Parent Handbook

The Basics

Phase-In & Orientation

The first few weeks of classes are dedicated to building the new school ‘family’: helping the children integrate into a new environment, meeting new peers and establishing a positive feeling in the classroom. Limits and guidelines, essential to developing a secure, predictable and caring atmosphere, are introduced while spending time enjoying group activities, ensuring that each child begins the year as positively as he or she can. The first day at school is a short ‘drop-in’ orientation, where families can assist their child in finding their cubby, settling in belongings, dropping off school supplies and attending to paperwork. Some children have never been away from their primary caregiver. Gradual entry gently helps bring a child through the variety of adjustments associated with starting school. The cues for a gradual entry process are taken from the child and separation is hard to predict. New parents need to be prepared to be available for support in the hallway and by phone for the first two weeks or so of school.

Arrival

Parking is available at our entry beside our playground. An adult must accompany children inside and assist their child with his/her belongings at their cubby. The sign-in sheet must be signed by the adult dropping the child/ren off. It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure the teacher is made aware of the child’s arrival. It is important that arrival and dismissal times be closely adhered to. The time before every class is vital for classroom preparation to ensure a smooth and productive day. We ask parents to not permit children to run in the hallway as a dramatic contrast between the outside/hallway space and classroom space will make for a difficult and unproductive transition. Please arrive on time. If you arrive late, please open the classroom door and allow your child to enter. Remember, when children arrive late, they may be missing out on important routines, social interaction and preparatory discussion.

Departure

Please wait outside the classroom door for your child to be dismissed. Let the teacher know (also note it on the sign in sheet) if you would like to pick up your child early, so that the child will be ready when you arrive. The teacher will NOT RELEASE the child to any unauthorized persons or siblings under the age of 19. If a pick-up person change must be made, we must have it in writing. In a real emergency situation, a quick phone call before pickup time is enough. If, in our best judgment, the person arriving to pick up a child, is impaired or incapable of providing safe care, the school reserves the right to not release the child until a competent authorized adult arrives. If a custodial arrangement exists, we require a copy of the court agreement. Please be sure to pick up your child promptly, as the time scheduled between classes is used by the teachers to eat lunch and prepare for the other classes. Also, it is important to remember that children can become very distressed and anxious, thinking themselves forgotten, when Mummy or Daddy are not there with the other parents.

Greetings

The daily transition from home into the classroom is an important part of the day. Greeting the teacher is the first transition of the day for the child. In order to make this transition as smooth as possible, we ask that special good-byes are done before each child greets the teacher. This allows the child to build independence, ease their transition and form special bonds with new friends as they enter the classroom.

Attendance

We would really appreciate a quick telephone call should your child/ren not be able to attend school. Parents are asked to notify the school when a child will be absent for more than 2 days. Leave a message on our machine if the teacher is unable to respond to the phone. Please keep your child at home if he or she is to ill to enjoy a positive experience. We do enjoy outdoor activities, so we ask you not to send your child to school if you do not want him or her to go outside. It is not fair to keep the whole class inside because one child is not well enough to go outside. In this case, the child needs to stay at home. The school may send a child home upon arrival at the door should the staff feel that the child is not well enough to attend. If your child has a communicable disease, please notify us, as we are required by the Vancouver Community Health to report communicable diseases in the community.

The Hallway Space

The Hallway is an extension of our classroom space and it is essential to the subtle transition from home into the world of school. It should be calming and supportive, especially for children who may be having challenges at home with things like sleeping, a new sibling, getting over an illness and things like the emergence of new power struggles. This is hard to achieve when distracted by shouting and excited running. We need your consistent and concerted efforts to maintain a calm Hallway environment. Please pay close attention to your children’s behavior and consistently remind your child and friends to use ‘inside voices and feet’.

Medical Emergency

In the event of an accident or sudden onset of illness, the school will immediately seek proper care for a child. The child’s individual health and emergency instructions on file at the school are consulted immediately and the parents are called. If necessary, the child will be transported by ambulance to the BC Children’s Hospital accompanied by a teacher if the parent is not on the school premises. Important health and emergency data, including parental consent, will accompany the child so that treatment can be given immediately in the absence of a parent. The school is required to have a complete health history and emergency information on file for each child enrolled. It is the parents’ responsibility to keep this critical information up to date at all times.

