Our School History

CW Parent Co-op Preschool

The Camas-Washougal Parent Co-op Preschool (C-W Co-op Preschool) was formed by Mrs. Jerry Clary in 1940. This first nursery school in the Camas-Washougal area was a project of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). For the first few years, the members’ children met in private homes. As the school continued to grow, they began to meet at the Camas Methodist Church.

Enrollment gradually was broadened to include children of non-AAUW women and the school became a community preschool with the AAUW relinquishing control to a board of parents. In October 1986, the school moved to Helen Baller Early Childhood Education Center.

After three years, it moved to St. Thomas Aquinas Religious Education Center where it remained a secular public preschool.

In 1999, the school moved to its present location at St. John’s Presbyterian Church.

The Camas-Washougal Parent Co-op is run by an Executive Board, consisting of Co-op parents, and by a Parent Board, which is made up of all Co-op parents. The entire administration and maintenance of the school is all done by parents, including such responsibilities as hiring teachers, making classroom purchases, recruiting new students, paying bills, filing taxes, fundraising, planning field trips, and cleaning and repairing facilities and equipment. The teachers are the only paid employees.

Because of this, we are able to keep tuition and registration fees low while maintaining the highest teaching standards. For our children to attend school here is a privilege made possible in some part by the tuition we pay, but to a much greater degree by the hard work contributed by the parents. The efforts of our four fantastic educators and the parts played by each family in the preschool come together to maintain our excellent and long-standing reputation in the community.

Our goal is to provide a positive introductory learning experience for two-, three-, and four-year-old children as a preparatory to elementary education. This is accomplished through a cooperative effort between teachers and parents. We offer a flexible program which includes free time for classroom exploration, music activities, story time and small group work, cooking projects, nature observation and exploration, crafts and open-ended art, as well as field trip experiences.

We help prepare children for school socially, emotionally and academically. We help them learn the importance of being a good listener, how to interact positively with peers and adults, how to be self-organized, and to discover the joy of learning. We teach developmentally appropriate curriculums to the two and three-year old students, providing them with lots of hands-on experiences. We teach a pre-kindergarten curriculum to classes for four-year-olds. It is theme-based and developmentally appropriate, providing students with a solid foundation in letter/sound recognition, numbers/patterns/math games, fine motor skills (cutting, gluing, name writing), and beginning science concepts. The CW Parent Co-op Preschool is a caring community for young children and parents.

4s Class

The 4s class prepares children socially and academically for Kindergarten. Through literature, social studies, music and science they learn about life and people in our world. They will use their fine-motor skills learning to write, cut and use the mouse on the computer for educational games. They learn their numbers and will do basic adding by the end of the school year. They will learn a new consonant weekly and will write it, learn its sound, and do a project about each letter. They will have circle time twice a day and learn to listen and take turns talking and sharing. Each child will have a turn to be the class super-star during the school year. The class has special plays and performances throughout the school year for our parents. The Camas School District rents the preschool their buses for field trips, so the children can experience riding the school bus, as well as going somewhere fun with a group of children who will become lifelong friends.

3s Class

The Co-op offers a wonderful opportunity for three-year-old children to obtain their first school experience. Three-year-olds have grown more independent than toddlers and are ready to explore the world around them. They are making developmental strides and learn by experiencing and doing. They want to touch, taste, hear, smell, and test things for themselves. Children at this age are beginning to learn to share, enjoy interacting with other children, and possess active imaginations.

Our program at the Co-op Preschool provides children with a variety of age-appropriate activities that address the developmental needs of growing preschoolers. This comprises children’s social/emotional, physical, and intellectual development. Students are introduced to a classroom routine that gives them opportunities for free exploration, circle time, music, small group work, and active play. The curriculum is presented to children thematically and is based on the seasonal changes that children can recognize in the world around them. It includes introduction to letter recognition and sounds, number concepts, and science concepts. Since every child develops at her/his own pace, instruction is adapted for each child’s level. Students advance their fine motor skills through manipulative play, cutting, coloring, painting, working with play dough, cooking, drawing, and other creative pursuits.

