FAQs

What is a cooperative preschool?

At a cooperative preschool, each family contributes to the management and upkeep of the school. Among area preschools that use a cooperative approach, AUCP is one of the most committed to parent participation. At AUCP, every family must have at least one parent that can act as a teacher’s aide and work in the classroom. Check out our cooperative approach for more details

Is AUCP a religious school?

AUCP has a longtime partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington but is not affiliated with church and does not include religious teachings in its curriculum.

What is your teaching philosophy?

We are a play-based preschool. Originally established with a firm Montessori base, the AUCP curriculum has expanded to include concepts from current child development research and theory. It promotes the child’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development rather than focusing upon a body of knowledge that the child must acquire. The children are encouraged to express themselves imaginatively and creatively. AUCP staff pays close attention to the individual – your child is considered a unique person with a unique rate of development.

What does your curriculum include?

Educational programs for all ages have specific objectives. At AUCP, our play-based curriculum promotes self-confidence and independence, physical and muscular development and coordination, social development, and cognitive development. More details are available here.

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What does a day at AUCP look like?

It varies by class and by children’s ages, but a typical class day may include:

  • Free choice: teachers set up several stations each morning. Children can play and work at any station for as long as they like or move from area to area. Stations may include arts and crafts, playdough, tools, building materials, blocks, dolls, dress-up, play kitchen, puzzles, or a sensory table filled with water, sand, or other tactile materials.
  • Circle Time: teacher-directed story time, music, show and tell, sharing time, group discussion, talks, or demonstrations by a parent or community member.
  • Interest center or special activity: Children participate in teacher-planned activities, such as arts and crafts projects, games, specific large or small motor skill practice, specially chosen puzzles or other manipulative activities, and music, which has been incorporated into the daily classroom curriculum.
  • Lunch: each child brings his/her own lunch. Teachers and co-opers supervise lunch and help children as necessary. Pandas also have snack time earlier in the morning.
  • Playground: children play on our beautiful and well-maintained playground. Often more than one class shares the playground at the same time, with plenty of adult supervision. Because children need a change of scenery and benefit from exercise and fresh air, we take them to the playground as much as possible except in extremely bad weather.

How much time do you spend outdoors?

We spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day, even in rain and snow, unless the weather is unusually harsh. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are encouraging classes to spend extra time outdoors beyond the typical 30 minutes. Additionally, our older students have class at Long Branch Nature Center every other week.

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When do classes meet?

All classes meet from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, except for Stay & Play, which meets from 12:30-3 pm on Thursday afternoons.

When is AUCP open?

AUCP follows APS for holiday and inclement weather closings. We will send an email over our internal listserv if school is closed for the day.

What ages do you accept?

We offer classes for infants to age 5. Please note that our Panda class starts at age 1, but if you are also enrolling an older sibling at AUCP, you can enroll a Panda under the age of 1.

What are your age cut-offs?

Students must meet the age requirement for each class by September 30. 

What are your class sizes?

  • Pandas (1s): 6 students per day
  • Koala/Kangaroo/Wallaby (2s): 9 students per class
  • Penguin/Puffin (3s): 12 students per class
  • Dolphin/Eagle (4s): 14 students per class
  • Cheetah and Owl (optional 3s/4s enrichment classes): 10 students per class
  • Stay & Play (optional 3s/4s extended day): 10 students per class
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What are your student to teacher ratios?

All classes have 3 adults, except for our optional enrichment classes and Stay & Play.

  • Pandas (1s): 1 teacher, 1 teacher’s aide, and 1 co-oping parent
  • Koala/Kangaroo/Wallaby (2s): 1 teacher and 2 co-oping parents
  • Penguin/Puffin (3s): 1 teacher and 2 co-oping parents
  • Dolphin/Eagle (4s): 1 teacher and 2 co-oping parents
  • Cheetah and Owl (optional enrichment classes): 1 teacher and 1 co-oping parent
  • Stay & Play (optional extended day): 2 teachers (no co-oping parent)

What days do your classes meet?

