The purpose of this Handbook is to inform families of the various policies and procedures of the Center for Young Children and Families. Please familiarize yourself with its contents so that we can work together for the benefit of your child. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.
The Plymouth State University Center for Young Children and Families is part of the University System of New Hampshire. In accordance with federal and state laws and regulations, it does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, or handicap in the operation of its programs.
The Plymouth State University Center for Young Children and Families reserves the right to change and adjust policies. Families will be notified in writing of any changes.
Center Phone: (603) 535-2299
* The answering machine is on at all times when the Center is closed.
- Karen Sanders, M.Ed., Director
- Wendy Hartke, M.Ed., Facilitating Teacher
- Marcia Huckins, Assistant Teacher
- Meredith Leighton, B.S. Early Childhood Teacher II
- Amanda Myles, B.S., Early Childhood Teacher
- Kayla Roper, B.S., Early Childhood Teacher II
- Carly Roy, B.S., Early Childhood Teacher I
- Natalka Sywenkyj, B.S., Early Childhood Teacher
- Plymouth State University Early Childhood Students
- Plymouth State University Students as Student Classroom Aides
- Patricia Cantor, Professor of Education, Early Childhood Department Chair
- Mary Cornish, Professor of Early Childhood Studies
- Meagan Shedd, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Studies
- Elisabeth Johnston, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood
The Plymouth State University Center for Young Children and Familie was founded in September 1979 by Dr. Kenneth Heuser, Professor, Education Department. The Center for Young Children and Families is part of the Plymouth State University Department of Early Childhood Studies and is a laboratory school for early childhood university students.
The Center for Young Children and Families is licensed by the state of New Hampshire. Since 1995, it has been accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, the accrediting branch of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Accreditation is considered a guarantee of a high-quality program for young children. Only seven percent of early childhood programs nationwide have achieved this distinction.
The mission of The Center for Young Children and Families is to provide high-quality early childhood programs to young children and their families. A high-quality program is identified by its ability to offer comprehensive learning experiences through a planned environment. Childcare is only one component of the program. Within the Center environment, the developmental needs of the children are planned for in a consistent and secure setting offering developmentally appropriate practices. As part of the Department of Early Childhood Studies at Plymouth State University, the Center is a model early childhood program for the preparation of students in the field of early childhood studies.
The Center for Young Children and Families offers developmentally-based programs that focus on the needs of the whole child—physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and familial. All staff members recognize the importance of teacher-child interactions and strive to establish and maintain warm and trusting relationships with children and their families. Activities and routines at the Center are based on sound developmental practices and build on children’s natural curiosity and problem-solving abilities. Children participate in many play and language activities and have the opportunities to work and play in small and large groups and individually. Our child-centered philosophy reflects an understanding of the needs of young children in a complex society. Our program seeks to serve all children, including young children with disabilities.
The Center employs teachers who are trained and experienced in early childhood education and child development. Training for the staff is ongoing and focuses on teaching techniques that help to enhance early development of children on a variety of levels. Teachers in the program are continually refining their skills and techniques through graduate work, in-service programs, and conferences in the field of early childhood education. Teaching assistants and aides are under direct supervision of the certified staff and also participate in continuing education programs.
There are two full-time staff teachers assigned to each classroom and whose primary responsibility is working with that group of children. Occasionally teachers will substitute in other classrooms as staffing needs require. Toward the end of the Center’s school year, as part of the transition plan, teachers will visit in classrooms where children they will have next year attend and children will have the opportunity to visit classrooms where that they will be moving into in the coming year.
The program is staffed to minimize the number of transitions experienced by an individual child during the day and the year, to the best of our ability. As part of the Department of Early Childhood at Plymouth State University, students, both paid Student Classroom aides and early childhood students completing practicums and assignments at the Center, are part of the daily staffing schedule. Students are assigned to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday schedule with the same timeslots and the same group of children. Students are assigned to the maximum time their schedules will allow to reduce the number of transitions and to allow them to build meaningful relationships with the children.
Student Classroom Aides employed by the university assist with routine tasks at the Center as assigned by the classroom teachers and director. Student employees are always supervised by Center teaching staff.
Student employees, practicum students, and regular teaching staff are all required by state licensing regulations to undergo criminal record checks before working at the Center.
University faculty and Center staff supervise all university students participating in the Center. For elementary education & youth development students, the Center serves as a laboratory school where they have the opportunity to observe a repertoire of teaching techniques, language activities, and the planning of appropriate developmental practices for young children. These students are an integral part of our program, offering many exciting opportunities to the children in our program, including individual attention and commitment to the young child’s needs.
