Mount Tabor Cooperative Preschool Member Handbook
You and your child are endeavoring on a wonderful early childhood adventure! We
are so excited to work together to create a memorable and meaningful experience.
We want you to feel at home at Mt. Tabor Preschool as your family participates in
our program. We will do our best to help you feel comfortable and confident as you
Parent Teach in the classroom. Included in this handbook is a wealth of information
about our school, guidelines and responsibilities for Member Families, and resources
provided by your child’s teacher. Please feel free to ask questions and seek clarification
if you or your child need help finding your place.
Our Cooperative Preschool
Mt. Tabor Preschool was created in 1951. Originally named the Mt. Tabor Mother’s
Club, it began as a small effort by a group of neighbors to give their children
something to do away from home a couple of times per week. At first, the mothers
taught the children in a room at Glencoe Elementary School, but after a few years,
the school began hiring teachers and moved to its current location in the basement
of Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church at SE 54th and Belmont Avenues.
The concerns of those early mothers were no different from those of parents today-to
offer their children an opportunity to interact with other children, to begin developing
the skills necessary for success in school, and to just let kids be kids. The school
has traditionally offered a gently structured environment in which children could
explore and learn at their own pace. That tradition, based on the Piaget model,
is still in place today.
A cooperative preschool is organized and administered by the parents and operated
under the direction of professional teachers. It’s success depends upon the cooperative
efforts of all members. A co-op operates most effectively when parents and teachers
work together, pooling their knowledge and resources in the best interest of the
Parents are an integral part of the school, as they have been since the school’s
earliest years, giving their time and talents by serving as officers or on committees,
as parent-teachers in the classroom, by participating in fundraising activities
and by attending bi-monthly general meetings. Parents of enrolled children are members
of Mt. Tabor Preschool, Inc. Mt. Tabor Preschool is a member of Parent Child
Preschools of Oregon (PCPO).
Our School Philosophy
As parents and educators, we trust children to know what they need and are ready
for developmentally. Children are first-hand learners—they learn by doing, using
their senses to explore their world. We strive to provide children with a wide variety
of opportunities and experiences to support and enhance the natural interests and
curiosities that grow from within them. If we provide the following, children will
learn, grow, and develop in all areas necessary for them to progress naturally:
- An interesting and stimulating environment;
- An emotionally safe place where children feel comfortable and free to ask questions,
take risks, make mistakes, and try new things;
- Materials and activities which provide opportunities for exploration and experimentation;
- Time to play, time to be active, time to sing, time to dance, time to slow down
and take it all in, time to be cuddled and read to, time to be alone, and time to
be with the group;
- Supportive, compassionate and understanding adults who really listen and
provide encouragement, when needed, to overcome challenges and frustrations; and,
- A time, place, and community where it’s all about being a little kid.
Within our school, we strive to create a safe and nurturing place where each person
is treated fairly and with respect. Our primary goal is for each child to have a
positive early education experience in which she/he may gain the skills and confidence
necessary to build friendships, work autonomously and collaboratively, and feel
a sense of belonging. Our hope is that the children will find joy in learning and
being together that will stay in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
Parental support and education are important aspects of our preschool. A cooperative
preschool provides parents with opportunities to participate with, to observe, and
to learn about their child. We hope that as the children learn new skills and progress
developmentally, that you will also experience growth as a parent.
As a teacher of young children, I strive to provide developmentally appropriate
programs in a warm, supportive, and respectful environment. In our classroom,
children are given opportunities to grow and learn cognitively, socially, emotionally,
and physically, both as individuals and as members of a group. I base my philosophy
upon the concept that children construct knowledge through their interactions with
both the physical and social world. I feel that my role as a teacher is to
responsively and thoughtfully facilitate children's interactions with their environment,
and with others.
My broad, long term goals include helping children to:
- Become increasingly autonomous and independent, developing self-discipline and thoughtful,
- Feel competent and productive, having positive self-esteem and a sense of self-worth;
- Develop responsibility for their own mental and physical health and well being;
- Recognize and appreciate the riches human differences bring to our world;
- Discover and value their individual gifts and creative talents, and
- Develop higher moral reasoning and the ability to understand natural consequences
through the construction of an internalized code of ethics and principles.
Another part of my role as the teacher is to assist children in the development
of skills needed to relate to peers and others in appropriate, constructive, and
emotionally respectful ways. I work to help children develop the confidence
and ability to work out their own solutions to problems. My hope is that
each child will grow in their capacity for self-discipline, their ability to empathize
with and advocate for others, and in their ability to internalize appropriate behavior
In acknowledging that parents, as the primary educators of their child, are the
most important source of information concerning their child, I invite open, thoughtful
communication between home, school, and the community. I respect and believe in
each child as a unique individual with the ability to construct knowledge about
his or herself, others, and the world around them through active learning. I strive
to promote growth in all areas of development for all children by providing them
with meaningful opportunities to interact, experiment, explore, question, and play.
