This Handbook has been prepared with you in mind to help you understand our daily practices and to make you feel involved with us. Our principal aim is to provide a happy, caring and secure environment for your child from 2 to 4.5 years (we offer a primary education: please see our website). Our structured pre-school programme is designed to stimulate and enhance your child’s educational and social development providing an excellent foundation for school and later life. We are committed to providing the highest standard of childcare/education possible. We are also committed to developing a close relationship with you so that we can work together. You know your child better than anyone and we are here to offer our experiences and expertise to enable your child to have a happy, educational-filled time with us. The setting itself is ideally located and has wonderful surroundings. The children within the setting are able to see out of large windows overlooking the River Thames; day light is so important to a child’s growth. We have purposely kept the setting open plan with classrooms sectioned by Montessori shelves. All staff can see the children and other staff members; the children also benefit from this layout as they are able to watch and learn from each other. The children’s safety is paramount at our school. The layout of each classroom is child friendly: the Montessori classroom is specially designed for a child’s development. All equipment is set out for the children so it’s easily accessible. The setting is kept uncluttered, trying not to confuse a child’s mind. Each piece of Montessori equipment has its own place and we teach the children to respect and take care of their equipment. Montessori equipment is specially designed and self correcting. The equipment invites children to engage in their own learning and individual choice. Each Child in a Montessori setting is guided by their teachers according to their own development. The children can select a Montessori activity from the shelves and therefore they make their own choices: each piece of Montessori equipment develops the child holistically. The Pier Head uses the Montessori Method fused with the Early Year’s Foundation Stage. Every setting should value parent’s ideas and feelings, it’s important for The Pier Head to work in partnership with parents. Parent/ teacher meetings will be held with parents and written reports and observations on each individual child will be taken and put in to a file for you to view. The Pier Head Prep has a full policy and procedures file which is always available on request and you can also find some on our website www.thepierheadprepmontessori.com No sensitive information about your child is ever disclosed to anybody not employed by The Pier Head Preparatory School: sensitive meaning all information on registration forms, details of academic development, family or financial information. The Pier Head Preparatory school has a very unique way of teaching: small class sizes and kind caring staff are very important in teaching children as individuals. When a child feels safe, secure and has good guidance and resources they will develop to their full potential helping your child become a valued and positive member of their community. Responsibilities Of the School: • To provide an environment that is clean, safe and attractive. • To maintain the standards and licensing. • To provide a program that is stimulating, developmentally appropriate, with the best possible use of our resource • To provide teachers who are exceptional in their guidance and caring, their commitment to professional growth, and their openness to new ideas. Of the Parent: • To bring the child to school on time. • To fulfill financial and legal obligations to the school promptly. • To support both the school and the child: - by attending parent meetings - by being kept informed on goals and policies of the school - by volunteering time and effort • To ensure the continuation of the school for their own child by actively helping to build enrollment. Of the Child: • To fulfill his personal potential and to enjoy the special season of life we call childhood. “Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorise, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.” -Maria Montessori Admissions All children are welcome between term times depending on class numbers: children with additional needs will be admitted in to the school depending on the level of care needed and facilities and personnel trained to deal with additional needs. Attendance Children attending the school should attend a minimum of three sessions per week. Be On Time Children need to arrive on time to school. There is a 10-minute grace period before school starts and after school ends. Please make sure your child arrives and leaves during these times. We wish to encourage all families to be on time for school. Your child’s teacher will know that you put an importance on his/her time with your child, and your high expectations will increase your child’s productivity and ability. Students who arrive late often experience difficulty joining in the class after things have already begun. Late arrivals also take time away from the rest of the class while the teacher must divert her attention away from the class to integrate the late student with the rest of the group. Communication with Staff/Messages All the teachers in pre-school are responsible for the day-to-day care of your child. Therefore any concerns, anxieties or questions regarding your child will be best answered by your child’s teacher. Please do not engage in long conversations with teachers in the morning as this is a very busy time. In the mornings, if you need to leave a message, please do it in writing. Settling In We aim for children to feel safe, stimulated and happy in the school and to feel secure and comfortable with staff. We also want parents/carers to have confidence in both their children's well being and their role as active partners, with the child being