Guidepost Parent Handbook

Table of Contents

  • Welcome to Guidepost!
  • WHO TO CONTACT
  • OUR PROGRAMS
    • Nido Community
    • Toddler Community
    • Children's House
    • Elementary
  • Program Features
    • Montessori Work Period
    • Gross Motor Playtime
    • Nap time
      • *Wisconsin Nap Policy
      • *Minnesota Nap Policy
    • Extended Day Program
    • Extracurricular Activities
    • Group Sizes & Student Ratios
      • *Maryland Staff:Child Ratios
      • *Connecticut Staff:Child Ratios
  • BEFORE THE FIRST DAY
    • Enrollment Paperwork and Documents
    • Orientation
  • CALENDAR
  • DROP-OFFS AND PICK-UPS
    • Drop-Off and Pick-Up Safety
    • Signing in and Out
    • Flexible Drop-Off
    • Separation Anxiety at Drop-Off
    • Soothing Upset Children
    • Late Drop-Offs and Early Pick-Ups
    • Late Pick-Ups
    • Approved Pick-Up Person
      • *New Jersey Approved Pick-Up Person
    • Alternate Person Picking Up
    • Emergency Protocol for Late Pick-Up
  • ABSENCES
    • Absence Communication
    • Academic Progress During Absences
  • THINGS TO BRING AND THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME
    • To Bring
      • Clothing and Diapers
      • Nap Supplies
      • Bringing Special Things to School
    • To Be Left at Home
      • Items that Hinder Independence
      • Distracting Items
  • DIAPER CHANGES AND TOILET LEARNING
    • Diaper Changes
    • Toilet Learning
  • INFANT SAFE SLEEP PRACTICES
    • Safe Sleep Environment
  • FOOD
    • Allergy Policy
      • *Illinois Restricted Food Policy
    • *Iowa Nutrition Policy
    • *Minnesota Nutrition Policy
    • Nido Nutrition
      • Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding
      • Independence in Eating
    • Nutrition for Toddler, Children's House, and Elementary
      • Lunch
      • Grace and Courtesy
      • Daily Snack
      • Food Served at Special Events
      • Forgotten Lunches / Late Delivery
  • SPECIAL EVENTS
    • Birthdays
    • Playdates / Parties / Invitations
    • Culture and Religion in the Classroom
    • Campus Events
  • CLASSROOM PETS
  • COMMUNICATION
    • Monitoring Your Child's Progress
    • Parent Observations and Open Door Policy
    • Exceptional Circumstances
    • Change of Contact Information
  • EXCURSIONS
    • Regular Walks or Buggy Rides
    • School Trips
      • *Wisconsin School Trips
  • PARENT VOLUNTEERS
  • DISCIPLINE POLICY
    • Positive Discipline Strategies Used
    • Strategies for Ongoing Discipline Issues
    • Prohibited Discipline Techniques
    • Temporary Removal Policy
    • Expulsion Policy
      • *Washington State Child Restraint Policy
      • *Illinois Behavior Management Support Plan and Transition
  • MONTESSORI MATERIALS AND SCHOOL PROPERTY
  • HEALTH AND SAFETY
    • Student Supervision
    • Visitors on Campus
    • Bumps, Bruises, and Scrapes
    • Hand-Washing to Prevent the Spread of Illness
    • Illnesses—When to Keep Your Child Home
    • Contagious Illnesses
    • Policies Pertaining to State Required Immunizations
      • *Minnesota Health Care Summary Policy
    • Diaper Changes & Bathroom Cleanliness
    • Sanitation and Cleaning Practices
    • Administering Medications at School
    • Applying Topical Ointments at School
    • Allergies
    • Anaphylactic Allergies
    • Allergy Medications and Epinephrine Injectors
    • Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plans
    • Medical and Dental Emergencies
    • Preventing Abuse and Neglect / Filing a Complaint
      • *Iowa Registered Sex Offender Policy
    • School Closure Due to Inclement Weather & Poor Road Conditions
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Tornado Policy
    • Loss of a Child
    • Utility Outages
    • Safety Threats
    • Lockdowns
    • Prohibited Substances
  • FINANCIAL POLICIES
    • All-Inclusive Pricing
    • Enrollment Fee
    • Enrollment Deposit
    • Tuition Payment Options
    • Late Fees
    • Tuition During Absences, Illnesses, and Vacations
    • Rate Sheets and Tuition Increases
    • Sibling Discounts
    • Sibling Rate Sheets
    • Change of Schedule
    • Financial Aid
    • Subsidies
    • Withdrawals
    • Re-Enrollment
  • STAFF QUALIFICATIONS
    • Background Checks
    • Professional Development
      • *Maryland Lead Guide Qualifications
      • *Wisconsin Staff Qualifications
      • *Michigan New Hire Training & Professional Development
  • ADDITIONAL OPERATIONAL POLICIES
    • Non-Discrimination Policy
    • Out-of-School Relationships with Staff Members
    • Advertising
    • Photos, Videos, and Work Samples
    • Technology Use
    • State Required Inspections
    • Licensing / Regulatory Body Visits
      • *Connecticut Licensing Consultative Plan
    • Licensing
    • Complete File Requirements
    • Confidentiality
    • Custody Considerations
    • Pest Control Policy
  • TRANSPORTATION
  • TEXAS-SPECIFIC POLICIES
    • Hearing and Vision Monitoring Policy
    • Gang-Free Zone Policies
    • Accommodations Policy
  • TERMINATION OF SERVICES
  • CONCLUSION

Welcome to Guidepost!

Guidepost Montessori

Our mission is to guide and empower each child as they achieve their own independence.

We are very excited to welcome your child and family to Guidepost Montessori! Our mission is to empower your child’s independence—and to deepen the joy you have in watching your child grow and achieve great things.

Our Parent Handbook is designed to make sure you have answers to common questions at your fingertips. We encourage you to bookmark the link to the Parent Handbook, and carefully review our policies before your child’s first day.

If you have any questions about the handbook, your child’s experience, or any other aspect of the school, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s guide (teacher) or your campus leadership team. We are dedicated to clear, open communication, and are eager to help!

We also encourage you to actively share feedback about your and your child’s experience throughout the year. We take seriously that you are entrusting us with your child,and strive to earn that trust through impeccable care and a commitment to continuous improvement.Thank you for joining Guidepost, we’re so thrilled to have your family as part of our community!


Sincerely,
Your Team at Guidepost Montessori

WHO TO CONTACT

  • Contact your child’s guide (teacher) with questions about your child’s academic or social development, classroom or school events, or to schedule a meeting.
  • Contact your campus leadership team in case of emergency, to report a short-term or extended absence, and for administrative questions regarding tuition or other payments, school events, the extended day program, extracurricular activities, or school policies and procedures.
  • Contact your Head of School or school leader in case of emergency, to share your feedback about any aspect of our school, to request support with issues that cannot be solved through your child’s guide, or to arrange a meeting.

Please note that most of our staff email addresses are formatted as follows: (first initial)(last name)@guidepostmontessori.com e.g., for John Smith, jsmith@guidepostmontessori.com.

However, there may be a few exceptions where staff members may be reached at:

(first and second initials)(last name)@guidepostmontessori.com). e.g., for John Smith, josmith@guidepostmontessori.com.

Why "Guide"?

Montessori teachers are referred to as “guides” to describe their role in the classroom more precisely. In a Montessori environment, children actively engage with intentionally-designed materials that help them build knowledge independently. Guides help with this process by providing individual and small group lessons in using the materials, modeling rich vocabulary and classroom expectations, and helping cultivate a supportive community of mixed-age peers.

OUR PROGRAMS

Nido Community

“Nido” means “nest” in Italian, a word that paints a clear picture of the warm and nurturing Montessori environment specially designed for your baby. In a Nido Community, babies move freely in a calm and beautiful classroom, developing confidence while learning to self-feed, crawl, and walk. The Nido is suitable for infants from 6 weeks to approximately 16 months of age, though age ranges vary by campus and due to regulatory requirements in some jurisdictions. Students in the Nido community follow an individualized schedule tailored by you and your child’s Lead Guide, which includes information on individualized bottle and feeding routines, care for your child's individualized diapering needs, and child-led sleeping schedules and waking patterns. 

Toddler Community

The Montessori Toddler Community is a place where your child can acquire rich vocabulary and communication skills, practice both fine and gross motor movement, and master toilet learning. Your toddler will also learn how to work well alongside other children, express his needs and wants kindly, practice sustaining focus during various activities, and manage those big toddler emotions! Specific age ranges in the Toddler community vary by campus, but the classroom is typically suitable for children ages 16-36 months. In some jurisdictions, regulations require that our Toddler Communities be split by age, for example into Young Toddler (e.g. ages 12-24 months) and Older Toddler (24-36 months). The best age to transition from Nido varies by child; children are ready for the Toddler Community when they are alert and active throughout the morning and can walk steadily while holding learning materials in two hands.

Children's House

The Children’s House (or, as Montessori named it in Italian, “Casa dei Bambini”) is designed for your preschool-through kindergarten-age child to engage in hands-on exploration of practical life, sensorial, math, language, and cultural (science, geography, history) activities in the classroom. Your child will also continue to practice “grace and courtesy” in his relationships with other children. Age ranges vary by campus, but the classroom is typically suitable for children between 3 and 6 years old. Note this age range includes what would typically be a child’s Kindergarten year. In the capstone year of Children’s House,the skills children have been developing come together, resulting in an ‘explosion’ of math and literacy abilities, as well as exploration of advanced topics that children in traditional environments often do not explore until 3rd grade.The best age to transition from the Toddler Community varies by child; children are ready for the Children’s House when they can reliably use the toilet independently and are showing signs of increasing attention span.

Elementary

The Guidepost Elementary program is for children ages 6 to 12, or for 1st through 6th grade, though exact offerings vary by campus. In elementary, children delve deeper into their understanding of the world while building advanced math, language, and abstract thinking skills. Children explore deeply in language and literature, math, science, history, and the fine arts. The Elementary program also continues helping children refine their independence and self-mastery by encouraging them to accept increasing responsibility for their own work, develop strong leadership and collaboration skills, and enhance their ability to prioritize and manage their time. Elementary guides offer individual and small-group lessons tailored to the progress and needs of each child, and children are encouraged to persist until they achieve mastery. The focus on rigor, self-mastery, and achieving ambitious projects empowers our students to be prepared for even greater challenges in the future— at our sister middle and high school programs at the Academy of Thought and Industry or other public and private schools, in college, in career, and in their life as a whole.

*Specific program offerings and age ranges vary by campus. Please consult your tour folder or speak with your campus leadership team for information about your campus' unique program offerings.

Program Features

Montessori Work Period

A core part of the daily schedule at Guidepost is a Montessori Work Period. This is a dedicated time where guides provide 1:1 and small group lessons, children work independently or in small groups, and each child's ability to concentrate is fostered and respected. Children have access to a vast range of intentionally designed materials that are designed to captivate the child's interest and motivate sustained concentration. These materials enable your child to isolate skills and practice them purposefully and empower your child to progress from one milestone to the next with confidence. Starting in Toddler, children gradually progress from a 2-hour morning work period to a 3-hour morning work period in Children's House, to a morning and afternoon work period once they drop their afternoon nap and in Elementary.

Gross Motor Playtime

Gross Motor playtime is an important part of the daily schedule in all our programs, whether it is indoors in a gross motor space or in an outdoor playground setting. This unstructured playtime provides a crucial developmental opportunity to explore, be creative, develop fine and gross motor skills, and practice navigating social relationships. Most days, students engage in gross motor play for a minimum of 30 minutes.

For children in Toddler, Children’s House, and Elementary, gross motor playtime includes activities such as climbing, using play structures and swings, riding trikes, and running. For younger children, activities often include gardening, crawling, rolling and more. Children may also engage in structured games with their guides.

For policies regarding appropriate clothing for indoor and outdoor play, see THINGS TO BRING AND THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME below. We may limit or cancel time spent outdoors in the case of safety hazards or inclement weather events such as severe temperatures, wind chill, air quality, pollen count, lightning, and more. Typically, outdoor time will be eliminated when temperatures reach over 90 or under 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nap Time

Guidepost provides a dedicated quiet space for Nido, Toddler, and younger children in Children's House to rest, nap, or sleep. We understand that each child’s developmental needs are unique, so nap and rest times will be adjusted accordingly. Our rest or nap areas are well-lit to ensure constant visual supervision of all children. If a child doesn’t fall asleep during the designated nap time, we offer the opportunity to engage in quiet activities, such as reading a book or playing with a quiet toy or game.

