First Circle has open enrollment year-round. Interested families receive information by phone or email. We collect basic information and schedule a tour of the program with the director. Tours include:
- a conversation in the office, providing a history and overview of the program and collecting information about the child and family
- a visit to the classroom where the child would be enrolled
- detailed descriptions of educational programs, activities, and daily routines
- a walk through the rest of the program.
The director will let you know to expect a tour and bring the family and child into the classroom and introduce them to the classroom teachers. The director may also introduce other classroom staff and encourage you to interact, based on the needs and interest of the family.
When possible, we schedule tours in the morning, and at times least disruptive to the classroom and children’s daily schedule. She’ll use her judgment whether and when to introduce classroom staff. You may or may not be introduced or have an opportunity to interact.
We don’t expect that teachers will stop in the middle of an activity or interaction with classroom children, but want you to smile, introduce yourself, and say hello! Please remember that you have someone visiting who is making their decision about our program based on what they see and hear. We ask you to be aware of your audience and represent our program well.
If a family is interested in our program, we provide them with an enrollment packet and a copy of the Parent Handbook. Sometimes families schedule a follow-up visit if there is another family member who wants to visit the program, or if the parent wants to spend more time in the classroom observing.
Enrollment visits entail the parent and child visiting the classroom together and last an hour at most. You will be advised of the visit in advance, and if time permits, the visit will be noted on the schedule.
Families who wish to enroll must submit the enrollment forms, pay the appropriate fees, and commit to a start date. We ask families to complete the child’s file at least a week prior to the first day to give classroom staff time to become familiar with the child’s history.
First Circle has a waitlist for families whose enrollment cannot be accommodated. When space becomes available in a classroom, we turn to the waitlist to fill it.
When infants and toddlers enroll at First Circle, we place them in a classroom based on their age and developmental readiness. We discuss the child’s emotional, cognitive, and physical development with the family, consider family preferences, and observe the child when they visit the first time. We gather as much information as possible to determine any additional needs or concerns that would influence classroom placement. Preschool children are enrolled in a classroom usually according to their date of birth.
By EEC regulations, children may be assigned outside their age group with a review of the child’s most recent progress report or a narrative from the child’s parent addressing their abilities in mobility, fine and gross motor control, communication, social interactions, and cognition. Such decisions consider the needs of the child and the needs of the classroom on a case-by-case basis.
New child visits
Depending on a child’s temperament and transition style, we usually recommend they have between 1 and 3 transition visits and spend partial day(s) in the classroom prior to the official start date. It helps them get used to the dropoff procedure. For instance, if a child seems anxious at dropoff, we may recommend that parents bring them in 2 hours per day for 3 days in a row before their official enrollment date to establish a consistent dropoff routine. We recommend families start care at least a week before they really need it, so there is some flexibility during this important time.
Because enrolling a child in a new program can be overwhelming, we ask you to be especially communicative with families who are new to First Circle. Those early communications set the tone and quality of the relationship with the family. The director will facilitate the transition of a new child into the classroom as based on the needs of the family and child. If appropriate, you can assign the new child a “buddy” to help them acclimate.
All educators in the classroom should prepare for a new child. Before the child’s first day, educators must:
- read the All About Me form
- label the child’s cubby, mat/crib, and other personal area(s)
- talk with the other children in the classroom about their new classmate
The more welcoming you are to the new child, the easier the transition will be for the child, the family, the classroom, and you.
Consider the child’s previous childcare experience. If the child has been at home with the parent or caregiver, the transition time might be longer or more challenging. If the child has been at another program, the parents may need to adjust to a different set of policies and ways of doing things.
On the child’s first day, take a picture of the child engaged in an activity and send it to the parents in Engage to show how well they are settling in.
The more time you invest in the relationship with the new family at the beginning, the easier the relationship will be. Make sure you spend quality one-on-one time with the child and observe regularly to see how they are adjusting to their new environment and classmates. These observations will help you provide specific stories and anecdotes to the family at pickup. You can also provide or suggest a phone check-in during the day to ease anxiety. Touch base with the family to ask how the transition is going to gain further insight and to show your support. Encourage them to talk to other parents in the classroom. Ensure every new child and family feels welcome.
During a child’s first few months at First Circle, Admin is in frequent contact with the family to discuss whether their child is transitioning smoothly and whether we are meeting their expectations. We encourage families to express their opinions candidly to help us assess the strengths and weaknesses of our program. We will share all pertinent information with individual staff or team(s), as appropriate.
The foundation of a successful learning experience for young children is approaching the relationship between our program, educators, and families as a partnership. We strengthen this partnership when we work with parents to develop trust. Key components of our partnership are:
It’s important to us that our program policies, practices, and communication respect and include all families.
We’re proud of First Circle’s cultural diversity and encourage the inclusion of our families’ cultural backgrounds in every way possible. We welcome parent participation to support cultural, social, and individual diversity. Parent participation helps develop awareness, acceptance, and appreciation of differences such as gender, language, ethnicity, family composition, and differing abilities. Please encourage parents to contribute and share their culture by reading a book, sharing personal stories (especially about life as a child in different cultures), music, costumes, dance, specific traditions, food, and holiday celebrations, etc.
We pride ourselves on responding quickly to any communication.
