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Thank you for any updated feedback about Albany Co-Op preschool -- the sense of community, the kids. Thanks!
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Our daughter, now in kindergarten, loved being at Albany Preschool. She still talks about her time there, and has the odd morning where she wishes she was going there still. The play areas have so many options; the program is inclusive, fosters independent learning, and meets children where they are. The diverse community of parent volunteers and teaching staff meant the children were exposed to other cultures through songs, holidays, foods, etc. The teachers guided the kids through losing a class pet (RIP Fluffy!), classmates moving away, and new siblings joining families. Being a part of a co-op, we were also more invested as parents, which was great for us. (After our experience at APS, we chose to enroll at Crestmont School, a K-8 co-op, with two other APS alumni families.) I recommend taking a tour, attending any open houses that will occur this spring, and definitely checking out the spring fair!
This is our third year (and second kid) at Albany Preschool and we love it. We love the teachers and the co-op community is great. My kid goes three days a week so I participate once every other week. I’m lucky my work schedule gives me the opportunity to participate, but there is always the option of swapping days with another family or hiring a substitute if I cannot make my scheduled participation day.
When I first started participating I was super nervous with the kids, but now I really enjoy then opportunity to be in the classroom. First, you get to see firsthand what your kid does, who they play with, etc.. Second, you get to see how great the teachers are with the kids i.e., how they diffuse an argument or help put a nervous child at ease. Even if you don’t realize it, the teachers quickly pick up on the habits of each kid (i.e. who likes art, who likes to dig in the sand, who plays well with whom). Third, you get to learn the personalities of all the kids in the classroom. You learn who’s rambunctious, who’s shy, who’s easy-going, who’s a slow eater, etc. Some of the kids can be quite a hoot! It is quite interesting to see how the kids grow and change over the course of a year. Fourth, you get to know and meet more parents of similar-aged kids. A lot of us are in similar boats, so it is always nice to be able to swap stories and experiences.
The school has a play-based philosophy. There is some schedule/routine to each day but for the bulk of the day the child gets to select what they want to do. Kids can play outdoors rain or shine (as long as they are dressed appropriately). There are also many activities to do inside as well. There are things to appeal to pretty much any kid. My oldest thrived there. My younger child is still trying to get his footing. Every kid is different and the teachers have been a great help in getting him settled.
Going back to the co-op community aspect, one aspect I liked was getting to know the kids and them getting to know me. Other parents also get to know your kid and your child knows them. This is absolutely fabulous if you are in a park and your child wants to run off to play with some school friends but you are say stuck on a bench feeding child #2. Fellow co-op parent will holler “Don’t worry! I’ve got them!” and follow said group of kids. You really don’t worry because your child knows them and this parent likely knows what to expect from your kid from seeing them at school. Also, Albany Preschool has been around for over 80 years. If you live in Albany, odds are you will find someone who went there. I’ve met people with kids now in their 20s and 30s who went there. My husband met a woman in her 70s at the Albany Senior Center who went to Albany Preschool. It’s a great conversation starter.