the discovery center
policies and guidelines
|Arrival and Departure||Back to Top|
Children must be accompanied into The Discovery Center building through the front entrance and be brought directly into the classroom by an adult. Departures must also take place through the main entrance. Children may not depart through the outside playground gates or be lifted over the fence at the end of their day. We ask that only adults open and close the classroom doors within the building for safety and security reasons.
|Child Security||Back to Top|
All children who are enrolled at The Discovery Center will be released only according to the parent(s) instructions on the child information card completed at the time of enrollment or through prior arrangements made with the classroom teachers, either orally or, preferably, in written form. In the event the center is notified that someone other than the parent or usual pick-up person will be arriving to pick up the child, the classroom teachers will check a picture identification if they are unfamiliar with the designated departure person. It is very important to inform your child's classroom teachers of a change in routine. If we have not received permission to release a child to someone other than yourself or the usual departure person, it will be necessary to contact you by phone prior to the child's release and departure. Picture identification will also be required of parents who pick their child up after the 5:30 pm departure deadline. This is because a teacher other than your child's regular classroom teacher may be scheduled as the "closer" and may not know you. Showing picture ID will allow the closing teacher to correctly identify you. We greatly appreciate your support as we continue to provide a safe and secure environment at The Discovery Center.
|Food Service and Preparation||Back to Top|
The Discovery Center is committed to maintaining a healthy balance of nutritious foods throughout its menu selections. Keeping Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) guidelines in mind, we have created well-balanced menus that reflect the young child's palate while also providing good nutrition. Please see sample menus for variety in selection and planning.
The Discovery Center is a nut-free facility, which reflects the increasing need for allergy awareness guidelines in early childhood programs. We serve children in our program who have a multitude of dietary needs, and we are able to provide a balanced selection for all children through our careful menu planning and healthy options. For this purpose, we have a separate binder that contains copies of every food label from every product in our facility. Any food item can be instantly checked for ingredient content.
In keeping with providing and preparing a well-balanced selection of foods, we also take into consideration some foods that could pose as a hazard to young children as they chew and swallow. For this reason, we do not have items like grapes or popcorn on our menus. Such items, if served as a special snack, would be prepared by slicing in half, or serving in very small portions to allow for easy monitoring by the staff. Items like carrots and hot dogs are served to the children in our program, but again, they are carefully prepared in order to avoid issues. This includes cutting carrots and hot dogs in half, quartering sandwiches, and serving fruits, like apples and pears, cut in eighths.
|Meal Time Protocol||Back to Top|
The Discovery Center provides snacks in the morning and afternoon, as well as lunch for the students. Menus are carefully planned and well-rounded with nutritional options for young children. Meals are served family style, with six to seven children at a large table with at least one adult sitting with them. Children are encouraged to serve themselves, help pass food and beverage to fellow diners, use proper manners, and throw plates, cups, etc. away when done. Conversation and social interaction are also an important part of the meal time routine.
|Peanut/Nut-Free Policy||Back to Top|
The number of children who have severe allergies to nuts and peanut products has greatly increased over the past few years. Several children, in fact, have life-threatening allergies involving nuts or peanuts. For this reason, The Discovery Center strives to maintain a peanut/nut-free program. We greatly appreciate your continued help and support in our effort to provide a safe environment for the children in our program by adhering to the following guidelines:
- The Discovery Center is a "Peanut/Nut Free" environment
- No products containing peanuts/nuts, or that are produced in a factory where nuts are present, may be brought into the building.
- No homemade food items will be accepted for snacks, lunches, or celebrations.
- Anyone who eats peanut/nut products should wash well BEFORE arriving at school (including hands, face, clean clothes).
- A family wishing to bring a birthday snack for their child should first check with the classroom teachers for any additional food allergies and restrictions before bringing anything into the classroom to share. Below are some suggestions for items to bring:
- All other items must be cleared through the classroom staff. Families are urged to read the ingredient label of their chosen snack item to ensure that it does not contain any of the following: peanuts/nuts, peanut butter/nut butter, peanut/nut oil, peanut/nut flour, peanut/nut meal, or any of the statements "May contain traces of peanut/nuts" or "Manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts (and/or other nuts)".
|Fresh fruits||Fresh vegetables||Mini plain bagels|
|Flour tortillas||Cheese or string cheese||Cream cheese|
|Jelly||Turkey or chicken breast||Yogurt|
|Outdoor Play||Back to Top|
Outdoor play is considered to be an important part of the day at The Discovery Center, just as all of the indoor components of the day are considered essential to a well-rounded program. School policy states that every child goes outside every day, with only three exceptions:
- The overall temperature and/or wind chill factor is too low to ensure a safe play environment for the children. (A temperature or wind chill factor of 0°F or below is considered too dangerous for outdoor play.) Similar constraints hold for very hot temperatures and/or a high heat index reading 90°F or above.
