A Family of Families - Your Co-op School
by Lois Todd, retired Co-op teacher and Honorary Life Member
Lately we have all had to take a good hard look at the world in which we are raising our children. "Hold my hand" used to be a safety rule for busy streets and a convenience in the shopping mall.
Now we can't trust the sidewalk to lead our child to a neighbor's and an out-of-sight child in the store strikes panic in our hearts.
Whatever is to become of the task of loosening those apron-strings so a child grows in independence as he has every right to do?
If the next generation is to flourish and become responsible adults, they cannot spend their entire childhood "in custody." Until we can again trust the community life we share, we will have to be relentlessly creative in finding other ways to give them growing room. That's where your cooperative preschool comes in.
The philosophy of creating a nurturing environment by united efforts in a "family of families" is what gave Cooperative Schools their start nearly 50 years ago. The need is even greater now. Now the neighborhoods are often a lonely existence for the one or two stay-at-homes because their counterparts have been trundled off to child care.
The children ache for companionship. More toys, more adult attention, more lessons attempted prematurely - none of these will really take the place of what is missing in their lives - other kids.
So be of good cheer - you have found the best solution to this ageless question - your Co-op School. In the vernacular of the day - it is "user friendly." With your permission I would like to use a few "F" words to remind you of what a great place it truly is.
- not only for your child, but for yourself as well. A community of both adults and children is created where isolation once existed.
- Your school is the step beyond the home that presents objects and people on a continuing basis so that they become familiar and therefore provide a comfortable place in which a child can risk trying something new.
- to make choices and decisions and to explore in a safe environment because there are 2 or more adults providing the opportunities with as few restrictions as possible.
- that can take the wear and tear of active preschoolers and their art projects and open shelves full of inviting materials. In short, a place that says "yes" instead of "no."
FAIRNESS - an atmosphere that helps children gradually learn how to get along in the company of others. Learning to negotiate and cooperate can take a lifetime - let's be about it from the beginning.
FEELINGS - a good cooperative school helps children grapple with their own feelings and be empathetic to others. Caring adults in a small class can provide a safe place to confront frustration or anger and to practice compassion for others who are having similar problems.
FELLOWSHIP - The feeling of belonging starts in the family setting, of course, but the need soon expands to a wider framework. The co-op preschool can provide opportunities for children to experience fellowship early in life so that they will know the satisfaction that comes from friendship.
FUN - Kids thrive on it - Enough said.
There you have my set of "F" words. All are furnished by your family of families - your cooperative school. Have a great year!
Reprinted with permission of the National Cooperative Business Association.