Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Seattle cooperative preschools

Cooperative preschools: a great option for Seattle families for 80 years

The play-based curriculum involves parents and is a more affordable option for many

This school year, the parent cooperative preschool program of Seattle, and its largest and founding school, the Magnolia Cooperative Preschool, celebrate 80 years of service to Seattle families and communities.

The first cooperative preschools formed in the wake of the worker cooperative and kindergarten movements that began in the mid-19th century. These programs provided both a learning experience for young children and an opportunity for mothers to socialize and learn from one another. Pioneering women educators and members of the American Association of University Women helped these programs spread rapidly around the United States throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

In 1941, the Seattle Public Schools brought in noted education consultant Katharine Whiteside Taylor to develop parent cooperative playgroups in Washington state. The first group, now known as Magnolia Cooperative Preschool, was established in 1942 and has operated from a space at the (unaffiliated) Magnolia Congregational Church since 1966.

Using a model that combines a play-based curriculum with parent participation and education, cooperative preschools have expanded throughout the city. These programs provide Seattle families a more affordable early learning option while maintaining low student-to-adult ratios and allowing families to be closely involved in their child’s education.

If your family is looking ahead to preschool in the next year or beyond, consider joining a cooperative program near you. Co-ops provide children and their families the opportunity to not only learn, but to socialize and grow connections with their neighborhoods and communities.

Open enrollment begins in March, with classes available from infant through pre-K ages. For more information, and to find a location near you, check this list.

Denise Stephens is a biologist who lives in Magnolia with her husband and two kids.

More in Seattle’s Child:

About the Author

Denise Stephens