- The weather outside is too inclement to provide a safe, comfortable play experience (thunder, lightening, downpours, excessive mud).
- An individual child is recovering from a respiratory infection or is under a doctor's orders to remain inside (a doctor's note stating the requirement to stay indoors is necessary). Children recovering from any other illnesses are deemed healthy enough to play outside if they are healthy enough to be in attendance.
|Illnesses||Back to Top|
The following are conditions under which a child must stay home or will be required to leave the classroom environment if the conditions develop while the child is at the center:
- If s/he has or has had any of the following symptoms in the last 24 hours: fever of 100 degrees or above, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash
- If s/he has taken an antibiotic for less than 24 hours
- If s/he has a cold that is more than seven days old
- If s/he has heavy/thick nasal discharge
- If s/he is fussy, cranky, lethargic, uncomfortable, and/or generally not her/himself
- If s/he has symptoms of a possible communicable disease, such as reddened eyes (pink eye), sore throat (strep throat), headache, or abdominal pain with fever
The staff notifies parents of any change in a child's health during the day, or any accidents that may have occurred, by telephoning the parent(s) or talking directly to the parent(s) at the child's departure time. We notify all parents (via the center bulletin board or classroom door) if your child has been exposed to a contagious illness.
If your child becomes sick while at The Discovery Center, we will:
- Isolate the child from other children (one of the staff will take responsibility for making the child comfortable),
- Attend to the child's immediate needs, and
- Contact the parent(s) or designated person to arrange to take the child home.
Parents are encouraged to help us promote a healthy environment by keeping a child home if s/he is experiencing any of the symptoms described above. It is extremely important that parents notify us immediately if their child has contracted a contagious illness so that we may notify other parents and staff. It is also important for us to know if the child has either a bacterial or viral infection. This helps staff to be aware of similar symptoms in other children.
There are other ways in which we strive to maintain a healthy classroom, including laundering cot sheets and blankets regularly, promoting frequent hand washing by both children and adults, sanitizing common use areas (the bathrooms, gym, etc.) daily and as needed, and using a professional cleaning service three times a week. A bleach-and-water solution is used to clean and sanitize tables, dishes, furniture, toys, bathroom areas, etc. After a surface has been wiped down, it is left to air dry until ready for use.
All key teachers at The Discovery Center are trained in first aid and CPR and receive refresher training on a yearly basis.
|Medications||Back to Top|
Key teachers and administrative staff are permitted to administer medications if, and only if, all of the following criteria are met:
- We have prior written permission from the parent, including a specific date, dosage, and time for the medication to be administered
- Prescription medication is in the original container and has the pharmacy label indicating the child's name, dosage instructions, and the name and strength of the medication
- Tylenol or other over-the-counter medication is in original container, clearly labeled with the child's name, dosage, and name of medication
Parents should not administer over-the-counter medications to mask symptoms prior to bringing a child to the center (nor request the staff to do so while the child is in attendance), but rather to provide comfort along with a prescription medication or in cases of allergies, teething pain, immunizations, or other minor ailments.
Medication forms are available from classroom teachers or the front desk, and they must be completed and signed before any medications can be administered by center personnel. This policy also applies to sunscreen, lip balm, and other similar products to be used by a child at school. We also recommend that a child receive the first dose of any medication under the parent's supervision, not at the center, in the event of any unexpected reactions or allergies.
In order to keep medications and similar items out of the reach of all children, such items are kept in the classroom office, above the refrigerator, or in another specified area within each classroom.
|Hand Washing Procedures||Back to Top|
All staff and children wash their hands with liquid soap and water at appropriate times, for example, before preparing, serving, and/or eating snacks and meals, after diapering or assisting others with toileting or nose wiping, after handling pets or other animals, or after contact with any potentially infectious materials, including bodily fluids. Proper hand washing procedures include washing with liquid soap and warm, running water for at least 10 seconds, and using a single use or disposable towel. Frequent hand washing is an important part of keeping germs and illness from spreading.