Here are the class days for the 2023-2024 school year:

  • Panda (1s): Classes available 5 days/week
  • Koala (2s): Monday/Wednesday
  • Kangaroo/Wallaby (2s): Monday/Thursday
  • Penguin/Puffin (3s): Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Dolphin/Eagle (4s): Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
  • Cheetah (optional 3s enrichment class): Thursday
  • Owl (optional 4s enrichment class): Wednesday
  • Stay & Play (3s & 4s afternoons): Thursday

Is there an option to enroll my 2-year-old for 3 days/week?

Our 2s classes are only offered 2 days/week. You cannot enroll in more than one class.

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Can I send my Panda for more than one day/week?

Depending on availability, you may be able to enroll in two Panda days.

Are the enrichment classes required?

They are optional but a lot of fun! 

Can you tell me more about your enrichment classes?

Our Cheetah class is for 3s and focuses on science and nature. Cheetahs will learn to explore, make observations, and solve problems using their senses. Our Owl class is for 4s and focuses on kindergarten readiness. Owls will build their social and emotional skills through play. 

Do you offer full day classes or extended day care?

Stay & Play provides extended day care for 3s and 4s on Thursday afternoons 12:30-3 pm.

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Does my child need to be potty-trained?

We do not require children to be potty-trained, but most AUCP students are potty-trained before entering the 4s.

Do you provide lunch?

Students bring their own lunch. Pandas (1s) should also bring a snack. 

How do you handle naps?

None of our classes have designated nap times. Most kids have so much fun that missing their naps isn’t an issue, and they usually take a long nap when they get home! Pandas (1s) can work with their teacher to figure out what works best for them. Often, young Pandas will nap in the stroller while the older kids play on the playground, but there is a crib in the classroom if that is preferred. 

What does being part of a co-operative entail?

Every family has a role in helping run and maintain the school. AUCP puts an emphasis on community and parent participation. All families must help out in the classroom on a regular basis. We also work together to maintain the building and grounds. Families are required to complete a number of Building & Grounds hours (determined by the number of students enrolled). Additionally, each family also has a family job, which can range from being part of a committee (Social & Fundraising, Auction, Outreach, Building & Grounds, etc.), to room support parent or a board member. We try to assign roles based on parents’ interests and skills and on the needs of the community. 

What are the expectations for co-oping parents?

Co-oping parents act as teacher’s aides in the classroom and aren’t responsible for any lesson planning. On your scheduled co-op days, you should arrive at 9 am (8:45 am for the Panda class) to help set up any planned activities before school starts. Throughout the school day, you should engage in play with the kids, help maintain activities (e.g., replenish arts and crafts supplies, write kids’ names on their art, etc.), facilitate diaper changes and potty breaks, assist the kids with getting out and packing up their lunches, and guide their interpersonal interactions, if needed. After all kids are picked up, co-oping parents will help clean up the classroom and put away any materials used during the school day. You should expect to stay until 1 pm (or until clean-up is done). Co-oping parents may have children that are enrolled in class that day with them for set-up and clean-up, but often other parents will offer to take co-opers’ kids to the playground after school. 

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Are there any requirements for co-oping parents?

Since co-oping parents act as teacher’s aides, we must fulfill all of the same state licensing requirements as teachers, including a background check, tuberculosis screening, references, etc. Co-oping parents also must complete continuing education each year. AUCP offers a number of CE opportunities throughout the year to help parents fulfill this requirement.

My kids will be at AUCP on different days. How will I handle co-oping?

We will only assign you to co-op on days that all of your children are at AUCP. Additionally, our co-op scheduler will reach out to you about your availability before creating the co-op schedule.

Can I bring my baby with me when I co-op in the classroom?

You can bring students that are scheduled to be in school that day to set-up and clean-up. We offer the Panda class to help provide childcare for families with younger children.

Can I buy out my co-oping duties?

