Gale River Co-op Preschool Mission Statement
Our mission is to meet the needs of a diverse community by providing a safe, play-centered cooperative preschool where parents and children learn together.
GRCP will provide a caring and fun environment for children ages 3-5 years that addresses the children’s needs and interests, and stimulates learning and development socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically.
What is a Cooperative Preschool?
A cooperative preschool is a place where parents and children learn together. The classroom experience provides parents/guardians with a valuable understanding of how their child interacts with other children and how s/he makes choices and moves through his or her world. Parents/guardians learn while immersed in their child’s world. By helping in the classroom, parents/guardians acquire skills to support their children and meet their social, physical, emotional and intellectual needs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GRCP has temporarily suspended parent/guardian helper days at the school. Should it be safe to do so, GRCP will reinstate Parent/guardian Helper days at a yet to be determined date. The Board President will provide all families with an update about Parent/guardian Helper days by October 31, 2020.
The cooperative preschool is organized and administered by the GRCP Board of Directors and other participating parents and members. The parents/guardians assist the teachers as helpers in the classroom when healthy, raise funds, hold offices, work on committees, and maintain the school. Parents/guardians enrich the program by contributing their time, commitment, talent and skills. Their participation ensures smooth operation of a high quality program
The classroom operates under the direction of three teachers: a program director/teacher and two associate teachers. The teachers determine the curriculum and maintain standard procedures for the school program in accordance with state licensing regulations and requirements.
At GRCP we believe in learning through play and feel that young children learn best in a natural setting that allows them to be active participants. The classroom provides developmentally appropriate opportunities to stimulate each child’s physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth.
As a cooperative preschool, we believe that families and teachers working together provide the best environment for a child’s education and development. GRCP values diversity and respects differences among all children and families.
Together, we help the children become self-confident, independent problem-solvers who effectively manage their environment through language and appropriate action.
Curriculum and Daily Schedule
The program will be geared towards experiential and emergent learning, with “academics” embedded in play, as children progress through multi-model activities related to projects and interests. We will study the natural rhythm of New England (place-based) and develop routines accordingly. Structure will be built into the schedule to create routines and allow children to progress through the morning anticipating the usual sequence of activities. Daily Morning Meetings will be held, during which skills are learned through discussions, games, presentations, movement activities, songs and books. Children will be strongly encouraged to attend these circle times, understanding that the ability to participate may be an emerging skill for some. The emphasis will be on developmentally-appropriate learning and kindergarten readiness with activities geared toward each child’s level of development. We value meeting children where they are.
We believe in the Science of Reading and use Heggerty Phonemic Awareness and Handwriting Without Tears for curriculum in the classroom which we keep engaging and fun.
A typical day at GRCP involves the following sequence of activities. This listing is not set in stone, as the sequence and composition of activities may be tailored to better meet the needs of students in a given year:
7:45-8:30 Staggered Drop - Off
Walk around the woods
8:30-9:00 Unstructured Outdoor Play
9:00 Clean Up
9:15-9:45- Morning Check - In
9:45-10 15 Snack / Bathroom
10:15-10:30 - Sit Spot
10:30- 11:30 - Outside Play / Centers
11:30- 12:15 Project Time / Group Work
12:45-1:15 Staggered Pick - Up
1:00- Bathroom Break
1:15- Quiet/Rest Time (Hopefully outside as weather permits)
2:15- 2:30 Snack
2:30- 3:30 - Outside Play
Spending days outdoors is a large part of a child’s learning process at GRCP. Getting wet and dirty is a part of the process and so is risky play. Students are encouraged to jump, run and climb without the immediate assistance of a teacher. If a student asks for help they will be encouraged to continue trying themselves (to climb to the top, dig deeper, or jump from the rock, etc.) before help is given. Risky play also includes using tools and props that encourage independence. Shovels, scissors, and non-bladed knives are examples of some of the tools that are used and encouraged at GRCP to promote gross and fine motor development.
The Cooperative Preschool Teacher
The cooperative preschool represents a unique approach to education. Its success depends on the parents/guardians and teachers working together in administering the school, with the teachers in charge of the educational program.
