frequently asked questions
Yes, we are licensed by the State of Massachusetts and monitored closely by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care. First Circle carefully follows and exceeds all state regulations and recommendations. We are reviewed and relicensed every other year.
First Circle acquired an existing childcare program in 1997 and has been serving satisfied families ever since! In 2019, we acquired The Kiddie Lodge in Framingham, a program with 60 years of excellence behind it.
We are open Monday through Friday from 7:00am-6:00pm. Click here for directions.
We cater to working parents so First Circle is only closed a few days a year. A full list of the days we are closed can be found here.
We are licensed for children aged 6 weeks to 6 years old (through pre-kindergarten). Many children start at First Circle as infants and stay with us until they go off to kindergarten!
6 weeks-15 months old
2.9 years – 5
Our classrooms are divided by age and children’s development. We partner with your family to make the right classroom placement for your child, based on both their developmental readiness and age.
ALL OF OUR TEACHERS:
- Are licensed teachers who meet strictly enforced state standards
- Have degrees in Early Childhood Education or a related field and/or extensive training in implementing developmentally appropriate curriculum
- Have undergone a rigorous reference check, health examination, criminal background check and an extensively interview process
- Are provided with on-going development and training about best practices and new research in the field.
Continuity of care is the cornerstone of a quality program. At First Circle, we pride ourselves on our commitment to our staff, and are rewarded with a very low turnover rate. In a field where 25-40% annual turnover is the norm, we are very proud that we retain around 90% of our staff annually.
curriculum • daily program
Both! We call ourselves an early learning center and provide child care and education for all our children.
We believe that children learn best through play and that childhood should not be rushed. Children need the time and space to develop in their own unique way at their own pace. Because research tells us that children learn best through play, and play contributes to and enhances all areas of development in young children, play-centered learning is the basis of our curriculum.
We know each child is different, and you know your child best. We can help you make the best decision for your family, and will do everything we can to ease the transition for you and your child. Often, transition is more difficult for adults than for children, who are excited and engaged in new social and learning experiences. The most important part of “readiness” is open communication, so we work hard to keep you informed specifically about how your child is managing their transition, and if they are ready for our program.
We love babies! Babies in our care are never alone, and each baby has a primary teacher who focuses on their individual development and care. We only place a baby in a crib when they are ready for a nap, and we help to soothe them to sleep. As soon as they wake, we care for their needs and welcome them back into the daily scheduled activities. Swings, exersaucers, bouncy seats, etc. are used only for a purpose, such as bouncing up and down in an exersaucer to strengthen legs in preparation for learning to stand. Most importantly, babies are always attended to and cared for.
We have expansive playgrounds geared to the age of the children. Every day, weather permitting, children run and jump and play and swing and ride and kick balls and climb up and slide down. Babies go for walks in strollers with friends, and the youngest babies have a special fenced-in area on the playground where they can be with a teacher and practice sitting, standing, and pulling themselves up safely.
We never force a child to sleep. State regulations require us to provide rest time appropriate to the child’s age. Each child has a comfortable mat and sleeping gear. After lunch they spend time on their mat either to sleep or to engage in quiet activities.
For infants, the day is comprised of individualized care of daily needs (diapers, feeding, napping) combined with activities and engagement with teachers and friends. For our toddler and preschool programs, the typical day includes free play, educational activities, outdoor time, circle time, and of daily needs.
We take great care to communicate with parents on a daily basis at drop off and pick up times. For communication during the day with parents, we use Tadpoles, an electronic app. From Tadpoles, teachers can send photos and videos to allow you to see a glimpse into your child’s day! Teachers also create a daily report for each child. This daily report keeps you informed of the daily activities, learning experiences, and care events for your child each day. All photos, videos, and daily reports are emailed to you directly and you can also access them via the free Tadpoles Parent app. All information captured within Tadpoles is considered a private communication between our school and our families. No personal information is shared with any external parties, and as a parent, you will only receive information specifically about your child. The confidentiality of all information is maintained through the security features of the Tadpoles software.
Depending on the child’s age, two to four times a year, progress reports are sent home to inform parents about the ways in which a child is developing compared to established developmental milestones. In addition, every child has a Journal (infants and toddlers), or a Portfolio (preschoolers) with more information, examples of creative work, observations, anecdotes, etc. Parents are welcome to schedule a teacher meeting whenever they wish to speak about their child, or any issue in their child’s classroom.
what to bring
Parents should send their child with meals and beverages for the day. In the preschool classes, we provide healthy morning and afternoon snacks.
