Parent Handbook

2017-2018

Organizational Structure:

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is the licensing authority for the Chilmark Preschool. Parents may contact the EEC for information regarding the Preschool’s regulatory compliance history. See contact information below.

Department of Early Education and Care Taunton Southeast and Cape Office
1 Washington Street, Suite 20
Taunton, MA 02780-3960

Tel: 508-828-5025
Fax: 508-828-5235
Website: www.mass.gov/eec

An appointed Board of Directors, “Friends of the Chilmark Preschool”, serves as the Preschool’s governing body. “Friends of the Chilmark Preschool” is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.  The Board’s bylaws specify that the board include representatives of the town of Chilmark, Chilmark School/Chilmark Preschool parents, a Chilmark School teacher and other members of the community served. The Director of the Preschool will serve as an ex-officio member of this Board.

The Director will develop and maintain a program that is consistent with the philosophy and practice of the rest of The Chilmark School.  Activities will be coordinated whenever appropriate in collaboration with teachers of The Chilmark School. The Board will support the Director in these endeavors.

The Board is responsible for overseeing the Director of the Preschool. They will perform periodic evaluations of the Director, determine parent satisfaction with the program and oversee the budget and expenditures. The Director will supervise and provide ongoing evaluation of the teaching staff.  

In addition, “Friends of the Chilmark Preschool” will help to establish a Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to support the program.


History of the School:

In March of 2004 the Chilmark School Task Force was formed to look closely at the school, specifically at enrollment and finances. From this task force a Preschool Committee, composed of community members, was put together to investigate the possibility of housing a preschool within the school. As a result of the committee’s hard work and dedication, Chilmark Preschool opened at the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year. The program that has evolved is designed to enhance the existing goals of the school, as well as to provide a high quality, non-profit preschool for up-island residents and the greater island community.  

Chilmark Preschool Philosophy:

We believe that it is essential to create a physical and social environment that promotes respect for all, a positive learning atmosphere and a safe place where children are valued as individuals. Children are viewed as competent, curious, resourceful and creative. It is their genuine enthusiasm for learning about the world around them that drives our curriculum.

The daily activities at Chilmark Preschool reflect these values and visions. The teachers have a strong knowledge of child development and recognize the value of predictability and consistency. They are careful observers, listeners, program planners and guides. Our curriculum is not set in stone at the beginning of the year, but rather emerges from the interests and needs of the children and teachers. The curriculum that evolves reflects the focus of the Massachusetts Early Childhood Program Standards for Preschool programs. These standards “structure learning through play and meaningful activities.” Teachers outline the daily schedule, but the curriculum is flexible and evolves based on their careful observations of the children and their interests.

Our classroom materials invite children to investigate, make new discoveries and construct their own knowledge. Through their natural curiosity and spontaneous play children create opportunities to develop number concepts, build early literacy skills, explore their natural world and express themselves in a wide variety of ways. Throughout the school day teachers help children to understand their emotions as well as those of their peers, fostering social relationships that are built on mutual respect and cooperation. These meaningful and enriching experiences build a sense of confidence, competence and a love of learning. We strive to foster parental growth and education through community events and educational opportunities and encourage and support the continued professional development of our staff. Teachers and parents work as partners to facilitate and nurture each child’s development in all areas.

Collaboration and cooperation between teachers, parents, children and the larger community is central to the success of our inclusive early childhood program. Children will explore their island community through rich experiences such as walking field trips, nature studies and community visitors. It is important that children feel a part of their own classroom community as well as a part of the larger community. Experiences such as these will encourage children to become enthusiastic participants in the world in which they live.

Enrollment Procedures:

Chilmark Preschool accepts children ages 2 years 9 months to 5 years-old. Priority is given to families currently enrolled in the Chilmark Preschool, the Chilmark School and residents of the Up-Island Regional School District. Priority is also given to full-time students. Other considerations are age, gender ratio and scheduling needs. The Preschool Director makes the final decisions regarding enrollment. Prospective families should email the Director, Heather Quinn at chilmarkpreschool@gmail.com to express their interest in the program. The Director will maintain a list of interested families. Parents may place their child’s name on this list at anytime.  