See INFANT SAFE SLEEP PRACTICES, below, for details on how we ensure the safety of infants and protect against SIDS.

*Wisconsin Nap Policy

In Wisconsin, children under 2-years-old follow an individualized, child-led nap schedule. This individualized schedule is tailored by you and your child's Lead Guide, which includes information on individualized child-led feeding and sleeping patterns.

*Minnesota Nap Policy

Naps are held in a quiet area that is separated from children who are engaged in activities that could disrupt or disturb the child’s nap. All cots and beds are arranged in the classroom so that there are clear aisles and so that adults or children can access each cot easily. Cots are never stacked when in use, but are placed directly on the floor.

Children who have completed a nap or rested quietly for 30 minutes will not be required to remain on their cot or in their crib. When other children are still napping, we will offer the child the opportunity to engage in quiet activities, such as reading a book or playing with a quiet toy or game rather than remaining in bed.

To reach the Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Licensing about concerns, please call: 651-431-6015.

Extended-Day Program

Our all-inclusive pricing includes full access to our morning and afternoon extended-day programs. During these times, we have recreational activities like building with blocks, gardening, working on art projects, reading, and other activities. These are more relaxing times of day, when your child engages in the kinds of things that he or she might do at home, but can benefit from doing them in a social setting.Just as with our regular programming, the extended-day program follows the Montessori approach, allowing the children to pursue their own interests, sustain concentration, and build independence.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities such as dance, soccer, or art—which are often provided in partnership with trusted 3rd-party vendors—may be available for an additional charge depending on the season and campus location.Please consult with your campus leadership team to learn about past and upcoming activities at your campus.

To ensure your child's safety and participation, we request that parents grant permission for their child to engage in on-campus extracurricular activities. This permission will be granted by signing a form, affirming your child's participation and your consent.

A Guidepost staff member will always be present to accompany the children during these enriching activities.

Group Sizes & Student Ratios

To ensure that children are able to connect individually with their guides and receive individualized care and instruction, we consistently meet the state required staff-child ratios, guaranteeing a safe, nurturing environment for all our children.

*Maryland Staff:Child Ratios

*Connecticut Staff:Child Ratios

BEFORE THE FIRST DAY

Enrollment Paperwork and Documents

Before your child’s first day, we ask that you complete all items noted in your welcome email, which is sent about 30 days before your child’s start date. This welcome email contains a link to complete your child’s official Enrollment Paperwork which covers important topics like delegating emergency contacts and authorized pickups, providing information about allergies and other health conditions, and confirming your acceptance of Guidepost policies. Parents are required to sign all policies, including the emergency care and transportation release policy. Guidepost Montessori will not enroll a child without the parent's consent for transportation to a treatment facility in the case of an emergency.

The email also details any state-required documents you must submit before your child’s first day, including providing up-to-date and complete immunization records. Your child will not be permitted to start until the Enrollment Paperwork and all required documents are completed. The welcome email will also provide instructions for accessing our parent Resource Hub and signing up for our parent systems. 

We encourage you to complete all action items from the welcome email at least one week before your child starts. Please be on the lookout for the email and reach out to your campus leadership team if you have not received the email, or have any questions. We are eager to help!

Orientation

We want to help you and your child to feel comfortable and prepared for your first day, so our school leaders will reach out to you to coordinate one or more family meetings before your child’s first day. These will help you get oriented to our programs and operational policies. You and your child will also have a chance to build a sense of familiarity and comfort with your new routine by meeting your guide and touring your child’s classroom.

If your child is starting in our Nido program, your child’s guide will work with you during orientation to create an individualized plan that addresses your child’s unique needs—from diapering and skincare, to nutrition and nap time routines.

CALENDAR

Our Nido, Toddler, and Children’s House programs are open year-round with minimal closure days. This allows us to provide a consistent, enriching community for your child and ensures that you can plan vacations and holiday celebrations on the timeline that works best for your family.Our Elementary program is open on a school year schedule with optional summer programming in select locations. Please see ABSENCES, below, for more details about communicating unforeseen, planned, and extended absences.

The current school year calendar is always available in the Resource Hub of our website.

DROP-OFFS AND PICK-UPS

Drop-Off and Pick-Up Safety

Please use extra caution and drive slowly in areas where children may be present. We ask that cell phones be put away while driving near the school. If your child is in Nido, Toddler, or Children’s House, we also ask that you hold your child’s hand at all times in or near the street.

Our campus entrances are typically secured with security devices like key pads or fobs. You will be provided with access materials during your orientation. Physical access materials (such as key fobs) are Guidepost property and must be returned when your child’s enrollment ends. Campus leaders are typically present in the school lobby at peak pick-up and drop-off times and may also use a buzzer to unlock the entrance doors for known individuals.

To keep our school entrances secure, we ask that you not open or hold entrance doors for individuals whom you do not recognize. Allow these individuals to use their own key fob or access to code to enter; or to be buzzed in by a campus leader.

Thank you for keeping our children and families safe!

Signing In and Out

All Nido, Toddler, and Children’s House children must be signed in and out each day by an authorized adult. At most campuses, this is done electronically by scanning a QR code. At some campuses, and in certain jurisdictions, paper logs are required in lieu of, or in addition to, the electronic ones. Once a child has been signed out, their authorized adult is fully responsible for that child’s supervision, safety and conduct.

In certain jurisdictions, Elementary students may be able to sign themselves in and/or out. In other cases, an adult must be present at pick-up and/or drop-off. If you're an eligible campus, and you want your elementary child to walk, bike, or bus home alone, please ask your campus leadership team for our Elementary Independent Dismissal Form.

Maintaining accurate pick-up and drop-off records is important, both for the management of our schools and for complying with jurisdictional requirements. Failure to comply with jurisdictional requirements may result in fines or other regulatory action against the school. Your kind assistance in following sign-in and sign-out procedures is greatly appreciated.

Flexible Drop-Off

We offer flexible morning drop-off times so that you have enough time each morning to park, bring in daily supplies, and briefly connect with classroom staff before dropping off your child.

Unrushed drop-offs are less stressful for you and your child, of course, but also provide a meaningful opportunity for your child to build independence. Once your child is able to walk, for example, you can allow them to walk into campus without being carried, and once they’re confident with walking independently, they can carry their own belongings, and eventually work to take off their own coats and hang them up once inside.

Separation Anxiety at Drop-Off

Separation anxiety is unsettling and scary, both for your child and you, even though it is developmentally normal.We strive to help both you and your child navigate these periods with confidence. In general, we find that quick, upbeat goodbyes communicate to your child that you feel happy and confident leaving them. Our guides will work to connect with your child and soothe them when you first arrive and will keep you informed if your child is unable to be soothed within a reasonable time. Most new children – including those who experience initial anxiety – adjust to the drop-off routine in two weeks or less, after which anxiety is greatly reduced.

Soothing Upset Children

Our guides perform regular observations and analysis of each student to better understand how to best support them. Children may become upset in school for a number of reasons, and our guides are here to offer comfort and support however they can at the child’s pace. We do not try to stop tears, but validate students’ emotions and reactions and offer alternatives such as redirecting to an exciting activity that may capture their attention. For example, if a child experiences separation anxiety during their first drop-off, a guide may use phrases such as:

  • “I can hear that you are upset, but your parents will pick you up after nap time!”
  • “When you are ready, I want to show you the sink so we can practice washing our hands.”
  • “We are having apple slices for snack today - will you help me prepare them for the rest of the group after your body is calm?”
  • “I get sad sometimes too and hugs help me feel better. My arms are available for a hug if you’d like.”

Infants who appear to be fussing more than usual will be comforted and, if necessary, their guide will contact the parents to inform them of the situation.

Late Drop-Offs and Early Pick-Ups

We want to provide the best experience for your child and every child in the class, so it is very important that you arrive on time each day. This ensures that your child doesn’t miss out on the morning routine and greetings, feel unsettled and left out, or miss out on the chance to complete the full work period by progressing from more familiar to more challenging work. It also ensures that other children in the class are not distracted from their concentrated work when you arrive, and can also progress through the full work period.

If you are dropping off your child after class has started, please sign your child in at the front office. A staff member will walk your child to his or her classroom.

Similarly, consistent attendance by every child in the class helps us create a cohesive community, and early pick-ups (just like late arrivals) are disruptive to the daily routine. Please help minimize disruptions by scheduling doctors’ appointments and other out-of-school activities outside of class time whenever possible.

Late Pick-Ups

Staffing is organized based on your child’s planned schedule. If you are not participating in our all-inclusive extended day program, please pick up your child promptly at the end of his or her class time. Remember that if your child is in Nido, he or she may remain at school for a maximum of 9.5 hours per school day.

There is a five-minute grace period for pick-up after the end of your child’s class time, after which a late fee of $25 for each 15 minutes (or portion thereof) will be incurred. This late fee will be charged automatically to your account.

Please note: There is no grace period at the end of the day when the building closes.

Approved Pick-Up Person

We require that all families provide a list of people they authorize to pick up their child(ren) at the time of enrollment. If any changes must be made to your child’s authorized pick-up list throughout your child’s time at our school, you may contact your campus leadership team. Only a child’s parent or legal guardian may authorize or de-authorize other individuals to perform pick-ups.

Any person arriving to pickup may be required to show photo ID at any time. Please do not be offended if you are asked to show ID, even if you regularly pick your child up. The staff member coordinating pick-ups on a given day may not be familiar with every family, and staff are required to check ID if the person picking up is not personally known to them.

If an adult arriving to pick up a child is visibly inebriated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if the adult fails to show ID upon request, or if the individual appears to be physically or emotionally impaired to the extent that, in the judgment of the Head of School or another staff member, the child would be placed at risk or harm if released to such an individual, our school leaders will call the local police department.*

*New Jersey Approved Pick-Up Person

In the event of that an inebriated or impaired person insists on removing a child from our care or we are unable to contact another individual prepared to safely pick up the child, our team will call the New Jersey Department’s State Central Registry Hotline (1-877NJABUSE/1-877-652-2873) to seek assistance in caring for the child.

Alternate Person Picking Up

If someone who is not on the authorized pick-up list will be picking up your child on a specific day, please call or email your campus leadership team in advance. Please be sure to inform any other person picking up your child that they will be asked for photo identification.

If an individual arrives for a pick-up, is not on the authorized list and the campus leadership team has not been notified in advance, the school leader will attempt to contact the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) to obtain approval. As always, we will not release a child to any individual for whom parental authorization has not been obtained.

Emergency Protocol for Late Pick-Up

In the highly unlikely event that your child is not picked up 20 minutes after your campus’ closing time and we are unable to reach you, we will begin contacting those listed on your child’s emergency contact list. If we are unable to reach any of your emergency contacts, we will contact our local childcare licensing office and/or the local police department.

ABSENCES

Absence Communication

To help us plan our daily staffing needs, please email your campus leadership team or call the school office number any time before 8:00 a.m. to inform us of your child’s absence. If you’re planning an absence in advance, let us know as soon as you know of the intended absence. The safety of you and your child is important to us, so if your child does not arrive at school as planned, your campus leadership team may reach out to you to inquire about the absence.

If your Children’s House or Elementary child will be absent from school, especially for an extended time frame, please inform your child’s guide and the campus leadership team as much in advance as possible so that your child’s guide can adjust lesson planning and help you support your child’s progress during their absence.

Academic Progress During Absences

When a student is absent occasionally for illness or other common reasons, we ensure that the student stays on track. Since our Montessori curriculum is individualized and naturally follows the developmental and academic pace of the child, progress can be adapted to accommodate a child's occasional absence.

Guidepost elementary students are encouraged to have consistent attendance in order to maximize progress through our curriculum following our scope and sequence of learning. We partner with families to ensure that attendance is not a hindrance to each student’s progress.

