We are delighted that you thinking of choosing Nightingale Preschool and Junior Kindergarten Ltd (the school) for the care and education of your child. Nightingale Preschool aims to promote a caring environment, through the highest standards of professional practice, in which children can flourish, physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. We aim to encourage the development of each child to enable them to maximise their potential within a caring, stimulating and homely environment.
We hope that this information ‘handbook’ will be a useful guide to help you learn more about us. If you would like a tour or have any queries, please contact us. We are all here to help. We look forward to building a strong and positive relationship with you and your family.
We recognise and understand the anxieties for both parents and children when starting at school. Some children will settle in on their first visit and others will take a little longer to get used to a new environment. To support you and your child when settling, we have a written policy and procedure in place that we e-mail to you once a place has been accepted for your child. We also offer a half an hour home visit by a member of staff three months before your child starts with us so that a connection with you and your child are made well before they start at school. After this we set up a half an hour visit to the school with your child so that they are able to meet our teachers and become familiar with their future school.
YOUR CHILD’S FIRST DAY
The school provides all educational materials and snacks. You only need to bring with you a spare set of clothes (or more if your child is toilet training) that remain in the washroom in a Ziplock bag. If your child uses the spare clothes we will inform you at the end of the session and ask that they be replaced.
Children will take part in messy activities involving paint; glue etc. so should not be brought to school in their best clothes. Children will also spend their time in the garden every day and so suitable seasonal clothing is essential, for example, a warm coat, hat and gloves in the winter months and sun hat and cream (minimum SPF 25) in the summer months.
All items must be clearly marked with your child’s name. Unfortunately we cannot take responsibility for lost personal items.
It is not necessary for your child to be toilet trained before attending school. We ask that parents provide necessary diapers or pull-ups and we are able to change them.
PARTNERSHIP WITH PARENTS
We aim to make your child’s early years experiences as positive as possible. In order to achieve this, it is important that we communicate effectively with you and build positive relationships between you and our staff. At Nightingale, parent ‘care’ is just as important as child ‘care’!
PARENT CONSULTATION MEETINGS
We hold annual parent/teacher meetings with you to discuss your child’s progress. However, should you wish to discuss anything about your child in greater detail, appointments can be made with you for a convenient date and time.
Daily feedback about your child’s day at school is provided through verbal feedback either upon drop off or pick up. Parents who have concerns about their child’s experience at preschool are requested to phone and a meeting outside of preschool hours can be scheduled. A concern can often be easily resolved by talking about it at an early stage. Our main form of communication is via e-mail giving regular updates of projects, events and news. We have a white board at the front of the school and this gives parents daily information regarding our snack for the day and our activity.
Our school is one major field trip a year, usually in June. We ask that parents volunteer for this field trip that usually takes us on a bus for the morning or afternoon. Information is e-mailed to parents in May and a permission slip sent for parents to sign.
During the school term, we take ‘mini’ trips to Stadacona Park. Parents are informed ahead of time.
Our Graduation day is held at the end of the school year in July. This ceremony is only for those children heading off to Kindergarten. A celebration snack and party is organised and your child receives their Photo Journals along with a Graduation certificate. We have music, a photographer and plenty of tissues available. It is always is a memorable, touching event!
Policies and Procedures
REGISTRATION AND ENROLLMENT
We ask that parents tour the school to get a more in-depth understanding of the curriculum and the way the school operates. To place your child on the waitlist, an application form must be completed and a non-refundable registration fee received. An application package will be handed to you after the tour – this will include the application form which, once completed can be either dropped in or posted back. Once we have received your completed form you will receive a letter acknowledging your application.
Early registration for the school years beginning in September are accepted and prioritized until January 30th, in the following order:
1. Returning children,
2. Siblings of returning children,
3. Siblings of previously enrolled children.
After January 30th, children will be accepted in order of application.
At Nightingale we run our school year from September to July (11 months of the year). We close for two weeks over the Christmas holidays and two weeks for Spring Break. Several Professional Development days are scheduled throughout the year and therefore children will not be in attendance on those days. We close approximately a week before the end of the year (in July) as this allows staff to organise and plan for the following year.
Parents will be provided with a School Year Calendar at the beginning of the school year.
