The play-based curriculum at Rock Spring consists of three components: A formal curriculum called the Creative Curriculum, thematic units, and learning through play. All components begin in the toddler rooms, around 15 months, with the formal curriculum becoming more prominent in the preschool classrooms, ages three and above. Each curricular theme is integrated into various disciplines: art and music, science and math, language and literature, dramatic play, games and movement, etc. Children are encouraged to learn and interact through “hands-on” experiences within all components of the curriculum. Emphasis is placed on the social skills of sharing, communication, self-concept, and meeting personal needs. Children have many opportunities for indoor and outdoor play. Additionally, all toddlers through pre-k students participate in a music and movement enrichment class each week with an art specialist. A pre-kindergarten enrichment class is available for children who just miss the cutoff for kindergarten (typically September, October, and November birthdates depending on the number of spaces available). This class is designed to strengthen and reinforce the basic concepts learned in the other pre-kindergarten classrooms and provide stimulation and enrichment for children who have already had the pre-k curriculum.
Food for Infants
Formula, breast milk and lunch is provided by parents. Bottle nipples must be have a protective cap; breast milk must be pre-bottled. Space can be provided for breast feeding. All food should be labeled, dated, and kept at or below 45 degrees during transport. A chart is kept on each child’s feeding schedule to include amount consumed, sequence of introducing solid foods, and recommendations for introducing new foods. Parents take bottles home at the end of each day for washing. The School has formula available and when the infants are old enough, breakfast and a snack are provided. If you would like to use the School’s formula, please let the office know and fill out the form we will provide you.
Food for Older Children
Breakfast, consisting of three food groups, and an afternoon snack, consisting of at least two food groups, will be provided for preschoolers and toddlers. An additional late snack is provided for toddlers. Parents must provide ready-to-eat lunch in labeled containers. Food can be refrigerated at the School, and microwaves are available to heat food if appropriate containers are provided. For an additional charge, hot lunch may be purchased instead. Organic milk is provided at no extra charge, though bottles are no longer offered to children once they enter the toddler rooms. The food and milk provided by the School is for consumption during school hours. Please do not take food without authorization or fill up milk cups for consumption outside of school.
Strollers and Carseats
Unfortunately, the School does not have space for parents to leave strollers and/or car seats on a daily basis. Parents need to take these items with them each day and be sure they have enough equipment for each parent, grandparent or others who may be picking up or dropping off their children.
Clothing and Bedding
A complete change of clothes, including shoes for emergencies, must be provided for each child. The change of clothes should account for changing weather. In addition, parents provide sheets and blankets for cots, an adequate supply of disposable diapers and/or training pants, and wipes for children not toilet-trained. Fitted sheets are provided for the infants. Children who are being toilet-trained need several changes of clothing per day. All clothes, bedding, and other provisions must be clearly labeled by parents before bringing them to the School.
Napping and Sleeping
Maryland licensing regulations require that infants be placed on their backs to sleep and that blankets, pillows, bumper pads and other bedding items are not used. A written note from the child’s pediatrician is required for any exceptions to this policy. Toddler through pre-k classes all take scheduled, mandatory naps/rest periods during the day on cots and/or mats. Parents need to bring in a sheet and blanket for the cots and mats. Everyone must rest during nap time. Those students who are still awake after an hour may look at books or play quiet games on their cots. It is not our policy to keep children awake or to awaken them early from naps.
trips are a mandatory part of the School curriculum, designed to enrich your
child’s experience, especially in the summer months. Age-appropriate trips are
planned each year for children ages two to five. For transportation, parent
volunteers are needed to help drive the children and to provide adequate
supervision. Parents who are not going on a particular field trip will need to
leave car seats and their child will be matched with another family. If, for
any reason, a child does not attend a particular trip, parents must make
alternate arrangements for childcare during the duration of the field trip at
their own expense. We ask that you have someone from your family (mom, dad,
aunt, uncle, grandparent) chaperone at least half of the field trips. In the
event that not enough parents volunteer for a field trip, the trip may be
cancelled or families who have not participated as chaperones in at least half
of the trips will have to make alternate arrangements for childcare. We
understand the demands that our families have on their time, but we need you to
do everything possible to be active participants in your child’s education and
activities. These trips end up not only being a great experience for the
children, but also a cherished memory for the chaperones.
butterflies/insects, and small animals may sometimes be in classrooms. In addition, the School typically has some
type of petting zoo field trip or in-school visit.
