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 are the age requirements for classes?
Each type of class lists the age requirement in the class description. Ages are based on how old the child is in September when class begins. (So, in an infant class they are birth to 9 months in September, but that means they are 9 to 18 months by the end of the year.)
In the schedule tables at the bottom of each class description, you’ll see a range of birth-dates for each class. Age cut-offs typically require that the child has reached the minimum age by August 31 of the year when the class will begin. 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, and a child who is a little older than the recommended age can typically enroll as long as the parent feels that class content will be appropriate for their child.
Can siblings attend with the enrolled child?
For online classes, we understand that older or younger siblings are in the home, and may wander by and listen in. That’s always fine. If the child is actively participating in the class and is in the age range for the class, we would ask that you enroll them.
For in-person classes, due to insurance regulations, siblings of enrolled students are not allowed to attend, 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 a 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 when parents have a work day at the preschool. It is the responsibility of the involved parents to coordinate this care.
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, for consistency’s sake, it is the same adult who is involved throughout the year, though there is some flexibility. If a different adult attends just a few days per quarter, that’s always fine.
Some families like to have multiple adults attend on a regular basis. Some examples: in infant classes, two parents may both be on parental leave and enjoy attending together; in a toddler class, a nanny or grandparent attended with the child every week, and the parent came every other week to participate in parent education; in the evening and Saturday classes, often both parents choose to attend on a regular basis. If this is the case, both adults would be asked to pay college tuition, but the lab fees might be discounted if both adults volunteer in the classroom.
Do parents attend every week? When is parent education? For in-person classes: Do parents work in the classroom? What are the other expectations?
Infant, Wobbler, and Toddler Classes:
- Parents attend each week with their child(ren).
- Parent education sessions are offered each week, or every other week. In infant classes, the baby typically remains with the parent for parent ed. In toddler classes, the children are encouraged to play, with the children’s teachers and other parents providing supervision, while their parent attends parent education. At some sites parent ed discussions are in the same room where the children are playing, at other sites, they are in a separate room. Children are always welcome to remain with the parent if they need to do so. For online classes, children are often with the parents as they participate.
- Parents are typically asked to provide snacks for all the children a few times a year. (Except in the infant program.) Parents may be asked to help tidy up the classroom at the end of play time.
Art and Science Enrichment classes (Creative Arts Lab, Family Inventors, Art and Science Lab, Discovery Science Lab)
- Children attend weekly.
- For in-person classes: Parents assist in the classroom 6 – 9 times a year, including bringing snacks a few times each year. Parent education is held once a month during class meeting time. On days when the parent is not volunteering in the classroom or attending parent ed, they can drop off, or they may choose to stay.
Cooperative preschools: Policies vary by age and site. But a typical example for in-person classes 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.
- For online classes, our children’s sessions are shorter because their attention spans on Zoom are shorter. But teachers share a curriculum of easy activities you can guide your child through at home.
Who are the teachers? 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, many have training in early childhood education, and are hired by the individual class. They are responsible for planning and implementing a developmentally appropriate, engaging, play-based curriculum for the children, and they supervise the activities in each class.
Infant classes: Each class is staffed by a parent educator, a nutritionist and a music specialist. All parents attend with their child, so there are more adults at class than children.
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, Art & Science Lab, Family Inventors’): Each program has a children’s teacher who is there every week. The parent educator attends at least twice a month. There are also parent volunteers each week. Adult to child ratio is approximately 1 to 4. (Note: at our Saturday Inventors’ Lab, most parents choose to stay and play every week, so we tend to have a ratio of 1 to 2 or so.)
Discovery Science Lab for 5 – 9 year-olds: At each class, there are one or two children’s teachers, a parent educator and 2 – 3 parent volunteers each class. Typical adult to child ratio is 1 to 4 or better.
Co-op 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. With parent volunteers adult to child ratio is 1 to 3 to 1 to 5. [Note: at a regular, non-coop preschool, the ratio is likely to be between 1 to 6 and 1 to 9.]
