At your fingertips...

Whether you are a parent searching for a cooperative for your child, an individual thinking about starting a cooperative preschool in your area, or a member seeking to network with others who share your interests, PCPI has resources to help.  


Membership Graphic.jpg
“I don’t know any way parents can learn as much as they can through participating in a parent cooperative nursery school.”
— Dr. Katharine Whiteside Taylor

One of the most common questions we hear is "How can I start a co-op where I live?"  We are here to help!

Belonging to a cooperative preschool is a special experience for parents and children. Most programs are based on the idea that children learn through play and that the program must be developmentally appropriate for the preschool age group. Further, one of the key attributes of a cooperative school program is parent education.

PCPI has a great collection of resources and experience to share that can help you get started.


Why Choose A Cooperative Preschool?

Taking part in a cooperative preschool allows you to be directly involved with your child’s early education. Being able to supervise your child, and the teacher, guarantees your child is safe and with the best teachers anywhere. Interacting with a community of other parents who share your commitment to childhood and receiving modeling by the teacher as you help, gives you opportunities to learn alongside your child. Most importantly, choosing a cooperative preschool gives you extra time to bond with your child and create memories together. Your child will always know that education is important in your family because you live it everyday.


How a Cooperative Works

A parent cooperative preschool is organized by a group of families with similar philosophies who hire a trained teacher to provide their children with a quality preschool experience. The preschool is administered and maintained by the parents. The parents assist the professional teachers in the classroom on a rotating basis and participate in the educational program of all the children. Each family shares in the business operation of the school (usually a nonprofit venture), thus making it truly a cooperative venture. Parents, preschool children and their teachers all go to school together and learn together.


For Parents

Parents gain insight into child behavior by observing other children. They observe how other parents and the professional teachers handle various situations and gain greater understanding and enjoyment of their own children through active participation in their education. They have the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise with others while working together in a cooperative setting. Through serving on the Board, parents learn about administration, running meetings and other skills useful to them in other areas and states of their lives. They also learn useful ideas for helping their children at home and in the world around them..


For Children

Children participate in a supervised play and learning experience with children of their own age. Equipment, materials and physical facilities are scaled to child size. An opportunity is provided to interact with adults other than their own parents. The children are able to find security and a feeling of belonging in a world which is non-threatening and interested in them. Learning to respect and accept the rights and differences of others is emphasized. Children have hands-on experiences in creative arts, music, science, literature, and language geared to their needs and developmental level.


For the Community

Parents and children develop an extended family with friendships they carry through their lives. Parents gain a strong sense of responsibility and develop positive self worth which carries over into every aspect of community life. The cooperative organization provides preschool experiences within the financial means of most families.

PCPI Publications and Materials

PCPI offers a wide variety of resources to support those who are considering starting a cooperative school as well as cooperative schools that have been in operation for many years.  Below you will find links to articles that can be downloaded at no cost as well as items available for purchase through our online store.  Digital publications and materials are free to members.  Members receive a 20% discount on all other purchases.

Co-oping or Volunteering

What does it really mean to be a co-oping member of a preschool? Lesley Romanoff, Past President of PCPI and Lead Teacher of Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School, shares her thoughts.

Has P-L-A-Y become a Four Letter Word?

Read why play is an integral part of early childhood education in this article from the PCPI archives.

Play Label Downloadables
Play in the Block Corner
Play in the House Corner
Play in the Art Corner
Play in the Writer's Corner

Play Based Vs. Academic Preschools 

Research indicates that preschool children learn best through a play-based curriculum. Read the article by Kathryn Ems, M.S., Past President of Parent Cooperative Preschools International.

For a basic overview of cooperative preschools and child care centers including their structure and benefits, download this PowerPoint presentation.

Online Store

The items are available for purchase as digital downloads with the exception of DVDs and printed promotional flyers, which will be mailed.  Digital products are free to members by using a discount code at check out.  Email to request a member discount code     

How to Start a Preschool or Child Care Cooperative (Download)

A basic introduction to the cooperative preschool philosophy and model. Includes sample forms and much more. 

Add To Cart
Sharing Among Us: Parents, Teachers and Children Communicate (Download)

This book is intended for parents and others who work with young children to help in the development of communication skills and the interaction of parents, children and teachers. 

Add To Cart
The ABC's of Cooperative Child Care (DvD)

This provides valuable information to start and run a successful cooperative child care center or preschool. 


Add To Cart
Is This For My Family?
from 15.00

A distinctive promotional flyer explaining the parent cooperative preschool to the general public. (50 copies $15; 100 copies $20; 200 copies $26)

Number of Copies:
Add To Cart

To request publications by mail, send check or money order made out to PCPI. If paying the membership rate, list the name of the organization or individual holding membership. Please write Materials Order on the outside of the envelope and mail to the following:

PCPI Publications Order
PO Box 230327
Portland, OR 97281-0327


PCPI makes a number of grant opportunities available to members each year.  Overviews of each grant are provided below.  Click the buttons to learn more and access grant application forms when they are released.

Katharine Whiteside Taylor Grant

The Katharine Whiteside Taylor Grant provides scholarships to help educate parents and teachers in Canada about cooperative preschools.

Due:  December 15, 2018

Becky Allen Parent Education Grant

Established in memory of Rebecca (Becky) Allen, a founding member of PCPI, this grant supports parent education projects in member schools.

Due:  December 15, 2018

Cooperative Spirit Grant

This grant, established in 2017, supports parent-led community projects in member schools.  See application form for details.  

Due:  December 15, 2018

Marika Townshend Travel Grant

The Marika Townshend Travel Grant program helps our members attend the PCPI annual meeting.

Due:  March 11, 2019



PCPI awards are available to honor outstanding members each year.  

PCPI Annual Awards

PCPI will present awards to those who have rendered outstanding service to the cooperative preschool movement. The Awards Committee depends on members to nominate people deserving special recognition.

Award categories include:

  • District Award

  • National Award for Demonstrated Leadership

  • Outstanding Achievement Award

  • Honorary Life Membership

  • Robin Garthright Bunster Award for Excellence in Teaching

  • Certificate of Appreciation

Due:  April 10, 2019

Honorary Life Membership

The Honorary Life Membership is reserved as a special honor citing an exceptional contribution or unique involvement in the parent cooperative movement.  This award is not necessarily given each year; it is not based on years of continuing service nor is it given as part of an automatic progression of awards.

Due:  April 10, 2019

Past Award Recipients

A list of past award recipients is available by clicking the button below.  Information about award recipients and their accomplishments is also published in Cooperatively Speaking following the awards ceremony held at the annual meeting.

Cooperatively Speaking, the PCPI newsletter, is electronically distributed to members each month.  The publication includes news about the cooperative community, school profiles, information about upcoming events and grant opportunities.

Recent Editions

July/August 2019 (Volume 49, No. 6)

June 2019 (Volume 49, No. 5)

May 2019 (Volume 49, No. 4)

April 2019 (Volume 49, No. 3)

March 2019 (Volume 49, No. 2)

January/February 2019 (Volume 49, No. 1)