Welcome, New and Returning Families.
For those of you just starting at Play Mountain Place, our school will likely be a new experience, and we know that you will have questions and may wonder about many things. Here we communicate many of the policies and philosophies we have at our unique school. Please take some time to read this content so that we may respond to any questions or concerns you may have about the material before school starts. This information will help you and your family prepare for the first day of school and serve as an ongoing resource throughout the year.
We look forward to seeing you!
Children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years are enrolled in Little Nursery. Parents are encouraged to stay and participate with their child, providing a comfortable support for the transition from home to school, which is sensitive to the child’s pace. As teachers model various problem-solving strategies, children are supported in their growing autonomy and self-expression. Teachers are available to support parents with the challenging issues that often arise during early years.
The program for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 year olds continues to provide attention to physical, social and emotional growth. Self expression and self empowerment are enhanced by supporting children’s choices for themselves. Teachers support children’s decision-making process in Morning Meeting and in individual problem- solving sessions. Teacher-led activities and classes are offered, while child-initiated activities are given equal support.
House Group children, ages 4 1/2 to 5 1/2, continue the work of self-regulation, while continuing to receive support for understanding and expressing their feelings. Opportunities for vigorous physical activity continue and support for building of language arts and mathematic thinking skills are provided. Children are exposed to music, movement, art and science experientially.
Children of Primary Group are ages 5 1/2 to 7. Children create their own projects and plans; their interests are supported by teachers, who provide resources (books, field trips, guests, etc.) to enrich the environment. Relationships can be very intense at this age and teachers support social- emotional growth by carefully observing individual and group dynamics and providing support where needed.
Elementary & Upper Elementary
The oldest children in the school, 7 to 11 year olds, continue to perfect their communication, problem-solving and leadership skills. These skills, as well as academic prowess, are refined as children take on larger projects and tackle issues meaningful to them. Their activities range from child-organized team sports, plays, and the Spring Bazaar to fund raising for end-of-year trips and negotiating for new privileges. The Upper Elementary group sometimes mentor younger children and peers, or work closely with an adult on complex individual projects.
First Days At School
Beginning the School Year
During your child’s first days, please make yourself at home in the schoolyard. The beginning of the school year is somewhat new to everyone, and it’s a time for transition for everyone. Some children like to jump in and explore on their own, while others need to stay close to a parent as they acclimate to their new environment. Your child’s comfort is your first priority, so feel free to move about the yard or find a place to sit, while being mindful of following your child’s lead. We do ask that you inform a teacher when you are preparing to leave the yard so that they can help your child with the transition. Also please notify a teacher if you intend to leave the yard with your child.
In order to help you become more familiar with our program, here are some guidelines for families and friends who are new to Play Mountain Place.
• Pay attention to your child by either following their play behavior or by being available to them when they need you.
• Do not lift or swing children. Instead, encourage them to try activities in which they may climb or swing, and at the same time, be in control of their own bodies.
• Please check with a teacher before participating in children’s activities.
• We ask that adults squat or sit when interacting with a child.
• If a child falls, give them support but let them recover/get up in their own time and with their own power.
• When a child other than your own is upset or needs help, please notify a teacher. When children see others upset, a range of feelings can be released, including curiosity, sadness or fear. By focusing on your own child, you can be present for those feelings and still have a connection to what is happening in the yard.
• Conversations about adult subjects (i.e., about our feelings, our issues, current events, etc.), often distract our attention away from children and can be difficult for children to process. When you are in the yards, at the waiting bench, at the front gate, or outside the front gate, please support child-appropriate conversations and keep your attention on the children.
• Please do not use cell phones in the yards.
• Tell your child and one of your child’s teachers when you are preparing to leave the yard. As you spend time at the school, it is likely you will have questions and/or concerns about what is happening with the children as well as teacher-student interaction. We ask that you call teachers after school hours so that teachers can give their full attention to children during program hours. In this way they will also best be able to give their full attention to your questions.
At Play Mountain Place, separation is viewed as a unique and on-going process different for each child. Therefore, we have no fixed timetable as to how long the separation process will take. We want to individualize the process to best meet the emotional needs of each child. For those entering into nursery yards for the first time, plan to spend the first several weeks at school while your child acclimates to the school environment.
Teachers want to ensure a comfortable and successful transition for both you and your child. Therefore, it is important to discuss the leaving process with your child’s teacher before leaving your child alone at school. When both you and your child’s teacher feel your child is ready, leave for a short period, making it gradually longer until your child is ready for a full day without you.