As a university laboratory facility, the Center sometimes participates in research activities involving good early childhood practices. Parents will be notified in writing when any research activities are conducted.
Low child-to-staff ratios are integral to a quality program. The Center is committed to providing ratios that exceed state and accreditation standards. The Center currently maintains the following Child-to-Staff ratios:
|3 to 1
|5 to 1
|4 to 1
|4 to 1
|6 to 1
|6 to 1
|5 to 1
|12 to 1
|9 to 1
|6 to 1
|15 to 1
|10 to 1
There are times during the year, especially during Winterim and once the university students are gone in mid-May to the end of our school year where it is very difficult to continue to maintain the stated Center ratios due to lack of students who are able to stay and work. During this time, we continue to strive towards these ratios, but commit to continue to meet accreditation ratio standards.
The Center for Young Children and Families offers four programs for young children between the ages of 13 months and 4 years 10 months (as of August 31): Toddler, Early Preschool, Preschool, and PreK.
Enrollment in the Center is the beginning step for the child. A parent or guardian must complete an application for the child’s enrollment. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Enrollment priority is given to children of faculty, staff, and current students at Plymouth State University. All attempts are made to meet the needs of children and families in the community. Many aspects are considered when accepting children: age, program suitability, and our ability to meet the specific needs of each child.
Children will not be admitted until all required forms (application, medical history, family information, emergency data, permission for field trips, required state forms, and financial forms) are completed. Parents will receive notification of any forms that are not completed by the designated date of admission into the program. All forms must be completed and filed before the child begins attending the Center. Forms must be updated as changes occur within the family that the Center needs to be notified of (changes in address, work locations, etc.). All forms are reviewed and updated every 3 months. Families will be notified by the Program Assistant when their forms need to be reviewed and the procedure for doing so.
Children and parents are also required to visit the Center and meet with the director as part of an orientation process. As part of this process, the Center’s mission, philosophy, curriculum goals and objectives, as well as general policies, will be discussed. The director will outline the guidance and discipline policy and the Center’s position on diversity and providing a culturally relevant, anti-bias program. Families will have an opportunity to share information about their child and their families’ cultural heritage, as well as any questions or concerns. A transition plan into the program for the child will be created with the family.
The Center reserves the right to review each child’s adjustment to the program and to determine if the Center is an appropriate placement. Families are encouraged to visit the Center often and discuss any concerns about their child’s transition to the program with the teachers or director.
The Center maintains a waiting list for openings during the calendar year. Families will be notified when an opening occurs, if they have requested that their application be kept on file.
Children who have an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or an Individual Education Plan (IEP) are able to receive services at the Center through their service provider. The Center does not have qualified service providers (speech pathologists, occupational therapists, etc.) on staff, but we work collaboratively with Early Intervention and local school Preschool Assist programs to be sure that your child’s goals are met. Your child’s teacher and the director become a part of the child’s team, along with the service providers, and offer information and data, suggestions for writing of IFSP and IEP goals, and act as an advocate for the child.
Teachers at the Center are highly trained in the development of young children and complete informal assessments (please see Assessment section below) on each child as part of our curriculum and program planning process. If we become concerned about a child’s development, we will document our concerns and share these with the family. We will work with the family and connect them with the appropriate programs that will complete formal assessments and observations to make a definitive determination. We will work collaboratively with such programs during this time and act as an advocate for the child.
The Center will close early on five days during the year, to give the teaching staff an opportunity to hold staff meetings and participate in professional development opportunities. On these days, the Center will close at 4 p.m. and the entire teaching staff will meet in one of the large classrooms. Student Classroom Aides and Practicum students will remain with the children until all children have been picked up. Your child would, therefore, be able to stay until our normal closing time, if necessary. We appreciate your understanding and hope that this does not pose an inconvenience. You will be reminded of the early closing dates shortly before they occur.
Center will close at 4 p.m. for one day in: October, December, February, April and June. Exact dates will be given to families at least two weeks in advance.
The Center is open for 41 weeks per year, but tuition is based on a 40-week calendar. That extra week is a vacation week and must be taken as one calendar week. Some parents prefer not to take a vacation week for their child. In that case, the child is welcome to attend the Center, and the parents are then billed for the extra 41st week.
Each year we ask families to choose one calendar week for their child’s vacation. The purpose of the vacation week is to allow Center staff to take a much-needed break between January and the closing date in June. It has been our experience that many children do not attend the Center during public school vacation weeks in February and April and that some do not attend during the university spring break in March. Therefore, we ask families to notify us in advance which week they would choose for their child to be out. That way, we can have an accurate count of the children in attendance during these weeks and can plan staff vacations and substitute coverage accordingly.
