Call us: (319) 665-9625

Parent Handbook

Parent Handbook

Our Parent Handbook contains practical information on a variety of issues, including school policies, objectives, events, health and safety, and more. Everything you need to know as a parent of one of our students should be included here, but if you have another question or if you’d like to speak with us about a particular issue, feel free to call or email us. You can use the list below to link to more extended information on each section.

Montessori Philosophy

The Montessori Method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy's first female physician. She opened her first school (Casa dei Bambini) in 1907. Today, Montessori schools flourish all over the world. Fundamental to all of Dr. Montessori's ideas is a deep respect for a child's ability to learn. She recognized that children go through certain phases during which they learn more easily than they can at any other time in their lives. This innate potential to learn is dependent upon a loving environment that encourages the active pursuit of knowledge.

Dr. Montessori's developmentally appropriate approach to learning is designed to fit each child instead of making each child fit into a preset program. She believed that learning should take place in multi-aged classrooms where children who are at various stages of development can learn from and with each other. This learning should take place in a noncompetitive atmosphere in order for each child to develop at his/her own speed.

Dr. Montessori observed that the best way for young children to learn is by active, hands-on experiences. She developed the idea of the prepared environment, where the classroom contains a wide variety of cognitive materials that foster learning in numerous areas. The purpose of the materials is not just to impart knowledge to children, but also to provide them with stimuli that capture their attention and initiate a process of concentration.

Purpose and Objectives

The school's mission statement is as follows: The Montessori Children's Garden follows the Montessori educational principles of providing child-directed, individualized, hands-on learning within a prepared environment. The school seeks to educate the social, intellectual, and emotional needs of each child and furthermore, to generate a sense of community among children, teachers, and families. The objectives of the school are:
  • To provide a prepared environment in which the stated purpose can be achieved, in keeping with Montessori principles and state regulations
  • To provide an instructional program that follows the curriculum based on the use of Montessori concepts and materials
  • To provide preschool and kindergarten for children ages 3-6
  • To provide support and education for the whole family 

An Introduction to the Preschool (3-6) Classroom

The Montessori classroom is a beautifully prepared and enriched environment with child-sized furnishings and materials placed within reach of even the smallest student. The diversity of ages among the students necessitates a broad range of activities and allows each child, regardless of age, the opportunity to find work suitable for his or her stage of development. All children are allowed to develop at their own pace and are encouraged to find work and activities matched to their own capacities in a non-competitive and supportive atmosphere. The work in the classrooms falls into five main categories:

1. Practical Life: Of prime importance, this area includes activities such as sweeping, scrubbing, polishing, and other everyday tasks the child has observed in his or her own home environment. These activities allow the child to order his or her physical environment to perfection, and in turn, to order his or her own mind. These activities are also familiar and serve as a link between home and school.

2. Sensorial: Special materials in this area are designed to help the child isolate and classify the perceptions of sound, texture, color, shape and size.

3. Language: Montessori observed that young children go through a "Sensitive Period" during which they can learn names with interest and relative ease. Thus, basic nomenclature from geography, history, botany, biology, geometry and cultural studies is presented and grammatical concepts are gradually introduced. Over the 3-year program, the child builds from reading words to reading sentences.

4. Music: Individual, small group, and whole class art and music activities are integrated into the daily schedule, providing the foundation for full creative development.

5. Mathematics: Young children, in their need for order, seek out mathematical concepts as a means of development. Montessori math materials present abstract math operations in a concrete manner, a presentation that children this age can understand. The materials also provide the children with a sensorial base for future abstractions.

School Organization/ Parent Role

The Montessori Children's Garden is a for-profit corporation with the shareholders being the directors of the board. The strongest foundation that can be provided for the education of the children is the support and concern of parents. The parent advisory board consists of volunteers with the list of activities to be determined at a later date.

