Co-opping Dads Find Support at Preschool

My son and I have been at Little Wonders for two years and have really enjoyed our experiences there. My son looks forward to seeing familiar faces and playing with familiar toys, but I find that I also look forward to going to class for altogether different reasons.

Going to a co-op school has many advantages, but I really find the parent education component at my son’s preschool very rewarding. Each week their teachers will discuss important aspects of child development and help relate it to your own personal issues with your children. Raising children offers many challenges and they always seem to have great tools to help you overcome those challenges.

As a father, I find that men often tend not to discuss the difficulties of parenting with each other. Preschool provides an excellent environment to learn how to be a better parent and then gives you opportunities to practice the skills you have learned.

The school itself also tends to attract like-minded people, so other parents there usually have similar parenting styles and beliefs. I’ve made many friends that I don’t think I would have met otherwise.

—Jeff Zell

Little Wonders has been a terrific way for me to get to know my two daughters. The times I have shared with them in the parent co-op classroom has taught me a lot about their personalities and grown my own capacities as a father and husband.

One-on-one time is important with kids, but a great way to witness your young child experiencing the world is to see them in a broader social and educational context. Preschool provides a great canvas for young minds. As a co-op parent, you’re part of their discovery and you’re sharing the experience with other like-minded teachers, parents and children. Plus, you’re learning practical skills about temperament traits, parenting and what normal child behavior is. You’ll be surprised by what you learn!

For fathers, family-focused time is often impacted by work-related commitments and scheduling meaningful time with our kids outside the home can be a challenge. Moreover, aside from the average Saturday swim or play-gym class, where fathers tend to show up in larger numbers, breaking through what can be a “mommy and child” focused child-rearing culture can be off putting for many fathers. Little Wonders is welcoming and really provided a setting for me to achieve a more intimate understanding of my daughters and build our relationships. It is also a great way to learn about the wonderful journey of parenting.

—Carl Hilker

If you’re like me, your relationship with your father was strongly influenced by sports. So how does a ‘modern dad’ of a two-year-old, tasked with balancing a fulltime career and home life, find a better way to relate to a son whose understanding of the Giants and 49ers is still a few years away? I’ve found that participating in a parenting co-op (Little Wonders) has provided a situation in which my son and I had opportunities to learn and bond independently of sports.

Preschool allows my son to explore in an environment that encourages independence and success through trial and error. It helped me learn how to parent using positive reinforcement, which is harder than it sounds. It also allowed me to talk with other parents and realize that I’m not the only one going through the frustrations that raising a child can throw at you.

Parenting is a challenge. Do I have it figured out? No. But I do know that through my son’s preschool I’ve built a better bond with him and am able to relate to his emotional and social needs. More importantly, I’ve started this process at an age much earlier than sports would traditionally allow.

—Josh McGurk