Why we chose our cooperative preschool. Form an allergy mom’s perspective.

We chose a cooperative preschool for Ellie firstly, to save money. I am a SAHM and plan to be until Ellie is in full-time school, as long as this is an option for our family. So we don’t need to spend money on child care due to work and honestly, child care in our area can cost more then a minimum wage $15 per hour job would pay. 

The second thing that made us choose a cooperative preschool for Ellie is that she is so clever and curious, I know, I know, most parents are biased when it comes to there children. Ellie was an early crawler, walker, and talker. This is just her personality, she is a go-getter and shocks us daily with a new skill, and is go go go till bed time. She loves to learn and play and seems to enjoy challenges and tasks. For this reason, we think she’d really enjoy the challenge of preschool but in an environment where we could be more involved.

Another big factor in our choice of a cooperative preschool is Ellie’s allergies and my personal anxiety around the learning curve of having an allergy child in an environment I don’t have 100% control over. I know one day she will be off to school full time – enter allergy mum anxiety here – we hope that by that time she will understand her allergies more and be able to advocate for herself. As of now and with planning to start preschool a few months after she has turned 2 we know that she doesn’t understand her allergies and doesn’t know the difference between safe and unsafe foods. 

We feel this will be a great transition and learning experience, we will be providing her snack, though she will be sitting with others who most likely will be eating things Ellie can’t have. I think it’ll be good for her to start to learn about only eating food that is hers and safe for her in an environment with more adults, including myself to keep an eye on this transition. This I’m hoping will help me greatly with the anxiety I know I would have if she was to go from being safe at home, to being thrown into full-time school and not having an opportunity to learn about this in a slightly more controlled environment.

Why we chose the cooperative preschool we chose

I had looked up many cooperative preschools online and narrowed it down to three. I was able to narrow it down by looking at reviews online; yelp, google, and Facebook. I also had also looked on their websites to make sure the days, time, and price points worked for us. 

Two of the cooperative preschool’s open houses were back to back. This was nice as the first visit could be fresh in my mind when comparing it to the second. The third school I had like we actually didn’t end up visiting in the end, the open house for this school was after enrolment for the other two cooperative preschools. I had planned to visit here though if I hadn’t liked my other options or if we ended up on waiting lists. 

The school I thought I’d like most based on reviews was incredibly underwhelming. There isn’t much information online with cooperative preschools letting you know what their average day looked like, so I knew this would be one of my first questions when going to the open houses. At my number one choice, the building its self was a little dark and very beige and just the atmosphere had got me down, which wasn’t a great first impression.

When I asked about the average day both cooperative preschools had circle time with stories and songs. Both had a creative themed area that changed roughly every 6 weeks, such as a post office theme, firehouse theme, a restaurant theme, etc. They both had building blocks, playdough, paints, and all the things you’d expect.

But there were some very big differences. The first school that I had thought Id like more didn’t do snack time or outdoor play for the 2’s class, whereas my second choice did. The second cooperative preschool had a separate snack room and would go outside for a minimum of 20 minutes even if the weather was a little wet and miserable. A little rain never heart anyone! and the fresh air is so good for you. 

For me, snack time made a big difference. Ellie loves to snack and I know she’s not the only one, whether we have playdates or are out and about her, and her friends always have snacks. I knew within the time we would be spending there shed be hungry. I know I could try to feed her right before and right after in hopes this wouldn’t be an issue. However, I’d much rather have the option for snack time and not eat, than to be hungry and unable to have food. 

This is also coming from a food allergy mum if anyone is going to be thrilled about not having food somewhere and not having the added stress of food and allergies it’s going to be me. I however like the idea of being there whilst Ellie learns to navigate life with allergies and being there for her so we can learn together and come on! Kids get hungry!!

Another thing I loved about the cooperative preschool that we chose was that it was so bright and welcoming. I had such a night and day experience with how the first cooperative preschool made me feel. I knew I would be happy to come to this place several times a week and you want to feel confident in the place you bring your child too especially as you will be leaving them there sometimes. Also, the outdoor play area was much nicer and they got to use it!

This cooperative preschool did cost a little more than the other but it was more than worth it to us. We new from comments we had seen online and from one of the parent helpers at the open house mentioning that usually there is a waitlist. They said not to worry if we end up on the waitlist as sometimes spots open up due to parents going back to work, or moving house and not wanting to commute.

We are very lucky and we got into our choice on registration day, no waitlist. This was definitely a  sign to me as after going to the first open house I questioned if cooperative preschools would work for us. I hope we love our experience and will be there for the duration of the year. However, I know it will be a big transition and will give it at least a few months for us to get used to this routine as I think it’ll be a bit of a shock at first for Ellie.

Final Thoughts

I love the idea of cooperative preschools, I think it’s just about finding the right one for you, your little and your family. A lot of things are going to go into consideration for choosing the one for your family and I definitely advise going in person as what looks great on paper might not necessarily be what you expect. 

I’ll definitely do an update a few months into Ellie’s 2’s class to let you know how she’s liking it, how I’m liking it, and if I’ve learned anymore to help you with making a choice to weather a cooperative preschool is for you. 

are you planning on joining a cooperative preschool? or a traditional preschool? or do you plan to home school? Homeschooling has definitely been talked about a lot more in the last few months with how things are in the world would love to hear your thoughts on these? or feel free to comment links to any blog articles you have written or liked reading about these options for your littles.

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