|Diapering and Toilet Training||Back to Top|
For children who are still in diapers when they enter The Discovery Center program, parents must provide disposable diapers and wipes as needed for their child. Diapering is done in a designated diapering area located just off the office/observation space of each classroom using a mat that is sanitized after each diaper change. Often, those children who are in the process of toilet training are changed in the bathroom area using a standing position that is more comfortable for them. Teachers and children will wash their hands after each diapering. Each classroom has a routine for diapering and toilet training that fits naturally with the schedule, the child, and routine of the day. Toilet training is planned cooperatively between classroom teachers and parent(s) so that the toilet routine established is consistent between the center and the child's home. Toilet training begins when the child demonstrates both the desire and ability to proceed.
|Cleaning Schedule/Procedures at The Discovery Center||Back to Top|
The facilities at The Discovery Center are professionally cleaned by a cleaning company three times per week (Tuesday nights, Thursday nights, and Friday nights). The facilities at The Discovery Center are cleaned by staff throughout the day and more thoroughly on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Bleach water is used to sanitize areas regularly.
Carpets and upholstered furniture are professionally cleaned every three months. Laundry is done by each classroom (sheets, blankets, pillow cases, etc.) each week, or as necessary (calendar is posted on the dryer, located in the kitchen area).
Toys, materials, and other classroom items are cleaned as necessary after daily use by the children. This includes sweeping floors after meal times, bleaching toys as needed due to body secretions, washing hands before and after tray table use, cleaning and sanitizing the tray table daily, etc.
|Discipline||Back to Top|
Staff shall consistently use only positive methods of discipline. A short discussion of alternate, appropriate behaviors, with or without time away from the situation, is a common element in encouraging children to assume responsibility for their actions. All classroom staff follow guidelines stated in Katherine Read's The Nursery School. She states:
"The ultimate goal of discipline is self-control making it possible to direct one's own behavior in the end, realistically and with integrity. As we work with young children, we try to help them take steps toward responsible self-direction, as they are ready. Most important for this goal is the child's feeling about himself. No child will try to control and direct his behavior if he sees himself as a worthless, unimportant person. He must respect himself if he is to make the effort to control his behavior and respect the rights of others. In disciplining we need to be careful that we do nothing that will shake a child's respect for himself. We will not depend on methods that humiliate him or make him feel ashamed or lower his self-esteem. We do not label him "bad" or use threats. We will try to show him that we have confidence that he can behave acceptably, whatever he may have done earlier. We will expect only what we think he is capable of doing, so that he can be successful most of the time. We want him to feel himself to be an acceptable, successful person."
Through the program at The Discovery Center, we encourage children to cultivate an inner sense of control, a healthy self-concept, and increased self-direction. We strive to create an atmosphere that encourages children to express their feelings appropriately, to carry out effective problem solving, and to receive positive attention from adults and other children. In order to create this atmosphere, we work consistently to:
- Provide an interesting, challenging, and secure learning environment,
- Understand the developmental capabilities of children,
- Set appropriate and understandable limits of behavior,
- Respond consistently to children's needs,
- Encourage children to assume responsibility for their actions, and
- Show that we have confidence that children can behave acceptably and appropriately.
|Discovery Center Closures||Back to Top|
It is always The Discovery Center's intention to remain open on its regular schedule. However, if The Discovery Center must close for reasons beyond its control, including but not limited to inclement weather, natural or man-made circumstances, intentional or unintentional acts of any governmental agency and/or police authorities, etc., no refund will be issued for all or part of any day or days during which The Discovery Center remains closed due to the circumstances described above. Those families wishing to use their available vacation credit for these circumstances may do so through arrangements with The Discovery Center's administrative staff.
In an effort to notify families affected by the closure of the center, The Discovery Center administrative team will make every attempt to notify local radio stations (WAAM - 1600 AM, Ann Arbor's 107 FM), post notices on the front door of the center, and change the center's main telephone greeting (voicemail message) and website to reflect the necessary information.
|Inclusiveness||Back to Top|
The Discovery Center's process for enrolling and monitoring children with special needs reflects the center's philosophy. It is a process by which we can communicate, evaluate, and assess the ability of our program to meet and accommodate the individual special needs of the child. In applying the process, we are evaluating how our program can provide an ideal growth experience for the child within the framework of the program's overall goals, curriculum, and environment.
The following procedures will be followed when enrollment of a child with special needs has been requested:
- The director will conduct a parent tour of the center.
- The director will schedule a 45-minute visit in the prospective classroom for the parent(s) and child.
- The director will meet with the classroom head teacher and parent(s) to obtain additional information about the child and his or her needs.
- The director will arrange a second, follow-up 45-minute visit to the prospective classroom for parent(s) and child.
- The child's prospective head teacher will visit the facility in which the child is currently enrolled to observe its program.
