Family Handbook

At ECDC we welcome families and children from diverse ethnic, national and religious backgrounds. We are very proud to be a diverse community.

We welcome children and families on the first day of school and every day throughout the year – in the classroom, in the hallway, at meetings and at events. Children and families new to ECDC will be invited to special events for the purpose of becoming familiar with their new teachers and surroundings.

To support this process, we provide the materials for families to make All About Me books for their children. The books may consist of photos and memorabilia – drawings, ticket stubs, postcards, traces of family vacations and celebrations. It is especially helpful when parents add captions, for example, to help teachers know how the children refer to their grandparents, siblings and pets. This helps the teachers to enter into conversations with children about the things most important to them. This might be particularly helpful for children who have not yet developed language skills or who are learning English as a second language. Parents and educators alike will find the “All About Me” books to be especially useful at arrival time, when children are making the transition from home to school.

We know that it is stressful for most two year olds and many older children to separate from the parent and be comfortable in the classroom. Be assured that this is a part of normal development. We also know that the process is different for every child and every parent. As the child adjusts, parents have the option of waiting in a nearby room. We are confident that children make a healthy adjustment once their surroundings feel familiar.

OUR GUIDING VALUES

The Hebrew terms tie our common values to Jewish teachings and add meaning from which we can learn as a community.

  • Kavod—Respect of self  and others
  • Kehilah—Community
  • Simchat Limud—Joy of learning
  • Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming
  • Tzedakah -Sharing with others

OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • Socialization and self-regulation are the foundation for healthy development and school readiness.
  • Pre-academic skill acquisition is embedded in all activities. Children will acquire and apply literacy and numeracy skills in meaningful ways and for real purposes.
  • Art, music and movement are integrated into daily school life.
  • Hands-on investigation and open-ended exploration provide the foundation for learning.
  • Our immediate and natural environment offers unlimited opportunities for learning.
  • Collaboration among children, teachers, parents and school community is critical to the success of the learning process.
  • Problem solving is exercised when children have the opportunity to initiate ideas and experiment.
  • Close observation ensures that topics will be based on the interests of the children and relevant to the school community.

HOLIDAYS AT ECDC

We observe Jewish holidays as well as the secular holidays Thanksgiving, Presidents’ Day and Mother’s Day.  We focus on the customs and universal lessons of each holiday. We value the diversity of our school and learn about how people celebrate holidays around the world. We will share information about the customs of each holiday as the school year progresses.

  • Shabbat – On Fridays we welcome the Sabbath with special songs and bread (challah). We welcome the time to enjoy family, nature, rest and study.
  • Rosh HaShana – Rosh HaShana is the Jewish New Year, and occurs at the beginning of the school year. The holiday is a perfect opportunity for welcoming one another into our school community.
  • Yom Kippur – We talk about ways of being a good person and friend.
  • Sukkot – We learn appreciation for fruits, vegetables and the harvest.
  • Simchat Torah – We discuss appreciation of books and learning.
  • Channukah – Channukah is a holiday that celebrates religious freedom. We learn about how people around the world celebrate holidays.
  • Tu B’Shvat – We learn the importance of taking care of our environment.
  • Purim— The story of Purim offers an opportunity to learn about standing up for the rights of others.
  • Pesach (Passover) –  We emphasize the importance of freedom to ask questions.

COMMUNICATION

At Temple Emanuel ECDC, we support open communication between Educators and Families.

Designated conference dates are scheduled in January. However, communication is every day, and we welcome opportunities to meet with parents throughout the school year. Communication with parents is built on a foundation of mutual respect. When teachers have a behavioral or developmental concern, they will reach out to the parents to schedule a meeting. Likewise the parent may initiate a meeting at any time. It is important for teachers and parents to listen to one another’s perspectives in order to develop beneficial strategies. Follow-up meetings are important for sharing progress and for refining strategies.

Along with Pediatricians, Early Childhood Educators play an important role in referring families for additional support. Additional services are available through two main networks:

Early Intervention (also known as DART) is a service of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. Children may be screened in each developmental domain. If a child qualifies, DART therapists may come to the school, generally for no more than one hour per week.

Behavioral health is offered by social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and developmental pediatricians. After an evaluation, treatment recommendations are made. Treatment may be in the form of weekly (outpatient) therapy or more intensive (“wraparound”), where therapeutic support is offered in the home and school setting.

We ask parents to keep us informed so that we can continue to share strategies and support your child’s development.

We welcome parent visits at any time!

We welcome your questions and feedback.