What is the maximum class size?
It varies depending on the age of the child and the capacity of the facility. Typical range pre-coronavirus was 14 – 22 families. When we return to the classroom, class size will depend on health guidelines.
What do Programs Cost?
Infants, Toddlers, and most Enrichment Classes: Tuition is ~$250 per quarter (fall, winter, and spring). Online only classes are ~$60 less than that. Discovery Science Lab: Tuition is typically $30 – 40 more than that base rate for other classes. Each quarter is approximately 3 months long, or 10-11 class sessions. Cooperative preschools: Each of our cooperative preschools set their own tuition. They are typically very affordable compared to most other preschools.
Scholarships: The Bellevue College Parent Education Program offers scholarship assistance to qualified families once they are enrolled. Approved scholarships typically cover half the tuition for a class. 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 in which you participate with your child is your only college requirement. The program cost includes your Bellevue College tuition as well as the children’s program.
What is your academic calendar? When does each quarter begin?
Fall quarter is approximately mid September to early December. Winter is typically mid-December to early March. Spring is approximately March to late May or early June. Schedules vary slightly from site to site, so coordinate with your instructor for exact details.
Where are classes held?
You can find addresses for all sites, directions and a map at: https://www.bellevuecollege.edu/parented/cooperative-preschools/locations/. You’ll also be able to see pictures of each classroom there.
Can I observe a class? Can I visit with my child to “try it out”?
Open houses for in-person classes: 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 typically offered in January / February, May, and September. (Check our events 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. For online classes, we offer online open houses.
Class visits: For parent-child classes, you may be welcome to visit while class is in session. Policies vary by class, 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 a co-op preschool, please contact the registrar to learn about your options.
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 to join a class that has already started, please contact our office at 425-564-2365 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Could I qualify for student discounts?
If you are enrolled in any of our Bellevue College programs (Infants, CAL, Coop preschool, etc.) then you are a Bellevue college student, and you qualify for some student services, such as library privileges, campus computer labs, counseling, and career counseling. You may qualify for student discounts at a variety of local businesses. Some discounts will require that you have a student ID #. Look at http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/enrollment/faq/#how-do-i-get-my-sid to learn yours. Some will require that you have a BC email address. Set yours up at: https://www2.bellevuecollege.edu/netid/. Some will require a student ID. Get yours at the Student Business Center on campus: https://www.bellevuecollege.edu/pals/2018/06/04/student-id/
What is the children’s experience like at in-person classes?
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 co-ops, 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.
What is the children’s experience like in online classes?
- We are offering some online-only options for families for whom that is a better fit – Wednesday afternoon/evening infant/wobbler (birth – 15 months), Tuesday evening toddlers (1 – 3 years), Saturday afternoon Art and Science (3 – 6 years), and Monday morning circle time through Alpine Coop preschool (1 – 5 years). You can learn more about them on the pages for each of those programs.
- Circle time on Zoom: interactive online gatherings for stories, songs, movement, concept learning and social skills practice. These will be developmentally appropriate, so will be a little different for each age group. For example, for our toddlers, circle time may be 15 – 20 minutes. For older children, circle time will be 30 or more minutes and will include activities like show and tell.
- Ideas for hands-on learning activities that are easy for you to provide at home. These may be communicated in circle time or parent ed sessions, or may be shared by email, video, or on Seesaw app. Some teachers may offer supplies for pick-up. Activity ideas may include art experiences, craft projects, sensory play, music, STEM learning, large motor, and fine motor activities. All will be developmentally appropriate and designed to help children learn and develop.
- Guidance on how to best support your child’s learning at home.
What about Summer Camp?
You may have heard that we offered summer camp in the past on the BC campus. It is not being offered at this time.
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 web pages for this contact info) or our office at 425-564-2365 or email@example.com.
Last Updated June 22, 2021