Frequently Asked Questions

How did the Silverton Family Learning Center (SFLC) get started?

In 2001, the Silverton School District decided to apply for Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) funds from the State to fund a licensed preschool program. Karen Hoskin, SFLC’s eventual founder, was involved in developing the CPP grant on the school’s behalf. The grant was awarded, providing funding for up to 5 eligible preschool children. Hoskin was named coordinator of the CPP District Council and worked with the school to develop, staff and open the preschool in a temporary location with capacity for 12 children. The school was at full capacity from the first day it opened its doors. It soon became clear that a program of this nature required strong oversight, fundraising and nurturing, especially when growth seemed inevitable. The School District had its hands very full nurturing a diverse K-12 program with its own curriculum and philosophy, so Hoskin suggested that a non-profit organization be formed to assume management of the early childhood school. The School Board supported this idea and a transition occurred in 2003, forming the Silverton Family Learning Center (SFLC). Since then, SFLC has built and occupied a new school building, expanded services to include infants and toddlers, and increased capacity by 50%.

What is SFLC’s approach to early childhood education?

SFLC follows an emergent “negotiated” curriculum paradigm, where children’s interests are investigated through all the learning modes including art, literacy, science, math, communication, and play. Every child is viewed as an intelligent, interested, and discerning individual who is capable of playing a major role in the school’s schedule and curriculum. Our teachers’ role is to observe and enhance the children’s inquiries, exploring alongside them as a fellow researcher. Parents are considered the child’s first teacher. SFLC encourages all families to participate in the classroom, the school community and in any other way they can. SFLC’s wholistic approach to caring for children (Inspired by the philosophy the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy) incorporates equal attention to scholastic development (cognitive, literacy, math etc) and all social/personal development, embracing the individual qualities of each child. For a more detailed description of our approach, click here.

What national/State standards apply to the Silverton Family Learning Center?

As a recipient of funds from the Colorado Preschool and Kindergarten Program (CPKP), our preschool is required to meet or exceed state standards for curriculum. In working to exceed those standards, we strive for an exceptional learning environment that is responsive to your child’s needs. Also SFLC, being a licensed school, follows all requirements stipulated by The Colorado State Department of Human Services, Division of Childcare. For more information on Standards visit www.cde.org

How does SFLC assess each child’s learning?

SFLC follows the Creative Curriculum assessment tools, which are recognized by Colorado’s state standards and are well-respected nationwide. “The Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum for Ages 3-5” is a road map for determining where each child is developmentally, for following each child’s progress, and for planning learning experiences.” (www.creativecurriculum.com) SFLC believes that assessing individual and group progress is the key to planning programs that respond to the needs, interests, and abilities of all children in the classroom. With ongoing assessments, teachers are able to focus on all aspects of each child’s development.

  • Cognitive: Learning and Problem Solving; Logical Thinking; Representation and Symbolic Thinking.
  • Language: Listening and Speaking; Reading and Writing
  • Physical: Gross and Fine Motor Skills
  • Social/Emotional: Sense of Self; Responsibility for Self and Others, Prosocial Behavior

What is an ILP?An Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) is created for each student by SFLC teachers following the Creative Curriculum tools. These plans give teachers and parents an understanding of their child’s development, strengths, and learning. The ILP also aids in setting goals for the year ahead, and helps to assure that children are progressing at the school.

How are all children learning their numbers and letters? Children are exposed to letters and numbers in all areas (dramatic play, reading, art, manipulative, block, music and listening centers) of the school. Each day, children are learning the function of math, reading and writing in many different realms, from the art table to the kitchen.

For example: During the 2006/2007, preschool children became interested in restaurants when a child created one in the dramatic play area of the classroom. Soon the whole preschool group was interested, launching a school-wide inquiry that lasted several months. During this time, the children created a restaurant in the classroom, developed menus, collected play money, wrote orders, and went on a field trip to a restaurant. As a culmination project, they invited the parents in for dinner on Valentine’s Day. Children from all age groups collaborated to replicate all aspects of a restaurant experience. They set the tables with cloths and candles, wrote orders, served homemade meals, performed songs and dances, delivered the bill, collected payment using a cash register, and returned change.

The very next day, again in the dramatic play area, a child began playing ‘hospital’. Within a week, an entire hospital wing had been set up in the classroom, complete with real bandages, stethoscopes, plastic syringes, blood pressure cuffs, and other real equipment donated by the ambulance association, local nurses and an urgent care department. The children had a field trip to the ambulance depot, became experts at taking blood pressure and caring from fellow students, and corresponded with children at a hospital. In true Reggio Emilia form, the interests of the children were used to create multi-disciplinary learning at all ages inside and outside the school. Ask us about maps the children have made, and the reading nook they recently built! These are just a few examples of what learning is like at SFLC.

