What is a cooperative nursery school?
A cooperative or “co-op” is a school, which is owned and run jointly by its members who share in the responsibilities and the benefits. This means that you have the opportunity to be highly involved in your child’s early educational experience and build community by interacting with your fellow parents. By following the cooperative model, the cost of tuition is reduced by families helping out in the classroom and in administrative tasks around the school. Each family is responsible to provide a classroom helper a couple times a month. This is often a parent, but families can arrange for nannies or other family members to provide this help. This gives your the opportunity to be in the classroom and observe how your child interacts with the teacher, other students, and the school environment. Additionally, families help out with cleaning the school and are each assigned an administrative job such as tidying the kitchen, helping out planning events or fundraising, or maintenance around the school. We have found it to be highly rewarding to be so connected to our school community.
History of Our School
Aspen Hill Cooperative Nursery School was established in 1959 by a group of parents who wanted the best preschool experience for their children. This feeling has been embraced by each participating family since. At AHCNS, care-givers and teachers work together in a warm and friendly atmosphere to raise each child’s educational and personal abilities through positive reinforcement, rewarding learning activities, and the friendly interaction of peers. As a consequence, pupils learn cooperation, creativity, and caring for others. In the true spirit of a cooperative, we, the participating families, give of ourselves and of our time so that our school will be what we want it to be for our children.
Through play-based education, AHCNS strives to prepare children to enter kindergarten with the foundational skills needed for academic achievement, as well as the social awareness and emotional skills needed to be compassionate, caring, inclusive and supportive friends and classmates.
AHCNS thrives by accepting all families–regardless of religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and family composition–who are willing and able to participate in their child’s preschool experience. Attending families come from diverse backgrounds in terms of cultural heritage, language, religion, and socioeconomic circumstances. In the 2018-2019 school year, 56% of our children entered speaking 15 languages other than English, representing cultures from every populated continent on Earth. As an affordable educational option, including the opportunity for families to receive financial aid through the school, our families come from not only the surrounding neighborhood, but also the wider Montgomery County area. Access to quality early childhood education is an important foundation for all children, establishing the basis for future learning and academic achievement, as well as supporting the development of the social and emotional skills necessary to thrive.
At AHCNS, our school is guided by several over-arching principles and goals. We aim to:
- Promote mutual respect and sensitivity to the feelings and rights of others.
- Foster an atmosphere of kindness, consideration, inclusivity, and support toward others.
- Create trust within the classroom and the school.
- Develop and using problem solving strategies to improve self-control, responsibility for one’s self, responsibility for one’s environments, and respect for the rights of others.
- Establish well defined limits of behavior and being consistent in implementing those limits.
- Recognize and respecting the uniqueness of each child.
- Reflect the interests, language, and culture of children by providing toys that represent many cultures, literature that reflects home languages, and activities that build on children’s personal experiences and curiosity about the world around them.
- Include children of all abilities and working closely with families, caregivers, and specialists to accommodate children’s needs and ensure their full participation.
- Provide a fun, creative, and developmentally appropriate educational environment in which all children can grow and learn.