The Montessori Children’s Garden Tuition Schedule 2016-2017

Mornings 8:30-11:30_______$450 month  
Afternoon 12:30-3:30_______$450 month  
Full Day 8:30-3:30________$650 month  

Optional Services  
Early Drop-off 7:30-8:30 _______$90 month 
Lunch/Recess 11:30-12:30______$90 month
Lunch/Five-year-old time 11:30-1:30_______$180 month Extended Day 3:30-4:30_______$90 month 
Late Day 3:30-5:30_______$90 month 
Registration fee: $75

Tuition is due on the first of each month

Fees and Payment Policy

The salaries, supplies and administrative expenses of the Montessori Children's Garden are supported entirely by fees. The $75 one-time registration fee covers the cost of administering the paperwork. Tuition payments are due the first day of each month, irrespective of the actual number of days and hours the child attends. The child will not be allowed to attend if the required enrollment forms are not all complete and returned to the school by the day the child is scheduled to start school. The parent/guardian/custodian will be responsible for payment of monthly fees starting from that date in order to reserve the enrollment spot until such time as the completed forms are returned. A child may be discharged for non-payment of fees.

Non-discrimination Policy

The Montessori Children's Garden encourages children of all backgrounds to attend. The school does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, creed, national origin, or ethnic background.


To attend the Montessori Children's Garden, a child must be three years old by September 15th of the school year she/he will attend. Children must be fully toilet-trained. The school does not meet the facility standards required by the Department of Human Services for diapering and changing children.


Full and part-time openings are determined by a student/teacher ratio of 8:1 and the number of students permitted by the school's operating license. 

Enrollment is determined by the following priorities:
  • Students currently enrolled have first priority for successive enrollment.
  • Siblings of students have second priority for enrollment.
  • Children registered for enrollment have third priority and will be admitted on a first-come basis according to the date of completed registration. 
When full or part-time openings occur during the school year, enrollment for those positions is determined by the following priorities:
  • Students currently enrolled in the school who wish to change their attendance hours have first priority.
  • Children registered for enrollment but were denied admittance and placed on a waiting list have second priority for enrollment. 

Enrollment Forms

Below are forms and documents that are needed when registering or enrolling your child.
  • Registration Form 2017-2018
  • Enrollment Form
  • Automatic Tuition Payment Authorization Form
Parents must have all enrollment forms completed before the child will be allowed to begin school. Parents will be asked to complete the following: 
  • Enrollment Form
  • Parent Emergency Medical Consent
  • Release Form: Picture, Travel, and Directory
  • Physical Assessment and Health
  • Record of Immunizations
  • Enrollment Contract
  • Authorization for Direct Debit
It is the parents' responsibility to keep current names, relationships and phone number of persons authorized to pick a child up from the center. Parents should notify the school if there is a court order that prohibits a person from contact with the child. 

Withdrawal from the Program

Parents wishing to withdraw their child must provide a statement in writing at least 30 days prior to the discontinuation of enrollment.

Hours of Operation

7:30-8:30 Early Drop-Off
8:30-11:30 Montessori Morning program 
11:30-12:30 Lunch/Recess 
12:30-3:30 Afternoon program
8:30-3:30 Montessori Full Day
3:30-4:30 Extended Day
3:30-5:30 Late Day

Parents' Rights and Responsibilities

Parents have the right:
To know that their child is cared for in a safe, supportive environment
  • To confer with the Teacher(s), Directors concerns related to the child or the program
  • To be told about serious misbehavior on the part of their child, and to visit with the teacher(s) and directors in order to bring about improvement in the situation
  • To be regularly informed by the directors about school activities
  • To have access to their child at any time 
Parents have the responsibility:
  • To pay fees on time
  • To keep the child's records up-to-date as explained in the Enrollment Forms
  • To drop-off and pick-up their child on time as explained in Arrival and Dismissal Section
  • To follow health policy as explained in the Health and Safety section
  • To let the Directors know if their child will not be attending on a regularly scheduled day
  • To take note of any communications from the Teacher(s) and Directors regarding their child's behavior and to cooperate in any efforts to bring about improvement in the situation
  • To try to attend parent education meetings scheduled by the school as much as possible

Children's Rights and Responsibilities

Children have the right:
  • To have a safe, supportive, and consistent environment 
  • To use all the program equipment, materials, and facilities on an equal basis 
  • To receive respectful treatment 
  • To receive discipline that is fair and non-punitive 
  • To receive nurturing care from staff members who are actively involved with them 
Children have the responsibility:
  • To be accountable for their actions 
  • To respect the school rules that guide them while at school 
  • To remain with the group and staff at all times 
  • To care for materials and equipment properly 


Each day, a balanced lunch that meets the child nutrition standards and minimum licensing standards is prepared for children who stay over the noon hour. Adjustments for allergies, medical, or religious requirements will be met. Parents are always welcome to visit and eat lunch with their child. Menus are planned monthly and will be posted on the main bulletin board.