Preschool teachers are hired by the hiring committee and are paid for their services. Their role is a dual one of working closely with both parent and child. It is the preschool teacher’s responsibility to provide the kind of environment and experience that will enable young children to grow socially as they learn to live and play with others; emotionally, as they begin to depend upon themselves; and intellectually, as they explore their environment in what may be their first step away from home. The teachers find time to foster the joy of learning and share in the growth of each child with parent participation. The teachers do not function in the traditional “teacher” role in the formal classroom. Rather, the teachers establish an environment suitable for preschool children, arranging outdoor spaces and equipment and providing materials to interest and challenge them.
It is important that members feel free to make suggestions to the preschool teachers (either directly or via the Board of Directors) about the curriculum. The group must realize however, that educational programs are designed as a whole, not in bits and pieces, and that the teachers are in charge of designing the educational program.
All constructive grievances regarding the program should be expressed through proper channels, and only through these channels. Parents/guardians may discuss issues with the Board of Directors President.
GRCP’s teachers will maintain confidentiality concerning any information about the children, their names, their disabilities, medical data/conditions, their families, and the circumstances in which they live. It is the teacher’s responsibility not to share specific information about the individual children with others outside this facility. Parents/guardians must also maintain this confidentiality, both inside and outside of the school. People and programs authorized to receive information are listed in each child’s file.
Strategies for Discipline
At GRCP we use positive discipline. Punishment, physical or verbal, is not used as a form of discipline. Behavior management focuses on helping children learn to self-regulate, both emotionally and behaviorally. We teach respectful and cooperative behavior by modeling it ourselves and encouraging the children to:
• Recognize and verbalize their feelings.
• Accept responsibility for their behavior.
• Understand the natural consequences of their behavior.
• Work out their differences with each other.
Rules of conduct:
• Respect yourself and others.
• Respect the school environment.
Our goal is to continue to teach our students to be kind, considerate members of our school community. In order to create an environment that honors the needs of all of our students we need to reinforce that school is a safe, comfortable place for exploration and learning.
IF a child continues to exhibit behavior that is unsafe, or continuously behaves as an inconsiderate friend to his or her classmates, “The 3 R’s Repercussions Discipline System” may be used by our teachers. The repercussions will include Redirection, Removal and Restitution. Unwanted behaviors will be met with a “natural” consequence fitting of the behavior.
Redirection: “If you continuously pour sand on your friends in the discovery table… you will need to find another activity.”
Removal: “If you continuously hit your classmates with your shovel… you will lose your shovel.”
Restitution: “If you destroy a classmate's block tower… you will need to rebuild the tower.”
If a child exhibits behavior that the teachers feel severely compromises the safety or wellbeing of the students or staff, the parents/guardians will be called to take the child home for the day.
If a child’s behavior at school threatens the safety of other students and staff or severely impairs the ability of other children to enjoy the program, the teachers will notify the Board of Directors. Teachers and the child’s parents/guardians, and potentially select members of the Board, if appropriate, may meet to develop a plan for addressing the issue, listing a timeline for specific improvements. If problems persist beyond that timeline, the Board may suspend or expel the child from the program. Such action may be immediate and will be made at the Board’s discretion.
GRCP is committed to helping students develop fully, while maintaining the integrity and safety of the program for all.
By-laws (Article IV, Section 3):
A member and his and her child can be expelled or suspended by the Board of Directors following a serious disciplinary problem or infraction of the membership guidelines outlined in the Parent/Guardian Handbook. Such an action by the Board may be preceded by a discussion with the teachers and family.
GRCP shall provide equal educational opportunity and treatment to all students receiving services regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, political beliefs, and marital or family status.
The admission criteria for GRCP are:
• Children must be between the ages of 3 and 5 years old.
• Children must be toilet-trained; our facility is not certified to handle diaper changing.
• Parents/guardians must fulfill the responsibilities of membership (see below).
GRCP has rolling admissions throughout the year as availability for students permits. If spots are available for the following school year, applications will be sent to interested families in late winter. Priority for admitting children is based on all three of the following items: (1) date of paid registration, (2) a completed application and (3) a school visit. Due to other circumstances that might arise and at the discretion of the Board, completion of all three does not automatically guarantee admission.
