Parent Handbook

Absences – Always call the office when your child will not attend school due to an illness, trip, or appointment.

Adverse Weather Procedures – Always assume Bala House will be OPEN during normal operating hours. If Bala House will be CLOSED or will have a DELAYED OPENING, you will receive an email and Montessori Compass message from the school. There will also be messages on Bala House’s answering machine and website, radio station KYW 1060 AM (our school number is 3146), and TV stations Channel 10, Channel 6 and FOX 29 News. These media outlets also have websites that list school closings.

You can also set up automatic alerts to your land line, cell phone or email to inform you as to whether Bala House will be CLOSED or DELAYED by going to the following sites:

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/feature?section=news/education/closures&id=5789296

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/weather/School_Closings_By_Phone_And_EMail

Delayed opening messages mean the following:
• One Hour Delay – means ALL AM children should arrive at 10:00 a.m.
• Two Hour Delay – means ALL AM children should arrive at 11:00 a.m.
Please do not drop off your child before these times because there will be no staff on duty to receive them.

Arrival Time and Door Greeter for Morning Students -There will be a staff greeter at Bala House’s entrance, the double glass doors located in the glass enclosed link, from 8:50 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. each morning. All NEW Bala House children should be escorted to their classroom by a parent/adult until they feel comfortable walking up the stairs in front of the school and walking through the hallways.

After this time, the doors to the classroom levels will be locked. Please try to arrive no later then 9:05 a.m. Entering the classroom after group time has started can be uncomfortable for your child and disruptive to the teachers and the other children. In addition, many of our specialist classes begin at 9:15 am. We do understand that every once in a while things happen and you will be late. But if you are consistently late, please try to make every effort to change your routine so your child arrives at school on time and can be part of circle time.

If you must arrive after school is in session, please park your car, escort your child into the building and proceed to the office. A staff member will escort you and your child to locked classroom areas and will let you in. Understand that the locked doors are for our children’s safety, and parents are always welcome at Bala House.

Birthdays – Children’s birthdays are celebrated at Bala House as Celebration of Life ceremonies. Children may bring in a special group snack. If you want to contribute a snack, please discuss this with your child’s teacher a few days in advance. We strive to serve healthy foods, so no iced cakes, please! Fruit kabobs, muffins, and mini bagels are always a hit. Always check with your child’s teacher about specific allergies in each classroom before sending in any food item.

A Bala House birthday tradition that has evolved is for families to send in a poster with a photograph from each year of their child’s life. The children really enjoy reviewing those life changes!

Calendar / Handbook – Please read the Bala House calendar / handbook when you receive it. Calendars will be placed in your child’s backpack the first week of school. All important dates, the Montessori philosophy, our school mission, and Bala House traditions are contained in this handbook.

Classroom Observations– Observation windows are located in the doorways of each classroom. You are welcome to observe your child at anytime through these special windows. Beginning in October, you are also welcome to visit your child’s classroom after phasing-in concludes.

Clothing and Other Items

Extra Set of Clothing – Please send in an extra set of clothing suitable for the season. This extra clothing should be sent in a Ziploc bag labeled with your child’s name. Remember to label each article of clothing including shoes. Even if your child no longer has bathroom accidents, he/she may sometimes get water, paint or mud on him/her self and will need to be changed. When the weather begins to turn colder or warmer, please change your child’s extra set of clothes with appropriate clothing.

Winter Garments – We go outside everyday unless it is raining. It is important to dress your child appropriately. During the colder months, your child will need a winter jacket, snow pants, hat, mittens (not gloves) and boots. Please label everything and attach your child’s mittens to their jacket via string or clips.

Backpacks – Please make sure your child comes to school with a LABELED backpack every Friday so their teacher can send home paperwork. (Attn. Afternoon (PM) Class Families – Please make sure your child has their backpack on every Wednesday.)

Label All Clothing, Backpacks, and Nap Items (Sheets, Blankets, Pillows, and Stuffed Animals) – Since children don’t always remember what items belong to them, please label everything. Our staff changes throughout the day and we cannot count on the morning teachers always being available to match up jackets to children.