It is not our intention that all children must take a week off, or that families must find and pay for “outside” child care. The intention of the policy is simply to build in vacation time for our staff during times that are traditionally of low enrollment anyway. The only other way of providing this vacation time would be to close the entire Center for a week, which would seriously inconvenience most families. If you choose not to take a vacation week, please notify the office in writing and the charge for the 41st week will be added to your bill by the Student Financial Services office. Any questions about the vacation week should be addressed to the director.
Tuition fee information is available from the office. Tuition fees are evaluated on a yearly basis and families will be notified of any changes before re-enrollment for the next school year. All programs offer 5 full days, 3 full days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and 2 full days (Tuesday, Thursday). Hours are 7am – 5:15pm.
Tuition is based on a 40-week contract. Families are required to make an advance two-week tuition payment and to remain one month ahead always. Bills for the two-week advance payment are sent out by the Bursar’s office in July. Payments should be mailed to the address noted on the bill. Payment of this advance is required for fall entrance. This advance payment is applied to the last two weeks of the Center operation. If your child’s schedule changes, the advance payment will be adjusted accordingly.
Families of children entering the program later in the year must submit a two-week advance payment, as well as the regular payment, at the time of entrance.
Payments must be made by check or money order, payable to Plymouth State University. CASH PAYMENTS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
Attendance fees are determined on an annual tuition basis. Families must sign a schedule contract stating days, sessions, and fees for their child at the Center. The tuition fees reflect the actual cost of providing services to each child. Each child has a guaranteed space. Therefore, it is necessary that all families are aware that payment is made for every scheduled day regardless of whether the child is present.
Please note: As stated in the tuition contract, “Tuition is determined on an annual basis and represents a total program. At times a holiday may fall on your selected day. There are no rebates on these holidays or for personal vacation or sickness.”
Payments may be sent directly to the Plymouth State Student Financial Services Office. All statements of accounts will be issued through the Student Financial Services Office. Their office will then adjust your account in accordance with the new schedule. Please note the policy about schedule changes described in the section of this handbook entitled “Center Schedule”.
State Tuition Assistance
Families who receive state tuition assistance need to make an appointment to meet with the Program Assistant to review procedures immediately. Families who receive tuition assistance are required to pay the two-week advance payment. A monthly bill will be received from the Student Account Services office. Families will be required to pay up to one-half of the monthly bill, dependent on the pattern of state payment and child attendance. This information will be reviewed by the Program Assistant and Director and an expected monthly payment for the family will be determined. Changes may be made to this amount based on variation to the above factors. Families are not double-charged for child care. Any over-payments on the account at the end of the year will be carried over to the following year’s child care bill or will be refunded to the family.
Late Payment Policy
As stated in the tuition contract, “Balances outstanding after that month’s due date will be assessed a penalty of 1.0% interest (based on a 12% annual percentage rate). Any accounts 14 days past due will cause services to be withheld until resolved, could jeopardize your child’s permanent placement, and may be sent out for collection. Any incurred collection costs will be charged against your bill. If an outstanding balance exists at the close of the center in June, the child will not be allowed to return in the fall.”
Plymouth State students whose children attend the Center may be denied registration if their bill is not paid. Please contact the Program Assistant if you are having difficulties making payments, so that we can work out a realistic payment plan.
Please notify the director in writing at least two weeks in advance if your child will be leaving the program. We need two weeks’ notice in order to fill the spot left vacant by your child. If we do not receive advance written notification of a withdrawal, we reserve the right to keep the two-week advance tuition.
After a child has been withdrawn, we cannot hold a place open or guarantee a place for your child if you decide to re-enroll them.
The Center is open for 41 weeks starting late August/early September to mid-June, from 7 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. A calendar outlining days off will be placed in family mailboxes at the start of the year.
Families must adhere to the schedule for which they have a written contract in the Student Financial Services Office. If you would like to have your child attend on a day when they are not regularly scheduled, please make your request in writing to the Director at least 48-hours in advance. If the single adjustment is possible, every effort will be made to assist the family. (Note: We cannot give approval for extra days unless accounts are up-to-date and additional room coverage is available.)
Once a family has requested an extra day and that request has been approved, we will notify the Student Financial Services Office to bill for the extra day. If the child does not attend on the extra day, no credit will be given and the day must be paid for anyway. Extra days may not be exchanged for other days the child attends.
If a family needs to make a permanent change in enrollment, the request must be made at least one week in advance, in writing. Families will be notified if the schedule can be adjusted.
