The Elm Tree Newsletter June 2009
We would like to welcome to all of the families who are new to The Elm Tree. We are excited to get to know you and grateful for the opportunity to provide care for your little ones.
This past Thursday, June 18th, we held our quarterly parent community night at The Elm Tree. Many of you were able to attend and we hope it was as enjoyable for you as it was for us. During a typical day it’s difficult to find opportunities to visit with each other in much depth. These meetings are great opportunities to interact with other parents and to form the community that supports us through the challenges of parenting and childcare. This newsletter will serve as a way to inform those who could not attend last Thursday about what we discussed. We are so grateful to have such a committed and interactive group of parents.
Our last parent meeting centered around the upcoming Qualistar rating. As most of you know we were rated in May and just received our score a few weeks ago. We are very pleased to announce that The Elm Tree scored four out of four stars on our first ever rating, which is no easy task. Thanks for all that you parents did to help us with getting such a great score. Your dedication to our family partnerships
program is one of the reasons we were able to get a great score.
What this rating means for you as a parent is knowing that your children are in the very best of care while they are away from you. Of course that’s why you enrolled in our program, but it’s nice to hear it from someone else as well.
What this means for us is greater awareness in the community of how high quality our program is, and it may even help us get our enrollment filled in. It also means we will get a stipend to help us work on the areas that were found to need improvement during our rating. We are currently developing a plan for how we will use this money.
Our Blog and Daily Report
At our last parent meeting we had discussed creating an online venue for Elm Tree families and staff to interact. To this end, we started a blog. You can find our blog online by typing in TheElmTree.org/blog. At first we were unsure how it would be used, but want it to serve our families and enhance the program. We have begun to post the emails that are sent out to our families on the blog so that it is easy to find all the information in one place. Another use we are trying out is to post our daily report, called “classroom connections”, on the blog so that it’s more accessible to parents during their day. We understand that pick-ups can be busy and it may be
difficult to find the time to read our white board on your way out the door so we hope this will work better for everyone. Now, we may not get a chance to write up a report every single day, but we’ll promise to do our best to keep you updated on our daily events, activities and menus. Please let us know of any other ideas you may have about how this blog could be of service to our parent community.
Fall Schedule and Tuition Rates
After much thought and consideration we have made a decision that beginning September 1st we will be changing our full day hours to 8am-3:30 pm and no longer be offering care until 5:30. The morning time slots will remain the same, 8am-12:30 pm, and afternoons only will run from 12:30-3:30 pm at an attractively reduced rate. This decision was based on several factors, including a significant decrease in afternoon and full day enrollments over the past couple of years. Our hope is that by shortening the day, families’ needs will be better served and our program will be able to keep up its enrollment.
Each family will receive the new tuition rates, effective September 1st, 2009. Please feel free to share any comments or questions. Current morning only families who might be interested in switching to the shorter full day slots can speak with Ariana or Sarah about this.
For those of you who weren’t able to make it to our meeting, Ariana will be out of the country beginning Tuesday, June 23rd through July 22nd. Our former teacher, Jillian, will be filling in and will be opening with Sarah or Kenny in the mornings. Sarah will be the “go to” person while Ariana’s away and please feel free to email her as well with any questions or concerns. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shade Grant and Sun Safety
Recently our teaching staff attended a Sun Safety workshop sponsored by Sun Safe Colorado.
One of the benefits of attending this workshop was that we could then apply for a grant to increase the shade structures in the backyard. We applied for and received a grant so you will begin to see a few changes in the backyard in the month of June.
Another requirement of the grant involves handing out some literature on sun safety to our families, which comes in a nice canvas tote bag. We handed these out to the parents at the meeting but if you were not able to attend please pick one up for your family, they will be in the office.
The workshop emphasized protecting children from the sun while they are young to prevent skin problems and cancers later in life. It is best to have children play in shade rather then direct sun whenever possible, especially during late morning, noon and early afternoons when the UV index is highest. We are asking our parents to help us out with making sure their children are wearing
sunscreen each day. There is a space on the sign-in sheet to mark whether your child is wearing sunscreen or not. It helps us transition outside more easily of we don’t need to apply sunscreen to a lot of kids, but also know that we will apply sunscreen if they aren’t wearing it unless you have made other arrangements with us.
Family Service Hours
The end of June marks the end of our quarter for service hours. We ask that families who wish to work the hours rather than pay the fee do so before the end of the month when a new quarter will begin. Families will receive one more email regarding their total hours at the end of the month.
It is our hope that everyone will find value in contributing time to the program as it develops a sense of partnering with the teachers to make the children’s environment and experience as rich as possible. When parents are personally invested in their children’s education it benefits everyone.
We are open to any creative ways that parents might think up to fulfill these hours. Weeding, watering and caring for the garden and flowerbeds are always helpful. There is also an opportunity to help with the assembling of the pergola above the sandbox next weekend. If anyone is interested please speak with Sarah about this.
We ask that parents arrive before their scheduled pick-up time so that they can be leaving on time. Children naturally need a little transition time and so it would be helpful for parents to plan for this. We want to provide the highest level of care possible to our families and having children stay beyond their scheduled pick-up times can sometimes make this more difficult for everyone. Our staff also has responsibilities and schedules outside of their workday that they may need to get to.
Continue to sign your children in and out each day; this is an important safety measure that will help us account for each child in the event of an emergency or evacuation.
Also, please let us know who will be picking up your child, especially if it’s someone who does not usually do this. We will make sure that they have been approved to pick up your child on the enrollment form and will check their ID if we are unfamiliar with them. But it also helps us inform the children of whom they can expect so that it‘s not a surprise.
Lastly, parents will want to regularly check their children’s extra clothing supply located in their diapering basket to make sure there is an adequate amount of season-appropriate clothes. And remember to replenish the basket if we do end up using those extra clothes one day.