Parent Handbook

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Welcome to the Malden Public Schools’ Early Learning Center.  Our mission is to provide the groundwork that empowers all children to become enthusiastic and competent lifelong learners.  After all, college and career readiness starts in preschool!

The ELC’s vision is to utilize developmentally appropriate curricula and instructional practices in order to provide children with the readiness skills needed to achieve as lifelong learners.  We look at education as being sequential and we’ve collaborated with the district’s elementary schools to ensure our curriculum transitions into the work your child will do throughout their years in Malden Public Schools.  In fact, we have purposely chosen curricula that are aligned with those of Kindergarten to grade 3.

This handbook has been designed to provide you with some useful information about the ELC.  Our classes are integrated and are designed to promote growth in all areas of development for children with and without disabilities.  Our program is based on two critical beliefs as to how young children learn. First, they learn best through play and direct engagement with concepts through hand-on activities in a natural environment. Secondly, although children develop through a generally predictable sequence of steps and milestones, they may not proceed through these steps in the same way or at the same time. Through play and explorative experiences, children continually refine their skill development and understanding.  Our teachers will strive to observe their students’ play, performance on tasks, and development, identifying signals for providing new stimulation and challengesMoreover, the ELC staff will ensure that all of our students have opportunities to participate in a multitude of experiences that provide foundations for learning in various disciplines and developmental areas – cognitive, language, fine and gross motor, self-help and social-emotionalAs the school year proceeds, your child’s progress will be carefully monitored.

If you have any questions or concerns at any time, please do not hesitate to call me at 781-397-7025 or 781-397-7027.

 

Our curriculum

Literacy Express is a comprehensive, research-based preschool curriculum which addresses the key components of early literacy instruction through large and small group activities.  The curriculum is organized around ten thematic units which last three to four weeks each. The themes are:

  1. All About Me
  2. Fairy Tales and Fables
  3. Rhyme (Nursery Rhymes)
  4. Safety First
  5. At the Zoo
  6. Nutrition
  7. Transportation
  8. Bugs and Insects
  9. Growing Things: Plants and Seeds
  10. Under the Sea

Embedded within each unit are goals and activities designed to prompt children’s skills in the following areas:

  • Oral-language – building children’s abilities to answer questions, identify and name target vocabulary, and create longer, more sophisticated sentences.
  • Phonological sensitivity – developing their capacity to analyze words in terms of their parts and sounds
  • Print awareness – increasing their ability to recognize and name letters and their sounds.

 

Tools of the Mind is a research-based program that focuses on practices that enhance both the teaching of literacy and the development of self-regulation and higher-level thinking skills in children through imaginative play.  A large part of this curriculum is to have students take on imaginative roles (cashier, carpenter, doctor, mother, etc) and making, drawing, and writing play plans.  Students then execute these plans during play. The process of creating a play plan and then acting it out develops oral language, social skills, self-regulation, memory, and literacy skills.  Tools of the Mind also supports the development of private speech, or the way in which children (and adults)  talk themselves through difficult, multi-step tasks.  Private speech is an important way that we all regulate our thinking and actions.  Through teacher support, the introduction and application of such strategies as private speech, and the use of other techniques, Tools of the Mind ties in with the curricula of Kindergarten and prepares children and provides them with the tools to tackle all types of learning activities.

Visits to School

The Malden Public School’s ELC has an open door policy and parents are welcome.  Due to safety reasons, parents must sign in at the school office when they visit, come to school for an appointment drop their children off late, or pick up their children early.  Once school has begun, all visitors enter by the front door on Mountain Avenue or the back door in the playground area.  Please be advised that our parking lot can get very busy at drop off and pick it.  It goes without saying that patience and safety should be exercised at all times.  If you choose to park on Mountain Ave, do not block any driveway and do not park in any driveway. Consideration for our neighbors goes a very long way!

Preschool classes have scheduled parent-teacher visitations two times a year, but meetings can be scheduled whenever a request is made.  Moreover, parent participation is welcomed and appreciated.  It may include reading a book to your child’s class, engaging in specific classroom activities, and/or providing assistance during certain tasks.

Teachers will work with parents to ensure a smooth transition to school for their children.  Staff members are sensitive to the transition that children may have to make between school, home, and/or daycare and will meet with the parents if problems persist beyond the typical adjustment period.

 

Communication/Observations

As previously stated, the ELC has an open door policy and parents are welcome to visit.  Parent participation within the classroom setting or within the school is much appreciated and can be arranged with your child’s teacher.

A calendar of events is sent home monthly detailing activities that will be taking place in the classroom and in the school.  Although teachers see most parents daily, they are available to meet with parents by appointment regarding concerns they may have about their child’s development.  Throughout the year, parent seminars and support groups are available on all aspects of child rearing.  Notices will be sent home providing information and scheduled times for these meetings.

The best ways to get in touch with staff are to send a note in your child’s lunch box or email your child’s teacher.  Please notify us if anything is happening at home which may affect your child.