Jr. Class Schedule
Children in this class are 3-4 years of age, and attend Tuesday and Thursday.
| Children Arrive |
Free-Choice Time in the Classroom
- This is a time when children engage themselves in planned activities and work
in the classroom learning centers.
- We clean-up together while playful music plays, then transition to Group Time
- This is a time for calendaring, stories, singing, problem solving, sharing, group
games, science activities, etc.
- Toileting & Hand Washing
| Snack Time |
Large Motor Play
- Outside or in the Big Room
Closing Group Time
- Sharing about our morning together & saying goodbyes
| End of School Day |
- Children Leave
* This schedule is subject to change based on children’s needs and interests, weather
conditions, special activities, etc.
** The school day is extended to 12 noon from January through the year's end.
Sr. Class Schedule
Children in this class are 4-5 years of age, and attend Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Free-Choice Time in the Classroom
-This is a time when children engage themselves in planned, as well as child-initiated
activities and work in the classroom learning centers.
-We clean-up together while playful music plays, then transition to Group Time
-This is a time for calendaring, stories, singing, problem solving, sharing, group
games, science activities, etc.
-Toileting & Hand Washing
Large Motor Play
-Outside or in the Big Room
Closing Group Time
-Sharing about our morning together& saying goodbyes
End of School Day
- Children Leave
*This schedule is subject to change based on children’s needs and interests, weather
conditions, special activities, etc.
Early childhood education practice and research have found that a child’s emotional,
social, and cognitive development are interdependent. Our program encourages positive
peer and social relations, development of critical thinking skills, and facilitates
the development of self-esteem by fostering independence and problem-solving skills
by providing children with opportunities to experiment, explore, question and play.
Our curriculum is both emergent and constructive. This means that
classroom themes, projects and activities often emerge from the children’s interests
or from events in the classroom day or community. We further believe that children
construct their knowledge rather than merely receiving it from adults. Children
have questions and things that they wonder about. Adults strive to provide the means
for children to discover the answers. Children construct their own ideas and theories
about their world through play and social interaction, and through experimentation
and exploration. The teacher observes and plans carefully to enhance and extend
children’s learning. The teacher generally plans for a week at a time. Weekly lesson
plans are posted for parents to review. In addition, the teacher welcomes parents
to contribute to the curriculum by suggesting activities or by facilitating projects
while Parent Teaching. The teacher will share the classroom activities and emergent
themes with our community through these curriculum plans as well as through documentation—pictures
and words—that will allow everyone to follow the classroom events as well as the
learning process. Throughout the curriculum, children’s emerging interests in writing,
reading and numbers are strongly supported and encouraged.
If the group has a particular interest at the time, the teacher will plan activities
and group gatherings around that theme. The teacher may introduce songs, read books,
present pictures, and provide materials to support the children’s interest for as
long as it is an interest. Sometimes this may mean a day or two; sometimes
the group may become engrossed for a longer period of time.
The classroom is set up with learning centers as well as planned, teacher-directed
activities. Learning centers include arts, language arts, math & manipulatives,
building and construction, science and dramatic play. The classroom is organized
with materials available at children’s level to encourage maximum independence.
The daily classroom schedule includes large blocks of time in which children, with
support from adults, make their own choices about how to use their time.
Each day, the following are typically provided:
- An art activity-almost always process, not product oriented,
- An activity that supports collaboration, such as a game or puzzle,
- Something tactile for manipulation, i.e. playdough, flubber, ooblech, etc.
- A logical-mathematical activity, i.e. manipulatives for weighing, sorting, etc.
- A literacy activity, i.e. story writing, pattern building, shape tracing, etc
- Something in the sensory-table to scoop, pour, strain, etc.
- Some sort of gross motor activity, i.e. hopscotch, beanbag toss, fishing, etc.
Most activities are self-guided, with some requiring adult-assistance, such as a
messy art projects, cooking projects, games with rules, etc. These activities are
in addition to the materials available in the room on a daily basis. In addition,
we recognize that some days, things just don’t go according to plan. The teacher's
agenda (or lesson plans) are pointless if children have no interest in a planned
activity. I accept this and am willing to be flexible in order to provide an activity
that the children want to do that day. I also feel it is important to express
that in all of my planning, it is vital to us to present unbiased materials and
adequate supplies to ensure the comfort and success of anyone who may participate
in an activity.
