Have you found yourself saying, “Boy, I wonder why the preschool does that”? I think many of you have. We work hard to accommodate our families needs as often as we can, but regulations limit our flexibility. Here are a few common questions…
It seems like there are many days that FUMP is closed, why?
For the number crunchers, our school year is 168 days long each regular school year. We have the traditional holidays that the local school districts hold, plus a few more. Also, we add in 5 staff development days, including one day to attend state conference. These are very important, as each teacher is required to have a minimum of 30 hours per year of continuing education, outside of CPR/First Aid training, diversity, standard precautions, child abuse & neglect, child guidance. Whew; aren’t our teachers well-trained? This gives us the optimum training calendar for our talented staff. What about other schools? The majority of preschool’s in Austin are set to commence classes after Labor Day and end the year at Memorial Day. We have approximately 2-3 extra weeks built in our school year calendar.
Why doesn’t FUMP follow the AISD, EISD calendars exactly?
When FUMP has parent conference days, we purposefully select days other than AISD’s days. On conference days, our teaching assistants provide child care for FUMP enrollees because we want parents to attend. If we held conferences on the same days, we would have many elementary-aged children in our child care. This would compromise our ratios and we have no records for the big kids –a BIG licensing no-no. We know that this is inconvenient for some, and appreciate your understanding.
I’m a little grossed out by the crickets that I see in the building. We are too, but you can’t fight Mother Nature. Did you know that the grassy areas around the Capitol building used to be spring-fed ponds? (You can still tell from the shape of the lawns that they could hold water.) Our building is built over a small cave that still houses the springs. As a result, we have a higher insect population. We have a pest control service that treats each quarter, after children have departed the building. Child care licensing highly regulates the types of treatments that we receive, so please know we do our best to strike the balance between managing our insect co-habitators and pest control practices.
Has the preschool ever considered curbside drop off?
We have, in fact. It was offered about 19 years ago when our building was under renovation. Since that time, child care licensing now requires sign in sheets to record children’s arrival and departure times. While that could be handled logistically, the decision to have parents escort their children into the building is more of a philosophical one. What parents and teachers love about FUMP is the sense of community that we have here. To have parents remain in their cars would decrease the interaction between teachers and parents about your child‘s day. Also, it would reduce the family interactions as well. From reports from families who have long since graduated from our program from my first years here, families from FUMP remain friends for years – playdates, vacations and the like. Children have maintained their friendships into elementary school, middle school & beyond. I feel that curbside drop off would take away that important, yet, invaluable element of FUMP. So thank you for fighting traffic (and risking parking citations!) to keep FUMP families connected each day.
Why can’t I bring homemade cupcakes for my child’s birthday?
Boy – that is a tough one for many parents to swallow (pun intended). This is based on our preponderance of food allergies within our school population. Further, FUMP’s philosophy centers around modeling appropriate nutritional habits within the preschool day. There are many opportunities outside of the preschool to enjoy holiday/birthday treats. Also, some families are not appreciative of the sweets at school-wide functions and want healthier choices, or no food at all. We have opted to have children bring party cups and plates on their special day for the children to enjoy their snack from home on them.
Why isn’t there a big preschool graduation ceremony or other pageants/programs?
As your child graduates from FUMP, we invite our parents to the final Chapel time with their children. Ms. Lara conducts a special chapel service and the children sing a song during the service. It is a comfortable, familiar setting for the children and feel right at home. It stands in place of a big graduation ceremony, as we take care to make decisions that are child-centered. While programs and pageants are entertaining for parents, it has been my experience that such programs can be very upsetting for some children. Similar to an adult’s fear of public speaking, children can be very nervous or uncomfortable standing in front of a large crowd of adults. Being a part-time program, families can explore all kinds of activities for their children outside of our hours, which may include recitals or programs, if that is a good match for your child‘s personality. However at FUMP, we have made the conscious decision to avoid such programs and be supportive of all kinds of temperaments. We look forward to having you join us in late May.
Why is your summer program different (i.e. calendar, prices)?
Yes, summer is very different than the regular school year. After surveying parents, we determined that 8 weeks was the longest summer session that we could offer. This gives our teachers a much needed week of vacation after the school year ends. We convene in June and July. Teachers end up having two weeks of vacation (but some are preparing classrooms at that time), and one week of staff development for room preparation and staff meetings. As for the costs, each summer we lose about one-third of our students to camps, vacations, etc. As a result, we used to have our classes only partially full and were not covering our expenses. We had to increase the cost of that program, or eliminate it. The high demand for summer care resulted in a fully enrolled, more cost efficient program.
I hope this helps to illuminate some of our practices and procedures. As always, my door is open for questions or concerns.