Sometimes, the moment of separation can be one of great grief for your child. We understand children’s expressions of grief to be normal and emotionally healthy. Crying is a natural healing response and it is important that children feel free to fully express themselves. This process can also be difficult and painful for the parent; however, we ask that parents always let their child know when they are leaving and wait for an acknowledgment to make sure you have been heard. It is important to your child (and the teacher) that your child is fully aware that you are leaving, and is lovingly supported in their feelings of grief until they are done, without the pressure to “feel better” on our adult timetable.
Please note that your child’s comfort level with being at school without a parent present will often shift and change, and that they may need your support more or less at certain times. For example, illness, a parent out of town, family changes or crisis may trigger a need for more support from a parent. We ask that you work in partnership with your child’s teacher to help them understand any changes in your child’s regular routine at home so that we can better support your child at school.
Your Child’s Belongings
Snacks and Lunch
• Please bring your child’s lunch in a lunchbox or bag and be sure to clearly label it and each re-usable item in it, e.g., thermos, stainless steel, or plastic containers (both the bottoms and tops). Please check these school items often for your child’s name, as they do wear off.
• We will provide snacks in Morning Meeting in the Nursery program and water throughout the day. Please bring extra water, and any other drinks that you want for your child. It helps for your child to have the freedom to help themselves to a drink when needed (especially in hot weather).
• Lunches will be stored on an accessible lunch table, so that children can eat and drink as needed throughout the day.
• Plastic baby bottles and sippy cups are fine. Please make sure that they are clearly marked.
• Please do not bring any glass or ceramic containers or bottles to school.
Each child is assigned a wooden compartment, or “cubby” on their first day of school. This is where all clothing and other personal items will be stored.
• Plans here include sand, mud, water and paint. Clothes do get dirty and stained. Please send clothing that allows children to fully participate.
• Just in case your child needs to change out of dirty or wet clothes, please pack an extra set (or two) of clothing and shoes everyday.
• Please label each piece of clothing with your child’s name in a permanent marker.
• Please do not bring or wear valuable clothing to school.
• Please bring appropriate seasonal clothing including raincoats, waterproof boots, sweaters, swim trunks and towels. These should also be labeled.
• Diapers and the supplies that go with them should come from home and be clearly marked.
• A special blanket or comfort item is okay to bring to school. Please make sure that the item is clearly marked with your child’s name. Nursery children need a nap blanket of their own to be kept at school.
•Please keep your valuables (jewelry, money, etc.) and pets at home. These things often cause conflicts between children, and keeping track of any valuables is difficult. If bringing a valuable or a pet is really important to a child, please make a special plan with the teacher.
Lost and Found
When items in the yard cannot be matched to their owners they are placed in the lost and found. Please ask the teacher in the yard where the lost and found is located, and check it regularly when items are missing. Lost and found items will be periodically donated to a charitable organization.
The School Day
Our regular school hours are 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The teachers are preparing the yards between 8:30 and 8:50 am. Please do not enter the yards before 8:50 am. If you need to communicate something to your child’s teachers, they are available between 8:50 and 9:10 am. Please be brief in your communication at this time. Teachers can set a later time to talk further, as needed. If you have missed your opportunity to talk to a teacher, you may leave a note in the teacher’s staff box.
It is important that you to arrive on time. By doing so, your child has time before Morning Meeting to make friendship connections, settle into their school day, and prepare for separation. It is our experience that giving children this transition time is critical to them having a successful day at school. The arrival experience is different for each child, depending on the child, his or her experiences before coming to school, and what might be on his mind. This is the time when teachers greet each child to make a connection, and check-in with parents about their child’s emotional state. During this time, please keep your focus on your child. If you plan on leaving before Morning Meeting let your child know exactly how long you have to stay, and talk to him or her about readiness for meeting and thinking about plans for the day before you go. Give them time to fully say goodbye, and let a teacher know so the transition to school is made and they are ready for meeting.
Special Note to Nursery Parents:
If you arrive after 9:45 am, please do not enter through the House. Please walk through the Mountain Yard quietly so as to not disturb the House Group or Mountain Yard Morning Meetings.