Typically the enrollment process for the following school year begins in January and is completed by April. Families will be invited to visit the program during the school day. The Director will make herself available to parents to share information and answer any questions they may have. The Director will offer prospective families a spot based availability. At the time of enrollment, the following procedure will be followed:

  • Parents will pay a $250 non-refundable enrollment fee to secure their child’s spot for the coming school year. 
  • Parents will complete all required enrollment forms, including a Developmental History.
  • The Director will discuss the child’s Developmental History with parents and invite them to share additional information, including any other therapeutic, educational, social and support services the child may be receiving. Parents will also be asked about their child and family’s interests and needs.
  • Parents will attend an orientation in late summer.  
  • Families will participate in a home visit in late summer.
  • Parents will provide an up-to-date (within a year) physical exam, immunization record and lead screening (including results).

The Chilmark 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, sexual orientation or disability. Toilet training status is not an eligibility requirement for enrollment. 

Fee Schedule:

Preschool tuition is due the first of the month, for the 10 months of the 2016-2017 school year. These ten billing cycles will include the school vacation weeks. September payment is due prior to the first day of school. An additional late fee of $25 will be assigned to any payments received after the 7th day of the month. If you need to arrange an alternative payment plan, this must be discussed with the Director in advance.
    
Fees:

  • 5 full days/week  –  $897
  • 4 full days/week  –  $736
  • 3 full days/week  –  $565

Hours of Operation:   

Chilmark Preschool hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm. School ends at noon on half-days. Lunch is not served. Please do not bring your child before 8:00 am as teachers need this time to set-up and plan for the day. It is the responsibility of parents to convey this to other caregivers who may be dropping off your child.

Late fees: 

The Preschool gets out at 3:00 pm. Please make every effort to pick up your child on time. When a child is picked up late he/she may experience sadness and worry, leading to a difficult departure. Also, teachers rely on after-school time to clean, plan and discuss the school day.   

By or before your pickup time you should complete the following:

  • Talk with teachers about your child’s day.
  • Sign-out your child.
  • Gather your child’s belongings and depart from the classroom with your child. For your child’s safety, please do not allow him/her to open the door or gate.

Late fees will be assigned as follows: starting at 2:35 parents will be charged $5.00 for every 5 minutes they are late. This will be added to the next month’s bill. We hope that these charges will rarely be needed.

Snow Days: 

Chilmark Preschool follows the policy of the Chilmark School. During certain inclement weather situations (snow, ice, exceptionally high winds), school may either be closed for the day or delayed for 1 or 2 hours. When conditions warrant the closing of school, an announcement will be on WMVY and all of the major television news stations (channels 4, 5 &7). If weather becomes hazardous during the day and necessitates early dismissal, you will be notified by phone.

Weekly Schedule:

Weekly schedules are confirmed at the time of enrollment. The Director must coordinate all schedule changes. Chilmark Preschool is fully enrolled for the 2017-2018 school year so it is unlikely that schedules changes will be permitted.

Sample Daily Schedule: 

8:00 – Arrival/Sign In:  Parents or other caregivers sign in, communicate any necessary information to teachers, help their child get ready for their morning by assisting them in putting their clothes, lunch etc. in cubbies and on hooks, washing their hands, applying sunscreen if necessary and seeing that they are settled with a teacher or activity.  

Free Choice/Play:  Our classroom is set up to facilitate exploration and experimentation, encouraging independence and the children’s ability to make appropriate choices.  Their interactions with the environment, materials, peers and teachers foster creativity, socialization and self-regulation.  Through their play and other experiences children develop the cognitive, physical and social/emotional competencies that provide the strongest and broadest foundation for their growth.

9:00 – Morning Meeting:  We gather as a whole group in our meeting area.  This time is used to greet one another, discuss the day’s activities, introduce new concepts, share thoughts and ideas and collaboratively solve problems that may have arisen.

10:00 -10:45 – Snack:  Children are invited to come to the snack table. 

10:45 – Clean-up:  Teachers and children work together to clean up the morning’s activities. 

