7171 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46240

A Cooperative Preschool Established in 1960



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MHCNS&K Frequently Asked Questions


What is a cooperative preschool or kindergarten (co-op)?

A co-op is a non-profit organization where parents or caregivers work together with our qualified teachers to create an environment where our children can grow and thrive in all aspects of development. We believe in learning through play, and we believe that learning best happens when teachers, caregivers, and children are partners. MHCNS&K is a part-time, child-centered program.

What are the parent expectations?

A parent or the designated adult participant (grandparent, nanny, etc.) will assist in the classroom 1-3 times per month on average. Each family fulfills a job that contributes to school operations, and all are invited and welcome to attend monthly Board Meetings to help with the running of the school. Additionally, each ­­family is responsible for attending 3 indoor or outdoor workdays and 2 Parent Education events. While co-op duties extend beyond what you may find at other preschools, each brings benefit to our school community and to your family. We find that most families—those with a stay-at-home parent, parents who work part-time, or even families with two working parents–are able to make co-op work if they have a little bit of flexibility in their schedules. Click here to see the full list of parent expectations.

How are parents prepared for their role in the classroom?

Any new parent or caregiver who will assist in the classroom more than three times over the course of a school year is required to attend a 6-hour training provided by the Indiana Council of Preschool Cooperatives. This training covers topics such as child development and classroom management skills, and we feel it’s a helpful training for any parent or caregiver. Our parents also attend a yearly back to school night where they will hear from their child’s teacher about specific classroom expectations on their co-oping days and a twice yearly class meetings with emphasis on child development. Much teacher-parent and parent-parent mentoring also happens on a daily basis at MHCNS&K, both informally and through end of the day conferences.

When is school in session?

We follow a traditional school schedule and are closed for the summer. Our school year begins following Labor Day and ends prior to Memorial Day.

What is the class size? What is the adult-to-child ratio?

We follow the NAEYC guidelines for the maximum number of students per class and the adult-to-child ratios.

Finches (2s) – up to 12 children per day with 3 participating adults and 1 teacher

Chickadees (3s) – maximum 18 children per day with 3 participating adults and 1 teacher

Robins (4s) – maximum 19 children per day with 3 participating adults and 1 teacher

Kinderbirds (5s) – maximum 18 children per day with 1-2 participating adults and 1 teacher

What is the structure of each day?

Click to read about “A Day in the Life of…” each of our age groups: Finches (2s), Chickadees (3s), Robins (4s), Kinderbirds (5s). While we highly value free play, we also understand the benefits of a predictable routine that allows our children to know what is coming next and what is expected of them. Structured times such as morning meetings are planned to be the appropriate length for the developmental stage of each class, and it is amazing to see the progression of how the children are able to engage from when they join our nest as Finches to when they are preparing to fly away as Kinderbirds!

What if my child is having trouble separating from me at drop-off?

We want to support your family through this transition to greater independence, so you will never be told you have to leave if you would like to stay with your child on a day you are not scheduled to co-op. Conversely, if you would like help separating, your child’s teacher or another co-oping parent is always happy to help your child say goodbye and support them as you leave.

Will my child play outside every day?

Yes! Outdoor play is a hallmark of the co-op philosophy, and at MHCNS&K, we are very proud of our half-acre, shaded playground that is a certified Nature Explore Classroom. This means that anything that we do inside our classrooms can also be (and often is!) done in our outdoor space. Daily playground time occurs unless the temperature or wind chill drops below 0 degrees. Additionally, our Kinderbirds spend a full afternoon each week in our Forest Classroom adjacent to the playground and a full day each month learning and exploring outside at Holliday Park. Our 2s, 3s, and 4s classes end their days on the playground, making for an easier pick up, and our families often stay to play and socialize long after the school day has ended.

Does my child need to be potty trained to attend MHCNS&K?

No. Our teachers are happy to work with you according to how you are approaching potty training at home.

Are children with special needs welcome at MHCNS&K?

Yes! Please begin with an e-mail to info.mhcns@gmail.com so we can connect you with the appropriate classroom teacher to discuss how we can best meet your child’s needs.

What methods are used to prepare my child for elementary school?

Our classes are play-based, and we believe this type of programming provides access to the skills that are developmentally appropriate for this age group. You’ll notice that the learning in each class builds upon the skills learned the previous year; for example, in our 3s class we talk about “a big curve” for a circle and use the same language for letter/number formation in our 4s class, as used in the Handwriting without Tears curriculum. Our Kinderbirds class adheres to the state kindergarten standards, and families who have graduated from our programs talk not only about their children being on track academically but also being ahead of their peers in important skills like empathy and conflict management.

What if my child just misses the September 1 cut-off?

We adhere to the standard set forth by the Indiana Council of Preschool Cooperatives which states that efforts must be made to fill classes with age appropriate students. If a class is not full and has no waiting list by July 1 prior to the start of the school year, you may contact info.mhcns@gmail.com to discuss whether your child might qualify for an age variance.

We are not quite ready for preschool. When should I fill out an application for a future school year?

Right away! Our classes tend to fill very quickly. We recommend that you submit an application and non-refundable $25 application fee as early as possible. This is a one-time fee, and your application will remain on file until your child has aged out of our program. You can always wait to enroll for a future school year, and just let us know if you would like to continue to be contacted by our Membership team each year before enrollment begins.