Limits and Guidelines

Our Few Absolute Limits

NO leaving school grounds without permission.

NO using matches without teacher supervision.

NO bringing or using pocket knives at school without teacher approval and supervision.

NO using racist, sexist, homophobic, or other hurting words about who and what people are.

NO excluding people based on a person’s skin color, racial heritage, cultural heritage, gender, gender identity, or any other differences and qualities about someone’s personhood that cannot be changed.

NO climbing on the roof.

NO guns or weapons.


No foods or drinks with refined sugar are allowed at school. No gum or candy or sodas of any form, including those using sugar substitutes. Children often share and swap food; please avoid foods with chemical additives and food coloring in lunches or snacks.

Parents and teachers sometimes come up with more specific agreements about food based on the needs in a particular yard. They also sometimes generate alternative food lists to help parents.


Toys from home:

With few exceptions, personal toys cannot be brought to school. Toys from home are difficult to keep track of and can get mixed in with school toys. Also, when children bring toys from home they often play privately with the toys or with the same few friends rather than intermingling with other children seeking new friendships, participating, coming up with new ideas, or more creatively using the materials in the yard.

Children naturally feel protective and territorial about their own toys. We have found that the number of problems and hurt feelings increase when toys from home are at school.

We want the school environment to maximize children’s opportunities to explore their own imaginations. The equipment at school is carefully chosen for their expressive, creative and developmental opportunities.


Comfort stuffed toys, books, magazines, rocks or treasures are usually okay, but please check in with the teacher ahead of time, preferably the day before bringing things from home. Books and CDs usually need to be previewed in advance by a teacher.

Commercial Toys:

No Barbie dolls (or extended family), war toys, super hero dolls, or toys heavily promoted on TV or in movies.


Generally, no money is allowed at school.

Money brought for a school lunch day or bake sale should be given to the teacher upon arrival.

If a student forgets and brings money to school, the money will be held by a teacher until the end of the day when the student is picked up. There is to be no buying or selling of anything at school or making deals at school where the money will be paid later. This limit has come about because students sometimes attempt to bargain for many objects, food, entry into special plans and special areas. We find this kind of buying and selling to be overpowering, particularly of younger students, and often hurtful and exclusionary. The teachers will work with the students to organize special plans or events that include selling and are supportive of school philosophy and limits.


Part of our Anti-Bias Program is to ensure that all people feel respected and honored in their differences.

Our policy in the Nursery groups is to talk about how certain words hurt people and why not to use them. When a child is using these words, we work with them apart from the group to help them understand our limit and the reason behind it. Afterwards, it’s only when they cannot stop themselves from using these words that we ask parents to arrange for their child to be away from school for the rest of that day.

We discuss our limits directly with the children in Mountain Yard and they are expected to comply. If they cannot stop themselves from using these words, then we may ask parents to arrange for their child to be away from school for the rest of the day.

When a child is asked to go home from school, it is not considered punishment. It’s an opportunity to deal with the feelings behind the behavior, with a parent who is able to give focused attention in a quieter setting.


For safety reasons we ask that you don’t bring the family pet to school, even if the pet is friendly to children. Planned visits of family pets can sometimes be arranged, however, they must be arranged far in advance with the teacher of the group.

The Last Minute Play-Over

Please be aware that planning last-minute play-overs in the yard can interfere with a smooth transition at the end of the day. Last minute get-togethers, while fun for those involved, can be hard for those who aren’t invited. It is also hard for parents who may be having a difficult time setting their own limits, or don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings by saying no. Teachers also have a limit not to use time during the day to help children make last minute play-overs for many of the same reasons. Please let your children know that this is a limit and please be considerate of these things in your planning. A phone call to the parent the night before, or between parents during the day outside of the yard and outside of school use is fine.

Glass or Ceramics

No glass containers, mirrors, or other glass or ceramic items in the yards, so that we can safely maintain our “shoes optional” policy. (Children’s ceramic art pieces are an exception.)

Physical Contact Between Children and Adults

We strongly encourage physical contact between adults and children; research is clear that physical touching and holding is critical to healthy physical and emotional development. The following are some guidelines that ensure children’s control and safety over their bodies:

  • Check with children if they wish to be touched, held, or carried before initiating physical contact. Each child has their own unique need and comfort level with respect to physical contact. Adults are to respect children’s limits unless contact is used to ensure the physical safety of the child.
  • Avoid tickling and chasing children. Our size and speed can excite as well as overwhelm children, turning a fun activity into a scary one. If children want such interaction, have them chase you.
  • Allow children to climb and reach heights and locations without physical assistance. Resist the urge to “help” a child reach their desired location by lifting them off and on the ground or other places. By allowing them to use and develop their own physical skills and power, their body awareness and control grows. This awareness gives them the knowledge of their own physical strengths and limitations, thus enabling them to take appropriate risks and challenges without risking injury. If you are concerned about the safety of an activity either stay close and supervise or help the child find safer options.

