Parent participation is an integral part of the experience at the Fayette Cooperating Preschool and Kindergarten. As a Co-op parent, you will find that your workday is very special to your child. Children enjoy sharing their “special person” with the class and teacher.
The Co-op work agreement provides each class with additional adults and maintains our ratio of children to adults at no more than 5 to 1 for the preschool and kindergarten programs, and no more than 4 to 1 for the two year-old program. Extra adults allow for more activities, small groups and special attention. The children gain from the experience of working with a variety of adult individuals in a school setting. The actual number of workdays it takes to fulfill a family’s work agreement depends on the number of children enrolled in the class and the number of days per week the child attends.
It is your family’s responsibility to work the required days. In cases of illness or family emergency you MUST find an appropriate substitute or trade workdays with another family on the work schedule. It is acceptable to pay another Co-op parent to take a workday (the rate this year is $30).
An “appropriate substitute” means any adult who has ON FILE at Co-op the following items:
- A completed criminal records check
- A child abuse registry check
- Completed orientation training
If you call a substitute to trade days with another parent, please let your teacher know who will be working for you. Do not call the teacher until you have found a substitute!
When a parent does not arrive for a workday, he or she leaves our class short-handed. The children are unable to benefit from the planned activities, and everyone suffers. Failure to follow the proper procedures for finding a substitute will result in a penalty: You will be fined $50 if you don’t show up and don’t find an appropriate substitute. Your child will not be allowed to return to class until the fine is paid. You will also be expected to make up your missed day. If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the director.
At Co-op, Circle Time is the first large group time of the day, and it fosters a genuine group feeling, which children developing respect and appreciation for themselves and others as individual members of a group. Numerous language arts skills such as verbalizing, listening, and discussing are in process at this time. The activities planned by the teacher build upon the experiences of the day. These activities may reflect the unit that is being explored in class that week, or they may reflect the interests of the children.
At Circle Time you will see a variety of activities such as reading, discussing books, dramatizing stories, using a flannel board, singing, dancing, using musical instruments, or demonstrating science experiments. You may see the class discussing and writing down the experiences of the day or of that unit. You might hear discussions about rhyming words followed by stories and songs that incorporate rhymes.
Assisting at Circle Time
At the beginning of the year, many children are adjusting to the expectations of circle time: we expect that they will sit, listen to others, wait for a turn, and raise a hand to share information. Circle Times are short at first, and become longer and longer as the children learn the expectations.
YOU CAN HELP. As a working parent, the teacher NEEDS your assistance. Here are some hints for helping:
1. Sit on the rug with the children, modeling what is expected. Space the adults around the circle rug so that each person can help to encourage the 4 or 5 children nearby.
2. Take the initiative!! The teacher is counting on your help. The more you can do to assist the squirmy bodies around you, the more the teacher can focus on an interesting activity for the group.
3. Whisper or talk quietly when reminding children of expectations. The following phrases work wonders:
- “You need to sit at the edge of the circle rug.”
- “It is Sally’s/Bobby’s/Mrs. Maynard’s/etc. turn to talk.”
- “Right now it is time for you to listen, you will have a turn to talk.”
- “Judy does not like it when you lean on her body.”
- “You need to keep your hands/feet/etc. on your own body.”
- “You move your body, or I will move your body.” (Be sure to follow through. Don’t hesitate to move a child gently when necessary.)
- ”It’s okay if you need to cry, but the other’s can’t hear, so I will take you out in the hallway and sit with you until you are ready to return to the circle.” (Again, you must follow through: Remove the child, and sit with him or her until he or she is calm. You are acknowledging and accepting their sad/angry feelings without allowing the children the power to disrupt the class.)
The parent’s job at circle is an important one. With parents who are actively working to rub children’s backs and whisper reminders in ears, the teacher can provide fun. If the parents are merely observers, the teacher must use all her energies to help the group focus.
Don’t be afraid to help: if a group of students are talking, poking each other, making disruptive noises-get up, move across the circle, and help that group focus. If necessary, some children may need to move.
It won’t take long! If all adults are consistent in expectations and in encouraging each individual to focus, the class will quickly learn. You will see the magic time which circle time can become.
Words at Co-op
A few things to keep in mind:
- Stop the action quietly. Use positive phrases in a quiet voice.
- Bend, kneel or sit and look at the child when you speak to him/her.
- Keep it short and simple.
- Give positive statements of what the child my do or say, rather than what they can’t. It is difficult for young children to reverse their actions.
- Acknowledge the child’s feelings and help him/her verbalize feelings. Often just knowing someone understands they are sad, frustrated or angry is what kids need. Helping kids share these feelings and their needs with other kids is part of our job in the classroom.
- Describe the situation and let he child take the initiative. “I see napkins that need to go into the trash.”
- Offer a limited choice. “Do you want to pick up the blocks or the trucks?”
- Ask yourself…would I speak this way to a friend? Children deserve the same tone of respect and kindness we sue with each other.
Here are some helpful phrases:
- People like to be touched gently.
- This is the way we do it at our school.
- At Co-op we…
- It is time to…
- Use friendly hands. When you pat John softly, you say, “I like you.”
- Walk indoors. Running is for outside.
- Keep your hands on your own body.
- Your bottom needs to touch the chair.
- It is time to sit at the circle rug.
- You can move your body to circle, etc. or I can help you.
- Blocks are for building.
- I see two friends want the truck.
- May I help you?
- You may hit the clay. Pound it hard with your fist.
- You are listening to music quietly.
- I see a girl that is…
- You really worked hard cutting out that circle. You are a hard worker.
- Use your voice to tell Sue you want to play with her.
- Tell John that you are unhappy, Jim. Say “I don’t like for you to pull my shirt.”
- That was friendly to share you truck with Brian, Paul. You are a friendly person.
- I see you want a turn with the doll. Ask, “When can I have a turn?”
- It is all right to cry, Jim. I know that hurts. It will stop soon. Sometimes people need to cry. You may go back and play when you are ready.
- I know you want to be the father, Bill. We could have two fathers in this house and two mothers. We might need a grandfather or uncle too.
- At Co-op, everyone gets to play.
- I see you want to join their game. As “What role can I play?”
- You can stay with me until you are ready to go back and play in a friendly way. I won’t allow you to hit the other children.
- Gently friends. There is plenty of room for everyone. Be careful of each other. Thank you for moving back, Sue. That was friendly.