At 8.15am (morning programme) our backdoor is locked until the children are safely playing outside. It is locked again at 12.15pm after our lunch break for the commencement of our afternoon programme (12.15pm). These doors remain locked throughout our programme.
Parents arrive with their children between 8.15am until 8.30am (mornings) – 12.15pm until 12.30pm (afternoons). The front door is locked at 8.30am and 12.30pm and only teachers and children are inside the preschool.
It is the responsibility of the parent to inform the School if your child is unable to attend school or delayed for any reason, preferably ahead of time. A child arriving late for school can be disruptive and distracting.
COLLECTION OF CHILDREN
We ask that parents complete the school application form regarding information on persons other than you, the parents, collecting your child. If the need to have someone who is not on your pick-up list to collect your child arises, we ask that parents sign a permission form (which would need to include the name, phone number and physical description of the person picking up your child). The permission slips will be presented to the parent and signed immediately. We ask that presentation of full identification is required when your child is picked up. In case of any doubt, it is our policy not to release your child. All parents must initial the pickup sheets each day when you pick up your child.
If an unauthorized person arrives to pick up your child, your child will remain under the supervision of the preschool staff. A preschool staff member will speak to the individual and explain the policy that no child will be released without written authorization from you or your guardian. If difficulties arise, all reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the safety of your child and other children. If necessary, police will be called for assistance.
LATE COLLECTION OF A CHILD
If you are going to be late collecting your child, please let us know as soon as possible. In the event that you do not collect your child by the normal closing time, two members of staff will remain with your child. After fifteen minutes, if we have been unable to contact you or any of the authorised persons named in your school contact, the staff will assess the situation and contact social services.
ALLEGED IMPARED PICKUP
To the extent possible, it is the preschool staff’s responsibility not to release your child to an authorized person who is unable to adequately care for your child. If the preschool staff believe that your child will be at risk, they will offer to call a relative or a friend to pick up the person and your child, or offer to call a cab to pick them up. If the person is driving a vehicle, the preschool staff will explain that driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law and that they (the preschool teachers) are obligated to ensure the safety and well being of your child. If the presumed impaired person chooses to get in the car with or without your child, the teachers will immediately notify the police and provide description of the car and the geographic vicinity. If the teachers believe that your child is in need of protection, they will call the Ministry for Children and Families.
JOINT PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
In the event of a family dispute between parents, there are clear legal procedures that our teachers must follow: Parents who are married have equal rights over their child (joint parental responsibility) unless we are informed otherwise by way of a court order or through social services.
To avoid aggravating a dispute further, we will remain neutral unless specifically ordered otherwise by way of a court order or by social services. If a custody or court order exists, a copy of the order needs to be placed on the child’s file. The parent or guardian is responsible for providing accurate and up to date information concerning the legal guardianship of your child (legal visitation schedules and any other relevant documents). Without a custody or court order on file, teachers cannot deny access to the non-enrolling parent. If the non-enrolling parent is not listed on the authorized pickup list, the policy on unauthorized persona will be implemented. The enrolling parent must provide all consents.
Safeguarding the children in our care is of paramount importance to us. More detailed information can be found in our safeguarding children policy, procedure and guidelines. However, we would like to draw your attention to our responsibilities within this.
All children have the right to grow up in a safe, secure and nurturing environment. They should feel comfortable that their individual needs will be met and they do not live in fear of harm or neglect. In the event that we have concerns regarding your child, we will act upon them. Any staff member who has a concern will raise it with the Director. Wherever possible, the concern will then be discussed with you. From this discussion, a decision will be made as to whether to take further action.
Where it is decided further action is necessary, this may be to seek advice or make a referral to social services, the designated social worker or, if appropriate, the police. Confidentiality will be maintained as far as possible. However, the degree of confidentiality will be governed by the need to protect your child.
All preschool staff in the school is aware of their responsibilities regarding safeguarding children matters and receive regular training in safeguarding children policies and procedures. To ensure that our preschool staff is suitable to care for your child, they all undergo disclosure and barring service checks prior to being allowed unsupervised access to the children. These checks are updated every three years. In addition, no member of staff is permitted to commence employment until two satisfactory written references have been obtained.