IMPORTANT: Please make sure that we know where to contact you at all times while your child is at the Center. If you are not going to be at your usual number, please let the office know where we can reach you. If you are going to be out of town, please let us know who to contact in your place. All family members who are PSU students or faculty should be sure the office has an up-to-date copy of their class schedule. In addition, we need to know where you are when not in class. All families are asked to provide the names and phone numbers of at least two local people to call if the family cannot be reached; please keep this list up-to-date.
The Center for Young Children and Families offers developmentally based programs designed to meet the needs of young children in small group, large group, and individual play times both indoors and outdoors. Each program has a set of developmental goals, which are included in this handbook and posted in each classroom.
Language interaction is a strong component of each program. Children are actively involved in storytelling, sensory experiences, dramatic play, problem-solving activities, music, and singing. Teachers listen carefully and respectfully to children and encourage them to ask questions and develop new ways of thinking about the world. Teachers and children enjoy many conversations through the course of the day. Language is also emphasized as a way of expressing feelings in conflict situations.
Activities in each program are designed to help children develop understandings about reading and writing through daily experiences with written language. Each classroom has a library of good children’s literature that is regularly replenished. Children have opportunities to explore books and writing on their own and with the guidance of teachers. Teachers read to children several times each day, in large groups, small groups, and individually. Children and teachers talk about what they have read, engage in activities to extend their understanding of literature, and use written language for authentic purposes, such as signing their names on their artwork and writing notes to each other. In the dramatic play areas in each classroom, children are able to experiment with how written language is used in a variety of different situations (in a restaurant, doctor’s office, pet store, etc.). Writing materials and books are available for children at all times.
Children also have daily opportunities to practice important early mathematical skills and concepts such as counting, one-to-one correspondence, and estimating. Teachers model for children how to use mathematics to solve simple, everyday problems, and give children opportunities to practice problem solving, such as determining how many napkins to place at the snack table.
Within each program, children are encouraged to develop a positive self-image, age appropriate self-help skills, and social skills in a variety of settings. Through play, art, games, blocks, manipulatives, and sensory experiences, children gain a sense of self in relation to children and adults.
Each program posts a daily schedule for parents to review. Special activities and events are noted in the Center hall area. Parents are encouraged to observe and participate in the program whenever possible.
Commitment to culturally relevant & anti-bias care and education
Our goal is to provide the educational conditions in which all children are able to value who they are and also promote each child’s comfort with and respect for differences in others. We strive to provide a program that both assists children to function in their own cultural community and builds their competence in the culture of the larger society. We foster each child’s ability to think critically about bias in all of its forms and to cultivate each child’s ability to stand up for her/himself and for others in the face of bias and to act as change makers in society.
The Center implements a play-based, developmentally appropriate (age-appropriate, individually-appropriate, and socially/culturally appropriate) program that operates under a constructivist philosophy.
“Constructivist theory focuses on the mental processes children use in thinking and remembering. . . .constructivism emphasizes the active roles of the learner, prior knowledge, social interactions, and authentic tasks in constructing understanding rather than imposing knowledge…. .”
(M.R. Jalongo & J. P. Isenberg, 2004; page 132)
Within the constructivist philosophy, we utilize the emergent and project approach curriculum frameworks. In both frameworks, topics emerge from children’s natural curiosities and integrate program goals and content areas.
The Center recognizes the importance of assessment to a quality early childhood program. Staff uses assessment to identify child interests and needs, describe the developmental progress and learning of children, improve the curriculum and adapt teaching practices and the environment, plan program improvement, and communicate with families.
The Center strongly believes that authentic assessment that is aligned with program goals, conducted in the child’s natural environment and in daily activities over time, gives the most accurate information about a child. The teachers conduct such informal assessments on a daily basis, frequently reviewing and utilizing the information for the purposes outlined above. On a quarterly basis, teachers complete a summary report. Families will receive this information in a written format twice a year. Children’s information is only viewed by classroom teachers, early childhood practicum students, and the child’s family and is kept in a secure location in the building.
In alignment with NAEYC accreditation standards, the Center will, in the future, conduct developmental screenings for children new to the program within 3 months of program entrance. Results will be shared with families and, when needed, be used in conjunction with informal assessments to make referrals to appropriate professionals. This Center is currently researching screening tools that are in line with the Center’s philosophy and screening will not take place during this school year.
Other formal types of assessment may be conducted at the Center by the appropriate professionals (Early Intervention, Preschool Assist) as part of the referral/child find process and only with parental permission.