When there is an outlier pattern of excessive absences or tardiness that is negatively affecting the child’s learning experience or academic progress, Guidepost will escalate the situation by scheduling a conference with the parents to discuss the issue and agree upon an ongoing attendance plan with regular check-ins. An elementary student is considered tardy if they arrive after 8:30 a.m. Guidepost considers excessive tardiness and absences to be more than 9 occurrences per semester.

Keep in mind that Guidepost offers a variety of options for children of all ages who cannot attend their regular campus location for a period of time, including virtual options or the opportunity to ‘roam school’ at a different campus in the Guidepost network.

See Tuition During Absences, Illnesses, and Vacations, below, for information about how tuition is charged during absences.

THINGS TO BRING AND THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME

To Bring

Clothing and Diapers

Your child will be active throughout the day, both during class activities and gross motor play, so please bring your child to school dressed to allow for easy movement and active play! To make sure all clothing items are returned to the correct child, each item of clothing should be labeled with your child’s full name.

Your child will need the following each day:

  • Comfortable clothes that are weather appropriate. e.g. coats, gloves, scarf and winter hat in colder months
  • Sturdy, closed-toe shoes for running and climbing (no sandals or Crocs)
  • A complete change of clothes—including a top, bottoms, socks, underwear, and a pair of indoor shoes—to be kept at school

Please send extra clothes in a plastic bag clearly labeled with your child’s name

Additional items for children in Nido or Toddler:

  • Cloth or disposable diapers
  • A separate, sealable, moisture-resistant bag for soiled clothes or reusable diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • 2-3 complete changes of clothes

Any wet clothes, or soiled reusable diapers, will be sent home in the wet bag you provide, and a new bag and replacement clothes should be returned the following day.

Your child’s guide will coordinate with you to create an individualized toilet learning plan for your child. During this time, additional items may be recommended to bring or leave at home. See DIAPER CHANGES AND TOILET LEARNING, below, for more details.

Nap Supplies

If your child naps, you may choose to send a comfort blanket from home. This blanket will be sent home each Friday for you to wash. Blankets will be provided at school if you do not send one with your child.

In the unlikely event of an emergency situation, children may not have time to put shoes on and may be at risk from broken glass or other hazards. For this reason, children must keep shoes on at all times, even during naps. For infants, we suggest soft shoes or leather slippers.

Bringing Special Things to School

With the permission of their guide, children may bring in special items (plants, rocks, shells, memorable items from a trip, special books, etc.) to show to their classmates. Please coordinate this ahead of time with your child’s guide, and if possible, please label the item with your child’s name.

To Be Left at Home

Items that Hinder Independence

A focus in all our programs is helping children develop independence with daily routines such as eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom. For this reason, items that occupy your child’s hands or mouth are not permitted in Toddler or Children’s House and are discouraged in Nido. These items may make it difficult for your child to communicate, work with his or her hands, or develop independent sleep skills.

If your child is in Toddler or Children’s House, they should not bring:

  • Baby bottles
  • Sippy Cups
  • Pacifiers

If your child is in Nido, we discourage bringing:

  • Sippy cups
  • Pacifiers

If your child has been using any of these items, don’t worry! Just let us know and your child’s guide will work with you to develop a plan to help your child gradually and successfully transition into their new classroom without these supports.

Distracting Items

Toys, stuffed animals, money, trading cards, jewelry, candy, gum, electronics, and other such belongings are often distracting at school, and children may be distressed if they are lost or damaged. We have found that young children typically adjust more quickly to their new environment without these items, so we ask that you leave these at home or outside of the classroom.

DIAPER CHANGES AND TOILET LEARNING

Diaper Changes

Whether a child uses disposable or cloth diapers, we regularly invite Nido children for diaper changes at least once every 1.5 hours and observe closely for signs that earlier diaper changes are needed. Our Toddler students will be reminded or invited to use the restroom frequently, even if they are already toilet independent.

Any cloth diapers or clothing that becomes wet or soiled during the school day will be placed in sealed plastic take-home bags. The bag containing cloth diapers should be replaced with a fresh bag or cleaned and sanitized and returned the following school day.

Toilet Learning

During the toilet learning process, your child’s guide will have specific suggestions about what kinds of clothing and practices work well and will coordinate closely with you.In general, pants with elastic rather than buttons or zippers are easier for children to manage, and dresses/skirts are best avoided since they are more difficult to prevent from dipping into the toilet.

Once started with toilet learning, children are invited to wear cloth underwear, use child-sized toilets, use toilet paper, practice dressing and undressing themselves, and lastly, practice hygiene and handwashing at several opportunities throughout the day.

Cloth underwear is ideal for the toilet learning process because your child will naturally feel when he or she becomes wet or dirty, a natural consequence that leads to motivation to use the toilet. For this reason, “pull-ups” are discouraged, as they make it more difficult for your child to notice his or her needs and therefore tend to prolong the toilet learning process.

If your child is exhibiting signs of readiness for toilet learning, let your child’s guide know and they will be eager to partner with you to help support your child to achieve this exciting milestone.

INFANT SAFE SLEEP PRACTICES

We believe that a safe sleep environment for infants helps lower the chances of an infant dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and that parents and Guidepost staff can work together to provide a safe sleep environment. All parents/guardians of infants will receive access to the Infant Safe Sleep Policy at the time of enrollment, and will sign a statement saying they received and reviewed this policy.

All childcare staff caring for infants will receive training on how to implement our Infant Safe Sleep Policy.Infants will always be placed on their backs to sleep, unless there is a signed Alternate Sleep Position Waiver in the infant’s student record.When babies can easily turn over from the back to the stomach, they will be placed to sleep on their backs and then allowed to adopt the sleep position they prefer. This is in accordance with guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Childcare staff can further discuss with parents how to address circumstances when the infant turns onto their stomach or side.

Sleeping infants will be visually checked every 15-20 minutes by assigned staff. We will check the infant for normal skin color, normal breathing by watching the rise and fall of the chest, his or her level of sleep, his or her sleep position, and signs of overheating.Staff will reduce risk of overheating by not swaddling, over-dressing or over-wrapping infants. The temperature in the room where infant(s) sleep will be kept between 68-75°F and monitored by the thermometer kept in the infant sleeping room. All sleep information will be recorded on a Sleep Chart.

Your infant's safety is our top concern, please reach out to us with any questions about safe sleep practices and your child's sleep patterns.

Safe Sleep Environment

To ensure a safe sleep environment, we follow best practices for the prevention of SIDS.Infants’ heads will not be covered with blankets or bedding. Infants’ floor beds or cribs will not be covered with blankets or bedding. We may use an approved sleep sack instead of a blanket. Weighted sleep suits are not permitted.No loose bedding, pillows, bumper pads, etc. will be used in cribs or floor beds.Toys and stuffed animals will be removed from the crib or floor bed when the infant is sleeping.

Where jurisdictions allow us to use floor beds, a safety-approved floor bed with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet will be used. In other jurisdictions, we will use a crib with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet.Each infant will have his or her own labeled floor bed or crib. Only one infant will be in a floor bed or crib at a time, unless we are evacuating infants in an emergency.

Pacifiers will be allowed in infants’ floor beds or cribs while they sleep. When the pacifier falls out of the sleeping child’s mouth, it will not be reinserted. The pacifier is the only allowable object on a floor bed or in a crib. Pacifiers with stuffed animals attached are not permitted.

No smoking is permitted on any of our school premises, including in our infant rooms.Infant staff who smoke elsewhere on their break times must change their clothes before interacting with infants in order to protect infant students from secondhand or thirdhand smoke.

FOOD

Allergy Policy

Because unidentified anaphylactic allergies to nuts are common in young children and because of the open, shared nature of the Montessori classroom, children are not permitted to share food at school.

Our Nido, Toddler, and Children’s House programs are peanut and tree nut-free. Seeds (e.g., sunflower or sesame seeds) and other legumes (e.g., beans, peas, soy) are typically permitted.

If one of your child’s classmates has a severe allergy to any allergen, in addition to the above, additional restrictions may apply in your child’s class. (See Anaphylactic Allergy Policy below.)

*Illinois Restricted Food Policy

There are a number of food items that are restricted by Illinois licensing. Children under 2 years old may not be fed berries, candies, raisins, corn kernels, raw carrots, whole grapes, hot dogs, nuts, seeds, popcorn, raw peas, or peanut butter. Cooked carrots, corn, peas, and bananas may be served to infants only if mashed, grated, or pureed. Honey cannot be used to sweeten any infant food. If a child arrives with any of these items, the food will be sent home.

*Iowa Nutrition Policy

In accordance with Iowa Administrative Code, if parents do not provide meals that meet the nutrition requirements outlined in the USDA’s Nutrition Standards for CACFP Meals and Snacks, Guidepost must supplement with food that does meet the requirements.

*Minnesota Nutrition Policy

Meals for children must meet USDA requirements and nutrition standards regardless of who provides it. For each meal served, milk must be offered as well. If water bottles are used, it is Guidepost’s responsibility to wash and sanitize.

Nido Nutrition

Parents are required to bring in all food and milk for infants on a daily basis. This includes all necessary formula or breast milk for the day, as well as breakfast, lunch, and snacks once their child starts to eat solid food.

Breast milk must be labeled, dated and stored in our classroom refrigerator or freezer. Please refer to the Resource Hub document entitled “Breast Milk Storage Guidelines,” for our best practices for storing breast milk at school. Powdered formula must be prepared at home each day and brought to store in our classroom refrigerator. Perishable food must also be stored in our classroom refrigerator. Parents may leave clean, empty bottles; pre-mixed, unopened liquid formula; and sealed, shelf-stable prepared foods in their baby’s cubby (only accessed by parents).

Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding

Guidepost is committed to supporting mothers who wish to breastfeed and/or pump at the school. A designated private area will be provided, equipped with comfortable seating and privacy measures. Please reach out to your campus leadership team for more information.

We practice careful storage of formula, solid foods, and breast milk at school. When our guides serve bottles to children, they warm them in a crock-pot and carefully test the temperature on their own skin to ensure its safety before serving to a child. We encourage working closely with your child’s doctor if you have questions about nutrition.

Independence in Eating

Once your baby can sit independently, he or she will be encouraged to sit in his or her own little chair and eat at a child-size table. Your baby’s guide will sit at the table, too, and help your baby to eat and, gradually, to feed himself.

Sippy-cups are discouraged in Nido and not permitted in Toddler classrooms, as outlined in THINGS TO BRING AND THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME, above.

Using an open-topped small glass (about the size of a shot glass) will inspire careful handling and help your baby to understand cause and effect (e.g. ‘When I made a big movement, the water in this glass almost spilled. I should make smaller movements to avoid it spilling.’). You may be surprised to learn that babies as young as 7 months can learn to drink confidently from a tiny glass!

Nutrition for Toddler, Children's House, and Elementary

Breakfast is not provided by Guidepost. Children should eat any breakfast prior to arriving at school, whether they arrive for extended morning time or for regular school hours.

Lunch time is typically held sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. At all Guidepost campuses, except campuses in Illinois, school lunch is not provided by Guidepost, and your child will need to bring a packed lunch each day. Some schools may have arranged a catering option that parents can pay for and opt into if desired. You will be notified if this is available.

In the state of Illinois, Guidepost campuses provide lunch free-of-charge to all students. Whenever Guidepost provides lunch, a healthy assortment of hot and chilled items will be offered, and high sugar treats such as candy, cookies, soda, chips, cake, or doughnuts will not be served.

Children in Toddler, Children’s House, and Elementary classrooms are encouraged to eat independently. If you provide your child’s lunch, please pack food in containers your child can open. Guides will provide assistance as needed and help children develop the skills they need to feed themselves.

In campuses or classrooms where microwaves are not available, we recommend sending an ice pack or hot thermos as needed to regulate the temperature of your child’s lunch.

Lunch

At campuses where children are expected to pack lunch, each day your child should bring:

  • a healthy lunch including proteins and complex carbohydrates (such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruits)
  • a water bottle or bottled water (labeled with your child’s name)
  • utensils when required for the meal
  • a child-sized lunch box clearly labeled (near the handle) with your child’s full name

High-sugar treats such as candy, gum, cake, chips, doughnuts, cookies, packaged desserts, and soda are not permitted at school. These items will be sent back home with your child. Fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, and juices must be 100% fruit. Please feel free to ask your child’s guide if you need ideas for nutritious lunches.

