General Policies and Procedures
The safety and security of our children is the first priority of our school. All accidents and incidents are documented and reported to the parent(s) or guardian. Reports will be given to parents at pickup and must be signed the same day of the accident/incident. Parents will be notified immediately in the event of a serious illness, bleeding, head injuries or other emergencies. If necessary, the child will be taken to the nearest hospital. All medical expenses will be the responsibility of the parent. It is very important that you keep your child’s emergency contact information up to date at all times. This information should include current home address, cell and business telephone numbers, and emergency contacts.
Parents must notify the school in writing of their child’s allergies which must be documented. We require that parents provide written medical documentation, instructions, and medications, as directed by a physician, to the school. All medications should be properly labeled and replaced after use or upon expiration.
Parents will be notified immediately in the event of an allergic reaction or other emergency. If necessary, the child will be taken to the nearest hospital. All medical expenses will be the responsibility of the parent. It is very important that you keep your child’s emergency contact information up to date at all times. This information should include current home address, cell and business telephone numbers, and emergency contacts.
WCMS is not a “peanut free” school. Parents are welcome to bring “safe foods” that will be stored in the kitchen for substitution. Children with food allergies or dietary restrictions may sit at a designated lunch table to avoid exposure to unsafe foods.
Appearance and School Uniforms
School uniform is mandatory for all students Monday through Thursday. Students must appear clean and neatly groomed and wear uniforms/clothes that are non-disruptive of the educational activities and processes of the school. The uniform policy is strictly enforced and children not in uniform must have a uniform t-shirt purchased. School uniform shirts are available for purchase for $10 each. Friday is “free dress” and children may wear play clothes.
Uniform bottoms must be any of the following colors:
- Navy/dark blue and khaki, tan or beige. Denim is not an acceptable blue. Jeans are only permitted on Fridays.
Uniform bottoms may include:
- Shorts, pants, skirts, skorts, capris or overall dresses. Please note that dresses and skirts should be accompanied by bloomers/shorts. Spandex bottoms of any kind are strictly prohibited.
- Small embellishments around the pockets or hems are allowed. Embellishments that are large can be disruptive during class time.
Play clothes may NOT be:
- Garments and/or jewelry which display or suggest sexual, vulgar, drug, gang, weapons, or alcohol-related wording or graphics, or which provoke violence or disruption in the school.
- Shoes must be sturdy and comfortable. Sandals and flip-flops are highly discouraged.
- Excessive jewelry (bracelets, necklaces, rings, watches, sunglasses) and hair accessories including hat/caps are prohibited as they are a distraction to the children in the classroom. Children may wear a hat/cap and sunglasses during outside play.
To obtain the full benefit of our instructional program, students are expected to attend school regularly and to arrive on time. Daily attendance is taken in each classroom by a teacher. Poor attendance or excessive tardiness results in a loss of continuity and may affect your child’s performance.
Based on our school Attendance Policy for the 2018-2019 school year, we will consider the following as excused absences:
- An illness of the student or a medical/dental appointment.
- An accident resulting in an injury of the student.
- A death in the family.
- An observance of a religious holiday.
- A preplanned absence. Please notify the Director in writing at least three (3) days prior to the absence.
- An emergency such as: severe weather, a major personal or family issue, an accident on the way to school.
(Reminder: We follow Pasco County School Closing Procedures when a county-wide emergency arises.)
Please notify the school if your child will be absent. Parents will be contacted via telephone by 10:00 a.m. if the office has not been notified of the child’s absence or tardy. Each child’s arrival and dismissal (sign in/sign out) will be recorded on a daily basis by a staff member. Students who miss more than 20 days of school during the year will be considered excessively absent. The Attendance Policy Form must be signed for all VPK students.
Authorization of Pick Up
In order to ensure the safety of each child, no child will be released to any person other than a parent/guardian or persons listed on the Authorization for Pick Up/Release section of the Student Application or without written authorization. Only adults 18 years and older may be authorized for pick up. If you wish to have someone else pick up your child from school, please send in a note with the adult’s name, phone number, and relationship giving staff permission to release your child into the care of that individual. We will check ID’s and make photocopies of driver’s licenses of your authorized pick up contacts. Please inform them of our policy. Authorized pick up persons who fail to provide ID will not be allowed to take your child from the school.
Birthdays and Holidays
Holidays and birthdays are exciting and we welcome special snacks to help celebrate your child’s special day. In addition to bringing nutritious snacks, children are encouraged to wear a special outfit and bring pictures to help us celebrate. Please coordinate your child’s birthday celebration with the office staff to verify the snack details and day / time of the celebration.