REMINI—A school/family communication app

ECDC uses a school/family app – Remini – to communicate the story of each child and classroom through texts, photos and videos. Remini will be used to share school experiences and to provide specific information, including weather and emergency alerts.

Some features are:

  • Secure communications platform and application
  • An application that can be accessed from your computer (via Google Chrome), smartphone or tablet

Within the first few days of school you will receive a notification inviting you to sign up for Remini. Please accept the invitation and follow steps to set up your child’s profile. Please note: In order to have one profile per child, the “invitations” will be sent to one parent only. The parent should then “invite” the other parent. Both parents will then receive all notifications simultaneously.

As the purpose of Remini is solely for school/family use, we will post child photos and videos (including face shots) on Remini. Please indicate on the ECDC Intake Form whether ECDC has permission to post a photo or video that includes your child on Remini. Whether or not you want your child’s photo to be included, we encourage you to join Remini for school updates.

We are hoping that our notifications, updates and stories offer more ways to experience school with your child.

Parent Teacher Partnership (PTP)

ECDC parents are members of the Parent Teacher Partnership, an organization designed to support school/teacher/parent collaboration.

The PTP Coordinator and Coordinating Council work to: a) facilitate parent involvement; b) ensure communication flow between parents, educators and directors; and c) support quality and efficiencies of ECDC. The council consists of both educators, parents, including room parents, and directors. The council creates and coordinates work groups to support various aspects of ECDC such as fundraising, playground, teacher appreciation and events. Council meetings are open to all.

The PTP invites parents to participate in shared leadership of our school community.

REGISTRATION

We encourage families to visit ECDC so that we can best determine how we can meet your family and child needs.

The registration guidelines for our programs are:

  • First Experience – Caregiver and toddler, 14 to 26 months
  • 2s, 3s, 4s – by September 1
  • Transition—five by November 1
  • Let’s Explore! (Extended Day)– Ages three and up
  • Kindergarten Enrichment—a half-day program for current Kindergartners.

These are guidelines only. With family input, we will place children in the program that best meets their needs.

PROGRAMS

First Experience      Wed mornings       9:30-11:30

2 year olds                2, 3 or 5 mornings     9:00-11:30

3 year olds                3 or 5 mornings     9:00-11:30

4 year olds                4 or 5 mornings     9:00-11:30

Transition                 5 mornings              9:00-11:30

Kdg. Enrich.             2 afternoons            12:45-3:15

Let’s Explore!          5 afternoons            12:45-3:15

HOURS

Extended care AM: 8:00 -9:00

AM programs: 9:00-11:30

Lunch: 11:30-12:45

PM programs: 12:45–3:15

Extended care PM: 3:15–4:00

LET’S EXPLORE!

Let’s Explore! is an afternoon enrichment program for children ages 3-6 that offers flexibility for families who may choose a regular schedule of one to five afternoons or occasional use. Each afternoon of the week offers a different emphasis: Art, Nature, Music, Science, the World. Each afternoon includes snack and outdoor time (weather permitting) and a variety of structured and relaxing experiences.

Note: Children who stay in the afternoon have the option of resting/napping from 12:45 to 2:00 pm. Parents are asked to bring a nap mat and to take it home monthly for laundering.

EXTENDED CARE AM & PM

To meet the needs of family schedules, ECDC offers extended care for children from 8:00-9:00 am and 3:15-4:00 pm. Extended care can be used daily, weekly or on an occasional basis. Please see the ECDC fee schedule for rates. Families may also pay $5 per half-hour for occasional use.

CALENDAR

School generally begins the week of Labor Day and ends on the Friday before Memorial Day. A calendar will be sent home prior to school with days off listed as well as dates of important events. Changes and updates will be included in monthly emails and newsletters.

TUITION

ECDC tuition for morning classes, lunch, Let’s Explore! and Extended Care AM/PM may be paid by check, ADH direct debit, online, or by Visa/Mastercard/Discover. Charge payments are accepted for families who choose to make 1 or 3 payments only. Families will submit a “Payment Option Form” to arrange payment method.

ECDC statements are sent by email in July, October, January and April. Payments are due one month ahead with the first payment due on August 1 and the last by May 1.

ECDC requires a 50% tuition pre-payment to hold a space when a child will be absent from school for an extended period (one or more months) due to family circumstances or travel. The ECDC Director may use discretion in applying this policy when the child is absent for an extended period due to illness or other extenuating circumstances.