Rock Spring does not allow the use of passive screen time, such as television shows and movies, for children during the school day. Interactive technology is allowed for children two and older in limited amounts to support the curriculum or other developmental objectives. Examples of interactive technology include children’s computers, iPads, and touch tables. This technology is only used while under teacher direction and is not permitted during meal or snack times.
It is essential that children get time outside each and every day possible. Children need time to be exposed to the fresh air and to have the opportunity to run, jump, climb and play. We closely follow the recommendations of the County Health Department, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other national child care health organizations to ensure our practices are consistent with their recommendations. Outdoor play can be extremely important to deterring the spread of colds and other illnesses our children can catch when confined to the classroom all day.
While wind speed and air quality may impact our practices, we generally go out for at least an hour every day when the temperatures are between 32 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. While infants and mobile babies do not go outside for outdoor time if the weather is below freezing or hotter than 95, at the discretion of the Administration, the older children (toddlers and above) go out for 10 - 20 minutes at a time (less time for toddlers and twos, more time for the threes/fours/fives). The only times the older children generally do not go outside at all is when there are storms/ heavy precipitation, the temperature is colder than 10 degrees, hotter than 100, or in the afternoons when the air quality is rated Code Red. The Directors pay close attention to air quality ratings, heat indices, wind chills and other weather factors that could impact the children and make other adjustments about outdoor play time accordingly.
Please make sure you dress your child appropriately and apply sunscreen every morning, especially in the summer. The teachers will reapply sunscreen as needed during the day, but it is important that parents put sunscreen on their children each morning in the summer. We also ask that you provide swimsuits and water shoes for water play for the summer months. As the weather turns colder, please send your child with hats, gloves and appropriately weighted jackets. When snow is on the ground, please make sure your child has snow pants and boots. Please put your child’s name on everything they bring!
We believe that setting limits gives children the security of knowing that adults will take responsibility for stopping unacceptable behavior. This is done by making rules understandable and acceptable to all children.
Staff members are trained to remain alert to group situations, redirect uncooperative children to other activities, redirect an entire activity in a more wholesome direction, allow children to work out their own solutions, and encourage them to use words instead of resorting to unacceptable actions.
When children do not respond to these efforts, they are removed from a situation and asked to move to another area of the room until they regain control of their actions. Staff then communicate with children to know if they “feel better inside.” Children are encouraged to understand that they are responsible for their actions and to seek appropriate ways to have needs met.
If these efforts are unsuccessful, children
may be taken to the Director’s office and if necessary, parents are called to
pick up children. Unsuccessful efforts to redirect persistent unacceptable
behavior may result in termination of enrollment. However, we work closely with families, who are willing, to recommend interventions, consultations, and professional assistance to address issues.
Children transition from one classroom to the next throughout the year. Transition decisions are made by the Administration and are based on a number of factors such as the age, maturity and developmental level of the children and the availability of spaces in and composition of the various classrooms at the School. The School contains more than one room for each age range of children and children move to whichever classroom has space when a child is ready to transition. While we can consider parental preference as a factor when a child moves to the next classroom, it is only one of many factors, such as age of the children and gender balance for the classrooms, that we must consider. Planning transition patterns is an extremely complex process and our guiding principal is the best interests of all children and the School as a whole. We cannot take into account preferences to stay with other children from a previous classroom. The children from the School interact with each other across classrooms and benefit from having a large circle of friends.We understand that transitions can be an emotional event, but it is usually more difficult for the parents than the children. We work with parents and children in the week prior to a transition to help make the change as smooth as possible. If the School decides that a child needs to transition to a new classroom, parents must cooperate with this decision so that all children at the School are getting the most sensible transitions we can provide.