Fire & Earthquake

Both fire and earthquake drills are practiced regularly every month. Should there be an emergency on the school premises such that we cannot use the school building (i.e. earthquake, flooding, fire, etc.), students and staff will gather, if possible, outside in back of the school. Parent’s efforts to reach the school with local phone lines may be unsuccessful, so parents will need to remember their Out-of-Town Contact Person/number to leave a message with them as to your whereabouts and condition, as would the school. Please program your contact Person’s number info your cellular phone. In a crisis, staff will remain with the children at the school until all the children are safely collected by a parent or authorized adult.

Physical Aggression Towards Another Child

It is natural for young children to still be working out the boundaries of personal space and test limitations and we are prepared for such occurrences. However, in the event that a child demonstrates a more serious or repetitive pattern of physical aggression towards other children, such as hitting, kicking, spitting or biting, the school will immediately call parents and ask for the child to be taken home. This is so parents can support productive intervention and have the opportunity to work through the behavior within a relevant time frame. The parents of a child who may have been injured shall also be notified.

Toys

Occasionally we see toys and other articles from home arrive in our classroom. Items pertaining to class subjects, family trips and objects relating to nature are most welcome to be shared with the class, and are usually a source of great pride for your child/ren and become the subject of intense interest on the part of others. Any plastic mass-produced, commercialized toys and jewelry need to stay at home. Remember, sometimes the sharing can be positive and, at other times, difficult. Damage to very treasured or valuable items and the struggle over the reality of sharing can lead quickly to tears; So we ask parents to firmly encourage your child to leave these types of items at home or in the car.

Candy

Candy of any sort is not permitted at Noah’s Ark, including in the Hallway, the Cubbies and the area just outside our school doors. Also, make sure your child does not have any candy or gum in the mouth upon arrival. Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter and Chinese New Year are time when a lot of sugar is consumed. Please save it for home.

Uniforms

Parents will be able to size and order uniforms at Orientation. All children must wear uniforms every school day. In fairness to all families and children who wear their uniforms each day, it must be noted that  children who repeatedly do not meet uniform guidelines, may be asked to return home to change. You do not need to buy the uniforms from Noah’s Ark if your child already has navy, white or grey polo shirts, T-shirts, turtlenecks or dress shirts and blue sweatpants and sweatshirt. Children are permitted to wear any plain blue pants, denims or skirts as long as they are comfortable and appropriate for play. If your “uniform” from home has a small logo on them, i.e., GAP, Old Navy, a small crest, this is OK. Children may not attend school wearing any commercialized screen-printed clothing, i.e. Disney, Power Ranger, Ninja Turtles, Barbie, etc. Overalls are not appropriate as they are difficult to unhook when children need to ‘go’ and straps often fall into the toilet bowl(!). Note: we have some very inexpensive second hand uniforms also available. It is essential that your child has simple, well-fitting indoor running shoes with slip-on/velcro closures for inside class time. No slippers please.

Snack

The children may help themselves at anytime during the class to fresh and dried fruit, cereal, and crackers, which are provided each day by the school. Water is available to drink in cups, clearly labeled and brought from home on the first day of school.

Birthday Celebrations

If you wish your child to share his or her birthday by sending in a special snack to share with the class, please feel free to do so, letting us know your choice of day in advance so we can accommodate it into the programming. Celebrated often before lunchtime, we have found that empty, sugar-laden cakes and cupcakes are a poor nutritional choice for our children. Please bring in your child’s favourite fruit and/or vegetable to share- get creative, fruit kebobs are a fun and easily distributed yummy snack the children love! Or try a making a simple dip with your child to go with your child’s favourite fresh vegetables. If you are having a party outside of school, and you would like to hand out invitations on the school premises, your child (not the teacher) may personally give out invitations to all of the class at the very end of the day in the cubby area. To avoid tears, remember not to leave invitations in lockers as they sometimes get lost or misplaced. Please note that parents will not be allowed to take photos during the class birthday celebration.

Lunches for Ark Elementary/Extended Day

For the elementary class, children need to bring a lunch from home. We have a microwave oven to warm food up, so a healthy pasta in a microwavable thermos is a great idea, for example. When packing your child’s lunches, please remember for the safety of our children with food allergies, that Noah’s Ark is a Peanut-Free/Seafood-Free Zone. Also, please keep in mind that food containing excessive sugar and artificial colour/food dyes are not permitted at school. Lunches brought to school should contain a healthy balance of protein, dairy, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and no sugary snacks. Please do NOT pack a juice beverage.

