As the first and oldest division here at The Co-op School, we have spent these past two decades truly believing that our preschoolers grow through dynamic, genuine, and intentional learning that is experienced best through play-based and hands-on opportunities. With the Reggio-Emilia approach as a guiding tenant of our curriculum, each student’s individuality is brought into their classroom space so they feel at home. Our focus on community starts from our youngest 2’s all the way to our 8th graders and is upheld by our staff, faculty, and families. We thrive off of the continued partnerships from every member of this special community. We look forward to seeing parents come in for a classroom read aloud, cooking demonstration or musical performance, as well as seeing our little bugs spend time with their peers in other classes to build preschool bonds. Joining our preschool will allow for eye opening opportunities to talk about differences, what brings us joy, celebrate our triumphs, and learn from the little bumps in the road that we will face. All of these milestones are made all the more precious by the bonds built with one another and our commitment to working, learning, and playing together. 

As long-standing members of our preschool community, we are incredibly proud of the nurturing environment that has been cultivated here. It’s a community filled with excitement, curiosity, and passionate early childhood educators who deeply value the voices of our youngest learners. Each child embarks on a unique journey of learning, and we are immensely grateful that The Co-op School provides a safe place where children can embrace their individuality and share their vibrant personalities each day.

Whether you are a prospective student, a parent/guardian seeking information for your child, an educator interested in collaboration, or a member of our alumni, we are happy to provide you with comprehensive insights into our educational philosophy, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and the unique culture that sets us apart. We hope you find your virtual visit both informative and inspiring. We look forward to the possibility of welcoming you to our campus in person and becoming part of our dynamic learning community.

We’re here to support you every step of the way. If you have questions, feedback, or simply want to learn more about what makes The Co-op School unique, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

With love and collaboration,

Christie Gallagher,
Preschool Division Head (She, Her, Hers)

Lelia Mangham,
Associate Preschool Division Head  (She, Her, Hers)

The greatest emphasis in our preschool classrooms is play and social emotional learning. Children should be supported, nurtured, and encouraged through open/free play. Teachers will constantly look for teachable moments through play and will use their student’s interest to develop their classroom centers, activities, and curriculum. By giving the students the tools to navigate their new social experiences this allows for each child to form friendships, navigate tricky situations like sharing, waiting their turn or speaking up for themselves in a large group. We know from many years of experience that this feeds into the rest of their learning. Students build the skills to play independently and in a group which allows them to make deeper, more meaningful connections to other academics and play-based learning.

Our approach is firmly rooted in the philosophy that students learn best through play experiences and hands-on learning. We’re guided by the Reggio Emilia approach: that students of all ages are capable, competent, curious people full of potential and knowledge who have preferences, interests, and opinions. Teachers are deeply aware of children’s potential and construct their lessons and environment to support curiosity, experimentation, and exploration through multi-sensory work.

The “work” of young children ages two to five often looks different than the work typically done in elementary school. The focus of our curriculum is on social emotional development with exposure to early academics in a play-based form. Teachers may incorporate academic skills through activities that foster social and emotional development. In our play-based classrooms, we focus more on the process of learning and are less concerned about the product. Teachers work hard to create an atmosphere of discovery, exploration, and appropriate risk-taking. Our goal is to expose our students to experiences, skills, and knowledge that they can relate to, process and reflect upon in an age appropriate way rather than recite in a measurable fashion. Our students are active participants in the planning, development, and assessment of their own learning. As our teachers observe and listen to the students as they play, they begin to understand their areas of interest, then develop studies and long-term projects based on those subjects. For example, to start the year we ask families to share a summer memory. If many of the memories are about the beach, the class might begin a study about the ocean, take a closer look at sea animals, and explore the makeup of sand. Classes have also studied the origin of different types of bread, baby development, phases of the moon, plants, the water cycle, beads from around the world, drums, living versus nonliving things, and landscapes versus portraits. Projects can last from a few days to several weeks. 

We know that self expression and creativity are so important even to our youngest learners. This is why we are so intentional about providing daily opportunities for our preschoolers to explore with paint, markers, oil pastels, collaging and more. The art experiences may be a part of their daily free play options and can also be used to enhance many topics of conversation that are being talked about with the entire class. This allows for each individual student to stand out and develop their fine motor skills, while also encouraging collaboration and conversation for the group as a whole. You can learn more about our Pre-K Specialized Classes here!

Our Movement Special is a joyful, high-energy experience that builds confidence, cooperation, gross motor skills and body awareness. Students gather in small and large groups for traditional activities like soccer and races, as well as invented games. This helps students understand safety, respect, cooperation, instructional language, and movement concepts. While learning choreographed movements, students are encouraged to have fun and stay engaged. 

Music is an energizing part of our daily routines. Every classroom teacher brings in music through many different experiences. This can be from classroom playlists that are compiled from the students favorite tracks, instrument introduction with tambourines, eggs shakers, and ukuleles as well as with fun rhyming and rhythmic songs that are sung at Circle Time. These songs build on verbal, social, and coordination skills—all while singing, dancing, and expressing ourselves! We also expose each class to a wonderful combination of yoga, movement and mindfulness that allows them to use their imagination to go on musical adventures, while including gross motor skills. You can learn more about our Pre-K Specialized Classes here!