We believe that children flourish best when they know how they are expected to behave, and should be free to play and learn without fear of being hurt or unfairly restricted by anyone else. We aim to encourage acceptable behaviour whereby the children learn to respect themselves and others.
We require all staff, parents, volunteers, students and visitors to provide a positive role model of behaviour by treating the children and one another with friendliness, care, respect and courtesy. We expect all adults to apply these rules consistently.
We use positive strategies for managing any conflicts by helping children find solutions in ways that are appropriate for the children’s ages and stages of development, for example, discussion, distraction and praise. We praise and endorse desirable behaviour, such as kindness and willingness to share. We avoid creating situations in which children receive adult attention only in return for undesirable behaviour.
When children display unwanted behaviour, we help them to see why this was wrong and how to cope more appropriately. We manage children’s unwanted behaviour in ways that are appropriate to their ages and stages of development. For example; by distraction, discussion or by withdrawing the child from the situation. In cases of serious unwanted behaviour, such as racial or other abuse, we make clear this behaviour and attitude is unacceptable by means of explanations, rather than personal blame.
We never use, or threaten a child with the use of, physical, emotional or corporal punishment. We will not single out children, humiliate or embarrass them. We will not shout at children or raise our voices in a threatening way in response to their behaviour.
We work in partnership with all parents. You will be regularly informed about your child’s behaviour by staff. We will work with you to address recurring unwanted or unacceptable behaviour, using objective observation records to help us to understand the cause and to decide jointly how to respond appropriately. With your consent, we may engage the assistance of outside agencies.
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL AND ADDITIONAL NEEDS
Working so closely with your child from such a young age and from making detailed observations and assessments, we are well placed to observe a child who may need additional support in one or more areas.
Any staff member who has a concern regarding your child’s development will raise this with the Director, who will then discuss this with you. Between you, and the Director, a course of action will be agreed.
If following this course of action, it is felt it may be necessary to seek further advice and assistance from outside professionals, we will obtain your consent to do so. In this eventuality, we respectfully request that you seriously consider this as we are all working towards supporting and encouraging your child to allow them to reach their full potential.
Confidentiality will be maintained at all times and no decisions will be made without your prior consent. More detailed information can be found in our special and additional needs policies and procedures, available at the school.
We are committed to promoting equal opportunities and all children in our care are treated with equal respect, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, disability, race or religion. Wherever possible, those designated disabled or disadvantaged will be considered for a place at the school, taking into account their individual circumstances and the ability of the nursery to provide the necessary standard of care.
MEDICAL INFORMATION AND MEDICINES
We ask that you fully disclose all relevant medical information when registering your child. Parents are required to inform the school if your child undergoes any medical treatment of medical examination during or after registration.
We are happy to administer prescription medication (and long term medication such as an inhaler or eczema cream) at the school, provided your child is well enough to attend nursery and the staff team have sufficient information and training to do so.
All medicines brought into school will need to be recorded and we will require your signature to authorise the administration. All medicines must be in the original container, labelled with your child’s name, the dosage required and the date that it was prescribed. Any medicines not meeting these criteria cannot be administered. We are not able to administer the first dose of a prescribed medicine. Therefore, children must have had the first dose at home a minimum of twenty four hours prior to coming into school.
We would recommend that children are fully immunized for their own protection and for the protection of those that cannot be immunized due to their age or for other reasons.
Please note, however, that immunization is not a condition of admission to the school and thus there may be children attending that have not been fully immuized.
FOOD ALLERGIES AND INTOLERANCES
If your child suffers from a severe allergy, a care plan and emergency procedures will be agreed with you, based on the information provided to us. If required, we will work with health visitors and other medical professionals to ensure we are able to meet your child’s needs. Parents must notify the school when/if any new allergies arise. Unfortunately, due to allergies and intolerances, we are unable to accept any foods, pre-packed or otherwise. We do not allow any nuts or nut products into our school.
On days where the children use food products for baking activities, all ingredients will be listed on our white board outside for parents to view. Where possible; special attention will be paid to using ingredients that are considered less allergenic.
ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
As children develop physically, accidents can occasionally happen. In this event, staff is trained in first aid.