Experience has shown us that the initial entry to the program can be an unsettling time for children and parents. Separation on some days is difficult. We encourage you to come into the Center, explore with your child, and talk about the day’s events. We have found it is very helpful to avoid rushing during this time and to establish a routine for both drop off and pick up. Taking a few minutes to be involved helps your child to feel a sense of security. Feel free to take that time. Before you leave your child at the Center for the day, make sure that a staff member has greeted and welcomed your child. This is especially important if you are dropping your child off while the group is on the playground.
A brochure giving suggestions for easing separations will be sent to families whose children are new to the Center before we open in September. The director and the teachers are also available to offer suggestions, both before and after opening day. Please feel free to call the Center at any time during the day to check on how your child is doing. The phone number is (603) 535-2299.
All families must sign their children in and out every day. Signing in and out is crucial to the safety of your child during fire drills or emergencies that might occur.
Be sure to check your family mailbox and/or your email account (if given) daily. If you would like to leave a special note for the staff regarding your child, please leave a message in the designated area in the child’s classroom, with the staff member who greets you and your child or to the staff member’s email.
Please call (603) 535-2299 to notify us if your child will not be attending on a scheduled day. We would appreciate a call before 9 a.m.
When you arrive for pick up, you may find your child involved in some serious play. The transition to leave the Center can be as difficult for your child as it is to leave you in the morning. Give your child some time to finish what he or she is doing and take time, when possible, to explore the Center and get to know us better. Please sign your child out and let the staff know that you and your child are leaving. This is very important if the group is on the playground.
Please keep in mind that children begin resting at the Center at 12:15pm and some remain resting until 3pm. We ask that you help us to create a restful environment by talking softly and walking quietly in the hallways during this time.
The Center building closes at 5:15pm. All families must have exited the building by this time.
Who May Pick up Your Child
Only a child’s parent, guardian, or a person designated by the child’s parent or guardian will be allowed to pick up the child. Please be aware that if the staff does not know the person you have designated to pick up your child, that person will be asked for photo identification (please ask your designated pick-up person to carry a photo I.D.). No child will be released to anyone other than a parent or guardian without the signed permission of the parent/guardian. Families are asked to identify designated pick-up persons on the child’s registration forms.
Center staff will not release children to anyone under the age of 16.
Please speak with the director if there is a specific person whom you do not wish to be allowed to pick up your child, as there are legal issues involved. At that time, we will discuss the protocol to be followed if the unauthorized person arrives to pick up your child.
All children who attend the Center need to be in a car safety seat by state law. If a staff member notices that there is no child safety seat for the child being picked up, the staff member will request that the person picking up the child provide one before the child is released.
If a staff member has reason to suspect that a person who has arrived to pick up a child is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the staff member will request that another authorized pick-up person be called to pick up the child.
Late Pick ups
Being picked up late is very stressful and worrisome to young children. If there is an emergency and you will be a few minutes late, please call the Center immediately at (603) 535-2299. Information about when you will arrive or who will be picking up will help us to reassure and comfort your child.
Families who pick up after 5:15pm will be assessed a $20.00 late pick up fee. Families who pick up later than 5:30pm will be charged at a rate of $1.00 per minute late. The fees reflects the overtime pay staff receive when they must extend their work day due to a late pick-up.
If at closing time no one has come to pick up a child and we have not heard from the child’s family, we will try to contact the family by phone. If we cannot reach the family, we will begin calling the emergency contacts named by the family on the child’s registration forms. At one hour after closing time, if we have not heard from the family and have not been able to contact someone authorized to pick up the child, we will contact Plymouth State University Campus Police, the Plymouth Police Department, and Child Protection Services.
All aspects of the children’s growth, development, and family life are treated in a confidential manner at the Center. A primary professional concern of all the staff is to protect the rights of all children. Families are requested to speak only with the teachers or the director when discussing confidential information. Please do not pass on any important information with students who are working in the classrooms.
The only people permitted access to your child’s records and registration information are you (the parent or legal guardian) and appropriate Center employees. We will not give out information to others without written consent of the family or legal guardian. We also will not verify your child’s enrollment to others without your consent. As part of our confidentiality policy, the name of a child who may have caused an accident or injury to another child will not be disclosed to others by the staff and will not be identified on the accident report.
In the interests of confidentiality, we do not give out addresses and phone numbers of children to families of other children in the program. Families will be given an option to be part of a Center directory at the beginning of the year. If you would like to communicate with another child’s family, we encourage you to be a part of the directory or leave a note for the family in their Center mailbox.
We also do not distribute phone number of students who work at the Center. If you are interested in contacting a particular student for babysitting purposes, feel free to leave a note for that individual in the office.
