We feel that a variety of well balanced meals, served in a stress free environment is the key to good nutrition. Eating is social and should be a positive part of every child’s day. We do not participate in the California Food Program, although we adhere to their policies. We teach our children about the importance of our environment by composting our leftover food scraps, recycling appropriate materials and by using washable plates, cups and utensils, as well as using cloth napkins at all of our meal times.
Since Zaca Center does not provide breakfast, we ask that parents provide breakfast at home. On the rare occasion that your child was not able to finish their breakfast at home, feel free to allow your child to finish it at the center. We ask that the breakfast consist of healthy items--please no donuts, chocolate milk, cookies, chips, candy or other unhealthy food items.
Snack Children are served two nutritious snacks each day. We serve a variety of fresh fruits, and vegetables, and whole grain foods. Each child is encouraged to join their classmates and teachers at the snack table, but will have the choice of whether or not they will eat. All snacks are served with water unless it is otherwise noted.
Lunch We serve a well-balanced lunch which generally includes at least one hot item. All meals are served family style where the children serve their own food and pour their own drinks. Teachers sit at the table with the children. Each child is required to join their classmates at the table, but they have the choice of whether or not they will eat. Second helpings will be offered to those wanting them. It is encouraged, but not required that the children try the variety of foods offered. Milk and water are always available at the lunch time meal.
We feel we offer plenty of time for eating during our snack and lunch times. Unfortunately, due to staffing and scheduling, we must limit eating times to the above scheduled times. *Snack and lunch menus are posted outside the kitchen door. Each child will receive a monthly lunch and snack menu to be posted at home. If you have misplaced yours, please find an extra copy hanging on the parent board.
Birthdays Children’s birthdays may be celebrated by bringing a snack from home to share with the class. Simple healthy finger foods are appreciated. Some ideas for healthy snacks: fresh fruit, 100% fruit juice popsicles, yogurt, raisins, cheese slices, fresh cut vegetables, and whole grain muffins. Please see your child’s teacher to make arrangements in advance.
Foods not served at Zaca Center Preschool: Popcorn, nuts, pretzels, whole grapes, hot dogs, peanut butter, chunks of raw carrots, and meats larger than what can be swallowed whole.
Clothing Always send your child to school in play clothes. We do many messy activities and even with the use of paint smocks, children still seem to get dirty. Provide simple clothing that your child can take on and off, this helps keep the number of “potty” accidents to a minimum. During the winter months, please send your child to school with a sweater or jacket. The mornings and late afternoons get very chilly.
We are asking all of our children attending our program to wear tennis shoes while they are at school. Cowboy boots, party shoes, and plastic “jellies” have slippery soles. Children wearing these types of shoes will not be allowed on the bikes or the climbing structure.
Please remember to leave a change of clothes at school for your child. Clothing must be labeled with your child’s name. We will store all clothing in blue or tan canvas baskets on the wall of the boys and girls bathrooms, labeled with your child’s name.
Lost and found clothing can be found on the clothes line outside the front door.
Nap time is from 12:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m. each day. Each child will have his/her own cot or mat to rest on. The cots and mats are labeled with each child’s name. Cots, mats, sheets and blankets are not shared among the children. Children need to bring a small blanket and may also bring a small stuffed animal to sleep with.
The school will provide a fitted sheet for your child’s cot or mat. Sheets are laundered by the preschool staff on Fridays, and blankets will be sent home to be laundered by the parent over the weekend. All cots and mats are disinfected by the school staff on Fridays. Please send blankets back to school on Monday, as we have a limited supply of extras.
To keep the spread of communicable diseases down in our center, we ask that you evaluate your child’s health prior to sending him or her to school in the morning.
Please keep your child home if he or she has any of the following symptoms:
Sore throat Continuous cough Earache Stomach ache Fever Continuous sneezing and runny nose “Green” mucous nose/eyes Diarrhea Nausea Vomiting Undiagnosed Rash Headache OR If your child is not able to fully participate in all activities at the preschool. Activities include outdoor play, sandbox, water tables, painting, etc… If you feel your child is not up to any or all of these activities, then it becomes your responsibility to keep your child at home.