The Director is responsible for registering all students and maintaining and updating the ongoing waiting list on a regular basis. The waiting list will be on a first-come/first-served basis. A $50 non-refundable application fee and 50% of first month payment is required. If there is ultimately no space available for a child for a given school year, this fee will be reimbursed, unless the family opts to be placed on a waiting list for the next year.
For 2020-2021, two-day, three-day, four-day and five-day weekly enrollment will be offered. The school will be in operation Monday through Friday. The tuition for two days is $250 a month, tuition for three days is $345 a month, four days is $440 a month, and tuition for five days is $550 a month.
GRCP will follow the schedule of the Lafayette Regional School calendar for vacations, holidays, and snow days. If Lafayette Regional School closes due to inclement weather, the preschool will also be closed. If Lafayette Regional School calendar has a two-hour delay, GRCP will open at 10 a.m.; students should be picked up at the regular scheduled time. Closings and delays will be posted on local radio and TV stations, such as WMUR. Notifications will also be made to families by the Lead teacher/Director or the President of the Board via each family’s preferred method of communication (text, email or phone).
Preschool is held from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Extended Care is offered for the 2020-2021 school year. GRCP offers Extended Care from 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM daily. The cost for childcare is $5.50 per hour. The extended care programs are a yearly commitment. A yearly fee is determined and incorporated into tuition according to the schedule selected. Fees are not refundable for unused time (ex. late drop off, early pick-up, missed days). GRCP closes promptly at 3:30 PM. A fee of $10 will be due upon pick-up after 3:30 PM, payable directly to the teacher on duty.
All students must have an up-to-date emergency contact form on file. This may be updated at any time by the child’s parent or guardian. This is of great importance should a family need to be contacted on any given day regarding a variety of emergencies such as minor injury, allergic reaction or illness. Should there be any catastrophic emergency such as fire, flood or acts or terrorism, the staff at GRCP will use appropriate measures to protect and insure the safety of the students at all times. Our catastrophic exit plan is to move the children to the “Lodge,” which is located on the upper side dining hall which provides electricity and phone reception. If an emergency happens on property, children will be relocated to Lafayette Regional School in Franconia, NH. The local fire and police departments visit our school regularly to familiarize the children with our local officers and equipment and will work closely with us should such an event occur. Please see Emergency Procedures form that will be sent home with your child.
All teachers are responsible for carrying a school supplied first aid kit.
If a student or adult is injured, teachers will do the following based on severity:
Minor cuts/scrapes/bruises: Apply bandaid and/or ice pack
Major injuries, including head injuries:
If student is safe to move, student should be taken to the Director ASAP (depending on severity - you may send with another student or the entire class should accompany the student back to school)
If unsafe to move, notify the Director of your location & extent of the injury. While waiting, have all the other students stop playing & gather in an area to ensure everyone is under supervision.
All injuries should be reported to the Director and parent/guardian should be notified.
Hazards and Risks
A hazard evaluation of our base camp will be done outside each day by a teacher. Hazards are dangers that a child is unaware of. Because a child is unable to recognize them and take necessary precautions, hazards have the potential to cause serious harm. Examples of potential hazards:
Bird feeders (Hazard for students with peanut allergies as most bird food is processed in an area that contains peanuts, even if the specific mix does not)
Dead branches in a tree
Dead trees on extremely windy days
Unsafe plants & bugs
GRCP is a non-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status. Yearly rates are adjusted for an annual budget. School costs include teachers’ salaries; some teacher workshops/enrichment opportunities; rent; utilities; insurance; accounting and bookkeeping costs; maintenance and repairs; and school supplies.
Tuition Rates for 2020-2021
5-Day enrollment: $550.00 per month
4-Day enrollment: $440.00 per month
3-Day Enrollment: $345.00 per month
2 Day Enrollment: $250.00 per month
Each year, based on enrollment numbers, the teachers and the Board of Directors will determine which day options will be available to students.
Tuition is due at the first of the month. At the beginning of August, we ask for payment of first and last month’s tuition (September and June). If paying for both first and last month’s tuition at once is financially difficult, let the Treasurer know, and a payment plan can be worked out.
Please put the month the check is for on the memo line. Checks may be given to the lead teacher during pick-up or drop off.