Children become part of a nurturing environment that promotes community and individual responsibility. Classroom discipline is handled by re-direction, making choices, and natural consequences.

2s Class

The curriculum for the two-year-old classroom has been carefully designed to allow young children the opportunity to learn through play and recognition/enhancement of individual talents and interests. We believe we’ve created a safe and loving environment which will allow children to grow socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically as well as encourage self-confidence and self-expression. We accomplish this by using a theme-based curriculum which follows the seasons. Classroom materials, songs, games, stories and activities revolve around the particular theme of the day. Since two- and three-year-olds are full of energy and curiosity, we will follow a consistent daily schedule which will allow them to learn important skills such as following directions, cleaning up after themselves, and keeping themselves safe and healthy.

Children in this class will be exposed to many opportunities to foster creativity, language development, color and shape recognition, science and number concepts, fine and gross motor development and music appreciation. We will set gentle limits that lead to self-discipline and self-acceptance. Children will potty train at their own pace and will be praised and encouraged consistently.

In addition to tuition, school fundraisers keep our preschool going strong. While fundraising only accounts for a small percentage of the preschool’s overall budget, it is vital to C-W’s financial health.

Families participate in fundraising in the following ways:

Payback Book Sales

These books are similar to Entertainment Books, but they strive to support local businesses. The selling price is $20 per book, and the school keeps $10 from every book sold.

Fall Pie Sale

This is a great fundraiser for the fall season! Families will have the opportunity to sell pies, cobblers, and fruits from the Willamette Valley Pie Company. These orders go out in the early Fall and are delivered in time for the Thanksgiving holiday season. You’ll want to order one for yourself and one for someone you are about! They are delicious!

Family Fun Run

We introduced this exciting fundraiser last Fall in 2018 and it was a big hit! It’s a great way to involve your extended family, friends, neighbors etc. Plus the kids love getting to run and its a great way to help connect families outside of the classroom!

Spring Plant Sale

This one is a community wide favorite serving more than just our Co-Op families!  These amazing plants, vegetable starts, flowers, baskets and more come straight from the Newleaf Green House to our school.  We have many families, friends, neighbors and fellow Co-Op supporters who look forward to this sale every year. Plus, it happens just in time for Mother’s Day so it make your holiday shopping a little easier!

The preschool also participates in these ongoing fundraising programs that directly impact our teachers and their classrooms:


Usborne Book Sale

Another way to help out the school is by using our special CW Co-op Usborne book sale link: https://v3015.myubam.com/183536. Usborne sells a variety of high quality fiction and non-fiction for all ages. Book orders will be shipped directly to the customer. Every book order will accrue credit for our teachers to purchase new books for the classrooms!

Amazon Smile Affiliate Link

A quick and easy way to raise money for the school is to do your Amazon shopping via our link or search box. Visit smile.amazon.com/ch/91-0701772 for more information. Funds earned through Amazon Smile go directly to our teacher’s classroom wishlist! 

Fred Meyer Community Rewards

Fred Meyer Community Rewards Simply login to the Fred Meyer Rewards page to link your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to the Camas-Washougal Parent Co-op Preschool Community Rewards Program, and Fred Meyer will donate money to the preschool every time you shop and swipe your Rewards Card. Please note this is completely separate from the personal Rewards you will receive.  Funds earned through Amazon Smile go directly to our teacher’s classroom wishlist! 

Questions? Please contact Melinda Kaiser at fundraising@cwcoop.org or (541) 579-2949. Based on the preschool’s needs, additional fundraisers may be held during the school year.


Camas-Washougal Parent Co-Op Preschool

  1. Is the Preschool associated with the St. John’s Presbyterian Church?

No, we are simply tenants.  We have a wonderful working relationship with the St. John’s Presbyterian Church and have been renting the downstairs space since 1999.

  1. How difficult is it to get into the Preschool?

Not very at all!  In years past, we have had a physical registration process where parents lined up outside the Preschool and it was a first come, first serve registration process.  We have updated our policies over the last few years.

We now have an online registration event that takes place for both Returning and New/Alumni families in late February and early March.  The number you receive during this event indicates the order in which your family registers at their prospective registration nights.