Sign In/Sign Out Sheets/Contact Information
All children in the Nursery group (Little Nursery, Big Nursery, and House Group) are required to be signed in and out on our official sign-in sheet everyday. Please use your full name when you sign. All groups including Elementary groups require a verbal check-in and check-out with your child’s teacher as well. This ensures your child’s safety. It is required that a parent accompanies the child to and from the school. If you have arranged a playover and your child will be picked up by someone other than his/her parent, please inform a teacher and make sure his or her name is on your Contact Information Card in the office. You can call, or come into the office personally to have a person added to your pick-up list. The first time someone new picks up your child, please ask them to come to the office. We will make sure they are in the book, and then escort them to the yard. Once someone is on your list and has picked up your child through the office, you can simply let the teacher in your child’s group know what the arrangement will be. Children cannot, under any circumstances, be dropped off or picked up outside school property.
Morning Meeting is the official start of the day, beginning at 9:30 in Mountain Yard and between 9:45 to 10:00 am. in the Nursery Yards. Parents of younger children should plan to leave before or after Morning Meeting rather than in the middle, so as not to disrupt the meeting for the rest of the group.
Morning Meeting is an important time of the day at Play Mountain Place.
The meeting allows the teachers to check in with each child to see if they have any problems, plans or sharings, or if they have any plans that they need help with. It’s also a time when teachers will offer any plans that they have made for the day. When children miss out on this meeting, they often have difficulty throughout the school day.
We ask that if you arrive during or after Morning Meeting, you stay to support your child’s transition into the meeting or other activities. Help your child to stay focused on the meeting by sitting next to her or holding him on your lap if they cannot sit still on their own. Keep your attention on your child. Gentle encouragement to him to think of his own problems, plans, or sharings helps your child to participate. The teacher’s role in morning meeting is to keep the morning meeting flowing and to hear plans from each child before they leave the meeting area.
Each group, including Little Nursery and Big Nursery, has a Morning Meeting. For children in House Group, Primary and Elementary groups there is a stronger expectation of involvement in Morning Meeting. Children in Primary and Elementary groups who miss Morning Meeting will need a check-in with their teacher.
Ins and Outs
When dropping off or picking up your child, please always enter our school through the main front gate. Our front gate is open during drop-off and pick-up times. For security, we lock our Front Gate from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. Please remember, people can always leave the program through the gate, even when it’s locked. However, when the gate is locked, enter through the main office door. Please always exit school through main gate unless you have office business. Please enter school through office only during locked gate hours.
Afternoon Departure Time
The school day ends at 3:00 pm.
The yards and classrooms close at 3:10 pm and our after-care program and after-school meetings for the teachers begin.
At the end of the school day parents and caregivers should focus on the following:
• Supporting your child(ren)’s transition out of school
• Gathering up any belongings
• Leaving the school grounds – including the front office area, parking lots, our front gate area and our neighbors’ yards.
If you need to check in with teachers at the end of the day, please arrive by 2:50 pm and plan to make the exchange brief. If you need a longer conversation, arrange a later phone time.
Both the alley next to school and Hargis Street are often heavily trafficked and we are concerned about the safety of children playing in front of school or on the alley-side patios after school. Also, our teaching staff and administration continue to work and have meetings between 3:00 – 6:00 pm. When families linger on school grounds (including the front of school), and come back in to use school facilities, it is disruptive of the after school work we are doing.
We understand that kids (and parents, too) may want to spend more time with each other after school. Fortunately, there is a wonderful little park not far away that many of our families use as a meeting-up place after school, Syd Kronenthal Park (on McManus). The park has swings, sand, bathrooms, drinking fountains, and a huge grassy baseball field to run in.
Information about late pick-up or our aftercare program is explained in the Administration section under Extended Day Care in this handbook.
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.
When leaving your child’s car seat or booster seat at school, please put your child’s name on it and leave in the storage area in the House Group bathroom.
Loaner Booster Seats
Extra booster seats are available for emergencies and are located in the House Group bathroom (next to the office) and clearly marked “PMP”. Please feel free to use them as needed. As a courtesy, please return these car seats within two days.
Freedom – Not License
“The hardest part in creating a space for children to have choices, is to know when you reach your own limits. We must listen to the feeling inside that says, ‘No, I don’t like this behavior, I want this behavior to stop.’ In the framework of a non-authoritarian, respectful approach, one has the right to say what may not be done. (The opposite, telling the child what to do, robs them of responsibility and practice in making decisions. Telling the child what to do is demanding certain performances for your needs instead of the child’s). You care about children, in a non-possessive way, when you allow them to make choices which fit their needs, but which do not violate yours! You create a structure, by the framework of your limits, within which the child can choose. This is freedom, not license. Genuineness is critical in a relationship with a child. The best intent in the world to listen to a child’s feelings will not work if you are unaware of, or afraid of, your wish to say no. If that’s where you are, if that’s what you really want to say, then say it! The process of coming to terms, honestly, with each other, has as its payoff- children and adults who care about themselves enough to be able to care about others enough to solve problems respectfully.”
