Earthplace Preschool Policies and Procedures

Family Involvement

Family-teacher partnership
Our main goal with our students' families  is to create a community in which each family, regardless of its family structure, socioeconomic, racial, religious  and/or cultural backgrounds, gender, abilities, or preferred language, feels that through everyday communication, our newsletter, our parent organization, our three conferences a year, special activities in the classroom, and family events, that they are included in the process of meeting the developmental needs of their child. In addition, all families are included in all aspects of the program, including volunteer opportunities. Parents volunteer in the classroom under the direct supervision of our teaching staff.

As listed in our guiding principles, families are the primary caregivers and educators of their young children. We use this principle to guide us in our relationship with our families here at Earthplace. In planning our conferences, activities in the classroom, and family events we also base our decisions on our ethical responsibilities to families as stated in the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct which says, “Families are of primary importance in children’s development. Because the family and the early childhood practitioner have a common interest in the child’s well-being, we acknowledge a primary responsibility to bring about communication, cooperation and collaboration between the home and early childhood program in ways that will enhance the child’s development.” We assess this area through at least one email survey and one written survey a year.

In addition to the three conferences a year and the three Parent Chats a year, parents are encouraged to regularly contribute information that guides the teachers in making decisions about the child’s goals, plans for activities, and services. This communication can take place via email, at extra conferences, and in phone calls. At drop-off and pick-up time there is not always time for these conversations. We ask that if you would like to converse with the lead teacher, please indicate this on the sign-in sheet; the teacher would then make the time to later call or email. In working with families we encourage raising concerns and working collaboratively to find mutually satisfying solutions that the staff then incorporates into classroom practice.

Access to program and facility
Parents are always welcome at Earthplace. Although the aim is to move your child toward participating in the program independently, we honor your right to visit the program at any time. Please check in at the front desk.

Home visits for all classes
Our teachers offer a “getting to know you” activity for their class. One of the child's teachers will contact parents before school begins to see if they would be interested in a home visit to help their child acclimate to school.

Parent conferences
We have two parent conferences during the year, one each in the fall and one in the spring. A parent may request a third conference if he or she has any additional concerns during the school year. At the first conference, we like to hear about the child so that we have a wider frame of reference for making his/her experience at Earthplace a positive one. The teacher will ask about things that are important to the family in order to help the child grow and learn. The teacher will share a short written form in the fall. We will also discuss the child's first experiences with the standards-based assessments using the Connecticut Preschool Assessment Framesork Child Profile Form.  In the spring, we further discuss the child's individual progress, strengths, and areas of need. The Chickadees use the Family Form at the first conference and then a form based on the Creative Curriculum at the other conference.

Parent-Teacher Chats
We have two Parent-Teacher Chats during the year. Our Chats provide an opportunity for the teachers to get together with the parents as a group during the day. Teachers and parents will discuss what is going on in the classroom, as well as child development issues.

Parent organization
In order to continue building an Earthplace community we have created a  parent organization. Each class has a room parent who represents their class and meets with the chair of the parent organization. We ask parents to chair the individual committees, such as the book fair with Main Street Books, Original Art Works, Silent Auction, Ice Cream Social, Mini-Fair Day, Teacher Appreciation Luncheon, Woodworking, Quality Control, and Garden Committees. 

As the parents and teachers work together for the benefit of the children and the school, our goals can can be achieved.

Parent volunteers
In addition to the volunteer opportunities mentioned in previously, we encourage parents to participate in a variety of other ways. Teachers design different ways to involve parents in the classrooms; for example parents may be invited to read to the children or to come to help in the classroom. Volunteer sign-up sheets for school-wide events are posted on the Parent Board on the window outside the office. Teachers or room parents contact parents to volunteer for classroom events. We have also started using online sign-up for volunteering in order to make sure that everyone is able to sign up for classroom or school-wide activities.

Parent workshops
We plan workshops that are of interest to our parents, often utilizing our early childhood consultant to conduct them. Past themes have been Building Self-Esteem, Transitioning to Kindergarten, and Setting Limits. We have also co-sponsored speakers with other schools in the area.

Program evaluation
The annual evaluation process includes the use of the NAEYC Family and Staff Surveys. An additional evaluation targeting specific areas of the program, including policies and procedures, program quality, children’s progress and learning, family involvement and satisfaction, and community awareness and satisfaction, is designed and handed out toward the end of each year. An evaluation of the director is done by the staff. This, plus results of licensing visits, recommendations by our early childhood consultant, nurse, and social service consultant form the basis for a yearly evaluation that points out the strengths of the program and the areas that are in need of attention for the next year. 

A parent-teacher committee will be in charge of disseminating the surveys, collating the results and then communicating the results. Goals for continuous improvement in the needed areas will be set and monitored by the next year’s committee. Together the parents and the staff will meet to work together for the positive growth of the school. This will be organized by the Parent Organization. 

The information is used to plan professional development for the teachers, quality improvement activities in the program, and the improvement of operations and policies of the school.

Email groups
Each class has an email address that can be used by the teachers or the parent organization. During the year, this will be used by the teachers and the director to communicate for various reasons.