Giving our students the opportunity  to explore and learn using all of their senses is an essential part of the school experience. We want every child to have a first hand experience with the basics of science and experimentation. With our hands-on approach each student will have the chance to learn about sinking and floating in the water table, see how mixing together special ingredients can make amazing play dough or even just get their hands dirty by scooping and dumping sand or soil into big pots. The options are endless and varied and are yet another dynamic way that learning takes place in every space and throughout the day. You can learn more about our Pre-K Specialized Classes here! 

At our preschool, we prioritize daily outdoor time, embracing the mantra of dressing for the weather. Rain or shine, we venture outside, understanding the vital role nature plays in children’s development. Through recess and free play in the open air, young minds flourish, fostering creativity, social skills, and physical health. We encourage exploration, whether it’s jumping in puddles on rainy days or basking in the sun’s warmth. Outdoor play isn’t just a break from the classroom; it’s an essential component of holistic learning, nurturing a lifelong appreciation for the natural world.

Movers and Shakers are explorations of visionaries who reflect courage and resilience in the face of injustice and adversity. In discussing the lives of leaders like Malala Yousafzai, Stephen Hawking, Mae Jemison, Christine Hà, Wangari Maathai, Ruby Bridges, Prince, Katherine Dunham, Yo-Yo Ma, and Frida Kahlo, we have age-appropriate dialogues about gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, ability, the LGBTQ community, and social justice. Movers and Shakers help our young students think critically, while inspiring them to create change. These new insights into such diverse change makers often tie into the student’s personal lives, while exposing them to experiences otherwise not visible to them. This is done by using  “windows and mirrors” in their classroom space that gives them opportunities to see positive representations of themselves and their lives through books, songs, art projects and open conversations while building respect and understanding for those who look and come from a different background and experiences. Movers and Shakers help our young students think critically, while inspiring them to create change.

Specials give students a chance to immerse themselves in a practice or subject with a specialist teacher. These include Music, Movement, Creative Making, and Science. In each subject, we focus on inspiring and diverse role models from under-represented groups.

Our Movement Special is a joyful, high-energy experience that builds confidence, cooperation, gross motor skills, and body awareness. Students gather in small and large groups for traditional activities like soccer and races, as well as invented games. This helps students understand safety, respect, cooperation, instructional language, and movement concepts. While learning choreographed movements, students are encouraged to have fun and stay engaged.

Once our students are in their Pre-K year they begin to join our Music Teacher for more direct and formal music lessons. White fun songs are still the bedrock of these classes, students will begin to learn about music history and theory. Conversations about the origins of music in different cultures and the recognition of notes on sheet paper are just the start of what our Pre-k classes will experience.

Creative arts do more than develop students’ imaginations–they also help students become flexible and inventive thinkers. During Creative Making, students experiment, and challenge themselves in new ways. They become familiar with different materials, tools, and art concepts, and make connections between school and the outside world. Teachers emphasize the value of making mistakes and reflecting on their artistic process. Students will be exposed to contemporary artists from around the world. Throughout our work, we focus on play and material exploration and incorporate elements from the classrooms.

Science is a window onto the world that excites even our youngest learners. During our Science Specials, we encourage our students to be curious, experiment and explore. Through experimentation, our students are introduced to higher learning concepts while developing reasoning skills, problem-solving, and learning to ask questions about the world around them. Students are introduced to earth, life, and physical sciences by participating in standards-based hands-on investigations. They practice the scientific method and think like real scientists, utilizing inquiry, observation, and exploration; they develop and test hypotheses; and analyze new information, while discovering their natural world.

We encourage a healthy diet low in sugar. Students are encouraged to drink water throughout the day and must have a water bottle at school daily. They can refill receptacles at the bottle fillers or class sinks.

Additionally, during the school year, students might have the opportunity to participate in cooking activities, sometimes resulting in a sweet treat. It’s important to highlight that our staff is diligent in selecting healthy ingredients and exploring alternative options to ensure the well-being of our students.

Our students’ parents and caregivers are essential Co-op community members. Our community is strong and vibrant because our families are active partners in learning. Whether they are chaperoning a field trip or visiting the class to share a part of their culture, a story or artifact, we welcome the collaboration!

While each schedule is flexible depending on the students’ needs and the teachers’ goals, a typical morning includes free play and exploration, snack and circle time, and project work or a special class. After outdoor recess and storytime, students enjoy lunch, rest, afternoon activities, and closing circle conversation focusing on social-emotional learning. Sample Schedule here.

We offer full-day classes, five days a week for 2s, 3s, and 4s. Part-time schedules are two days or three days a week. Each class has two teachers and a thoughtfully considered class ratio following Department of Health requirements. Visit Admissions to learn more!