11:00 – Music/Movement Circle:  A teacher leads the children in a whole group music/movement activity (Tuesdays we go to the Chilmark Library for Stories & Songs, Wednesdays Becky joins us for violin).
                                         
11:15 – Outdoor play @ the CCC playground

12:00 – Lunch (or sign-out for half-day holidays)        

12:45 – Story Circle

1:15-2:00 – Rest: Children nap or engage in quiet activities (e.g., books, puzzles, manipulatives)

2:00 – Quiet indoor activities or outdoor play

2:45-3:00 – Departure/Sign Out

Snack: 

We will provide a daily snack. The menu will be posted at the start of each week. Parents are required to make a one-time snack payment of $150 at the start of the school year. This fee will cover the cost of snack for the whole school year.

Lunch:  

Children will bring lunch to school or order a school lunch by 9am in the classroom on the sign up sheet. Please label lunch boxes. We do not share lunches. Please note that teachers are not able to do “heat-ups” of children’s lunches. Hot foods such as soup or pasta may be sent in a thermos. 

Birthdays:

Children are welcome to celebrate their birthdays with their teachers/peers at school. Celebrating children will be invited to participate in the preparation of a birthday snack, choosing from options currently on our snack menu. This policy will allow us to ensure that all snacks are allergen-free and in line with our nutrition policy.

Transportation:

Parents are responsible for transporting their children to and from the program. Families are welcome to enter through the Chilmark School's main entrance or Chilmark Preschool's external door. Please note that the Chilmark School holds a morning circle in the foyer between 8:15 and 8:30 am. The main entrance is not available during this time. Please do not allow your child to independently open the gate or classroom door. Consistency with this rule helps us to ensure your child’s safety throughout the school day.

For field trips requiring transportation, we will use public transportation (VTA bus). The director will take attendance prior to entering the bus and upon exiting in order to ensure every child’s safety.   

In the event of a medical emergency, the Director will immediately contact 911. If necessary, the child will be transported to MVH via ambulance. The Director will accompany the child.

Sign In/Sign Out:

There will be an attendance notebook on the table near the preschool entrance. Be sure to sign-in and sign-out every day!  Please leave additional phone number(s) where you can be reached that day if not at your usual number. 

State regulations forbid us to release a child to anyone not specified on the release form included in your enrollment packet. A PHONE CALL FROM A PARENT WILL NOT SUFFICE! Please be sure to include anyone who may pick-up your child during the school year on the release form.  

Field Trips:

Field trips are an integral part of our program, including walking trips around the community. Parents will be asked to sign a permission form for these short trips.  (e.g., Library, Post Office, Community Center, etc.)

Trips requiring transportation will be planned and parents notified in advance. We will send home individual permission slips for these occasions. First aid kits and emergency medical and contact information will be taken on all field trips. All children will wear a name-tag with the program’s address and phone number.

Nap/Rest Time:

EEC regulations require that an extended period of sleep, rest or quiet activities be provided for children in preschool longer than four hours.  Children who choose not to sleep or awaken early will be offered quiet activities (e.g., books, puzzles, manipulatives). The school provides cots for rest time. Children may also bring a special blanket, soft toy or pillow for napping.  Please bring nap items home once a week for laundering. Nap/Rest time takes place in the classroom and teachers position themselves so they can hear and see children sleeping at all times.

We adhere to the following mandatory EEC guidelines for nap/rest time:

  •   The nap/rest area is set-up in a way that minimizes noise and disturbance.
  • A separate cot and blanket is provided for each child.
  • There is no use of restraints on children while sleeping.
  • Cots and blankets are individually marked and in good repair.
  • Blankets and bed linens are stored in a safe and sanitary manner.
  • Cots are set-up with a minimum of two feet between each cot on all sides.
  • Cots are arranged in such a way that children are easily accessible during an emergency.
  • There is appropriate space and adequate lighting for quiet activities for children who do not sleep.
  • There is adequate lighting to allow for proper supervision.

Toys From Home:

Transitional objects (teddy bears, blankets, etc.) provide comfort to children during stressful times, such as their first time at school, a new baby, traveling parents etc. Children who nap may also want a special cuddly toy to help them settle down. In general, we require that all items brought from home be kept in cubbies or on cots during school hours. In our experience, toys such as action figures or battery-powered vehicles do not contribute positively to school play and are often difficult to share. For this reason, we do not allow them at school. If you are having difficulty explaining this to your child, please ask a teacher for help.

