What is a play-based curriculum?
Lincoln Park Cooperative Nursery School is a play-based early-learning program. Children incorporate new ideas and concepts through play. Teachers facilitate this play and guide children to help them better understand the ideas they’re exploring. In this way, play is their work.
Play-based learning is a natural approach that focuses on child-initiated experiences. A variety of developmentally appropriate activities are offered to the child each day in an environment that encourages independence and creativity. In this way, the child learns to make decisions, think critically, and becomes self-reliant. Formalized academics in preschool are often introduced too early and can deter children from independent thinking. By following a program that allows children the opportunity to make choices and think independently in a developmentally appropriate setting, we equip them with valuable skills they will use for the rest of their lives.
What is a co-op? How much of a commitment is it for our family?
When you join a cooperative preschool, you really join a community and become an active participant in your child’s education. Families play an active role in the school’s upkeep and management through committee work. Each family is assigned a committee role or board position based on their interests/skills. Committees include: Auction, Social, Publications, Membership, Events, Building (maintenance), Technology, Education, and Events.
Parents also assist in the classroom once every 6-8 weeks, depending on class size. Assisting parents are not assistant teachers, but rather guests in the classroom. Assisting is an opportunity for you to spend time with your child and participate in the classroom.
What is your student:teacher ratio?
Our Parent-Tot Program has two dedicated teachers and all children attend each session with a parent or caregiver. Our Nursery and Junior Kindergarten programs have two dedicated teachers and one assisting parent in the classroom at all times.
Does my child need to be potty-trained?
NO. Potty training is not a requirement for admission to the Co-op. Our teachers will meet you and your family wherever you are in this process.
How often do the kids play outside? Where?
Unless the weather is truly inclement, every day is a park day at the Co-op. We take full advantage of the space around us, including Fountain Park (located across the street), the lawn at St. Michael’s church, and our own outdoor classroom. Many of the developmental tasks that children are working on at this time—exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development—can be most effectively learned through outdoor play.
What are the teacher qualifications on your staff?
All of our full-time teachers have masters degrees and have been with the school for many years, two for over 30 years!
How do you handle separation?
Coming to school for the first time is an important milestone for children and for parents. This transition can bring a range of emotions for families: excitement, anxiety, happiness, and sometimes stress. At Lincoln Park Co-op, we take the process of transitioning trust from home and family to school and teachers very seriously. During the opening weeks of school, we have two goals: children learn that teachers care about them and their ideas and that school is a safe and fun place to be. Parents begin relationships with teachers and trust that their child’s needs will be met. The separation process begins with a home visit by a teacher and continues the first week of school with short, small-group sessions to allow for a comfortable transition. Parents or caregivers accompany their children in the classroom and work with teachers on a plan for classroom support while the child adjusts to school.
What are the financial obligations?
As a non-profit, the LPCNS relies on donations, in addition to tuition, to meet operating costs as well as keep faculty salaries and benefits competitive. It is a vital part in allowing us to provide the best in early childhood education. Families contribute in two ways:
Donation to the Annual Fund - Each fall, families are asked to donate to the annual fund. The requested amount is typically a range and varies year to year. As an example, last year’s suggested range was between $800- $1500 for our drop off programs (2,3, 4-Day, and JK) and $400-$800 for our Parent-Tot program. Families receiving financial support are exempt from this ask, but are encouraged to support the school in a meaningful way that is comfortable for their family.
Donation of one item to the annual auction - The auction is an annual event. Items can include gift cards, wine, local experiences, vacations.
Do you offer financial support?
Need-based financial assistance is available! We encourage all interested families to apply, regardless of financial status. Families are encouraged to contact Director Emily Darrell (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about the process.