Please be sure to introduce any new foods to your child at home first, before sending them to school with your child. At school, your child will not be required to eat his or her entire lunch; instead, we will encourage him or her to eat protein items first, and other items until he or she is comfortably full. Uneaten food will be returned home, so you will know how much your child has eaten each day.

Grace and Courtesy

Mealtime in the Montessori classroom is an opportunity for children to engage in grace and courtesy lessons, with a focus on the daily routine of setting the table and preparing for the meal as a group. This shared meal experience is an opportunity for children to connect socially with their peers as well as to develop the crucial practical life skills of independent eating and clean-up. Children will be introduced to the basics of good nutrition, table manners, and caring for the environment before and after mealtimes in classroom lessons.

Daily Snack

The school provides a mid-morning snack for Toddler, Children’s House, and Elementary students, typically around 10:00 a.m. An afternoon snack is provided during extended-day hours for all Toddler Community, Children’s House, and Elementary students in attendance, usually around 3:00 p.m. No child will go more than 3 hours without food being provided. When snacks are provided by the school, foods from two food groups are always included (e.g., crackers and cheese [grain and dairy], or carrots and hummus [fruit/vegetable and protein]). Weekly or monthly snack menus will be posted on bulletin boards in the front office or outside each classroom.

In the younger ages, snack prep is integrated into the curriculum focused on the child's development of practical life skills. Toddlers, for example, will learn to chop bananas, peel oranges, and pour drinks both as an educational activity and as part of the daily snack routine.

Food Served at Special Events

During any special events (e.g., birthdays, school potlucks, field trips) when food is provided by parents of children at the school or other outside parties, we request that parents not bring food with nuts. However, Guidepost cannot guarantee that food is allergen-free.

For all such events, our recommendation is that a parent of an anaphylactic child attend the event to supervise the child and provide alternative food. We require that all food for special events is store-bought, individually packaged, and unopened.

Forgotten Lunches / Late Delivery

If your child is dropped off at school without a lunch, we will call you to request that you drop off a lunch as soon as possible, and before the mid-day break is over. On any occasion where your child’s lunch is brought to school late, please leave the lunch with the school office staff to avoid disrupting your child’s class.

If you are unable to provide a lunch, a simple lunch will be provided for your child and a $15.00 fee will be charged to your account.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Birthdays

Parents of children in Toddler and Children’s House may be invited to join a special celebration of their child’s birthday at school. Your child’s guide will coordinate with you and schedule a mutually convenient time. You will be invited to bring in a picture of your child at birth, and pictures at each age that he or she has passed through. These pictures will be shared with the class. In Children’s House, the birthday child will “walk around the sun” to celebrate each year of his or her life. See Food Served at Special Events above, for details regarding birthday snacks.

If your child is in our Elementary program, please consult with your child’s guide to see how birthdays are celebrated in your child’s class.

Playdates / Parties / Invitations

You will be able to access family contact information for other families in your child’s class who elect to share contact information in our directory via the Transparent Classroom system to facilitate playdates and invitations to out-of-school events.

We ask that when facilitating friendships, or organizing birthday parties or other events, please be sensitive. We suggest that if a student is inviting many students in a class to an event, they invite the entire group. For invitations to fewer children, please avoid handing out invitations in your child’s classroom.

Culture and Religion in the Classroom

Religious practices are not part of the Montessori curriculum or something that is taught to students at our school. However, we strongly encourage Guidepost families and staff members to share their families’ cultural traditions with the school community when interested. Examples may include but are not limited to classroom presentations or gatherings related to the Chinese New Year, Hanukkah, and Ramadan.

Campus Events

Our campuses regularly host events for the whole family such as fall festivals, parent-child yoga, or makers fairs. You can check out past activities that have been offered and learn about upcoming events on your campus’ Facebook and Instagram pages.

CLASSROOM PETS

Guidepost Montessori believes in providing children with the opportunity to learn responsibility through caring for their environment. Classroom pets are a great way to provide that opportunity. Before acquiring a classroom pet, our Guides will inform parents about the type of pet being considered and inquire about any allergies or sensitivities students may have to a particular species, their food, or bedding materials.

Children will be required to wash hands before and after handling animals. Due to licensing rules, schools in the state of Texas and Wisconsin may not allow children to handle any cold-blooded classroom pets.

COMMUNICATION

Communication between home and school is the cornerstone of your child’s positive school experience. Our ongoing open-door policy, clear communication before and during transitions, and frequent parent-guide exchanges nurture a home-school partnership that will be to your child’s benefit.

Please contact your child’s guide anytime you have questions about your child’s learning, your child’s classroom, or anything that has happened at school. Guides are available by email, or you can call the office and leave a message for a guide. Calls and emails will be returned by the next school day.

Monitoring Your Child's Progress

Your child’s guide will communicate with you on a regular basis with information about your child’s learning and his or her experiences in the classroom. Guides use Transparent Classroom to share photos of your child's day, communicate about naps, and give details about your child's academic progress.

More formal parent-guide meetings are held twice yearly, and give both you and your guide an opportunity to align on progress so far and support for upcoming advancements.

Additional formal reporting may include work samples, portfolios, and/or progress reports, depending on the age of your child. Please reach out to your child’s guide if you would prefer to schedule a specific appointment time to talk.

Parent Observations and Open Door Policy

Unless restricted by a court order, custodial parents have the right to be admitted to the campus any time their child is in care, and we encourage you to observe your child's classroom. Because young children need time to build trust with their guides as they settle into a new routine and can be very aware of visitors to the classroom, we ask that you check in with your child’s guide or the campus leadership team to schedule a time to observe. We generally wait until six weeks after a child’s start day to commence parent observations in order to give children the time they need to settle into the classroom and become familiar with the daily routine.

Exceptional Circumstances

Please let the school know immediately if your child is experiencing any kind of situation at home that may cause strong emotions or place him or her under stress (e.g., a move, birth of a sibling, family illness, divorce, death of a pet, bereavement, etc.). Your child’s guide will offer extra support and sensitivity to your child when they are aware of exceptional circumstances.

Change of Contact Information

Please update information with your campus leadership team immediately if there is a change in your home address, email address, telephone number, or marital status, or a change in contact information for your child’s emergency contacts.

EXCURSIONS

Regular Walks or Buggy Rides

Children in Toddler, Children’s House, or Elementary program may be taken for walks near the school. Infants will ride in a “buggy” on a regular basis. Your enrollment paperwork will include a permission form for these walks and rides throughout the school year.

School Trips

Children’s House and Elementary students may be invited to participate in school trips. Your enrollment paperwork includes a Field Trip and Transportation Release form with relevant policies, but we will also require signed permission for each specific event held during the school year. If an excursion away from the school is planned, you will receive applicable permission forms and information, in advance, describing the purpose of the trip, destination, cost for parents to attend, planned transportation, and any need for parent volunteers or participation. Snacks will be provided during field trips and lunch will be provided if our community does not return to school by 12:30 PM.

If you choose not to have your child participate in a field trip, please know that we cannot guarantee that we will be able to provide alternate care for your child at the school on the day of the planned field trip.

*Wisconsin School Trips

At this time, we only participate in field trips that can be walked to and do not require transportation.

PARENT VOLUNTEERS

Parents may support the classroom in a variety of ways. These opportunities may include donating weekly flowers for the classroom or helping out during special holidays or events. Please ask your child’s guide about volunteer opportunities.

DISCIPLINE POLICY

A child who has become master of his acts through long, pleasant and interesting activities in which he has engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.

Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori observed that when a child is engaged in meaningful and fulfilling work, he or she tends toward kindness and respect for others. When minor discipline issues occur, we first ensure that the child is enthusiastic about his or her work and appropriately challenged. Our goal is to support each child in the development of an ever-increasing understanding of grace and courtesy, a strong sense of responsibility, and inner discipline using a non-punitive discipline style.

In their classroom and throughout the school, children are expected to treat themselves, their peers, and the adults around them with courtesy and respect. Your child’s guide and other adults in the school carefully model grace and courtesy, and encourage each child to do so, appropriate to his or her agelevel. In the classroom, children are given specific lessons, then have daily opportunities to practice as they learn to wait for their turn to work with a favorite activity, walk carefully around another child’s workspace, use a quiet voice in the classroom, treat the learning materials gently, or wait patiently for a guide’s attention. Elementary-aged children will also learn to negotiate fair agreements with work partners and will explore the nuances of friendships and working relationships with small or large groups, as is appropriate to their age and ability. These foundational habits and skills are an important element of our Montessori curriculum—they are called the “Grace and Courtesy” lessons.

Positive Discipline Strategies Used

As much as possible, positive language is used to give information, rather than describing what not to do (e.g., “When you can remember to walk while carrying the watering can, you will be able to try watering the plants again”). When children are made aware of expectations through positive interactions, individual or small-group classroom instruction, role modeling, and whole-group discussions, the resulting environment makes it easy and natural for children to behave with self-respect and self-discipline.

Many disciplinary and behavioral concerns (e.g., biting in Nido or Toddler, minor instances of physical aggression in Toddler, disputes between friends in Children’s House or Elementary) are age-appropriate and natural to group settings, and they can often be resolved with the methods below.

In the case of a conflict, when a gentle reminder is not enough to shift the behavior, the adult will intervene, firmly and respectfully, to stop the behavior or the conflict. The response to a conflict is dependent on circumstances and the needs of the children involved. In general, we will first attempt to redirect any children involved to classroom work or activities that we think could inspire them to focus and therefore stem the negative behavior. Other times, we may draw attention to the natural consequences of a behavior (another child’s tears, a broken material), rather than implementing punishments that have little or no relationship to the behavior.

In every case, the guide’s goal is to resolve the issue and help the child to identify and practice alternatives to the behavior, rather than punish the child. As an example, if a child is treating a classroom material roughly, the work may be returned to the shelf for the day. The next day, the guide may give the child another lesson with the material, drawing attention to the movements necessary to treat the material gently.

Strategies for Ongoing Discipline Issues

In the case of ongoing behavioral concerns with a child, the child’s guide, and possibly a member of the campus leadership team, may meet with the parents and work with them to develop an action plan to address the issue. This plan will identify the negative behavior, identify the cause of the behavior, and work to frame positive goals to work towards instead.

In severe circumstances, if it appears that the school does not have the necessary resources to resolve an ongoing situation, if sufficient cooperation cannot be gained from the parents, if the child’s safety, or the safety of other children or adults appears to be at risk, or in other circumstances that we deem to warrant it, we may advise parents to employ outside resources to assist, and/or we may find it necessary to discontinue the child’s enrollment.*

*Children attending Guidepost in the state of Arizona may be subject to different policies regarding temporary removal and expulsion. If your child attends a Guidepost campus in Arizona, please see your campus leadership team for more details.

Prohibited Discipline Techniques

When supporting children through difficult or dangerous behaviors, guides and other staff will not only perform the positive techniques mentioned above, but are also prohibited from using corporal punishment or other forms of punishment that lead to emotional distress. This includes name calling, shaming, or isolating the child, as well as any language that threatens, humiliates, or frightens the child.

Children are not permitted to be separated from the class as a form of punishment, but only as a method to help re-connect with the child, support them in regulating their emotions, or to protect them or others. A child who is separated from the class will remain in a safe area of the campus, such as an empty classroom or in the school leaders office, where they can be continuously monitored by a staff member. The child will be returned to the group as soon as the child is calm and the behavior has abated.

The use of physical restraint is also prohibited, and will only be used when it is necessary to protect the child or others from harm. When used, a guide or other staff member will hold the child as gently as possible and for as little time as possible to accomplish restraint; ensure the restraint is developmentally appropriate; and avoid the use of any items to mechanically restrain the child.

Temporary Removal Policy

If a child repeatedly disrupts his or her class or other students, it may be necessary to suspend the child for a period of time. If a child’s behavior poses a danger to him or herself or to other students or staff members, parents will be called and asked to pick up the child from school immediately. Before the child returns to school, the child’s guide, parents, and Head of School will meet to develop a plan that may include utilizing outside resources for support. In certain circumstances, this meeting may also involve the student.