Extra Clothes/Outerwear:

Please remember to send your child in “play” clothes. We will be using a wide variety of messy materials (e.g., paint, water, mud) both in the classroom and outdoors. Your child should always have an extra set of “play” clothes, socks and underwear in his/her cubby. Please replenish regularly! It is important to note that we play outdoors every day of the week, all year long! Please send outerwear and shoes appropriate for the weather.

Parent Information:

We at Chilmark Preschool believe that open, honest and respectful communication between teachers and parents establishes the foundation of trust that enables young children and their families to flourish in the school community. Ongoing communication/collaboration is encouraged in the following ways:

Parental Input:  Chilmark Preschool encourages the involvement of parents in their child’s school experience. We believe that open communication between parents and teachers is important because children thrive in such an atmosphere. While it is the Preschool’s job to make decisions regarding program administration and day-to-day running of the classroom, we will always consider parent suggestions and questions.

Meeting with Parents:  Chilmark Preschool shall assure that the Director (or designee) meets with the parent(s) prior to admitting a child to the program. The parents shall have an opportunity to visit the classroom at the time of the meeting or prior to enrollment of the child.

Parent Conferences:  Chilmark Preschool teacher(s) are available for individual conferences at the request of the parent(s) at any time during the school year. The informal conversations that occur on a daily basis are also valuable opportunities for both teachers and parents. Twice a year conferences will be scheduled for all children in order to discuss their growth and development.

Written Reports:  Chilmark Preschool will provide a written developmental profile for your child once a year.  A copy will be given to you and we will also maintain a copy of the report in your child’s file. If your child is identified as having a disability, you will receive a written progress report at least every three (3) months. Parents and teachers of children entering kindergarten the following year will receive a written transition report at the end of the year as well.

Parent Visits:  You have the right to visit Chilmark Preschool unannounced any time your child is present.

Children’s Records:  Information contained in a child’s record is privileged and confidential.  Program staff may not distribute or release information in a child’s record to anyone not directly related to implementing the program plan for the child without your written consent.  You must be notified if your child’s record is subpoenaed.
    
Access to your child’s record:  You are entitled to have access to your child’s record at reasonable times on request. You must have access to the record within two (2) business days of your request unless you consent to a longer time period. You must be allowed to view your child’s entire record, even if it is maintained in more than one location. The Chilmark Preschool maintains children’s files in a locked filing cabinet and will maintain a permanent, written log in each child’s record, which identifies anyone who has had access to the record or who has received any information from the record. This log is available only to you and the people responsible for maintaining the Preschool’s records.

Amending your child’s record:  You have the right to add information, comments, data or any other relevant materials to your child’s record. You also have the right to request deletion or amendment of any information contained in your child’s record.  If you believe that adding information is not sufficient to explain, clarify or correct objectionable material in your child’s record, you have the right to a conference with the Chilmark Preschool to make your objections known. If you have a conference, the Chilmark Preschool must inform you in writing within one week of their decision regarding your objections. If the Preschool decides in your favor, they must immediately take the steps necessary to put the decision into effect.

Transfer of records:  When your child is no longer enrolled, the Chilmark Preschool can give your child’s record to you or any other person you identify, upon your written request.

Charge for copies:  The Chilmark Preschool shall not charge an unreasonable fee for copies of any information contained in your child’s record.

Program Responsibilities:

Providing information to EEC:  The program must make available any information requested by the EEC to determine compliance with any EEC regulations governing the program, by providing access to its facilities, records, staff, and records.

Reporting abuse or neglect:  All Chilmark Preschool staff members are mandated reporters. That is, they are required by law to report suspected abuse and neglect to the Department of Children and Families. The Chilmark Preschool has written policies and procedures for reporting (contained in the Health Care Policy).

Notification of injury:  The Chilmark Preschool Director (or designee) must notify you immediately of any injury that requires emergency care.  The Director must also notify you, in writing, within 24 hours, if any first aid is administered to your child.

Availability of EEC Regulations: The Chilmark Preschool maintains a copy of the regulations, 606 CMR 7.00: Standards for the Licensure or Approval of Family Child Care; Small Group and School Age and Large Group and School Age, on the premises and will make them available to any person upon request. If you have a question about any of the regulations, ask the Preschool Director to show them to you.

