Submitted by Eastisde Cooperative Preschool

The Eastside Cooperative Preschool, or ECP, has been a fixture in the Olympia community since 1962. With a commitment to quality early childhood education through play and social interactions, they provide a program that gives children a strong foundation on which to build a love for learning. We thrive when our community does, and the families who commit to the cooperative model receive so much more than a typical preschool.

With a strong and integral relationship with South Puget Sound Community College, families involved in ECP also receive parenting support from a Parent Educator, which includes virtual discussions, monthly articles, and resources to aid every age and stage. ECP isn’t just a preschool, it’s a supportive community for children and their caregivers.

The commitment to supporting families in their parenting journeys, and providing fun and imaginative play for children has not changed. Even as we face a tumultuous and changing landscape of virtual learning and social distancing, ECP continues to work tirelessly to solve problems, and maintain the community connection that makes ECP great.

ECP’s board and membership have put in a lot of hours to solve the issues that arise in these uncertain times with a focus on supporting the needs of the community. Members of ECP have supported one another through virtual meet-ups, drive-by parades, and porch drop-and-dashes. They have also taken an unwavering stance on providing the financial stability that their Teachers depend on. These are some of the ways in which ECP continues to shine above the rest.

In March we were all forced to participate in an educational experiment in remote learning with very mixed results.  We all know that a virtual classroom can not replace all the benefits of an in-person preschool experience.  But we have discovered that a virtual classroom can still meet several essential needs of our young children during this chaotic time.

Children need relationships with warm and nurturing adults outside of their nuclear family. Students at ECP continue to benefit from loving, supportive relationships with their teachers, even if those relationships are virtual for the time being.  Children also need predictable rhythms and routines in order to feel safe and secure, particularly when they sense that their outside world is unstable.  Thus, participating in a virtual program with a predictable schedule and activities can provide stability for children during this tumultuous period in history. ECP is committed to nurturing children and meeting their needs despite the external circumstances that are outside of their immediate control.

The feelings of isolation we struggle with grow every day as our physical proximity needs go unmet. This is precisely why finding support and creating community are so important – not just for our children, but for all of the exhausted and frazzled caregivers too.  ECP continues to think outside the box to ensure that its membership stays connected.  Parenting is an exceptionally hard job, and no one should have to do it alone.

Technology-based programs open up a wealth of potential pitfalls, and will continue to create challenges for us to puzzle through, but with a deeply devoted membership, ECP continues to create a fun and engaging landscape for children and families amidst an array of underwhelming virtual learning platforms.

On August 1, ECP will be holding a by-appointment Virtual Meet The Teacher Event to fill remaining spaces in their 2020-2021 class rosters.

ECP’s Virtual Pilot Program will include:

  • Teacher led Virtual Circle Times twice a week
  • YouTube videos from our Teachers
  • Monthly activities and Parent check-ins
  • Teacher prepared supplies and Koala Crates
  • Parent Support from our SPSCC Parent Educator
  • Guaranteed spot for in-person instruction when a return to the classroom is feasible

To sign up for a time slot, please contact their Membership Chair.

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