If your child has an accident at the school, you will be informed upon collection and asked to sign an accident form. In the event of a bump to the head, you will be informed immediately by telephone. Your child will be monitored and, in most cases, will be able to continue with their day as normal. In the event of an accident causing concern, you will be asked to collect your child and a visit to your GP recommended.
Should your child have an accident that requires further medical support, you will be contacted immediately and any necessary action taken. In extreme cases, this could involve calling for the support of paramedics.
From time to time, children may become unwell whilst at the school. If this should happen, we will inform you immediately and agree a course of action. At Nightingale we follow the guidance for preschools issued by the Vancouver Health Authority. Children may not attend school whilst infectious and, in the event of sickness and diarrhoea, may not be admitted for 48 hours after the last bout of illness. A more detailed list of exclusion periods will be given to you upon your child starting with us.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND RECORD KEEPING
We use photographs to record your child’s learning progress which becomes a keepsake for you and your child when you leave us to go on to Kindergarten. We also use photographs in our school displays and our curriculum board in the hallway. Your child’s progress folder is confidential.
Should you not wish to have your child’s photograph posted within the school you can speak to the Director and a form would be given to sign. All parents sign a photograph consent form when their child attends the school.
FIRE AND EARTHQUAKE DRILLS
Our school is equipped with smoke detectors, fire alarms and fire extinguishers. We practice Fire Drills every six weeks and Earthquake Drills every five weeks. You will be given a Fire and Earthquake Policy Document when your child attends school.
We have an Earthquake shed in the backyard which is fully equipped with all the essentials should the need arise – food for a week, water for a week, clothes, diapers etc. We provide parents with an Earthquake policy manual when families join us and we recommend that families put their own Earthquake policies in place before their child attends Nightingale.
We are not located in a Tsunami area.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS/NATURAL DISASTER
Should the school experience emergencies (such as extreme weather conditions, natural disasters, fire, earthquake) the school would not be able to open or would need to close during operating hours. If such an emergency occurred, we would attempt to contact all parents and make arrangements for the early collection of their child. If there is a communication failure due to a widespread emergency, it is the parent’s responsibility to come to the preschool as soon as possible.
In the event of major snowfall or weather related events, please listen to the local radio station (CFAX 1070) for school closure information.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
You will be issued a preschool agreement with terms and conditions of payment once your child has a confirmed space. We would ask that you have fully read and understood the terms and conditions of your school agreement before signing. The terms and conditions are not negotiable and we would draw your attention to the following key points.
The fees are paid monthly on the first of each month. We ask for 11 post dated cheques (September to July) for the specified amount written on your invoice. We ask that cheques for the whole school year be submitted before a child attends the preschool. There is a charge of $35 for NSF cheques.
You will be charged for each session that you have booked, regardless of whether your child attends. Refunds or replacement sessions cannot be given for unattended sessions and booked sessions cannot be swapped for alternative sessions.
Fees are also payable if the school is closed for any event beyond our reasonable control, including, but not limited to, lack of essential services or weather conditions.
Fees are reviewed annually (for the following year) in the fall term. You will receive at least one month’s notice if a change in fees comes into effect.
Parents who wish to withdraw their child must provide written notice 60 days (sixty) before their intended withdrawal date. This also applies to reducing a session. Withdrawals with or without notice, and sudden departures are treated the same and required to pay full fees for the two months following the date of notification/departure/withdrawal. Parents that withdraw their child after Spring Break are responsible for the fees until the end of the year.
To avoid any conflict of interest, school staff are strictly prohibited from providing any babysitting or childminding services to parents outside of school operating hours, or take children to/from the school on your behalf when employed at Nightingale.
COMPLIMENTS AND COMPLAINTS
At Nightingale, we aim to provide a safe, secure and happy environment for children to prosper and develop. It is also our intention to give a high standard of care and nursery education in our setting. We accept that despite our best endeavours, there may be occasions when you feel we have been less than perfect, and we will always adopt a sympathetic but fair approach in dealing with your concerns. Conversely, you may experience moments when you feel a particular member of the team, or indeed the staff team itself, has performed really well and therefore deserve a little praise.
Should you have any compliments or concerns regarding the care or any other aspect of the school please in the first instance raise them with the Director