able to benefit from what the school has to offer. We aim to help parents and other carers to help their children settle quickly and easily by giving consideration to the individual needs and circumstances of children and their families. The school staff will work in partnership with parents/carers to settle their child into the school environment by: • providing parents/carers with relevant information regarding the policies and procedures of the school. • encouraging the parents/carers and children to visit the school and attend any events that are planned. • planning settling in visits and introductory sessions (lasting approximately 1-2 hours). • welcoming parents/carers to stay with their child during the first weeks until the child feels settled and the parents/carers feel comfortable about leaving him/her. Settling in visits and introductory sessions are key to a smooth transition and ensure good communication and the exchange of information. •reassuring parents/carers whose children seem to be taking a long time settling into the school. • encouraging parents/carers, where appropriate, to separate themselves from their children for brief periods at first, then gradually building up to longer absences. • allocating a key person to each child and his/her family, before he/she starts to attend school. The key person welcomes and looks after the child and his/her parents during the settling in period, and throughout his/her time at the school to ensure the family has a familiar contact person to assist with the settling in process. • respecting the circumstances of all families, including those who are unable to stay for long periods of time in the school and reassure them of their child’s progress towards settling in. Records Observations and reports are made on every child your child will have their own work folder. Child Discipline Each member of staff respects the child’s individuality. However, we must ensure that the child behaves in an acceptable manner for his/her sake and for the benefit of others. When a child needs to be disciplined, the Teacher will speak to the child in a quiet voice and explain why the child’s actions are unacceptable. If this approach is unsuccessful, the teacher will take the child from the group to sit her/him to watch from a distance (time out). This is usually an effective form of discipline as the child is often eager to rejoin his classmates. Please refer to our Behaviour Management Policy. If a child constantly offends, it will be brought to the Head teacher’s attention, who will discuss it with the child’s parents with a view of putting sanctions in place at home and at the School. Children’s Departure Children may only be released to those adults the Parents have authorised (and supplied a photograph of) on the registration form. We will not release a child to an unknown/unauthorised adult or to a person under the age of 16 years. In emergency situations whereby an authorised adult cannot collect a child we will ask for a password. If a child is not collected and all avenues exhausted Social Services will be informed. Food A mid-morning snack of fresh fruit is provided each morning and an afternoon snack each day. Lunch is provided to those children who are in attendance for a full day. We can cater for special dietary requirements. Children are encouraged to drink fresh water which is always readily available and monitored throughout the day. We can provide breakfast for children whose parents request it. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. until 8.45 a.m. Parents must tell a member of staff each morning they want their child to have breakfast as we do not want to encourage bad eating habits by offering children a second breakfast. We do not allow the following food types in to school: sweets, cakes, crisps, chocolate, fizzy drinks or nuts. Birthdays are celebrated by making birthday biscuits with a teacher and a themed circle time Please see our menus which are displayed every week; you may provide your child with a packed lunch if you prefer. Illness If a child arrives at school ill, they will not be admitted. A sick child should be at home, not at school. We feel it unfair to expose other children or adults to the risk of illness unnecessarily. If a child falls ill during school hours, we will contact the parent to collect the child as soon as possible. In most cases we feel it beneficial for the child to see a Doctor. Please also read our Child Sickness Policy. In case of an emergency, an ambulance will be called and parents advised immediately. Parents are required to complete an Emergency Medical form. Medication Prescribed medication will only be administered upon written authorisation with exact directions (see Policies and Procedures). Bumps and Scrapes A certain number of minor scrapes and bumps are to be expected as children grow in their knowledge of the physical world and their own capacities. We do our best to maintain playgrounds and classrooms in a safe condition. Standard first aid procedures include applying ice to bumps and cleaning scrapes with a medical wipe. Sessions Current sessions available are: Please see Fee schedule Trips and Excursions The children will be taken on trips to places of interest. Parents will always be advised of planned trips and parental consent is always required. Parent’s wishes will be respected if they do not want their child to go on a trip: parents will be asked to accompany the children, subject to availability. Additional needs Please see our policy on Equality and Inclusion. Bringing Things from Home Sharing of books, pictures, unique educational toys brought from home is encouraged during circle times. We particularly encourage items that relate to special projects at school. To avoid confusion, conflict, or loss of special items, toys, dolls, cars, etc need to be kept at home. Prams/Scooters Please do not leave these items at school unless there is safe storage space available. Prams if left at school must be folded. Never leave items