SPRING STREET PRESCHOOL PARENT HANDBOOK 2016-2017
64 Spring Street, Amherst, MA 01002
Welcome to Spring Street Preschool
Now that you have chosen Spring Street Preschool for your child, we welcome you and your family! This parent handbook will serve to communicate our policies and goals for the coming year.
It is important to us that we continue to build collaborative, supportive relationships with families. Please feel free to speak with the Director or Teachers for further clarification on the policies and additional information in this handbook.
Table of Contents
- Spring Street Preschool At A Glance
- Child Guidance and Discipline Policy
- Referral Services
- Parent Teacher Communication
- Grievance Procedure
- Admission / Enrollment
- Tuition/Billing and Scheduling
- Arrival and Departure
- Inclement Weather and School Closings
- Lunch and Snack
- Rest Time
- Toys from Home
- Health Care Policy
- Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical Procedures
- Emergency Evacuation Plan
- How to Contact DEEC
Spring Street Preschool has been in existence for over 50 years. First established as the First Congregational Preschool and expanding over the years to serve children from all religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, Spring Street Preschool has a long history of providing the highest quality educational experience for young children.
Spring Street Preschool now exists as an independent non-profit organization. Children of all cultural and religious backgrounds attend our school. We occupy the education wing of the First Congregational Church in downtown Amherst.
Spring Street Preschool is run by a Board of Directors, consisting mainly of parents of the preschool children. The Board is currently responsible for setting policy such as hours, tuition rates, budget and future directions of the school. The board also oversees committees: fund raising, social committee, outreach, community relations, etc. Board and committee membership are essential for the running of the preschool and parents are strongly encouraged to participate.
Parents are invited to visit the Preschool unannounced at any time while your child is present. Spring Street Preschool does not discriminate in providing services to children and their families on the basis of race, religion, cultural heritage, political beliefs, national origin, marital status or sexual orientation.
Spring Street Preschool is a school year program, beginning in September and ending mid June. In general we follow the Amherst School System calendar for holidays and school vacations.
1. At A Glance
Spring Street Preschool does not discriminate in providing services to children and their families on the basis of race, religion, cultural heritage, political beliefs, national origin, marital status or sexual orientation. Children are not required to be toilet trained to attend.
MA Dept. of Early Education and Care
Parents may obtain information regarding the regulatory compliance of SSPS by contacting the Department of Early Education and Care regional office at 95 Liberty Street, Springfield, MA 01003 at: (413) 788-8401
2 yrs. 9 months – 5 yrs.
8:00 – 5:30pm Monday – Friday
Morning Program: 8:00(early arrival) or 8:30 – 12:45
Full Day Program: 8:00 or 8:30 – 4:00 or 5:30
Plan for volunteers – All volunteers will have an orientation session prior to beginning in the classrooms. All volunteers will undergo a Background Record Check. We host local college students who are interested in working with young children as volunteers in our classroom. Prior to starting to work as assistant teachers they are trained under the “America Reads” grant for work study students. They assist in our literacy program for children. All students and volunteers are under supervision at all times by a trained EEC certified teacher. Their days and hours in the program are kept track of by the director.
In general we follow the Amherst Public School Calendar. We open for a full schedule during the week after Labor Day. Please see “calendar” section of our website for exact dates.
It is the goal of our preschool to provide high quality care and education in a safe, nurturing environment to the children and families we serve. Our teachers are highly qualified and certified by the Massachusetts Dept. of Early Education and Care. We offer a curriculum that engages children actively in the learning process and provides a variety of strength based learning experiences. Children focus on art explorations, science, math and literacy development through their work on literacy journals, ongoing explorations and project work that is planned from the ongoing interests and questions of children. In addition we work on community building through friendship development, social skill development and cooperative group learning.
Our aim of education in the preschool is the development of all aspects of the child: intellectual, social, emotional and creative within the context of a caring multicultural community.
4. Child Guidance and Discipline Policy
At Spring Street Preschool we have basic rules for the health and safety of the children. We arrange the environment and offer a wide variety of age appropriate activities based on the interests of the children. We tailor our expectations to fit the developmental levels of the children to minimize frustrations and inappropriate behavior. We use positive approaches to discipline and discuss strategies to use with challenging behavior.