– Phyllis Fleishman Founding Director of Play Mountain Place
Getting Wet, Cold and Dirty
When your child gets wet and cold we will help her get dry and warm. We will not insist that your child stay indoors on a rainy day, stay fully dressed, or keep out of the water. We ask that you keep your child with you on days that she/he can’t fully participate in the regular program.
Children learn from hands-on, sensory and physical experiences with water, dirt, paints, etc. This means that hair and bodies, clothing and especially socks could be covered by the end of any school day. Wearing play clothes that can get dirty or stained and having extra clothes readily available at school relieves a lot of stress about playing and learning at school.
There are times when children indicate that they want a special time with one adult. Some children ask for this and others might become teasy or needy as a way of indicating that they have feelings that they need help processing. Special times are a way of using the child’s play to provide them with supported listening. When we are able to give our full attention and follow the child’s lead, even for a short time, children are often able to laugh, shout or cry their way through difficulties. At school teachers try to provide special times (when the yard dynamics allow) when needed. The relationship that develops as a result of these special times create a foundation for supporting deeper exploration and growth. At home parents often find that a hectic pace gets in the way of supporting spontaneous special times; a regular pre-arranged time, away from siblings, might be an option. (For more ideas about special times see the booklet, Interviews with Phyllis, and the booklet, Special Times, by Patty Wipfler).
Mad Times and Moosh Activities
Children are encouraged to express all of their feelings at Play Mountain Place, including their anger. During times of extreme emotion, people sometimes express feelings in hurtful ways, such as kicking, hitting, biting, pinching, spitting, throwing sand at others, and more. They are encouraged to work out their feelings in any of the following ways, which help the healing process. Any of these ideas can also be used in your home to redirect angry energy from hurting you or your family.
A word of caution about processing adult feelings: Adults may find these activities useful as well, but grown-up feelings can be overwhelming for young people. Please maintain awareness of who is present and gauge your outlet appropriately. It will probably be necessary to ask a partner or friend to play with your child while you move your moosh plan elsewhere. Alternately, you could modulate your plan to “take the first layer” off of your feelings and “go for it” later, when you have more privacy. Go ahead, then. Rip paper! It’s fun!
Some Suggestions for Moosh Activities:
• hitting pillows
• pillow fights
• throwing balls at targets or drawings of angry faces
• biting on safe, clean chosen objects (soft plastic toy, clean towel)
• stomping on aluminum cans
• dictating or writing a letter or note about why we’re mad
• tearing, crushing, crinkling or punching newspaper
• tearing newspaper an adult pretends to read
• pounding clay with mallet or fists
• pushing against a pillow held by an adult
• punching hanging punching bags
• throwing water balloons at target
• teasing a parent or teacher (role play, pretend, name calling)
• playing with mud, clay, play-dough, cornstarch goop
• wrestling (be sure to let the child be in charge and always be the “strong” one)
• kicking cardboard box towers
• throwing body against mattress wall
• screaming and yelling
• making faces
• banging on something safe
• using “soft swords” made of newspaper on hanging plastic bottles or cardboard boxes
• popping plastic bubble wrap
• stomping feet
• angry drawing
Bodies and Nudity
Preschool children are just beginning to learn about the world around them and their relationship to it. They are often not self-conscious about topics that many adults find difficult.
Children have a natural curiosity about their bodies, how their bodies work, differences between boys and girls, questions about sexuality. Body parts and sexuality are talked about at school, stemming from children’s discussions and questions, or as brought up through books or songs.
Occasionally, while participating in water play or just during the natural course of their play, some of the younger children will take off their clothes. In the Little Nursery yard, children are permitted to play without their clothing as long as the weather allows for their health and safety.
In Big Nursery, House Group, and Mountain Yard, during After School Care, at the park and on field trips, nudity is not permitted.
When children express an interest in direct exploration of each others bodies we call that a “cozy plan.” We consider this curiosity normal and natural and do not want children shamed for their interest. We will help children process their feelings and their interest in bodies; however, teachers are not able to support cozy plans at school and also adequately supervise the rest of the children, particularly because of the different ages and developmental levels in each yard.
Teachers can give parents suggestions for supporting cozy plans at home where the supervision assures the necessary attention to everyone’s safety limits.