Parking Guidelines

We have limited parking spaces. Our continued operation is contingent upon maintaining friendly relations with our neighbors, particularly with regard to parking. Please follow street sign guidelines, honor parking laws, and park in metered parking whenever possible. Please do not park in the alley next to school or behind the restaurant across from school. During School drop-off (8:30-10:00 am) and pick-up (2:30-3:30 pm) times, there is a 10-minute limit for parking in the spaces in from of school. Three cars can park on each side. Please do not block sidewalks, take up more than one space or park outside the yellow lines.

Parties and Celebration Guidelines

Because of the sensitive nature of exclusion and inclusion inherent in party planning, please use the support of teachers in thinking about how parties impact group and yard dynamics. Teachers can also lend support with ideas about helping children process their feelings about inclusion, exclusion and other issues surrounding parties.

Celebrating within school:

• Children’s birthdays can be, and often are, celebrated at school by parents providing special snack or treats for everyone in their child’s group from 2:15-3:00 pm on a day prearranged with the teacher. The celebration is generally limited to preparing signs for that day, singing, and sharing the snack food together.
•Children outside the group are not included in this school celebration. Exceptions are sometimes made for siblings, by pre-arrangement, please.
•We ask that the same food limits be followed as school lunch limits, and that parents check with the teachers to see if children in the group have allergies which would exclude them from sharing certain foods, and make a plan that can include all. Teachers and other parents will have food ideas.

Celebrating outside of school:

•For an outside-of-school party, we ask that you please mail the invitations. Please do not hand them out within school or in front of school.
•We strongly urge parents to help their child plan the invitation list, to set a personal limit of including either (1) the whole group, or (2) just a few children, or (3) less than half the group. When more than half the group is invited, but not all the group, those children not invited definitely hear about it, and feel “left out” and hurt. When less than half the group is invited, children may find it easier to understand that parents limit the number of people at birthday parties and children have to make choices within that limit of who is closest to them. Please be sensitive to any issues of exclusion (e.g. inviting all of the girls except one from a group).
•We request that parties be scheduled for times outside of the regular school day, unless it includes the whole group and is prearranged with staff. For example, when 3 children are gone from school to a place like Disneyland for a birthday plan, the whole school day is sometimes spent dealing with “left out” feelings of the children remaining at school.
•Transportation to an outside of school party should not leave from or return to the school.
•Please make sure party favors and gifts stay at home. At school they can arouse “left out” feelings in children who were not included in the plans.

Gift Giving

Children’s Gifts

We ask that there be no exchange of gifts between children on school grounds, and that gifts (from birthday parties, etc) not be left at school for other families to pick up. It is more supportive of all the children if gift exchanges happen privately, outside of school.

Teacher’s Gifts

We do not have a specific policy about gift giving to teachers at Holiday time or the end of the school year. However, we don’t want families to feel pressured, either individually or as part of a group, to give gifts to teachers. We respect that everyone is already contributing to our school program by paying tuition, supporting Annual Giving and in volunteering time.

We do ask that you not organize group gifts for the Holidays. There are several reasons for this request, some having to do with fairness issues, and others with organizing and distribution issues.

If you do choose to give gifts to teachers, please do not give gifts in the yards; bring them to the office and the administrative staff will assist with the distribution of gifts to the teachers. Thank you for your consideration.

Some Holiday Guidelines

Valentines Day

We ask that children do not share Valentine cards or gifts at school. We see that some tend to be biased in certain ways or promote commercialism. There can also be many hurt feelings connected to the exchange of Valentines. We sometimes provide activities at school for children to make their own cards or gifts.


Halloween brings up very mixed feelings for young children. It can be both exciting and scary. For children of Nursery age, fantasy and reality are still not clearly separate. Trick-or-treating, costumes, images of ghosts, witches, skeletons, etc. can all bring up mixed reactions. We offer activities at school, such as a Halloween costume parade, which can also bring up mixed feelings. Some children may need extra support on this holiday or for these activities and we may ask you to be available for that support. Also, please remember that no full-face masks or masks that cover the entire head can be worn at school and no candy should be brought to school.



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