Teachers do intervene; we do not use corporal punishment, or spanking. A child is never subjected to cruel or severe punishment, humiliation, or verbal abuse. A child is never denied food or force feeding as a form of punishment. A child is never punished for wetting, soiling, or not using the toilet.
We encourage children to develop their own self control, autonomy, management of feelings, problem solving, and to work towards cooperative social behavior. The underlying goal of all discipline is to help children develop inner self controls and to replace adult-maintained external controls. We facilitate children coming up with their own solutions when conflicts arise. We promote the development of self control and empathy within each individual child. Teachers set clear, consistent limits and strive to develop close, nurturing relationships with all children. We avoid the use of “No” and “Don’t” unless a child is in danger, and even then follow it with a reason such as “that isn’t safe” or “ I can’t let you hit Owen with the block because it hurts her”. Teachers avoid ultimatums that force power struggles.
We work together with parents and other staff members for a consistent approach to a child’s behavior. Parents are encouraged to discuss any questions regarding classroom and behavior management with the teachers or Director. Teachers and Director will make whatever adjustments to schedule or activities where possible. We offer choices, try to redirect activity or point out natural or logical consequences of various behaviors.
We try to separate the “deed” from the “doer” trying to relay the message that a child is accepted but the behavior is problematic. Positive behaviors are strongly encourage and noticed. We point out when children share and offer other act of friendship together.
If the child’s teachers feel that the child would benefit from additional services, they will notify the parents and make recommendations.
Parents will be notified of the situation and of all ongoing developments by either the teacher or the Director. A parent conference will be scheduled as soon as possible to discuss the concerns. Parents will be given, in writing, the reason for recommending additional services, a brief summary of the preschool’s observations related to the referral and any efforts the preschool has made to accommodate the children’s needs. The director or teacher will also provide the parents with specific referrals for evaluations, diagnostic and therapeutic services. Parents will be notified of the availability of services under Chapter 766, including the parent’s right to appeal. It is the parent’s responsibility to share pertinent information with teachers, to follow through on referral recommendations and to request additional conferences with the teacher or director if they feel this is needed. We will work collaboratively with support services.
Transition of a child – Children who are transitioning to another program will be assisted by Spring Street Teachers who will work to make any transition as smooth as possible for the child. We will speak to the child positively about any transitions that need to be made. Teachers and Director will communicate with the new program, fill out forms and provide any information that will enable a smooth transition for the child and family.
5. Referral Services:
The first step in the referral process is observation and recording of the child’s behavior. If teachers have concerns about a child’s behavior the first step is documentation of concerns and the context in which they occur. The second step is a conversation with the parents. The goal is to come up with a mutually agreed upon plan to address the behavior both at home and at school. At this point further information is offered to parents: referrals to their local public schools and the town’s preschool coordinator. We would encourage an appointment with the child’s pediatrician. If there are speech and language concerns we would refer families to the UMass Communications Disorder Clinic, or the U Mass Psychological Services Center, the REACH program or other appropriate agency to address the particular concerns that teachers or parents may have.
Teachers at the Preschool will receive further training and support to address particular behavioral concerns. These trainings will support teachers in their work with children and families.
The Preschool would continue to implement behavior plans and work with other agencies to obtain appropriate services for children and support for parents.
6. Parent Teacher Communication
- Announcements of general interest during the school year are posted on the bulletin board in the front entryway. Please check the bulletin board regularly.
- Classroom Notebook is located outside of the Star Room door. Please use the notebook to leave a note for the teachers if your child will be picked up by anyone not listed on the release form signed at orientation.
- School newsletters will be sent via email. We will make copies available on the bulletin board.
- Parent – Teacher Communications: Conferences are held twice during the school year, in November and in May (optional). Yearly Progress Reports are written twice a year and shared with parents at the parent conference. A signed copy (by parents) will be kept in the child’s folder at Preschool. At the request of a parent, teachers will schedule additional conferences. Our teachers urge you to discuss any special concerns or questions that you may have about the preschool or your child. Please be sure to inform the teachers if something has happened that may affect your child during his or her school day. Events such as a relative visiting, a new baby expected, an impending move, etc, can change a child’s behavior at school. If the teachers are aware of significant events in your child’s life, they can better understand your child and the changes in his/her behavior. It is also important that you communicate to teachers any special fears your child may have, such as animals, clowns, etc, because of the variety of things that may be encountered in the classroom. If the teachers have been alerted to special fears they can avoid the encounter or prepare the child for the event.
