"You know which books from school we have at my house?", one of the three-year-olds asked.
We were getting ready for story time and since story time is mostly a time for discussion using the book as an anchor, we had to learn more about the books she had at home. She began a long list of book titles, and yes, these were all books we had presented for discussion at school. These books are also shared via weekly updates written by the teachers for the teaching team.
The teaching team consists of co-oping parents and teachers.
We work in partnership.
This is not unusual. This is what parent cooperatives do. Every day. For years and even decades.
In my last post, I wrote why parent cooperatives were formed. In short, the nursery schools were necessities in order to provide mothers with time to benefit from work experience and continued education through grassroots organizing. They shared care of their children and in this way formed community schools. It is with that partnership, between teachers and parents, that creates a special experience for children.
We know this system really works and again, this is not just about our school, but any cooperative school. We know that it works best when parents buy in. These children, to cut to the chase, benefit more from the initiatives and the long-standing traditions of parent involvement.
So we reviewed our three-year-olds book list. Her parents have bought in. They get it. They read our weekly updates, they listen during our monthly parent training sessions, and they watch and learn from their peers and from the teachers. We are all walking in the same direction. We are all saying the same things (not exactly the same, but consistently the same). This is when the whole endeavor truly sings.
I wrote these (and other posts) about the parent participatory model because I am a truly committed to it. I have seen it work, not just at our school, but others as well. It is a beautiful thing, but none of it really happens by accident and to truly benefit, everyone has to buy in and decide to walk with each other, checking all the boxes and taking in as much as possible along the way. When they don't, it simply doesn't work for anyone.
If you want to find a cooperative school in your area, please visit Parent Cooperatives Preschool International's website and check out their directory of member schools, but don't be discouraged if you don't see one in your area. There are hundreds of cooperative nurseries across the country and in the world. An internet search will certainly help you find your way to one.
And when you join, buy-in, take in as much as you can and share what you know. You won't regret it.