See our Registration Procedures and FAQs for more information.

  1. What if the class I want to register for is full?

If the class you want to register for is full, we encourage parents to get on the waiting list for any and all classes they may want to attend.  We typically have fluctuations over the Summer months and things can change during the school year as well. You can be on multiple waiting lists and will be notified as soon as you have reached the top of the list.

  1. How involved do you have to be as a parent?

Parent involvement is something that make our preschool unique!  All parents are required to attend 2 parent board meetings each year (in addition to the mandatory Orientation night in September). In addition, parents have an assigned parent job for each student enrolled.  These jobs vary in duties and time commitment but are generally 8-10 hours total during the school year.  You are also asked to volunteer in your child’s classroom about 1-2 times per month.

  1. I want to my child to attend the Preschool, but I work full time? How can I make this work for my family?

We have had several families who work full time and still make a commitment to the Co-Op environment.  There are several parent jobs that can be done during the evenings and weekends as your schedule allows.  We also support extended family and caregiver involvement.  You can have a grandparent, nanny or caregiver volunteer in the classroom if you are unable to attend. Every adult who works in the classroom or helps on field trips must provide a completed background check for the state of their residence to the Registrar before volunteering.

  1. Does my child have to be potty trained?

2s Classroom:

  • Children in the 2s classroom are NOT required to be potty trained. If your child is in diapers, please bring diapers, wipes, and a change of clothing in their backpack each class.Helping Parents are responsible for changing diapers during class time. For every child’s safety and well-being during any diaper changes, the Helping Parent will leave the bathroom door propped open, use gloves, and dispose of diapers in a plastic bag. These procedures are posted above the changing table.
  • If your child is transitioning from diapers to underwear, we recommend using Pull-ups during class. Teachers and Helping Parents will make every effort to encourage your child and offer potty breaks, but accidents happen. We ask that you pack additional clothing and a Pull-up in your child’s backpack and let your teacher know if your child is in this transition period.
  • If you have any specific concerns or requests, please speak with your teacher directly.

3s Classroom:

  • Children in the 3s classes should be potty trained or transitioning by the beginning of school.
  • If your child is transitioning and wearing Pull-ups, please notify your teacher.
  • Children in these classes will be escorted to the bathroom with an adult but need to be independent when it comes to cleaning themselves.
  • Three accidents in one month requiring Pull-up or clothing changes may result in the child needing to stay home

from school for two weeks to work on potty training before returning to school. Tuition will not be reimbursed for time spent potty training at home.

4s Classroom:

  • Children in the 4s classes are required to be potty trained and should be completely independent when visiting the bathroom.
  • After the first month of school, children will be visiting the bathroom on their own and should be independent in cleaning themselves; pulling up and down their pants, tights, and/or skirts; fastening zippers, snaps, and buttons; and working with belts. Please dress your child appropriately to make it easier for them.

 7. What is your Immunization Policy?

The Co-Op has made a change effective for the 2019-2020 school year. We will no longer accept personal, religious or philosophical exemptions. Only medical exemptions will be allowed as determined and authorized by the signature of a certified MD, ND, DO, ARNP or PA licensed under Title 18 RCW. 

Parents will be required to provide up to date immunization records no later than Orientation Night (Sept). These will need to be printed from a trusted online database such as MyIR (for WA State Immunization records) or through your clinic or hospital’s online system. Parents can also request a copy of their child’s immunization records directly from their child’s doctor. Handwritten immunization records will no longer be accepted.  If you have additional questions regarding this, please contact our Registrar at registar@cwcoop.org

8. What was the reason for this change?

Many factors came into play when making this policy change, but the main emphasis was the safety of our students, parents, and how our preschool functions differently than other programs. We rely solely on parent involvement to complete parent jobs and volunteer in the classroom on a regular basis. Having students and parents absent from school due to an outbreak leads to undue stress on other families and impacts the ability of our school to run properly. We also take into account pregnant mothers who volunteer in our classrooms and siblings who are in our building during drop off and pick up that may be compromised if an outbreak has occurred.