Handbook

Policies are subject to change

General Policies

Signing In and Out

An adult must sign a child in and out, with a full signature and time, every day. This is a licensing requirement, and we will be cited if you forget to do this.

Also, and most important, in the event of an emergency our sign-in book is our only record of who is at school.

Please take this responsibility seriously, and make sure that anyone who is going to drop off or pick up your child knows to do this.


Contact the School


You will be provided with a phone number for your child's classroom, for urgent communications. We prefer that you text that phone unless there is an emergency, to minimize disruptions in the classroom. We will check for text messages and voice messages regularly throughout the day. Please do not use staff’s personal numbers for school related business if you have those numbers. You may also email:

Holly Link, Site Director, Creekside campus: holly.link@treehousehollow.org

Jamie Pitts, Site Director, Redwood campus: jamie.pitts@treehousehollow.org

Becca Shryock, Adventure Day Lead: becca.shryock@treehousehollow.org

Megan Wilson, Executive Director: megan.wilson@treehousehollow.org

Behavior & Guidance

We use a positive approach to guiding and correcting children’s behavior. Our rules are minimal and intended to keep our school a physically and emotionally safe place for all. We work at creating an environment that makes it easy to say “yes” to most things the children want to do or try.

Also important is our understanding of children’s stages of development, resulting in reasonable expectations. Young children are often impulsive and still quite self-centered. The process of guiding them to develop healthy relationships and positive social interactions is a large part of the work we do.

We view Conflict Resolution as a part of our curriculum, and help children learn skills that will help them throughout their lives: kind words, gentle hands, respectful listening, to name a few. First and foremost, we model for the children the behavior we wish to see. We take a positive, solution-oriented, approach to solving problems that arise. We give children the words to use, and different strategies to try.

This takes time and patience, and is one of the most important things children are learning in their early years. If we have an ongoing challenge with a child the responsible adult will be called in for a conference and a plan will be developed.

A child will be asked to leave the Program only after attempts to help have not been successful, and we deem it necessary to preserve the health of our program and school community.

Birthdays & Celebrations

Birthdays are celebrated with a special crown, a candle, and our song, The Earth Goes Around the Sun. If you would like to provide a special snack we are happy to serve it. But please – no sugary foods, or frosting. We say, “if it looks like a cookie or cake – please save it for home”. Healthy muffins, sweetened with fruit, make a great treat!

We like to honor family and cultural traditions. We ask families to share their traditions with us. In years past these have included:

  • Dia de los Muertos
  • Harvest Feast at Thanksgiving time
  • Hanukkah
  • Winter Solstice
  • Christmas
  • Chinese New Year
  • Spring Equinox
  • Easter - with grass baskets and natural egg dyeing
  • Passover
  • Children’s Day
  • Parent’s Day

Above all, we want our school to be free of commercial influence, and discourage store-bought items.

Clothing & Outside Play

We play outside, year-round, in all kinds of weather.

Children should come to school dressed appropriately and ready to play. A child who is not well enough to play outside on a cold or wet day should stay at home. We will follow your preference regarding sweaters, jackets and shoes, but we encourage you to consider the benefits of bare feet! Our classroom will be a shoe-free space. The children’s shoes will be accessible on the deck but we prefer they have the option to be barefoot (weather permitting) if they like. Let us know if you have strong feelings about this, either way.

Clothing is likely to get dirty and possibly stained. This is because our focus is on unencumbered play over the protection of nice clothes. If this worries you, make sure your child is not dressed in something that you, or they, will be upset about if stained.

Every child must have 2 or more sets of extra clothes to keep at school. When they get used and go home, remember to bring a new supply. We have a couple sets of spare clothes to lend in an emergency. Please return them the next school day.

Please bring a backpack for your child's belongings that will go home with you each day. If you label your child’s things, we will help you keep track of them!

Items from Home

It can be helpful for young children to bring an item from home to help them transition into their day. Please understand that things can easily get lost or broken when brought to school, and toys from home can contribute to possessiveness and conflict.

