Cooperative Approach

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At AUCP, we take great pride in being one of the most committed preschools in the area to the cooperative approach, emphasizing active parent participation. Our co-oping parents play a vital role as teacher aides, receiving training to become dynamic and positive leaders within the classroom. This collaborative effort involves working closely with teachers and other parents, creating a supportive community that fosters continuous learning and the development of a robust parenting network.

Our cooperative model extends beyond the classroom, aiming to incorporate the methods and principles of early childhood education into the home environment. Parents have the opportunity to observe their child’s experiences in the classroom, witness interactions with classmates, and actively engage in the learning process. This unique cooperative approach encourages parents to learn from each other, share experiences, and build strong connections with both fellow parents and teaching staff.

AUCP’s concept of a participating parent goes beyond those of most cooperative preschools, encompassing not only custodial duties but also empowering parents as trained teachers’ aides. Rather than acting as housekeepers, co-oping parents serve as dynamic and positive leaders in the educational journey of their children. Recognizing the parent as the child’s most important teacher, this cooperative experience has proven invaluable in enhancing parent-child relationships.

From the child’s perspective, the active involvement of parents reinforces the significance of the preschool experience. By allowing parents to participate in their child’s education from the earliest years, we aim to mitigate the separation between school and home. Our goal is for children to perceive learning as a continuous and integrated process rather than a compartmentalized one. Additionally, we encourage parents to sustain their active involvement in the educational journey of their children as they progress through future school systems.

Parent Responsibilities

As a cooperative preschool, AUCP relies on the active and participatory involvement of families to maintain an enriching environment for all children while keeping tuition costs low. This involvement is crucial to the school’s success and is made possible by parents sharing responsibilities for school maintenance, improvement, and creating opportunities for the children.

In each classroom, there is a full-time, dedicated teacher along with parent helpers who actively contribute to executing the curriculum and attending to the needs of the children. Classroom co-oping provides parents with a wonderful opportunity to connect with their child’s teacher, engage with other parents, observe and interact with their child’s classmates during learning and play, and gain firsthand insight into the exciting experiences their child is having at school.

Community building is at the core of AUCP’s philosophy. This is achieved through various means, including in-person pick-up and drop-off of children, organizing social activities, offering onsite continuing education opportunities, providing support through “meal trains” for families with new babies or facing hardship, and fostering day-to-day interactions among parents in the classroom.

It’s important to note that AUCP requires a significant time commitment from parents, and prospective applicants should carefully consider whether they can make this commitment. While only one parent is required to co-op, both parents are welcome to participate if they choose to share the responsibility. Upon enrolling a child at AUCP, parents agree to assume the responsibilities outlined below to ensure the cooperative model thrives.

Classroom Co-oping

Co-oping commitments run from 9:00am-1:00pm (or whenever classroom clean-up is complete). (For Panda parents, co-oping commitments begin at 8:45am.). Co-op in your own child’s class an average of:

  • Up to 7 times per year in the Panda (1s) classes
  • Up to 2 times per month in the Kangaroo, Koala, and Wallaby (2s) classes
  • Up to 3 times per month in the Penguin and Puffin (3s) classes
  • Up to 3 times per month in the Dolphin and Eagle (4s) classes
  • Up to 4 times per year in the Cheetah and Owl (optional enrichment) classes

Co-op Buyouts

AUCP encourages community engagement, limiting buyouts to 25% of co-oping responsibilities. Families opting for buyouts have fewer scheduled co-ops. Alternatives include hiring paid substitutes or a combination of buyouts and subs.

Buyouts are not currently available for Panda (1s) or enrichment classes (Cheetah and Owl). As an alternative to the buyout, we also have a list of co-opers that will cover your co-op shift for a fee ($65/class for Panda; $60/class for all other classes). Paid subs are helpful when you have last-minute extenuating circumstances (e.g. sick child, change in work schedule, etc.). You can use a combination of buyouts and paid subs to cover your co-ops, but the total must not exceed 25% of your co-oping duties.

Building and Grounds Participation

Families dedicate 4-7 hours per school year to the care and upkeep of the school building and grounds. Your commitment ensures a vibrant and well-maintained learning environment for all our children. B&G (Building and Grounds) hours can be fulfilled by either parent, and it’s not limited to co-oping parents. It’s a fantastic chance for non-co-oping parents to engage with the school community and contribute to the upkeep of our learning environment.

  • Two hours for one-day Pandas only
  • Four hours per year for one child
  • Six hours per year for two children
  • Seven hours per year for three or more children

Here’s more information about B&G hours:

  • Opportunity for All: Non-co-oping parents are encouraged to participate in B&G hours. It’s a great way to spend quality time at the school and connect with other members of the community.
  • Weekend Work Parties: B&G work parties are scheduled on weekends, making it convenient for parents who may have weekday commitments.
  • Market-Based Approach: AUCP adopts a market-based approach to B&G credits, ensuring that the overall commitment for all families is met. If a family accumulates more credits than required, they have the option to donate these credits to other families in need.
  • Auction Participation: Families with surplus B&G credits can offer them in one-credit increments for auction at the annual services auction. This provides a creative way to support the school community.

Your contribution, whether as a co-oping or non-co-oping parent, is valued and plays a vital role in maintaining our school environment.

Family Jobs

  • Each family is assigned a family job, ranging from committee roles (Social & Fundraising, Auction, Community Outreach, Building & Grounds, DEI, etc.) to room support parent or a board member.
  • These assignments are tailored to parents’ interests and skills while addressing the current needs of our community.

Continuing Education for Co-opers

  • As co-opers serve as teacher’s aides, they are required to meet the same state licensing standards as teachers. This includes undergoing a background check, tuberculosis screening, and providing references.
  • Additionally, co-opers must complete 4 hours of continuing education annually.
  • AUCP facilitates this by offering various continuing education opportunities throughout the year to support parents in fulfilling this requirement.

Attendance at Membership Meetings

Attendance is mandatory at several key annual events, ensuring active participation in our community:

  • New Parent Orientation and/or Parent Welcome Night: An insightful introduction to our cooperative approach and community values.
  • Back to School Night: An opportunity to engage with teachers, learn about the curriculum, and connect with fellow parents.
  • Annual Meeting and Auction: A pivotal event where we gather, discuss important business (and vote to approve the following school year’s Board of Directors and budget), and participate in a lively auction, fostering a sense of unity and support.