Early Childhood Educators in the state of Massachusetts are designated as mandated reporters. MA law requires mandated reporters to immediately make an oral report to the MA Dept. of Children and Families when, in their professional capacity they have reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 is suffering from abuse or neglect.
We encourage parents to contribute to their school by assisting with special projects and sharing their time and talents. Parents are invited to share holidays and other cultural traditions with the children. If you are interested in cooking or baking, reading stories, or helping children write their stories, we encourage you to volunteer your time and energy. Any contributions of time, talent, energy, class snacks, new and used toys and equipment, are always gratefully received. Parents are always welcome in the classroom. We plan fundraising projects each year. In past years we have had product sales, silent auctions, raffles, bake sales and tag sales. The proceeds from these sales are used to buy large equipment and to provide scholarship funds for the preschool. The success of these fundraisers depends on parent participation and we invite your suggestions for future projects. If you would like to contribute additional time and energy to our fundraising efforts, volunteers are always welcome on the Fundraising Committee.
7. Grievance Procedure
Our policy at Spring Street Preschool is to maintain the best possible communications with families at all times. If at any time the lines of communication fail to meet a family’s expectations the family can bring their concern to the Board of Directors via the Parent Liaison to the Board.
Spring Street Preschool enrolls children all year on a space available basis. Children must be 2.9 (2 years 9 months) old. Groups are formed to balance gender and age. We do require children to visit prior to enrollment. The first two weeks of school are considered a trial period. If after the first two weeks of school the teachers decide that the child is not ready for our program we will refund all tuition and deposits.
Before children are admitted parents are required to fill out an Enrollment Packet containing the following forms required by the MA Dept of Early Education and Care:
- Child’s Enrollment Form
- Developmental History and Background Information
- First Aid and Emergency Medical Care Consent Form
- Transportation Plan and Authorization
- Off Site Activities Permission Form
- Health Care Provider Examination (copy of most recent physical to be updated yearly)
- Copy of child’s Immunization Record
- Copy of child’s lead test
Parents will also be asked to sign a contract for the school year and to leave a deposit equivalent to one month of tuition to secure a slot in our preschool. Deposit to be applied to June tuition. Current tuition rates can be found in the “Tuition and Billing” section on our website.
A $200 supply-fee for the year is due with the first month’s tuition.
10. Arrival and Departure
Please do not arrive earlier than the time you have contracted for. Upon arrival help your child put their belongings in their cubbies and wash their hands before entering the classrooms. Feel free to stay for a short time to help your child settle in. If your child is having a difficult time separating please speak to a teacher in order to develop a plan for how best to negotiate departure.
Children who arrive at 8:00 will enter the Rainbow room for play until 8:30. Children arriving at 8:30 will enter the Star Room and find their name card on the green rug. Children will say goodbye either at the door or may do a “window wave” from the window seat before sitting on the rug. We begin our morning circle at 8:45. Please make an effort to have children here on time. We do not like to have children waiting on the rug for too long and it is harder to enter after morning meeting has begun. A late arrival may also disrupt the flow of the routine for other children and can be a strong trigger for children who miss their parents and have already gone through the transition from family to school. Teachers will also be less able to give transition support to children entering once the daily activities have begun.
We will give extra time at the beginning of the year, particularly for new children to make transitions as smooth as possible.
In order to make sure the daily schedule works for our entire community it is important that you pick up your child in a timely manner. The pick up times are 12:45 for the Morning program and by 4:00 or 5:30 for Full Day. At the 12:45 pick up time you will find the doors closed when you enter the hallway. Please remain in the hallway until teachers open the door and dismiss children to their parents. Children have a harder time putting lunches away and following the routine if parents enter the classrooms before dismissal.
Later in the day pick up is more informal.
If your child will be picked up by anyone not listed on the release form signed at orientation (i.e., babysitter, classmate’s parent, etc) we must have a written notice to that effect. You may send or deliver a signed note, or leave the information, date, and a signature in the notebook provided in the hallway outside the Star room door. In an emergency you may call the school; otherwise we will not release your child.