blocking fire exits. Building Community We work hard to build a strong sense of community at this school. We encourage your feedback and want to hear about any issues that might arise, and ask that you bring those concerns to attention of the Head teacher and encourage other parents to do the same. Gossiping undermines the community that we are all working towards. We have found in the past that hearsay is frequently based on incomplete perceptions that can be cleared up quickly when the facts are established. In turn, please be assured that the school will inform you when issues arise that might be cause for concern. Complaints Procedure We aim to provide a stimulating, safe environment for all children. We aim to deliver the highest standard of care and foster good relationships with all parents and carers. We believe parent’s views and concerns should be respected and acknowledged, and understand that on occasion circumstances may result in a parent or carer wishing to make a complaint. Appropriate and prompt action is to be taken on any concerns raised. Please read our Complaints Policy and Procedure Uniform A Smock is priced at £10 and a book bag priced at £10: you can purchase both of these items from the school Label all your child’s belongings Da Capo Da Capo music lesson are held every week: please see their website www.dacapo.co.uk Dance and Drama Are paid for at the beginning of each term. School Curriculum Montessori methods fused with Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) Our curriculum is reviewed continuously and incorporates the best of various findings. By the time our children leave for school, amongst other things they are able to socialise freely, work independently as well as in groups, at the very least, write their own names, do simple mathematical operations and speak extensively about their environment and other parts of the world. We also introduce our children from an early age to Information Technology. The Montessori Method The Montessori Method is an educational method for children, based on theories of child development originated by Italian educator Maria Montessori in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is applied primarily in pre-school and elementary school settings, though some Montessori high schools exist. The method is characterised by an emphasis on self-directed activity on the part of the child and clinical observation on the part of the teacher (often called a "director", "directress", or "guide"). It stresses the importance of adapting the child's learning environment to his or her developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing academic concepts and practical skills. She used the opportunity to observe the children's interactions with materials she developed, refining them as well as developing new materials with which the children could work. This materials-centered approach, in which the teacher primarily observes while the children select materials designed to impart specific concepts or skills, is a hallmark of Montessori education. From the moment the child enters the classroom, each step in his education is seen as a progressive building block, ultimately forming the whole person, in the emergence from childhood to adult. All focus is on the needs of the child. One distinguishing feature of Montessori at the pre-school age is that children direct their own learning, choosing among the sections of a well-structured and well stocked classroom including Practical Life (fine and gross motor skill development), Sensorial (sensory and brain development), Language, Math, Geography, Science and Art. The role of a teacher is to introduce children to materials and then remain a “silent presence” in the classroom. Our Montessori approach to teaching and learning include the following: A view of children as competent beings capable of self-directed learning. Children learn in a distinctly different way from adults. The ultimate importance of observation of the child interacting with his or her environment as the basis for ongoing curriculum development. Presentation of subsequent exercises for skill development and information accumulation is based on the teacher's observation that the child has mastered the current exercise(s). Delineation of sensitive periods of development, during which a child's mind is particularly open to learning specific skills or knowledge, including language development, sensorial experimentation and refinement, and various levels of social interaction. A belief in the "absorbent mind", that children from birth to around age 6 possess limitless motivation to achieve competence within their environment and to perfect skills and understanding. This phenomenon is characterized by the young child's capacity for repetition of activities within sensitive period categories, such as exhaustive babbling as language practice leading to language competence. That children are masters of their environment, which has been specifically prepared for them to be academic, comfortable and allow a maximum amount of independence. That children learn through discovery, so didactic materials that are selfcorrecting are used as much as possible. Montessori Curriculum There are five areas of learning in the Montessori classroom. Practical life Developing the child’s control and development of movement, concentration and self-discipline. Activities Tying bows, cutting, pouring, tidying or set role play. Sensorial awareness Develops children’s perception of the environment of which they are a part of. Activities- tasting, smell, sound, temperature etc. Language Focusing on teaching the skill of pencil control, letter recognition, phonic sound, word building and finally reading. Activities Flash cards, group discussions, stories, rhyming, singing, conversation and book corners. Mathematics The materials for mathematics initially develop the children’s understanding of mathematical concepts such as shape, length, volume, weight and numbers represented in physical