Every child is responsible for providing snack for his/her class at the most 2 times each semester during the school year. We ask that you bring the snack on the Friday before their snack week. Due to allergy issues, please do not send any products containing peanuts, tree nuts, or those that may contain traces of nuts from processing equipment. There are 20 children in each class. The children may bring a show-and-tell item from home on their snack week. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

1. Please send each of the following items:
  • 2 pkgs. 5-oz cups 
  • 2 pkgs. small paper plates 
  • Gallon of filtered water
  • 1 box Ziploc bags for leftovers, 1-qt or 1-gal
2. Please choose 3 from the following list:
  • Bag of oranges, apples, raisins, or bananas 
  • Fresh pineapple, peaches, pears, or strawberries 
  • 100% fruit spread (with bread option)
  • Carrots, celery, or cucumbers
  • Small tomatoes or cucumbers 
  • Vegetable dip (with veggies)
  • Tub of yogurt 
  • Cream cheese 
  • Chunk, sliced, or string cheese/packaged
  • Thin-sliced chicken or turkey/packaged
  • Salsa
 3. Please choose 4 from the following list 
  • Whole-grain crackers or chips 
  • Whole-grain bread or bagels 
  • Whole-grain granola bars 
*no peanuts or tree nuts please 

School Bags

Every child needs to have a designated school bag. This is a convenient container for notes from home, show-and-tell items, change of clothes, etc. We encourage independence so we request that you choose bags with no zippers and of a smaller size to accommodate this independence. Children will bring their work home in their bags and they should bring them along to school every day.

Child's Personal Property

Although the school attempts to help children stay organized, the school cannot be responsible for lost personal property. Items lost at school will be collected and stored in a lost-and-found box. Children should not bring money, toys, food, or other items that are not for school activities to school without checking with the teacher first. If a child takes any school equipment home, it should be returned.

School Attire

Children should wear washable clothes that are comfortable to play in. The staff recommends that an extra set of clothing be kept at school in case clothes become wet or muddy. All clothing items should be marked with the child's name.

Outdoor activities are planned if the weather permits. Outdoor play will not be allowed in rain or when temperatures (including wind chill) falls below thirteen degrees. Every child should be properly dressed for the weather. In the winter, this includes snow pants, a hat that covers the ears, mittens, boots, and shoes or rubber-soled slippers for classroom use. Staff/child ratios do not permit the school to keep one or two children inside during recess.

Rest Time

Each day after lunch, the full-day children have a rest period. During this time they sleep or relax quietly on their cots. State law requires that there is both a cover the cot and a cover for the child. Sleeping bags meet this requirement. Each child may bring one small soft toy to school for the naptime. Napping materials should be sent in a bag and clearly labeled.

Celebrations, Birthdays, and Holidays

Planned special occasions can include: Halloween, Thanksgiving, December Holidays, President's Day, May Day, Chinese New Year, and students' birthdays. The school is sensitive to the multicultural nature of our community and therefore includes cultural diversity in celebrations whenever possible. Parents are encouraged to share their ethnic traditions with the children at school.

Parent Orientation/ Education/Conferences

Before our school’s fall term begins, there will be an open house with orientation meeting for new parents. During the year, one parent-teacher conference will be scheduled per semester. Tomorrow's Child, a Montessori magazine for parents, will be distributed to all of the families throughout the school year.

Visitors and Observations

Parents and community members are welcome to observe at the school. A scheduled visit would be appreciated, but Iowa state law states that parents have unlimited and immediate access to their children. For liability and supervisory reasons, it is not possible for children who visit the program to take part in activities. Observation guidelines are available from the teachers.

Channels of Communication

Throughout the year, if a parent has any questions about their child's progress, they can contact the teacher by leaving a phone message at the school or by speaking to the teacher directly. Written messages from school will be sent periodically to keep parents informed of school happenings. A notice board will list important upcoming events to assist parents in keeping current with activities.

