Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours of operation?
  • The cooperative morning program runs from 8:45-12:00pm, Monday to Friday.

  • The afternoon play-based child care operates from 12:00-5:00pm, Monday to Friday.

What age may children attend SMPCW?

SMPCW accepts children from age 2 1/2, and typically they remain enrolled until they graduate to kindergarten. 

How many days may a child attend?

It is recommended to have a child attend as many days a week as their current age in years. For example, a three year old child could attend up to three days per week, a four year old could attend up to four days. However, the needs of the family and the child's personality and ability can be discussed with the SMPCW Director.

What does it mean to be a parent in a cooperative preschool?

While every co-op is a little bit different, at SMPCW there are five basic ongoing requirements for parents of enrolled children. At least one parent from each child's family participates in:

  • The weekly evening parent education class.

  • The workday lab session, one morning per week (four hours).

  • The fundraising efforts of the school (typically a spring auction).

  • Two environment days per year.

  • A school focus group (usually one-two hours per month). 


Why should I choose a cooperative preschool?

SMPCW involves a commitment on the part of parents. It is also an incomparable experience, well worth your time and energy. When you join SMPCW you can expect to:

  • participate in your child's early learning

  • learn a lot about yourself and your child

  • share experiences with adults going through similar trials, tribulations, and triumphs

  • develop lasting friendships (with adults and children)

  • find support when you need it

  • lend support when you can

  • definitely laugh a lot!

What is a typical day like for my child at SMPCW?

8:30 am        Workday parents arrive  


8:45-9:00      Children arrive and School begins - Children enter the program, greet their friends and teachers and choose from several activities to participate in.  They move freely from outside to inside activities as their interests dictate.

10:30-11:00  Healthy Organic Snack and stories

11:00-11:30  Children play outside

11:30-12:00  Group time - 2 groups

11:45-12:30  Cooperative Morning Program Ends - Parents arrive to pick up children

                     Final cleanup by workday parents and daily wrap-up discussion with Director

                     Afternoon Program children arrive and have lunch in back yard

12:30-1:00    Transition to inside quiet time

1:00 -2:30     Quiet time

2:30-3:00      Snack time - Parents arrive to pick up children leaving at 3pm

2:45-4:20      Children play inside or outside

4:45-5:00      Group time

4:45-5:00      Parents arrive to pick up children

                     Afternoon Program Ends - Parent picking up after 5:10 will be charged a late fee of $1 per minute late.

During their day, children forge friendships and learn pre-k skills through age-appropriate activities. They may have music and dancing in the library, ride a tricycle or use the zip line. Favorite activities are cooking, dramatic play and manipulatives.  Some children might construct a river in the sandbox, engage in woodworking, build with blocks or work at the writing table.


Parents are supervising and assisting children with their various needs and interests throughout the morning cooperative program. It is a short but very busy 3 hours!


What is the Parent Education Component to the Program?

Santa Barbara City College provides the noncredit parent education courses at SMPCW - Parent Education in a Cooperative Setting: Lecture and Parent Education in a Cooperative Setting: Lab. These courses are state-funded, and free of charge to participating students.

The lecture class meets every Monday evening from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at the SMPCW site. The parent education instructor/director plans and teaches these classes, adhering to the approved course outlines, and meeting the individual and collective needs of the students in the class.

Each student (at least one parent from each family) also enrolls for one four-hour weekly lab session, commonly referred to as the workday. This involves working directly with the children and other adult students in the cooperative morning preschool, under the supervision of the parent education instructor/director. The lab participation at SMPCW affords parents rare insights into the emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development of children. As students practice what they are learning, they listen to and observe children, maintain a safe environment, develop and facilitate age-appropriate educational activities, and help children resolve conflicts and solve problems. The lab day begins with set-up at 8:30 am and ends with a daily discussion seminar. Dismissal time for lab participants (workday parents) is 12:30 pm.

While most adult students at SMPCW are also the parents of the children in the preschool, other interested members of the community are welcome to enroll in the lecture or the lecture/lab combination. If you're interested in this, drop us a line.

How do I enroll my child and is there an enrollment fee?

Give us a call and schedule a tour of our school.  If San Marcos seems like a fit for you, we'll arrange an orientation meeting, where you'll pick up your enrollment packet and pay your enrollment fee. We'll set a start date with you and you're ready to go!

What is the child tuition?

Tuition is an annual amount divided into nine equal payments and due monthly. Snack and insurance are added into the payments when you receive your bill. For current rates please see enrollment.

Does SMPCW offer a summer programme?

Starting in summer 2017 we plan to offer a series of week-long summer camps for children aged two to five years. 

San Marcos Parent Child Workshop  400 Puente Drive, Suite A, Santa Barbara, CA 93110   (805) 964-8994    California License #426215276

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