forms. Developing into written number forms and arithmetical operations. Activities 3d shapes, rods, sand paper and numbers. Cultural Introducing Geography, History and Life Sciences, Music, Art, and Physical activities are also a huge part of cultural development. Drama, Dance and Yoga, Art, Music and Creative Play Children are encouraged to develop their imagination and ability to communicate and express ideas and feelings in creative ways through dressingup, painting, colouring, play dough and clay. There are also daily opportunities for children to enjoy singing, music and storytelling. Music session with Dacapo include performing, dancing and experimenting with different instruments. Outdoors Being outdoors is very important. Children develop gross motor skills and social skills as they jump, hop, bounce, roll, climb, catch, balance and stretch. A wide range of equipment is provided both indoors and outdoors. The Early Years Foundation Stage The 7 areas of Learning and Development which guide professionals engagement with your child’s play and activities as they learn new skills and knowledge. The Three prime areas Personal, Social and Emotional Development Within a nurturing environment, children are individually supported in developing confidence and self-respect. They are encouraged to work and concentrate independently and also to take part in the life of the group, sharing and co-operating with other children and adults. Through activities, conversation and practical example, they learn acceptable ways to express their own feelings and to have respect for the feelings of others. All children are given the opportunity, as appropriate, to take responsibility for themselves and also for the school, its members and its property. Communication and Language In both small and large groups, children are encouraged to extend their vocabulary and fluency by talking and listening and responding to stories, songs and rhymes. Children are helped to understand that written symbols carry meaning, to be aware of the purpose of writing and when they are ready to use drawn and written symbols for themselves. A well stocked book corner gives children the opportunity and encouragement to become familiar with books, be able to handle them and be aware of their uses, both for reference and as a source of stories and pictures. Physical Development A range of equipment opportunities, indoors allow children to develop confidence and enjoyment in the use and development of their own bodily skills. A very high level of adult supervision enables children safely to create and meet physical challenges, developing increasing skills and control in moving, climbing and balancing. At the same time, children are supported in the development of small objects with increasing control and precision. As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas these are. Literacy Children become familiar with letters reading and writing through adult supported activities. Mathematics By means of adult-supported practical experience, children become familiar with the sorting, matching, ordering, sequential and counting activities which form the basis for early mathematics. As they use their developing mathematical understanding to solve practical problems, children are assisted to learn and use the vocabulary of mathematics, identifying objects by shape, position, size, volume and number. Songs, games and picture books help children become aware of number sequences and when they are ready, to use simple mathematical operations such as addition and subtraction. Understanding of the World A safe and stimulating environment allows children to explore and experiment with a range of natural and manufactured materials. They learn to observe the features of objects and substances, recognising differences, patterns and similarities, and to share and record their findings. Children are assisted in exploring and understanding their environment both within the group and also in the wider community. A range of safe and well maintained equipment enables children to extend their technological understanding, using simple tools and techniques as appropriate to achieve their intentions and to solve problems. Expressive Arts and Design Children are encouraged to use a wide range of resources in order to express their own ideas and feelings and to construct their individual response to experience in two and three dimensions. Art equipment, including paint, glue, crayons and pencils as well as natural and discarded resources provides for open-ended exploration of colour, shape and texture and the development of skills in painting, drawing and collage. Children join in with and respond to music and stories and there are opportunities for imaginative role-play, both individually and as part of a group. The following areas are equally important, connected and underpinned by the Principles of the EYFS: Observation – Assessment – Planning In order to monitor individual children’s progress and development, staff carry out detailed observations on each child. This information is then used in our planning in order to understand each child’s interests, development and learning. Parents can request to see these observations at any time. Profiles Profiles are shared with parents/carers and staff. Chronologically arranged profiles make it easier for families to include material and show progress. Profiles will include details from visits, entry and transition information, dated observations, photographs, samples of work, parent/carer comments, formative and summary assessments and summary statements and reports. All this information will be used for future planning and will be used as a tool to support learning and areas of interest. Our Staff have various qualifications including NVQIII, QTS and Montessori Diplomas. Staff receive in-house and external training and are encouraged to further their childcare knowledge through attending various courses and working towards higher qualifications. What to bring on your first day On