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Ojai Valley Community Nursery School

1290 Grand Avenue
Ojai, CA 93024

(805) 646-3801


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A natural environment that honors a child's right to explore. We are a parent cooperative school where parents learn alongside children and offer themselves to the school community.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Montessori, Co-op

From the Director:

Since 1955, OVCNS has been the only parent-owned and operated cooperative nursery school in the Ojai Valley. Our guiding principle is that strong families and parent-child relationships grow where there is an opportunity for parents to participate in the preschool experience. Ojai Valley Community Nursery School nurtures each child towards independence, a love of learning, and respect with responsibility to others and the Earth. With these as our guiding principals, we use Montessori methods and individual development through art and imagination. Our nursery school is located near the hills on a tranquil street with lots of land, offering a large and natural playground. We have fruit trees, a child planted garden, enormous sand box (often with kid made small rivers running through it), fabric curtains blowing in the breeze of the play house and a large covered area for outdoor art and padded flooring for active play. Making this place a child's safe and creative place to dream, play and become who they truly are. Our school is truly a home away from home. A safe home, like having mom there. Children take their shoes off when they want to, lay down on the carpet while reading, serve themselves snack when they are hungry or thirsty, and get to know the parents that serve there like they are family. We are the best kept secret in the Ojai Valley enrolling mostly through word of mouth.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

More Information

  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught Parents serve monthly in the classroom - they bring a special project to do with small groups of children. This is an opportunity for children to be exposed to lots of different art and science mediums as well as different cultural & community vales. Our director is a singer/songwriter and comes to play guitar with the children often.

From the Director:

We nurture each child towards independence, a love of learning, and respect with responsibility to others and the Earth. With these as our guiding principals, we follow Montessori methods and individual development through art and imagination.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

A central component to our program is its focus on supporting children as they learn about their relationships with others. Parents and teachers work together as children build social skills, experience empathy, and learn to resolve conflicts peacefully. To help parents participate in this way of interacting effectively and respectfully with children, we provide a number of free, monthly parent education sessions, both during your child's class time and in the evenings, with parent education specialists. Here, parents are given the opportunity to learn and explore ways of parenting and communicating that promote respect for children's ideas and abilities.

A Typical Day

Daily Schedule for Preschoolers
8:30 a.m. Teachers arrive to set up classroom
8:45 a.m. Workday Working Parents arrive to set up classroom (instructions are at school on Daily Job Cards)
9:00 a.m. Children arrive: indoor activity choices in classrooms
10:20 a.m. Clean up, followed by hand washing and inside circle time
10:30 a.m. Outside for snack time
10:45 a.m. Open choice activities outdoor
11:30 a.m. Clean up
11:45 a.m. Outside circle, Group time,
12:00 p.m. Goodbye, pick-up time

Daily Schedule for Toddlers
9:00 a.m. Teachers arrive, to set up classroom
9:15 a.m. Workday Working Parents arrive to set up classroom (instructions are at school)
9:30 a.m. Children arrive - Outdoor activity choices and shared snack is available
10:25 a.m. Clean up
10:30 a.m. Inside time - open choice activities
11:10 a.m. Clean up
11:15 a.m. Goodbye circle - Group time
11:30 a.m Goodbye time

Home-School Connection

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

In a co-op environment children are offered a gentle separation process, because separation anxiety peaks with newfound independence and power. Expanding relationships and experiences are best when children are not worried about saying good-bye. Caregivers will share in their child's day, but increasingly become observers as each child grows more and more comfortable with independence.

Part of the fun of a co-op is that children have a rich and diverse array of parents assisting in the classroom. Through this involvement, the co-op becomes a supportive environment for parents to meet other parents. And these relationships often continue long after the children finish preschool. In this way, a co-op is much more than just a school, it is a community of families!