WCMS will close for Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring breaks as well as major holidays, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day. We generally follow the Pasco County Public School holiday calendar. No credits or proration of tuition will be given for vacation, holidays or school closures. A school calendar will be provided to each family upon enrollment.
We understand that particular holidays are not celebrated by all, and we respect your decision to keep your child at home on these days.
Calendar, Newsletter and Electronic Information
Please check your child’s folder weekly for important messages and school events. Newsletters, calendars, and specific memos keep parents informed of important activities at school. The school’s website, www.wcmontessori.com, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WCMontessori, are good sources to watch for school events and activities. Weekly emails will be sent with reminders and updates for parents.
Communication & Messages
A good communication flow between the school and parents is essential to monitor the progress of each child. Folders will be sent home the last day of the week your child attends and should be returned to the school the first day of the week your child attend. The folder will contain notes from the school and/or the teacher and individual work done by your child. Proactively sharing your child’s school experiences will reinforce their love for learning.
We do have an “open door” policy at the school. If you have any questions concerning your child, please request a conference through the Director. Engaging the classroom teachers or children in conversations can detract their attention and disrupt the classroom routine.
Please email the Director or telephone the school of any important information needs to be communicated to the school. We cannot accept verbal messages from children or notes sent in their lunch boxes or folders. It is important that teachers know if your child’s daily routine has had any changes.
Common causes of distress for children include:
- Interrupted sleep.
- Newly prescribed medications.
- Visiting grandparents or relatives.
- Sickness in the family.
- Traveling parent.
- Changes in family status.
- Death in the family or the death of a pet.
In the event that a significant change occurs in your home, please inform the Director as soon as possible. The Director will keep you informed of any significant changes in the school environment which may affect your child.
We welcome your ideas and areas of special interest. We are an enthusiastic audience for your knowledge and your talents. Our children benefit by parents sharing their special interests and career talents. It is our objective to work closely with our parents and to create a “family friendly” environment. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities, please let the Director know.
Conferences, Grading and Assessment
Report cards will be sent home after each 12 week grading period. Parent-Teacher conferences will take place in the Fall and Spring semester or as needed. Lead teachers evaluate the progress of each child through extensive daily record keeping. We maintain individual records on the progress of every child in all areas of the Montessori environment including Academic, Social and Emotional Development, and Conduct.
Children with delayed intellectual or social development skills, with cooperation of the parents, can be referred to a licensed specialist. Parents who wish to have their child assessed must give permission for the evaluation. At the end of the school year, all VPK and Kindergarten children will participate in a Graduation Ceremony celebrating their completion of their academic year.
Damage to School Property
If a child willfully destroys or loses school property or materials, all costs associated with the repairs or replacement will be the responsibility of the parent(s) or guardian. Continual destruction of school property is grounds for dismissal from the school.
Diaper Changing and Toilet Training
We work diligently with children in our Young Children’s Primary on toilet training. If a child has not yet displayed an interest in using the toilet we will change them following diaper changing procedures. The child will be checked every hour for a wet or soiled diaper. During diaper changing the child will be laid on a nonabsorbent surface to be changed. Once the diaper has been changed and the child is dressed, the staff member who changed their diaper will remove their gloves and help the child to properly wash their hands. Then the surface is disinfected for the next child.
If a child has displayed an interest in using the toilet, they will be brought to the bathroom every thirty minutes. This provides them with familiarity to the bathroom routine. A staff member will help the child onto the toilet as well as clean the child. Once the child is done on the toilet, the staff member will assist the child with putting their clothing back on. The staff member will then remove their gloves and help the child to properly wash their hands.
The development of inner discipline is the goal of the Montessori Method. Our teachers are trained to use various techniques to redirect a child’s behavior including encouragement, positive reinforcement, and natural consequences for actions. We strive to provide a loving, secure, and supportive environment that focuses on children’s positive behavior. A month long probationary period for all new students is required to determine whether our academic program is beneficial, and meets the needs of the child. Children shall not be subjected to discipline, which is severe, humiliating or frightening. Discipline shall not be associated with food, rest, or toilet needs. Any form of physical punishment is strictly prohibited at The Wesley Chapel Montessori School.
All children must abide by the playground and classroom safety rules. When a child exhibits a consistent behavior pattern that is disturbing to the program, damaging to the school or endangers the safety of other children, appropriate steps will be taken. Such steps will include, but are not limited to:
- Immediate notice to parents.
- Incident report(s) will be documented and sent home.
