The Big Rules: Fostering a Caring Classroom Community

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Your child is still developing their sense of right and wrong in almost every action they take. They are testing limits, exploring their environment, and discovering how to get along with others. Our teachers help children learn appropriate behavior by consistently and patiently communicating “The Big Rules.”   These rules are the foundation of all our expectations for children’s behavior.  We guide and educate the children as they develop the skills to make positive choices for themselves.  Everyday we will welcome your child into the classroom community.   We will care for your child and continue to teach them kindness, respect, and cooperation.  

Big Rules:

  1. Careful, Safe Bodies
  2. Kindness with Everyone
  3. Respect for Work
  4. Care for the Classroom

Developmental Screenings

A developmental screening will be completed for all children at the beginning of their first year. The screening will be completed by your child’s teachers and is presented to the child in a “game-like” way.  The screening helps the teacher to know your child better.  It helps us to individualize the education your child will receive.

We also do a social and emotional screening for new children.  It is a questionnaire that is filled out by the child’s classroom teachers and you. If there is a concern about the result of any screening, the concern will be evaluated by the Head Start staff. With your participation and permission, along with Head Start’s child observation, a referral for additional services could be made. Results of screenings will be kept confidential and shared only with the child’s parent/guardian.

Policies

Guidance and Discipline
CAAS Head Start’s Child Guidance and Discipline Policy ensures the safety of all the children while helping each child to develop self-control.  Learning self-control and taking responsibility for one’s own behavior is a normal part of children’s social and emotional development. Therefore, our approach to discipline is based on child development and teaching. Our approach is not about punishment. Since each child is unique, you may see teachers use different techniques in the classroom.

Some of our techniques :

  • Encouraging children to talk about their feelings.
  • Redirecting a child to a different activity where the child will succeed.
  • Providing an example for children by speaking and interacting with children in a positive manner.
  • Coaching children in specific skills that help them share, take turns, join a group, and make friends.
  • Reading books about social conflicts and how to resolve them.

CAAS Head Start Program abides by the following:

  • Corporal punishment will not be used, including spanking.
  • No child will be subjected to cruel or severe punishment, humiliation, or verbal abuse.
  • No child will be denied food as a form of punishment or force fed.
  • No child will be punished for soiling, wetting, or not using the toilet.

Confidentiality
Head Start guidelines require us to keep records on children enrolled in the program.  These guidelines also mandate that parents are aware of all records that are kept.  The records are kept confidential, yet accessible to families upon request.  Confidential information will only be shared with appropriate Head Start Staff.

At enrollment, CAAS Head Start has families sign a permission form to share information with our program consultants from Riverside Community Care, the Somerville or Cambridge Public Schools, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care which licenses our program, and our funding sources. CAAS Head Start will request a specific permission form to be signed when information needs to be shared with other providers outside of the program. The only time the Department of Children and Families (DCF) can access information without a signed permission form is during an investigation.

Candy and Sweets
CAAS Head Start encourages children to eat healthy foods. The following are not allowed in our classrooms: birthday cakes, candy, gum, donuts and any sugar-based sweets.    

Field Trips
Children participate in field trips several times during the school year.  Field trips are usually local trips in Cambridge and Somerville. These trips help children gain a better understanding of their community.  All parents or guardians must sign a permission slip for their child to participate in a trip away from the center.  Parents, guardians, and other adult family members are always welcome to go on a field trip with the children and teachers.

Jewelry
Children should not wear jewelry to school as it may not be safe.  It is easy for jewelry to get lost or broken. The program will not be responsible for lost or broken jewelry.

Balloons
Balloons are never allowed in classrooms.  They are very dangerous for young children.  Small pieces of a broken balloon can cause a child to choke if swallowed.

Backpacks
If your child is bringing a backpack to school, it is your responsibility to ensure they are not bringing anything unsafe into the classroom.   Backpacks are not required to attend Head Start.

Attendance
Regular attendance is important for all children.  The more your child is in school, the more they will learn.  Children feel more comfortable in the classroom if they don’t miss a lot of days.  Irregular attendance causes confusion for your child and the other children in the classroom. If you need help to get your child to school every day, talk with your Family Advocate.  If your child is having health problems that prevent regular attendance, talk with your Family Advocate or call our Health Services Supervisor at 617.623.7370 extension 126.  If your child has strong feeling about school and doesn’t want to come, talk with your child’s teachers.   We can help.

Arrival and Pick Up
Children should always arrive on time in the morning and be picked up on time at the end of the day.  Consistent schedules and routines help children feel safe and relaxed.  It is also important that children are not dropped off prior to the classroom’s starting time.  Please sign your child in and out of the classroom everyday. If children arrive late or are picked up late, the parent or guardian will be required to meet with their Family Advocate.  When a child is picked up late for a third time, the parent will be required to meet with the Director of Advocacy before the child can return to the classroom.

If you or an emergency contact individual attempt to pick up a childfrom the program and there is a suspicion of alcohol or drug use, the teachers will suggest an alternate emergency contact comes to pick the child up. If the person suspected of alcohol or drug abuse does not co-operate with the request to have someone else come for the child, the Police Department will be called immediately and the Department of Children and Families will be notified.  Please understand that the above policy was created to ensure that all children leave the Head Start Program safely. 

Snow Days
If there is a snow storm, you should listen to the local news on radio or television. If the Somerville Public Schools are closed than all our classrooms are closed. Our Cambridge and Somerville classrooms close when the Somerville Public Schools are closed. If our program must close and the Somerville Public Schools are open, then your Family Advocate will contact you.

Emergency Plans
When there is an emergency in your child’s classroom, such as: no heat, no water, or flooding, your Family Advocate will contact you to let you know there will be no school.

Termination
CAAS Head Start Program will only terminate a child if our program is an inappropriate placement or a child is not utilizing the program. We will work closely with a family before terminating the child and will help with the transition to a more appropriate program or school. 

Discrimination
No person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be discriminated against by this program, including in employment, because of race, religion, sex, national origin, cultural heritage, age, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status. No child shall be discriminated against because they are not toilet trained.