Depending on the item a child chooses, it can contribute to the sort of commercial influence we try so hard to prevent at preschool. It is too difficult to explain why one child’s toy might be acceptable and another’s is not. Therefore, if it makes the transition smoother to bring something to school, please help your child put their item into the ‘Things from Home Basket" when they arrive. It can become part of their routine.

Ideally, they will be able to transition without a toy or object. We always have a shelf in the classroom where pictures, books or things from nature can be shared. This may be hard for some children at first but with consistency it gets easier!

Labeling Things

It is immensely helpful to us when all of your child’s things have an easy-to-spot name right on them. This includes:

  • Packs and bags
  • Lunches
  • Clothing
  • Diapers (on the fold works well)
  • Shoes (believe it or not!)

We immensely appreciate your efforts to make our days a little smoother and easier in this regard.

Media

We believe that children should have very limited exposure to screen images: television, videos, computers, phones, etc.

We strongly suggest that you get rid of all your screens... just kidding! At the very least however, please use discretion when allowing your child access to electronic media. We ask that you put your phones away while in your child's school space.

Napping at School

Children who stay for aftercare have a quiet nap / rest time from about 1:15 – 3:15, sometimes until about 4 at our Redwood Campus. Most of our children sleep until 3:00 or so. The room is darkened and peaceful music is played. Even if your child does not sleep, he or she is expected to lie down and rest quietly. You may be called to pick your child up if he or she is not able to rest quietly and prevents other children from resting. Due to licensing regulations, we cannot physically wake children, so we use a gentle transition of quietly turning off nap music and opening blinds when nap time is over, but do not physically touch/talk to them with the purpose of waking them.

If your child is enrolled for aftercare, we ask that you make every effort to drop him or her off by 9:30 a.m. at the latest, so participation in the full program may take place before rest time. If children sleep in late, or arrive late, it is much more likely that they will have a difficult time resting or sleeping in the afternoon.

A teacher is available for back rubs and foot massages. We provide all bedding, and ask that parents launder regularly and return.

Environmental Policy

Tree House Hollow is proud to have achieved Sonoma County Green Business Certification. We use only environmentally safe products, buy local organic food as often as possible, and compost our leftovers.

We have made a commitment to educating our families in ways to practice environmental consciousness. We ask that lunches contain reusable containers, and that wasteful packaging be avoided.

We consciously strive to reduce waste, reuse or repurpose wherever we can, and, as a last option, recycle all else. We do not use paper products at our school events, and ask that every family provide their own dishes and utensils at potlucks. It reduces waste and clean-up time. We always provide a wash station for clean-up.

Schedule Changes

We require 30 days' notice for all schedule changes and requests (including withdrawal from the program), so that we may fill the space with another student. Please see the Tuition tab or your admission agreement for additional policies regarding fees and payment.

Diapers & Potty Training

Sometimes children will enter our Younger Program fully potty trained. But we expect that many, or most, will not be at that stage yet. We are happy to work with you to develop an appropriate approach when the time is right. We want to support you and are happy to share some suggestions.

The age range for potty training is wide, so please be assured we are in no rush and want to honor each child’s individual readiness—as well as your family’s preference. We do ask that you keep at least a week’s worth of diapers at school, labeled with your child's name, and plenty of undies when they are training.

Food

Snack & Lunch

We provide a snack for the children every day. Often they are involved in preparing it and we use lots of fresh ingredients—possibly from our own garden!

Children are encouraged to at least try a bite. We call this a ‘no thank you’ bite. They almost always will at least give it a try. We have converted a good many children to tasty quinoa dishes, kale smoothies, and fresh pesto pasta.

Children may always get something from their lunch to eat if they do not care to eat our snack. We serve organic food mostly purchased locally. Children bring their lunch from home. Please follow our guidelines:

  • Healthy
  • Balanced
  • No sweets: No candy, or anything that resembles a candy bar, such as chocolate "protein bars." No cookies.
  • Minimal or no packaging
  • Re-usable containers, please. Do not provide applesauce or yogurt in single use plastic squeeze tubes or foil pouches with the plastic cap as they can not be re-used or recycled.
  • See the following resources for re-usable containers and healthy lunch ideas for children:

A simple search on the internet will help you find bento boxes. Here are some popular ones:

Reusable squeeze pouches work great for yogurt or apple sauce! Here is an example of one:

Healthy lunch ideas for children:

  • A protein (or two!)- beans/hummus, cheese, yoghurt, nuts/nut butters, quinoa, meat
  • A fruit- finger fruits work well: grapes, tangerines, berries, cut apples, melon cubes
  • A veggie- carrot/celery/bell pepper/jicama sticks
  • A carb- crackers, pasta, bread for sandwich
  • *Try having your child help pack their lunch the night before!