- A follow-up meeting will be scheduled with the head teacher and the child's current teacher, caregiver, aide, case worker, therapist, etc.
- The head teacher and center director will meet with the parents to discuss the observations and information collected to determine appropriate placement for the child.
- If the decision by the head teacher, center director, and the family is to enroll the child in The Discovery Center program, the final details of starting date, schedule, and additional child/parent visits to the classroom for orientation will be established. A plan of action will also be developed by the head teacher, center director, and parents that will include the support staff needed, communication lines with outside support specialists, and the daily communication with the family.
- During a child's first two weeks in The Discovery Center program, the center director will provide additional staffing in the classroom whenever feasible. This will provide opportunity for the child to become better familiarized with the classroom environment and routine while receiving additional one-on-one attention. It is understood, however, that The Discovery Center maintains a 1:8 ratio of teachers to children and is not able to provide long-term one-on-one attention.
- After six weeks in attendance, the head teacher, center director, and parent(s) will re-evaluate the extent to which the program is meeting the needs of the child and how well the child has adapted to the classroom. Those outside the center who are also involved in supporting the child's needs (therapists, other teachers, etc.) will also be included as appropriate.
- At least twice a year thereafter, the child's parent(s) and key teacher will conduct a parent/teacher conference to address developmental and other goals for the child. Teachers, parent(s), and/or the center director will determine the need for any additional conferences or meetings.
The Discovery Center reserves the right to request the withdrawal of a child if the head teacher and center director conclude that the center can no longer provide an opportunity for growth and development of the child within the framework of the center's philosophy and the guidelines listed above.
|Payment and Fees||Back to Top|
Prompt payment of tuition enables The Discovery Center to maintain its high-quality program and smooth operations. We greatly appreciate families' adherence to our tuition payment policies as outlined below.
- Tuition is due no later than the last school day of the preceding month.
- Tuition payments that have not been made on or before the 5th of the month will incur a $25 late fee every week until the balance (including all late fees) has been paid in full. If the 5th of the month is on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, payment is due on the preceding weekday. If full tuition payment has not been received on or before the 1st calendar day of the following month (i.e. approximately four weeks after it is due), you will be asked to withdraw your child from the program until all past due tuition (including late fees) has been paid in full. Note: If tuition payments are made late (after the 5th of the month) more than three times in a school year, you will be asked to withdraw your child from our program permanently.
- There is a $25 fee for any non-sufficient funds (NSF) checks.
- Picking children up before closing time is crucial for everyone involved, and we appreciate families' compliance with our pick-up deadlines. Late pick-ups charges are as follows:
- 1-10 minutes: $12
- 11-20 minutes: $14
- 21-30 minutes: $16
- 31-40 minutes: $18
- 41-50 minutes: $20
- 51-60 minutes: $22
- any time over one hour is $22 plus $1 per minute.
- The Discovery Center will waive the first late notice fee unless you arrive more than 15 minutes late. If you arrive late to pick up your child more than six times during the school year, the fees listed above will be doubled starting with the seventh late pick-up. Note: We charge for any and all late pick-ups for any reason, with no exceptions.
- Any child who withdraws from our program for four weeks, but no more than eight weeks, be assessed a $50 re-enrollment fee upon his or her return. If the child does not return to our program, the initial $200 deposit paid upon starting at the center is forfeited. Note: Days we are closed are not counted when computing the length of your withdrawal period.
- Tuition during absences due to family vacations or illnesses shall be charged at 30% of the child's normal fee if, and only if, you have taken all reasonable steps to arrange the absence in advance with The Discovery Center and that the request is made in writing. Reductions totaling not more than two weeks per year (September through August) based on the child's current schedule may be taken. Accounts must be in good standing to receive credit reductions. In a year in which the child's enrollment begins on or after March 1, one such tuition reduction of not more than one week may be taken. Enrollment beginning June 1 will not be eligible for tuition reductions.
- If you are requesting any credits for vacation time, the request must be submitted on or before the 15th of the month, or you will have to wait until the following month to receive the credit.
- We do not give credits for sick days, but you may use your vacation days to cover sick days, provided you have vacation time available.
- We must receive two weeks' written notice when withdrawing your child from our program or your $200 deposit paid at enrollment is forfeited.
- There is a $10 administration fee for any schedule changes (not including adding or dropping lunches). The first schedule change is free.
- If you change your child's initial start date, there is a $12.50 fee for each week that you defer the start date for up to eight weeks.
