frequently asked questions
Why don’t you do “Letter of the Week”?
The short answer is that research has shown this to be an ineffective approach to learning letters. Talking about a letter for a week gives it no context for a child. In a week you are on to another letter, again with no context for the child. At the Co-op, we teach letter recognition through words that are meaningful for the child; their name, their friends and family names. We look at the printed word in our environment. We may look at words that are repeated in a story, what they sound like, what letters make that sound. Our classrooms have alphabet cards that the children can handle, make words with, or copy.
We have alphabet books on our classroom book shelves that engage the children in rhymes or new words with beginning sounds. Most importantly, the children learn about letters through their own words and stories. Teachers write the children’s quotes and stories, engaging them in the process of translating the spoken word to the written word. At the Co-op, letter recognition is ongoing, not a letter a week.
As a “co-op,” how much time are parents expected to volunteer/participate at the Co-op?
Sixty years ago the school opened as a true cooperative. Families participated in all aspects of the business of running a school. Over the years, these roles have diminished considerably. Though families have a standing invitation to participate in the classroom with their child, this is not a requirement. Our families do help on fundraising efforts that the school sponsors. Families are asked to choose one event to assist by either chairing the event or being a committee member. Parents are also able to participate at the school in non-fundraising roles by taking a position on the school’s Board or being a Class Representative.
What are the school's fundraisers?
The nursery school fundraisers have been planned to be community-wide events. We feel it is important that our events impact the greater community in a positive way. The Co-op sponsors a Touch-A-Truck event each year in the early spring. Held at held at Imperial Lot in downtown Westport, this event features close to ninety vehicles of all designs for children to experience. Over two hundred families from Westport and surrounding communities attend this event each year.
Aside from Touch A Truck, each spring, we plan a social event for parents to have an evening out. This event is for Co-op families and includes both a silent and live auction.
If the children are “playing” all the time, where is the structure
and learning in the day?
Each classroom follows a structured routine that includes outdoor play, meeting time, snack, free play, story time and specials that may be
included in the day. Teachers plan each segment of the day with clear educational objectives in mind. Teachers use sound developmental principles in planning opportunities that engage the child fully in the process of creating understanding of the world. We recognize that
children learn best when they are actively engaged with materials, ideas and people. When children learn in a context that is meaningful to
them, the learning is long-lasting. What looks like “play” to the adult,
is active learning. It is children being explorers, experimenters,
negotiators, and artists.
Does my child need to be toilet trained?
The Co-op views toilet training as a family decision. When a family decides it is time to toilet train, the Co-op will assist in the process. There is no requirement by a specific age.
What is the school’s requirement for staying on site with two-year-olds in the program?
Families are asked to stay on site (not in the classroom) for the first 4-6 sessions of school. The reasons are two-fold; toddlers and their caregivers are experiencing a period of separation and staying close by is helpful in this adjustment period. It is also a time for parents or caregivers to get to know others in our community. Having a same-aged child can be a strong commonality on which to build a friendship and also build ties to the school.
Do the children take field trips?
The four-year-olds take field trips to locations that support topics being studied in the classroom. For example, in the fall as the children pick vegetables in our planter boxes, they visit area farms to observe and compare what types of crops are grown. They also visit the Farmers Market in town to see where the farmers bring their harvested crops.