Parent Handbook

PARENT
INFORMATION
HANDBOOK


PAL (Play & Learn) & Lopez Cooperative Preschool

160 Village Rd
PO Box 867
Lopez Island, WA 98261


OUR MISSION

To provide an environment, that nurtures the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of young children and their families.

OUR PHILOSOPHY

We believe:

Ø Children are naturally curious and learn through creative play
Ø Process is more important than product
Ø Children’s development is best supported by caring adults who provide a rich environment that allows children’s dynamic engagement in activities of their choice
Ø Parents are the children’s first teachers

Our program supports a child centered philosophy that accepts each child at his/her own developmental level and encourages learning through direct experience. Discovery, creativity and exploration occur in a safe, respectful and stimulating, relationship-based environment. Healthy brain development occurs when we embrace the whole child.

At the Lopez Children’s Center you will see children:

Ø Becoming confident, strong and competent
Ø Learning to resolve conflicts in peaceful, respectful ways
Ø Appreciating and respecting individual differences among people and families
Ø Learning to function comfortably as a member of a group
Ø Being creative and flexible
Ø Actively engaged in the learning process
Ø Learning to question, think, and problem solve

OUR PROGRAMS
The Lopez Children’s Center is licensed by the State of Washington, Department of Early Learning. We provide care and early learning experiences for children between the ages of 30 months and six years old. The Children’s Center is home to the PAL (Play & Learn) childcare program and the Lopez Cooperative Preschool.

PAL – provides year round, full day and half day childcare for children 30 months through six years and a before and after kindergarten program. The school district bus will pick up and drop off children at the Children’s Center. The PAL program is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30am – 5:00pm. We are closed on the following holidays; New Years Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day & the day after, and Christmas Day. We are also closed for the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. We accept children in diapers in our PAL program and work together with parents on toilet training.

COOPERATIVE PRESCHOOL – enrolls children ages 3 to 5 years, children must be 3 by September 1, to start preschool in September. In most cases we do not enroll children mid-year. Two and three day classes are offered from the mid- September to mid-June. The preschool follows the Lopez Island School District’s calendar for holidays and breaks. The Cooperative is directed by a Board of parents and community members. Parents of enrolled children are required to assist in the classroom, provide snacks, plan and assist with annual fundraising events, and attend monthly parent education meetings. The Cooperative Preschool is affiliated with Skagit Valley College, who provides us with a Parent Educator.

NON-DISCRIMINATION - Our early education programs are open to all children in our community and do not discriminate in employment practices and client services on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, religion or disability.

NO RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION - The Lopez Children’s Center has no religious affiliation. We do not celebrate religious holidays and our programs do not include religious traditions or practices. We do recognize the right of all the children and families that we serve to express their own religious beliefs. Families are encourage to share their cultural traditions within our classrooms.

OUR CURRICULUM
Ø Both our programs follow an emergent curriculum. Our teachers observe the children in their program and plan activities around their interests and needs. In our programs your will see a variety of planned, age appropriate learning activities; painting, collage, puzzles, games, block building, stories, writing, science explorations, outdoor adventures, music & dramatic play with costumes and props. Children are encouraged to choose activities that best suit their interests and developmental level. Through these activities the children have the opportunity to develop their social, emotional, cognitive and large & small motor skills.
Ø Our daily schedule includes plenty of time for free play, structured large and small group activities, circle activities, outside play, snack and transitions.
Ø A small adult-to-child ratio provides supportive attention to each child’s needs.
Ø Our curriculum and practice are guided by the recommendations of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Washington State Department of Early Learning, as outlined in the publications Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs, Third Edition and Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks.

TUITION & SCHEDULING
Ø We are a non-profit organization; tuition and fees are set to cover costs. See the tuition sheet in your registration packet for current rates and scheduling information.
    • Preschool tuition is due at the beginning of each month. You will pay nine monthly payments from September to May; June’s tuition is covered by the September payment.
    • The PAL program’s fee schedule is set to encourage monthly scheduling and payments. To receive the best rate plan ahead and schedule for the entire month. Drop-in care is offered, on a space available basis, for a higher rate. Children must be registered in advance and pay a $25 registration fee in order to use drop-in services. Please call the preceding day to arrange drop-in care.

  Ø Your prompt payment of tuition is very important to us. If you cannot pay your bill in a  timely fashion, please speak to the Director to make payment arrangements.
Ø Tuition is due for scheduled classes even if your child is unable to attend. We cannot offer rebates or “trade days” for days missed.
Ø Some financial assistance is available for families in need.
    • PRESCHOOL - The ECEAP (Early Childhood Education & Assistance Program) assists families in the preschool program. Families enrolled in the ECEAP program receive all services free of charge.
There are limited scholarships available to assist families through periods of financial difficulty. To request a scholarship, please speak to the preschool treasurer.
o PAL – The Washington State Working Connections Program, assists low-income working parents with childcare payments. The Lopez Family Resource Center can help with applying for this program.
We have limited partial scholarships for families to assist them through periods of financial difficulty. To request a scholarship please speak to the Director.
Ø If you have any questions or concerns regarding financial assistance please talk to the Director.