11. Inclement Weather and School Closings
In general we follow the public school calendar (Amherst/Pelham school district) with regard to holidays, most vacations, and school closings in the event of inclement weather. We recommend listening for school closing announcements on the radio, local television stations or at www.arps.org.
In general f the Amherst/Pelham schools are closed, the preschool will be closed. However, if the Amherst/Pelham schools are delayed one OR two hours, the preschool will open at 9:00.
Spring Street Preschool provides daily snacks for children. We have a mid morning snack and an afternoon snack. We are a peanut free school. Children bring their own lunches from home. We are not able to provide refrigeration for lunches. We request that parents provide a healthy lunch. Please limit treats, candy etc.
Ideally children’s lunches will include only healthy choices. Sending special treats and desserts make it difficult for children to eat healthy food and puts teachers in a position of having to negotiate with children. Please save special treats for home.
Morning and afternoon snack will be provided by the Preschool . There will be a fruit or vegetable, crackers, hummus, cheese, yogurt or other healthy foods. Parents are asked to contribute toward the weekly snack. Any amount is welcome. We can always use contributions of fresh fruit or vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery). Other (peanut free) suggestions are applesauce, whole grain crackers, popcorn, pretzels.
13. Rest Time/Afternoon Program
12:45-4:00/5:30 Monday through Friday
The Department of Early Education and Care requires all programs for children open for more than 4 hours to provide a quiet nap time of at least 45 minutes. Spring Street’s extended Day begins with a story read by a teacher, followed by a quiet rest time. Individual mats, labeled with children’s names, are set up in the classroom. Children are asked to lie quietly and teachers offer back rubs and play music to help children relax. All children are given an opportunity to sleep. Parents provide a sleeping bag (recommended) or blanket and pillow. If children do not sleep after a while they may look at books or draw quietly on their rest mats. Children may bring a stuffed animal from home if they wish.
Afterwards, children are provided with a snack, art activity or continuation of morning project and outdoor playground time.
14. Toys from Home
Children are asked not to bring toys from home. The only “toys” from home that should come in are stuffed animals for rest time. Children who are at preschool for a full day may bring a special stuffed animal to rest with.
Clothing for your preschool child should be simple, comfortable, washable and easy for your child to manage. Your child should be able to fully participate in all preschool activities and not worry about keeping their clothing clean or tripping over loose clothing on the climber outside. Smocks for painting are supplied by the school, but they are not always 100% effective! We spend time outside almost every day, even in the snow (unless it is below 20 degrees including wind chill).
Please have your child wear or bring appropriate warm clothing. An extra pair of boots, snowpants, sweater or sweatshirt can be left in the child’s cubby. Snow pants (or fleece pants that can be worn over indoor pants) are important in very cold weather even if there is no snow on the ground. Remember that children sit on the ground or in the sandbox, on the tire swing or ride the bikes (cold metal seat) and it is important that they keep the trunk of their bodies warm (attention girls with dresses). Please remember that the playground outside is pea stone and children should wear closed toed shoes that they can run and climb in for outside play.
Each child is assigned a clothes hook/cubby in the hallway to store extra clothing and personal items. It is essential for the convenience of everyone that all articles of clothing be clearly marked with the child’s name or initials. This will help everyone keep track of clothing and help minimize the contents of our lost and found bin (located in the hallway).
Please bring the following items to school for your child:
- a bag containing an extra set of clothing (including pants, shirt, underwear and socks) all labeled with your child’s name to be left in their inside cubby.
- during winter months, please send shoes or sturdy slippers to be worn inside. Boots are too clumsy and wet for children to wear in school. Shoes or slippers (that the child can put on him or herself) must be worn inside for safety reasons. The school appreciates any contribution of good quality slippers to have on hand.
Staff guidelines: No child shall be punished, humiliated, or verbally abused for soiling, wetting, or not using the toilet. All children wash their hands with soap and running water after going to the bathroom and before snacks, meals, or handling food. Staff members also wash their hands with soap and running water after assisting children with toileting or toileting themselves. Individual paper towels are used to dry hands.
