Parent Handbook

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The Montessori Children's Garden
2014-2015

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 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 rather 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 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 three to six.
  • To provide support and education for the whole family.

An Introduction to the Preschool (3-6) Classroom

The Montessori classroom is a beautifully prepared, enriched environment, with child-sized furnishings and materials 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 to find work suitable for his or her stage of development according 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. They 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 have a "Sensitive Period" during which learning names are of interest and relatively easy. Thus, basic nomenclature from geography, history, botany, biology, geometry and cultural studies is presented, and grammatical concepts gradually introduced. Over the three 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: The young child, in his or her need for order, seeks 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
                                              2014-2015
 
     Mornings           8:30-11:30_______$400 month(August pymt. $200.00)
       
      Afternoon          12:30-3:30_______$400 month(August pymt. $200.00
 
     Full Day             8:30-3:30________$600 month(August pymt. $300.00)
 
                       Optional Services
 
Early Drop-off                      7:30-8:30 _______$80 month (August pymt. $40.00)
Lunch/Recess                       11:30-12:30______$80 month(August pymt.$40.00)
Lunch/Five-year-old time    11:30-1:30_______$160 month (August pymt. $80.00)
Extended Day                        3:30-4:30_______$80 month (August pymt. $40.00)
Late Day                                3:30-5:30_______$80 month (August pymt. $40.00) 

Registration fee: $50

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 $50 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.

Eligibility

To attend the Montessori Children's Garden, a child must be three years old by September 15 of the school year s/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.

Openings

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

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 which 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 this service.

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), 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 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 Health and Policy 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), directors regarding their child's behavior, and to cooperate in any efforts to bring about improvement in the situation;
  • To attempt to attend parent education meetings scheduled by the school

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 have respectful treatment;
  • To have 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 guides them while at school;
  • To remain with the group and staff at all times;
  • To care for materials and equipment properly.

Lunch

Each day a balanced lunch which 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.

Snacks

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 snack on the Friday before their snack week. Due to allergy issues please do not send any products containing peanuts, peanut butter, or those that have been contaminated by equipment that processed peanuts. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. You are welcome to bring any special baked goods in addition to what is on the list. Also, special birthday snacks are welcome. The children may bring a “show and tell” from home the week of their snack. Thank you.

  Peanut Free Snacks This Year

Please send each of the following items:

2 pkgs. 5 oz. cups
2 pkg. small paper plates
2 gallons 100% fruit juice (canned or bottled)
1  box zip-lock bags qt. or gal.
Please choose 2 from the following list

Bag of oranges, apples, raisins, or bananas
Fresh pineapple, peaches, pears, strawberries
100s% fruit spread
Bag of carrot chips
Small tomatoes or cucumbers
Vegetable dip
Tub of yogurt
Cream cheese
Chunk, sliced, or string cheese
Thin sliced chicken or turkey     3.  Please  choose 4 from the following list
Whole grain crackers or chips   * no peanuts
Whole grain bread, muffins, or bagels    *no peanuts
Whole grain granola bars       *no peanuts 

School Bags

Every child needs to have a "school bag." This is a convenient container for notes from home, show and tell items, change of clothes, etc. We are encouraging independence so we request bags with no zippers and smaller size to accommodate this independence.  Children will bring their work home in their bag.  A child should bring the bag 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 unnecessary for school activities to school without checking with the teacher. If a child takes any school equipment home, it should be returned.

School Attire

Children should wear washable, comfortable play clothes. The staff recommends that an extra set of clothing be kept at school in case clothes become wet or muddy. All 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 each child to have cover for the cot and a cover for the child. Sleeping bags would meet this requirement. He/She may bring one small soft toy to school for the nap time. 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 school begins for the fall term, 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 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. Observations guidelines are available from the child's teacher.

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 would 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, 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 as well as 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 the forms to be kept current. The parent 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 starting 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. 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 classroom and will get the children to a safe place. Authorities will be immediately notified.  On-site supervisor or directors will call 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 parents are unable to get to the center.

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 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 vehicle's. 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, emergency records,

Handicap Accessibility

The school is handicap accessible and has a handicapped accessible bathroom. Any further accommodations will be handled on 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 setting.
      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 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 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, early morning will not be available to your child.

Absences

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 cancelled 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.

Insurance

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, for example library or recreation center activities. These will be handled similar to field trip.

Center Pets

The Montessori Children's Garden has pets in each classroom.  These pets include hamster, fish, or gerbils.  We also have our center our center dog which will be 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.