What does my child’s day look like? Students follow a daily schedule, which includes group meeting times, individual project work,snack, outside discovery, lunch, nap, music, yoga, reading times and much more. Teachers do not follow a clock however, allowing each child to move at their own pace when working and to complete projects when possible.

8-9:00 a.m. Arrival : Students arrive, put away their belongings and go to the toddler room
9:00 – 9:30 Meeting Time: The start to our day. Discussion: Children talk about what they’ve done since school, what we did the day before, and what we will be doing today. Children Discuss who will be in charge of the different chores of the day (setting the lunch table, feeding the bunny, watering the plants etc…) 

Also during circle time: Reading: children pick a story to start the day.

Music: children dance and sing.

 

9:30-11:00 Project time: children work in small groups in different areas and centers of the school. Art: work with various expressions (dramatic play, drawing, painting, sculpting etc.) to delve deeper into their project work Math & Science: inside and outdoors) work that reflects our current project Literacy: language arts (letter writing, making books, sight words, letter games)
Snack time
11:00 -11:30 Outside Discovery : continue study & play outside
11:30-12:00 Reading and Lunch Prep.
12:00 – 12:45 Lunch : students and teachers sit together, discuss the day and other interests
12:45-1:00 Preschool Departure
1:00 – 2:30 Rest Time (nap, quiet play, reading)
2:30 – 4:00 Extended Care: children are free to choose to continue projects, read, work with manipulative (blocks/puzzles), and/or play outside.
Final Departure

What does my toddler need to demonstrate by the age of three? Children of this age vary dramatically. Teachers look to see that children of this age are beginning to demonstrate self-help skills (such as dressing oneself) and an understanding of simple directions from teachers. Children’s gross and fine motor skills become more refined at this age, enabling them to show more independence and self discovery. http://www.babycenter.com/toddler

What does my preschooler need to know by age five? First of all, each child is unique with different strengths and rates of developmental progress. To help children start off their primary education with their best foot forward, SLFC looks for the following attributes in Kindergarten aged children: Familiarization with school life and an ability to transition through a daily schedule, an independence away from parents, demonstrating simple self-help skills (such as communicating feelings to a friend and cleaning up own belongings), a capacity to interact with peers in the classroom setting, good listening skills and trust of teachers, comprehension of the function of reading and writing and a basic knowledge of letters and numbers. Most of all, SFLC hopes to instill a love of learning and a pleasure of inquiry. To aid parents in understanding the developmental stages of their child, SFLC teachers conduct teacher-parent conferences on a regular basis. http://www.cmu.edu/cyert-center/rea.htm

When is my child ready for Kindergarten? (Age, ILP, expectations) Each child shows the qualities for this transition at varying ages. As stated in the above description of what a 5 yr old should know, a child going into Kindergarten should demonstrate independence and a good foundation in cognitive, language, social/emotional development and physical motor skills. Age does not uniquely qualify a child for the demands of starting primary school; each child is given a thorough assessment by SFLC in cooperation with the kindergarten teacher, and this assessment is communicated to parents. SFLC works with the Silverton School and Kindergarten teacher to prepare children for the transition.

How will SFLC help my child transfer from preschool to Kindergarten? Each child that graduates from SFLC is prepared for the demands of Kindergarten. SFLC maintains a close relationship with future teachers and the Silverton School, ensuring a smooth transition. In order to help parents understand the expectation and process of this transition, they are encouraged to meet with teachers from both programs. At the Silverton Family Learning Center, one of the most important skills we hope to instill in our students is a lifelong love and curiosity for learning.

How will I know how my child is doing at school? In addition to faculty interactions with families on a daily basis at the school, the SFLC staff distributes daily reports, maintains individual portfolios, and carries out bi-annual parent-teacher conferences to discuss assessments of all children’s developmental areas. A parent may also request a meeting at anytime. Open and regular communication is one of our highest priorities!

