Preschool Handbook

Mission The mission of Simonsdale preschool is to provide the highest quality learning environment where young children can grow and develop at their own pace.

Purpose Because we know that young children learn best through their senses, our learning through play-emergent curriculum provides a strong emphasis on science. It is loosely based on the Reggio Emilia approach. This type of learning uses the natural development of children, their close relationships with adults and their surrounding environment to work together toward a common purpose; the building of a culture which respects childhood as a time to explore, create and be joyful.

Goal Our goal is to create a safe and caring atmosphere where children feel comfortable to explore and experiment with a wide variety of developmentally appropriate activities. Since each child is a unique individual with endless possibilities, we strive to give them exposure to a variety of experiences. We observe and evaluate each child to find out where they are developmentally, then challenge and encourage them to achieve their full potential and become lifelong learners. The high quality educational opportunities that we provide are consistent with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards of developmentally appropriate practices, the Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI) and the Christian principles of Simonsdale Presbyterian Church.

Public Notice Regarding: General Staff Qualifications The director must have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. The current director holds a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relations from East Carolina University.

Our lead teachers hold a minimum of 64 hours of college credit in Early Childhood Education. Teachers are chosen on the basis of their education, experience, knowledge of young children and on the quality of their character. All teachers must acquire a minimum of 36 hours of continuing education annually. All staff is required to have criminal background clearance, hold CPR and first aide certificates, have a heath staff report on file and have successfully completed child abuse and neglect training. Teachers are responsible for planning and implementing the curriculum that is based on developmentally appropriate practices and meets the needs of the whole child.

Public Notice Regarding: Health Requirements For Staff The staff is certified annually by a practicing physician to be free from any disability that prevents them from caring for children. Documentation is on file.

Public Notice Regarding: Possession Of Public Liability Insurance The school maintains public liability insurance that provides coverage in the event someone brings suit against the school for personal or bodily harm suffered during operation of the preschool as a result of negligence.

Public Notice Regarding: Physical Facilities The preschool operates in Simonsdale Presbyterian Church located at 5016 Vick St. in Portsmouth VA. The school occupies approximately 10,000 sq. feet. Six downstairs classrooms are used.   A fenced in playground area is located on the City Park Avenue side of the building. The preschool utilizes the churches industrial kitchen.

Admission Previously enrolled students and Simonsdale Presbyterian Church members are given priority admission. Thereafter, registration from the public is welcomed until we reach our capacity limits. At that time, a waiting list is established and vacancies are filled from that list as openings become available.

Enrollment Enrollment is open to all children regardless of race, creed or religion. Children must be between the ages of 30 months and 4 years old as of September 30th to be enrolled in the program. We must receive a completed registration form and a $75 registration fee to insure the child’s placement. The school must have a copy of your child’s proof of immunizations on file. The state requires proof of identity (state issued birth certificate) by the seventh business day of school. Failure to comply is against child welfare agency regulations.  Violators must be reported to VA Department of Social Services.

We comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) pertaining to providing services to individuals with disabilities. We carefully consider each child’s individual needs in order to determine if our program can accommodate a child’s unique needs. We do not evaluate or diagnose disabilities. We will assess children’s development using a checklist of indicators of average developmental skills called “Child Find” from Portsmouth Public Schools. Recommendations and referrals will be made once a conference with parents has been held to discuss the findings of the assessment.

Public Notice Regarding: Enrollment Capacity The Fire Inspection report states the number of students the preschool can enroll is 82 children. The Social Services Department of Virginia limits our enrollment to a maximum of 62 children per day.  We have chosen to limit that number to 56 children. All classes are assigned two teachers.

School Hours Preschool hours are from 9am–12pm.

The hours of operation are 8:30am-3pm Monday-Friday.

Arrival And Pick Up Your child’s safety is extremely important to us. Your child becomes our responsibility when you have signed them in and hand delivered them to their classroom teacher. Once they are signed out, we are no longer responsible. An official list of authorized persons eligible for picking up your child will be kept in his/her classroom.  Persons not listed on the form will not be permitted to take your child.  In the case of an emergency, it may become necessary for someone not listed on the authorization form to pick up your child.  In such case, the custodial parent must call the school as soon as possible with the full name and a brief description of the person who will be picking up.  That person will be asked to show proof of identity before your child will be released to that person.

It is important that you be prompt in your arrival and departure times. A fee of $1.00 per minute will be charged when a child is picked up late. The late fee is expected at time of pick up.  We realize that emergencies do occur; therefore each parent is allowed one late pick up free of charge.

Visitors We have an open door policy. Parents are encouraged to visit the school and their child’s classroom. For safety purposes we have installed a monitoring system on the entrance doors. The door on Beaton Street will be locked from 9:15am until 11:50am. Children not enrolled in the school are not permitted to attend, per state regulations.

School T-Shirts Approximately two times a month we have “T-shirt days”. The bright yellow preschool T-shirt should be worn on these days. School shirts should also be worn on school outings. Wearing the shirts on field trips is sign of unity and helps teachers easily spot our students.

Chapel Once a week the pastor of the church conducts chapel time for children. Chapel time provides a sense of community within the school and teaches children God’s love for them. The spiritual truths presented to the students are non denominational. Parents are always welcome to join us for Chapel time.

