Learning Through Play for 70 Years

Parent Participation

Parent Participation is the heart of Annandale Cooperative Preschool

A cooperative preschool lives and breathes with parent participation, and, like so many things, you’ll get out of your experience at Annandale Cooperative School what you put into it.

We know what you’re thinking. How much time will it all take?

Well, in some part, that’s completely up to you. Yes, there are required meetings, committee assignments, work parties and co-oping responsibilities. And, yes, being in a cooperative preschool will take a little more time and energy than the typical “drop-off” care. But Annandale Cooperative Preschool is more than just a place to put your child in the mornings. It’s a community of members who band together to paint classrooms, write newsletters (and fabulous web content), host picnics, organize class parties, learn from educated speakers, and help some of the best preschool teachers manage classrooms full of some really great kids.

Chances are, you’re interested in a cooperative preschool because you’d like to be more involved in your child’s education. Perhaps you’d like to not only know the names of your child’s friends, but actually get a chance to see them interact with each other in a safe and fun environment. Maybe you’d like the opportunity to make a few new friends yourself.

One thing is for certain: Joining a cooperative preschool demonstrates to your child that you have a personal interest in his or her education, and that you are committed to helping them succeed. And if you get a chance to enjoy a little adult time and work on projects and committees that are a bit more stimulating to your “grown-up” mind, all the better for it.

Typical Co-oping and School Aid Responsibilities

Class Class Days per Week Co-op Frequency* # of School Aid Days per Year**
2-year-old classes 2 Days Once every 4 weeks 2
2-year-old classes 3 Days Once every 3 weeks 3
3-year-old classes 3 Days Once every 4 weeks 3
Pre-K-year-old classes 4-5 Days Once every 3 weeks 4 or 5

* Co-oping Frequency Note: During the initial weeks of the 2-year-old and 3-year-old classes, two parents will co-op in the classroom to help the students get into a new routine, and, as a result, a parent’s obligation in the classroom will be approximately once every 2 weeks. Co-oping schedules are created in three-month spans to allow for plenty of notice to employers and care-providers. Careful attention also is paid to specific requests, birthdays (so you can co-op on your child’s special day), work schedules, other children’s class schedules, etc. An extraordinary amount of effort goes in to make sure parents can fulfill their co-op and school aid requirements without too much impact on their day-to-day lives.

** School Aid Requirement: Should you have more than one child enrolled at Annandale Cooperative Preschool, the number of days you are scheduled as a school aid align with your oldest child. In other words, a parent with a 5-day Pre-K student and a 2-day two-year-old will only be scheduled 5 days.   Parents can choose to “buy-out” some or all of their school aid schedule by finding a replacement and paying the going rate for substitution.

In the Classroom

Annandale Preschool employs experienced, well-trained teachers. We do not employ teacher aides. Parents participate in the classroom by functioning as teacher aides on a rotating schedule. The number of mornings a parent is required to participate in the classroom depends on the size and frequency of the class.

Teachers orient parents prior to their first time cooping in the classroom. Teachers clarify with co-oping parents their role and responsibilities when co-oping. Classroom participation begins with arriving 15 to 30 minutes early to help set up the room and greet the children. Parents assist with the preparation and clean up, and should help children use the toilet when needed or change diapers in the 2-year-old classes. Both parents and children wash hands frequently. The participating parent also provides and serves a healthy mid-morning snack. Annandale Preschool provides suggestions for USDA-approved snacks.

The State of Virginia considers participating parents to be staff, and by law they must be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing as required by the task at hand. For example, parents must be able to communicate with emergency personnel and communicate effectively and appropriately with the age group of children in their classroom. Because the safety of the children is paramount, one of the parent’s major duties in the classroom and on the playground is to maintain a safe environment.

Over and above the regular classroom participation, parents also take part in special activities on occasion (scheduled during regular class times). These activities may include field trips and seasonal parties.

As a School Aid

School aide duty is rotated among all the Co-op families. The school aide works from 9 a.m. until about 12:25 p.m.  The aide opens and closes the playground area, fills and distributes cleaning solutions to each classroom, and performs simple tasks around the school. The school aide duties include vacuuming the classrooms, replenishing bathroom supplies, and emptying trash. You generally act as an extra helper around the school and help the teachers in the event of an emergency. Arrangements may be made on an individual basis for a paid substitute for school aide participation.

Serving on Committees

The administration and physical upkeep of the preschool is overseen by the Executive Director. The Executive Director ensures that parents activities are conducted within NAEYC and state licensing standards. The school’s board of directors, made up of parents, oversees various committees that carry out this work. Each family is required to participate either as a director/co-director or on one of the various committees. Time requirements involved depend on the specific assignment. Members are given a choice of the duties they would prefer. Every attempt is made to accommodate preferences and skills.

Attending Required Meetings

To carry out school administrative matters, there are three general membership meetings per year, usually held on a weekday evening in September, February, and May. There are also meetings for individual class orientation, school aid training, and health and safety training. Attendance by at least one participating parent at all of these meetings is mandatory to meet state licensing mandates. The board of directors also meets monthly and members are welcome and encouraged to attend these meetings. Parent education seminars are held throughout the year, which parents are encouraged, but not required, to attend.