Garden Preschool Parent Handbook

Mission Statement

Our child-centered curriculum combines teacher guided activities with ample time for free choice, socialization and play. We meet each child at his or her developmental level and strive to provide a stimulating, creative and discovery-oriented environment where learning is achieved through play. We emphasize the whole child and value each child’s unique traits. On a daily basis your child will experience language arts, literature, early math concepts, creative art projects, dramatic play, as well as gross and fine motor activities We value and support  the Outdoor Classroom.

Program Goals and Values

To develop child-centered learning: Our play-based curriculum allows learning to emerge naturally by encouraging the children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn. We promote independence and cooperative learning by guiding children’s interactions with the classroom environment, their peers, and their teachers.

To foster creativity: We encourage creative thinking at all levels, from artistic expression and creative problem solving in the classroom to innovative ideas from teachers and parents. We strive to provide a print and language rich environment that preserves the child’s home language and encourages all children to learn a second language.

To promote kindergarten readiness: We make available kindergarten readiness activities and materials. Our program fosters growth in attention span, memory, mathematical concepts, literacy, problem solving and critical thinking.

To provide security: Through the dedication and commitment of our staff and parents, we create a safe place for children to explore their world, their emotions, and their relationships. We endeavor to provide opportunities for children and adults to experience joy and playfulness with other members of our program. 

Our daily schedule and pace meets the needs of a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional needs by balancing active play, quiet time, group time, individual activity and relaxation.

To impart respect: Children, staff, and parents are treated with respect and tolerance as we strive to understand and celebrate our differences as well as our similarities.

To build community: We build relationships among parents, teachers and children by working together, sharing our cultural experiences, and communicating openly and effectively.

To encourage growth: We provide opportunities for professional and personal growth through workshops, classes and shared experiences. We provide a supportive environment that promotes leadership development, communication and commitment to social change.

To take responsibility: We create a stable environment for families and staff and ensure the long-term viability of the preschool by establishing and following responsible fiscal and operational policies. Our program employs well-trained and committed staff.

Our Program Philosophy

At Garden Preschool we offer a program that reflects our philosophy that young

children learn most effectively in a play-centered environment.

At the core of children’s learning is play. It is during self-initiated play that children move through the developmental stages that lead to physical, cognitive, social and emotional maturity. Play provides the medium through which the children may imitate, explore, test ideas, acquire information and draw conclusions. Children use spontaneous play to work through internal and interpersonal conflicts. By doing this, their minds are freed to work on intellectual and cognitive tasks.

 Preschool aged children are active, sensory learners and need to be provided with multiple opportunities for self-chosen exploration, investigation, social interaction and problem solving. We are much more interested in this process than in any products that children may create. Children who engage in activities of their own choosing gain a sense of autonomy, effectiveness and eventual mastery. They develop self-direction, self-confidence; trust in their abilities and belief in their self worth.

Our preschool program is based on a continually growing knowledge base of child development and appropriate practices as recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). We are further committed to program that supports and reflects the Outdoor Classroom Preschool practices and Healthy Food Initiative and all that they encompass (see “Curriculum and Learning Environment).

Garden Preschool has an Open Door Policy: parents/guardians are welcome and encouraged to join us on a daily basis. This will resume when COVID 19 is no longer a threat to members of the community at large.

The role of our teachers

Our staff is committed to meeting the developmental needs of your child within a warm, caring, safe environment. Our daily routine develops trust, autonomy and a sense of self-competence.

We see our teachers primarily as facilitators rather than directors of children’s

learning. A teacher takes on many different roles in an early childhood classroom including:

Observer-to chart development and to be watchful of non-developmental changes that may affect the well being of the child

Nurturer-to provide social and emotional security while the children are away from home

Role model-to inspire language and social skills as yet not acquired by the children

Limit setter-to help children use their energy constructively both in and out of the


Goal facilitator-to identify goals for individuals and plan the environment and curriculum to help the child achieve these goals

Activity planner-to develop activities to benefit the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of children

Mediator and scaffolder-to help communications between children, or between child and adult, and to help children develop the tools for successful communication and problem solving.