What is the SFLC’s policy on discipline? Our discipline philosophy is called Supportive Social Learning. Our staff strives to develop a positive relationship and rapport with each and every child, and if problems do occur, discipline is based on positive praise and reinforcement to build social skills and self-esteem. Each child will be recognized and treated as an individual, and staff are trained to recognize the role behavior plays in learning and development. Positive guidance, support and re-direction will be blended with consistent reinforcement and celebration of positive behavior and accomplishment. No form of corporal or harsh punishment is ever allowed, and discipline is not associated with rest, toileting or food. Separation, if ever used as discipline, is brief and appropriate for the child’s age.

What is SFLC’s policy when my child is sick? Children showing symptoms of sore throat, inflammation of the eyes, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lice, or other contagious illness may not attend until the condition has cleared or the child has been on antibiotics for 24 hours. If a child becomes ill at the school, parents will be informed immediately and the child must be removed from the center as soon as possible, preferably within 30 minutes. Please notify the school if your child is diagnosed with or exposed to an infectious illness, and a notice will be posted if an infections illness or exposure occurs at the center. Our goal is to provide a healthy environment for all children and staff.

What health examinations does SFLC require for each child? Colorado law requires every child to have a physical examination form signed by an approved health official. The examination may not have taken place more than 6 months prior to, nor more than 30 days after the child’s first day of attendance. Subsequent physicals will be required every year for children under the age of seven. An immunization form documenting the dates of all shots is also required. Our center’s nurse consultant will review all health records on a quarterly basis at the school and inform parents of any missing information.

What funding is available to SFLC families? In a rural community such as Silverton, there are many organizations that would like to help our families in need. The Colorado Preschool and Kindergarten Program (CPKP) helps fund many SFLC families. The goal of this program is to provide a preschool education for children who may benefit the most, and for whom there may otherwise be barriers to attending preschool. For more information, SFLC has a copy of the CPKP annual report available at the school. The Colorado Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) especially helps families when both parents are working or going to school. SFLC is also working to build a scholarship program through fundraising. If you are interested in any of these programs, please ask any staff member for more information. All information shared will stay strictly confidential. We want to see all families receive the care they need at a price they can afford.

How can I volunteer at SFLC? Why is it important? Our school is a cooperative school, which means that all parents play a vital role as volunteers and members of the school community. Families of enrolled children are expected to contribute 2 or more hours of volunteer time each month. There are so many ways in which parents and extended family can lend a hand. SFLC staff members can assist in designing a plan for volunteering, or families may refer to a suggested list our school handbook. Families who are not able to meet their required volunteer goals in a given month may instead donate $40 per month to allow SFLC to pay for supplementary help. (Families of children enrolled in the CPKP program are not able to choose this option, because involvement is such an important part of the CPKP program). If any family feels that they are unable to give their time, they may speak with any of the SFLC staff about alternatives. The goal of this program is to have parents involved in their child’s education in anyway possible, but we understand that each family has unique needs and challenges.

What goes on at a Parent Café? This is up to the parents! Each café is different. It’s a great time to come and look around the school, get to know teachers and other parents, and hear more about the learning inquiries in the classroom. Parents discuss any issues and concerns they may have, and get a chance to participate in the design of their children’s education. Often a special guest speaker will attend (themes: Nutrition, Health/safety, Discipline, Music, Sports etc…) SFLC provides snacks and childcare during this time, and each parent café counts towards half of parent’s volunteer time if they attend.

To whom should I address my concerns or questions about SFLC? Parent Cafés offer a great place for parents and community members to discuss concerns, and to problem solve as a group. Otherwise, questions and concerns should be addressed first to the child’s teacher and then to the Director. If parents feel that their concerns are not addresses or that more information is needed, a written letter may be addressed to the SFLC Board of Directors. SFLC board meetings are always open to the public and are scheduled for the 3rd Wed. of every month at 5:30pm at the school.

How will I know if my family is eligible for financial assistance?

Our staff is trained to carry out the eligibility review with your family as part of the “Welcome Session” when your child first enters the school. We will automatically carry out a review with all enrolling families. Your confidentiality is our priority.

How does SFLC hire new staff? SFLC wants to find the best fit for all its teachers and a good match for the students and their families. New hires are required to submit, along with their application, a resume, documentation of all educational experience and fingerprints for a criminal background check. SFLC’s director or Board Personnel Committee then conducts a thorough interview process and researches all references. The results are then approved by the SFLC’s board’s personnel committee. In the event that a staff person is hired who has less than the preferred credentials, a training plan is developed and funded by SFLC and its partners. Every faculty member receives at least 10 hours of professional development each year.

Do you still have questions? We want to know! Please let us know how we can help clarify our policies, share our philosophy or respond to your concerns. Your input matters to us! Email us.