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Co-ops - Preschools with Parents in Charge

by Dorothy W. Hewes
May/June 2000
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/co-ops-preschools-with-parents-in-charge/5013375/

One of the unique developments of the 20th century has been the emergence of parent cooperative preschools, sometimes referred to as a folk movement that just mushroomed in the 1950s. There was no over-all sponsorship or planning. These co-ops were usually initiated by middle-class at-home mothers to provide a play school experience for their own young children and some free time for themselves. Parents elected officers and established committees, located and equipped an appropriate site, and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. Depending upon state and local requirements, they got a license. They worked together to provide funding, establish operating policies, and hire the professional staff. Parents became assistant teachers, with participation requirements clearly specified. To the criticism that amateurs were working with children, someone in the 1920s pointed out that motherhood itself is an amateur enterprise and that these mothers were just learning how to perform at a higher level.


Cooperative preschools reflect a dual history. The modern cooperative movement began in the English mill town of Roehampton. From its start in 1840, the concept of member-owned businesses and the equality of women as voting members spread across Europe and to America. By coincidence, the first kindergarten opened in Germany that ...

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