Our curriculum and learning environment

At Garden Preschool we emphasize learning through play in an environment that is carefully planned to encourage discovery, independence and social interaction. In order to develop self-esteem and social competence, children are encouraged to help themselves, help others, take initiative, and become increasingly independent. We are committed to practicing Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children ( Garden Preschool is a Demonstration site for the Outdoor Classroom Project. The project’s goal is to increase the quantity and quality of outdoor experiences for all children. The children spend equal amounts of time inside and outside each day engaging in numerous garden and nature related activities. The Outdoor Classroom provides activities in all domains of learning including but not limited to art, manipulatives, dramatic play, music, science, gross and fine motor. In addition to the Outdoor Classroom, Garden Preschool also incorporates the Creative Curriculum model into our program.

Our preschool program is designed to encourage a balance of child initiated

and teacher facilitated activities. This program offers children a variety of choices provided within a carefully prepared indoor and outdoor environment. The environment includes art, dramatic play, unit blocks, manipulative, language arts, books, music, water and sand play, building of large structures, gardening, running, climbing, animal care, and a variety of large and small motor activities. 

Our goals include the encouragement of each child’s natural curiosity and interest in learning. We feel it is important for children to actively participate in the learning process, and therefore provide many opportunities for learning by doing, for both indirect and direct acquisition of new knowledge and skills.

Our environment has attractive and interesting materials provided in an organized and thoughtful fashion. Materials are included to address all the key areas of child development. 

Our classroom and outdoor area contain the following elements to meet the

developmental needs of preschool age children:

Child sized furniture and equipment- to promote children’s comfort and ease of use.

Sensory materials-to facilitate the growth of tactile, auditory, visual and olfactory skills.

Fine motor materials-to promote the growth of hand muscles and hand-eye coordination


Gross motor equipment-to help develop large muscle groups and body coordination.

Language/literary materials- to promote reading, listening, speaking and writing skills.

Social studies materials-to promote self-recognition and self esteem, awareness of family and community, social skills, dramatic play and nurturing behaviors.

Pre-mathematics materials-to expand knowledge of number, shape, time, sequence, and measurement.

Materials for creative expression-to develop creativity in art, music and drama and to appreciate the creativity of others.

A supply of materials is kept in storage and resources are rotated on a regular basis and as children’s interests dictate.

We plan curriculum around themes that evolve with the children’s interest. We anticipate areas of curiosity that the children are likely to pursue and prepare enrichment activities and other options. As we plan curriculum we take the following into consideration:

The status of an individual’s growth and development based on observational assessment

The general developmental level of each group of children

The interests and abilities of individual children

The materials, equipment and space available in the classroom

Upcoming special events and their significance to children and their families

The season and prevailing weather conditions

The mood of the children on any given day

The activity level of the children at certain times of the day

Skills and special interests of staff members

Special goals or concerns that parents may have for their child

Skills children will need for later success in school.

We present a multicultural view and are committed to practicing anti-bias principals. This is reflected in our environment, materials, daily interactions and language and our curriculum. We are constantly alert for developmentally appropriate opportunities to embrace diversity and divergent thought.

Teaching Pyramid/CSEFEL

Garden Preschool staff is trained in and uses the Teaching Pyramid to help foster children’s social emotional development. The Teaching Pyramid is a systematic framework developed by CSEFEL that incorporates Early Childhood Positive Behavior Support (EC-PBS) through promoting social-emotional development, providing support for children’s appropriate behavior, preventing challenging behavior, and addressing problematic behavior.

Daily Schedule

Ask about our current COVID-19 class schedules

Registration Procedures and Policies

Prior to your first day at Garden Preschool, you and your child will tour the school and meet the staff. We will review all paper work and answer any questions you may have. The follow list of paperwork must be completed prior to your child’s first day:

Identification and Emergency Information Form # Lic 700

Child’s Pre-admission Health History Form # Lic 702

Physician’s Report (updated annually)             Form # Lic 701

Consent for Medical Treatment Form # Lic 627

Parent’s Rights Form # Lic 995

Personal Rights Form # Lic 613

Enrollment Contract

Field Trip Forms

Policy on Illness

Photo Release

Family Questionnaire

HiMama Consent Form

ASQ Parent Questionnaire 

Release of Liability Form

All children must have a physical prior to being admitted.