- Parent/Teacher conference will be arranged.
- Dismissal of student.
WCMS reserves the right to dismiss any child from school for serious and continued misbehavior. In a case of dismissal from the school, neither the current month’s tuition nor the registration fee will be refunded.
Children are encouraged to develop language skills that help them to communicate their needs and feelings to others. They are encouraged to solve their differences with their peers through cooperation and empathy.
Emergency Procedures and Notifications
Fire safety drills are conducted monthly as is tornado and lockdown drills performed regularly. Evacuation signs are posted in each classroom. Each classroom is equipped with an outside emergency exit, and the school fire alarm system is linked directly to the local fire station.
In cases of unforeseen/rare emergencies, if need be, the school will lock down for the safety and security of our students and teachers and parents will be notified immediately.
We live in an area that experiences various forms of severe weather. Bad weather necessitating school cancellation will be announced immediately via telephone and or emails to parents.
Our school follows the Pasco County School closure procedures. There will be no tuition credit for school closure due to emergency conditions.
Children and staff are instructed to wash their hands numerous times throughout the day: before and after food preparation, handling, or serving food, before and after eating food, after toileting or changing diapers/pull ups, after blowing or wiping noses, after touching an animal or animal feed, as well as upon arriving in the classroom.
In order to receive the full benefit of the Montessori curriculum, it is imperative that children arrive to school on time. The morning provides crucial information and lessons that the child will use throughout the day and year. Late arrivals and tardiness are disruptive to the classroom. Art, music and special events also take place in the early hours of the day.
Late Pick Ups
If you are going to be late, please call the school. A late payment charge of $1.00 per minute will apply to all children who are picked up late. This fee is to be paid in cash the following day to the office staff.
Lunch and Snack
Lunches are eaten outside on the patio area. In cases of inclement weather conditions, the children will eat their lunch inside the building. Each child will need to be responsible for their own lunch. Please pack a well-balanced and nutritious meal for your child. Note that small portions minimize waste and a variety in their meal helps their appetites. The older children enjoy packing their own lunches. To foster independence, please make lunch boxes manageable for your child and easy to open. First and last names should be clearly marked on all lunch boxes and accessories. Please include a spoon or fork if needed and a napkin. A drink must be provided in the lunch box (do not freeze drinks). Do not send toys, glass containers or cans of any kind. Lids on canned fruits etc. are extremely dangerous. We are unable to refrigerate or warm-up lunches. Please use ice packs to cool food, and a thermos to keep food warm. Due to allergies, please remind your child not to share their lunch with any other child. Children with allergies will sit in a designated area to avoid exposure to “unsafe food”.
Fridays are optional “Pizza Days”. Children will be served fresh, cheese pizza, a drink and dessert for $3 a week. Payment must now be included to the tuition made at the beginning of each month and paid for a minimum of $12 a month. Children do not need to bring their lunchbox if they are participating in “Pizza Day” but are encouraged to bring a bottle/thermos of water.
The school will provide nutritious mid-morning and afternoon snacks. A variety of snacks that include fresh fruits, dairy, and whole grains are served daily. The school serves morning snacks for students enrolled in our Half and Full Day Programs and afternoon snacks for students enrolled in our Extended Day Programs.
Medication and Illness
Parents are requested to notify the school when a child is going to be absent due to an illness. Communicable diseases must be reported to the school immediately.
If your child exhibits any of the following conditions in the past 24 hours, your child must be kept home. Also, children will be sent home if they exhibit any signs of the following:
- Severe coughing
- Excessive yellow/green mucus discharge from the nose
- Difficulty breathing
- Stiff neck or headache
- Fever (100.0 or above)
- Pink eye
- Untreated skin patches/rashes
Your child may return to school if they are symptom-free for over 24 hours. The Director will only dispense medicine if prescribed by a physician. The state requires an “Authorization of Medication Dispensing” form to be filled out by the parent in order for medicine to be dispensed at the school. Dosage and instructions must be clearly labeled. However, we strongly recommend that you request from your child’s physician a medication that can be administered at home in the morning or evening.
Do not send cough drops, sun screen or any other over the counter medication unless accompanied by a doctor’s prescription. Do not send any medication in the lunch box. All medicine must be handed to the Director. In the event that any side effect is noticed from any doctor-prescribed medications, parents will be notified immediately.
Parents are asked to use extreme caution when returning their child to school. A child with a fever (100.0 or above) must be fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours without medication. Children diagnosed with Strep Throat or other contagious illnesses must be on antibiotics for a minimum of 48 hours before returning. Severe coughing and runny noses that are thick with mucus are conditions that require at-home care.
