When my son was born two years ago and I quit my job to be at home with him, I immediately went from working 12-hour days at an office to being with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our family has loved the flexibility of being able to do whatever we want, whenever we want (last-minute travel, spontaneous beach days, and sun-filled afternoons in the park), but this fall we decided to add a bit more structure to our lives and join a parent-run preschool co-op. Admittedly, we mostly joined to have something to do three mornings a week this winter, but we’ve reaped so many more benefits. We LOVE our co-op, and here’s why:
Our co-op is comprised of 15 member families, and everything is coordinated by the parents. We don’t have any full-time teachers; instead, we rotate teaching various lessons and leading activities each day. An unexpected benefit has been getting to know so many like-minded families.
Alone time for me
My son attends co-op three mornings a week. One day each week, I take my turn as one of the teachers, but on the other two mornings I drop him off and then am free to do anything I want. Six hours a week may not seem like much, but it’s changed my life to have intentional time carved out to pursue my interests solo.
Because co-op is 100% parent-run, it is more affordable than any other option we’ve found for toddler activities. The cost is roughly $1,000 a year, which is less expensive than any daycare, babysitter, or nanny.
My toddler learns life skills
The children who attend co-op range from 18 months to four years old. It’s a pretty big range, but it’s so fun to see the developmental milestones at work and to watch my son negotiate play with kids of different ages. He’s already refined his sharing skills so much since we started, and he’s been exposed to lots of activities I probably wouldn’t do on my own at home, like parachute play and painting.
Best of all, our son loves co-op. He wakes up in the morning and recites the day’s schedule. He’s constantly singing songs he learned in circle time or music and reminds us daily that you must “wash your hands before snack.” I’ve gained some precious alone time and have also been able to work in a group on a large project (i.e., running a preschool for our children). And having a place to go play three mornings a week during the winter isn’t half bad either.
If you’re interested in joining a co-op, here are some around Boston. Note: While our co-op is 100% parent-run, others employ professional teachers.