Working Mother

Co-op Preschools: Everything Parents Need to Know

Parent at preschool class

Parent volunteers lead the class at co-op preschools.

Photo: iStock

Michelle Kauffman stays busy raising two little boys and co-owning her own baby-proofing business, where she also serves as vice president of marketing and business development, but one or two times a month, for the past five years, she’s spent the morning volunteering in one of her sons’ preschool classes, as part of their cooperative preschool, Beth El Preschool in Bethesda, MD. She’s not alone in the class—there are two other full-time teachers. But as the co-op parent, she helps out with reading stories, playing with kids, supervising on the playground, preparing snacks and anything else that comes up during the three-hour school day.

For Michelle, this requires extra planning on her part. Running a business means she’s often giving presentations, and she tries to schedule them months in advance, or request co-op dates that won’t conflict. Sometimes this means extra hours at night, when her two kids, Nate and Neal, go to bed. But for her, it’s worth it.

“I really enjoy

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