Visiting Other Yards
Children often are fascinated with the various play yards in school other than their own. It is tempting to indulge your child’s wish to stay and play in these areas. For safety reasons, no younger children are allowed in yards other than their own, with or without their parent. There are many subtle safety limits in each yard that may not be obvious to you. In addition, the presence of children and their parents in a yard can be disruptive to the program set up for that yard. Remember, children take and feel a sense of ownership of their indoor and outdoor classrooms. Think of yourself as a visitor when passing through. During the school day children do have the option of planning occasional visits to other yards with teacher supervision. If your child shows an interest in staying and playing in another yard, encourage them to plan a visit in their Morning Meeting.
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.
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.
Health and Safety
Medication at School
If your child needs medications during school hours, please keep the following in mind:
•All medication should be brought to the school by an adult and handed to an administrator in the office.
•All medication should be brought to school in the original labeled container.
•All medication must be held in the office during school hours.
•All prescription and nonprescription medications (including vitamins, remedies, etc.) given in school settings require written authorization in the form of parent written consent.
•A completed “Parent Consent For Administration of Medications and Medication Chart” must be filled out by the parent. This form is available in the office or online.
•For medicines requiring refrigeration, there is a small refrigerator in the office.
•It is parent’s responsibility to make certain that they or the person picking up the child picks up the medicine each day from the office. (Upon request, most pharmacies will provide a fully-labeled second container if you let them know that you need one for school/day care and one for home use.)
•We request that you limit medications brought to school. If a medication needs to be given only 3 times per day, we ask that parents give it to their child in the morning before school, in the afternoon after school, and then at bedtime, and do not bring it to school.
Play Mountain Place complies with all California vaccination and reporting laws. California School Immunization Law requires that all children entering school for the first time submit evidence of their completed immunizations. The law also requires that schools submit annual immunization reports to the state. Requirements vary depending on the age and grade of the entering student.
Required immunizations usually include: Polio, DTP or DtaP (diptheria, tetanus, pertusis), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Hib, Hep B and Varicella (Chicken Pox).
A schedule of required immunizations for each point of entry into school is available from your child’s doctor or at shotsforschool.org (where you can also find more information about immunization law). In the case of an outbreak, children who are not fully immunized may be temporarily excluded from attending school.
A visit to the doctor can be a frightening experience for a child, especially when there are shots involved. There can also be physical discomfort as well. The teachers request that you let them know in advance when these doctor visits will happen. On the day of the visit, if you still plan on your child attending school, please check in with the teachers about the timing of your arrival back at school.
We realize that parents are faced with a difficult problem when their child is ill. This Illness Policy is designed to be flexible yet maintain a standard of health in the school environment. Basically, if your child is getting sick, please don’t bring the child to school, as we are likely to have to ask you to pick your child up early. If your child is in the recovery phase, please make sure that we can reach you during the day in case of relapse.
The following are specific guidelines for when children need to be away from school:
Children with the following health problems need to stay home:
• Excessive Mucus Flow
• Sore Throat
• Unidentified Rash
• Pin worms
• Unusual lethargy accompanied by physical complaints
Common Illnesses and When a Child Can Return to School:
Chicken Pox: sores scabbed over
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): free of symptoms
Fever: free of fever for 24 hours
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: completely free of all symptoms
Impetigo: no running sores
Lice: free of lice and nits. School personnel must check child’s hair before he/she returns to school. If a child leaves school because of lice, they cannot return in the same day even if they have been treated for lice. Additional guidelines may apply depending on the impact the outbreak is having on our daily program.
Measles: free of rash Mumps: free of swelling
Ringworm: after anti-fungal treatment begins
Stomach Flu: free of symptoms for 24 hours
Strep Throat: after 24 hours of antibiotics or until free of symptoms Conditions requiring antibiotic treatment: 24 hours of treatment before returning to school
Teachers will use their judgement regarding runny noses, coughs, sneezing, and other symptoms, based on child’s ability to participate in the program and staff ability to address the needs of the child and the needs of other children. If we call you to pick up your child because of illness, please be prepared to pick them up within a half-hour of our call.
We have comprehensive disaster plans in place and are prepared should an earthquake or other disaster strike during school hours. We routinely practice earthquake and fire drills with the children.
We have earthquake supplies here at the school. If we must evacuate, we walk by way of Hargis to La Cienega Avenue to Syd Kronenthal Park. If you would like a more detailed look at our plans, please check in with the office, and we can show you our detailed Emergency Plans.
At Play Mountain Place we understand that children can sometimes have what we call emotional emergencies. The seriousness of a medical emergency is clear, whereas it may be difficult to perceive the seriousness of a less tangible emotional problem.
