Frequently Asked Questions
Read below to learn about:
- Age requirements for students
- Sibling policies
- The parents’ role / expectations for involvement
- Staffing and adult to child ratios
- Cost for classes
- Visiting a class
- What happens in class
- What makes these programs special
Age: What are the age requirements for classes?
Each type of class lists what ages it is appropriate for in the class description. Age cut-offs typically require that the child has reached the minimum age for the class by August 31 of the year when class will begin. (Some classes have a different cut-off date than August 31. Those will be noted on the class schedules.) There are typically no exceptions to this minimum age, although occasionally, if there are openings after classes start in the fall, instructors may consider including younger children. The first month is generally considered a trial period to make sure the class is a good fit.
Maximum ages are more flexible, if the parent feels class content will be appropriate for their child.
Can siblings attend with the enrolled child?
Due to insurance regulations, siblings are not allowed to attend class, with the following exceptions:
- If the sibling is within the class age range, that child may also be enrolled in the class. A tuition discount is offered for the 2nd child from the family in the same class.
- Infant siblings may attend in a front-style carrier. Due to insurance regulations babies are not allowed to be left in strollers, car seats or on the floor. Instructors may set time limits on how long a baby can attend (e.g. three months maximum), in cooperation with the parent.
- Siblings may attend specially scheduled Family Days, if offered by the class.
- Some of our coop preschools have a space available where younger siblings can be cared for by other parents while you have a work day at the preschool. It is the responsibility of the involved parents to set up a schedule for this.
Parents: Who can attend with the child?
A parent or caregiver attends with the child. We welcome moms, dads, grandparents, nannies, aunts, uncles, or siblings over the age of 18 to attend with the child. Ideally it is the same adult who is involved throughout the year, though there is some flexibility.
Parent Involvement: Do parents attend every week? When does parent education happen? Do parents work in the classroom? What other expectations are there for parents?
Infant, Wobbler, and Toddler Classes:
- Parents attend each week with their child(ren).
- Parent education sessions are offered each week, or every other week, during the class meeting time. At some sites these are in the same room where the children are playing, at other sites, parent ed is in a separate room. In infant classes, the baby typically remains with the parent for parent ed. In toddler classes, the children are encouraged to play in one room with the children’s teachers and other parents providing supervision while their parent attends class. However, children are welcome to remain with the parent if they need to do so.
- Parents are typically asked to provide snacks for all the children a few times a year. (Not in the infant program.) Parents may be asked to help tidy up the classroom at the end of the session.
Enrichment classes (Creative Development Lab, Family Inventors, Arts & Sciences Lab, Discovery Lab)
- Children attend weekly, parents work in the classroom 6 – 8 times a year, and the other days are “drop-off” days for that family.
- Parent education is held once a month during class meeting time. There are typically a couple offerings of each topic, and parents choose the one that works better for their schedule.
- In addition to working in the classroom 6 – 8 times per year, parents will be asked to assist occasionally with bringing snacks or with special projects.
Cooperative preschools: Policies vary by age and site. But a typical example would be:
- Three-year-olds attend 2 or 3 days a week, four-year-olds attend 3 or 4 days a week. Typically, the parent stays with the child and works in the classroom a few days each month, and the other days are “drop-off” preschool for that family.
- Parent education is offered at a mandatory monthly meeting, usually held in the evening.
- In addition to assisting in the classroom during classes (a few days each month), parents help with the running of the school by: providing snacks (2-3 times per year), fundraising support, helping with end-of-year cleanings, serving on the board (chair, treasurer, secretary, etc.), or as class photographer, play-dough maker, etc.
Staffing: Who are the teachers? What is the staffing for the class? What is the adult to child ratio?
The Bellevue College program includes both parent educators and children’s teachers. Our parent educators are Bellevue College faculty. They are experienced educators, many with advanced degrees in social work, education, or psychology. They’re also all parents, so can offer realistic tips that really work. Our children’s teachers are typically experienced children’s teachers, have training in early childhood education, and are hired by the individual programs. They are responsible for planning and implementing a developmentally appropriate, engaging, play-based curriculum for the children, and supervise the activities in each class.
Infant and toddler classes: Each class is staffed by a parent educator and one or more children’s teachers. All parents attend with their child, so there are more adults at class than children.
Enrichment classes for 3 – 5 year olds (Creative Development Lab, Arts & Science Lab): Each program has a children’s teacher who is there every week. The parent educator attends twice a month. Parents work in the classroom 6 to 7 times a year. Adult to child ratio is approximately 1 to 4.