The one-time registration fee of $185.00 is due at the time of enrollment.

Materials/Insurance Fee of $175.00 is billed annually.

Children’s records will be kept confidential and will be stored in the director’s office. Files will only be accessed by current employees of Garden Preschool and the Department of Social Services.

What to bring on the First Day

  • A change of clothes including pants, shirt, socks, and underwear. Make sure all clothing is labeled with your child’s name.
  • A stuffy for nap time. It must stay at school all week.
  • A photo of your child/family.
  • The Emergency Comfort Kit
  • A refillable water bottle,2  snacks and lunch for full day students.
  • A mask to wear and 2 spares in a zip top bag

Garden Preschool serves children ages 2 through kindergarten.


Garden Preschool is open Monday through Friday from 7:45-5:15. (We offer two, three, four or five days a week with a variety of schedules.

Morning Program 7:45-11:30 

All Day Program 7:45-5:15 

Afternoon Program 12:00-5:15 

The Morning Program includes snack.

The All Day Program includes morning and afternoon snack, and the children bring lunch from home to eat at school.

The Afternoon Program includes snack and the children bring lunch from home to eat at school.


Preschool play and learning is active, hands-on and often messy. Please send your child to school in clothes that enable them to participate fully. Even with paint smocks, children still seem to get dirty. To help foster independence, send simple clothing your child can put on and off. During winter months, always send a jacket or sweater as the weather can change during the day. Please send spare clothing with your child’s name on each piece, in a sealed plastic bag with your child’s name on the outside of the bag.

Please no cowboy boots, party shoes, heels or “jellies” as they have slippery soles and are unsafe. Close-toed shoes only. No necklaces or dangly earrings as these are a safety hazard. Please label ALL clothing with your child’s name.

Rest Time

Rest time will be from 12:30 to 2:30 each day (a bit earlier start in the 2 year old room). Each child will have his or her own mat to rest on. Mats, sheets and blankets are not shared amongst the children. All children need to bring a small blanket, and may bring a small stuffed animal to sleep with.  (No other toys will be allowed at rest time.)

Bedding will be sent home over the weekend to be laundered by the parent. The staff disinfects all mats on Fridays. Please bring the bedding back to school on Monday. Upon enrollment, 2 year old children will be given a bed roll to use at nap time. If the bed roll is forgotten, the school will lend you sheets and blankets for the week. There is a $5.00 laundering fee payable in cash that day. Lost bed rolls are replaceable for a fee of $40.00.

Cubby Space

Each child is provided with their own cubby with their name on it.

This is where your child should store their lunch and jacket/sweater. (Daily artwork, newsletters, and notes from teachers will be sent home by way of the cubbies. Please be sure to remove items on a daily basis. This method is on hold.

We ask that children do not bring toys from home. It is often hard for children to share these toys and hard for staff to keep track of them.

We encourage the children to bring in items from nature or items pertaining to a particular subject we are investigating in class. 

Items from nature could include shells, bird’s nest, seedpods, and feathers, etc..

Children are always welcome to bring books for reading during the day. Please be certain their name is inside the front cover.


The annual tuition is divided equally in to 12 monthly payments. Tuition is due on the first working day of the month for which it is billed, unless alternate arrangements have been made in writing with the director. Tuition checks should be made payable to “FUMC Garden Preschool”.

Tuition is deemed to be overdue on the 10th day of each month. Garden Preschool will assess a late fee of $10.00 for payments received after the 10th. Garden Preschool reserves the right to refuse admittance to a child when the tuition is overdue. We will charge a $35.00 fee for a check that is presented for payment and is returned unpaid by the bank. In addition, future payments will need to be paid with cash or a money order. FUMC actively pursues overdue and unpaid tuition. In the event that an account must be submitted to a collection agency or a claimed filed in Small Claims Court, FUMC reserves the right to collect two times the amount overdue plus late fees, and all connected collection and filing fees.Tuition credit and/or make-up days are not granted for absences due to illness, appointments, family emergencies, natural disasters, pandemic closures, vacations or holidays. 