Often teachers can help children find the support and comfort they need at school, however, when a child’s emotional needs require more focused one-on-one attention than we are able to provide, we ask that the child go home to be with a parent.
When children are that upset, it seems to have a calming effect and tends to lessen the misery and hurt when children can be in an environment away from school and with a special loved one: mother, father, grandparent, or close friend.
Please understand that this is not a punishment, but instead a positive way to help children to deal with their emotions as well as to enhance their self-esteem by being able to receive non-judgmental support in working through a most difficult emotional time for them.
If a call to pick up your child from school triggers strong feelings for you, we suggest you take the time to process your own feelings before you come to pick up your child so you can meet your child with positive support for their feelings. Because of your child’s immediate need for support, there will not be time to check in with the teacher until the school day is over or in the evening.
If we call you to pick up your child because of and emotional emergency, please be prepared to pick them up within a half-hour of our call.
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.
A Word About Gift Giving
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.
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 doing Work Commitments.
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.
We ask that children do not share commercial Valentine cards 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. If a child plans to make cards at home, and hand them out at school, we ask that they do not exclude anyone in their group. Also, we sometimes provide activities at school for children to make their own cards.
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.
Resources for Parents
Adult Communication Support
Play Mountain Place is a community of children and adults. We spend a great deal of time working with the interpersonal communication between and among the children. We also help parents to understand the process and use the skills of non-authoritarian problem solving and peaceful conflict resolution. Adults can also benefit from the support structures available at Play Mountain Place.
Assumptions About Feelings and Communication
• There will always be differences of opinion.
• There will always be conflicts when people work, play or live close together.
• Every person has a right to every feeling they have. There is no need to justify a feeling. It is not an action. All feelings are O.K. Not all actions are O.K.
• Feelings are information. If we can listen to them without judgment, we can enrich our understanding of ourselves and others.
• Feelings might be linked to the current situation, and they might also be linked in emotional memory to a situation in someone’s past that resembles the present, but is not the present.
• Very strong feelings often indicate that, in addition to the disturbing current situation, something in the past is also “triggered.”
•Play Mountain staff members see this phenomenon in the children’s upsets daily. When Play Mountain community members ask adults to “look at their own issues,” it is not instead of working with the current upsetting issue; it is in addition to it, in order to resolve the current issue with less hurt and more clarity.
•When a person has these assumptions about feelings, he/she can use any situation which is upsetting as an opportunity not only to resolve the current upsetting situation with another person, but also as an opportunity to look into what situation in the past, that had some similar element, is still “unfinished” within her/himself and work to resolve that one further.
•“Active listening” time allows a person upset by something to clarify feelings, thoughts, and a plan of communication and action about the situation – at least the next step.
•“Active listening” time allows an upset person to “vent” feelings without hurting anyone, without having to “hold back.” That, in itself, allows for greater exploration of feelings and thoughts, and greater clarity and calm about what might be the clearest and most respectful next step to resolve something.
•Often, if a person has utilized “listening” time for talking through strong feelings, he/she will then be able to say to another person what he/she needs to say in a way that has a better chance to be heard and understood.
•A neutral “facilitator” (with no personal emotional involvement in the issue) in a meeting between people, at least one of whom had a problem to bring up, can aid in assuring that each person gets heard by the other person, so that a resolution is more likely to occur.
Problem Solving Steps
• Recognize that I am feeling upset.
• Try to think clearly about what the problem is, and with whom I have the problem.
• Get “active listening” from a skilled “listener.” Hold back from gossiping, or venting my feelings, except to a “listener.”
• Do “anger release” with the listener, if I need to, or privately on my own.
• Get as clear as I can, now, about what the problem is, with whom I have the problem, and decide when and how best to approach the person with whom I have the problem. Decide if I want to talk with the person with, or without, a “facilitator” present.
• Check in with a “facilitator” if I want one.
• Contact the person with whom I have the problem. Ask for a time to talk, and if using a facilitator, ask if the person is okay with the facilitator I want. If not, select a facilitator with whom we are both comfortable.
• If the first meeting without a facilitator resolves the issue, it’s done.
• If the first meeting without a facilitator does not resolve the issue, consider a meeting with a facilitator.
• If the “facilitated” meeting doesn’t resolve the issue, try a second meeting.
• If you are making progress, try a third meeting.
• If you are not making progress, try a different facilitator, or agree that each person will set up “active listening” time with “listeners” of their choice to get even clearer on the issues and feelings for each person, before another meeting.