In addition to attending to the developmental needs of the child in areas of social,
emotional, physical and cognitive growth, I am also committed to incorporating non-sexist,
multi-cultural, and anti-bias learning experiences into our daily curriculum. I
continually strive to provide materials, activities and an environment that reflect
a respect for, and celebration of, diversity in race and ethnicity, physical appearance
and ability, and family composition and lifestyle. My goal is for every child and
family to feel welcomed and supported in our school.
- Fosters each child’s sense of self-identity
- Fosters acceptance of diversity among people by allowing children to ask about and
- Encourages critical thinking about bias by helping children to identify acts of
discrimination and stereotypic images in their world
- Fosters each child’s ability to stand up for her/himself and others in the face
We avoid sex-role stereotyping in the classroom. We want all children in our school
to feel strong and capable, as well as gentle and nurturing. All children are welcome
and encouraged to participate in all types of play and learning.
Our anti-bias curriculum is supported by a variety of multi-cultural and bias-free
books, dolls and other learning materials as well as specific teacher-directed activities
and experiences that are a regular part of the classroom. We strongly encourage
your support, involvement and feedback regarding these efforts. In addition, families
are invited to contribute to the curriculum by sharing ideas or materials with the
teacher or while working in the classroom. We hope you will consider sharing your
special skills and knowledge with the children!
Holiday & Birthday Celebrations
Holiday celebrations have long been a challenge for early childhood educators. In
our efforts to implement an Anti-Bias Curriculum, we strive to honor and respect
the cultures and traditions of all who participate in our program. Our school has
several holiday celebrations on our calendar, and we wish to work together to determine
the most appropriate way to enjoy these celebrations as a school community. Early
each year we will distribute a Family Holiday Survey to elicit your feelings about
celebrations at school. We will then structure our celebrations accordingly, in
an attempt to avoid being culturally insensitive or offensive. It is our hope that
we can create opportunities to come together in a ways that are appropriate and
enriching for the children and adults who are a part of our community.
We appreciate and value every child, and like to celebrate what is special and unique
about them every day, as well as on their birthday. If you would like to celebrate
your child’s birthday at school, our request is that you do not bring sugary treats
(i.e. cupcakes). We will provide a birthday crown, a birthday candle, and sing,
“Happy Birthday” at snack time. We welcome you to bring birthday napkins and healthy
snacks, which can be made at school as a class cooking project, if you wish. Other
fruit kabobs, granola bars, or finger foods with “fancy” toothpicks are also popular.
The energy level exhibited around sugary foods can be extremely high in groups of
15 or 18 children! Your support in this matter is appreciated.
Additionally, please DO NOT DISTRIBUTE birthday party invitations at school. Young
children are very sensitive to being excluded from anything, especially birthday
parties. Children, and even parents, can experience hurt feelings when they do not
receive an invitation. Please feel free to contact other families at home by phone,
email or snail mail to extend party invitations. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Guidance Practices & Policies
Part of the role of any preschool program is to help young children develop appropriate
school and social behaviors. It is important for children to learn to cooperate
with teachers and peers, to learn to solve conflicts with others through negotiation
and problem-solving instead of aggressive acts, and to learn to respect and care
for others. Our primary objective in guiding children at school is to provide them
with opportunities to increase their autonomy and connect with others in a safe,
nurturing, and respectful environment. We feel it is best to guide young children’s
behavior by clearly stating our expectations and giving them reasons for our expectations
and rules. We have many techniques to engage a child’s cooperation such as giving
the child a choice about her/his activity whenever possible. Our goals are for each
child to assume responsibility for her/his behavior, and to facilitate the acquisition
of appropriate self-management & self-control skills.
When a child’s behavior is inappropriate or unacceptable at school, there are a
number of techniques which can be used to provide guidance. Whenever possible, teachers
should allow children to experience the natural or logical consequences of inappropriate
behavior. For example, if a child repeatedly misuses a classroom material, he/she
might be restricted from using that material for a period of time. Redirection to
another activity, or time spent one-on-one with an adult might also be used as a
solution to a behavior problem.
We encourage children to become aware of how their actions affect others by helping
them to identify and attend to the feelings and reactions of the other children
in the environment. We encourage children to resolve their own conflicts with peers
by “using their words” to state their needs and feelings to each other. An important
part of learning to control one’s behavior is learning to identify and label one’s
feelings. Teachers help children learn to identify and verbalize their emotions.
Under no circumstances may corporal punishment be used as a means of controlling
behavior. Parents are encouraged to seek assistance from the teacher in developing
positive discipline practices for school and home. When parents and the teacher
use similar methods for guiding behavior, we can all be more successful.