Childcare licensing requires young children who stay in school during the afternoon to have a nap period. Children at WCMS will nap until age 4. Nap time will take place from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. while the lights are dimmed and soft classical music is played. Mats are provided by the school and parents need to provide bedding, a standard size crib sheet and a small blanket, in a small backpack. Please clearly label all bedding articles with the child’s first and last name. Please do not bring large backpacks, stuffed animals, pillows, or any other sleep aids as toys or sleep aids are strictly prohibited. All bedding articles should be brought the first day of the week your child attends school and will be returned the last day of the week your child attends school to be laundered. Parents may sign a waiver to allow their child to discontinue napping prior to age 4.
The Wesley Chapel Montessori School at Lexington Oaks does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, or handicap/disability in their enrollment practices. WCMS also supports equal employment opportunity and treatment for all staff without regard to sex, race, color, religion or national origin, age, sexual orientation, handicap/disability or veteran status in all aspects of employment.
A Florida state requirement is that all children at school are provided with outside play/physical activities each school day unless rain, extreme heat, or cold temperatures are a prohibiting factor. Parents should be aware of this fact and provide their children with appropriate shoes, seasonal clothing and outerwear. Please ensure that outerwear clothing is easy for your child to manage. The amount of outdoor playtime will be based on the discretion of the Director and weather conditions. The school cannot accommodate sick children who cannot go outdoors with his/her class, as this would take a staff member away from their outdoor supervisory activities. It is recommended that if a child is too sick to go outside for a short period of time during the day, the child should not attend school that day.
An Orientation Session is scheduled at the beginning of each school year. Parents are encouraged to be involved in school activities, as it fosters the nurturing environment that is critical to the success of your child.
Parking and Drop Off/Pick Up Instructions
We request that parents use the school drive through for both arrivals and departures. Punctual arrivals and pickups are required. If you plan to come into the school, please park in the spaces provided to facilitate the flow of traffic. Parking is available to the side of the building. Should you choose to come in, please leave your child with an office staff member rather than walking them into the classroom, as this makes separation more difficult for the child and contributes to their anxiety and fears.
For quick pick-ups and drop offs, please use the drive through car line. Please adhere to the following safety rules and guidelines as you drop off and pick up your child:
- Pull into the driveway slowly and carefully at all times. Pull your vehicle to the front of the line and as close to the curb as possible to allow vehicles behind you to pass.
- Please ring the bell and wait for a staff member to assist you in signing in/out your child.
- At the time of departure, parents/guardians (not a staff member) must make sure that your child is safely buckled in their car seat before you move out of the driveway.
Remember to use extreme caution when entering/exiting the school driveway and parking lot. Yield to give the right of way to children and pedestrians. Be cautious when backing your vehicle out and follow the flow of traffic.
Payment of Tuition
Tuition is an annual fee for the entire academic school year from August through May. Payments under the monthly installment plan are due by the 3rd business day of school for each month. School year rates for August will be pro-rated.
The tuition installment payment is due every month irrespective of how many days your child is absent due to sickness, family vacations or official holidays observed by the school. WCMS will not refund or pro-rate tuition due to a child absent due to sickness, family vacations or official holidays and breaks observed by the school under any circumstances. If your child does not plan to attend school for an extended period of time, tuition must continue to be paid to reserve their seat in the classroom. If your child does not plan to attend school for an extended period of time, tuition must continue to be paid to reserve their seat in the classroom.
Tuition may be paid by check, cash, money order, or automatic bank transfer. Please make checks payable to WCMS. Please use your cancelled check and/or monthly invoice in lieu of receipts as receipts will not be given. A late fee of $10 per day will apply for all tuition received after the 3rd business day of the month. A $35 fee will apply on all returned checks. The receipt of two “Insufficient Funds” checks will require that all future tuition payments and penalty fees be paid by money order, cashier’s check or cash. In the event of an overdue account of more than five school days, the child will not be permitted to attend school until full payment has been made or permission has been obtained from the Director. Tuition payment must be given directly to an office staff member.
The Tax I.D. Number for The Wesley Chapel School is 45-3538559
Please clearly label all of your child’s belongings with their first and last name. The school requires that each child bring (2) complete changes of clothing (this does not need to be a uniform) including top, bottom, underwear, socks and shoes each semester. The clothing should be packed in a zip-lock bag with your child’s first and last name written on it clearly. Replace clothes as needed. It is necessary that each clothing article worn or brought to school have a label with the child’s name on it. Please label jackets, hat/caps, lunch boxes, water bottles, backpacks etc. and any other item brought to school that needs to be returned home. WCMS is not responsible for personal belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged.