A sibling discount of 10% is granted for a second child from the immediate family when both children are attending the preschool at the same time. Sibling discount applies to the lowest tuition. A 10% monthly discount is given to children enrolled in Garden Preschool and First United Methodist Church whose family members are attending and active at First United Methodist Church.  Active duty military or law enforcement are provided a 10% discount as well. One discount per child.

Withdrawal from the Preschool

To withdraw a child from Garden Preschool, the parent/legal guardian is required to submit intention of withdrawal two (2) weeks prior to the last day of the child’s attendance. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of any unused tuition. If Garden Preschool should deem it necessary to ask a parent to withdrawal their child, Garden Preschool will refund any unused tuition less any outstanding charges for misused equipment, late tuition charges, late pick-up fees, etc..

Grievance Procedures

Questions regarding curriculum, classroom guidelines and procedures can be directed to your child’s teacher. If you have a grievance or other issue that cannot be solved with the teacher, please see the director. Time can be set aside to discuss the issue.

Our goal at Garden Preschool is to maintain open and positive communications.

We all share the common goal of working to provide the best for your child and family.

Arrival and Dismissal

Garden Preschool uses the app HiMama. Parents must check in and out through the app each day. A daily health check through the app is also required. Daily temperatures of the children will be taken by the teachers upon arrival.

Children cannot be dropped off or picked up by anyone under 19 years of age. No child will be released to anyone not authorized by a parent or guardian. Authorized persons must be written in on the Identification and Emergency Information Form that can be found in the enrollment packet. Written permission from a parent or guardian must be given to the preschool staff prior to any person not listed on the ID and Emergency form, to pick up your child from Garden Preschool. Picture identification will be required if the person picking up is not familiar to the staff.

Late Pick-up Fees

Garden Preschool does not offer childcare after our regularly scheduled hours. Parents will incur a charge of $5.00 for each 5 minutes, or part there of, after 5:15 (or 11.30 for A.M. only children). We reserve the right to ask a parent/guardian to permanently withdraw a child from Garden Preschool after being picked up late four (4) or more times.

Our closing staff have already worked a full day and have families and responsibilities of their own, so please respect their time by having your child off site by closing/pick-up time. This may mean that you need to arrive a few minutes early, so that you are allowing enough time for your child to share with you some of his/her daily activities. Many times the children want to show their parent the artwork or project they did at school. This is a valuable time to spend with your child, so please make sure to schedule some time to do this prior to leaving.

Discipline and Behavior Management Policy

Re-direction and problem solving will be used to resolve conflicts and/or inappropriate behaviors. Inappropriate behavior is defined as biting, hitting, throwing sand, etc.. Discipline at Garden Preschool does not include physical punishment or restraint. The preschool will not withhold food, rest, or toilet privileges as a punishment. 

As stated in the Enrollment Contract, “ A child may be dis-enrolled when Garden Preschool feels that we are not able to fully meet the child and/or family needs.” This may be a situation where a child needs continuous one-on-one care by a teacher because of inappropriate behavior. Prior to dis-enrollment, parents and staff will meet to discuss strategies to be used at school and at home to curb the inappropriate behavior.

Children’s Rights

In accordance with CA Department of Social Services, each child receiving services from a Child Care Center shall have rights which include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) To be accorded dignity in his/her personal relationships with staff and other persons. 

(2) To be accorded safe, healthful and comfortable accommodations, furnishings and equipment to meet his/her needs.

(3) To be free from corporal or unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threat, mental abuse, or other actions of a punitive nature, including but not limited to: interference with daily living functions, including eating, sleeping, or toileting; or withholding of shelter, clothing, medication or aids to physical functioning.

(4) To be informed, and to have his/her authorized representative, if any, informed by the licensee of the  provisions of law regarding complaints including, but not limited to, the address and telephone number of the complaint receiving unit of the licensing agency and of information regarding confidentiality.

(5) To be free to attend religious services or activities of his/her choice and to have visits from the spiritual advisor of his/her choice. Attendance at religious services, either in or outside the facility, shall be on a completely voluntary basis. In Child Care Centers, decisions concerning attendance at religious services or visits from spiritual advisors shall be made by the parent(s), or guardian(s) of the child.

(6) Not to be locked in any room, building, or facility premises by day or night.

(7) Not to be placed in any restraining device, except a supportive restraint approved in advance by the licensing agency.

