SANTA CRUZ PENS SOQUEL PENS WESTSIDE PENS

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 3PENS?
What is a Co-op?
What sets yourself apart from other preschools?
What is parent participation?
Why do members feel that this co-op is a rewarding experience?
What is the 3PENS program philosophy?
What is a typical day at these preschools?

What is 3PENS?

The 3PENS schools of Santa Cruz (Westside Parent Education Nursery School, Soquel Parent Education Nursery School, and Santa Cruz Parent Education Nursery School) are a coalition of three, non-profit cooperative schools working together to ensure the sustainability of their community programs. We have become valuable institutions to the community over the last 61 years, and are affiliated with the Santa Cruz Adult School of the Santa Cruz City School District.

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What is a Co-op?

Parent participation is the cornerstone of the 3PENS programs. Along with the care and experience of our credentialed teachers, parents are involved in running every aspect of the school. This involvement enhances the quality of the program as each family shares its own unique talents. Parents are actively involved in the preschool program, working with small groups of children weekly. This participation results in lower tuition rates and a higher adult-to-child ratio, as found in typical preschool settings. The co-ops cultivate this partnership between parents and teachers where parents are able to build upon their existing strength and skills as loving and dedicated parents. Parents share resources, build friendships, grow a deep sense for community, and learn to advocate for their children.

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What sets your schools apart from other preschools?

We believe children and parents learn best through active, hands-on discovery. At 3PENS:

Children will…
Discover the joy of learning through age-appropriate play
Develop social skills and cultivate their unique strengths
Acquire the building blocks of kindergarten readiness
Benefit from a high adult-to-child ratio

Parents will…
Gain confidence as they study child development
Practice new parenting skills such as positive discipline and conflict resolution
Participate in their child’s education
Benefit from a supportive community of parents and teachers
Enjoy lower tuition costs through parent involvement

Parents and children will…
Make new friends
Experience a sense of belonging and acceptance for who they are
Share joy, comfort and pride in what they can accomplish

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What is parent participation?

Parents and teachers work together to provide a rich, yet affordable, school experience for our children. Each family is expected to take an active role in the classroom and in the functioning of the co-op as a whole. We have seminars after class each day, 2-4 times per month. A parent from each family:

  • Works in the classroom once a week for each enrolled child.
  • Attends parent seminars after class, about twice a month.
  • Provides a nutritious snack for their child’s class about once a month.
  • Comes to evening membership meetings with relevant guest speakers once a month.
  • Performs a support job such as photographer, librarian, gardener…
  • Joins in fundraising.
  • Participates in a school beautification day once a year.

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Why do members feel that this co-op is a rewarding experience?

You’ll be an active participant in your child’s education at 3PENS. You’ll see firsthand what your child is learning. You’ll be there to witness and support developing friendships and learn ways to expand your children’s interests. You’ll model for your child how important education is because you’ll be right there in the classroom with him or her.

  • At the same time you’ll be learning new parenting skills, and have the chance to practice them in the classroom with the help of a credentialed teacher.
  • You’ll make new friends and be part of a caring community working together to support each other.
  • You’ll develop skills that will make you a valuable volunteer and leader in the schools your child will go on to attend.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to expand your work skills and build community as you take on a support job or become a board member.

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What is the 3PENS program philosophy?

At 3PENS, children learn about themselves and the world around them through play. By participating in a stimulating learning environment with other children their own age, students develop skills and build confidence—socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically.

Parents actively involved in their child’s learning are better able to understand and meet their child’s needs. Parents are able to observe experienced, credentialed teachers and other parents handling typical, and sometimes difficult, situations. They learn new approaches and techniques and practice their new skills in a supportive environment.

Monthly evening meetings offer in-depth discussions of a variety of parent issues as well as the opportunity to learn from guest speakers.

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What is a typical day at these preschools?

While parent education is the focus for the adult, learning through play is the work of the child. At the 3PENS schools, children freely choose from a variety of materials and play equipment depending upon their own interest, learning style, level of readiness and mood for the day. Allowed this freedom of choice, the child's plan can be free, spontaneous, vigorous and creative.

In a typical day, the children first have free time to choose from a variety of materials and activities including music, art, science, storybooks, fantasy, dress-up, large and small motor activities. This is followed by circle time led by the teacher, including songs, stories, movement, and finger play. Circle time is followed by a nutritious snack where the children, parents and teacher gather to eat and share company.

After snack, children choose freely between indoor and outdoor play until the day closes with story time and a goodbye circle with all parents. The parent workers then clean and organize the classroom and meet with the teachers to share their questions, concerns and expertise about the interactions and dynamics that day.

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