Parent Handbook 2019-2020
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 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 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 learn while immersed in their child’s world. By helping in the classroom, parents acquire skills to support their children and meet their social, physical, emotional and intellectual needs.
The classroom operates under the direction of two teachers: a program director/teacher and an associate teacher. The teachers determine the curriculum and maintain standard procedures for the school program in accordance with state licensing regulations and requirements.
The cooperative preschool is organized and administered by the GRCP Board of Directors and other participating parents and members. The parents assist the teachers as parent helpers in the classroom, raise funds, hold offices, work on committees, and maintain the school. Parents enrich the program by contributing their time, commitment, talent and skills. Their participation ensures smooth operation of a high quality program.
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 learning, with “academics” embedded in play, as children progress through multi-modal activities related to projects and themes. 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 circle time 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.
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:
Learning Stations: Children choose from a variety of carefully selected learning activities and Free Play: While some children may be participating in learning stations in the front classroom, others may be engaging in free play in the second classroom, often referred to as “the Rug Room.” Free Play and Learning Stations are typically offered during the first hour of the school day.
Snack time: Children bring their own healthy snack to eat and eat together as a group in the front classroom.
Morning Meeting: Children gather as a group for a daily greeting outside, check the weather, count the days of school, learn about the “Letter of the Day,” and participate in creative movement..
Outside Time: Year-round, even in cold temperatures or rainy conditions, children spend a significant amount of time playing outside. The daily goal is for students to spend an hour outside, although this may be adjusted due to severe weather conditions. Children may have fun climbing playscape structures, or playing in the sand box or with toys from the shed, for example. Teachers may also take children on nature walks, visit the farm .
Project: Creativity is encouraged through individual and group art projects. These help reinforce many of the skills needed for developing fine motor skills. The project content is usually directly tied to the book or activity from Circle Time.
Lunch: We all eat together.
Reading time: Until 1 pm, when the school day ends, children are encouraged to pick books and listen as their teachers read to them.
Sharing: Probably better known as “Show and Tell,” sharing is when each child brings something from home to show and discuss with each other. Children are each assigned one day of the week as their sharing day.
GRCP also incorporates regular educational enrichment programs into the curriculum. These may include fall and spring sessions of weekly music classes or an art enrichment program.
As outlined above, outdoor time and experiences are 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 and teachers working together in administering the school, with the teachers in charge of the educational program.
Preschool teachers are hired by the group and are paid a salary 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 the 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 equipment and providing materials to interest and challenge them. Teachers encourage the parents to contribute by making them aware that they are expected to be, and are needed as teacher assistants. Teachers may assign parent helpers to supervise the various play areas, help out with cleaning, or any number of other different classroom tasks.
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 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 must also maintain this confidentiality, both inside and outside of the classroom. 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 approaches focus 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 a classroom 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 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, 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 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 3-5 years-old
• Children must be toilet-trained; our facility is not certified to handle diaper changing.
• Parents 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 the spring. Priority for admitting children is based on all 3 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 3 does not automatically guarantee admission.
The Vice President 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 is required. If there is ultimately no space available for a child for a given school year, this application fee will be reimbursed, unless the family opts to be placed on a waiting list for the next year.
For 2019-2020, 3-day, 4-day and 5-day enrollment will be offered. The school will be in operation Mondays thru
GRCP will follow the schedule of Lafayette Regional Elementary School for vacations, holidays, and snow days. If Lafayette closes due to inclement weather, the preschool will also be closed. If Lafayette has a two-hour delay, GRCP will open at 10 a.m.; students should be picked 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.
After Care is not offered for the 2019-2020 school year at this time. If interested, please contact our Vice President.
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 Potato Barn, which is located on the upper side of the farm providing telephone and electricity. The Sugar Hill 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 event occur.
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 is due at the first of the month. At the beginning of September, 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.
Please put the tuition in the box labeled 'Tuition,' located to the right of the door as you enter school.
Feel free to pay multiple months at once if it is easier for you. Please be sure to put which months the check covers in the memo line.
Classes run from late August through mid-June, as determined by the SAU/Lafayette Elementary’s school schedule.
A $50 non-refundable application fee is required to hold a spot for your child. We currently have a wait list so it is recommended that you reserve your spot for 2019-2020.
Tuition payments after the 15th of the month will be charged a late fee of $20.
If a member chooses to drop out of the preschool during the school year, s/he must give one month written notice to the Treasurer, in order to receive a refund of tuition for unused days. If you have trouble paying tuition on time, please contact the Treasurer, who will work with you to mitigate your situation.
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.
Parent Involvement and Responsibilities
• Parents are expected to volunteer in the classroom as a parent helper on a regular basis (once a month) and to help clean the school as needed.
• Parents are expected to participate in fundraising activities.
• Parents are required to attend the Spring membership meeting.
• Parents are a critical part of the ongoing operations of the preschool and are needed to keep it running; thus, parents are encouraged to volunteer to help in any capacity they are able.