Parent’s Rights

In accordance with CA Department of Social Services, as a Parent/Authorized Representative, you have the right to:

1. Enter and inspect the child care center without advance notice whenever children are in care.

2. File a complaint against the licensee with the licensing office and review the licensee’s public file kept by the licensing office.

3. Review, at the child care center, reports of licensing visits and substantiated complaints against the licensee made during the last three years.

4. Complain to the licensing office and inspect the child care center without discrimination or retaliation against you or your child.

5. Request in writing that a parent not be allowed to visit your child or take your child from the child care center, provided you have shown a certified copy of a court order.

6. Receive from the licensee the name, address and telephone number of the local licensing office. 

Licensing Office Name: Community Care Licensing

Licensing Office Address: 6500 Hollister Ave. Suite 200

Licensing Office Telephone #: 805-562-0400

7. Be informed by the licensee, upon request, of the name and type of association to the child care center for any adult who has been granted a criminal record exemption, and that the name of the person may also be obtained by contacting the local licensing office.

8. Receive, from the licensee, the Caregiver Background Check Process form.

Parent Participation

We strongly encourage parents to take an active part in their child’s learning experiences at Garden Preschool. Parents, grandparents and other family members bring a richness and diversity to the class. Children feel proud and valued when you take time to be involved with their school. 

The children and staff would love to have you share a special talent, or skill. We are especially appreciative of family members who are willing to share holidays or special events they celebrate. Are there foods you cook or craft or decorations you make? Maybe there is a special book you read, or a ceremony. All of these activities help to enrich the lives of children.

If you are unable to participate by helping in the classroom, there are many other ways you can be involved. We can always use a hand in sprucing up the yard or classroom, fixing toys, making flannel stories, reading, or helping with our fundraising activities.

Parent Teacher Conferences and Child Assessment

Parent Teacher conferences are scheduled in the spring. Conferences provide the opportunity for sharing information, discussing progress and expressing concerns about your child. Parents are welcome to request an additional conference(s) at any time throughout the year. 

Children’s assessment is a daily, continual process at the preschool. Through observations, notes, work samples, group activities, and parent input, the teachers strive to form a comprehensive “picture” of each child. This “picture” is then channeled into the DRDP (Desired Results Developmental Profile), an assessment tool used state wide, to get  a formal snap shot of your child’s placement on the continuum. Curriculum is developed based on the strengths and needs of all the children and the results of the DRDP. The teachers share this knowledge informally on a daily basis with parents and more formally through the Preschool Assessment Tool during Parent/Teacher Conferences.

Center Policy on Nutrition

We feel that a variety of well-balanced meals, served in a stress free environment are the key to good nutrition. Eating is social and should be a positive part of every child’s day. Garden Preschool is a participant in the Preschool Food Initiative (PFI) sponsored by the Orfalea Foundation. The vision of the PFI is to help create new norms for food and physical activity. 

This is accomplished through

Food Quality Standards

Food Purchasing and Acquisition

Education of Children

Physical Activity

Food Literacy

Parent and Family Communication

Since Garden Preschool does not provide breakfast, we ask that parents provide breakfast at home. On the rare occasion that your child was not able to finish his/her breakfast at home, please allow your child to finish it at the school. We ask that the breakfast consist of healthy items – please no cookies, chips, or candy or donuts.


Garden Preschool children have 2 snacks per day that are provided by parents. They should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grain foods. High sugar foods are not permitted. We are working to eliminate all highly processed, ie non-nutritious food from our offerings to the children. 

Please see the Healthy Snack Guidelines for more information. Each child is encouraged to join his/her classmates at the table. Children are given the choice whether or not they wish to eat. 

Morning Snack 10:15

Afternoon Snack 3:30

Lunch   Please pack your child’s food in reusable/recyclable containers

Parents of children who stay all day, or come for the afternoon program, need to provide a healthy, wholesome lunch for their child. The preschool does not have refrigeration for lunches so please be sure to pack ice to keep food cold.

An appropriate lunch could include one from each category:

Protein: cheese, nut butter, lunchmeat, yogurt, cream cheese, chicken, tofu

Fruit or Vegetables: 1/2 apple, cucumber, carrots and dip, applesauce, etc.