Dressing – Please encourage independent dressing at home. Each night ask your child to select an outfit for the next day. This will give them plenty of time in the morning to dress themselves. Remember, dressing should be prioritized BEFORE TV, etc. Even our youngest children are capable so please encourage this independence.

Before the colder weather arrives, please practice with your child putting on their jacket. Lay the jacket on the floor with the zipper side up. Have your child stand at the head or hood. They should bend down, place hands in sleeves, and flip the jacket over their head. You can start teaching zippers at home, even if you have to start the bottom. Please have your child zip up, snap, or button. We enjoy the cold weather at Bala House, and you will too if you practice dressing skills at home.

Communication

Parent Communication – All class related communications should be directed first to your child’s head teacher. They will make sure all your questions, notes for the office or Extended Care, etc. are directed to the appropriate staff members on a daily basis.

School Communication

School Communication – Electronic – In order to decrease our paper usage and be good stewards of our earth, we will make every effort to send all school communication home electronically. These Montessori Compass messages and emails will contain administrative, classroom, parent’s association, and board/fundraising information. Please read the emails/messages and discuss any comments or questions with your child’s teacher or the School Director

If you do not receive Bala House emails, please notify the office immediately. It is important that the office has the proper email addresses for your family as this is your main way of being notified of school information.

School Communication – Paper – Items that cannot be sent home electronically (forms that need to be filled out or require parent signatures, special invitations, bulky school calendars, etc.) will be placed in your child’s “communication folder.” Every Friday, these items will be sent home in your child’s backpack. (The PM Class will receive these items on Wednesdays, when most PM children are present, during 3:30 p.m. pick-up.) Please make sure your child has a backpack on these days.

School Communication – Kindergarten News – Our kindergarten class will issue a weekly newsletter that describes topics covered during the week. Due to the student created drawing on the front cover, a hard copy of this newsletter will be distributed every Friday to only Kindergarten families.

Conferences – These informative parent-teacher meetings are scheduled twice a year, in November and then again in April. However, a parent or teacher may request a conference by appointment at anytime if either feels there is a need for one. Bala House uses SignUp Genius (www.signupgenius.com) to schedule conferences two weeks in advance. If you can’t make a certain time, please let your teacher know. They will make every effort to arrange another date and time that is convenient for you. Any questions, please contact the office.

Contracted Hours – After August 1st, changes in contracted hours are subject to a $25 change fee. All requests for schedule changes must be in writing, signed, and dated. No decrease in hours will be accepted after August 1st.

Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures
Bala House’s community is comprised of very small children, babies and parents. Therefore, extra caution and patience is always needed during drop-off and pick-up times.

Early Arrival Extended Care Children (Start Time prior to 8:50 a.m.)
Park your car. (Do not park along the driveway adjacent to the building at any time.) Walk your child to the appropriate staff member and have the arrival noted before leaving the classroom. Early Extended Care must be reserved by contract or using an Extra Hour form.

Drop-off (9:00 a.m. Start Time):
• A staff greeter will be stationed from 8:50 to 9:05 am at the Bala House entrance.
• Always pull up to the front of the line and let your child out where a staff member is standing ready to receive them.
• Always hand your child over to a staff member. NEVER allow your child to get out of the car and walk on the sidewalk by themselves while you are in the drop-off line. You must always pull up to the front of the line and let your child out where a staff member is standing ready to receive them. If you are the second or third car in the drop off line, it is too dangerous to let your child walk alongside moving cars without adult supervision.
• NEVER get out of your car in the drop-off line. . A staff member will take your child out and close the car door.
NEVER drop off your child at the front door when no staff member is on duty. If there is no staff member on duty, park your car in a parking space (do not leave the car parked along the curb in front of the school entrance), walk your child all the way to their classroom, and make sure a teacher sees you and your child.
• NEVER go around a car to get to the front of the line. (This poses a real safety issue.) You may only pass on the left if you are PARKING and walking your child into Bala House.
• If you would like to walk your child into the building, please pull your car into a parking space and walk your child to their classroom. Never park your car along the curb in front of the school.