Your input relative to the quality of our program is important to us.  We will be sending out a questionnaire near the end of the school year asking you to evaluate all aspects of the program.  It is through this evaluation that we are able to assess what program changes need to be considered.

 

Medical Information/General Care

All children entering the program need to have a physical examination and have all their immunizations up to date.  No child will be admitted without immunizations.  If your child is sick, please keep him/her at home. While she or he returns to school, please send a note of explanation as to your child’s illness or absence.  In this way, we can monitor your child’s health, as well as that of the other children in the classroom.  If your child has allergies or other medical or dietary concerns, please notify us.

Staff will inform parents regarding injuries and any changes in children’s health or eating habits.  We ask that parents keep the school updated with changes in contact information; it is crucial that we are able to contact you when necessary.

All typically developing children should be toilet trained before entering the preschool program.  Children diagnosed with special needs do not have to be toilet trained.  Diapers and wipes are not supplied by the school and should be sent in daily or weekly, whichever is easier for you.  Moreover, please send in a change of clothes that are labeled with your child’s name and can be kept in school or in your child’s bag.

 

Snack/Lunch

At this point and time, because a number of our students have serious peanut allergies, we are a nut-free school.  Tasting, touching, and smelling nuts could be life-threatening for them.  Please do not pack snacks and lunches with nuts in them.  We ask that you read the ingredients on the packaging of snacks, cookies, etc., before putting them in your child’s lunch/snack bag.

Half-Day Sessions: Children attending half-day session have daily snack time during both morning and afternoon sessions.  Please send in a drink and a small lunch or snack for your child.  Milk can be purchased each day.  Please note that we are a nut-free school and no food products with nuts can be allowed.

Full-Day Sessions: Children who attend the full-day classes will have a designated lunch period and will eat in the children’s lunchroom.  Lunches/drinks can be brought from home or purchased in school.  Please note that we are a nut-free school and no food products with nuts can be allowed.

Before and After School Programs:  Breakfast can be brought from home to be eaten during the before school program or students can purchase a breakfast in the cafeteria. Parents should pack a snack and drink for their children to have during the after school program.  Please note that we are a nut-free school and no food products with nuts can be allowed.

 Income eligible children are entitled to free or reduced milk and/or lunch.  Forms will be sent home for you to complete.  Please fill out and return the form as soon as possible to determine if your family qualifies.

We will be talking to the children throughout the year about healthy and nutritious foods.  In response to Malden Public School’s wellness program, birthday parties and holidays can not be celebrated with food items. Please review the following notification and talk to your child’s teacher about how to best plan or contribute to a classroom celebration. 

In response to the increase in food allergies and the rapidly rising obesity epidemic in children and adults in the US, the Federal Government, Mass. Department of Public Health, and the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have mandated that every school must have a Wellness Policy. Consequences for not following this mandate is a loss of money to the school system.   This Policy has to conform to these Agencies nutritional requirements, as well as physical activity.   This becomes effective March 14, 2011.

Malden Public Schools has developed a Wellness Policy that meets these requirements and  addresses health related issues, which include obesity, food allergies, physical activity, and good nutrition for all students and staff. Malden Public Schools are very concerned over the tremendous rise in obesity and food related allergies. Our Policy helps to promote and maintain the health and safety of all our students and staff.

  • Students can no longer can bring into school fast food, junk food,  pizza, etc., that has been purchased outside of school during the school day.  They cannot go to a pizza or fast food restaurant, buy food and bring it back into the school nor can they order food to be delivered
  • Parents can no longer bring into school baked goods or any other prepared food that is meant to be shared with their children’s classmates.
  • The only food from outside allowed in classrooms is food provided from home for an individual child’s lunch and/or snack.
  • Fundraisers that provide “instant” food-candy bars, cookies, etc., are no longer allowed during the school day as well as 30 minutes before school starts and/or the 30 minutes after school ends. Food centered fundraisers may take place outside of these hours. This is in accordance with laws for Food Service in schools.
  • Fundraisers that sell food items that need to be ordered may still take place.
  • Food is no longer used as a reward for students. 

The  Malden Food Service meets the criteria that these Agencies require.

The Wellness Committee will be working with students and staff to implement this mandate.

Parental participation and support of the Wellness Policy is extremely important to the success of it. We are open to suggestions, comments and ways to make this a smooth transition.

Contact:      Karen Reynolds, RN, BSN, MSN/MBA

Nursing Supervisor               Wellness Committee

 General Schedule

The ELC’s programs follow the Malden Public School’s calendar, which has been included in this handbook.  Times for all programs are as follows:

  • The morning preschool session begins at 8:00am with dismissal at 11am.
  • The afternoon preschool program runs from 11:30am to 2:00pm.
  • The full-day preschool classes run from 8:30am-2:30pm or from 8:00am-2:00pm.
  • The before school program is available starting at 7:00am.  During this time the children are supervised eating breakfast and/or playing in the indoor playground.
  • The after school program takes place from 2pm until 5:30pm.  Children will eat a snack and participate in enrichment activities.  Parents will be able to pick their children up anytime during this time period.

