By Rick Morwick
Work and play are not mutually exclusive activities. At least, not in the minds of Carmel Cooperative Preschool leaders.
From their point of view, work and play — especially play — are important childhood learning tools that work best simultaneously.
“Recess, fresh air and free-play opportunities are vital to a child’s development,” said Jazzy O’Brien, co-president of Carmel Cooperative Preschool. “A growing number of families with elementary-aged children are asking for changes in our public school schedule or searching for alternative kindergarten options.”
This fall, Carmel Cooperative Preschool, 3085 W. 116th St., will offer just such an alternative with its new “Fireflies” part-time kindergarten. Students will learn reading and writing skills while participating in activities such as yoga, art, music, field trips and outdoor “Forest Days.”
Fireflies classes, which will have a maximum of 12 students, will meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. The kindergarten is open to any child, regardless of school district, who will be 5 years old by Aug. 1.
“Play-based learning focuses on the whole child and his or her academic, social-emotional and cognitive development,” O’Brien said. “The main goal of play-based learning is to foster a general joy for learning and discovery based on the child’s interests.”
Carmel Cooperative Preschool will conduct a community event from 1 to 4 p.m. May 5 to showcase the Fireflies class. The event will include a touch-a-truck for kids and a plant sale.
“Our cooperative preschool models allow for implementing an affordable kindergarten program with plenty of time for free play, focusing on social-emotional growth, spending extended time outside and exploring our world hands-on,” O’Brien said. “Kids need time to play and process what they are learning.”
Parent cooperative preschools are organized by families with similar philosophies who hire professional teachers to oversee learning. Teachers are assisted in the classroom by parents on a rotating basis.
Monthly tuition for Carmel Cooperative Preschool’s part-time kindergarten is $250, plus a $100 membership fee. For more, visit carmelcooperative.org.