PCC: MAY 2016 MEETING NOTES

Notes from the fourth Parent Collaboration Committee (PCC), which was held at Southeast Center on May 13th, 2016.

Classroom Environment

At ChildRoots, we work diligently to create child-centered classrooms. This means that the spaces are clean and safe, the materials offered are developmentally appropriate and presented in ways that are engaging and inviting, and the atmosphere is welcoming to children and parents.

Things from Home: Toys, Costumes, Books

We ask that children do not bring outside toys into the classroom…ever. Toys from home frequently cause distractions and squabbles amongst the children, and these items (and the difficulties that ensue) also take precious time away from classroom activities. Please ask your child to remove toys, jewelry, and other items from home from their pockets before entering the classroom. Additionally, please refrain from storing food or toys in your child’s cubby or canvas bag.
 
We ask that costumes are worn to school ONLY on days designated by the classroom teachers. Costumes are classified as any clothing that externally transforms a child into a different persona. Any item that can be added to clothing that is unnecessary for warmth and appropriate bodily coverage would be considered a costume accessory and should also be avoided – this includes jewelry. Costumes can alter behavior as children adopt the personas of the character they’re dressing as. Additionally, costumes can restrict movement, cause squabbles between children, and can be very tricky to quickly remove in order to use the toilet.
 
Our resource librarian visits each classroom once every other week, and this allows teachers and children to request almost any book needed for classroom discussions and research. If you have a book recommendation, you can share that information with your teachers, and they can request the books through our resource librarian. We ask that all books from home stay home. 

Signing In and Out

It is essential that children are signed into the classroom upon drop-off and then out of the classroom at pick up. This is a very serious licensing regulation. We must have children who are left into our care signed in when they arrive in the classroom. The sign in sheet provides a written record of who was in our care, when. This is important for emergency evacuations, maintaining staff-to-child ratios, and for proper record keeping.

When a child has been picked up by a parent but has not been signed out, the staff on duty moves into a frenzied panic while they attempt to contact the last teacher on duty or the child’s family to ensure the child is in safe hands. Signing out every day provides our teachers with security that the children left in our care are all accounted for. 

Once your child has been signed out, the responsibility shifts to the parent of the child and no longer the teacher. Teachers should not be asked to care for a child who is no longer signed in to the classroom. Children should not be left alone anywhere in the school building, on the school grounds, or in a car.

Find Your Routine

Morning rituals should be clear and predictable for children. We find that children establish healthy transition patterns when they know exactly when you are leaving the classroom. We find that a brief, consistent drop-off routine is key to a successful transition. Morning classroom activities are designed to engage your child in play with the other children. Your child will likely be able to engage in activities well only after you have left. Until you’re gone, she will be preparing herself for your departure.
 
If you find yourself worried about your morning transitions, you can talk to your teacher or specialist at pick-up about strategies to use for the next day. It is common that families periodically need to reassess and adjust their morning rituals. But, no matter how consistent your drop-off routine is, it is inevitable that, at some point, your child may have a harder than usual drop-off. Sometimes, there’s no way to know what exactly inspires the change in heart. At these times, it is particularly important to stick to the drop-off routine.
 
We offer families use of our drop-off plan tool in times where drop-offs into the classroom are particularly hard. Parents who choose to use this form will want to include their toddler or preschooler in answering the questions. These plans are usually taped near the door for teachers and children to read together each day.

Classroom conversations

The language we use with all children is rooted in genuine respect. We speak to each child as we would a good friend: with a calm, friendly, authentic tone; and honesty. We see this as one of our foundational tools for guiding children throughout the day, setting expectations, and – above all – modeling the interactions we hope to inspire.
 
The conversations we have about children are almost always in front of children. We intentionally include children in the conversations about them and about their day. At drop-off, we ask for any information about the child that could be pertinent for a day in our care. At pick up your teacher will provide a balance of useful information about the interests and activities your child was involved in. Sensitive information or conversations that should happen away from young children should be had via email only. Each ChildRoots teacher now has their own CR email to use to communicate sensitive information. Each primary teacher has been asked to reach out to their classrooms to share this new email address.

Who do I ask?

Parents often ask us where to best direct emails with questions or concerns about our school, teachers, or classroom. Here is a list of your team and the types of emails to expect from each:

Teacher:
- Responses to a parent’s question about your child’s development, interests and activities, and other daily happenings
- Classroom event updates

Specialist:
- Classroom changes
- Transition timelines for new or departing teacher coming into or leaving the classroom
- Child transitions into or exiting the classroom
- Responses to a parent’s classroom concerns
- Questions about why we do what we do

Site director:
- Enrollment updates, schedule changes
- Responses to a parent’s to teacher concerns
- Classroom teacher changes that have happened or are scheduled to happen
- Major all-school communication, emergencies, last minute closures

Executive Director:
- Monthly newsletter
- Parent Collaboration Committee notes
- Responses to a parent’s general school concerns

Annex Director:
- Responses to teacher concerns
- Classroom teacher changes that have happened or are scheduled to happen
- Classroom changes, child transitions, plans for welcoming a new teacher
- Responses to classroom concerns

Update: Sub in the Classroom Notification

Many parents have requested a better system be implemented to alert families that a substitute is in the classroom before drop off. The director spends most their very early mornings shifting and moving substitutes schedules around to best fit the ongoing needs of the school. Sometimes we have to make split second decisions based on last minute phone calls when our planned teacher call out. We are still working on building a platform for emergency notifications with School Messenger . This system will allow us to provide more up-to-minute teacher changes by email and text. We are a bit closer to utilizing this new system but still have some work to do. For now, the idea was raised (again) to add more updated staff pictures and bios to the parent boards in the school hallways and to add a quick sticky note to the door. We have asked all our directors to begin using this new temporary system to help alert unsuspecting parents (and kiddos) that a new face will be working in the classroom that day.