In general, parents need to bring their child’s meals, diapers and wipes, extra clothes and any supplies for rest time. A specific list by program can be found here.
In order for a child to attend First Circle, he/she must be well enough to eat and be able to go outdoors. If your child exhibits symptoms of illness (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, frequent cough, heavily running nose, unknown rash, conjunctivitis, etc.) during the 24-hour period prior to scheduled attendance at First Circle, they should be kept home until the symptoms have disappeared or a note is obtained from your physician stating he/she does not have a contagious condition. Children must be kept home until 24 hours after the last fever, vomiting and diarrhea episode.
No, absolutely not! We assist children and families in the toilet training process. A summary of our toilet and diapering policy can be found here.
Child guidance is an important part of the learning process at First Circle. Our child guidance policy provides children with learning experiences that help them develop positive self-esteem, socially acceptable ways of expressing their needs and feelings, and enough problem-solving skills to help them in school and in life. Our child guidance policy and practices are informed by our expertise and experience in child growth and development for children at all stages and ages, as well as research of current and established philosophy and methodology, best practices in the field, regulations and recommendations of state and federal agencies, and information and materials from leading educational organizations and programs. A summary of our Child Guidance policy can be found here.
We don’t have TVs or computers in the classrooms. Occasionally teachers use iPads with preschool children to supplement the curriculum with real world learning.
tuition + schedules
We pride ourselves on our flexibility and our support of all types of families. We offer a variety of full and part-time programs, and work with you to customize a schedule and tuition rate to match your needs.
Tuition varies according to the age of the child being enrolled, since the younger the child, the more teachers we have in each classroom. Contact us for a tour to find out current tuition fees. We accept checks, as well as EFT bank and credit card payments. Payments may be made weekly (by EFT) or monthly (EFT or check).
First Circle offers a number of generous discounts from sibling, single parent, and voucher discounts. Contact us for a tour to find out current enrollment discounts.
We offer drop-in care for enrolled families on a space-available basis.
Depending on space available, some classrooms may have a waiting list at a given time. We do everything possible to enroll all families. Contact us to set up a tour.
Tuition rates are determined and confirmed in advance, and you are responsible for payment whether your child attends or not.
health, safety + security
The health and safety of your child is a top priority. First Circle has a secured front door that stays locked at all times. Parents and authorized pick ups use our keypad for entry. No child is released to a non-authorized pick-up without written permission from a parent. All authorized pick-ups who are not known to First Circle staff must present an ID the first time they pick up. A summary of our health, safety and security measures can be found here.
First Circle has strict policies for administering medication to ensure each child is protected. All of our teachers are trained in medication administration and allergy management. We require a doctor’s authorization for any medication — prescription or over-the-counter — given to a child. Medications are stored securely out of the reach of children. We follow the Five Rights Practice for administering medication to children, and keep a detailed log of medication provided.
Our staff is trained regularly in emergency preparation, including fires, large-scale weather emergencies, and lockdown situations [see Severe Weather/Emergency Closing policy]. We have an emergency evacuation plan and review it frequently. We have both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and practice monthly evacuation drills.
Yes, we have school-wide social events in the spring and fall. We also have classroom parties and events throughout the year for parents and families (and staff!). We communicate daily with our families, and welcome their involvement and participation for a variety of activities and events.
First Circle is open 52 weeks per year, with the exception of holidays.
The majority of our families need our services to be able to work at their jobs, so we are dedicated to being open every day possible.
- In the case of severe weather, there are two primary factors we consider when deciding on a closure: the safety of the children and the safety of our staff. When we make the decision of whether to open, close, or delay opening, we balance holding off on making the decision as long as possible to ensure we are working with the most accurate information, as well as trying to give parents as much time as possible to find alternate arrangements for a closure or delay.
- In the event that we decide to close early, open late, or close for the entire day, we will update our website and our Facebook page to reflect that. We also notify parents via email, a phone call.
diapering + toileting
Diapering refers to the regular and frequent diaper changing that is part of the everyday routine at First Circle. To keep children comfortable and make sanitation a priority, we strictly follow the requirements and guidelines for safety and sanitation from the Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Public Health. Specifically:
- diapers are changed every two hours or immediately when a child has had a bowel movement
- teachers record the time and details of each diapering in our electronic daily report
- each classroom has its own diaper changing table, which is sanitized after each use
- children’s and teachers’ hands are washed
Learning to use the toilet is an important developmental milestone for children between the ages of 2 and 5. We partner with families during this important process to make it as easy and smooth a transition as possible for all.