Safety and Security
The school takes precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of our children. The safety of the children is our primary concern. Staff members are required to take a course on Child CPR, First Aid, and emergency procedures. A first aid kit is available in all classrooms and the outside patio in case of minor injuries.
Our playground equipment meets the highest safety standards for quality and design. The front doors of the school are electronically locked at all times. Entry cannot be obtained without a staff member to allow access inside. All other entry points at the back and sides of the building are secured by a locked 6 foot fence. If an unknown person arrives at the front doors, the Director or other staff member will ask for proper identification.
All children will be signed in at drop off and signed out at pick up daily. The teachers are also responsible for taking attendance of the children in their care numerous times throughout the day.
Smoking/Tobacco/Illegal Substance Policy
The use of these products are strictly prohibited anywhere in the building or on the premises of the school.
Special Events/Extra Curricular Activities
For security purposes, WCMS does not provide field trips. We prefer to bring the world to our children. Throughout the year, special events are planned in coordination with the curriculum and holidays.
Extracurricular activities are available after school (3:00 p.m.). Such activities include, but are not limited to theatre, ballet/tap, soccer, and gymnastics. These activities are hosted at the school for an additional cost. The fees and materials are determined by the individual instructors, and approved by the school.
Special Needs Students
WCMS strives to provide an exceptional academic experience for all of its students and therefore all students must meet certain minimum standards that will be determined during the 30 day probationary period. The school will make reasonable accommodations to allow students with special needs who are otherwise qualified to attend the school; however, the school cannot make substantial modifications to its programs, staffing, or curriculum to accommodate a student with special needs without diminishing the school’s ability to provide the exceptional academic experience that all of the school’s students deserve. Accordingly, if the school determines that a student with special needs cannot meet the minimum academic and technical standards required of all students in spite of his or her handicap, the school may not be able to admit the student with special needs, if the school determines that admitting the student will diminish the school’s ability to provide an exceptional academic experience to all of its students. Additionally, if the school admits a student with special needs and later determines that the student cannot satisfy the requirements expected of all students after making reasonable attempts to accommodate the student’s disability, the school may determine that it cannot readmit the student in subsequent years, or suspend or expel the student if his or her behavior is causing distractions or otherwise interfering with the school’s ability to educate all of its students.
Staff to Student Ratios
The Wesley Chapel Montessori School strives to provide quality care and education to the students. The school adheres to the ratios set forth by The Florida Department of Children and Families. For our Young Children’s Primary, the state ratio is 1:6 with no more than 18 children during the learning periods and no more than 30 children during nap. Our Pre-Primary classrooms state ratio is 1:15, with no more than 27 children in a classroom. Our VPK classroom state ratio is 1:11 with no more than 20 children in the classroom.
Information in each student’s file is considered highly confidential. Please notify the Director of any changes as soon as possible (i.e., cell phone numbers, authorized pick-ups, address, etc.). The only person with access to student files is the Director. Staff members are instructed to keep all information regarding students confidential. Parents may, at any time, review their child’s file with the Director. Information in student files will be released to the parent only. Student information will not be forwarded to other schools without a written request from the parent.
Important: Should a student be involved in child custody case, we require a copy of the legal document specifying the custody arrangement. In cases of unauthorized pick up situations, teachers are instructed to maintain the safety of the child and themselves as a priority. In case of such events, the other parent will immediately be notified.
WCMS offers a Summer Program in which children participate in many activities and events that are not only enjoyable but enriching including arts and crafts, music, in-house field trips, games, etc. The Summer Program is a relaxed extension of our academic year. The focus is to enrich the child’s experiences with nature and the world at large.
Toys and Jewelry
Bringing toys to school is prohibited. Although children are often excited about their special toys, they become a distraction to the learning environment. Children are not permitted to bring jewelry, other than what is being worn, for safety reasons as it can pose a serious choking hazard. If any jewelry (bracelets, necklaces, rings, watches, sunglasses) and hair accessories including hat/caps and headbands becomes a distraction to the learning environment, we will ask that it not be worn or brought to school again. The school is not responsible for the loss of any such items.
Withdrawal from School
The school requires a 30-school day written notice when withdrawing a child from the school. Children who do not return to school for any reason will be automatically withdrawn from the school and the parents will be accountable for the current month’s tuition. Registration and tuition fees will not be refundable under any circumstances.