For 75 years at The Oaks Parent-Child Workshop (PCW) cooperative preschool, generations of parents have been taking child-development classes and volunteering weekly.
The Oaks, which is a program of Santa Barbara City College, pairs experienced educators with parents to provide a nurturing, play-based preschool experience for children. As a parent, it is an investment of time that is well worth the effort, according to Oaks’ alums who now participate with their own children.
The Oaks is a “community for parents and a happy place for kids,” said an alum from school’s class of ’86 and parent of two Oaks’ pupils. “When my wife and I were seriously dating and talking about marriage, one of my requests, if we ever had kids, was for them to attend The Oaks.
“The Oaks felt carefree and super friendly. I have a very vivid image of using a hammer and nailing a cork and a bottle cap to a piece of wood,” he said, recalling his time as a child at the school.
As an educator, he said he appreciates the play-based nature of The Oaks: “It is increasingly rare for a pre-school like The Oaks to exist. I believe that it is so important for kids to experience play for a lot longer in life, and The Oaks provides the kind of caring environment that lets kids be kids.”
Another Oaks alum (’84) and parent of two Oaks’ students agrees: “To me, The Oaks is an ideal community for young children to grow. I have vivid memories of my time as an Oakster: working with real hammers in the carpentry area, holding newborn chicks and climbing in the long-ago retired carpet tunnel.
“Some of the details have changed, but the core of The Oaks hasn’t: the way we provide a community of safe and caring adults for our children, the emphasis on nature exploration and play and the focus on respectful communication.”
For one alum, love for The Oaks has spanned three generations. She attended The Oaks as a child (’93), as did her mother. Her son is in his first year at The Oaks now, and his baby brother will join in a couple more years.
“It has been so very special to have my son attend The Oaks. I have an abundance of happy memories from my preschool years at The Oaks,” she said. “I can remember the director embracing me and being a safe space until I was ready to explore the activities set out for the day. Now with my son, I get to see him feel the same secure transition to school each day as each parent we pass greets him by name.
“My hope is that The Oaks will be an available option for our community for many generations to come.”
To learn more about The Oaks, visit www.oakspcw.com. In honor of The Oaks’ 75th birthday, a virtual giving campaign is now underway.