RIC's Co-op Preschool gets four-star rating

Children from RIC's Co-op Preschool dress as pilgrims and Native Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Children from RIC's Co-op Preschool dress as pilgrims and Native Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving.
While the RIC Cooperative Preschool students are at play, their parents are just a classroom away learning in a more grown-up manner from college professors. When they are not buried in books and lectures, parents spend an average of four hours a week working at the Co-op and interacting with their children.

Maybe that collaboration is in part why the RIC Co-op Preschool has earned four out of five stars from BrightStars.

Martha Dwyer, head teacher, works with a group of children
building with Legos.
BrightStars is a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) that assesses licensed childcare programs and preschools that volunteer to participate in the program. Representatives from the organization make one or more unannounced visits and rate the childcare programs according to program quality and identify areas that need improvement

The Co-op is located in the “shed” beside Whipple Hall. Inside it looks much less drab than its outer shell. “I think the Co-op is really one of the campus’ hidden gems,” said Martha Dwyer, head teacher at the Co-op.

The classroom holds 20 preschoolers, ages three to five. The Co-op accepts the children of students enrolled in a degree program at RIC. If openings exist, the Co-op will also accept the children of faculty and staff members.

Unlike a typical preschool, children and parents come and go throughout the school day, from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Co-op Preschool is a student organization funded by Student Community Government.

The Co-op provides a flexible solution for parents who are RIC students and allows parents to be involved in their child’s environment.

The unveiling of the new sign.
Parents are obliged to attend monthly meetings and have a specific job each semester. They serve on the administrative board, take care of finances, answer phones, coordinate schedules and have an active voice in decisions made concerning the preschool. “If a parent has a concern or question they can easily discuss it with the teacher,” Dwyer said.

The Co-op Preschool enhances its curriculum by using resources around the college campus. “This semester we have a dad playing the guitar and singing with the children. A mom is teaching the children German, while another mom is teaching the children Spanish in the afternoon,” Dwyer said. “A work-study student who is a dance major comes in to dance with the kids twice a week.”

The RIC Co-op Preschool is really, “a learning experience for the parent and the child,” Dwyer said.

BrightStars' four-star rating reinforces the success of the RIC Preschool Co-op for both preschool and college students.