Parent Helper Responsibilities
All families are required to provide a ‘parent helper’ in the classroom once each month of the school year. We do understand that life happens and schedules change, and that sometimes this obligation cannot be met for a given month. If a family is not able to fulfill this responsibility one month, the Treasurer and Head Teacher must be notified as soon as possible, AND the family should arrange a substitute ‘parent helper’ to fulfill the obligation – either another member of that family or the parent of another student. If a substitute cannot be arranged within the GRCP membership, the family may sign up for TWO parent helper days the following month OR they may decide to pay the $50 opt-out fee for that month. If a family finds that they cannot fulfill the monthly parent helper requirement on an ongoing basis due to an unforeseen change in circumstances, the family needs to notify the teachers and the Board as soon as possible to discuss potential alternative arrangements.
Your Day as a Parent Helper
Parent helpers should arrive at regular drop-off time and sign in on the staff sign-in sheet. Please meet with the teachers to find out any special jobs for the day. If possible, greet all children as they come into preschool telling them that you’ll be the parent helper for the day. During the morning, circulate as needed or as directed by the teachers, interacting with the children.
The teacher will post and/or explain the schedule of the day’s planned activities. This will serve as a guide in the classroom, but the program may vary from day to day. The schedule is flexible, and the times are approximate. We usually maintain the same order of events, so the children have the
security of knowing what to expect next. During activities, it is important that the children do as much by themselves as possible. Please feel free to comment on what they are doing, how hard they are trying, etc., rather than the product. For example, “I see you have used purple, blue, and green in your picture,” rather than: “What a pretty picture,” or “I like the monster you drew.”
Include all children, a few at a time, in the project so that everyone is offered a chance. Some children will finish sooner than others, and some will not want to start right away. This is OK. Once the late starters see what the others are doing, they will probably want to join in. There may also be times when a child does not want to participate. Children should not be forced to participate when they do not wish to do so.
As the children move from one activity to another, help clean up by clearing the tables of any art materials and other activities, wiping down the tables with 10% Simple Green, and sweeping the floor. At dismissal time the parent helper should clean the bathroom, mop the bathroom floor and under the art table, sweep and vacuum and take out the trash. Parent helpers are free to leave at approximately 1:15 p.m., unless other arrangements have been made with the staff. If a parent helper is unable to stay for the entire day, that family will be expected to make up the time missed at a later date, to be worked out with the Lead Teacher/Director.
Teacher/Parent Helper Observations
During the school day, both the teachers and the parents have a wonderful opportunity to interact with and observe the children in the preschool setting. Information gained from observations can be very valuable to the teachers in planning their programs and to the parents in learning more about the children. When you are a parent helper, the teacher may ask that you supervise the children for a short time, while she observes the children and jots down notes in a journal.
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.
When you arrive at school, please sign your child in on the sign-in sheet to your right as you enter the school. 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. If someone other than the person signing him or her in is picking up your child at the end of day, please make a note to this effect on the sign-in sheet and verbally notify the teacher.
If you would like to stay and talk with other parents at the beginning or end of the day, please do so outside the classroom. This will minimize classroom noise and disruption.
Please be prompt when dropping off and picking up your child. Drop off time should not be before 7:50 am to allow our teachers to fully prepare for the day’s activities. Pick-up is at 1 pm. Any child not picked up within half an hour of school ending will go home with one of the parents or teachers. If a child is regularly left at school beyond 1 o’clock, the Board may impose a late fee.
Cubbies/Parent Mail Pouch
Be sure to check your child’s cubby and your parent mail pouch daily for artwork and school information. Also, be sure to check any bulletin boards for other information. The Parent Helper Schedule Calendar is posted on the bulletin board near the front door.
Please dress your child in clothing that is comfortable and can be soiled without concern. Creativity often involves messy, wet or sticky substances. Parent helpers should also follow this rule. We encourage full participation, which often requires you to get up to your elbows in sand, water, and maybe even shaving cream!
A pair of comfortable “indoor shoes” should be worn 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 also be on hand for your child.
Bring a change of labeled clothing for your child. If it is rainy or cold, please bring appropriate clothing. Please bring snow pants, jacket, hat and boots, neck warmer and gloves in the winter months -- all labeled. We will change back into shoes once inside. Since we are encouraging children to be independent, they should have shoes or slippers that they can attempt to put on themselves. In the spring a mud-suit, rain-suit or waterproof gear of some sort is extremely helpful, as we encourage our children to enjoy getting dirty, and the proper gear will enable them to do so without the discomfort of wetness.
Because we are outside every day as weather permits, please send your child in appropriate footwear. If your child is wearing sandals, we recommend closed toe sandals with a back strap. With gravel, sticks, etc., we do not want any children injuring their feet.
In order to respect individual diets and care for a variety of allergies, we will establish from the first day of school on 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. 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 not the case for the 2019-2020 school 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Because parents are often in the classroom as parent helpers, it is important to maintain confidentiality concerning any information about the children. It is not appropriate for parents to discuss the affairs of other children with the teachers or with the other parents 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 parents. 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 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 last Thursday 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 and/or parents of alumni. It is a volunteer board and, as such, assumes no liabilities.
2019-2020 Board of Directors
President Jill Brewer
Vice President. Jillian Abernathy
Treasurer/Facilities Wren Miller
Secretary Kelsey Sullivan
Fundraising Co-Chairs Aleda Stith and Lori Alderin
Ski Hearth Farm
Gale River Co-op Preschool
392 Streeter Pond Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
P.O. Box 261
Franconia, NH 03580
Phone number: 603-823-9995
GRCP 2019-2020 Parent Handbook Agreement
I, _________________________________ have read and understand the GRCP Parent Handbook 2019-2020. 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.