Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Co-Op Shout Out

For five years now I've had a child at a cooperative preschool.  This is a school run by the parents and it requires a lot of parental involvement.  We do employ real teachers, but the parents help in the classroom, pay the bills, fund-raise, fix broken toys, order the paper and paint, plan for the future, set the goals, advertise for new members and on and on.

It is not an option for everyone.  Many work schedules won't allow for the time commitment.  Many parents may not want to be that involved!  But for me, it has been a perfect way to start of my children's education and it has brought me so much more than I could ever list here.

So, what does this little plug for Co-Ops have to do with writing?  A lot!

First of all, I think if you want to write for young children, you need to be around children, and preferably not just your own children.  It is beneficial to be a fly on the wall when kids are just being kids.  You probably don't remember what it is like to be 3 or 4.  I think I have a grand total of 3 memories from that time in my life.  So, you have to be able to tap into that in some other way.  Simple observation and interaction is priceless.

Second, you have to have friends.  Being a stay-at-home-mom can be a lonely enterprise sometimes.  You can lose yourself in just being "mom" and not being "me".  Having other grown-up friends is essential to sanity.  Even just a shared look of sympathy from a friend when your kid trips, screams, and launches a paint-filled paper at your newly-washed car interior helps.  You don't feel alone.  Having friends in similar circumstances as yourself allows you to be yourself.  They support you, cheer you on, pick you back up, and nod knowingly when you whine.  And my Co-Op friends have been very supportive and wonderful as I start this writing journey.

Finally, the Co-Op reminds me why I write.  I am writing for the kids who come and ask me to read them a book during free play time.  I am writing for our awesome teachers who rejoice in finding new books that illustrate their lesson.  I am writing for these dedicated parents who spend a lot of time and energy making sure their kids are off to a good start in their education.  I write for the joyful noise of play, the quiet of story time, the chaos of art work, the cheerful exclamations of discovery and the tears that come sometimes.  I write for childhood.

I love you, Co-Op Mommies (you crazy-amazing women)!


  1. Well written and said!

    I saw the title of your post on my dashboard and wanted to read to hear your thoughts on Co-op. From your post it sounds good. From my experience in Korea ... it's not. Well, technically I don't work at a co-op. I work at a private language academy and have work at 4 different ones over the years. Because they're private schools, the parents get really involved because they're paying -- not get involved helping, but get involved complaining. This hasn't been a good experience for me. A lot of the parents here think they know what's best for their child's education and don't let teachers actually do their jobs. In fact, we're often told to change things or just to do something so the parents will be happy.

    Anyway, it was good reading your post and seeing that parents can be involved in a constructive, positive way.

  2. We love you too Megan!
    As a side note, the other day I was looking through my bookshelf and saw my copy of "The complete rhyming dictionary". For about 30 minutes I thought about writing children's books, and reading a story about lamas in pajamas yellng for their mommas it seemed to me that sometimes you might just start with a good set of rhyming words.
    I love reading your blog. As a person that spends most of their reading time on children's books, it is making me appreciate them more and more! Keep it up!

  3. I just got caught up with the past 10 posts of your blog ... and I just loved reading them. You are funny and thoughtful and full of interesting information. Too cool.

  4. Okay, I'm welling up now - very heartfelt post.

  5. @Quinn - I think the situation you are experiencing happens all too often. There is a fine line between being involved and being intrusive. More parents should be aware!

    @Mary - I want to do that one day! Get a group of words from my rhyming dictionary and see if I can develop a story from it. Wouldn't that be a fun exercise?

    @Peggy - I think I must get passed down from my parents...Mommy!

    @Julie- Thanks! You can never tell your friends you love them enough and you can never reflect on the "why" enough either!