In the spring of 1983, five families founded the Bigelow Play Group. In the early days, parents alternated in taking care of each other's children in a house on Bigelow Street. They established a working cooperative, in which each family worked with the children a few hours per week. They made decisions collaboratively, and the administrative as well as housekeeping tasks were equitably shared. Parents met on a monthly basis to discuss issues. These meetings were consensus-based, and filled with discussions about, e.g., how children learn, how to get them to take naps, how to assess the performance of assistant teachers, and how to set policy.
Bigelow's first year was September 1983 through August 1984. The children from this first class formed a very close-knit, interactive group that surprised parents who had read about how young toddlers can only "parallel play." In 1984-85, with the arrival of one more girl and the birth of two younger siblings, families expressed the wish to provide the same Bigelow experience to those children as well. To meet this need, the parent group spent months working on the administrative tasks of forming a licensed childcare program. The families drafted by-laws, budgets, and administrative procedures, acquired necessary materials and equipment, and recruited new families as well as teachers.
Bigelow incorporated in the summer of 1985 and moved to 0 Garden Street, Cambridge. Parent committees were formed to perform additional administrative activities. On August 24, 2012, our school moved to our new state-of-the-art education and care facility at 44 Park Street in Somerville. The administrative structure and institutional culture remains intact today, with the natural adaptations that come with time and a larger community. Bigelow has grown and is licensed to accommodate 49 children at a time.