Water Bottles

A well-labeled, full water bottle, should come with children each day. Please try to bring a child sized water bottle as grown up ones are often heavy and cumbersome. You may take home your water bottle each day or leave it for the week but please be responsible for cleaning it and making sure it is full each morning.

Allergies

Each year we prepare and post a list of all food allergies. You will find it on our kitchen cabinet. Please check this list to make sure it includes accurate information for your child.

If a child’s allergy is severe—as in life threatening and requiring the use of an Epi-pen—we may request that all of our families refrain from sending that particular food in their child’s lunch.

Drop-Off & Pick-Up

Always latch gate securely when entering and leaving.

Redwood

Parking

You must enter on Starlight Lane and exit on Watertrough Road. Entry and Exit gates will be open from 7:45 a.m. until the last child is picked up in the afternoon. Parking is along either side of the driveway with a middle lane kept open at all times. Please pull to the forward-most space available. Always use caution when in our parking area. Please do not park on Starlight Lane.

Morning Routine

  • Sign your child in. Remember, a full signature and time is required.
  • Please read the blackboard messages right outside the door before coming in.
  • Put lunches on the lunch shelf (outside by front door).
  • Remove shoes (and leave outside), hang up backpack, coat, & replenish spare clothes.
  • Have your child use the bathroom (if needed). Wash hands even if potty is not used.
  • Make a plan for how long you will stay, and stick to it! The staff is always on hand to help with goodbyes.

Afternoon Routine

  • Sign your child out. Remember, a full signature and time is required
  • If you didn’t drop-off in the morning, then take the time to check the blackboard by the front door for information.
  • Gather lunch, clothing bag/backpack, jackets & check cubby for take home items.
  • Help your child find their shoes, which should be on the deck.
  • Please plan to leave by 1:10, at the latest, as we need to settle our children who are staying for afternoon rest time.
    • Sometimes it is tempting to stay and play, but it makes it difficult for us to prepare children for napping.
    • A quick exit is appreciated.

Always latch gate securely when entering and leaving.

Creekside

Parking

Please park in the upper lot at Apple Blossom's campus. Follow the upper driveway all the way around to the big playground and park. Walk down the ramp and make a right at the bottom. Follow the path to the back of the campus.

Morning Routine

  • Please enter the classroom through the garden door, located on the deck.
  • Please read any messages right outside the door before coming in.
  • Remove shoes and leave outside.
  • Put lunches and full water bottle on the lunch shelf (shelf to the right as you enter the classroom).
  • Sign your child in. Remember a full signature and time is required.
  • Hang up backpack, coat, & replenish spare clothes.
  • Have your child use the bathroom, if needed. Wash hands even if potty is not used.
  • Make a plan for how long you will stay, and stick to it! The staff is always on hand to help with goodbyes.

Afternoon Routine

  • If we are finishing lunch, quietly come in and gather your things, or join us at the table.
    • If you didn’t drop-off in the morning then take the time to check for any posted notes for information.
  • Sign your child out. Remember a full signature and time is required.
  • Gather lunch, clothing bag/backpack, jackets, & check cubby for take home items.
  • Help your child find their shoes, which should be on the deck.
  • Please plan to leave by 1:10, at the latest, as we need to settle our children who are staying for afternoon rest time.
    • Sometimes it is tempting to stay and play, but it makes it difficult for us to prepare napping children.
    • A quick exit is appreciated.

Always latch gate securely when entering and leaving.

Field Trips & Transportation

While regular field trips and Adventure Day are an important part of our Older Children’s Program, the younger children may have one or two during the year, usually during the Spring session.