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Ø When you arrive please have your child wash his/her hands and walk them into the classroom. Sign in legibly with your full name on the daily attendance sheet. If you have more than one child, each child needs to be signed in on a separate line.
Ø On arrival check in with the lead teacher and let her know if you have any different arrangements for pick-up, or any special information regarding your child for that day.
Ø Be sure to leave a phone number where you can be reached that day, so we can call if there is an emergency.
Ø Before you leave with your child, sign out on the attendance sheet, check for items to take home, including clothing, shoes, artwork and personal belongings and say goodbye to the teacher.
Ø Only you or the people you have authorized in your registration packet may pick up your child. Our teachers may ask for ID from anyone they do not recognize. If you need to add someone to your authorized to pick up list let the Director know.
Ø If you are going to be late for any reason, please call and let us know. We do have a late fee policy, but prefer not to use it, unless late pick-ups become chronic.

ILLNESS & HEALTH CONCERNS
Ø Please keep your child at home if they are sick. We do our best not to spread illness through our programs & encourage regular hand washing.
Ø On arrival staff will observe the children’s general health. In accordance with our health policy, we exclude children with fever, diarrhea, vomiting, body rash, sore throat or eye discharge. A runny nose does not necessarily mean your child cannot come to school, but if they are generally feeling unwell and cannot join in with our program they do need to stay home.
Ø Plan ahead with a back-up plan for when you child is unwell and needs to stay home.
Ø If your child is ill please let us know that they will not be attending Preschool or PAL and what his/her symptoms are; we keep a log of illnesses.
Ø We do not generally give prescription medicines to children in our care. We never administer nonprescription medicines.
Ø If your child has special medical needs which would require us to administer medication, please discuss this with the Director. We do our best to accommodate all children.
Ø If you child needs diaper rash cream or you wish us to apply sunscreen, you need to supply you own products and see the Director to complete paperwork.

FIELD TRIPS
Ø The Preschool & PAL programs include educational trips around the island as part of their curriculum. Walking trips include regular visits to the library, the skate park, the community garden, the wetlands and the public access beach by the Bay Café.
Ø Parents are asked to sign the walking trip permission sheet in each classroom, as well as the general fieldtrip permission slip in the registration packet.
Ø You will be informed in advance and parent authorization will be obtained, prior to each field trip that requires vehicle transportation.
Ø Parents will be required to provide an appropriate car seat for their children in the event that the children are transported by private vehicle.
Ø Drivers of vehicles that transport children will have a Washington State driver’s license and proof of insurance.

PARENT PARTICIPATION
Ø Parents are always welcome at the Lopez Children’s Center.
Ø Parents may visit their children unannounced at any time. Parents may choose to have lunch with their child and stay for a few minutes or several hours to assist their child to transition the Preschool or PAL classroom.
Ø The Cooperative Preschool depends upon parent participation. Parents are required to assist in the classroom, provide and prepare snack, attend monthly parent meetings and run the annual holiday bazaar. This is an integral part of the program and has many benefits for the school and families. ECEAP families are encouraged but not required to participate with these activities. If as an ECEAP parent you are having difficulties with participating, please speak to the Director or a member of the preschool board; we have many ways to assist you.

CLOTHING & TOYS
Ø Please dress you child in washable play clothe, suitable for the weather; we play outside everyday, whatever the weather, and play with water, sand, paint and glue.
Ø Shoes should be appropriate for biking, running and climbing; avoid flip flops and shoes with high heels.
Ø Label outer garments, coats, sweatshirts & sweaters, with your child’s name.
Ø Bring an extra set of clothing for your child, clothes may be left in there cubby in Preschool or PAL.
Ø We have extra clothing should your child have an accident, if your child wears them home please launder and return as soon as possible.
Ø If your child wears diapers, bring enough diapers and wipes each day. You may leave a supply of diapers & wipes in your child’s cubby, please ensure that they are labeled with your child’s name.
Ø We discourage children from bringing toys from home. If they have something special that they wish to show the teachers or other children, the item should go home with you after sharing or will be stored in your child’s cubby.
Ø Lopez Children’s Center is a weapon free zone, we do not allow gun play, please do not allow your child to bring weapons to school.
Ø Candy & gum is not permitted.