- The $200 non-refundable deposit holds your child's space in our program for the upcoming school year. Once your child is in attendance, the deposit is held to be applied to your child's last month's tuition. If your child does not start in our program within eight weeks from the initial start date stated on your agreement, your deposit is forfeited.
If you have any questions about the above payment policies, please see the center director or bookkeeper for further explanation.
|Parent and Teacher Communication||Back to Top|
Parents are welcome to visit at any time. For the purpose of observation, each classroom has a separate office area equipped with a separate entrance for easy access and a one-way glass observation window. Bulletin boards, your child's cubicle (cubbie), and notes on the classroom door are places where information is frequently shared between the classroom and the families. Each classroom distributes its own monthly newsletter, and the administrative staff distributes a general newsletter as well. These newsletters help to further inform families of upcoming events, activities, and policies. Formal parent/teacher conferences are held twice per year (late fall and spring) between one of the classroom key teachers and the family. Additional meetings can also be arranged to discuss concerns, issues, or developmental progress of the child. Arrival and departure times of the day also lend themselves to quick conversation and input between parent and teacher. A voicemail system is also available after hours, and parents are always free to contact the center via phone (734-663-7496), email, or fax (734-663-5725).
|Birthday Celebrations||Back to Top|
In keeping with our policy of serving nutritious snacks and meals, we request that fruit or anything else we would serve as snack items (bagels, vegetables, cheese, crackers, yogurt, fruit Popsicles, etc.) be the food of choice for birthday celebrations. Please be mindful of our Peanut/Nut-Free Policy. Each classroom has a birthday basket for the child to take home before the event. The family returns it filled with the birthday treat. By de-emphasizing special snacks, we hope to focus on the child on this special day, rather than on the treat or other birthday trappings. This also helps to avoid an unpleasant situation when a child with a special diet or food allergy cannot have certain treats with the rest of the class.
If parents prefer not to send a birthday snack from home, we will arrange to have the child prepare a basket from our snack choices at school. Each classroom may have additional birthday traditions unique to the room. The above guidelines are also helpful when families wish to provide a treat for a child's last day or other special celebration.
|Breakfast Policy||Back to Top|
With the increase in a wide array of allergies that children in our program have, it is very difficult to monitor and keep the classroom safe when food is brought in from outside our facility. We ask that parents not bring breakfast for their child in the morning. By eliminating breakfast foods coming into the program, we are ensuring that all allergies are monitored and restrictions are maintained for all children in our program. We ask that families serve their children breakfast before they arrive at school in the morning.
|Parent Reference Library||Back to Top|
The parent reference library is located in the lobby, on the oak bookshelf directly to the left of the front desk. It provides the opportunity for parents to borrow books or videos and to take home other materials related to a variety of parenting and early childhood topics. There are also monthly recipes and activity sheets for parents to take to try at home. Materials are updated every three to four weeks.
|Field Trip Policy||Back to Top|
Field trips are an important part of the The Discovery Center program. Each teaching team is responsible for planning the field trips for their classrooms. Trips may include visits to a pumpkin patch, an apple orchard, a petting farm, a dentist's office, etc. Field trips often follow the classroom theme of the week/month and serve as an excellent way of providing first-hand experience and understanding to the children in the program.
The following guidelines are essential for a safe and successful trip: Transportation for The Discovery Center field trips is provided by the parents of children in the program, and occasionally staff members. All children and adults in the vehicle must wear seat belts. Additionally, all children must be in approved safety seats in the vehicle in which they are riding. Parents of children are required to leave their safety seat outside the classroom door on the day of the trip. It is recommended that each safety seat be clearly labeled with the child's name. Families who are transporting to and from the trip site must also provide the proper safety seat for their child.
Each parent/staff member transporting children from the center must complete a Field Trip Driver Form. Drivers will be given a list of children in their vehicle, an emergency information card for each child, and a first aid kit. These items are then returned to the classroom upon return from the trip. Child medications and medication release forms will be included in the first aid kit as necessary. A key teacher or child's own parent will accompany children with serious allergies during the transportation to and from the field trip in the event that medication needs to be administered.
Children who do not regularly attend The Discovery Center on the day of a scheduled field trip may add that day, provided there is space available for the particular event. An add slip must be completed at the front desk and approved through the classroom at least two weeks before the scheduled trip in order for the child to be included in the event. Children may not attend a field trip if the above procedure is not followed. Siblings may not attend field trips, as this is often a distraction to the adults responsible for group safety and can create other liability concerns as well.
If a family prefers to drop off at or depart from the field trip site, arrangements must be made in advance in order to ensure everyone's security and safety. A signed waiver must also be completed prior to the scheduled trip.