Each child in our program has the right to feel safe, secure and comfortable at
school. We reserve the right to request assistance from parents in situations in
which we feel the child may endanger him/herself or others.
The Basic Rules
The basic ground rules for conduct in our classroom include respect and care for
self, others, and classroom materials. This is to say explicitly that children may
not hurt themselves, others, or materials belonging to the classroom community.
Other guidelines include the following:
- Use an “inside” speaking voice
- Walk inside the classroom
- Follow basic rules concerning physical safety (i.e. walk with scissors)
- Take turns to speak in group gatherings
- Everyone should help during clean-up time
- Children may leave the classroom only with an adult, including using the restroom.
- Water table and sensory table contents must remain in their respective table.
- Please uphold any other rules that are created collaboratively with the children
as issues arise. Strive to facilitate play, rather than control it.
Additional Guidelines for Outdoor Play:
- Children must remain in the sight of an adult at all times. Be aware of children’s
whereabouts. Watch for children hiding in bushes.
- We have use of the playground, the grassy area, and on occasion, the church parking
lot for bike riding. Adults must place themselves strategically to ensure safety
in each area.
- Sand must remain in the sandbox.
- Traffic on the slides must be one-way. Please facilitate for safety.
- All children must wear helmets when riding bikes or scooters. The school supplies
each child with a helmet that has her/his name on it and is adjusted to fit.
Big Room Guidelines:
- Children may not jump off of the wooden play structure.
- One child at a time on the trampolines.
- Stacked chairs around the room may not be climbed upon.
- Redirect rough/aggressive games and play.
- Accompany children when they need to use the bathroom.
School should be a safe and secure place for all children. Weapons of any kind do
not belong in school at any time. Please promote our anti-weapon play philosophy
by reminding children of everyone's need to feel safe, and confiscate and
store any inappropriate items which may be brought from home or created by children.
Resolving Conflicts With Children
Wherever there are children with ideas, there are bound to be conflicts. When these
conflicts arise in the classroom, our role as teachers/parents is to calmly and
fairly facilitate a solution. The first step in doing so is to observe and assess
the situation. Our initial concerns are, “Where is this going?” and, “Is anyone
in real danger?” If there is little likelihood that someone is going to become physically
injured, try to move in a little closer and get down on the children’s level, to
make yourself available to them and let them know that an adult is aware of what
is going on. If tensions seem to be escalating, move in even closer, positioning
yourself between or among the involved children. Consider making a statement such
as, “It looks like you are feeling ________ about ________.” Ask the children
if they want your help in resolving their conflict. If so, ask each child to explain
their perception of the situation and how they are feeling about it.
After each child has had a turn to speak, pose a question about how they might reach
a resolution to their problem. If their suggestions seemed unreasonable or inappropriate,
i.e., “I want to throw her in the garbage,” suggest potential solutions. Help the
children to negotiate a reasonable solution to meet the needs of all involved by
asking them questions, then relating to them your understanding of what they have
said. Remain objective and do not take sides. Use non-judgmental, non-persuasive
language, allowing them to work out the solution by themselves as much as possible.
Next, put into words the agreed upon solution so that all involved children are
clear about what is going to happen next. If necessary, provide the monitoring and
follow-through to bring their solution to fruition, i.e. letting a child know when
their turn is up, etc.
We have found that by acting as mediators, conflicts between most children
occur less often over the course of time. Ideally, as children learn the skills
needed to solve problems on their own, they feel secure in knowing that they can
negotiate with others and find solutions to problems without the help of adults.
In time, the classroom community becomes a more peaceful and joyful place where
feelings are acknowledged, opinions are respected, and occasional conflicts provide
opportunities to become more flexible.
Guides to Speech and Action
The following is a child guidance course in a “nutshell”. Please follow these guidelines
when Parent Teaching in the classroom.
- Positive directions: Tell the child what he/she can
do. Avoid “would you like to?,” “Okay?,” or “don’t!” This helps us see children
positively and gives them a model for their own social interactions.
- Give appropriate choices: Give choices suitable to age and
maturity. Give choice only when you can accept the response. Be clear on your goals
and expectations for the child.
- Voice tone as teaching tool: Quiet, firm, slow, clear. Move
closer rather than talk louder. Be emotionally honest in tone. This is a model for
- Support self-respect and confidence: Avoid labels and ridicule.
Verbalize child’s feelings. Give constructive encouragement and feedback.
- Self-set standards: Avoid comparison and competition. Emphasize
process, not product. Use self-correcting materials and activities.
- Redirect behavior: Provide an alternative that is acceptable
and still meets child’s needs.