AUCP puts a strong emphasis on community, so we don’t allow buyouts. We have a list of co-opers that will cover your co-op shift for a fee ($55/class for Panda; $50/class for all other classes). You can use paid subs for up to 25% of your co-oping duties. 

Can a nanny or a grandparent co-op?

We only allow parents or legal guardians to co-op in the classroom.

What if something comes up, and I can’t work my scheduled co-op shift?

It’s usually easy to find a parent to swap with you or find a sub to cover for you.

Do you need to be a co-oping parent to complete B&G hours? When are B&G work parties?

Either parent can complete B&G hours. It’s a great opportunity for non-co-oping parents to spend time at the school and get to know other members of the community. Our work parties are always scheduled on weekends, and there are plenty of other opportunities to earn B&G hours.

What is your admissions timeline?

Our application deadline for new families is Friday, February 10, 2023. We will hold a lottery in the weeks following the deadline. Our Membership Co-Chair will notify you of your admissions status by March 1. Once you have received your acceptance letter, you will have 48 hours to accept or decline enrollment. After that time-frame, your child(ren) will be moved to the waitlist, and your spot(s) will be offered to another family. Once we have filled all available spots, we will notify waitlisted families.

What is your admissions timeline?

Our application deadline for new families is Friday, February 10, 2023. We will hold a lottery in the weeks following the deadline. Our Membership Co-Chair will notify you of your admissions status by March 1. Once you have received your acceptance letter, you will have 48 hours to accept or decline enrollment. After that time-frame, your child(ren) will be moved to the waitlist, and your spot(s) will be offered to another family. Once we have filled all available spots, we will notify waitlisted families.

Can I tour AUCP?

We welcome you to attend our Open House on Saturday, January 21, 2023 from 10am-noon (snow date January 29) to learn more about our philosophy and see our preschool. Children are welcome to visit and play on our playground the day of the open house (with parent supervision) however because the classrooms will not be set up for play they will not be allowed to attend the indoor portion of the open house.

Is there a space available for my child?

We won’t know how many spots are open to the public until we complete registration for the current AUCP membership.

When can I expect to hear if my child has been accepted?

Applicants will be notified by March 1 regarding the status of their application.

We just received our acceptance letter. What do we need to do to finalize enrollment?

Congratulations! The first step is to email our Membership Co-Chair to accept enrollment within 48 hours of receiving your acceptance letter. Next, log in to the Family Portal through the link in your acceptance email to submit the Family Roles and Responsibilities Agreement and to pay your tuition deposit (equal to one month’s tuition and credited to May 2024 tuition) and the non-refundable Family Registration Fee ($120 to cover background checks for co-oping parents). 

What are your tuition rates?

Here are the tuition rates for the 2023-2024 school year:

  • Monday Panda (1s): $145
  • Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday Panda (1s): $150
  • Kangaroo/Koala/Wallaby (2s): $250
  • Penguin/Puffin (3s): $350
  • Cheetah (optional 3s enrichment class): $150
  • Dolphin/Eagle (4s): $475 **pending approval by the AUCP community
  • Owl (optional 4s enrichment class): $150
  • Stay & Play (optional 3s and 4s afternoon class): $125 

When is tuition due?

Tuition is due the first non-holiday day of the month from September to April. May tuition is covered by the tuition deposit you pay upon accepting enrollment. There is no charge for school days during the month of June.

Why isn’t September tuition prorated?

We divide the total yearly tuition by the number of months in the school year, instead of evaluating billing on a monthly basis.

What if we need to withdraw? Can we withdraw mid-year?

To withdraw from AUCP, you must notify the Board President or one of the Membership Co-Chairs in writing. If you notify us prior to April 30, 2023, and if we’re able to fill your spot(s), we will refund your tuition deposit (May 2024 tuition). We cannot make exceptions to this policy. We require 30-days’ notice for withdrawals. If you notify us within 30 days of the first day of school, you will be responsible for pro-rated September tuition and for any co-oping duties during that time. Families that withdraw during the school year are responsible for tuition and co-oping duties within 30 days of their written notice.