Health and Safety Policy

If a child has a known medical condition (asthma, diabetes, seizure disorder, etc.), parents should inform the Director of the steps to be taken if a problem occurs during school hours. Please make sure that medication is available and that the "Medical Authorization Form" for its use has been completed. If a child has any one of the following conditions, the parent will be notified to pick up the child immediately:
  • Contagious disease 
  • Fever over 100 degrees 
  • Vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Accident requiring medical attention 
  • A rash, until diagnosed and determined to be non-contagious 
  • Draining sores or burns 
In case of accident or illness, parents of the child will be called immediately. Teachers will administer minor first aid, i.e. cleansing and bandages. The child will be moved to a quiet spot in the office area until the parent/guardian arrives. If your child is sent home from school due to an illness, he/she may not return to school the following day.

Accident reports will be sent home in duplicate explaining what happened and what treatment was administered. Parents should sign one copy and return it to the school while keeping the second for their records. In serious cases, the child will be taken to one of the local hospitals by emergency vehicle for treatment and the parents will be called as soon as possible. If the child's parents cannot be reached, the individuals designated by the parents as emergency contacts will be called. When necessary, announcement of an outbreak of a communicable disease or head lice will be posted.

Biting Policy

When a biting incident occurs, the child who was bitten should be immediately cared for and shown concern and safety. The child with the challenging behavior should be taught in a caring and firm way that the behavior is not acceptable and informed about alternative behaviors. Teachers will provide confidential reports to parents of involved children.

Dental Emergency Procedures

The school will follow the guideline as outlined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Distribution of Medications

If a child is to be given any medication (including over-the-counter medicine), the parents must complete a "Medication Authorization Form". This procedure must be followed every day that the child is to receive medication. Teachers are not permitted by law to administer any medication unless this form is completed. 

Parents should hand the medication directly to a staff person. Parents should ask the teacher for a medication form, fill it out, give the form and the medication to the teacher, and indicate if the medication needs to be refrigerated. Medication should be in its original or duplicate container, or a container accompanied by the doctor's directions. 

If medication is to be kept at the school for treatment of a chronic condition, no more than a one-month supply should remain at the school at any time. Medicine brought to the school must be kept in a locked container in the main office. Staff members must complete their portion of the form, and initialize it where necessary. One staff person will be authorized to dispense medication.

Sunscreens must be stored separately from oral medicine and any food or food service items. Any unused medicine must be disposed of properly or returned directly to the parents. Children may never bring in the medication themselves.

Parent Emergency Medical Consent

The school requires that forms be kept current. Parents must provide new information to the school regarding changes in information, such as emergency contacts' names, new employers, new phone numbers, changes in arrival or departure procedures, etc.

Staff Training

Staff will receive training regarding emergency procedures upon their employment at the school. A copy of the school's policy will be given to all new employees. Staff is required to update their Universal Precautions training every year. The main thing for staff to remember is to remain calm in any emergency situation. If staff members remain calm, then the children will likely do the same.

Smoke-Free Environment

Smoking and the use of tobacco products shall be prohibited in or around the center.

Hand Washing Procedure

Hand washing is probably the most critical element in reducing the spread of germs. Hands should always be washed upon arrival at the school, whenever contact is made with bodily discharges, immediately before and after eating, after using the restroom, and upon leaving the school. A full list of times when hands should be washed is included in the school's Infectious Disease Control and Universal Precautions Policy.

Universal Precautions/Exposures to Blood or Other Body Fluids

Gloves shall be worn by Staff when diapering or when contact with blood or other body fluids is possible and when cleaning contaminated surfaces. Spills of urine, feces, vomit or blood shall be cleaned from the surfaces first with soap and water and then surfaces shall be disinfected with a solution of household bleach and water. Any blood-contaminated material shall be disposed of in a double layer plastic bag with a secure tie.

Tornado Plan

Tornado escape plans will be posted at each exit door. Class attendance record, emergency information book, cell phone, and first aid kit will be taken to the interior hallway between the kitchen and the office. All children will be accounted for using the class attendance record. Our emergency cell phone will be used in the notification of parents and emergency vehicle's. Children will get down on the floor and cover their heads. Tornado drills will be practiced and recorded monthly. One teacher will blow a whistle and record the time. Another teacher will lead the children to the hallway with the class attendance, emergency records, and first aid kit. Another teacher will be responsible to get the cell phone and help any immobile child.