Guidance and Discipline:

People often equate discipline with punishment. Our philosophy offers a somewhat different approach. We talk about discipline as one element of guidance. Guidance refers to all the activities and interactions that serve to enhance each child’s self-control and positive social interactions.

General Guidelines:

  • Prevention:  Prevention is the best technique. The Preschool classroom, materials and activities are carefully planned to help children meet our expectations.
  • Modeling:  We expect that children will grow in self-control and respect for others by watching adults behave in positive, supportive cooperation and meaningful interactions. Children will imitate the social behavior of adults they admire.
  • Identification:  We know that children want to become like those people who express warmth and support. Children also want to become like those people who are important to them. Through identification, children take on the values and attitudes of those they admire.  
  • Explanation:  Children may not always understand the effect of their behaviors on others. Adults contribute to guidance by explaining the consequences of a child’s behavior and by pointing out the impact of that behavior on others.
  • Problem Solving:  We know that children want to be independent and have their decisions respected. We encourage children to test their ideas and provide a setting where their creativity can be used to help fit the needs of each other and the group.
  • Redirection:   Children will not be permitted to engage in behaviors that are potentially harmful to themselves, others in the classroom or our materials. We recognize, however, that the feelings or motives behind the behaviors are real and immediate to the child. Our approach is to help the child find some way to talk about or express the feelings that would not be harmful. Expression may take place through talking, physical activity or by having a quiet time for thinking things through.
  • Natural or Logical Consequences:  We know that young children need to anticipate what will happen next and understand how their actions affect other people in concrete ways. We explain the logical consequences that will occur (factors which are likely to occur under natural circumstances), describe predictable limits, offering the child acceptable choices of actions.
  • Physical Punishment:  Physical punishment is not used as a discipline strategy at Chilmark Preschool. Chilmark Preschool teachers believe that an important component of a child’s development in a preschool setting is the bond of trust that develops between the child and the teachers. We believe that this bond enables the child to take risks and explore new experiences and ideas. This bond also contributes to the child’s ability to act in a caring way toward other children in the class. We believe that physical punishment is destructive to the bond of trust between the child and adult, and thus feel it would not contribute to the overall development of the children in our care.

Guidance Strategies in the Classroom:

  • At the beginning of the year, we establish basic rules for safety with the children, giving clear explanations. We try to keep these simple. Learning to understand what these rules mean is a process that takes time.
  • When small conflicts arise between children, we facilitate problem solving and exchange of viewpoints between them. The teacher will help the children identify the problem, as well as potential solutions. (“I can see that you both want to drive the truck.  I’m wondering how are we going to solve this problem. Christopher, what is your idea? Max, what is your idea?”)
  • When small problems arise concerning the use of the physical space, equipment or materials, we try redirection and problem solving first. (“Stephanie, I’m worried that you might get hurt if you sit on the table. What is another way to get closer to the picture you’re working on?”)
  • If redirection, explanation and problem solving fail to achieve compliance or harmony, we present natural/logical consequences to the child. (“You need to find a way to play without splashing the water, Bobby. Your friends do not want to get their clothes wet.  If you can’t find a way to do this, I am going to help you to make another choice.”) 
  • If a child is having difficulty regulating his/her emotions and his/her behavior feels disruptive or unsafe to other children, a teacher may help the child find a quiet place to calm. (“It looks like you are having a hard time keeping yourself safe. I’ve brought some pillows over to the rug. I will sit there with you until you feel calmer.”)

Referral Services:

The Chilmark Preschool will refer parents to appropriate social, mental health, educational and medical services, including but not limited to dental check-up, vision or hearing screening for their child should the teaching staff feel that an assessment for such additional services would benefit the child. The Director is responsible for reviewing these concerns and bringing them to the attention of the parents if a referral is deemed necessary or desirable. The following procedure will be followed:

  • Teachers will document their observations of the child, using the Incident Action Plan when appropriate.
  • The Director will provide the parent(s) with a written statement including the reason for recommending a referral for additional services, a brief summary of the program’s observations related to the referral and any efforts the program may have made to accommodate the child’s needs.
  • The Director will provide the parent(s) a current list of referral resources in the community for children in need of social, mental health, educational or medical services.  
  • The Director will obtain written parental consent before the referral is made and maintain a written record of any referrals, including the parent conference and any follow-up conversations.
  • The Director will follow-up the referral, with written parental consent, and contact the agency or service provider who evaluated the child for consultation and assistance in meeting the child’s needs in the program.  If it is determined that the child is not in need of services from this agency, or is ineligible, the Director will review the child’s progress every 3 months to determine if another referral is necessary.
  • With written parental consent, the Director will provide written notice to the Martha’s Vineyard Public School’s Early Childhood Coordinator when a child with a disability is enrolled in the Preschool.