Please write on the memo portion of your payment:

Please be sure to list separately what fees are included in your check; e.g., $150 tuition, $30 lunch. This ensures that your payment will be designated appropriately.

SCHOLARSHIPS

ECDC is pleased to offer scholarship opportunities through the Pittsburgh Jewish Pre-K Educational Improvement Foundation. Families who meet income guidelines and for preschool children who have turned 3 by August31 . Scholarship applications become available in January of each year and must be submitted by the beginning of March for the following school year. We are grateful to the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh for administering this important program. ECDC also has limited United Way monies for assisting families who are facing financial stress. Please contact the ECDC Director for more information.

FOOD POLICY

Lunch

Lunch, from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm, provides an opportunity to socialize, develop healthy habits and practice conversational skills in a relaxed environment.

Lunch is offered on a regular schedule or a flexible day-to-day basis.  Families are asked to provide home-packed lunches for their children. Lunch boxes should be clearly marked with the child’s name.

Please note that lunches should not include any foods that contain peanuts, peanut butter, tree nuts or any other type of nut. (To assist teachers, please label sun butter sandwiches.) Families are also asked to refrain from sending pork or shellfish products.

Daily Snack

Because of the specific risks posed by peanuts and nut products, ECDC reviews food labels and offers snack items, such as crackers, that are nut-free. ECDC also offers fruits and vegetables that are prepared in family kitchens, which are not nut-free environments. Parents of children with allergies may choose to send an alternative snack, as indicated on their child’s Food Allergy Plan. On Fridays, ECDC offers Challah (bread containing eggs); the nut-free dough is baked in the Temple Emanuel kitchen, which is not a nut-free facility.

Birthdays and Holidays

We ask families to refrain from bringing food or treats of any type to the school for special occasions. We welcome your participation in other aspects of celebration. Parents, for example, may visit to read a story or may bring a fruit snack. Please coordinate with your child’s teacher.

SECURITY

Entrances

All entrances to Temple Emanuel are to be locked at all times. Entrances are monitored by video camera. Entry is gained in one of two ways –by key fob or by admittance by a staff member (or designated volunteer) of Temple Emanuel.

Key Fobs

Each parent (or designated caregiver) of a child enrolled at Temple Emanuel ECDC must purchase a key fob ($10 each) from the ECDC office. The keys are activated to gain entry to the school from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Mondays through Fridays.

Admittance by a Staff Member

 

Persons who do not have a key fob must ring the buzzer. The buzzer is answered by Temple Emanuel staff members who monitor the video. The person requesting access must give first and last names and specific purpose of visit. A parent who does not have his/her fob, for example, must state the first and last name of the child whom is being picked up and the name of the child’s teacher.

Visitors with a purpose unrelated to ECDC, will be instructed to come to the courtyard doorway.

Periods of heavy traffic

9:00 am and 11:30 am are the periods of highest traffic at ECDC when parents are dropping off and picking up children. During those periods, specifically from 8:50-9:10 am and 11:20-11:40 am, the ECDC director or appointed staff member will monitor the school entrance. The door may be left open for other ECDC families during these two periods when the door is being monitored.

All other times

At all other times, parents must use their key fob for entrance and may not permit others behind them to enter. A parent who does not have his/her fob must state the first and last name of the child whom is being picked up and the name of the child’s teacher.

Other security measures:

  • Parents use main (central) school door only for entrance and exit.
  • Signage on exterior doors advises visitors that entrances are monitored by video camera.
  • Double doors between the school and the rest of Temple Emanuel are secured with access by code for authorized persons.
  • The school playground is protected with fencing and a lockable gate.

All doors to Temple Emanuel are locked during school hours and the playground is enclosed with metal fencing. Parents are asked to purchase key fobs for secure entry. Key fob holders should not admit other persons into the building. Please follow the ECDC campaign of “One Swipe; One Family.” Fobs are operable on Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. We encourage ECDC families to purchase a fob for every person who will be dropping off/picking up a child. The cost is $10 per fob.

ARRIVAL & DISMISSAL 

ARRIVAL

If you arrive early, you may stay with your child until classroom doors open at 9:00 am. The gym is open to give families a comfortable place to wait for the 9:00 am opening.

DISMISSAL

Children will be released only to the persons listed on the release form. You must send written notice if you wish your child to be released to someone other than those designated on the release form or if you wish to change any information on the form. In the case of an emergency, you may call the office to give authorization for an undesignated pick-up person. Identification will be required before the child is released.