Professional Days

There are several professional development days for teachers per year.  All classes in the schools are closed during these days.  The professional development days are marked on the included school calendar.  There are also early release days.  The times for the early release days are as follows:

AM: 8am-10am

PM:  10:30am-12:30am

Full Day: dismissal at 12:30

After school will be canceled

Parents, please know that you will only be charged for the time that your child is in school.  Therefore, tuition will be reduced or eliminated for half-days or professional days, respectively.

School Closings

If it becomes necessary to close school due to snow or other emergencies, notification can be heard on WHDH and WBZ radio, as well as seen on the local TV news stations.  Dr. DeRuosi, Malden’s superintendent, will also make ConnectEd phone calls to inform families of any school closings or cancelations.

Payments/Refunds

Monthly tuition bills will be given to you prior to your child’s attendance in school for the upcoming month.  Tuition should then be paid by check or money order payable to the Malden Public Schools.  No cash will be accepted.  Information or questions regarding payment should be made to the office at 781-397-7025.

When your child is registered, you will sign a tuition contract.  Should your tuition become more than on month in arrears, you will be asked to withdraw your child from the program unless a payment arrangement has been made with the ELC’s office.  The ELC is very sensitive to changing financial situation and will attempt to work out a payment schedule with all parents when needed. A late fee will be charged if tuition payments are not received in a timely manner.

Tuition vouchers are available to children whose parents/guardians are working, disabled, attending school, and/or retired and meet the guidelines specified by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).  In order to receive financial assistance, it is necessary for families to be placed on the centralized EEC waitlist.  ELC staff can assist families in putting their names on the waitlist. Families will then be contracted by Child Care Circuit when vouchers are available.

Monthly tuition costs will be based on the number of days your child is expected to attend school during that particular month.  Parents are expected to pay tuition when their children are absent. Days called off due to inclement weather are made up at the end of the school year.  Tuition for those days will be reimbursed the following month and parents will then pay for the days in June.

If a child and his or her family take an extended leave from school, full tuition will be charged for the entire leave period in order to hold the slot.

During the course of any given year, we may choose to provide children with additional programs or services to enhance their overall development. Parents can choose not to have their children participate.  If so, the children will remain at home.  However, parents are still responsible for tuition that day.

We cannot emphasize the importance of being on time in picking your child(ren) up from school.  We understand that circumstances occur that can cause any of us to be late.  Please call the office to let us know if you will not be able to get to the school on time (781-397-7025).  When you are late, children attending the half-day morning program can be picked up at the office.  Children in the half-day afternoon of full-day programs can be picked up in the after school program.  Each late pick up will be subject to an additional $17 fee being added to the tuition bill.

Behavior Management

Preschool children are active and curious and are in the process of learning to control their behavior and impulses.  Should your child be having difficulty controlling his/her behavior within the classroom setting, the following behavior management program is generally used to provide positive encouragement and reinforcement for appropriate behaviors. Children are required to discontinue the negative behavior (hitting, pushing, destroying property).  Time-outs are used to allow the child time to de-escalate.  Talking about what he/she has done that was inappropriate and how he/she could have used more socially appropriate alternatives is then conducted with his/her teacher.  Children are timed out for a very short period – usually one to two minutes – before rejoining their classmates.

Individualized behavior management programs will be devised and followed for children requiring them.  Moreover, in the even that a child’s behavior is out of control and presents a danger to other children or to himself/herself, it maybe necessary to restrain the child or to remove him/her from the classroom until or she calms down.  Restraints, our last resort, will be done by staff who have received restrain training in accordance to the guidelines and regulations of the Department of Education.  Parents will be notified at all times when restraint is used or if a pattern of disruptions or uncontrollable behavior persists.  A meeting will be held so that behavioral issues can be jointly addressed at school and at home.

Special Needs Information

 

The majority of our preschool classes are integrated and include children with and without disabilities.  A transdisciplinary approach is used whereby special educators and classroom teachers collaborate to design and implement individualized programs so that the specific needs of all children are addressed throughout the entire session. Special educators work in the classroom setting and plan with the classroom teacher to ensure that the students’ needs are being met consistently.

Throughout a child’s initial evaluation, parents will be provided with information on their rights.  All members of the transdisciplinary  team will be present at the Evaluation Meeting and together with the parents will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the child if found eligible for special education.

Annual reviews will be held prior to the expiration of a child’s educational program.  Progress reports based on the goals and objectives listed in each IEP will be sent home two times yearly.

Transportation

Parents are expected to transport or arrange for transportation for their children to and from the preschool program.  Some of the children with IEPs, depending on the severity of their special needs, are transported to and from school by a contracted transportation service.  It is extremely important to keep emergency information forms complete, up to date, and on file with the classroom teacher and the office.

In case of illness or emergency

In the event that any child becomes ill at school and needs to be sent home, our policy is as follows

  1. We will attempt to contact the parents to pick up their child from school.
  2. If the parents are not available, we will contact the responsible adult designated on the emergency form and request that he or she pick the child up at school.

It is crucial that we have updated contact information at all times!  Tell the office immediately if your phone number or home address change for any reason.