Expulsion Policy

Our goal is to provide the best educational environment for every child in our program. If our school is not prepared to support the range of behaviors or issues that a specific child presents, expulsion may be necessary. If, at any time, a school leader concludes that a child may not be a good fit for our school (due to a social-, emotional-, or academic-related concern), they will request a meeting with the parents and the child’s guide to discuss the situation.

In the case that that meeting does not achieve a mutually agreeable solution to the concerns, or satisfactory progress is not made within a reasonable time frame despite the best efforts of the school, we reserve the right to discontinue enrollment. Reasons for discontinuing enrollment may include, but are not limited to, physical or verbal aggression toward other children or adults, disruptive or disrespectful behavior, chronic lateness, failure to meet classroom standards, the failure of any student’s parent(s) to abide by the policies and procedures of this handbook, or parent(s)’ disrespectful or inappropriate behavior toward any student, parent, or member of our staff.

*Washington State Child Restraint Policy

If a child is displaying behavior that poses a threat to his or her own safety, or the safety of other students or caregivers, trained staff may take the following steps to restrain any dangerous behavior: holding the child as gently as possible and for as little time as possible to accomplish restraint; ensuring the restraint is developmentally appropriate; and avoiding the use of any items to restrain children, such as bonds, ties, blankets, straps, car seats, high chairs, activity saucers, or heavy weights (including adult bodies). A staff member will remove themselves or be removed by another trained staff member if they are observed using inappropriate restraint techniques or if they experience a loss of their own self-control. Any time restraint is used, staff members will report the incident in accordance with Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

*Illinois Behavior Management Support Plan and Transition

Our goal is to provide the best educational environment for every child in our program. When children are first enrolled, we ask that parents disclose any behavior concerns or challenges their child faces, and we can work together to craft a behavior management support plan. This plan will outline the particular environment modifications and personalized support that we will use to best meet the child’s needs.

As a part of this plan, we may recommend that the child be evaluated for early intervention services either by the Early Intervention Program or the local school district. If the child is found to be eligible for early intervention services, the behavior support plan will be updated to include the steps that all staff will take to best support the child during their time in our classrooms.

If challenges are not disclosed or are unknown at the time of enrollment, our classroom observations may indicate that a child needs extra support and may benefit from a behavior management support plan and/or early intervention services.

In either case, the behavior management support plan will address the following:

  • Initial and ongoing observations of challenging behaviors
  • Plan for addressing issues with the child and/or parent, including resources, services, and interventions that were sought and used
  • Dates the support plan will be implemented and reviewed
  • How the guides and school staff are supporting the child and family in decreasing the challenging behaviors
  • Communication with the family, family’s input in any intervention, and family consent for or refusal of services.

Our school leaders and staff will endeavor to carry out the plan agreed to in this meeting to the best of their ability. In accordance with this, documentation will be maintained throughout the plan's implementation outlining the steps taken and when, the qualified professional resources that were used, and a record of parental consent for both of the above.

If no agreement is reached for a behavior support plan or if, after documented steps have been taken to implement the plan, the Head of School concludes that we are not able to meet the child’s needs, or if satisfactory progress is not made within a reasonable time frame despite the best efforts of the school, or if the child’s presence is detrimental to the whole group, the Head of School will request a meeting with the parents and the child’s guide to discuss the situation and potentially create a program transition plan. This plan will be created to help the child move from the current program to a more beneficial arrangement with as little negative impact and disruption to the child as possible.

Repeated challenges that we fail to support and may require a program transition plan may include but are not limited to: physical or verbal aggression toward other children or adults, or habitual disruptive and disrespectful behavior.

The program transition plan will include steps the school and family will take to identify another suitable arrangement for the child, the transition stages the school and family will take to allow the child to adjust to leaving and joining another arrangement, and the transfer of any relevant documentation to the new facility so that child’s care and support can maintain continuity.

Similarly, if a parent or guardian determines that Guidepost is not the right place to meet their child’s needs, we will work with them to create a program transition plan and help their child switch to a new program, while following our general Withdrawal policy requiring a minimum of 30 days notice.

MONTESSORI MATERIALS AND SCHOOL PROPERTY

High-quality Montessori materials and classroom equipment are provided at school for your child to use. We work with your child to show him or her how to use them with care and respect. Occasionally, a child may break or damage an item, or may even bring a favorite piece of Montessori material home. Please check your child’s pockets, backpack and other belongings regularly for small beads, cubes, pegs, cylinders, triangles, etc., and return any such items to your child’s guide or a member of the campus leadership team.

To encourage responsibility, older children will be asked to coordinate the replacement of any lost or damaged items. If your child breaks, loses, or damages Montessori materials or other school property, you are ultimately responsible for reimbursing the school for its replacement or repair.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Student Supervision

Students in our Nido, Toddler, and Children’s House programs will not be left alone without a qualified Guide present and within the state-required ratios. Our supervision practices include taking regular head counts, recording attendance, and never leaving children alone or unsupervised.

During transitions, our Guides will perform “name-to-face” headcounts both before and after transitions to minimize any risk of children being left unattended.

Visitors on Campus

Guidepost Montessori requires all non-employees visiting campus to be approved by the School Leader before visiting. Visitors should call or email the campus leadership team to arrange their visit ahead of time. For any visit to be approved, the School Leader must know the purpose for the visit, that the purpose is reasonable and will not pose undue distraction or any threat to anyone on campus, and the approximate duration of the visit. Examples of reasonable visits are teachers in training who need observation hours, family events such as a grandparents’ day celebration, or a presentation from local community members such as the local police or fire chiefs.

On the day of the visit, visitors must check in at the front desk with an I.D., sign into the Visitor’s Log, and receive a Visitor’s Badge before entering the rest of the building. This includes parents and family members visiting for tours, special events, observations, and other reasons.

Visitors are never left alone with children, and are escorted throughout the building. When inside a classroom, visitors can sit in one of the designated visitor’s chairs which is always in sight of the classroom guides. Any visitors who come to campus in order to interact with children (e.g. for extracurricular activities) will be required to pass a background check prior to their visit. Any visitor posing a possible conflict of interest, due to a close relationship with a member of our staff for example, must be supervised during their visit by a different member of our staff throughout their visit.

Bumps, Bruises, and Scrapes

As children learn new ways to move their bodies, bumps, bruises, and scrapes are normal and to be expected at school, on the playground, and at home. At school, your child may run, jump, and climb on playground equipment, slide down a slide, go on swings, play with balls or other equipment, find natural objects on the ground, and more. This kind of play is an essential part of a child’s development, though it does include some risk of injury. Injuries may also occur inside the school and classroom. 

For non-serious injuries of this nature, like little bumps, bruises, and superficial bites, we will fill out an ouch report, notify parents at the end of the day, and give them a copy of the report.

If a more serious injury occurs, you will receive a call from the school advising you of the situation and the action taken by our team, which can include calling 9-1-1, seeking paramedic help, and transporting your child to the nearest hospital. A guide or member of the administrative team will always accompany your child if they require emergency transportation. By enrolling your child with us, you acknowledge these and other risks to your child connected with attending school. 

In the case of a school-wide emergency, such as an extreme weather event, you will be notified via email, text, and/or phone call.

Hand-Washing to Prevent the Spread of Illness

Guidepost ensures that staff demonstrate clean personal hygiene sufficient to prevent or minimize the transmission of illness or disease. All staff shall wash their hands at the following times:

  • Upon arrival
  • Immediately before eating or participating in any food service activity
  • After diapering a child
  • Before leaving the restroom, either with a child or by themselves
  • Before and after administering non-emergency first aid to a child if gloves are not worn
  • After handling animals and cleaning cages

In addition, guides assist children in maintaining personal hygiene to prevent the spread of illnesses. Children’s hands shall be washed at the following times:

  • Upon arrival for the day, after breaks, or when moving from one childcare group to another.
  • Immediately before eating or participating in any food service activity
  • After using the rest room or being diapered
  • After handling animals
  • After playing in water that is used by more than one person
  • After playing in sand, on wooden playsets, and outdoors
  • After applying sunscreen

Guidepost encourages thorough handwashing practices, using soap and water, and washing for a minimum of 20 seconds.

As with other areas of personal care, personal hygiene is integrated into Guidepost's Practical Life curriculum. The environment is prepared with stools, faucet extenders, and low hooks for paper towels or hand towels enabling the child to have independent access. In addition, guides provide short, engaging lessons on how to thoroughly wash one's hands, including scrubbing fingernails, between fingers, and both sides of the hand.

Illnesses—When to Keep Your Child Home

Children exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms must stay home from school:

  • Diarrhea
  • Head lice
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose (with yellowish or green mucus)
  • Fever of 100 degrees or more
  • Red eye(s) with white or yellow discharge
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Unidentified rash
  • Persistent cough
  • Earache
  • Inability to participate in daily activities (usually due to fatigue)

All Guidepost Montessori lead guides are trained upon joining Guidepost to conduct a daily well check at the start of the day, and to monitor throughout the day. Guides conduct the check each morning, either as the child is welcomed into the classroom (if they are not busy with another child), or as the child gets settled into the classroom after drop-off.

When conducting any check, the guide will look for signs and symptoms of illness, including changes in mood or behavior, runny nose or eyes, skin changes such as rash swelling, bumps or redness, or scratching or tugging at a part of the body. The guide will also listen for complaints or unusual sounds and feel for a change in the skin that would indicate a fever or dehydration.

If any of these symptoms are identified while your child is at school, you will be contacted and required to pick up your child within 30 minutes. To help prevent the spread of illness, your child will be kept comfortable outside of the classroom (in the front office or other appropriate area) until he or she is picked up.

After displaying any of the symptoms above and before returning to school, your child must be free of fever, vomiting, or diarrhea (without the aid of medication) for at least 1 full day.

Please notify the school immediately if your child has a communicable disease. We will inform the parents of your child’s classmates about the incidence of the disease. Confidentiality will be respected.

Please notify the school immediately if your child has head lice. All students in your child’s (and sibling’s) classes will be notified that an incidence of head lice has occurred. Before returning to school, your child must have undergone a full head-lice-removal treatment and be entirely free of both head lice and nits (eggs). Steps will be taken to ensure that lice do not spread at school.

Contagious Illnesses

If your child is diagnosed or tests positive for a contagious illness, we will ask you to keep your child home in order to prevent transmission to other students or staff according to the specific disease guidelines in the following chart:

Policies Pertaining to State Required Immunizations

Guidepost requires that all enrolled students be vaccinated in accordance with the recommended state schedule. This schedule may vary if your child travels abroad, or if your child was born in a country other than the United States. Under certain circumstances, where legally permissible, we may require vaccination against communicable illnesses even if those vaccinations are not required by state law.

Guidepost requires that updated immunization records be kept in the school’s files for the duration of each school year. Please provide updated immunizations after each of your child's well visits.

In situations where we are legally permitted but not legally required to accept an exemption request, we will consider each request and make a determination based on a range of reasonable factors. Reasonable factors may include, but are not limited to, medical considerations, the “herd immunity” rate at the school or whether or not the school also has unvaccinated infants enrolled. If we determine that lack of vaccination presents a serious risk to a student, or to the student and staff body, in general, we may, where legally permissible, deny a request for exemption, or revoke a previously granted exemption.

If an unvaccinated child exhibits symptoms of a communicable disease typically considered to be preventable by vaccination, the child’s parents will be contacted as soon as possible and may be required to pick up the child from school within 30 minutes. If we determine that there may be a significant risk of exposure to a communicable illness in the community at large, and based upon recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, we may require a child who is not up-to-date on vaccinations for that illness to stay home from school for an extended period, even if he or she is not showing any signs of illness.

A child’s full tuition must be paid as usual in the case of absences due to granted exemptions or lack of up-to-date vaccination, including cases in which we require a child to remain at home.

Families seeking an exemption must fill out any and all required state paperwork and must also acknowledge and agree to our Guidepost vaccination policy.

While vaccines are promoted, Guidepost Montessori does not require staff to provide proof upon hire.

*Minnesota Health Care Summary Policy

Before a child is admitted to center or within 30 days of admission, parents must submit a report on a current physical examination (health care summary) of their child signed by the child's source of medical care and must be submitted to the school leader. An updated health care summary signed by the child's source of medical care is required annually for children under 24 months of age, and whenever a child 24 months or older advances to an older program, such as from Nido to Toddler.