Students who work at the Center are not permitted to discuss children outside of the Center or with families. Please do not put students in an awkward position by requesting information about your child, other children, or Center staff. Students who are found to engage in such discussions will lose their position at the Center. If you have any questions about your child, please discuss them with your child’s teachers only.
Providing a safe and healthy environment is a primary concern of Center staff. The Center is inspected by a Health and Safety Inspector from the Town of Plymouth in order to meet state licensing regulations. Care must be taken regarding natural materials in the playgrounds and used in the classrooms. The Center playground is maintained by the University’s Physical Plant Grounds crew and the Center is cleaned on a daily basis by the University’s Physical Plant Building Maintenance crew. Center staff do frequent classroom and playground safety checks and any concerns are dealt with immediately.
Each classroom and the Center office are equipped with a “panic alarm” in which Center staff is able to call for emergency assistance, if needed.
Drugs, alcohol, weapons and any other significant hazard that poses a risk to children and adults are prohibited.
The staff is trained in disaster preparedness and emergency evacuation procedures. The Center engages in monthly fire drills/evacuation procedures and practices other emergency procedures at least yearly. Evacuation procedures are posted on classroom emergency exits.
The Center for Young Children and Families Suspected Child Abuse policy is based on the premise that it is the responsibility of the entire Center community to do what it can, within the law, to protect all of its children from any episode of child abuse originating from any source. It is a state mandate that anyone who works directly with children and suspects abuse must file a report.
The community should understand that in making a report of suspected child abuse, no definitive judgment is being made by CYCF personnel, that in fact any abuse has taken place. The community should be aware that all suspected child abuse reports made from the CYCF go immediately to DCYF. Their trained personnel decide whether evidence exists to continue an investigation or to drop it.
At the same time, the CYCF does train all its teachers in knowing what might or might not appear to be suspected abuse. In this way, only responsible reporting of suspected abuse is made.
At the CYCF, all those who come into contact with children must be cleared through the State of NH by submission of a Criminal Records check.
A health form completed by a licensed physician must be submitted before a child’s entrance into the program. It is the responsibility of the family to maintain up-to-date health and registration records at the Center. Please notify the Center in writing if there are any changes in your child’s medical status, such as the development of allergies or receiving an immunization.
Children attending the program are expected to be able to participate comfortably in all components of the program, both indoors and outdoors.
Cooking is a frequent part of the curriculum. Please notify your child’s teacher and the director in writing if there are certain foods your child cannot eat because of medical, religious, or cultural reasons. If a child needs to follow a special diet for medical reasons, please provide a note from your doctor giving details of the foods to be avoided.
We try to take the children outside every day, unless there is severe weather. The general rule is that if a child is well enough to come to the Center, he/she is well enough to go outside. However, if the family or teacher(s) have good reasons for not wanting the child outside that day, it must be discussed with the director before any decisions are made.
We believe that it is important for young children to be able to share their excitement about their birthdays with their friends at the Center. Children whose birthdays occur during the summer months when the Center is closed are welcome to celebrate their “half-birthday” at the Center.
We highly encourage families to help their child pick a favorite book that can be shared with the group as their birthday celebration. If you would like to bring in a food item to celebrate your child’s birthday, you must consult your child’s classroom teacher. They will give you a list of foods that would be acceptable. Due to food allergies and family food preferences, we ask that you confer with the teachers and only bring in food items that are on the provided list. In line with accreditation standards, all foods that come from home for sharing must be either whole fruits or commercially prepared packaged foods in factory-sealed containers. If you plan on bringing something in, please notify the program one week before the event.
For safety reasons, balloons should not be sent or brought in to the Center. Balloons present a serious choking hazard to young children. Mylar balloons are safe, but if let go, they pose a problem with the ceiling fans.
If you are bringing in invitations to your child’s birthday party, please place these in the family mailboxes in the hallway or ask the office to assist you. We would prefer that you mail the invitation, if possible, as birthday party invitations (or rather, non-invitations) have caused many hurt feelings among the children in the past. We encourage you talk with your child about the hurt feelings that can result from a comment such as, “You’re not invited to my birthday party,” and to discourage such comments.
At the Center we respect and value the different ways families choose to celebrate different holidays. We try not to over-emphasize holidays, but to focus on celebrations of events that are meaningful and interesting to young children. Holidays can be as stressful for young children as they can be for adults. Therefore, we try to keep our environment and routines as predictable and “the same” as possible. We welcome input from all the children and their families about special family celebrations.
