There are over 40 North Seattle College cooperative preschool classes held at 11 convenient locations in North Seattle. Each school is an independent, non-profit entity run by a skilled preschool teacher, the childrens’ parents and a parent educator from NSC.
NSC co-op preschools follow the Seattle Public School academic year, running from September through May. Co-ops are age-based, with parents working one day each week. Some co-ops share a common location, in which case they alternate class days and share cleaning duties and capital improvement projects. Some co-ops share teachers, too.
|Type of Class||Min. Age by 8/31||Class Frequency|
|Infants||less than 1 year old||1 day/wk for 2 hrs|
|Toddlers||1 year old||1 day/wk for 2 hrs|
|Pre-3s||2 years old||2 days/wk for 2 hrs/day|
|3-5s||3 years old||3-4 days/wk for 2.5 hrs/day|
|Fives||5 years old||4 days/wk – time varies|
Boards may choose to adopt a policy allowing infants in the Toddler, Pre-3 or 3-5 class if they follow the guidelines from the Risk Management Manual (2023) so that insurance covers the children.
Our generic policy suggestion can be found in Infants in Toddler Pre-3 or 3-5 Classes. For the co-op’s policy specifics, please ask their Parent Coordinator.
Parents receive valuable parent education over the course of the year from an NSC appointed Parent Education instructor. Many parents list this as their favorite part of co-op, and it is an important part of our preschool culture. Parent education is offered in-classroom, during monthly parent meetings, in free seminars and lectures, through our Family Connector University, and in online classes.
Our Parent Education Instructors provide curriculum and discussion incorporating current research with the personal concerns and the diverse experiences of our community of parents. Over the course of the school year you can expect topics such as Early Child Development, Nutrition, Sleep Challenges, Temperament, Guidance, Adjusting to Parenthood, and more.
Classroom Roles for Parents & Kids
The Parent’s Role
Being a co-op member requires an extra bit of time and commitment. In return, families reap a whole lot of rewards: a high-quality preschool, lower tuition rates than that of comparable private preschools with a high adult-to-student ratio, parenting support and lasting friendships.
Co-op parents are required to:
In-Classroom Work (2-2.5 hrs/wk)
- Parents work one day a week in the classroom
- Parents follow a rotating schedule so they know in advance when and where they’ll work that week: for example, staffing an activity station (sensory table, blocks, library, etc.), preparing snack, or cleaning the classroom.
- School manuals outline the “hows” of each job.
- Parents who can’t make their work day are expected to line up a substitute.
Administrative Job (3 hrs/mo)
- Each new class elects a leadership “Board” (Chair, Treasurer, etc.) and divvies up a standing list of administrative jobs (class photographer, supply manager, teacher’s assistant, etc.).
- Incoming parents are trained by outgoing parents, the teacher, and parent educator.
- Board members receive additional training at a special NSC- sponsored “Board Training” seminar.
Evening Meetings (2 hrs/mo)
- Monthly evening meetings cover Coop business for the first hour.
- The second hour is used for parent education, led by an NSC parent educator.
Support Fundraising (1-3 hrs/yr)
- Each co-op contributes to the NSC tuition scholarship fund, which ensures the co-op program is open to all families.
- Most co-ops fundraise to meet this tuition fund obligation and conduct fundraising to support their own projects, like purchasing new play equipment.
Additional Classroom Support (6-8 hrs/yr)
- Beginning- and end-of-year cleanings are completed by parents.
- Parents also provide a nutritious snack for the classroom on a rotating basis.
Can parents working outside the home manage this time commitment? Absolutely. Many co-op members hold full- or part-time jobs outside the home. Many have more than one child in the co-op system. These parents get creative with their schedules and often share co-op duties with their partners, parents, siblings and close family friends. The whole community benefits.
Parents Are Students, Too
Co-op parents are automatically enrolled as students in the NSC Parent Education Program. The parent educator is the parent’s “professor,” a once-a-month parent ed meeting is the “class” and the preschool is the “class lab.” Parents are issued a NSC student ID card (good for discounts and access to NSC student services) and receive 3 college credits per quarter.
The Child’s Role
For children, co-op is a safe and nurturing place to explore, engage and have fun. A skilled preschool teacher designs the curriculum, using cooperative and creative play to enhance social, emotional, and intellectual development. Class time is divided into carefully designed, age-appropriate learning periods such as:
During Free Play times children are free to move about the classroom, exploring and experimenting. “Stations” are supervised by parents, who work as assistant teachers to encourage and support the children in play areas such as sensory table, art center, play-kitchen, blocks and table top projects.
At Circle Time, the teacher leads the class in singing songs, dancing, playing musical instruments and reading stories while Parent-led Small Group sessions provide more structured learning experiences.
Pre-K and Fives children are introduced to Kindergarten-readiness activities such as the natural sciences, math, pre-reading and writing.