Diaper Changes & Bathroom Cleanliness

Our Nido and Toddler communities have a designated diaper changing table that is moisture resistant, easily cleanable, and within arm’s reach of a handwashing sink for guides and children to clean up after each change. Diaper-changing instructions will be posted visibly for guides to reference and your child’s Lead Guide will work with you to develop a care plan for your child’s individual diapering needs.

Bathrooms are used solely for diapering and toileting; the classrooms are equipped with a second sink for washing materials and food and to provide drinking water. Soiled diapers are always kept in a waste container separate from other classroom and food waste. The floors in our restrooms are adequately waterproof, cleanable, and ventilated.

Sanitation and Cleaning Practices

Guidepost Montessori works with janitorial services for standard nightly cleaning of floors, surfaces, disposing of garbage, and more. A higher level of cleaning may be requested in cases of communicable diseases. Our Guides also practice NAEYC-approved cleaning, sanitation, and disinfecting practices daily with EPA-approved cleaning products.

Whenever handling materials soiled with bodily fluids such as blood, urine, vomit etc. our guides and staff use gloves and disinfectant to clean the area. Soiled rags and other items used to clean are immediately disposed of, soiled clothing and personal items are placed in the waterproof take-home bag you provide, while the extra, clean clothes you’ve provided will be used in their place.

Administering Medications at School

Parents must fill out and sign a Medication Administration Authorization form in order for Guidepost schools to administer over-the-counter or prescription medications. This form grants your consent and describes when and how to administer the medication to your child. (In some cases, a separate form may be required for epinephrine auto-injectors.) Forms can be accessed through the Resource Hub on our website. If your child requires supplemental additions to their diet, including medical foods and vitamins, we will ask that you treat these items as an over-the-counter medication and provide us with the original container and a Medication Administration Authorization form.

Guidepost schools will keep a record of all medications dispensed, including the date, time, and amount of medication that was administered; any noticeable adverse reactions to the medication; and the signature/initials of the person administering the medication.

With written parental consent, Guidepost schools will administer prescription medications according to the pharmacy’s prescription label. For over-the-counter medication, Guidepost schools will abide by the recommended dosage based on the child’s age, unless written instructions from a physician indicate differently. Guidepost schools will administer prescription medications only if the medication is provided in the original prescription bottle with the pharmacy’s prescription label affixed. The following information must be included on the label: name of medication, dosage, time interval, and the child’s name. Medications will be stored in a medicine box in the staff fridge or in an appropriately secure place in the front office, never in a child’s backpack or cubby.

If your child requires any needles, syringes, or lancets, please provide a medical-grade safe container to take home and dispose of the medical waste off-campus.

Applying Topical Ointments at School

Parents should complete a Topical Ointment Permission Form to request the application of all ointments including sunscreen, diaper cream, topical teething ointment, insect repellent, lotion, cream, powder, etc. Items must be in the original container and labeled clearly with the child’s name. Forms can be accessed through the Resource Hub on our website. Children in Nido, Toddler, and Children's House will receive assistance from guides in applying any topical ointment, whereas elementary students will be allowed to apply topical creams like sunscreen independently.

Allergies

If your child has a non-anaphylactic allergy, please carefully review the anaphylactic allergy policies below to determine which, if any, may also apply to your child’s allergy. Where necessary, please complete a Medication Administration Authorization form and, depending on the severity of your child’s allergy, we will meet with you to determine how to best manage the allergy at school.

Anaphylactic Allergies

Students with anaphylactic allergies will be accommodated at school to the extent reasonably possible considering the nature of the allergy, the nature of our program, and our expertise. If your child has an anaphylactic allergy, you are responsible for informing us and for instructing us in the necessary actions to protect your child and manage the allergy. In this situation, we will work cooperatively with your family and your child’s doctor to develop a plan to ensure your child’s safety at school. (See below.) The following policies are in place to support our students with anaphylactic allergies.

Allergy Medications and Epinephrine Injectors

If your child needs or may need to take or be administered allergy medication at school, please supply us with a copy of the prescription (if applicable) and a completed and signed Medication Administration Authorization form, indicating your consent and describing when and how to administer the medication to your child.

If there is any indication that allergy medication such as epinephrine and/or antihistamine may be necessary, parents are responsible for providing it to the school. We kindly ask that you inform us as soon as possible. This ensures that our staff is informed and can respond appropriately. Keeping an updated record of this information at home, along with maintaining required medications at the school, is the responsibility of the parents.

It's important to note that neither Guidepost nor any catering vendor we partner with can guarantee an allergen-free environment, including nuts. However, we are committed to taking preventive measures to restrict the presence of nuts and known allergens for the safety of all students.

If your child has any allergies, please make sure to communicate this to the Guidepost team. This proactive approach will allow us to be well-prepared for any potential emergencies.

Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plans

Many allergy doctors will provide (or consult with you to develop) a Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan tailored for your child’s specific allergies in a school setting. All parents of children with anaphylactic allergies are encouraged to contact their child’s doctor or request a referral to a doctor who is able to support you with such a plan.Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan are posted in prominent locations in the school to enable the most efficient response possible in an emergency situation.

If your child experiences an allergic reaction that doesn’t appear to be life-threatening, our school leaders will immediately contact you via phone call. We ask that any known allergies are documented and accompanied by a Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan from your child’s physician.

Medical and Dental Emergencies

While we do everything possible to ensure that children in our care are always safe, emergencies may still happen rarely. In the event of a medical or dental emergency, our guides, administrative team, and campus leadership are trained to act quickly, decisively, and compassionately to procure the needed care and to support the child emotionally through the situation.

When necessary, 9-1-1 will be called and an ambulance will be summoned. Parents will also be called by someone on the campus leadership team to let them know what has happened and the steps that are being taken. If it is necessary for the child to be taken to a hospital or urgent care before the parent arrives, a guide or other staff member will always accompany the child in the ambulance and at the hospital until the parents arrive.

Our schools maintain supplementary Student Accident insurance which can be used to reimburse parents for medical bills resulting from an injury sustained at school. Your school leader can work with you to fill out the necessary forms to request a reimbursement for any relevant medical bills. To receive a reimbursement, you will need to provide itemized bills that list the date of service, the procedure codes, the diagnosis, and the charge(s).

Preventing Abuse and Neglect / Filing a Complaint

Guidepost Montessori takes its responsibility to support the health and development of each individual student very seriously, including taking steps to prevent, monitor, and report abuse or neglect.

All Guidepost employees are background-checked and must pass multiple interviews related to their qualifications and prior experience prior to being hired. They must also demonstrate a clear love and respect for working with children.

Suspected abuse or neglect by a Guidepost staff member is treated with the utmost seriousness. When suspected, we will take immediate action to ensure the safety of our students. While exact actions will depend on the context, in general we will contact the parents, initiate a thorough investigation, and arrange new care to protect the child(ren) while the investigation is underway. If a staff member is found to have been abusive or neglectful while carrying out their duties, they will be immediately removed from their position and a review will be conducted to determine what further things we can do to prevent similar occurrences from happening.

Educators are mandated reporters and must, by law, report any suspected child abuse or neglect to the Department of Social Services. This includes but is not limited to any injury that is out-of-character or suspected to be non-accidental, any form of sexual abuse, signs of negligence such as lack of food, clothing, shelter, or appropriate supervision, or evidence of engaging in behaviors that could endanger the child. Guidepost Montessori will not discriminate or otherwise retaliate against a staff member who reports suspected abuse, whether of a colleague or other staff member, or a currently enrolled family.

When filing a report, our team will collect information including but not limited to the child’s personal details such as name, date of birth, address, the personal details of the parents and/or guardians, relevant details leading us to suspect abuse or neglect, any information about previous injuries or child behavior, and the date and time when the abuse was suspected. This report will also be kept on file at the campus and can be requested for review by parents, with personally identifiable information removed.

All members of our teaching staff receive training upon initial hiring and an additional hour of training on an annual basis. This training spans a range of topics, including factors indicating a child is at risk for abuse or neglect, warning signs indicating a child may be a victim of abuse or neglect, procedures for reporting child abuse or neglect, and raising awareness of community organizations that have training programs available to childcare center staff members, children, and parents.

As partners in creating the ideal childhood for all of our students, we invite parents to work with us in the effort to prevent abuse and neglect. Upon enrollment, parents will receive this abuse prevention policy in their parent handbook, and we recommend bookmarking the page for future reference. Parents should always feel comfortable connecting with a member of Guidepost’s leadership team in the case that there is concern about any student’s well-being.

Please see the document titled, Campus Licensing and State Abuse Hotline, in the parent Resource Hub for the list of state-by-state abuse hotline numbers as well as state childcare licensing offices.

*Iowa Registered Sex Offender Policy

A sex offender who has been convicted of a sex offense against a minor (even if the sex offender is the parent, guardian, or custodian) who is required to register with the Iowa sex offender registry:

a. Shall not operate, manage, be employed by, or act as a contractor or volunteer at the child care center.

b. Shall not be on the property of the child care center without the written permission of the school leader, except for the time reasonably necessary to transport the offender’s own minor child to and from the center.

The school leader is not obligated to provide written permission and must consult with their DHS licensing consultant first. If written permission is granted it shall include the conditions under which the sex offender may be present, including:

  1. The precise location in the center where the sex offender may be present.
  2. The reason for the sex offender’s presence at the facility.
  3. The duration of the sex offender’s presence.
  4. Description of how the center staff will supervise the sex offender to ensure that the sex offender is not left alone with a child.
  5. The written permission shall be signed and dated by the school leader and sex offender and kept on file for review by the center licensing consultant.

School Closure Due to Inclement Weather & Poor Road Conditions

Our goal is to remain open to provide vital, valuable care as much as we can because we recognize that our families depend on us for care and may have difficulty making alternate arrangements on short notice.

We will make every attempt to operate our schools as normal when safety and prudence allow. When deciding whether to close the school due to inclement weather, we consider a number of factors. These include weather forecasts, whether or not the situation has led to a local or statewide declaration of emergency, the distance to and from neighborhoods where many of our families and staff live, and our own observations of road conditions.

Depending on these factors, there may be times when we decide to stay open when the local district is closed, as well as times when we decide to close even if the local district is still open. Even when our schools are open, parents are encouraged to use their own judgment and to keep their children home when they judge that travel to and from school is too hazardous.

When we do decide it is in the best interest to close the school due to inclement weather, we will notify families via text message and/or email as early as possible. Please be aware that, in the case of closure due to inclement weather, our regular school programs and our extended day programs will both be closed.

Emergency Preparedness

In the unfortunate event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or flood, we have implemented several precautions to safeguard your children. Our emergency contact information for each student is up-to-date and accessible at all times. We kindly request that you promptly make any changes to your child's emergency contacts to ensure we can reach the appropriate individuals in case of an emergency. 

Each Guidepost campus is well-equipped with emergency supplies, including food, water, first aid kits, and other essential items. This ensures that we can provide shelter and care for all enrolled children for up to two days, if necessary. Our staff members are trained through regular fire, lockdown, and disaster drills, aligning with the recommendations of organizations like the Red Cross. These drills help us prepare all staff and children to respond safely and effectively to any emergency situation. 

In addition to our preparedness efforts, our key staff members, including those responsible for opening and closing the building each day, are certified in CPR and First Aid. This certification ensures that they are capable of providing immediate assistance when needed. We understand that natural disasters can be emotionally challenging for children, and our staff members are prepared to provide both physical and emotional care. We strive to keep children calm and engaged in activities during such situations. 

In the event of a natural disaster or any other emergency, we will promptly communicate with all families via email and/or text message to notify you of any unexpected closure or delay in opening the school. Furthermore, should an emergency event occur during school hours, your campus leadership team will closely monitor weather reports, hazard alerts, and emergency systems. We will initiate evacuation protocols if advised by emergency responders. 

In the event of an evacuation, we have identified an offsite location where our students will be safely relocated. We will communicate with you via email and/or text message throughout the evacuation process to keep you informed about the situation, provide updates, and give instructions for reuniting with your child. 