FOOD & SNACKS
Ø Preschool snack is provided by the parent helper each day.
Ø During the Preschool year there is an option to purchase lunch from the Lopez School District cafeteria. Details will be posted when the program begins.
Ø PAL provides a healthy, nutritious morning and afternoon snack.
Ø If you do not purchase a hot lunch, please pack a nutritious sack lunch for your child each day.
Ø Our food policy limits candy, sugary and junk food. Please leave these foods at home.

CHILD ABUSE REPORTING
Ø As teachers in a licensed facility, we are required to report instances of suspected child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services.

OUR GUIDANCE POLICY
· We value a team approach, and rely on parents’ input and participation to help us in nurturing the unique development of each child.

What behaviors do we encourage?
In our programs, parents and teachers work together to nurture each child’s unique and healthy development.
· We encourage:
o Respect: for each other's bodies, feelings, possessions, and desires
o Kindness: helping, listening, sharing, understanding others
o Problem solving: by listening and using words, negotiation and compromise
o Cooperating: sharing, taking turns
· Learning these behaviors and practical skills is not easy, and takes loving guidance from teachers and parents, along with time, patience, and lots of practice.

How can we help encourage positive behaviors?
· We prepare a safe and engaging environment that fosters children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.
· We care for each child’s practical needs for food and rest as necessary, regardless of the formal schedule.
· We listen to parents, to learn anything about a child that might have a bearing on her well-being that day.
· We observe each child carefully, so that we can understand his unique personality and stage of development.

How do we intervene, when behavior problems arise?

Non-crisis behavior:
· We may stand near the children and observe. The mere presence of a trusted adult often resolves the situation.
· In all cases, we guide our children’s ability to communicate their feelings and thoughts. Helping children find words to express their feelings is of primary importance.
· We can also guide children to express their feelings in other creative ways: through art, music, drama, and other classroom projects.
· In supporting children as unique individuals, we help them to find many different ways to express their thoughts and emotions.

Crisis behavior:
· Certain behaviors require immediate adult intervention. These include grabbing, hitting, and other direct threats to the safety and well-being of other people in the environment.

Step 1: Intervention: We intervene, immediately and calmly, to stop the hurtful behavior, and to assure everybody’s safety. We next comfort the child who has been hurt. We then attend to resolving the situation (see step 2).
Step 2: Understanding: We work with the child to understand what occurred and to understand the natural consequences of her actions. “Look at Alice; look at her face; she looks really sad.” or “George may worry about playing with you if you hit him.”
Step 3: Problem solving: We help the child to see alternative ways of getting what she wants or needs. If a child is extremely upset, he may need to sit quietly with a loving, supportive adult in order to calm down.

· As adults, we should never assume that we know what a child is feeling. Prompting a child to say “I’m sorry,” when she is still really angry does not help to build authentic honest connections. We are guiding children in forming relationships with each other as well as understanding their own emotions. We do this by observing and listening to children empathetically, and by helping them to articulate their feelings in various ways.

Chronic disruptive behavior:
· If our normal procedures for responding to misbehavior do not bring about a positive response, and continuous aggressive or disruptive behavior occurs, the following steps will be taken:

Step 1: A conference with the parent will be scheduled to problem-solve together. Ongoing communication will be established with the parent to share progress.
Step 2: If there is no significant improvement, a referral to a professional for consultation and/or assessment of special needs may be suggested. The director and lead teacher will assist parents to find appropriate professional services.
Step 3: If, after professional consultation, the child is found to have special needs, the preschool will work with the professional, parents and child to achieve a successful preschool experience for the child.





FUNDRAISING & SUPPORTERS
Ø We are a non-profit organization. Our tuition fees cover part of our costs and we supplement our income with grants and fundraising events.
Ø In the past we have received grants from

United Way
of San Juan County, the Lopez Thrift Store, the Lopez Lions, the Lutheran Church of the San Juans, and the Community Network, through the Lopez Family Resource Center.
Ø Each year we hold several fundraising events:
    • The Preschool Holiday Bazaar
    • Great Pairings
    • The Children’s Center Auction
    • The Spring Carnival & Yard Sale
    • Fall Direct Mailing Campaign
Ø We are generously supported by the Lopez Community and beyond.
Ø We partner with the Lopez, Family Resource Center, Lopez Island School District & ECEAP to support our young children and their families.
Ø There are many ways to help:
    • Our Boards always need extra pairs of hand to make our fundraising events successful, please consider volunteering your time.
    • Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to donate to our fall direct mail campaign and attend our fundraisers.
    • Offer to volunteer in the classroom or with work parties.
    • Donate to
      United Way
      of San Juan County and specify the Lopez Children’s Center as the recipient of your donation.
    • Round up you bill when you shop at Blossom Grocery and specify that you want the donation to go to the Children’s Center.
    • When you shop on line, shop through http://www.goodshop.com/ – see the Director for more details.