The Co-op History
The idea of Cooperative Preschool is a time-tested concept that has been around since 1941 when the Seattle Public Schools began a small program in Family Life education for parents, led by Katherine Whiteside Taylor. This program involved ‘playgroups’ and some adult education. With the end of WW II, and the beginning of the 50s, when ‘family togetherness’ was becoming the norm, Co-op ‘playgroups’ flourished, and were well on the way to becoming the Cooperative Preschools you see now.
As these playgroups continued to grow, they incorporated the changing mood of our nation. With the birth of the space age in the 60s came an ever-increasing thirst for knowledge, and the Preschool sector within the community was equally affected. Strong opinions about the benefits of early childhood education emerged, as well as several different theories on what that should look like. The original playgroups were incorporated into new Family Life Education programs located in local vocational/technical institutes and community colleges. The name ‘playgroup’ was changed to Cooperative Preschool, as growth continued. It wasn’t long before early childhood development issues began to enter into the political arena. Head Start programs emerged, as well as colleges offering training for early childhood teachers. The importance of early childhood development was becoming a hot topic both locally and nationally.
In the 70s the Cooperative Preschools were once again influenced by a changing climate. As the role of women began to alter dramatically with improved rights, more and more mothers started working outside the home. At the same time, a deep economic recession caused hardships for many families. Funds were cut for several childcare services. However, the Cooperative Preschool program continued to flourish and grow. To this day, the symbiotic relationship between Cooperative Preschool and our local community colleges and vocational schools is still strong. Advances in child development have only confirmed the already time-tested value of the Cooperative Preschool system. Children raised in Co-op’s are now raising their own families within this supportive system.
In ever-changing times, the Co-op system still continues to deeply respect the experience and knowledge of the parent, provide developmentally appropriate curriculum for children, education for parents, and support the role of the family in raising healthy and happy children.