On those busy days we ask parents to 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 usually plan many local community field trips through out the year. We will be assessing field trips based on safety surrounding Covid. Pre-Covid, 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 tours of the local fire station, library, and salmon hatchery, as well as exploration of local tide pools. For the Butterflies, we have done more intensive field trips, including tours of a bakery, KidsQuest Museum, and the Museum of Flight.
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 in our classroom is led by our Bellevue College Parent Educators, Kerste Helms and Jennifer Watanabe, who specialize 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...both its beauty and its shadow side.
When do you accept new students?
We are currently accepting new students in both the Caterpillar and Butterfly classes. Registration for the upcoming Fall 2020/Spring 2021 school year starts February 3, 2020. Families may contact the Registrar for tours or questions. Registration forms and additional information may be found here.
For the safety of our students, drop-in visiting is strongly discouraged and drop-in visitors will be asked to return once they have scheduled a tour with the Registrar. We thank you for understanding.
Do you provide childcare for siblings?
Unfortunately due to Covid we are not able to offer sibling care at this time. However, a parent working in the classroom or sibling room may wear their infant, up to 6 months of age, in a secure baby carrier.