Arrivals after 9:05 a.m. Park your car. (Do not park along the driveway adjacent to the building at any time.) Please escort your child into the building and proceed to the office. A staff member will escort you and your child to locked classroom areas and will let you in. Understand that the locked doors are for our children’s safety, and parents are always welcome at Bala House.

Drop off (1 p.m. Start Time)
Park your car (Do not park along the driveway adjacent to the building at any time.) and walk your child to the second floor landing at the top of the stairwell.

Pick-up Lines (11:50 a.m., 2:50 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. will be conducted at the red benches under the covered ramp.):
• Always stay in your car and line up along the curb in front of the building. (Please leave room for cars to pass on your left.). A staff member will put your child in the car and close the car door. However, the teachers cannot buckle your child into their car seat by law. After the car door is closed, please pull up and park along the outer circle and buckle in your child. Then you are free to exit the campus.
• NEVER go around a car to get to the front of the line. (This poses a real safety issue.)You may only pass on the left if you are PARKING your car.
• If you park your car to pick up your child, please wait at the bottom of the ramp by the red benches. A teacher will bring your child to the bench and release them to you.
• Always make sure a teacher knows you took your child.
• PLEASE make a big sign with your child’s first and last name and place it in the windshield of your car. This will help us identify your child’s escort in the beginning of the school year.

Pick-up (1:00 p.m. and 4:00-5:45 p.m.)
• 1:00 pm – Pick-up is on the playground
• 4:00~5:45 pm – Pick-up will be in the Extended Care rooms

Driving in the Circle:
• NEVER pass the yellow school bus when it is parked and dropping off children at the front door.
• NEVER drive more than 15 mph when going around the circle, especially during drop-off and pick-up times. There are many young children and the possibility always exists that one of them may dart out into the driveway.
• NEVER park on the grass. Please keep all four wheels on the pavement.
• NEVER park in the handicap parking space.
• NEVER park in the two spaces marked for Clergy only. Not even for a few minutes during drop-off.
• ALWAYS look to see that no one is behind you when you are backing up. GO SLOW, just in case!
Thank you for all your help making drop-off and pick-up as safe as possible!

Email Addresses – To obtain a list of our staff email addresses click on COMMUNITY Then click on EMAIL ADDRESSES under QUICK LINKS.

Extended Care

Extended Care for New Students – If possible, we encourage parents of new children, who will utilize our Extended Care program, to arrange to have their child attend only the morning session during the first few days of school. Please let our Extended Care Director, Denise Johnson, know what your schedule will be for the first week of school. If need be, working parents may utilize Extended Care from the first day of school.

Late Pick Up Fees/ Early Drop Off Fees – Arrivals prior to your child’s contracted start time or departures later than the contracted ending time are subject to the charge of one full extra hour. However, late pick-up after 5:45 p.m. is subject to a $1 per minute charge. Extended Care officially closes at 5:45 p.m.

Early Dismissal – Parents are asked to provide a note to the classroom teacher or Extended Care Director. Our art, music, and movement instructors are not authorized to release children.

Field trips – Kindergarten – Information will be coming soon!

Forms – Emergency Contact and medical forms are essential and are required by law. On October 15th, we are legally required to exclude any child who does not have current medical forms on file. Medical information on file expires on the anniversary date of your child’s last check up. Please take a new form with you when you go for your child’s annual visit.

Group Lessons – Our daily group lesson or circle time is a meeting time when special classroom activities or themes are introduced. Please be sure your child arrives at the school by 9:00 a.m. so that all our children can enjoy circle time. If you have a special talent, hobby, or profession that you are willing to share, please schedule this time with your child’s teacher. Classroom news will detail special classroom activities or themes introduced during group lessons.

Holiday Care – We strive to offer child care throughout the school year during the holidays we are closed. There is an additional fee for this service.

