D.5. Classroom Policies

Things to Bring

Be sure to bring at least one extra set of seasonal clothing including socks and underwear to be kept in the classroom. Children should be dressed for the weather.  In summer they may need sun protective clothing such as sun hats, or cool long sleeve shirts.  Shoes are best if the toes are protected for outdoor play.  On rainy days you may bring rain boots for muddy play areas.  On cold winter days children may need snow pants, boots, mittens and hats and a warm winter coat.  Teachers will keep families abreast of seasonal clothing needed during the year. Families of infants need to bring infant bottles from home and their own diapers and wipes.  Infants are provided a crib and crib sheet.  Families of infants provide sleep sacks and pacifiers. Families provide nap blankets, small pillow or snuggly sleep toys for older children.  Teachers will provide families with a list of items to bring specific to their classroom

Labeling Items from home

All items from home, from socks to mittens, must be labeled with your child’s full name. UNOW makes a great effort to ensure that items brought to school are returned to families, but are unable to do so when items are not labeled. For bottles, additional labeling is required by NJ DCF Office of Licensing and must include the child’s full name, the date and time breastmilk was expressed or the date and time formula bottle was prepared.

A note about items and toys from home

UNOW provides a holistic curriculum that encompasses classroom materials carefully selected to reflect development and learning goals and schedules of free play and staff-led activities to encourage use of those materials. Toys and items brought from home often distract from the carefully planned and executed learning environment. Naptime lovies and transition objects that help children connect with home while at school are welcomed and strongly encouraged as long as children rely on and want them for emotional support, whether throughout the day or only at rest times. Children who use their pacifier to calm themselves must be seated and resting while using a pacifier. It is UNOW’s policy in accordance with NJ DCF Office of Licensing to be sure children are not walking or moving about while they have a pacifier in their mouths.  Toys and items that children do not need for emotional support should remain at home except when specifically requested by teaching staff. Teachers will communicate with families about specific activities and opportunities for children to share toys from home depending on current curriculum interests and age groups.

Prohibited items from home

UNOW prohibits items that reflect hurtful or violent content, negative stereotypes, and/or are considered developmentally inappropriate and/or unsafe by staff and/or administration.

Classroom Rules

Every classroom establishes a few basic rules.  There are also shared rules for outdoor play and other common areas. All rules are centered on children’s safety, respect for others and property. Older children often participate in making rules for their classroom.  Rules are written, illustrated and posted on the wall at child level.  Frequent reminders and consistency with rules helps young children understand and follow rules.

Technology in the Classroom

Children do not generally use computers while at UNOW.  There is a laptop and tablet in each classroom for teacher use only. Computer use in the classroom takes away from social experiences and hands on manipulation of real life materials. Teachers work with children to make discoveries with the use of natural materials and they review hand held books and dictionaries.  Occasionally and with a teacher’s assistance, older children may use a computer as one of the many tools used to research information and topics of interest. Infants are not exposed to battery operated toys while at UNOW.  UNOW does however, expose children to the mechanics, machines and tools used in everyday life. Infants and toddlers benefit greatly from logical cause and effect toys.  On a rare occasion teachers may show a movie or video based on the children’s current interests and relative to what children are learning.  Children do listen to audio equipment without the use of screen time to enjoy audio books and music on CD players or through Bluetooth. It has been documented by research and noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics that the excessive use of screen time is detrimental to the growth and development in young children. See link: statementhttp://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162591

Animals in the classroom

Some classrooms may have pets such as a guinea pig, fish or a rabbit.  Children learn to respect and care for animals and they learn about their various habitats.  UNOW periodically schedules animal visits through S.A.V.E and other animal rescue programs. Please speak with your classroom teacher if you would like to share a family pet with your child’s classroom.  Any animal in the classroom must be first cleared through the UNOW Director and needs to be sensitive to any safety concerns or allergies among the children and staff members.

Birthdays and Holidays

Celebrating a child’s birthday with their classmates can be a highlight of the year for families, teachers, and children. Teachers can best advise what kinds of snacks, treats, or experiences would appropriately strike a balance between festive celebration and appropriate nutrition given the age of the group and any particular allergies within the group.

Holidays of all sorts are special experiences for families and children.  Teachers strive to balance a desire to share in the joy that comes with those celebrations with a need to ensure that the diversity of all children’s experiences are reflected in what children experience at school. It can be a very enriching experience for a family to come into a classroom and share their traditions with the class. These opportunities can be organized with teachers in ways that are appropriately meaningful for the children. Teachers can best be the guide through holiday seasons in order to help the experiences be positive, enriching, and developmentally appropriate.  Teachers will be sensitive to the unique beliefs, family composition and values of each family. Due to safety concerns we ask that you do not bring balloons and goodie bags.  A welcome alternative would be to share your child’s favorite story from home or select a book from the UNOW library.

UNOW Holiday Guidelines

All holidays and holiday events are accepted and acknowledged as they relate to the children and the culture of the families in each classroom. Families are encouraged to share culture and traditions within the classroom.  Some family’s religion and culture does not permit the celebration of holidays.  Alternatives or the choice not to participate in Holiday activities is respected. No child will ever be coerced or made to feel ostracized if they do not participate in holiday celebrations.  Holiday activities are initiated and inspired by the relevancy and interest of the children and adhere to the curriculum guidelines as posted below

Teachers ensure that activities and experiences planned for:

  • Stem from what children have offered as having wondered about, been interested in, or seen at home as cultural traditions.
  • Are open ended.  There is no one “right” way to accomplish or participate in what is being asked.  Ultimately the activities allow the child to freely express themselves and their ideas as materials are presented.
  • Acknowledges that families celebrate holidays in a variety of ways throughout the year. This is accomplished by keeping the conversation centered around the children i.e. “At your house/in your family…you like to…you think about…” or “At my house/in my family…we like to…we think about.”
  • Are developmentally appropriate; meaning that the expectations of children are reasonable for their age, interest and ability.  Such experiences and activities are optional for children. They will not be persuaded or coerced into doing an activity that is not of their interest.
  • Are a part of everyday routine and activities. Typically cultural experiences are blended into everyday life of the classroom in such a way that makes it available but not given more importance than other parts of the day.
  • Emphasis is made on the common positive emotional experiences of celebrations. It is often about joy, giving gifts that reflect love and gratitude between friends and family or spending time with those we are closest to.
  • Celebrations at UNOW often take the shape of songs, stories, conversation, foods, clothing, activities and events.
  • Are inclusive of gender and diverse family structures.