Termination and Suspension Policy:

Under several circumstances, The Chilmark Preschool reserves the right to terminate or suspend a child from the program, including:

  • non-payment of tuition or pre-arranged payment agreement.
  • when the health and safety, developmental needs and welfare of the child, other children in the program or staff cannot be adequately assured.

The Preschool will make every effort to avoid suspension/termination including the following:

  • meeting with parents to discuss concerns and available options.
  • referrals for evaluation, diagnostic or therapeutic services.
  • pursuing options for supportive services to the program including consultation and teacher training.
  • developing a plan for intervention at home and in the program.

The Director will handle these cases on an individual basis with input from the other teachers and the Board of Directors. Documentation will be maintained and confidentiality will be strictly observed.

In the event of a termination, teachers will talk with the child and other children in the class in a developmentally appropriate manner.

Transitions:

When a child transitions from the Preschool to a new program the Director will obtain written consent from the parents to communicate and collaborate with the new program. A copy of the child’s developmental profile will be provided and teachers will communicate all information that will support the child’s transition to the new program. The transition will be acknowledged in a developmentally appropriate way in the classroom and the child’s family will be invited to be active participants in the transition process.

Enrolled children who will be entering kindergarten the following school year will have the opportunity to visit the Chilmark School K-1 class accompanied by a teacher. With written parental consent, the Director will provide a copy of the children’s developmental profiles along with any transitional information requested by the Martha’s Vineyard Public School’s Early Childhood Coordinator. Teachers will acknowledge the upcoming transition in the classroom through books, discussion and an end of year celebration. 

Diapering and Toileting:

Toilet training is not an eligibility requirement for enrollment.

Teachers will ensure that:

  • a change of clothing is available for each child.
  • diapering areas are separate from facilities and areas used for food preparation and food service.
  • a supply of clean, dry diapers adequate to meet the needs of children is maintained.
  • the diapering surface will not be used for any other purpose.
  • the diapering surface is smooth, intact, impervious to water and easily cleaned.
  • each child’s diaper is changed on a regular basis throughout the day and when wet or soiled.
  • the changing surface is protected with a covering that is of adequate size to prevent the child from coming in contact with the changing surface.
  • they wash their hands with liquid soap and running water using friction and dry their hands with individual or disposable towels after diapering a child.
  • they keep at least one hand on the child at all times when the child is being changed on an elevated surface.
  • each child is washed and dried with individual washing materials during each diaper change.  After changing, the child’s hands must be washed with liquid soap and water, and dried with individual or disposable towels.
  • soiled disposable diapers are placed in a closed container that is lined with a leak-proof disposable lining.  Soiled diapers will be removed from the program daily, or more frequently as necessary
  • soiled non-disposable diapers are placed in a sealed plastic container labeled with the child’s name and returned to the parents at the end of the day.
  • children are toilet trained in accordance with the requests of their parents and consistent with the child’s physical, emotional and developmental abilities.
  • no child is punished, verbally abused or humiliated for soiling, wetting or not using the toilet.
  • soiled clothing is double bagged in sealed plastic bags and stored apart from other items and sent home with parents at the end of the day.
  • children are accompanied to the bathroom by a teacher whenever the need arises, including coming in off the playground.

Oral Health:

In an effort to decrease the incidence of tooth decay in young children, the Department of Early Education and Care now requires that all children attending preschool for more than four hours a day brush their teeth. The Preschool will provide each child with a child-sized toothbrush that will be replaced every 90 days. Teachers will assist children in brushing their teeth after they have finished eating lunch.  Toothpaste will not be used. Teachers will ensure that toothbrushes are labeled and stored in a safe and sanitary manner. Parents who do not want their child to brush teeth while in school must make a request for non-participation in writing.