Holiday Celebrations – As the holidays approach, please know at Bala House we do not celebrate one particular holiday. We encourage our families to share their cultural and holiday traditions with their child’s class. If you are interested in doing so, please arrange with your child’s teacher.

Items Needed the First Week of School
• A Recent Photo of Your Child
• Extra Set of Clothes – Place a change of clothing, suitable for the season, in a Ziploc bag labeled with your child’s name. Please make sure all clothing is labeled with your child’s name. If your child is still having accidents, don’t forget an extra pair of shoes.
• Backpack for classroom work and administrative notes to be sent home. Parents of young children, please buy an appropriate size backpack. The children have to maneuver stairs and long hallways. Too big or cumbersome backpacks can be a hazard. REMEMBER TO LABEL YOUR CHILD’S NAME ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE BACKPACK. Please make sure it is easily readable by staff.

Kindergarten Busing – Busing begins the first day of school for kindergarten children. If you have been assigned transportation, please notify the Lower Merion Transportation Department on any morning your child will not be riding the bus (610-645-1940, 1941). For the bus ride home, parents are urged to follow the bus the first few days to make sure the connection goes smoothly. Put your child’s bus number on his / her clothing or lunch box. Bus stops and schedules will be forwarded directly to you in late August from the Lower Merion Bus Transportation Department.

Lunches – Waste-Free Lunchbox Suggestion – A Bala House parent introduced the staff to a reusable lunchbox called a Laptop Lunch container. This product reduces waste by eliminating the need for disposable plastic bags and single use plastic containers. You can check out this interesting product at www.laptoplunches.com. Since St. Asaph’s does not have a recycling service, this would be a great way for parents to help us reduce the amount of garbage generated during lunchtime.

Naps – Care Bears (what we call our nappers) need a sheet, pillow, blanket, and any soft item you would like your child to have. Naps begin the first day of school, so please send in these items with your child when they return to school. Don’t forget to label all bedding and stuffed animals with your child’s name. Items will be sent home on Friday to be washed and returned the following Monday. If your child is going to take a nap, please call the Administrative Assistant in the office and let her know before school starts.

Phasing In – During our phasing-in period, all morning classes will have a third staff member to assist the children in the gradual introduction and reintroduction of school procedures. This special three week adjustment period helps children develop a sense of “inner order” which will grow and refine itself throughout their time spent at Bala House. It also promotes feelings of independence and enables the children to begin to direct their own lives. These first few weeks are the building blocks for the rest of the year.

Psychologist – Our consulting psychologist is brought in whenever our experienced teachers find that they need help identifying the best approach to use with a particular child. The child benefits greatly when parents cooperate with the psychologist’s and teacher’s recommendations.

Release of Children to Persons Other Than Parents– Is allowed when: 1) The person is designated on the Emergency Contact Sheet. 2) We receive a dated and signed note with the request. Escort Change forms can be found in the entranceway and dropped off in the office. 3) In emergency situations a phone designation will be accepted if we can verify the information.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF printable version of our Escort Change form.

Specialists -Specialists in art, music and movement will begin the third week of school. Remember to send your child in comfortable clothes, hair tied back and in sneakers on Tuesday. We will send home artwork in your child’s backpack.

Travel – Remember, we always appreciate artifacts, clothing, and table cloths for our International Dinner from your trips. They are collected in our continent trunks and used during geography lessons and at our international dinner.

Tuition and Late Fees – Tuition payments are due the first of the month. We do not send out monthly invoices. Remember if tuition is not received by the fifth of the month, a $25 late fee will be assessed. If you have any questions, please contact the School Director or Financial Administrator.

Tuition Assistance Forms – Tuition Assistance forms are due April 30th. If you need a form, please let the Administrative Assistant or School Director know. You will need to send these forms into Princeton at least two weeks in advance, as they need time to process them. We will also need a copy of your tax return.

Questions??? – If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask the office or teaching staff. We are here to help you and your child adjust to the Bala House community in any way we can.

Bala House Montessori - 27 Conshohocken State Road, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 - p. (610) 664-6767 - f. (610) 664-6792