• Have another “facilitated” meeting.
• If it is an issue at school, and hasn’t gotten resolved, contact the Director about the next steps to take. If it is an issue with the Director, and isn’t getting resolved, ask for one or more of the facilitators to participate in the meetings.
• If the issue is not getting resolved after several listening times and several facilitated meetings, it might be time to look at next steps each person would take if an issue was not able to be resolved. Not every issue can be resolved. It is discouraging and un-empowering for all involved to meet indefinitely without resolution. Agreeing openly to disagree is sometimes a solution, and is more respectful than being mad at each other, unacknowledged, and having it leak out. Decide how to move to closure.
We are dedicated to supporting open channels of communication, information sharing, and decision making among adults at Play Mountain Place. We want genuine involvement of each adult member of the Play Mountain Place community. If you have a problem or an issue to explore or changes you would like to see, the following guidelines have evolved to foster good communication. We encourage all parents to use any or all of them.
• Speak up early when you realize you have a problem or strong feelings about an issue.
• Use the communication and conflict resolution skills taught in the Communication Skills Workshop.
• Below are possible options for you to communicate your concerns or get support:
• Speak with your child’s teacher.
• Bring up issue at a Parent Meeting.
• Speak with the Director.
• Use a Play Mountain Place staff member or “listener” to gain clarity about issues when you have very strong feelings (they can keep confidentiality).
• Ask for a facilitated meeting to deal with inter-personal conflict that can’t be resolved directly with the other person.
Communication Skills Workshop
At the Communication Skills Workshop, parents and staff learn respectful ways of communicating thoughts, feelings and personal limits (e.g. I-Messages), and respectful ways of listening to others, in particular listening for the feelings the other person is expressing (e.g. active listening). Practice is offered in facilitating a problem between two or more people. In this valuable class, participants learn to de-polarize problems and move towards “win-win” solutions.
Attendance at the workshop is required for all new parents and staff during their first year at Play Mountain Place. The workshop is four sessions, offered once a week for 2H to 3 hours on a weekend day or on weekday evenings. The workshop series is usually offered in the fall, and sometimes Parent Seminars or refresher courses are also offered . The cost of the parent education program is included in your Peaceful Parenting Program fee.
Parent Meetings offer parents an opportunity for closer connection to other parents in their group and their teachers. The meetings are a chance for communication within the group of any current topics, sharings, guidelines, feedback, and appreciation. The program staff strongly encourages parents to attend as many of these meetings as possible as these meetings are an integral part of developing parenting skills and community during your tenure at Play Mountain Place.
Support for Adult’s Feelings
Supporting children’s feelings can certainly be challenging and can bring up lots of feelings in the adults who care for them. Here are some ideas for getting some support for your feelings:
• Find a bit of time and space away from your child.
• Call another parent or teacher for listening time (away from your child).
• Do moosh (playfully, in front of your child – away from your child for full venting of feelings).
• Sometimes outside counseling or therapeutic support is helpful.
One of the resources we provide for parents attending Play Mountain Place is our School Library. Located next to Little Nursery, the Library is accessible via the alley, and full of wonderful parenting resources. The library is not always open; we frequently have meetings in that space, and its first purpose is for our staff needs. However, if you are interested in checking it out (and possibly checking something out), we can show you in the office how to find out if the library is available, and also, how to get into the library. If you do end up checking something out, we have a lending library binder in the office that acts as our librarian. Since this is also the staff library, many of the staff often need the books that are provided there. Please note that if you borrow a book, that we would like it returned in a timely manner.
Tuition Payment Policy
Families on a multiple-payment contract are expected to pay their monthly tuition promptly according to their payment plan. The entire Tuition Payment Policy can be found in the current Fee Schedule.
Extended Day Care
Our regular program hours are 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. However, some families require longer hours for their work schedules. Play Mountain Place offers Extended Day Care for families who absolutely need it to fit their work schedules. We offer Before School Care from 8:00/8:30 to 9:00 am and After School Care from 3:00 to 6:00 pm.
Reservations are required. Reservations are given on a first come/first served basis with priority going to working parents with no other options for childcare and no flexibility in their work hours. Your reservation will continue month to month until you cancel with the office. Cancellations will be effective the first of the following month. There are no daily reservations for Extended Day Care.