Tornado Policy

In the event of a tornado warning, the children will be taken to hallways and bathrooms away from windows.Blankets, a portable radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries are kept in the tornado sheltering area at all times. Our emergency backpacks, which include an attendance sheet, first aid supplies, and emergency contact information will be brought along.

In locations where tornadoes are common, we practice tornado drills once per month from April through October. Completion of all practice drills will be documented and available on our drill log.

Loss of a Child

In the event of a lost child, our school leaders will immediately initiate lockdown protocols and perform a full check of all areas of the school. If the child cannot be found, the child’s parents and / or emergency contacts and the police will be notified immediately. School leaders will notify the appropriate state Department of Children and Families within 24 hours after the occurrence.

Utility Outages

If our school should lose the use of heat, water, electricity, or other building services before the center opens, we will notify you via email and/or text message of any school closures or delayed openings. If the school should lose the use of heat, water, electricity, or other building services while children are in attendance, we will immediately contact all families to pick up their children within one hour or as soon as possible.

Safety Threats

If our school receives a threat to the building or its occupants (e.g., bomb threat, bodily injury threat, etc.), school leaders will immediately contact law enforcement and all families and staff to advise them of the threat. Depending on the nature of the threat, evacuation and/or closure or lockdown may be required.

Lockdowns

If a potential threat is identified on or near school property, a “lockdown” will be implemented to safeguard all students, staff, and visitors to the school. A lockdown response may be employed, for example, in the case of a weather-related emergency, a wild animal outside the building, a hazardous chemical in the area, or suspicion of criminal activity in the neighborhood.

Lockdown drills are practiced with students, and all staff members are trained to implement a lockdown under certain circumstances. Once a lockdown has been declared, all interior and exterior doors and windows are locked to secure the building and prevent unauthorized entry. In order to fully secure all entrances to the building and to minimize activity in the area, this restriction also applies to parents. An “all clear” must be declared by the Head of School/School Leader or local authorities before a lockdown is officially terminated, and before anyone can enter or exit the building.

If a lockdown occurs, whenever possible and reasonable, the Head of School/School Leader will email and/or text parents with information and updates about the situation. Parents will receive a final “all clear” notification once the lockdown is over. If you receive a lockdown message, please remain calm! The safety of our students is always our highest priority, so it is likely that we are simply taking precautions. You will be kept informed to the extent possible throughout, and as soon as a potential threat has abated.

Prohibited Substances

The use of tobacco, cannabis, illegal drugs, and alcohol is strictly forbidden on campus premises. Smoking and vaping are not allowed within a 25-foot radius of our campus boundaries, including playgrounds,parking lots, indoor facilities, and during field trips. It is prohibited for staff and families to be under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or illegal drugs during working hours. Additionally, staff and families are prohibited from consuming or being under the influence of prescription drugs if it impairs their ability to care for children. The presence of tobacco products, cannabis, alcohol, and illegal drugs on campus is strictly prohibited, ensuring they are never accessible to children.

FINANCIAL POLICIES

All-Inclusive Pricing

Our goal is to provide an all-inclusive pricing experience for our families as much as possible. In accordance with this all-inclusive approach, we do not charge any annual fees in addition to tuition; standard field trips, on-campus visiting experts, on-campus events, special supplies, etc., are included in your child’s tuition. (Some exceptions may be made in the case of overnight trips for older children, hot lunch vendors, and other unique, atypical expenses.)

Enrollment Fee

A non-refundable enrollment fee is required for each child at the time of initial enrollment and following any lapse in enrollment. The enrollment fee will be waived for future re-enrollment as long as your child remains continuously enrolled and you provide notice of re-enrollment for the upcoming academic year by our re-enrollment deadline. Please see your campus leadership team for details about the amount of this enrollment fee at your child’s campus.

Enrollment Deposit

An enrollment deposit is required for each child at the time of initial enrollment and following any lapse in enrollment. The enrollment deposit both pre-registers you for the program and secures the current rate sheet.

The enrollment deposit is non-refundable under nearly all circumstances. The only circumstance in which the enrollment deposit is refundable is if we are not able to offer you a start date within 6 months of submitting your enrollment deposit. For clarification, this policy means that the deposit is non-refundable provided we extend the offer of a start date to you within six months of submitting your deposit. The start date itself may be outside of the six-month window. 

Assuming your child remains continually enrolled, your deposit will “roll forward” each year that your child re-enrolls, so you will not be required to pay a new deposit in order to continue your child’s enrollment each year. Please see your campus leadership team for details about the amount of this enrollment deposit at your child’s campus.

Tuition Payment Options

Our Nido, Young Toddler, Toddler, and Children’s House programs are year-round. Tuition is due on the 20th of the prior month to enrollment, every month of the year (e.g. your September tuition payment is due on August 20th).

Our Elementary program is an academic year program. Academic year tuition is broken into 10 equal payments, with the first payment due on the 20th of the month prior to the month containing the first day of school.

Your first month’s tuition is prorated based on your child's start date and is due on the 20th of the calendar month prior to the one in which your child will start. For example, if your child starts February 6th, your tuition is due January 20th. If you register after the 20th, your first month’s tuition will be due at the time of registering. For example, if you register on June 24th with a start day in July, your tuition will be due at the time of registering on June 24th.

All parent billing accounts are set to auto-pay status. This means that your tuition payment will be automatically withdrawn on the 20th of each month through ACH or credit card payment. Credit card payments incur a small pass-through processing fee of 2.5% per payment.

Late Fees

Any tuition payments received after the 20th of the month will be subject to a late fee. The initial late fee of $25 will be charged on the 21st of the month. If payment is not received by the 25th, an additional fee of $50 will be imposed, for a total of $75. Repeated late payments may result in the discontinuation of enrollment.

Absent a written exception, tuition must be received prior to the 1st of any given month in order for your child to continue attending school that month. In cases of an unpaid tuition balance, we reserve the right at any time to require that the parents/guardians settle the remaining balance in full to maintain ongoing enrollment.

Checks returned by the bank will incur a processing fee in addition to the late fee.

Tuition During Absences, Illnesses, and Vacations

If your child starts partway through the school year and on a day other than the first school day of that month, your first tuition installment will be prorated according to your child’s start date.

Other than in that first month, monthly tuition installments are never pro-rated for any reason. For your convenience, monthly tuition installments are calculated as equal payments.Therefore, each tuition installment holds your child’s spot for that full month, regardless of whether your child is present for the entire month, whether it is a short month, how many days of school there are in that month, holidays, vacations, or any other factors.

Rate Sheets and Tuition Increases

Rate sheets will be provided upon your child’s enrollment.As long as your child remains continuously enrolled, the rate sheet provided at the time of enrollment will continue to apply for the duration of your child’s enrollment. This rate sheet includes rates for all the programs on campus, including rates for those programs your child will ‘age into’ in future years. These rates typically reflect modest increases year-over-year and are never greater than the rates offered to new families enrolling in those programs in future years (and are frequently lower). We refer to this approach as ‘future pricing transparency,’ since it allows you full visibility into what your child’s individual tuition will be in any future year.

Tuition increases occur at the start of each school year, either in August or September depending on your campus calendar. Please see your rate sheet for details. These tuition increases allow us to continue to offer the best possible program to all of our students and families. They also allow us to hire and retain highly qualified staff members, and keep classroom materials and our school facility in excellent condition on an ongoing basis. It is very important to us that families who are currently a part of our school community can continue with us each year. Tuition increases, including planned future increases for existing families, go into effect at the start of each academic year.

Sibling Discounts

Guidepost offers a 10% sibling discount for families with more than one child enrolled. The sibling discount will be applied to the tuition(s) of all younger siblings of the oldest child enrolled.

Sibling Rate Sheets

The rate sheet that will apply for an individual child will be the rate sheet that is current at the time that the parents put down the deposit for that particular child. Younger siblings are not eligible for rates as listed on an older sibling’s rate sheet.

Change of Schedule

Please submit requests to change your child’s schedule (e.g., half-day to full-day), or to increase or decrease the number of days your child attends per week, in writing. Only one schedule change is permitted each school year. We can only approve schedules included on our rate sheet. Please note that while we do our best to meet the needs of each family, not all schedule change can be accommodated.

Financial Aid

Families can apply to Financial Aid at any time. It’s quick and easy, and all information provided will be kept strictly confidential. You can find the link on our website, at: https://guidepostmontessori.com/school-admissions.

The application process for Guidepost Montessori’s financial aid program is administered by an external, third-party system called the Independent School Management Financial Aid for School Tuition Program (FAST). FAST follows nationally established standards and ensures that all information submitted is kept confidential. Financial aid is not government assistance or a government-funded program, and it is not a loan.

In considering financial aid applications, Guidepost also takes other factors into account,including available space in the school, the program the child would enroll in, and available financial aid funds.

Subsidies

Families are welcome to apply for subsidies to help cover all or a portion of their monthly Guidepost tuition. The family’s portion of their monthly tuition is due on the standard tuition deadline of the 20th of the month prior (e.g. the family’s portion of their March tuition is due on February 20th).

Depending on the subsidy program, the monthly subsidy award may be an estimate. To the maximum extent permitted by the subsidy program and by law, families participating in subsidy programs are responsible for their child(ren)'s full, unsubsidized tuition amount, including any differences between estimated subsidies and the actual subsidy payments issued.

In the case of overpayments by either the family or the subsidy, we will evaluate the tuition balance, family's enrollment, Guidepost's policies and the subsidy's policies to determine the appropriate next steps on the allocation of the funds. In general, any remaining balance is the responsibility of the family and will be due within 7 days. For example, if a subsidy payment is received on May 22nd, with a remaining balance of $100 owed to the school, the family is then responsible to pay that remaining $100 within 7 days, i.e. by May 29th.

Any financial aid or discretionary tuition discounts are applied to the family’s share of the tuition. For example, if a school’s monthly tuition is $1000, and a family receives a subsidy for $400 per month and a 20% tuition discount, the 20% discount is applied to the portion remaining after deducting the subsidy. A full breakdown of the family’s final tuition responsibility in this scenario can be seen below:

Monthly Tuition Plan: $1000

Subsidy offering: $400

Parent responsibility after subsidy: $600

20% Discount: $120

Parent responsibility after discount: $480

Many subsidies carry with them certain reporting requirements and tasks on the part of the child's school and/or family. As a provider, Guidepost is also subject to the conditions of the subsidy, including but not limited to attendance reporting, mandated testing, and retroactive payment schedules. Families receiving subsidies are required to comply with the subsidy conditions, and must cooperate with our school team to satisfy these requirements. Failure to do so may result in loss of the subsidy funds, in which case the family is responsible for the full tuition amount (including the portion that would have been covered by the subsidy).

Withdrawals

We strongly encourage you to become very familiar with our program before enrolling your child, so that you can commit to at least a complete year in a given classroom, and, in the case of the Children’s House, to the full three-year cycle of the program. Continuity benefits the classroom as a whole, and also benefits your child.

Our hope is that well before choosing to withdraw your child, you will reach out to your school leader or campus leadership team and share any concerns. Your trust is very important to us, and we will work closely with you to remedy the situation whenever possible.

If you choose to withdraw your child at any time, are required to give official notice no later than the month prior to your child’s final month. For the avoidance of ambiguity concerning withdrawals, the only method accepted for official withdrawal notice is your completion of our electronic withdrawal form, which will be provided by school leadership upon your request. The date on which you return the electronic withdrawal form will serve as your withdrawal notice date.

Your child’s last day would then be the last academic day of the month that follows the month in which you give notice (e.g., if you give notice on April 17, your child’s last day would be May 31). We do not pro-rate tuition for mid-month withdrawals and your child is entitled to attend school through the last academic day of their last month. Ordinarily, your enrollment deposit will be applied to tuition for your child’s last month of school. Depending on the deposit and monthly tuition amounts, there may be either an amount refunded or an amount owed. If a refund is due, it will be issued within 30 days of the last academic day of your child's final month.

Re-enrollment

To operate our schools effectively, we must forecast future enrollments, confirm staffing requirements and schedules, offer raises and promotion opportunities to staff based (in part) on the state of enrollments at a school, and make judgments regarding our capital expenditures and programming.The purpose of our re-enrollment process is to provide us with a reasonable opportunity to make these determinations, as well as to have sufficient time to fill spots in our classrooms vacated by families who are not returning.

