Cooperative education

Errington preschool has lots of parent helpers in cooperative program

Robert Koenders and Kyuss James-Braun get messy in the goo at the Errington Cooperative Preschool. There is still some room for students at the preschool when the new school year begins in September.

Robert Koenders and Kyuss James-Braun get messy in the goo at the Errington Cooperative Preschool. There is still some room for students at the preschool when the new school year begins in September.

Another group of youngsters are about to graduate from the Errington Cooperative Preschool and while the facility will be closed for summer holidays soon, work is well underway to get kids registered for the 2012/2013 school year.

The non-profit, parent-run cooperative has provided exemplary education for children ages three to five for more than 30 years and Gillian Crawley has been the educator kids have grown to know and love at the school for more than 25 years.

Guided by Crawley, the preschool has gained an enviable reputation in early childhood education.

That reputation means parents often register their children long before their first preschool year or find themselves on waiting lists.

This year, however, several coveted spots are still available, and the preschool wants to get the word out.

“Our program is based on volunteerism. That’s what we are,” said Crawley who added, “The parent is a child’s first teacher. It’s natural for the child to go with their first teacher into this environment, and we acknowledge and support the parent in that role by providing a clear set of skills.”

While parent volunteering is the heart of the cooperative structure, that volunteering goes beyond filling the various jobs required to run the preschool. It also involves taking part in parent education, a requirement of the cooperative preschool license.

“It’s part of our responsibility as the adults in a preschool setting to set the mood and the environment so it’s conducive to belonging and exploration.  When adults have the training, and when they open their heart and mind to it, they become a witness and feel a strong interconnectedness,” stated Crawley.

That interconnectedness runs deep in Crawley, who was previously awarded a Certificate of Achievement by the Prime Minister for her excellence in early childhood education — one of 15 people in Canada for 2008.

She admitted that having so much support from parents is a blessing in today’s fast paced society.

“I love that this program supports the family and then effects the community. In changing times where parents are busy it is a challenging concept and we do well and people who do get involved in the program openly embrace it.”

In addition to participating in classroom activities once or twice a month, parents attend a monthly meeting and help with fundraising.

Some parents sit on the preschool board which makes decisions about the preschool’s operations.

For more information about the Errington Cooperative Preschool located in the Errington War Memorial Hall, or to arrange an observation day before the year ends, contact Paula Elgood at 250-951-3945 or Julie Britton at 250-594-8855.