Field Trips

Field trips are designed to enhance the emerging curriculum, according to the needs and interests of the children in each class. We plan trips that are safe, encourage children to explore and provide new experiences. Trips often involve a car or bus ride for longer distances or a walk to neighborhood locations. There will be an opportunity for you to fill out an availability form for volunteering to drive on school excursions and ensure a safe trip. Remember, not all parents who want to volunteer for a trip can come, but we will remember you and provide another opportunity to participate another time. Returning your field trip permission/volunteer form promptly will help us better prepare.

School Newsletter

Please read it. We work hard to keep our families in the loop. It contains vital information about what is happening in the classroom, health alerts, closure dates and field trips. Newsletters will be posted on the website, sent to you by email, and hard copies will be available from the teachers.

Carpools & Playdates

The class list will be made available in September for carpools and playdates. Two playdates a week are strongly recommended. This is a great way for new families to connect with the Noah’s Ark Community and a lovely opportunity to make some new friends! Please feel free to make your own carpool arrangements, but always remember to inform the teachers who is going home with whom, both verbally, and by making a note of it on the sign-in/out sheet at the entrance to the classrooms.

Parent Education Evenings

All parents attend an evening of parent education to further parents’ understanding of what the children are learning, how they learn and why. Parents have told us that they really have enjoyed them in the past and look forward to each new one.

Class Observation Week

Parents are invited to watch their children during class twice a year, approximately two weeks prior to Parent Teacher Conferences, where parents will have an opportunity to discuss observations. For the children’s well being, we ask parents to please remember that they are quiet observers of the class in action. This enables parents to concentrate on watching, without the distraction of interaction.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled in winter and late spring following Class Observation Week. School is closed during conferences. This is an opportunity to get in-depth feedback on your child’s progress and ask questions. We ask that parents make alternative childcare arrangements during this time, as we do not want to talk about your child/ren, without his or her participation, in his or her presence. The teachers will coordinate Conference meetings with you. Of course, meetings can be organized at any time during the year if there are any questions or concerns.

Staff

Each staff member meets the credentials required by Provincial Child Care Regulations & Community Childcare Licensing. All our teachers come from recognized training colleges and have current Criminal Record Checks and First Aid/CPR Certification.

Student Teachers & Volunteers

We like to help future teachers with practicum placements during the year. Student teachers have all the required criminal records and health checks. The student teachers are NOT qualified to answer questions regarding your child, his or her development or answer questions about the curriculum. This is something that they are learning as well. Please continue to address questions and concerns to the staff.  We are always interested in hearing from you, since drop-off or pickup time at the door may be sometimes too busy.

Special Information from Home

In order to meet the constantly changing needs of each individual child, the staff would greatly appreciate hearing about any significant changes that may take place in the home environment. Situations which may affect your child’s sense of security, level of attachment, and general well being include: a parent/caregiver being away for an extended period of time, change of caregiver, a new person in the family; hospitalization, accident/illness, new baby, the passing of a family member, death of a pet; separation/divorce, moving home, a new job.

Winter Arts Celebration and Summer Family Day

The Winter Arts Celebration takes place during class on he last day of school in December. Parents are invited to bring a snack and join their children in doing arts and crafts. Children enjoy this day very much, doing & sharing their interests with their parents. The Summer Family Day usually takes place on the last day of class. Parents are invited to bring a snack to share and join in some songs, fun and games.

Bad Weather Closings

Noah’s Ark will close during hazardous snowy conditions. You can find out about school closures by calling the school answering machine and checking for emails sent from the school. The school calendar will remain the same and closures due to hazardous weather conditions will not be made up at a later date.

School Calendar & Professional Days

The school will be closed on all Statutory Holidays and. Winter and Spring Breaks will usually be the follow the School District’s calendar. There may be up to eight professional days scheduled throughout the year. These days are used by the teachers to attend various workshops, observe other schools and for classroom preparation and planning. There will be no school on these days for children.

Questions

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask your child’s teachers. Email is a good way to contact staff and email contact information is listed in the first issue of our newsletter in September. If you need to reach Adina over the summer break, her email address is .

Lost Montessori and Classroom Apparatus

From time to time, the children become very attached to pieces of our Montessori and classroom materials and may take them home. Many pieces may be very small but are critical to an exercise or activity, requiring several weeks to replace. Please return the items to the school if you find one. When a child returns a taken item, he or she is always praised for taking responsibility.