Learning the Co-Op Way
It’s the start to another fantastic school year at BNS, where the parents, children, and staff all work and play together. For many of you, being a teacher’s aide in a co-op nursery school is a new experience, but don’t worry. We will all have the chance to learn from one another.
Some people might wonder why in the world anyone would choose to join a co-op school, when you spend so much of your valuable time volunteering while your child is in and out of school. What they might not understand is just how much you and your child actually benefit, including:
- Parents have the unique opportunity to get to know each and every child in the classroom.
- Parents become familiar with age appropriate activities and behaviors while working and playing with the children.
- Parents learn how to teach problem solving skills.
- Parents can pick up new parenting skills from the teacher and other parents.
- Parents have a chance to stop and appreciate the young child’s mind.
- Through the classroom experience, parents become better connected to their own child at home.
- Parents can ask thought provoking questions to their child at home, since they know the routines and classmates.
- Parents gain the confidence to be an advocate for their child’s education – even later on in the elementary, middle and high school level.
- Parents realize how many ways they can contribute to their child’s education.
- Parents get to know and appreciate the teaching staff and all other parents.
Another perk to the cooperative nursery school experience is the long lasting friendships that are made between the parents. Everyone is working together for a common goal. The parents really learn to trust each other. This is especially comforting for the parent who leaves a reluctant child at school. Parents will often find the time to socialize with each other outside of school and they look forward to these grown-up only “play dates”.
Fortunately, many families still hold these core values and make an effort to become a part of their child’s early education. Although it would be a lot easier to drop off your child at a “regular” preschool, the investment you put into a cooperative nursery school will definitely be worthwhile in the long run. I’m glad you chose Bannockburn Nursery School!
Below are a few Co-Op Guidance Techniques that might become helpful to you:
- Be ready to recognize and accept the wide individual differences you observe in the group. Respect each child’s need to grow in his/her own way.
- Remember that all behavior is caused; there is a reason for the way each child acts and feels.
- Be as relaxed and unhurried as possible. Try to avoid too much walking around from place to place in a supervisory manner. It is generally more calming to the children to have the adult settled, so sit on a small chair or on the floor near or with a group. Remaining seated whenever possible makes the adults in the room less conspicuous and being seated on a children’s eye level makes you seem friendlier and more approachable.
- Please don’t feel that you must constantly be doing something to be useful. A good teacher’s aide spends time watching and listening. By watching the children, you learn a great deal about each individual in the group, his/her interests, abilities, pressing needs and what activities he/she seems ready to experience next.
- Remember that your responsibility extends beyond your own child and the children nearest you. Learn to be aware of the total group, know what is going on with the rest of the room or playground so that you can help with an emergency or move to where you are needed.
- Feel free to talk with the children for this helps show your interest in them. A quiet, pleasant, natural manner of speaking is most effective. Use phrases such as, “Tell me about it”, “What do you think?”
- Try your best to use positive statements to tell children what they should do rather than what not to do. (We all realize that this is not always easy to do, especially when you can foresee something about to happen)
- Offer a child a choice only when there is a choice and you are willing to abide by his/her decision. (“It is time to go inside/clean up/go home now” rather than “Do you want to go inside/clean up/go home now?”
- If a child shows anger, acknowledge the feeling, “I can see that you are angry… but those words hurt my feelings/but when you throw toys, it can really hurt somebody.”
- Avoid using comparison or competition among the children as a means of motivation. An example of what not to say, “Look Johnny, see how quickly Jill drank her water, let’s see if you can drink yours that fast.” It is unfair to make children feel that to be “first,” “best," or “fastest” is important to win approval.
- Try to allow the children to attempt to settle their own disputes unless a child becomes frightened, or there is danger of physical injury, or the situation is becoming unpleasant. The children might need some help with finding the right words. (see the 6 ways to Resolve Conflict in your child’s classroom)
- Disapproval of a child’s actions can be shown when it is appropriate, but it should be unemotional. (“You need to stop spitting.”)
**Photo Credit: Nadia Simon