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Co-Op vs. Family Participation Preschool: What's the difference?

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Sandy Hill Nursery School has enjoyed a long-standing reputation as the best co-op preschool in San Diego. For many years, the school operated as a true cooperative, where parents had to actively participate in the daily operations of the school to keep it running- Everything from cleaning the bathrooms to minding the playground. However, in response to changing needs and preferences of families, Sandy Hill Nursery School has recently made the transition to a family participation preschool.



The transition from a co-op to a family participation preschool means that parents are no longer required to be present at the school during operational hours. Instead, parents are given more flexibility and more opportunities for cooperation that are not "forced" or obligations. This transition has brought about some positive changes in how the school is managed, and how parents can be involved in their children's early education.


Sandy Hill Nursery School is a non-profit school, "owned" by the member families and, governed by a Parent board of directors, which is made up of family members of the students at the school. This board is responsible for making decisions that impact the school, from approving the annual budget to hiring and evaluating staff to implementing new policies.


Parents who choose Sandy Hill Nursery School for their children can rest assured that they will be part of an involved, supportive community that is passionate about early childhood education. The family participation model provides parents with many opportunities to feel that they are truly contributing to their child's education and wellbeing.


More flexibility for families than a traditional co-op preschool

One of the biggest benefits of a family participation preschool is that it allows for a more flexible schedule than a co-op. Parents are no longer required to be present at the school during operational hours, although they can certainly choose to spend time volunteering if they wish. This flexibility means that parents can more easily balance their work and family commitments. This allows for greater participation and involvement in a way that is manageable for each family's needs.


Opportunities made just for you

Another benefit of the family participation model at Sandy Hill is the increased cooperation it fosters. Parents are encouraged to share their skills and talents with the school community, whether that be providing support to teachers in the classroom or volunteering for fundraising events. Parents can also participate in important decision-making processes that impact the school, such as establishing curriculum goals or selecting field trip destinations. This leads to a sense of ownership and commitment to the school and its mission.


Making friends, connecting to the community

Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of a family participation preschool is the opportunity it provides for parents to create connections with other families. Many families who have moved to San Diego do not have a strong social network, and for these families, Sandy Hill can be a lifeline. The school has a strong culture of community involvement, and it is not at all uncommon for families to form strong friendships that go beyond their time at the school. This sense of belonging can greatly benefit both parents and children, providing them with a support system and creating a positive foundation for social-emotional growth and development.


With the shift to a family participation model, Sandy Hill Nursery School has created a community of parents and staff working together to create a dynamic, responsive learning experience for young children. Prospective parents seeking a preschool in San Diego should consider exploring Sandy Hill Nursery School's family participation model and learn more about the benefits it offers for children and families alike.


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