Typically, we have parents drop off and pick up at the field trip site. We will ask for parent volunteers to help out. It’s lots of fun and a great way to get your volunteer hours in. We will never transport your child without your prior consent, unless it’s a medical emergency and there is no other option.

Communication

Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are encouraged at least twice a year. Fall and Spring are the usual times, but you may request a conference at any time during the year. It is recommended that both parents attend and children do not, so please plan ahead for childcare. Sometimes parents trade off conferences and care for each other’s kids in our schoolyard.

Chatting & Daily Check-Ins

Having time for parents and teachers to chat is important in keeping ongoing open communication. Daily check-ins are often important. And having time for parents to chat with each other can be a valuable part of building community. But please keep 3 things in mind:

  • Never speak about sensitive matters, or children, in front of children.
  • Please reserve chatting with teachers (unless critical to that day) for after school. And reserve any morning chatting with parents to outside of the area we are settling kids in. (Outside gate, in the parking lot, or meet for tea.)
  • Please respect that teachers' need to get to their morning and afternoon routines, so if you need more than a couple minutes, it’s best to schedule some time together.

Community & Issue Resolution

Open and respectful communication is the only way to address—or respond to—a concern regarding any of our children. Sometimes challenges arise that require parents and teachers to work together toward a solution. Please start with the Director and together we will figure out a course of action that will satisfy and serve all.

Please make an effort to get to know all of the children as if they were family, and refrain from making judgments about children based on your brief experience at drop-off and pick-up times. If you have a concern, talk to us about it instead of chatting with other parents, especially regarding specific children. Discussing a student with other parents is a violation of each child’s privacy and does not promote community.

We have a code of confidentiality we adhere to and will not discuss private information. But often we can offer reassurance that we are aware of a particular dynamic, or that something you observed is not reflective of our typical classroom experience.

We value the sense of community we work hard to create and believe we must work together, all of us, and embrace each child’s unique qualities.

Also, it is natural sometimes for parents to develop a close connection with a particular teacher. Please understand that the teachers work as a team and every teacher has gifts and strengths that make them a valuable part of our team. While we understand how connections and preferences can occur, we ask that you not request your child have a particular teacher.

As with the children, try to recognize and embrace the value that each unique personality adds to our group. This is a clear path to achieving acceptance and appreciation for all.

We make every effort to keep our emails to a minimum, so please do not use our school email list for any reason. Reach out to a Director if you’d like another child’s contact information for play dates.

Health Policy

Immunizations

Our school is licensed by the State of California, and we are required to follow State laws regarding immunizations. Therefore, each child who attends our school must provide an immunization record that complies with State law, or a permanent medical exemption.

If you have a permanent medical exemption for your child, your child will be excluded from attending school should an outbreak occur. Please be aware that your child will not be able to attend school during such a period of time as deemed necessary—typically 3 weeks—following an outbreak of any disease for which they are not immunized. This is for the safety and health of your child and all our students.

If your child is excluded from attending due to being unvaccinated during an outbreak, no refunds will be made and if you decide to withdraw from our Program during an exclusion, our standard 30 days written notice will be required.

Sickness

If your child will not be attending school please call, text, or email to let us know by 9:00 a.m.

Please do not send your child to school if they had any of the following symptoms in the last 24 hours:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • heavy or discolored nasal discharge
  • other contagious illnesses

Colds are okay provided they have good energy. Your child must be able to participate in all of our activities, inside and outside. You will be called to pick up your child if any of these symptoms are observed, or your child appears too ill or tired to have a fun day.

Hand Washing

When you arrive in the morning, part of your morning routine includes taking your child into the bathroom to wash their hands with soap.

All of the children wash hands before preparing or eating snack or lunch, and after using the toilet or wiping their nose. Teachers always wash hands before handling food, or after assisting a child with toileting, wiping noses, etc.

Medication

We will not be responsible for administering prescription medications except for those related to emergency allergic reactions, and accompanied by a physician’s form. We cannot administer any other medication.

Sunscreen

Please apply full body sunscreen before coming to school. If you leave a bottle here make sure it has your name on it, and we will reapply, as long as you have filled out the consent form (a licensing requirement).