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Co-op Schools

Childsplay-4If you have kids over the age of one and under the age of four, you may be evaluating your preschool options. (Okay, some of you may have started planning before they were born.) Well now is the time of year to look around and apply if you want your kids enrolled in school for fall 2008. As I have mentioned before, my boys attended Child’s Play, a parent-teacher cooperative preschool. Our experience prepared us well for the challenges of kindergarten.

Today, Katy Killilea, one of our regular Kidoinfo contributors, gives us the lowdown on co-op preschools in the area. And mark your calendars for Saturday, October 20, when you can visit the two East Side co-ops during their fall Open Houses.

Co-ops are a good choice for families who want to be closely involved with their kids’ first educational experience. And by closely involved, I do not mean just knowing the teachers well or understanding the curriculum, which ideally should happen at every school. I mean as closely involved as: spreading the playground mulch, slicing the apples for snack time, and sitting criss-cross applesauce on a rug singing “Thumbkin.”

Co-ops offer what many consider the most gentle transition from home to school. Because parents are involved in every aspect of running the school — administrative to janitorial — and even take turns helping in the classroom during the school day, the setting tends to become a close-knit community for the family.

The drawbacks of a co-op are pretty much the same as the benefits: you’re expected to be there and be involved. Not everyone volunteers a ton of time, but even those who do the minimum might chafe at having a turn as Helping Parent on a day when they would rather run errands or attend to other obligations.

Because we know the other families so well, and feel very close to and well known by the teachers, our family wouldn’t do nursery school any other way. I actually feel so wrapped up in our nursery school (in a good way — more synchilla jacket than boa constrictor) that I continue to commute all the way (!) to the East Side from Barrington, having moved in the middle of a school year two years ago.

I have one current student and one graduate of East Side Nursery School. ESNS offers programs for three and four year olds. The younger kids meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:45-noon, and the olders meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The older kids can opt to stay for lunch (which extends the school day until 1:00) and periodically for an Afternoon Program to focus on special topics like masks or the physics of cornflakes.

Child’s Play is based upon a developmental play model and offers classes for two, three, and four year olds with an extended day option, as well as a full day, accredited kindergarten.

For more information on these co-ops and others:

East Side Nursery School (NAEYC Accredited)
Pre-school programs for ages 3 and 4
372 Wayland Avenue, Providence 02906
Open House: Saturday, October 20, from 11 am-1pm.
Visitors will have an opportunity to tour the school. Kids welcome! Refreshments will be served.

Child’s Play (NAEYC Accredited)
Toddler, Nursery, Preschool, and Kindergarten Programs for ages 2 to 5
296 Angell Street, Providence 02906 (Entrance on Stimsons Avenue
Open House: Saturday, October 20, from 10am-noon.
Visitors will have an opportunity to tour the classrooms (toddler through kindergarten) and meet with teachers and parents. Kids welcome! Refreshments will be served.

Tots Cooperative Nursery School
This school has water views from the classroom windows!
Preschool programs for ages 3, 4 and pre-K
461 County Road, Barrington, RI 02806

Barbara M. Tufts Cooperative Preschool
Housed in the Methodist Church Parish House (not church affiliated)
214 Main Street, East Greenwich, RI 02818

Dear readers, please add information about your cooperative nursery school by clicking on the comments, below. We’d love to compile a comprehensive list here.

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