Classes run from late August through mid-June, as determined by the Lafayette Regonal School schedule.
A $50 non-refundable application fee is required to hold a spot for your child.
Tuition payments after the 15th of the month will be charged a late fee of $20.
Due to the challenging circumstances of 2020, we have asked families to commit to the entire school year to the best of their abilities. Tuition is non-refundable for a month which has been partially attended by the student. Holidays, vacations, and inclement weather closings were considered when the tuition amounts were set; no credit is given. Please see the alternate scenario document emailed to you for more information about potential closures related to COVID-19.
GRCP may discontinue the enrollment of a child based on non-payment of tuition or lack of consistent attendance. A student is considered to be withdrawn if tuition is more than thirty (30) days past due unless other arrangements have been made in writing, including the signature of the parent(s), Director, and two members of the Board of Directors. An account statement will be e-mailed if tuition is more than 15 days in arrears. After a total of 20 days, the family will be sent a letter requesting payment.
If a family finds that they need to withdraw their child from GRCP, they must give 30 days notice in writing to the Director. The family is responsible for the account balance calculated through the last day of enrollment.
Our school is a proud participant in the NH Department of Health and Human Services Child Care Scholarship Program. Our preschool is enrolled as a provider in this program, which offers state financial assistance toward tuition costs to families who meet income eligibility requirements.
For further information, please speak with the President of the Board or one of the teachers, who can help bridge the connection between families and the Department of Health and Human Services’ local Littleton District Office.
Member Involvement and Responsibilities
In lieu of member helper time for the first two months of the 2020-2021 school year, families will be asked to help with school needs, projects and supplying needed materials. Member Helper days will be revisited after October 2020.
• Families are expected to participate in fundraising activities.
• Families are required to attend the Spring membership meeting.
• Families are a critical part of the ongoing operations of the preschool and are needed to keep it running; thus, they are encouraged to volunteer to help in any capacity they are able.
Member Helper Responsibilities
Due to regulations and safety precautions, GRCP will not be able to support member helper days for the first two months of the 2020-2021 school year. It is our hope that Member Helper Days will be reinstated later in the year. Should the Board decide it is safe to begin Member Helper days at a later date, the following will be applicable:
As a cooperative, family participation is vital to the success of our program. Every month family members are expected to contribute in some way to the school. At least five times a year (or every other month), parents/guardians are needed as member helpers in the classroom for a whole school day. It is a remarkable experience to get to see your child in action all day at school and to get to see the other children in action as well. This time is both helpful to the teachers and helpful to your understanding of the program and your child in the program. During the alternate months, if members wish to use their skills in other ways and have a more flexible use of time, they can contribute to specific projects in coordination with the teachers or with the Board of Directors. We are so grateful for our community that helps this program to thrive!
Additional details regarding Parent Helper days will be supplied prior to their reinstatement.
Pick-Up and Drop-Off
Parents should notify the teacher of absences by emailing and calling and leaving a message on the school phone (823-9995). If there is to be a planned absence, please notify the teacher beforehand.
Prior to bringing your child to school, please check for any sign of illness. If illness is present keep your child home and notify GRCP. You will be given a staggered drop-off and pick-up time for your child. Please do your best to limit exposure to other families by picking up and dropping off your child during your scheduled time. When you arrive at school the lead teacher will meet you and your child at your car to perform a health screening. Your child will then be asked to join the class.
Please see the Member Shared Agreement for additional details regarding pick-up and drop-off. If you will not be available at your regular phone number on a given day, please leave a phone number where you can be reached with the lead teacher. If someone other than the person signing him or her in is picking up your child at the end of day, please notify the teacher by calling or texting the school phone.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM STAY AT HOME ORDER 2.0
1. Develop a strategy to keep social distancing during drop-off and pick-up, such as a
drop-off and pick-up process which staggers arrival/departure of children and
parents/guardians so that children and parents/guardians from different groups
do not interact. Attempt to also stagger drop-off and pick-up times to avoid
congregating of parents and children within or outside the facility.
2. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after signing in and out. No pen should
be shared. Parents should use their own pen when signing in. If check-in is
electronic, provide alcohol wipes and frequently clean the screens or keyboards.