Emergency Plan for Intruder

If an intruder attempts to enter the school, they will be asked to leave. Teachers will lock the doors to the classrooms and will get the children to a safe place. Authorities will be immediately notified. The on-site supervisor or directors will call the authorities. Parents will be notified as soon as possible.

If a person attempts to pick up a child while intoxicated, staff should not attempt to physically restrain the individual. Staff cannot refuse access to a legal parent or guardian, but every attempt will be made to discourage the person from leaving with the child. Proper authorities will be immediately notified if the child is taken. Description of the vehicle, license number, and description of the state of the individual will be reported.

Emergency Plan for Abducted or Lost Child

If a child is abducted or missing, the center will notify the parents and authorities immediately. Description of the person and the vehicle will be reported to the police.

Blizzard Plan

In the case of a school closing due to a blizzard, parents are asked to pick up their child as soon as possible. Parents may also be notified by phone. Children will remain at the center if their parents are unable to reach the school.

Power Failure Plan

In the case of a power failure, children will remain at the center until parents are notified. If evacuation is necessary, the children will be escorted to the North Liberty Recreation Center. Parents will be instructed to pick up their child at the recreation center. Emergency information, child attendance records, and cell phone will be taken.

Bomb Threat Plan

In the case of a bomb threat, children will be escorted to the North Liberty Recreation Center. Parents will be notified as to where to pick up their child. Proper authorities will be notified. Emergency information, child attendance records, and the emergency cell phone will be taken.

First Aid Kits

A first aid kit will be maintained and kept in a location not accessible to the children within the program space. A first aid kit will be maintained and kept on the playground and be taken on field trips.

Chemical Spill Policy

In the case of a chemical spill, children will be escorted to the North Liberty Recreation Center. Parents will be notified where to pick up their child, as well as a note placed on the door of the school. Emergency information, child attendance records, a first aid kit, and cell phone will be taken.

Fire Plan

Fire escape plans will be posted at each exit door. Class attendance record, emergency information book, cell phone and first aid kit will be taken outside to the fenced playground. All children will be accounted for using the class attendance record. Cell phone will be used in the notification of parents and emergency vehicles. Children will be taken to the fenced playground until parents can pick them up. Fire drills will be practiced and recorded monthly. One teacher will activate the fire alarm and record the amount of time to evacuate. Another teacher will lead the children to the playground with the class attendance record and emergency records.

Handicap Accessibility

The school is handicap accessible and has a handicap accessible bathroom. Any additional accommodations will be handled on an individual basis.

Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

Under Chapter 232 of the Iowa Code, all employees are required by law to report cases of child abuse. Employees are required to make an oral and a written report. See the Director(s) for more information regarding the procedure and the information required to be included in such a report. According to the Code, any Mandatory Reporter who makes a report of child abuse or participates in an investigation of child abuse in good faith has immunity from any criminal or civil liability.

Staff Development

The following policies have been established by DHS:
  • All staff will obtain and maintain current First Aid certification, mandatory reporting, Universal Precautions and Infectious Disease Control training, and a CPR certificate (Adult, Child, and Infant), as required by current law. 
  • All teachers will meet the minimum professional development training requirements for DHS requirements: 
    • First year of employment for employees working 20 hours per week or more: 10 hours of training, 4 of which must be in a sponsored group setting
    • Succeeding years of employment for staff working 20 hours per week or more:  6 hours, at least 2 of which must be in a sponsored group setting
    • First year of employment for employees working less than 20 hours per week: 5 hours, 2 of which must be in a sponsored group settings
    • Succeeding years of employment for staff working less than 20 hours per week: 4 hours, 2 of which must be in a sponsored group setting 
  • All staff is required to meet the following requirements: CPR, First Aid, Universal Precautions, and Mandatory Reporters Training. 
  • All staff will go through initial orientation to the School's policies and licensing requirements. Included in this training will be instruction regarding the School's emergency procedures policies and policies on universal precautions and infectious disease control. Beyond the initial orientation, staff will undergo ongoing training on these policies at least once a year as per DHS requirements. 

