Our December PAC Newsletter is here and it includes an excellent article from Parent Educator Emily Bradley.
“It Takes a Village”
Author: Emily Bradley
What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured. -Kurt Vonnegut
It takes a village to raise a child. The phrase echoes in our ears, perhaps to be forgotten in the darkest moments when parenting can be overwhelming and can make us feel that we are on the journey alone. But at this time of year where we turn to joyful celebration with family and friends, it is also an opportunity to remind ourselves, that the village we create for our little ones, and for those of us reading this piece, may very well include Co-op.
The cooperative preschool model is meant to explore the very essence of the village, creating a community of parents as teachers and teachers as role models in learning and parenting alike. Co-op’s parent educational elements help build skills to cultivate the small, wild people that live in our homes. But co-op’s other mission is to build the village. This is the reason why parents are in charge and everyone has a role to keep the complex system working. We all take a turn, play a role, bring a snack, act as a guide, facilitate play, mitigate conflict and get messy! Each classroom provides a place for parents and children to come together and learn from each other; their classroom teacher and parent educator help guide the way.
The co-op village helps our families come together and explore, learn, look inward and also reach out. North Seattle College and the Co-op Parent Advisory Counsel (PAC) has branched out its endeavors in the last 4 years to include the building of these villages in the family homeless shelters and low income communities around our great city. Parent educators are going into these communities every week to bring parent education activities, individual consultations and community building efforts to those who have the least access to these wonderful villages and the most need to fight the “island feeling” of parenting on one’s own. This pilot program began with the efforts of our beloved former coordinator, Cesily Crowser. Our work now extends into the Sacred Heart Residential Shelter, Mary’s Place Shelters all over the city, and Brettler Place, a low income housing community right here in North Seattle. The children whose parents attend these classes, go to many of the schools that our own children attend. The skills we help build and the village of support that we help create will be another tool for the parents to help these children work on the same social, creative, and problem solving skills that our little ones in co-op are learning.
Each week at Mary’s Place we sing songs, model play, problem solve with kids. In our Parenting Circle class we discuss the same issues we do at co op- helping kids with tantrums, helping parents with self care, etc. Each week we hear in the news about the epidemic of homelessness in our city. These are not just folks on the sides of highways, these are working families living in shelters who have fallen on hard times. All families need a village. One of our goals with parent education is to help families reach out and connect with each other, and model that positive communication for their children.
This effort is supported entirely by grants and fundraising. We are always looking for ways to raise funds to keep these classes going and support these communities.
As you celebrate the holidays this year and you socialize with your respective co-ops, if you’d like to consider supporting a family in one of these parent education classes that we’re working with, you’re gift would be most welcome. Sometimes co-ops choose to make donations at the holidays, do fundraisers for a charitable cause, or reach out as individual families to support community efforts. If this is the case, or if you value the village of your preschool co-op and are looking for a way help other communities reap the benefits of parent education, I ask you to consider making a donation, so that a family may participate in one of these classes and begin to be part of their own village during some of their darkest times.
The cost of one parent to attend one of our one credit classes at the shelters is $52 . The cost of supporting a class of students for the year is $1040. If you or your co-op would like to support the fledgling parent education efforts at these shelters for homeless families, we welcome your donations. You may make checks payable to PAC and specify that your check is to be placed in the Shelter Parent Education Fund.
The winter is so cold already, and we can end up hibernating quite easily, but our continued participation in co-op can keep us connected to other families and help our little ones explore, create and learn how to work together to build their own village, even in these dark winter months.
Please enjoy your own village this holiday season! May the spirit of community help extend the breadth of the magic for your little ones and families alike.
I know there is strength in the differences between us, and I know there is comfort where we overlap. -Ani Defranco
Parent Education Instructor
North Seattle College
For more, see our Newsletter Archive.