Discovery Lab: There are 2 children’s teachers who attend each class, 4 – 5 assisting parents each class, and the parent educator. With up to 25 children per class, typical adult: child ratio is 1 to 5 or better.
Coop preschools: Each program is overseen by a children’s teacher who leads every class. She is responsible for planning and coordinating children’s activities and leading group times. The parent educator attends once a week to observe the children and consult with the parents, and she offers a monthly parent education session at an evening meeting. The adult to child ratio is 1 to 3 to 1 to 5. [Note: at a regular, non-coop preschool in the community, the ratio is likely to be between 1:6 and 1:9.]
Summer Camp: There are 3 children’s teachers per session, all of whom have experience in our school year classes. There are up to 21 kids per session, so adult to child ratio is 1 to 7.
What is the maximum class size?
It varies depending on the age of the child and the capacity of the facility. Typical range is 14 – 22 families.
What do Programs Cost?
Infants, Toddlers, and most Enrichment Classes: Tuition is $234 per quarter (fall, winter, and spring). Discovery Lab: Tuition is $240 per quarter. Young 3’s: $470 per quarter.
Cost comparison: If you’re considering other programs for your child, and comparing tuition, look at the cost-per-hour for each program. Our parent-child programs average out to $10.50 per hour, a bargain compared to most other programs.
Cooperative preschools: Each of our cooperative preschools set their own tuition. Average cost is $10.00 per hour or less, also a bargain.
Scholarships: The Bellevue College Parent Education Program offers scholarship assistance to qualified families once they are enrolled. Confidential applications are available through the class instructors.
Note: When you enroll in one of our classes, you, the parent are registered as a Bellevue College student. The class you participate in with your child is your only college requirement. The program cost includes your Bellevue College tuition as well as the children’s program.
Can I enroll in the middle of a school year?
Our classes are designed as school-year-long programs, meeting from September through May. Families are encouraged to continue for the full school year for maximum benefit.
We continue to enroll throughout the year if there is space available in a class. If you’re looking for a class in the late fall, winter, or spring, please contact our office at 425-564-2365 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about classes you are interested in.
Can I observe a class? Can I visit with my child to “try out” the class?
Open houses: The best way to learn about our programs is to attend an open house at the class site you’re interested in. Open houses are offered in the spring and the fall, and often in the late winter when families are considering schools for the following fall. (Check our home page for current opportunities.) The parent educator and classroom teachers will be there to show you around and answer your questions while your child plays and explores the classroom.
Class visits: For parent-child classes, you are also welcome to visit while class is in session. Policies vary by site, but typically the instructor would ask that you and your child attend for just the first 30 minutes of a class session. Contact the instructor for the class to schedule a visit.
For visits to coop preschools, please contact the registrar to learn about your options.
What is the children’s experience like?
All our programs are experience-based and play-based, because brain development research shows that children learn best through hands-on exploration in places where they feel safe and free to explore. Each classroom has several stations around the room, each with developmentally appropriate activities to help children build the skills they need. Children are encouraged to move around and explore at their own pace. In parent-child programs, parents play along with their own child. In coops, working parents are assigned to a station. Here are sample activities, although of course they range by age:
- Art exploration: play-dough to roll, easels for painting, markers for learning to write, rubber stamps
- Craft projects: in the older classes, there may be a weekly project tied into the theme
- Sensory activities: tubs of water, or rice, or sand, or beans to scoop, pour, stir, and run fingers through
- Large motor: mats for tumbling, tunnels to crawl through, climbers and slides, balls to throw, ride-upon scooters to move around on
- Small motor: blocks to stack, puzzles to assemble, shape sorters to solve, beads to thread
- Imaginary play: dress up area for trying on new roles, dolls to care for, kitchen for “cooking”
- Science experiences: seeds to plant, tadpoles to watch, items from nature to explore
- Snack time: a place to practice social skills and table manners and to discover new foods
Most classes also include “circle time” where the teacher leads the class in singing songs, dancing, playing musical instruments, and reading stories. This is a chance for children to practice sitting still, listening to a teacher and focusing attention, and participating in a group activity, all essential skills for kindergarten readiness. Age-appropriate academic skill-building (pre-literacy to reading and writing, pre-math skills) is integrated into all types of activities.
If you have additional questions, not answered on this FAQ or our website, feel free to contact the instructor for the class you are interested in, the registrar for the cooperative preschool you are considering, (see class webpages for this contact info) or our office at 425-564-2365 or email@example.com.