The staff will call you if your child becomes ill or is unable to fully participate in the preschool’s daily activities. Your child will need to be taken home as quickly as possible. We allow a one hour leeway for parents working outside of the Santa Ynez Valley. Please be sure that you or a designated friend or relative is always available to pick-up your child.
If your child is sent home from school with any of the above listed conditions, then he or she will not be permitted to attend school the following day. Ex: Your child is sent home with the stomach flu on Monday, then he or she may not return until Wednesday. Many times children do not need to be seen by a physician, but just need to stay at home and get some rest.
Children who are seen by a physician and given medication can return to school 24 hours after the first dose of medication is given, unless the physician has imposed a longer stay at home. In some instances, a note from your child’s physician may be required in order for your child to return to school. If you are comfortable, please inform your child’s teacher of his or her diagnosis. This will help us keep staff and parents informed of illnesses that they may have been exposed to.
The above policy is not only a common courtesy to the children and families attending Zaca, but also to the Zaca staff and their families.
Visiting Zaca Center
Our doors remain unlocked during our regular business hours. Please feel free to stop by and visit the preschool at anytime. Unannounced visits are welcome, but keep in mind when your child sees you at the center he or she may think that you are here to take them home. If you are not intending to take your child home, you may want to observe your child through the windows where he or she cannot see you. If your child does not have any separation anxiety about you stopping by and visiting and then leaving again, then by all means please do so.
We strongly encourage parents to take an active part in their child’s learning process at Zaca Center. Participation is not required, only suggested. The children love sharing the center and their friends with parents, grandparents and other family members.
The children and staff love sharing and experiencing new things, so if you have a special or hidden talent that you would like to share with the children, please speak with your child’s teacher. We would especially like it if family members would be willing to share holidays and traditions that are celebrated in their homes. This is a great way to share your family with our center.
If you are unable to participate by helping in the classroom, there are many things that you can do to stay involved and help your child and the center. --We can always use a helping hand sprucing up the play yard or classroom, bringing in a special morning or afternoon snack, driving on field trips or helping out with our many fund raising activities throughout the year.
Parent Teacher Conferences We have two scheduled conference times set up for parents to speak with teachers regarding their child’s progress at Zaca Center. The scheduled times are November and May. You will be notified ahead of time and given an opportunity to sign up for a time that is convenient for you. Conference times are not mandatory, but are a great way to find out more about your child and how they spend their time at preschool. Keep in mind that parents are not limited to the two scheduled conference times and are free to set up a conference at any time throughout the year.
Preschool Assessments will be done on each child attending our center twice per year, once in November and again in May. These assessments will be done in the classroom with their teacher. Many portions of the assessment are based on classroom observation. On occasion we will need additional parent input to help us complete your child’s assessment. All assessment results are kept confidential. Assessments can be translated into Spanish if needed.
Parent Teacher Communication To ensure a smooth preschool transition for your child, we feel it is necessary to keep the lines of communication open between home and school. Preschool teachers are available each morning and afternoon during the drop off and pick-up times for informal communication. If you need something more private, please let your child’s teacher know and we will arrange a time that works for everyone involved. We have many forms of written communication that are sent home each month. Some of the communication you will receive: Monthly school newsletter, class calendar, and monthly snack and lunch menus. We have additional forms that we fill out if we need to let you know something specific about your child’s day. These forms are entitled, “We thought you might like to know…”
In addition to our written communication each teacher has a mailbox in the front lobby. The preschool teachers check their boxes daily so parents can leave all non-urgent messages there. Preschool staff can also be reached by phone 688-0050 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have bilingual staff that can help with translation if needed. Zaca Center Preschool provides written and verbal translation of conferences, IEP’s, IFSP’s and translation of written notes or school policies. Please let us know if that is something you are interested in.
And remember, the preschool teachers are available for formal or informal conferences at anytime throughout the school year.