Health And Safety Children that become sick during school hours will be kept comfortable and away from other children until they can be picked up. Keep your child at home if they show symptoms of a communicable illness or disease (fever, sore throat, headache, discharge from the eyes or nose, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.). Notify us when your child will be absent or if he/she has been diagnosed with an illness, so that we can inform others to take precautions. If a child is running a fever, he/she may not return to school until they have been fever free for 24 hours!

Again, call the school or contact the teacher when your child is absent. This is a safety measure for both the parents and the school.

Emergency Contacts Be sure that we have correct and current telephone numbers where you can be reached in case of illness or accident. It is important that we have at least two other emergency contacts in the event we cannot reach you. It is your responsibility to inform us in writing of any changes in this information. Children needing emergency medical attention will be taken to the nearest hospital via emergency medical transport.

Medication The staff does not administer medication to students. When necessary, authorized staff will administer only doctor prescribed life saving emergency injections of epinephrine using an auto-injector device (Epi-pen).

Inclement Weather In the event of inclement weather, we will follow Portsmouth Public School decisions. If Portsmouth schools have a delayed opening the preschool will delay its opening by an equal amount of time. If, however, the public schools have a delayed opening of two or more hours we will not be open. The local TV channels broadcast school closings.

School Calendar The preschool generally follows the public schools’ holiday schedule, accommodating families from both Portsmouth and Chesapeake. A yearly calendar is provided at the beginning of the school year.

Special Events Classroom teachers will inform you of special events, visitors, and activities and trips their classes will be participating in. Due to child passenger safety requirements, parents are relied on for carpooling transportation to and from field trips. Parents must provide a safety seat for all children.

  • Holiday celebrations and parties are fun times at school. We encourage parents to help out when possible. There will be a sign-up sheet posted in advance for each holiday event.
  • Birthdays are a special time for all children. We recognize each child’s special day, but we do not celebrate birthday parties at school. If you would like to share a special snack on that day, let your child’s teacher know in advance so that your child may be “Snack Leader” on his/her birthday. If you are planning a home party and are inviting the whole class we will send the invitations home with the children. If you are not inviting the whole class, please mail the invitations so no child feels left out.
  • Fundraisers will be held periodically. We will keep you informed and hope you will be willing to participate in these ventures.

Preschool Supplies We provide all educational supplies for the students. We do ask each family to donate certain consumable supplies throughout the year. Teachers will provide a complete list, as items are needed. Thank you in advance for this extremely helpful contribution. Suggested items are paper towels, napkins, paper plates, plastic wrap and foil etc.


Public Notice Regarding: Food Services Simonsdale Preschool provides a nutritious lunch prepared by a certified food handler to children enrolled in our extended day program.  Food will also be provided for children staying for Lunch Bunch.

Lunch Bunch is a time when children not enrolled in extended day can stay for lunch, rest time and afternoon activities. The cost is $5 per hour. Please give advanced notice in if you would like your child to stay.

Nutritious Snacks Each child will be responsible for bringing snacks for the whole class on their assigned snack day. Snack schedules will be sent home at the beginning of each month.

Suggested snacks include fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and crackers, small sandwiches, muffins, and other nutritious foods. Please limit sugary snacks. Provide half a gallon of milk, or we will serve water as the beverage.  We do not serve juice to the children.

Since many children are allergic to nuts, we are a peanut/peanut butter free school.

We love to cook. If your child has a favorite recipe that we can cook together, let us know in advance and send in the ingredients so that we can make this a fun and educational snack time experience for everyone.

If your child is responsible for snack on a field trip day, please check with the teacher to find out if we will be eating snack at school or on the trip.

Home Visits Home visits are offered to any family that would like to receive one. The classroom teachers will come to your home for a scheduled visit a week or two before the start of school year. The visit helps the child feel more comfortable about school. They get to meet the teacher on their “turf”. The visit is a time for parents to ask questions about the program or teacher. It also helps the teacher to get to know the child. We like to take a family picture and an individual picture of the child at the visit, if the child is willing. The teachers will have these photos posted in the classroom in the child’s special place when they come to school. Home visits are an important way to building home/school relationships.  Visits are limited to 15-20 minutes. Home visits are optional.

Preparing For School Here are a few suggestions to help make the school days go smoothly.

  • Tell your child that they are going to play and have fun at school, but that you will be back to get them.
  • Provide a back pack with a change of clothing. Children not yet potty trained will also need diapers or pull-ups and wipes.
  • Safe and comfortable shoes that can be slipped on and off easily should be worn. Flip-flops are not allowed at school.
  • Children should wear comfortable play clothes that are free of complicated fasteners or buckles. Clothes should be sturdy enough for outdoor play and washable for those messy art projects. We like to take the children out as often as the weather permits. Dress your child accordingly.
  • Please label all of your child’s outer garments (coats, hats, sweaters, jackets, etc. so that they can be easily identified.
  • Toys are not to be brought to school unless requested by the teacher. We would greatly appreciate your help in maintaining this rule. Toys brought from home might get broken or lost.
  • Attachment items such as, a favorite stuffed animal or snuggling item is acceptable on the first few days of school. However, children staying for naptime are allowed to bring special attachment items to rest with.
  • Children who are distressed about parents leaving usually become more upset when you linger. The tears generally stop and the fun begins within a short period of time. Your child’s teacher will have suggestions for working through this adjustment period if you need help.