At the Center, we understand discipline to mean helping children to learn acceptable behavior. We believe that children begin to learn self-discipline, or how to guide their own behavior, when they are treated with respect. We do not use the same discipline techniques in every situation, for we recognize that each child and each situation is unique. Still, all staff members at the Center recognize and follow certain general discipline techniques, as endorsed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children:
- Setting clear, consistent, and fair guidelines for classroom behavior, and remind children of these guidelines when necessary.
- Listening carefully to what children have to say about their feelings.
- Regarding mistakes as opportunities for learning.
- Helping children to develop the skills to solve their own conflicts.
- Modeling appropriate and respectful treatment of people and materials.
- Redirecting children to a more acceptable behavior or activity.
In the case of inappropriate behavior, a staff member would first try to determine what happened, and then use their professional judgment to decide how best to handle the situation. Children are encouraged to talk about what is bothering them, and staff members try to involve children in resolving conflicts. Staff members also try to help the children to see each other’s point of view, which is a first step in developing empathy, an important prosocial behavior.
The Center does not use a “time out” chair or area. On occasion, a child may be redirected away from a group or activity, but this is not used as a punishment. Instead, an attempt is made to change the situation that is leading to inappropriate behavior.
Techniques that are not used at the Center under any circumstances are hitting, yelling, criticizing, threatening, making hurtful or sarcastic comments, withholding food from a child during snack or lunch time, or denying a child outdoor time.
Family involvement is heartily welcomed at the Center. In the past, family members have read to the children, participated in cooking activities, shared information about their occupations and hobbies, and talked with the children about special holidays or customs. If you would like to share something with the children, please let one of the teachers know, and we will try to arrange a good time for your visit.
We welcome parents and other family members to our Center at any time during the day. We ask that all visitors report to the main office at the Center before going to the classrooms, except when dropping off or picking up children.
Occasionally families ask if their child(ren) (who are Center alumni) can come to visit the Center in order to visit former classmates and teachers. We are very happy when this happens. It gives the children and staff a chance to maintain those important friendships that mean so much to all of us. However, due to licensing regulations, we must require that the visiting child(ren) stay for a maximum of ½ day (8am – 12:30pm) and are accompanied by their parent(s) or guardian(s) for the entire stay.
The family “workshops” offered several times each year provide opportunities for families to get together informally with staff and with each other to discuss topics of special interest. Each fall, families are sent a survey to determine their choices of days, times, and topics for workshops. If you feel you would like to offer a workshop, or if you’d like to recommend a speaker, please contact the director.
The Center will also continue to send daily news about classroom events, occasional newsletters, as well as appropriate articles related to child development. Families who have a particular interest in or concern about an area of child development are encouraged to talk with the teachers or director.
We will keep you informed about speakers or workshops being held in the area that may be of interest to families.
Successful communication between the families and the Center is one of the most important components of our educational success. Families need to know what their children are doing and learning at the Center, and teachers need to know about a child’s life at home. When teachers, administrators and families all work together, children benefit.
At the Center for Young Children and Families, we offer a variety of both formal and informal opportunities for communication between home and Center.
It is the intention of our staff to “touch base” on a daily basis with each family. However, teachers are unable to engage in lengthy conversation during their time with the children. Each program posts important and timely information about your child’s program on a Family Information Bulletin Board in or just outside of each classroom, and sends the information to provided email accounts, places other messages of importance in your family mailbox in the front hallway. Each program uses a selection of the following methods to communicate with families:
- Monthly Newsletter and Calendar
- Daily Happenings-posted on Family Information Bulletin Board
- Classroom Documentation Panels-posted around the classrooms
- Parent/Teacher Meetings and Conferences
Families are strongly encouraged to “connect” with teachers on a daily basis, when dropping off or picking up children. During the Center hours, however, longer discussions are somewhat distracting if the teacher is not expecting your visit. It can be especially difficult for the teacher to have an extended conversation with you at drop-off time in the morning or pick-up time in the evening, when many children will be requiring their attention. If you have a specific question or concern, please ask the teacher in person or in a note to arrange a time when you both can have some uninterrupted time to talk.
Family/Teacher conferences are available at any time that you request. Each program offers scheduled conferences twice a year.
Please direct your questions and concerns about your child or about the program in general to your child’s teacher or to the director. The director and teachers will always make time available to talk with families.
In our day-to-day communication with families, we strive to resolve issues as they come up. However, from time to time a family may feel that an issue has not been satisfactorily addressed or resolved, and may wish to pursue the matter further.