Clothing soiled by feces, urine, vomit, or blood is double bagged in sealed plastic bags and stored apart from other items for the parent to take home to launder.
In addition to each child’s extra change of clothing, the preschool has clothing available for changing purposes. All preschool clothing must be laundered after being worn by a child and returned to school.
Both bathrooms at the preschool are cleaned every day. They are supplied with soap dispensers, paper towels, toilet paper, a wastebasket, and a step stool. The DEEC recommended rules for washing hands are posted in each bathroom. Children are encouraged to use the bathroom facilities whenever they wish and a teacher will accompany them when they leave the classroom. The teacher will assist the child if requested, or if no assistance is required, stand in the doorway until the child is ready to return to the classroom. Please talk to the teachers about ways we can help make this process work for your child.
17. Health Care Policy
Our Health Care Policy is in compliance with the Department of Early Education and Care and Department of Public Health regulations. Each child is required to be in good health, to have an annual physical examination and to be fully immunized or have a plan for immunization or to present written documentation of a religious or medical exemption. All children between 9 months and 3 yrs. must have a lead paint test annually, which must be documented on the health form. A chicken pox vaccination or documentation of the disease is required.
If your child has a chronic illness we ask that you and your child’s doctor share as much information as possible to ensure that we can do our best to monitor your child’s health needs while in school. We encourage parents, with the written permission of their health practitioner, to train staff in the implementation of their child’s individual health care plan.
Illness in young children in preschool and child care settings is very difficult to manage. We understand that parents depend on us to provide care for their children but on the other hand we are not equipped to care for children when they are ill. The well being of the individual child is our main concern but the health of other children and the staff is also a concern. Parents may differ in their assessments of what constitutes illness, so this policy attempts to develop a consistent standard of wellness. The teachers and Director will make final decisions about whether or not a child is well enough to attend the Preschool.
Please observe your child carefully and remember that your child has the potential for infecting many other children, staff and parents. The day at preschool is demanding on children’s stamina and children who are not feeling well will have a difficult time enjoying the day. Sometimes a day at home to rest will be a great help for a child who is not quite him/herself. We ask that you notify the Preschool by 9:00am if your child will be out sick.
Children must be able to fully participate in all activities of the day including outdoor play in order to attend preschool. The teachers and Director reserve the right to send your child home if in their judgment your child is contagious to other children or too ill or uncomfortable to be at Preschool. You will be informed immediately of the decision and are expected to pick up your child or make arrangements for someone else to pick up your child. If we cannot reach you we will contact your emergency designee. Your child will be isolated from the other children and kept quiet until your arrival.
The following list details many of the signs and symptoms which indicate that your child should remain at home and for which the staff will send your child home.
1. Fever of 101 degrees or higher in the morning. A child must have a normal temp for 24 hrs. before returning to the Preschool.
2 Any contagious disease. Some of these are:
- Bronchitis or persistent cough
- Chicken pox
- Conjunctivitis “pink eye”
- Head lice
- Herpes simplex
- severe cold with fever – much sneezing and nose drainage, severe tiredness or irritability, complaints of aches or pain (earache or sore throat)
- Strep throat
Parents will be notified whenever there is an infectious disease at the Preschool. An exposure notice will be posted which details the symptoms of the disease, recommended treatment, and when a child may return to school. In some cases of more virulent diseases a memo will be sent to all parents and staff in the preschool with details about symptoms and treatment.
Please do not medicate your child with aspirin, cough syrup, etc. before sending them to school. We find that when the meds wear off in 2-3 hrs, we have an ill and unhappy child on our hands. A child who is ill enough to need these medications should probably be at home. (See the medication policy for medication)
If your daily schedule does not allow you to stay home with your sick child or to pick up your child during the day, please have alternate care people available, whom you designate as such, and who are aware that they have been designated and might be called to pick up your child.
Hand washing is the first line of defense against disease. We are vigilant with both children and adults that hands are washed before eating or cooking, after toileting, handling body secretions and after cleaning. Please remember to have your child wash hands before entering the classroom in the morning.
Director and Teachers have been trained in the safe administration of medication by the Dept. of Early Education and Care. On an annual basis, the Director will evaluate each staff member’s ability to safely and properly administer medication to young children.