We invite parent participation in program activities, field trips, classroom visitors, and volunteers, etc. To enhance the home/school connection, First Circle plans social events throughout the year. These events offer families a time to get to know each other and our staff in a relaxed environment.
We ask staff to attend as many of the social events as possible because they help build a positive, enjoyable community among parents, children, staff, and administration. We compensate you for this time. Some social events are mandatory. We also ask educators to plan and hold family social events regularly in each classroom (such as breakfasts, pajama day, week of young child activities, etc.).
A critical function of our partnership is support for children and families experiencing challenges. One of your main goals is to help children reach their fullest potential. Partnership means not judging parents’ approach, even when you have a different perspective of how a family “should” care for their child. Parents are experts on their own children. We value their role as the primary teacher of their child. In addition, First Circle has developed relationships with resources, schools, agencies, and institutions that support families.
Childcare experiences are extremely important to the children and their families. We appreciate that and work to reduce the stress and anxiety involved when they leave their little one in our care. We maintain an open-door policy and encourage families to visit (announced or unannounced), observe, and offer suggestions and ideas for the program.
By EEC regulations, all information contained in a child’s personal file is confidential. You have the right to access the records of the children in your classroom but you cannot share the information contained in a child’s file with anyone without the written consent of the parent or guardian.
family information management
For complete and detailed information about children’s schedules and tuition, please refer to First Circle’s Program Information + Tuition, updated annually. Any parent interested in more specific information should be referred to Administration.
Here’s more detail on schedule and tuition information you may be asked about or that directly affects you.
Tuition rates are determined by the number of hours each day and the number of days each week a child is scheduled to attend First Circle. Parents are responsible for payment of this schedule whether or not their child attends.
First Circle offers 2 different schedule options: full days (8:00-5:00), or 3/4 days (8:00-3:00 or 9:00-4:00). Individual children’s schedules are determined at the time of enrollment.
When a family requests a schedule change, we ask them to submit a schedule change form at least 2 weeks in advance [forms are available here]. Schedule changes are approved based on availability. If there are concerns the change may negatively impact the child or classroom, we may discuss the request with classroom staff. All schedule changes must be approved by Administration. No schedule change is confirmed without notifying the classroom in advance.
If a child’s schedule is being decreased, even temporarily, we advise parents that unless they have specified an end date that we have approved, we can’t guarantee we’ll have space available to return to their original schedule. Temporary schedule changes must be for a minimum of 1 month (or 4 weeks).
For some sites, we offer early dropoff between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. for an additional charge. Parents must confirm early dropoff in advance so Administration can ensure proper staffing. Please refer inquiring parents to the office.
We offer drop-in care exclusively for children currently enrolled in the program. Parents must submit a Drop-in Request Form [available in the lobby] in advance. We try to accommodate all requests for drop-in care. However, we will only confirm requests when space is available and we have no staffing constraints. Once we have approved a drop-in request, we will let you know so that you can plan accordingly.
We hope children depart only for kindergarten. But families may withdraw due to a move, changes in their job or financial situation, or because their child would benefit from a different program. Regardless of the reason for departure, let the departing child know they were a valuable part of our program and that they will be missed.
When a family withdraws, the classroom receives a copy of the departure paperwork, including date of departure and any other appropriate information. If a parent communicates to you that they are leaving, please ask them to tell the office as well.
When a child departs the program, classroom educators should:
- Prepare the child in a manner appropriate to the child’s age.
- Discuss the transition in simple terms with the entire class (if appropriate). Be sure the parents have told the child the news first!
- Prepare a farewell package including the departing child’s journal or portfolio, their artwork, and any class mementos.
- Plan the transition and confirm plans for the child’s last day.
- Collect the child’s belongings.
File any paperwork with the office after departure.
suspension or termination
First Circle is committed to the health, happiness, and well-being of every child. We do not want to bar a child from continuing at our school and will explore every option to avoid it. There are a few circumstances, however, where we may suspend a child’s enrollment:
- failure to provide health information as required by EEC
- failure to provide updated voucher information for children who attend on a voucher
- tuition payment more than 1 month behind
Under rare circumstances, and after exhausting all other options, it may be necessary for First Circle to terminate a child’s enrollment, including:
- Parent refuses to accept First Circle policies.
- Unresolved differences in childcare philosophies interfere with First Circle’s standard of care.
- A child’s physical or emotional challenges require an excessive amount of individualized attention, or impairment that can’t be reasonably accommodated at First Circle.
- Parent refuses to seek help from appropriate agencies or professional resources.
- A child repeatedly endangers themself or other children and interventions have failed.
- Parents are consistently late or more than 1 month behind in tuition payment.
- Parents’ continued failure to provide health information as mandated by EEC.
- Parent behaves in a consistently inappropriate, disrespectful, or abusive manner.
First Circle reserves the right to suspend or disenroll a child under any of the above circumstances or if we believe alternate care is more suited to the child/family. Should this happen, the director will schedule a meeting with parent(s) and provide them with a 2-week written notice of termination. The director will help the parent(s) locate other childcare options and adjust the tuition. The classroom should follow all departure procedures listed above.
However long a family is with us at First Circle, we thank them for trusting us to help their child grow. We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be part of their family and to care for their precious child. Encourage them to stay in touch with us, provide a forwarding address (if applicable), and come back to visit anytime!