Our Toilet Learning Policy and methods are based on the most current research and established best practices in Early Childhood Education. At First Circle, we have the expertise, routine, and the appropriate environment to assist each child in learning to use the toilet successfully. We recognize when a child is developmentally ready to begin learning to use the toilet and we’re able to assist parents with a wealth of experience and knowledge in helping children master this milestone.
health, safety + security
Every day, we keep children healthy and safe by managing illness, by ensuring all our staff are screened and well-trained for emergency situations, and by being vigilant about safety and sanitation.
prevention + wellness
- We teach children the basics of hygiene with frequent hand-washing throughout the day
- From spring to fall, we ensure sunscreen is applied to each child before going outside
- Our curriculum has learning objectives in health, nutrition, and safety so children can learn about making healthy choices and keeping themselves safe
- We practice food safety in the storing, serving, and disposal of food
- We maintain a nut-free facility
- All staff are trained in and implement Safe Sleep Practices for infants
- Children brush their teeth after lunch
- First Circle is cleaned daily by a professional cleaning company with non-toxic cleaning products
- All surfaces and toys are sanitized regularly throughout the day and as needed
- Cleaning supplies are locked safely out of reach of children
- Gloves, handwashing, and sanitizer are the tools of the trade of our Toileting and Diapering Policy
- Classrooms and play spaces are designed to keep children safe and in sight, indoors and out
- Children are carefully supervised in all areas of the program throughout the day
- We follow strict safety guidelines and maintenance checklists
- Our playgrounds are equipped with high-quality and safe playground equipment designed for children 0-5
- All playground equipment is surrounded by playground safety surfacing
- All playgrounds are surrounded by secure fencing
- For field trips, we only use licensed and bonded bus transportation companies and drivers, and buses with seat belts
- Our open classrooms ensure visibility and security
- The building is secured with a biometric keypad so that only authorized staff and families may enter
- Photo ID is required from all unfamiliar visitors
- Only those who have been pre-approved may pick-up your child
- We conduct regular criminal background checks to ensure our staff are completely trustworthy
- Each classroom has a direct telephone and voicemail
illness + injury
- All staff are trained annually in first aid and CPR
- Children are carefully supervised in all areas of the program throughout the day
- First aid kits and emergency supplies are readily available in all areas used by children
- We have clear guidelines about when a child must stay home due to illness
- To prevent illness from spreading, children are monitored for symptoms during the day and parents are notified when appropriate.
- Medications are stored securely out of the reach of children
- A doctor’s permission is required for any medication — prescription or over-the-counter — given to a child
- Strict policies and training for administering medication and allergy management ensure each child is protected
- We’re vigilant about ensuring that emergency contact information is on hand for each child
- Staff and children practice monthly evacuation drills
- We ensure regular inspection of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- We review our emergency evacuation plan frequently
- Staff are trained annually in emergency preparation, including fires, large-scale weather emergencies, and lockdown situations [see Severe Weather/Emergency Closing policy]
Child guidance is the practice of teaching children how to treat others, themselves, and their property with respect and care. Our staff are experts in guiding behavior at different ages, and supporting children in positive and developmentally appropriate ways. The child’s developmental abilities, temperament, and needs are always our primary focus.
We take an individualized approach in guidance, understanding that strategies that work well for one child may not be effective for another. In conjunction with our MyCharacter program, the goal of our child guidance philosophy is to teach children how to develop positive self-esteem and socially acceptable ways of expressing their needs and feelings. We concentrate on prevention and skill-building rather than discipline, practicing self-management, developing decision-making skills, and taking responsibility for their own actions.
We value each child as a unique individual who grows, develops and responds to life in their own way. We work in partnership with you to guide your child’s development. We respect the individual and the values, beliefs, practices, and cultural contexts that shape the life of your family. Our Child Guidance Policy and practices are informed by our expertise and experience in child growth and development at all stages and ages, best practices in the field, regulations and recommendations by state and federal agencies, and materials from leading educational organizations and programs. Positive child guidance is an important part of preparing children for success in school and in life, and we take great pride in our successful techniques:
- We keep rules simple and easy to understand.
- We talk with children, not at them.
- We model appropriate behavior and encourage children to set good examples for each other.
- We use play activities to teach social skills.
- We teach children how to resolve conflict.
- We teach them to apologize.
- We provide clear, reasonable expectations and make sure children follow through, so they learn to be responsible for themselves and to understand the consequences of their actions.