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 out there, 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. Another factor to consider, 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, which included CPR/First Aid training, diversity, standard precautions, child abuse and 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. On conference days, our teaching assistants provide child care for FUMP enrollees because we want you 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 forms or records for siblings-a BIG licensing no-no. We know that this is inconvenient for some folks, but we 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 lawn that they could hold water.) Our building is built over a small cave that still houses the springs. Unfortunately we have a higher insect population. We do 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 11 years ago, when our building was under renovation. Since that time, child care licensing now requires sign in sheets to account for 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. We have had reports from families who have long since graduated from our program that families from FUMP remain friends for years – playdates, vacations and the like. Children have maintained their friendships into elementary school, middle school and beyond. I feel that curbside drop off would take away that important yet invaluable element of FUMP. So thank you for fighting the 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 to swallow. Again, this is based on a child care licensing requirement. Standard 746.3309 states that food brought from home cannot be shared between children. 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 wanted 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. It‘s a win-win for parents and child care licensing.
Why isn’t there a preschool graduation ceremony?
One of the hallmarks of our program is being child centered. This idea is based around putting child‘s needs at the forefront of our decision-making process. 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.
Why in the world does Before School Care and After School Care run for 45 minutes, instead of an hour?
Well, child care licensing states (Standard 746.1615 to be exact!) that for the first 45 minutes before opening, a program is allowed to amend their ratios and collapse age groups – hence the 45 minute period. Starting earlier in the day would result in needing more staff for that time and fees would increase.
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 mid June and July and must end in time for FUMC Vacation Bible School to be held in August. 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.