BOWER HILL DROP OFF AND PICK UP

Families may sign up for front-entrance drop off and pick up (for 9:00 am, 11:30 am, 12:45 pm & 3:15 pm). This option is designed primarily for families of our older children, those with older siblings who are driving to more than one school, and those with infants in the car. All children are escorted to their classrooms and back upstairs to be dismissed. Sign-up forms with detailed information will be sent home in September. Bower Hill drop off and pick up generally starts by the beginning of October.

PARKING AND PARKING LOT

To maintain safety, we ask all families to drive at 5 miles per hour in the parking lot. The parking lot is one-way during school hours. Enter on the playground-side of the building from Bower Hill and exit at the light at Bower Hill and Concordia Way. For the safety of our children, please do not let your car idle.

Please share safety information with family members and babysitters who assist with transportation to and from school.

MEDICAL & INTAKE FORMS

Three forms will be required for enrollment:

  • Intake
  • Emergency Contact/Parental Consent Form
  • Child Health Report – documentation of a health exam and immunizations. Immunizations are required.

These three school forms are due on August 1, one month prior to the start of school.  Health exam documentation must be submitted every 12 months. Additional forms may be required if your child has food allergies or requires medication during school hours. Please request a form from the Director

ILLNESS & INJURIES

Please call or email the office to report your child’s absence and the reason for the absence. If your child has a contagious disease (chicken pox, pink eye, scarlet fever) or parasitic condition (head lice, scabies, pinworm), please let us know so that we can advise the other parents that their children may have been exposed to the illness or condition.

  • Children with pink eye, scarlet fever, or strep throat must be on medication for at least 24 hours before returning to school.
  • Children with head lice, scabies or pin worm must have signed approval from a medical professional before returning to school.
  • All pox or blisters of children with chicken pox or hand, foot and mouth disease must be crusted or dry before the child can return to school.
  • Children with a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting are not to be in school and cannot return for 24 hours after the fever, diarrhea, or vomiting has stopped.
  • Children with a fresh cold and runny nose are not to be in school.

We contact parents immediately to report onset of an illness or an injury that has occurred at school. We complete incident reports and provide copies at the request of the parent.

INCLEMENT WEATHER/ SCHOOL CLOSINGS

There are two ways to hear about ECDC school closures due to inclement weather or other emergencies:

  • Watch for Remini posts
  • Follow school closure announcements for Mt. Lebanon School District. (We will close or delay when Mt. Lebanon does.)

DRESS

Your child should be dressed in play clothes and sturdy shoes such as tennis shoes. Clothing should allow freedom of movement and enable children maximum independence with toileting. (Sandals, dress shoes, long laces, strings from jacket hoods, and long dresses tend to impede movement or cause safety hazards.)

 Please label and send the following in a labeled zip-lock bag:  Shirt, pants, socks, underpants and diapers/wipes if needed. Remember to change the clothes in the cubby as the seasons change. Outdoor clothing should also be marked with child’s name.

 We encourage outdoor play as often as temperature and weather conditions allow. Dress your child according to the weather.

Please send hats, mittens and boots on a daily basis throughout the cold season or consider keeping an extra set at school.

DIRECTORY

We distribute an electronic address and phone directory of the school population. (There is a question on our intake form for permitting or opting out.) The directory is for school families only and should not be used for business purposes.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

DART Preschool Early Intervention: DART provides free screening to identify developmental needs and provides early intervention services at no cost for eligible children in Allegheny County. The phone number is 412-394-5904. ECDC collaborates with DART to support the developmental needs of each child. ECDC provides a list of additional community resources as needed and upon request.

Temple Emanuel Early Childhood Development Center NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY

Admissions, the provisions of services and referrals of clients shall be made without regard to race, color, religious creed, disability, ancestry, national origin (including limited English proficiency), age or sex.

WAYS TO SUPPORT ECDC

Jeanne Glasspool Fund

The Jeanne Glasspool Fund of Temple Emanuel is used to purchase special equipment, repairs and maintenance of the classrooms, indoor gym and the playground.

Nan Simon Fund

The Nan Simon Fund is used for ECDC staff training and for technology in the classroom.

Martha Klein Lottman Fund

The Lottman Fund provides matching monies for the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative, a program sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, and related projects.

United Way

We are a United Way Choice Contributor agency. Please think of us when contributing to the United Way.   The funds will help make scholarships available to families facing financial hardships. We appreciate your donations and thank you in advance.   #1250695 must be marked to designate your donation to ECDC.

Tax identification number is: EIN 25 – 1029716.