Our Cooperative Model
Dulin United Methodist Cooperative Preschool was founded in 1967 through the combined visionary efforts of area parents and members of Dulin United Methodist Church. These committed individuals believed strongly in the cooperative model and laid the groundwork for a preschool that would provide the benefits of parental involvement along with professional teaching.
Unlike many cooperative preschools, Dulin Preschool has stayed true to its cooperative model for more than 40 years. Parent participation is mandatory, both in the classroom and in school operations and fundraising; there is no “buy-out” option for these roles.
As a result, Dulin Preschool tends to attract families who place high value on involvement with their children’s education and a strong desire to be personally acquainted with their children’s teachers, friends, and their families. Year after year, dedicated parent volunteers have followed the cooperative model put in place so long ago.
All families with children who attend Dulin are responsible for:
- Attending the orientation and general membership meetings
- Serving on an assigned committee, in an appointed position, or as an elected Board member
- Participating in fundraising events. Fundraising is the responsibility of the entire membership.
- Participating in the classroom and as “floater” on an assigned basis; usually 1-2 times per month per child.
- Driving or chaperoning on at least 1 field trip per year (not applicable to BEARS).
- Fulfilling required education training hours to be considered eligible to be a certified participating adult.
A Day at Dulin as the “Helping Parent”
My daughter and I arrive at 9:00 a.m. since we are the helping parent and child for the day. The teacher tells us about the art activity and we assist in preparing the materials. Today we will be painting with marbles using primary colors. My daughter gets to pick out a few special toys to bring down to the carpeted area. She picks out the doll house set, the bin of small animals and the large magnetic blocks. The teacher has brought out the rice table today! The children love playing at the rice table, scooping, pouring and experiencing the textures. It is worth the extra five minutes of vacuuming at the end of the day to see the children so involved at the rice table. Also for today, the teacher has set up a station with pattern blocks.
The excitement begins at 9:30 when the children begin entering the classroom with their smiles and happy chatter. I greet them as they come in and even get a few big hugs! I station myself at the art table ready to invite them to paint. Children place their belongings in their cubbies and then find their way to an activity of their choice. For about an hour, the children make their way through the various activities. Some choose to stay for a long time at the rice table. Some gravitate towards the art first and want to do more than one painting. I notice several children working hard together to build the magnetic blocks up high and wide. They are putting the animals inside the structure and creating an imaginary scenario. The teacher works her way through the classroom facilitating, listening, supporting and inspiring, as needed. We make sure activity areas aren’t too crowded and each child has an opportunity to participate in any activity they choose. We also keep an eye out for how the children are cooperating and communicating with each other.
A little before 10:30, my daughter, as helping child, gets to ring the clean-up bell and they clean up together. It is time for the bi-weekly science class; the children line-up and practice walking quietly through the building. My daughter is line leader today, another perk of being the helping child. Today’s science theme is trees. The children are each given their own cross-section from a young tree trunk to explore and count the rings. They make little books to hold a leaf collection. They discuss the seasonal life-cycle of deciduous trees.
Following science is outdoor play time. The children line-up, head back downstairs and put on their jackets. Out on the playground there are several children going around on tricycles making various noises. Several children are playing their usual game of chase and my own daughter and several other friends are hanging from the fire truck structure singing songs and pretending to play “family.”
The children come in from recess and find their seat on the rug in front of the teacher’s chair. They know it is story time. While the teacher reads, I clean off the tables and set out the snack. My daughter chose for us to bring in applesauce and goldfish crackers. The children line-up to take turns washing hands. Once everyone is seated, a simple grace is said by all. The children are encouraged to serve themselves from a bowl of goldfish at the table. They practice pouring their own water from a small pitcher. When they are done, they clean up their area and find a book.
About ten minutes before the end of the day, when the children are done snacking, the teacher brings them all together for a game of alphabet bingo. At noon, when the parents arrive, the children are so busy with bingo that many don’t want to go home!
My daughter and I stay about 20 minutes after class has ended. I clean the tables and vacuum up lots of rice and goldfish pieces. She loves to help by cleaning off chalk boards! We are tired but it was a rewarding day. How lucky was I to spend my day with wonderful, happy, energetic and amazing young people?