Emergency Reserved: Space in After School Care is extremely limited. However, if you have an emergency (car trouble, stuck in traffic, unexpected work requirements) and cannot pick your child up by 3:00 pm, you may request Emergency Reserved After School Care. Please phone the office as soon as possible in these situations. Be sure to always call the office if you are running late. Daily Emergency Reserved Rate for After School Care is $20. If you have the need for Emergency Before School Care, please phone the office. Daily Emergency Reserved Rate for Before School Care is $15.
Unreserved: If you are late picking up your child at the 3:00 pm contracted pick-up time, or if you drop your child off before the contracted 8:50 am time, and have not called to inform us, you will be charged an “Unreserved” fee of $20 plus the daily rate of After Care or Before Care. After 6:00 pm pickup time, the Late Fee is $10 for each 15 minutes past the hour. Fees: Fees will be billed by monthly and are due at the beginning of each month based on the rates published in the current Fee Schedule.
No School Days
Parents are given a calendar of these dates on or before the first day of school. Reminders are posted/given throughout the year in our Weekly Notice.
Information from Administrative Staff
The Weekly Notice is distributed weekly via email on Mondays to parents and staff. Please be sure to take a look every week. It contains important information about deadlines, announcements, reminders, events and more. We will also send other important memos and notices to you via email. Please check your email often, and read all communications from the school thoroughly.
There is a community bulletin board outside the kitchen door that is available to our entire community to post items that may be of interest. Please post the item with your name and date written on the front. Please borrow a stapler from the office to post your announcement (since this is a high traffic area, we ask that no tacks be used). We do have a few limits about what gets posted; if you are unsure about what’s appropriate to post, please check in with administration staff. We remove posted items every two weeks, and/or after the event occur.
Each Group has its own bulletin board for Group news and community news to share with the groups. Please check in with the teachers if you would like to post anything in your group’s area. Also, you may notice there are several other bulletin boards around our school; please do not post anything on these boards as they are for office and school business only.
The School Roster has current contact information for all parents and staff during the school year. Roster updates are distributed via the Weekly Notice when changes occur (please make sure the office knows about any address changes, new work numbers, etc). Every family receives one roster; two-household families will each have their own.
Parent Work Commitments
All families are required to sign up for a work commitment or pay an in-lieu fee. The work commitment not only supports the school with much needed assistance, it also builds the community and lets everyone know about the valuable resources we all bring. Our Work Commitment Coordinator will help match you to a work commitment that fits your talents, interests, and time availability. Families can choose how best to participate by joining or heading a committee, or signing up for a specific job. Some families may be unable to participate for many reasons; if that is the case they may pay the in-lieu fee.
Play Mountain Place depends on fundraising as a critical component of its operating budget. In 2019, we achieved 100% Annual Giving participation from our current families, staff and Board for the 10th year in a row. This shows us we can all be givers. Welcome to our giving community!
Annual Giving is the most meaningful and important fundraising that Play Mountain Place undertakes each year. Annual Giving contributions help make up the difference between what every family pays in tuition and the real cost of our distinctive educational experience—an experience where children learn that education is something that they participate in, something that they are empowered to form themselves. These gifts also support the work of our outstanding teachers, the robust scholarship program, our commitment to diversity, our anti-bias curriculum, and the care and improvement of our beautiful campus. We will be in touch early in the school year about our campaign. When we ask, please make Annual Giving your first giving priority. Please think carefully about your connection to our school, and give as generously as your heart and finances allow. We look forward to your support!
The annual Spring Bazaar is a fun event for the entire Play Mountain Place community with games & crafts created by Mountain Yard students, yummy food and a giant raffle. The student run booths set up in the yards sell creative wares and an assortment of carnival-style games entice young and old alike. A memory cafe is filled with photo books for current parents and alumni who want to revisit our past. We hope you will attend, play the games created by students, buy some crafts, eat lunch, sell and buy lots and lots of raffle tickets, and encourage your friends and family to attend as well! If you have an item to donate to the raffle, please let us know.
Spring Party & Auctions
The Spring Party is an event not to be missed! Hire a babysitter, put on your party clothes, and get ready to spend. Just for the grown-ups, this night usually includes silent auctions full of treasures waiting for your bid, a fabulous raffle, specialty drinks, fabulous food and lively dancing. So when you are invited, buy a ticket and attend! You can also help by donating something to the auction such as tickets to concerts/shows/sports events, an item solicited from a local business, a specially prepared feast, a handcrafted good,or even that vacation house sitting empty. We follow up with an online auction so you can continue to bid and buy!
Over the course of the school year, you may also receive information concerning other less frequent events. Thanks for your continued support of all that supports the school!
©2019 Play Mountain Place