It is essential that families are heard when they raise a grievance. All family grievances should be addressed initially at the level closest to the event in an effort to achieve a resolution. The early identification of a grievance and the prompt initiation of a resolution can help avert further problems.
The order and levels through which a grievance resolution should proceed is:
- Classroom Teacher
- Early Childhood Committee
The Center’s fund-raising program is intended to purchase equipment or provide special activities for the children. In planning fund-raising activities, we try to plan events that can be enjoyed by the entire family and/or to offer beautiful and useful products for sale. You will be notified as fund-raisers are chosen.
Some of the money we raise will be designated for the Miller Fund. The Miller Fund was established in 1994 to honor retiring Education Department faculty member Dr. James Miller. The Miller Fund provides modest financial support to Plymouth State University students who have children attending the Center.
It is by no means the intention of the Center that the children should be involved in selling products or tickets to an event. No child or family member is required to participate in any fundraiser.
The Center participates in yearly program evaluation utilizing the NAEYC Accreditation Self-Study materials as the format for this evaluation. Family Surveys are an important component of this evaluation. All of us at the Center are interested in knowing how families feel about the care and education we are providing. We welcome verbal and written feedback at all times.
Special events at the Center are often photographed by the Plymouth State University Communications & Marketing Department. Families are asked to sign a blanket permission form for their child to be photographed. Children whose families do not give permission will not be photographed.
Families who wish to come in and take photographs or videotape in their child’s classroom are requested to talk with the teacher first. All families sign a permission slip either allowing or refusing permission for their children) to be included in photographs or video taken by families of other children in the classroom. Children whose parents do not give permission will not be photographed and/or videotaped.
The Center for Young Children and Families is part of an early childhood teacher education department and is considered a laboratory school for students. The use of video technology and photographs is part of the early childhood teacher-training curriculum. Children will sometimes be videotaped or photographed during play and will have opportunities to view themselves. The videos and photos will only be shown within the Center or in early childhood classes. These videotapes will remain at the Center. Photographs may be used in documentation panels, which remain at the Center and then are later destroyed, and in early childhood student portfolios, without the use of children’s real names.
For health and safety reasons, we ask that no pets be brought into the Center unless a special visit has been arranged with your child’s classroom teacher. Due to state licensing many types of animals may not enter child care programs. Many children and adults are allergic to animals and many young children are afraid of them. The classroom teachers will be aware of any such issues and will be able to determine whether a visit by a particular animal would be permissible and/or advisable.
The Center for Young Children and Families offers many opportunities for the children to explore the campus and the community. Children will often take walking trips to the bakery or hardware store, have a picnic on the green, go to the library, and make other short trips. Families must complete a blanket permission slip for these short-walking trips. For trips with a specific visiting destination (such as the HUB), parents will be notified in advance and given an additional permission slip to be completed.
Field trips are an integral part of an early childhood education program. These trips offer children opportunities to observe, explore, and discuss aspects of their environment. All trips are supervised by the staff. The Center has many wonderful trips available within walking distance and we try to limit field trips to walking locations
No child is required to go on any field trip. If you do not wish your child to attend a field trip, childcare will be provided at the Center in another classroom. Please understand that field trips are chosen carefully by the staff to complement curriculum and to provide interesting and appropriate opportunities for the children to become acquainted with the world outside of the Center.
When children participate in any field or walking trip, staff carry a child’s family and emergency contact information and any special medical information and instructions we have for the children in a field trip notebook. This information helps us to contact families immediately in an emergency and to meet the child’s individual medical needs, if necessary. A fully stocked first aid kit, including any emergency medicines your child may require, is carried on all trips. The staff carries a cell phone with them on trips and the Center has on file a field trip plan which includes Departure and arrival back to Center times, exact travel routes and any stops to be made. Staff call the Center office when there is any variation to the plan. Cell phones are used by staff to contact the Center and other necessary entities in emergency situations.
On days of inclement weather, the Center will follow the University’s schedule for delays or closings. There are days when the local schools operate on a delay or are closed and the university does not. In this case, the Center may operate on a two-hour delay. Closings and delays are posted on WMUR and on the Center’s outgoing phone message. Families of children scheduled to attend the Center will need to call the family line at the Center (603-535-2299). This number will be updated with the day, date, and the announcement of the delayed opening or closing on these days. The information on this number will be updated as soon as we receive notification from the local school districts or the University. Families may also sign up for the Remind Alert system which will send a text and/or email to accounts provided by the family. Information about the Remind system will be sent to families early in the school year.
If you decide to keep your child at home on a severe weather day, we would appreciate a call from you to let us know. This helps us plan staffing, which is a priority on days when some staff cannot make it to the Center.