Carbohydrates: wheat bread, 1/2 bagel, tortilla, roll, crackers, pretzels, etc.

Drink: water, milk, soy/almond/oat-milk, no  sweetened beverages, no juice.

No sweetened milk, chips, jello, pudding, gummies, cookies, candy, donuts, gum: ie. no junk food.

Lifelong eating habits are formed in the early years. Choose your child’s food as if their life depended on it.    It Does.


Children’s birthdays may be celebrated by bringing a snack from home to share with the class. Simple finger foods are preferred. Remember, snack foods do not need to be sugary. Some ideas for a healthful treat include fresh fruit, 100% fruit popsicles, or muffins. Please talk with the teacher at least two days in advance to make arrangements.


Children can be given medication at school only if the parent fills out a written medication dispensing form available from the director. Medications must be in the original container, labeled with your child’s name, the drug name, and the dosage clearly marked. The staff will only administer the dosage that is typed on the prescription. A written permission slip may also be required from your child’s doctor.

All medications will be locked up and inaccessible to the children. Medication cannot be left in backpacks or cubbies. It becomes the parent’s responsibility to request the medication from the preschool staff. Sorry, non-prescription medications cannot be given without written consent from your child’s physician.

911 will be called for all medical/dental emergencies and children may be taken to the nearest hospital.

Allergies/Other Medical Concerns

It is the parent/guardian’s obligation to inform the director of any allergies or other medical concerns that their child has and that the preschool staff should be aware of. Examples would include asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, seizures, food allergies, etc. In some circumstances we may require a detailed physicians report stating his/her concerns for your child. 


In accordance with the State of California, all immunizations must be up to date when you enroll your child. Immunizations must be kept up to date while your child attends Garden Preschool or your child will be excluded from school. A child may be exempt from immunization for medical reasons only. A note stating the exact immunizations that your child is exempt from is required from your child’s pediatrician at the time of enrollment.

Accident Reports

If your child is injured at school, an accident report will be filled out by one of the staff members witnessing the incident. The report will set home and a copy placed in their file in the preschool office. If the incident is deemed serious by the Garden Preschool staff, you will be contacted immediately. Please make sure you or someone on your authorization pick up list is available in cases of emergency.

Emergency Evacuation and Disaster Plans

Emergency evacuation and disaster plans are posted in the classroom. Monthly fire drills are held to familiarize the children with the evacuation procedures. Earthquake drills are also held throughout the year. All staff members are CPR and First Aid certified. We have an emergency preparedness kit on site that will accommodate all the children attending the preschool. This kit contains emergency first aid supplies, and emergency information on all the children. In the event of a major disaster, we will care for the children on site. If we must evacuate the building, our meeting place will be in the parking lot adjacent to the preschool. If we must evacuate the site altogether the staff and children will be at the property of Pastor Alan Stroud, on the backside of the play-yard (325 E. Anapamu St.)

Please make sure your child’s paperwork is up to date. If you move or change jobs, it is your responsibility to inform the director of these changes. This is very important in case of an emergency. Sign-ins through HiMama are used to determine which children are in attendance and to be sure all are accounted for. 

Holiday Schedule

Garden Preschool will be closed on the following days: 

Labor Day

3rd Monday in October – Teacher inservice

Veteran’s Day

Thanksgiving (Wed., Thurs. and Fri.)

Winter Break – two weeks at the end of December

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

President’s Day

Spring Break – the last week of March

½ on Good Friday

Memorial Day

Teacher prep 2 ½ days in June

Fourth of July (summer school)

End of summer break 2 weeks in August

*Please refer to annual handout for exact calendar of closures 

Field Trips  Currently only walking field trips are happening

There may be opportunities for the children to take field trips throughout the school year. Field trips are planned to enhance the curriculum and to broaden and enrich the children’s learning.

Field trips within walking distance of the school may occur more frequently. We ask each parent to sign a “Walking Field Trip” permission form to be held on file for the entire school year, and to cover all walking field trip. You will be notified of the walking field trips. 

Any and all field trips requiring transportation by car will have a separate, one time permission slip for each vehicle field trip taken.

(Revised December 2021)