your child’s first day please bring two forms of ID and your child’s birth certificate. All consent forms must be returned and signed including our Medical emergency consent form. Please ask a teacher to provide you with an All about me log book. Send “Extra Clothes” in a see through labeled bag. Send extra underwear and a change of clothes, even if you think your child is unlikely to need them. Label the ones you send. If your child comes home wearing something other than his own clothes, please launder and return them as soon as possible. Indoor shoes or slippers, 2 photographs of your child and nappies if needed. Please bring fruit for sharing everyday, please label all your child’s belongings. Check the notice board for updates and flower duty: if your child's name is displayed please bring in some flowers for the week. Children are encouraged to sign in when they arrive to school. The First Days When a child starts school for the first time, it is likely that both child and parent will experience mixed feelings. It is normal, on the one hand, for the child to feel positive and excited about venturing out into the world beyond home, and to be attached to the other children and the interesting things to do at school. On the other hand, it is normal for parents to want the child to have playmates and the social and intellectual stimulation that school can provide. It is also normal for both to have some negative feelings right along with the positive ones. The child may feel afraid that he may not be safe without his mother, anxious about controlling himself (without the familiar safeguard of the parental presence); he may even wonder if he is still loved or feels angry about having to endure this new anxiety. The sadness at being parted for awhile from his parent may come rushing over him at the moment when he says “good-bye” at the school door. The parent may, to their surprise, have many of the same negative feelings. They have arrived at this choice carefully, that Montessori is just what the child needs... and perhaps looking forward to a little freedom for herself for the first time in three years. Yet, when the first day comes, she too is filled with uneasiness, especially if the child looks downcast or even cries a little. Do the teachers here really know what they’re doing? Maybe this child is too young after all. Underneath this layer may be some deeper fears, not even conscious: this child who has defined her identity as “mother” is growing up, so who will she be now? the house will seem so empty while he’s at school. she misses him and feels a bit lonely already. will she still be needed? why can’t her husband understand how upset she is about this? In short, both parent and child are experiencing normal feelings of fear, sadness, and anger associated with separation. Recognising these feelings and resolving them may be the most important tasks to be accomplished all year. This first separation will be the prototype for all those that follow in the child’s lifetime. If negative feelings are denied and suppressed now, they may be harbored for years to come, an impediment to the child’s healthy development and ability to learn. If his heart is at home with his mother, his mind and body cannot take full advantage of being at school. Some Signs of Separation Anxiety ...if the child says he does not want to go to school and resists getting ready in the morning, cries when his parent leaves the school and wanders instead of choosing something to do, avoids teachers, withdraws into thumb sucking or wets pants when the parent comes to pick him up, he runs away or wants to stay and play (it’s your turn to wait, as he has waited for you.) Complains to the parent that he’s afraid of the other children or that others hurt him, gets angry with his parents or siblings (about very little) complains of a tummy ache before school. ...is the parent finding reasons for being late to school needing to “explain” the child to the teachers, feeling overly critical of the teachers, ashamed or angry if her child cries trying to leave school without saying “good-bye”, more than once a day, frustration at not knowing what the child did at school today and asking teachers “how he did” each day, staying with the child at school beyond the first few days and getting angry with husband, child, or self (about very little) What To Do? Be prepared, know in advance that some of these feelings are normal, and know their signs. If you have decided your child is ready and have taken care to choose a school you can trust, then relax and rely on the judgement you have made at a less trying moment to carry you through the separation period. Decide ahead on how you will handle the first few days, and let both the child and teachers know. When you leave your child at school, emphasise when you will be back for him, and what will happen after that. If you feel you need to come with your child to get him started, stay at least an hour and a half for the first two mornings, sitting outside or in the classroom as an observer, and taking your child with you when you go home. Tell the child that the next day you will drop him off and come back at pickup time. Be honest with your feelings. If it is hard to say good-bye, then let it be hard. Let your child have his feelings. Let him know it is okay to feel sad, or scared, or mad – and still go to school. Give support with your positive expectations. Remember that you are happy that he can go to school, that he will have other kids to play with, and that you expect him to like it as you do. Let him walk into school, as this will give him a feeling of independence. Carrying him into school will make him feel like a baby. Give special attention at home for a while. Set aside some “loving time” just for him every day to show him that he counts. Thank you for taking the time to read through this handbook and we look forward to welcoming you all to The Pier Head Preparatory Montessori School.
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