3. Limit direct contact with parents as much as possible and consider having child care
providers greet children outside as they arrive.
4. Keep each child’s belonging separated and in individually labeled storage
containers, cubbies, or areas; take belongings home each day
Dressing for Forest School
Families often leave a variety of slippers/sneakers/boots at school to allow choices for a variety of conditions. Please make sure they are easy for your child to learn how to be an independent dresser. Please leave them stored in a plastic bag or container at school. Please be mindful that your children will get messy. We will be spending the majority of our days outside. Consider having your child wear clothes that you know will get dirty and save any fancy clothes for outside of school.
A pair of comfortable “indoor shoes” should be brought to school each day and can be left at school for convenience. A different pair of “outside shoes” appropriate for the weather conditions (e.g., sneakers or hiking shoes, rain boots or snow boots) should be worn each day.
Bring a change of labeled clothing for your child to leave in a plastic bag or container.
August, September / May, June
Rain suit or Rain Gear (School has extras if needed)
Sunscreen / Bug spray applied before school
Extra set of clothing
Pair of inside shoes
October through April
Rain suit or Rain Gear (School has extras if needed)
Sunscreen / Bug spray applied before school
Extra set of clothing
Dress in layers. In winter months your child should have underlayers on.
Winter Hat and Neckwarmer
Snow gear when appropriate
Warm boots and wool socks
Pair of inside shoes
Please no sandals unless they are Keens or like company with proper grip and toe covering. We recommend dressing your child for the weather at that moment and we can exchange clothing as necessary throughout the day.
In order to respect individual diets and care for a variety of allergies, we will establish from the first day of school that children may not share snacks or lunch. We ask that each child bring his or her own snack, lunch and water bottle to school each day. Hard-sided lunch boxes are recommended for sanitation purposes. Please send them with a nutritious snack; no candy or sodas please. We do not allow children to chew gum. If there is any student enrolled with a peanut and/or tree nut allergy, or a student with a family member who is allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts, GRCP will be nut free throughout the school year. This is indeed the case this year.
If you would like to celebrate your child’s birthday at school, you are welcome to bring birthday treats. Please notify the teachers beforehand in order to accommodate all diets and give notice to those with individual diet requirements. For those whose birthdays are celebrated during school vacations or in the summer months, we happily observe “unbirthdays.” Again, parents/guardians should discuss celebration days with the teachers.
In order to prevent the spread of contagious diseases in our school, please keep your child home if s/he has any of the following symptoms:
• diarrhea and/or vomiting (within the previous 24 hours)
• fever (100 or greater, within the previous 24 hours)
• severe coughing
• constantly runny nose (not due to allergy) with thick or yellow discharge
• pink eye (conjunctivitis)
• blistered and/or infected skin patches
• head lice or nits.
Please see the Member Shared Agreement for additional information regarding health and well being.
On or before the first day of school, families must provide their child’s Health Records and Immunization Records. Updated Immunization Records are required any time a child receives an immunization. Also, any time your child has a “Well Child” visit, we require an updated Health Form. Emergency contact information must be accurate and up-to-date. These items are mandatory per Childcare Licensing.
Please inform us whenever your child will not be in school by calling 823-9995.
If your child is on medication, please let the teacher know at drop-off. All medications have possible side effects of which we should be aware. Our policy is that we will not be responsible for giving a child any medication except in emergency situations. If your child has an Epipen, the school must be given written instructions from your healthcare provider as to how and when to administer it.
Covid Guidance from the Stay At Home 2.0 can be found: https://www.covidguidance.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt381/files/inline-documents/2020-05/guidance-child-care.pdf
Head Lice (Pediculosis) Policy
In an effort to minimize the spread of head lice (pediculosis) through the school, parents/guardians should check their child at home frequently. A parent/guardian who discovers that his/her child has head lice is required to inform the school immediately and treat the condition. If a student is found at school with an active case of head lice, the student will be sent home for treatment. It is the parents/guardians’ responsibility to make sure the child has been successfully treated before the child can return to school. The child must be lice/nit free, or medical documentation must be provided indicating the infestation is not active, before they can return to school. In the event that a student does have an active case of head lice, the staff may require all students to have head checks by a nurse or designee.