Each Spring, we ask all currently-enrolled families to inform us if their child will be re-enrolling for the upcoming academic year prior to our re-enrollment deadline (generally April 15th unless your school has established a different deadline).

If you provide notice that your child will be re-enrolling by this deadline, your child is guaranteed a spot in the program, we will waive the enrollment fee for the upcoming year and you will maintain your child’s current rate sheet. You may still re-enroll after the deadline if spots are available, however you will be required to pay the enrollment fee and be subject to the tuition rates in effect for new families.

When you re-enroll, your enrollment deposit ‘rolls forward,’ so you will not be asked to make an additional deposit payment. Please be aware that if you provide us with notice of re-enrollment and then withdraw before the start of the new academic year, you forfeit your enrollment deposit, as well as any enrollment fee you may have paid for that upcoming academic year. For clarification, any withdrawal with a final day of attendance before October 31st of the upcoming academic year will result in forfeiture of enrollment deposit and fees if you previously indicated that your child will be re-enrolling.

If you choose not to re-enroll your child, you are still required to provide notice of withdrawal as described above.

STAFF QUALIFICATIONS

Background Checks

All Guidepost employees are background-checked and must pass multiple interviews related to their qualifications and prior experience. They must also demonstrate a clear love and respect for working with children. To ensure the safety of all the children in our care, all of our staff who have regular contact with children are also required to receive first aid and CPR training, as well as mandatory reporter training. We extend background checks to applicable outside vendors, ensuring that anyone with regular access to campus is also screened.

Professional Development

We partner with the internationally accredited teacher-training institute, The Prepared Montessorian (PMI), to ensure every Guidepost educator has ongoing access to training and professional development.

This premier and all-encompassing Montessori training not only prepares educators for a future where they will guide children in a Montessori classroom, it aids them in making the choices, learning the information, and gaining skills that they need in order to help the children in their classroom today.

Over 1,000 Guidepost educators have participated in this training. Two out of three of Guidepost's Lead Guides are either currently in training or have already completed it through PMI.

*Maryland Lead Guide Qualifications

All Maryland Lead Guides have their Montessori training certificates (preferably from our partner training institute, The Prepared Montessorian, or through AMI), have a demonstrated ability to lead a classroom independently, a demonstrated passion for the Montessori method, a growth mindset and problem-solving approach, ability to embrace and exemplify Guidepost Core Values, and a Bachelor’s degree or qualifying credentials as required by the Maryland Code of Regulations for Child Cares and/or Nonpublic Schools.

Our staff are highly trained in safe sleep guidelines, proper food handling, child development, emergency preparedness, and other classroom protocols that uphold a safe learning environment every day. Guidepost staff are CPR and First-Aid certified.

*Wisconsin Staff Qualifications

As defined by Wisconsin regulations, we use the DCF Staff Orientation Checklist for any new employee. Our staff are highly trained in safe sleep guidelines, proper food handling, child development, emergency preparedness, and other classroom protocols that uphold a safe learning environment every day. Guidepost staff are CPR and First-Aid certified.

Staff members who work more than 20 hours a week are expected to participate in at least 25hours of continuing education annually. Staff members who work 20 or fewer hours a week shall participate in at least 15 hours of continuing education annually. Any continuing education hours completed that exceed the annual requirement for the year may be used to meet the annual requirement in the 2 years following completion. Continuing education courses completed for credit that exceed the annual requirement for the year may be used to meet the annual requirement in the 2 years following completion.

*Michigan New Hire Training & Professional Development

All Michigan childcare staff receive training upon hire to prepare them to provide the best quality care and to ensure the health and safety of all the children they serve. This training must be completed before caring for children and includes, among other things, training on the prevention of SIDS, safe sleep practices for infants and toddlers, the prevention of shaken baby syndrome, abusive head trauma, and child maltreatment, as well as how to recognize and report signs of child abuse or neglect, whether by the child’s family or by other staff members.

Similarly, before having unsupervised contact with children, all Michigan childcare staff must complete training on the prevention and control of infectious diseases, our daily wellness check and send-home policy, and required immunizations.

Within 90 days of a childcare staff member’s hire date, they must also complete the following trainings which are available on MiRegistry:

  • Administration of medication
  • Prevention of and response to emergencies due to food and allergic reactions.
  • Building and physical premises safety, as well as Guidepost’s specific name-to-face headcount policy before and after each transition
  • Emergency preparedness and response planning
  • Handling and storage of hazardous materials and appropriate disposal of bio-contaminants.
  • Child development

All Michigan childcare staff members must also complete 16 hours of professional development annually on topics relevant to their job responsibilities. Examples of relevant study include, but are not limited to, child development and learning, health, safety, and nutrition, program management, and collaboration with families.

ADDITIONAL OPERATIONAL POLICIES

Non-Discrimination Policy

We do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, religion, or any other protected status.We will make reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of any child whose parents wish to enroll the child in our program. If your child has any diagnosed or suspected medical issue, behavioral issue, or special need (e.g., allergy, ADHD, autism, ODD, dyslexia, developmental difference, learning difference, or other), we require written documentation upon application to our program or as soon as information is available. Disclosure of this information is required as a condition of your child’s new or continued enrollment.

If your child has a known or suspected medical issue or special need, we will conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether we are able to make reasonable accommodations to meet your child’s social, learning, and behavioral needs. If we determine that a child may pose a health or safety risk to him or herself, or to others in our environment, or if enrolling the child would require a fundamental alteration of our program, we may regretfully refuse to enroll or discontinue enrollment of the child.

Out-of-School Relationships with Staff Members

To avoid situations that may present a conflict of interest, and to ensure the professionalism of staff members, Guidepost staff members may not provide childcare or engage in social interactions (including social media) outside of official school channels with children or parents of children currently or previously enrolled in our school. Please discuss exceptional circumstances with your Head of School or school leader.

Advertising

Neither students nor parents may advertise any company or cause in, on, or near school premises without written consent from the Head of School.

Photos, Videos, and Work Samples

Guidepost Montessori loves to build community and spread the love for Montessori. We frequently send photos and videos to you, our families, because we know you enjoy having that window into your child’s life and our classroom. We also often use photos and videos of real children and real events in our training and community building materials. Photos and videos taken on Guidepost Montessori premises or at Guidepost Montessori community events may be used for a variety of purposes including training, community building, and marketing.

If you would like to opt your child out so that their pictures and videos cannot be used for training and marketing purposes, please indicate this on the relevant form in your enrollment paperwork.

Technology Use

Your child will only be exposed to technology when listening to music in our communities. Children in Nido, Toddler, and Children’s House classrooms do not utilize computers, tablets, or any other form of screen time throughout the day.Elementary children may use tablets and computers throughout the day to facilitate their learning.

Our guides use company-owned devices such as i-Pads and laptops to lesson plan and document their students’ learning through progress reports, recording observations, and sharing photos with parents. Guides are not permitted to use personal devices such as cell phones while supervising children.

State Required Inspections

To access any information regarding recent inspections of our campus, please reach out to your campus leadership team, or visit the licensing board located in our front lobby. Inspections may include: fire inspections, health department inspections, lead testing, radon testing, and more. Inspection requirements vary by state.

Licensing/Regulatory Body Visits

State licensing or regulatory bodies may inspect our premises and programs at any time. This may include speaking with children and/or staff, and/or reviewing children’s files and school records without your prior consent.

*Connecticut Licensing Consultative Plan

The state of Connecticut requires that Guidepost hire the services of an early childhood educational consultant, health consultant, dental consultant, and social service consultant to review our policies, be available online or inperson for advice regarding problems, act as a resource to train staff, visit our campus to determine compliance, and document activities and observations in a consultation log that will be kept on file at the facility for two years.

The selection of our program’s consultants is thoughtful and deliberate, and includes the careful examination of each one’s qualifications and experience. A written agreement specifying each consultant’s services to the program is on file and updated annually.

Our health consultant will make, at minimum, quarterly site visits during business hours when our staff and children are present. During their visit, the health consultant will:

  • Review health and immunization records of children and staff
  • Review the contents, storage and plan for maintenance of first aid kits
  • Observe the indoor and outdoor environments for health and safety
  • Observe children’s general health and development
  • Observe diaper changing and toileting areas and diaper changing, toileting and handwashing procedures
  • Review the policies, procedures and required documentation for the administration of medications, including petitions for special medication authorizations needed for programs that administer medication
  • Assist in the review of individual care plans for children with special health care needs or children with disabilities, as needed.

Licensing

To gain access to inspection reports and licensing office locations for your campus, please see the document, Campus Licensing and State Abuse Hotline, in the Resource Hub.

Complete File Requirements

As a condition of your child’s enrollment, all registration paperwork, medical forms, and payments must be complete and submitted before your child attends school.

Confidentiality

Your child’s personal information is confidential and will not be shared with third parties without your consent. Access is limited to appropriate school staff.

Prior to any research, experimental procedure, or public relations activity involving a child, we will obtain parental permission.

Custody Considerations

If there are current legal documents regarding custody issues, please provide a copy to the school leader or campus leadership team. We are required to release a child to his or her natural parent unless we have a legal document on file that addresses custody. We cannot deny a parent the right to pick up their child, even if we have been asked to do so, without a legal document on site.

Pest Control Policy

Pest control service visits will occur on a regular basis, handled by a facilities management company under contract with Guidepost Montessori. All pest control service will be handled by appropriately licensed vendors under the direction of the facilities management company, pursuant to the Integrated Pest Management Plan.

TRANSPORTATION

Most Guidepost Montessori campuses will not regularly transport any students to and from school. For those schools that do offer transportation, parents will receive sign up information as part of the enrollment process.

We may occasionally host optional field trips for the Children’s House and all parents are invited to attend. These field trips may include riding on a bus to and from the venue. If bus transportation is required, your “Field Trip and Transportation” permission form is already on file in your child’s Enrollment Paperwork. Parents will also receive information for specific field trips via email and will be asked to complete an additional RSVP form.

TEXAS-SPECIFIC POLICIES

Hearing and Vision Monitoring Policy

Hearing and Vision Requirements: The Special Senses and Communication Disorders Act, Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 36 requires a screening or professional examination for possible vision and hearing problems for children 4-years-old by September 1 and within 120 days of admission. Guidepost Montessori does not offer these screenings and it will be the parent’s responsibility to submit the required hearing/vision screening to your administrative team.

Gang-Free Zone Policies

In addition to the aforementioned precautions taken to ensure the safety and security of all children, any area within 1,000 feet of Guidepost Montessori’s facility is deemed a gang-free zone by the state of Texas, whereby criminal offenses related to organized criminal activity are subject to harsher penalty.

Accommodations Policy

Guidepost Montessori will provide children with special care needs with the accommodations recommended by a health-care professional or a qualified professional affiliated with the local school district or early childhood intervention programs, providing necessary accommodations and utilizing adaptive equipment that has been provided for a child’s use. With parental request and approval, a child who receives early intervention or special education services can receive those services at our location.

Our Guides will work to ensure that activities integrate children with and without special care needs and adapt methods as necessary to support each child’s individual needs and create a natural and inclusive learning environment.

Parents Rights

Please reference the "Parents' Rights in Texas" document in your Resource Hub to find information about the rights of parents of an enrolled child in accordance with The Kairo and the Kids' Law.

TERMINATION OF SERVICES

Our goal in establishing the above policies and expectations is to provide the best educational environment for every child in our program. In some circumstances, a parent or guardian’s failure to follow the outlined policies above may harm our ability to do this and lead Guidepost to conclude that terminating a child’s services is in the best interest of our community. Unmet expectations may include unpaid bills, unprofessional or aggressive behavior toward our staff, or inappropriate or unsafe behavior in or near our campus. Where time and safety allows, parents will be provided with a prior notice and warning before escalation to a termination of services.

CONCLUSION

Guidepost Montessori is dedicated to providing the best possible educational experience for your child, excellent communication with you, and a warm and welcoming school community for your family! Our goal is to continually improve in all these areas, and we encourage you to actively share your feedback and suggestions.Thank you again for choosing us! It is our honor, and our privilege, to share the upcoming school year with your family.

Handbook Version: March 2024