About Us

What is a Co-op Preschool?

A cooperative preschool is a parent/child participation program.   Parents run the school, hire the teachers, and work in the classroom on a rotating basis.  The preschool is administered and maintained by the parents.  Each family shares in the business operation of the school, thus making it truly a cooperative venture.  

Our school is affiliated with Bates Technical College.  While the child is enrolled in the cooperative preschool, the parent enrolls in a parent education program at Bates.  While parents are enrolled in the program, they earn college credit in a continuing education program.  Bates trained cooperative preschool teachers plan an enriched, fun and challenging curriculum for the children.  The parents assist the teachers in the classroom and participate in the educational program of all the children.

Adult to child ratios

19 months to 35 months - 1 adult per 3 children minimum

3 years to 5 years - 1 adult per 5 children minimum

Who Benefits from a Co-op Preschool?


Parents gain insight into child behavior by observing other children. They observe how other parents and the professional teachers handle various situations and gain greater understanding and enjoyment of their own children through active participation in their education. They have the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise with others while working together in a cooperative setting. Through serving on the Board, parents learn about administration, running meetings and other skills useful to them in other areas and states of their lives. They also learn useful ideas for helping their children at home and in the world around them.


Children participate in a supervised play and learning experience with children of their own age. Equipment, materials and physical facilities are scaled to child size. An opportunity is provided to interact with adults other than their own parents. The children are able to find security and a feeling of belonging in a world which is non-threatening and interested in them. Learning to respect and accept the rights and differences of others is emphasized. Children have hands-on experiences in creative arts, music, science, literature, and language geared to their needs and developmental level.  

And the Community!

Parents and children develop an extended family with friendships they carry through their lives. Parents gain a strong sense of responsibility and develop positive self worth which carries over into every aspect of community life. The cooperative organization provides preschool experiences within the financial means of most families.      


How Do We Teach Young Children?

At Sumner Co-op, we follow the guidelines established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  These guidelines known as Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) are based on the knowledge that early learning experiences are the building blocks for physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development, and also demonstrate respect for a child's individual age, strengths, needs and culture.

Our Curriculum

The preschool lab is carefully planned to provide a variety of learning centers and interest areas that are equipped with age appropriate educational “play” materials and equipment. For children, play is both their work and pleasure. It is an integral part of a child’s development.

To ensure success when playing at preschool the children and activities are supervised by the parents who work as teacher assistants. Working parents arrive at least 15 minutes before class in order to help set up the classroom and prepare for the start of class. Preparation can ensure having a successful day for everyone.

These activities are provided in the preschool program to help develop physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills in young children. The activities are planned to be age appropriate, safe and provide opportunity for successful participation.

For more information about the importance of learning through play, visit the National Association for the Education of Young Children's website at: http://www.naeyc.org/play

 Pre-K Handwriting Without Tears

The Handwriting Without Tears curriculum provides developmentally appropriate multisensory tools and strategies to help children master handwriting.  The program follows research that demonstrates children learn more effectively by actively doing, with materials that address all styles of learning.  For more information on the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, visit their website at: www.hwtears.com 

Learning Center/Activity

What the child learns...

Small Muscle/Manipulatives 

Beads, peg boards, puzzles, lotto, parquetry, small blocks, legos 

Eye-hand coordination, small muscle development, colors, sizes, numbers, space relationships, shapes, language, likeness/differences. 

Creative Activities

Painting, clay, markers, glue, playdough, chalk, crayons, scissors, tape

New sensory experience, tensional outlet, self expression, small muscle development and coordination, color, shape, textures, language, whole/part relationship


Large and small blocks used with various accessories such as trucks, cars, trains, animal figures, people figures and houses, etc.

Eye-hand coordination, muscle coordination, balance, shapes & math concepts, creative expression, construction, dramatic play, cooperative play, problem solving, sequencing.

Dramatic Play

Housekeeping area or special role playing activity.

Imaginative, cooperative play. Opportunity to act out real life experiences and feelings.  Language and vocabulary development, emotional and social outlet.

Sensory Materials

Water, sand, etc.

Sensory experience, measuring and pouring, basic science concepts, tensional outlet, opportunity for solitary, parallel or cooperative play.

Large Muscle

Outdoor play, climber, slide, balance beams, rocking boat & indoor movement activities.

Big muscle development, balance, coordination, energy & tension release, safety education, opportunity for social growth


Eye-hand coordination, large muscle development, tensional outlet, 3-dimensional creativity experience, safety awareness

Science experiences

Development of natural curiosity of the world around them.  Observation, prediction and sequencing skills, new language concepts, following directions

Clean –up

Sense of orderliness and cooperation, satisfaction in helping, responsibility, respect for property


Quiet and restful activity, learn to listen, appreciate books, vocabulary and speech development.  Visual, auditory, memory and sequencing skills, and self concepts

Bathroom and Hand washing

Experience good health habits.  Development of self-help skills


New taste experiences, awareness of good nutrition.  Practice self-help skills i.e. serving and pouring, social skills, language development


Singing, movement, rhythms and games.

Appreciation of songs and music, awareness of different sounds and rhythms, language development, muscle coordination, socialization skills, creative expression

Field Trips

Gives the child an opportunity to experience new places, people and concepts first hand.  Learns to interact appropriately in other settings.