At GRCP, we value and utilize our natural surroundings and take trips into the forest. The woods are filled with many delightful experiences, and there are some challenges, like ticks, as well. Knowing more about when and where ticks are more likely to show up, how to prevent yourself from being bitten, and what to do if you find one helps tremendously.
Checking for ticks has become a part of our rhythm for getting ready to go out into the woods and returning from the woods, so much so that it almost feels second nature. We do it to protect ourselves, so that we can enjoy everything else the forest has to offer. We're not alarmed about getting a tick bite; we are proactive about what we do to prevent and respond to them. Co-existing, at it’s best.
What does this mean for your children?
The best defense is regular tick checks and appropriate clothing. As teachers, we will be checking all the children at the end of class each day. However, we can only do a superficial check.
It is up to you as parents to do a more thorough check.
Baths are always a good idea. This will serve to wash off any ticks that are still crawling around, and will give you a great opportunity to check their whole body. Ticks like warm, moist places. Please make sure to check armpits, behind ears, on the scalp, behind knees, belly buttons, and in the groin. Despite this preference, they could be found anywhere on the body.
In early spring, the new ticks (nymphs) are very tiny – the size of a poppy seed so can be difficult to spot. Putting clothing in the dryer on high for 10 minutes will kill any ticks on the clothing.
Before your child comes to school each day:
Dress for coverage. Wear pants, closed-toed shoes and the ever stylish socks over your pant legs.
Use a tick repellent, purchased or homemade, applied before school.
When headed into the woods we will:
Avoid places where ticks hang out - i.e. fields of tall grasses or leaf piles.
After we leave the woods:
Do a tick check. (check clothing, neck, tummy, and hair)
Do a thorough tick check
Have your child take a bath
Put your child’s clothes in the dryer for ten minutes
If a Tick is Found
If a tick is seen on a child it is brushed off. If a tick is attached we will remove it using tweezers or a tick key and tape it to a notecard with the location site noted and dated.
All children should be accompanied to the bathroom by an adult. The adult will remain just outside the door unless assistance is needed. It is not appropriate for any adult to be in the bathroom with a child with the door fully closed.
When we are outside, a child may need to “nature pee”. We will designate an area for this to happen along with a handwashing station and sanitizer.
It is not appropriate for parents to discuss the affairs of other children with the teachers or with the other parents/guardians unless it directly involves their own child.
Fundraising is a vital source of operating income for the preschool. We will give notice of fundraising opportunities as they arise and encourage and accept creative solutions from the members. Any ideas for fundraising may be brought to the attention of the fundraising chairs.
Board of Directors
As established by the bylaws governing the Gale River Cooperative Preschool, the Board of Directors is responsible for the property, interest, business, and transactions of the school. What that means is that your Board manages the daily and weekly business activities of the school (collecting tuition, paying bills, and so on), as well as establishing long-term policy and procedures. The Board is responsible to parents/guardians and the school as a whole; we all work together to make GRCP something special for our children.
The Board solicits encouragement, suggestions, compliments, and complaints in any areas that concern you. Board meetings are held monthly. Please check the school calendar for a schedule, but they are usually the second Tuesday of the month. The President will also email reminders of upcoming meetings. Meetings are open for all co-op members to attend but are optional for non-board members. These meetings are a great place to find out about the inner workings of the school and a place to let your opinions be heard. If you have a specific item to discuss, please get in touch with the President in advance of the meeting, so that it may be included on the agenda.
The GRCP Board is made up of active parents/guardians and/or parents/guardians of alumni. It is a volunteer board and, as such, assumes no liabilities.
2020-2021 Board of Directors
President Kelsey Sullivan
Vice President Aimee Eaton
Treasurer/Facilities Lori Alderin
Secretary Marybeth Robinson
Fundraising Chair Aleda Stith
Gale River Co-op Preschool
P.O. Box 261
Franconia, NH 03580
231 Gale River Road
Bethlehem, NH, 03574
Phone number: 603-823-9995
2020-2021 Member Handbook Agreement
I, _________________________________ have read and understand the GRCP Member Handbook 2020-2021. This handbook outlines and describes the responsibilities and duties of my membership. This will serve as an annual contract between GRCP and our family, to be signed and kept on file.