The high cost of preschool or daycare is one of the major complaints of parents of young children throughout the nation.
According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the average cost of preschool can range from $5,000 to $13,000 per year depending on location and quality of program. With childcare prices through the roof, it is easy to see why Cerritos parents continue to seek a better alternative.
Parent Cooperative: A Solution to the Preschool Problem
The CPE Tot Lot is one of three local preschools that keep their costs affordable through a parent cooperative program. Here, parents are directly involved in the daily activities and operation of the school, acting as supplemental instructors, caretakers, and administrators. Though it is located at , it functions independent from the city and is governed by a board of elected parents.
Carissa Cordero, CPE Tot Lot Board Member and Tot Lot Parent, spoke to Patch about the benefits of participating in the parent co-op.
"I really like that I can work with my child, other kids, other parents and a teacher on a weekly basis," Cordero said. "I feel I really know what's going on at school."
Coredro said having her child under the guidance of other parent leadership is also an added benefit.
"I also like the exposure my child gets to other parents and other styles of dealing with things such as discipline, learning/teaching styles, etc," she said. "I also get to interact with dozens of other parents and have made some great friends."
Tot Lot Program Structure and Highlights
The program is structured in a way where students are separated by age (ages 2.5-3 years, ages 3.5-4 years, and ages 4.5-5 years) with two parents tending to each group. Each day, the groups rotate between class time, play time, and craft time, with a snack lunch after their second rotation.
In addition to their daily routine, the students at the CPE Tot Lot also participate in a variety of enrichment activities. For example, the preschool takes the children on monthly field trips to sites like the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, Adventure City, Disney on Ice, and Tanaka Farms. In years past, the students have also been a part of the Cerritos' Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The CPE Tot Lot also sponsors a Culture Week where parents take turns teaching the students about their heritage. In a city as diverse as Cerritos, the children at the CPE Tot Lot get the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of cultures. Parents bring in toys and other items for the students to see first hand. On the last day of Culture Week, the parents and students come together for a culture potluck to celebrate the what they have learned through the foods of the different cultures.
How to Enroll
The first day of school is scheduled for September 13 and will run through June. When space is available, enrollment is open to Cerritos residents and non-residents. Children must be potty trained and between the ages of 2.5 and 5 years old. For more information, please contact Maricel A. Lacorte of the CPE Tot Lot at
Similar programs are also offered at and .