Administration of Medication: If a child is no longer ill but needs medication to complete a subscribed dosage, will administer the prescription. To do so we need the following:
For non-prescription medication: A written order from the physician stating the name of the medication, the dosage to be given, as well as parental permission. Parent needs to fill out an authorization form. A physician may give a standing order for medication, valid for 1 year from the date signed. An attempt will be made to contact the parent before the medication is administered unless the need is urgent or permission has been given in the morning by the parent. Non-prescription medication includes: Tylenol, cough expectorant, nose drops, etc. We cannot administer any of these medications without a doctor’s note.
Prescription medication: The pharmacy label on the prescription, container will suffice as physician’s order and parental permission will be needed as well.
Authorization for medication form: Medication forms can be obtained from a teacher or Director. The form must show the date, name of medication, dosage, time to be administered, number of days administration is to continue and must be signed by a parent or guardian.
All medication must be given to a teacher or Director along with instructions. Never leave medication in your child’s cubby or lunch box. Please bring a measuring utensil with medication. All medication containers will be returned to the parent when no longer needed, empty and/or when the medication has expired.
19. Emergency and Non Emergency Medical Procedures
In case of minor accident or injury:
- Staff will administer first aid to the child
- the child’s parents or physician will be called, if necessary.
- If any treatment is administered, now matter how minor, an injury report will be filled out by the teacher and signed by the parent. One copy will be placed in the child’s file.
- The Director will log injury
The Department of Early Education and Care requires us to list for parents the contents of our First Aid Kit (which are located in the closet in the main office): Band-aids, adhesive tape, bandage compress, gauze pads, gauze roller bandage, thermometer, disposable gloves, instant cold-pak, scissors, tweezers, eye-cup, alcohol, CPR mouth guards. When on a walking field trip at least one teacher will carry a cell phone and that number will be posted on the classroom door.
In case of serious illness or accident:
- The staff will immediately call 911.
- Emergency First Aid will be administered by a staff member if necessary. All permanent staff are required to be first aid certified and re-certified every two years.
- The parent will be called and asked to meet the child and teachers at the hospital. If unreachable we may call the child’s physician.
- Two adults must accompany the child to the hospital
- The teachers will bring the child’s authorization and consent form to the hospital.
- The staff will continue to attempt to contact parents
- The incident will be documented in writing and placed in the child’s file.
20. Emergency/Evacuation Plan
In case of emergency we will call 911 or the Amherst Police Dept. to obtain information in the case of natural disaster or other emergency. If evacuation of the building is deemed necessary we will follow our fire drill procedures. We exit through the front door of the Preschool. One teacher will lead the children to our designated area above the parking lot on the corner of Churchill and Spring Streets.
Teacher will call 911 to notify authorities of the emergency or to obtain further information. The second teacher will carry the attendance forms on a clipboard along with parent contact information. This teacher will do a sweep of the classrooms and bathrooms before exiting out the front door. Assistant teachers will help to reassure children while insuring safety. If shelter-in-place is deemed necessary we will gather the children in the small back classroom (The Rainbow Room) away from windows. We will evacuate to the Amherst Police Station located across the street in case of other emergency. Parents will be called from the Police station or from cell phones carried by teachers.
Missing Children: In the case of missing children the procedure will be:
- Immediate thorough search of the premises including all outdoor play areas
- Notification of Police
- Notification of family / emergency contacts
In the event of a natural disaster, fire, loss of heat/hot water or other emergency situation requiring a need to evacuate the preschool, the following steps will be followed:
1. Children will be escorted out to the farthest part of the parking lot by teachers.
2. Attendance will be taken by the teacher(s) with the group of children. A teacher will be available to check the school for unaccounted children.
3. Teachers will bring attendance ledgers, emergency contact numbers, and cell phones in order to contact parents and emergency personnel.
Spring Street Preschool does not provide transportation.
22. How to contact DEEC
Spring Street Preschool is licensed in the state of Massachusetts by the Department of Early Education and Care. Parents are welcome to contact DEEC for information regarding licensing and compliance history. They can be reached at: 95 Liberty Street Suite 1124 , Springfield, MA 01103. Their phone number is: (413) 788-8401 .