Arrival and Dismissals

Children should arrive no more than five minutes before class and be picked up within five minutes after class ends. Time before and after class is valuable teacher preparation time. If the parents are late or early, they will be asked to pay $10.00 for each ten-minute overtime period. Fees are paid directly to the teacher to compensate for overtime. Late arrivals are disruptive to both the class and the child.

It is the parents' responsibility to escort the child to and from the classroom. Technically, guardianship of the child is transferred to the school once the parent makes known the child's presence to the teacher and is returned to the parent at dismissal once eye contact is made between teacher and parent. The school is not officially responsible until parent-teacher contact is made. A child may be checked upon arrival for any communicable diseases, e.g. conjunctivitis or fever.

Late Policy

We will follow a three-step policy for chronic late pickup:
Step 1. Written note with amount due of $10 per 10 minutes to be given to the teacher on staff
Step 2. Verbal warning
Step 3. Options of late day, extended day, lunch/recess, or early morning will not be available to your child


If your child will not be attending the school because of a scheduled appointment, vacation, or other planned absence, please notify the Directors in advance. If your child is sent home from school, he/she may not return the following day. One of the following conditions is sufficient cause for the child to be kept at home:
  • A contagious disease, not including a cold 
  • A fever of 100 degrees or higher within the past 24 hours 
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting within the past 24 hours 
  • Rash, until cause is diagnosed and determined non-contagious 
  • Draining sores or burn 

Scheduled and Unscheduled School Closings

Scheduled No-School Days:

The Montessori Children's Garden will be closed on scheduled no-school days, such as conference days. The school generally follows the same schedule as that for the Iowa City Public Schools. Refer to the school calendar.

There will be no school on days when the Iowa City Public Schools are canceled due to bad weather. The school will be delayed on days when the Iowa City Public Schools are delayed due to bad weather. School will begin at the same hour set by the Iowa City Public Schools. If school will be delayed after the starting time of 8:30, for example, if school is delayed two hours, school will begin at 10:30. Montessori Children's Garden will NOT be canceled due to extreme cold or heat.

Unscheduled Early Dismissal Days

The school will close at the same time as the Iowa City Public Schools when there is early dismissal due to bad weather.

School closings and delays will coincide with those of the Iowa City Public Schools. If a child has already arrived at school on these days, parents are expected to pick him/her up as soon as possible. However, in case of the ICCSD closing schools due to high temperatures, the school will remain open because the facility is air-conditioned. To determine if the Iowa City Public Schools are closed or delayed, listen to the radio stations or call them for direct inquiries. There will not be a separate announcement for the Montessori Children's Garden.


Families are encouraged to provide their own insurance coverage.

Discipline and Discharge Policy

The Montessori Children's Garden has a positive approach using redirection, communication, and conflict resolution. The peace rose ceremony is demonstrated and facilitated for the children at the beginning of the school year to empower them to develop skills to resolve their own differences. Children are entitled to a pleasant and harmonious environment at the Montessori Children's Garden. The school cannot serve children who display chronically disruptive behavior.

Chronically disruptive behavior is defined as verbal or physical activity which may include but is not limited to behavior that:
  • Requires constant attention from the staff 
  • Inflicts physical or emotional harm on other children 
  • Ignores or disobeys the rules which guide behavior during the school day 

Field Trips

Field trips are scheduled occasionally during the school year. Each trip is planned with small children in mind and every precaution is made to ensure each child's safety. Whenever a field trip is planned, parents are notified and often requested to assist in transporting and chaperoning the children. A criminal record check, signed statement of any convictions, and proof of valid drivers license and insurance is required by the state for chaperones who agree to drive. There will be one more adult per ratio than is required by Department of Human Services to accompany the group. If a parent chooses not to have their child participate, special arrangements will have to be made for the child to remain at the school with a staff person. Enrollment papers include a waiver for field trips. There will not be any field trips taken that would need a vehicle to transport the children.

Non-Center Activity Policy

Parents will be notified if there will be routine non-center activities such as example library or recreation center activities. These will be handled similarly to field trips.

Center Pets

The Montessori Children's Garden has pets in each classroom. These pets can include hamsters, fish, or gerbils. We also have our center dog, which generally stays in the office and occasionally comes to the classroom for a "show". There is a file maintained with up-to-date vaccinations in the office. 
Question about our policies? Contact us today! (319) 665-9625
Share by: