2011-2012 Parent Orientation Packet


 Thank you for choosing the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) and welcome to the Early Childhood Education (ECE) department! At Michele Block Gan Yeladim (pronounced gon yell-uh-DEEM, Hebrew for Garden of Children), our goal is to provide you and your child with the best possible school experience. You have chosen a school with a proven track record of excellence.  Michele Block Gan Yeladim Preschool has been accredited by NAEYC (The National Association of Education of Young Children) since 1991, Florida Kindergarten Council (FKC) since 2004, and Guiding Stars of Duval (5 stars!) since spring 2010. We are so proud to be accredited by so many organizations! Your children will have some of the finest early childhood faculty in the area to nurture and guide them as they develop self-esteem, confidence, skills, and friendships.

In order to ensure a smooth transition into the new school year, please take time to read the information in this orientation packet regarding our philosophy, goals, programs, policies and procedures. Please call the office if you have any questions or concerns. Your thoughts and perceptions are important to us!


It is our philosophy that young children represent a unique segment of society with special needs and behaviors. Children’s relationships and experiences during their early years of life have a significant and crucial impact on their later growth and development. We believe that the importance of these formative years not be underestimated. We are committed to the extreme importance of our role in your child’s total development. We value education and we strive to provide the very best environment for your child with all of the components necessary for his/her emotional, social, physical and cognitive well-being.

Enrollment in school is open to all children regardless of race, religious affiliation or ethnic origin. JCA membership is not required to participate. We have an open door policy; parents are welcome to visit the classroom at any time.


1.     To continuously attend to the needs of each individual child helping them feel safe, happy, and comfortable throughout the day.

2.     To develop in each child independence, confidence, and a feeling of self-worth as an individual and as a member of a group.

3.     To stimulate each child’s curiosity, sense of wonder, and motivation to learn about the world around them by establishing an age-appropriate, hands-on and stimulating environment. 

4.     To develop in children social responsibility by teaching goodwill towards others and respect for the environment. 

5.     To develop in children a love for music, art, and drama. To give young children and their families a sense of Jewish identity and culture. 

6.     To specifically develop in our children age-appropriate, cognitive and physical skills in the following areas: language, listening, visual discrimination, large and small motor, handwriting, math and science.


ORIENTATION for all students is on:

Friday, August 26, 2011
9 a.m. until 12 noon

On orientation day, all year-round (PreschoolPlus) programs are closed. This is an excellent opportunity for your child to meet his/her teacher in an informal setting before our school year begins. Please bring the required cubby items at this time, using the accompanying lists for guidance. You will receive an introductory letter from your child’s teacher a few days before orientation day containing specific information about your child’s class.
Please bring the items your child will need for school to student orientation on Friday, August 26 at your scheduled time. During the orientation, your child can meet his/her teachers and become accustomed to the classroom. Feel free to visit the school as often and at any time during the week before school begins.
We recommend that all new children have the opportunity to become acquainted with their environment before they are brought to school for the first time. Please arrange with someone from the ECE office for a visit (one to two weeks before your child’s first day) when you and your child can spend time in the library and playground area together. If possible, we suggest more that one visit. In addition to becoming familiar with the school environment, the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Parent Committee sponsors a:

Welcome Brunch
Sunday, August 28th
10 a.m. until 12 noon

This is an excellent opportunity to get to know the ECE Parent Committee members and meet other families and students new to our school. All families, new and returning, are invited to the welcome brunch.

Boo-Hoo/Yahoo Breakfast
Monday, August 29th & Tuesday, August 30th
8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m.


To ensure the safety of your child and to help us maintain consistency and organization, please adhere to the following policies and guidelines.

In case of an accident, we will first try to notify the parents/guardians, emergency contacts, and then the child’s physician. If it is impossible to reach any of the above, we will transport according to the emergency form listings if necessary. Extreme emergencies may dictate other procedures deemed in the child’s best interests. Whenever a child is injured, regardless of the seriousness of the injury, a parent or guardian will be required to sign an accident form.

Always make sure you submit an Enrollment/Emergency Update Form when any of your contact information changes.

Please indicate on your enrollment AND snack form (if it is food-related) if your child has allergies. We are happy to work with you in ensuring your child is safe in our care. If it is a life-threatening allergy, we will need specific information on how to treat in case of contact as well as the appropriate supplies (for example an Epipen Jr.). If a child is highly allergic to peanuts and stays for lunch bunch, we may establish a peanut-free room and notify other families with children in that lunch group.

Our teachers continually assess each student in our program to monitor their strengths, learning style, needs and interests. Teachers compile portfolios on each child and do developmental checklists to review your child’s progress. Parents have the opportunity to contribute and give input on their child’s assessment. Formal conferences occur twice per year but parents may request a conference at any time.

Throughout the year, outside organizations such as Nemours Bright Start!
(for JKs only), Vision Is Priceless (children ages 3 and older), and Hope Haven Children’s Clinic and Family Center provide screenings at the JCA. You will be notified and will need to give permission for your child to participate in these screenings.

Assessments are used as tools for teachers to plan challenging and stimulating activities for the students. The assessment we commonly use is completed over a period of time and is not used as a one-day test. If a teacher sees that a student has not mastered a particular skill, or that the skill is just beginning to emerge, then activities are planned to give that student more opportunities to master that skill. Assessments are completed throughout the year or whenever a parent requests one.

All student assessments are confidential and are only shared with the parents, pertinent staff, and support personnel in relation to the student.

All children are expected to behave in a manner that is acceptable to our classroom standards. If a child behaves in an unacceptable manner, the child is redirected, shadowed, or removed from the activity for a brief period. Positive guidance and positive reinforcement are used as much as possible when the child is behaving in an acceptable manner.
Unacceptable behavior is defined as that which is disruptive to the group as a whole during structured activity time, behavior which may be harmful, or behavior compromising the safety of the group or individuals. Physically or verbally hurting other children and/or faculty members is unacceptable. In the event that a child continues to be disruptive or harm others, the school reserves the right to dismiss that child from the program.

Families celebrate their children's birthdays in different ways and some do not celebrate birthdays at all. We try to recognize and respect these differences. We are also aware that a little bit of excitement goes a long way in groups of young children. We intentionally keep birthday observances low-key. If you would like your child to celebrate a birthday at Michele Block Gan Yeladim, we welcome you to bring kosher treats or favorite food which the teachers will help your child serve for snack time. Fresh fruit is always popular. For example, if your child loves watermelon, slice one in half and put candles in it like a cake! Please make arrangements with your child’s teacher in advance. Homemade products are not accepted unless prepared in a kosher kitchen. Please do not provide balloons or party favors.

Invitations to birthday parties are only distributed through the file crate folder system when the ENTIRE class is invited. Please make other arrangements when this is not possible. A roster with student names, telephone numbers and addresses is published and distributed in the fall.  

Unfortunately biting can be a common behavior in Busy Bee and Grasshopper age groups. Until a child has gained sufficient verbal skills, biting can occur regularly. When biting happens, it can be scary, frustrating, and stressful for the children involved and the adults. We do our best to provide an environment where minimal biting occurs, but it is an unavoidable consequence of being in a group setting. Each situation is handled with sensitivity on a case by case basis. If your child is bitten or bites at school, an incident report will be filled out and you will be required to sign the form. Someone in the office will contact both the biter and the child who was bitten; however, names will not be disclosed. Biting that continues and hurts others is subject to dismissal from the program (see section on behavior).

BoxTops for Education are collected at the front desk of the JCA and the ECE office. If you use BoxTop food products (General Mills cereals, some Progresso soups, Betty Crocker, etc.), please clip and drop in one of the designated areas. Each BoxTop earns 10 cents for Michele Block Gan Yeladim. Also, if you do any shopping online, register with BoxTops and designate Michele Block Gan Yeladim as your school of choice. Through BoxTops you can shop with nearly 400 stores and catalogs including Amazon, Gap, Toys-R-Us, DELL, Barnes & Noble, The Sharper Image, Talbots and more. Exclusive discounts and specials are available to you when you shop through these gateways. The best part is you earn money for your child’s school through each of your online purchases.   

If your child is a member of a carpool, please furnish the office with the names of all the children in the carpool, and the days on which the different drivers pick up. When driving the children, please use appropriate seatbelts, car seats or boosters, and place all children in the back seats. Children must ride in a rear seat if there is a passenger-side air bag in the front that has not been deactivated. Cellphone use is prohibited during drop-off and pick-up. Your child will not be taken from your car or placed in your car if you are on the phone. If your child is to go home with any adult other than yourself, written permission, along with a brief description or photo of the person (if unfamiliar to us) and their vehicle, must be sent to school each time. 

When using carpool line for pickup, please pull up a few car lengths ahead of the awning to provide additional space. Also, please be cautious of the awning when driving tall commercial vehicles. See “Drop-Off and Pick-Up Procedures” for more information about carpool.

For your child’s safety and well-being, please do not use your cellphone while picking up or dropping off your child at carpool. The parking lot is a very busy, potentially dangerous place and your child deserves your complete attention at that time. All children enjoy an undistracted and loving “good-bye” at drop-off and a warm greeting at pick-up. Please know that your child will not be taken from your car or placed in your car if you are on the phone. In order to keep carpool moving, please stay off your phone during those times. Thank you for your assistance in keeping your child safe.

Your child should wear comfortable play clothes, socks and closed-toe shoes at all times. We ask that the children wear clothes in which they can play freely. Please make sure your children are dressed in clothes that can get dirty! Send a labeled bag containing a complete seasonal change of labeled clothing, including socks and underwear if applicable. Accidents do happen!  

We maintain a strong belief in the value of good and open communication. You will receive via e-mail a biweekly newsletter containing important dates and information pertaining to our programs. If you do not receive an electronic newsletter, please call the office. We may need to correct or update your e-mail address.

We encourage you to come to the office to speak with us or to arrange a conference with your child’s teacher if you feel it is needed. Office hours are generally from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. At carpool times (9 a.m
., 12:00 noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.), our office staff are occupied making sure your children are safely taken from and to your car. Please try to visit the office 10 minutes before or after those times. If no one is available to answer your phone call, please leave a voice-mail at extension 235, 242, 259, or 237 and we will contact you as soon as possible. 

Parent to Faculty communication is very important, and we encourage parents to call at any time to discuss their children with our faculty. If you drop off your child before 9 a.m. and you have specific instructions about their day, please write a note. Your note will be given to the appropriate faculty member and your instructions can be clearly communicated.   

Written Communication:
  Every two weeks, you will receive a newsletter from the office and also monthly calendars and/or letters from your child’s teacher. All children have labeled folders in their respective classroom crates, which are located near the entry of your child’s classroom. If your child does not leave in carpool each day (where a faculty person will give you notes), it is your responsibility to check your child’s folder daily for written communication from the school. Please notify the office if you are not receiving this information.

 It is possible that no one will be in the ECE office every time you try to call our department.  Our No. 1 priority above all others is your child. We may be in the classrooms, on the playground, or elsewhere in the JCA attending to the needs of the children. Office hours are generally from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. At carpool times (9 a.m., 12 noon, 1:30, and 3:30 p.m.) office staff are occupied making sure your children are safely taken from and to your car. Please try to visit the office 10 minutes before or after those times. If no one is available to answer your call, please leave a voice-mail at extension 235, 242, 259, or 237 and we will contact you as soon as possible.

If you need to reach a faculty person immediately at any time regarding your child in our care, please follow these guidelines: 

1.      Call 730-2100 and enter a Michele Block Gan Yeladim extension:
 Administrative Assistant……………………………..………………..235
 Assistant Director of Curriculum Development...............…..259

2.      If no one answers, press “0” for the receptionist. 

3.     Tell the receptionist you were not able to get through and need to speak to someone in the Michele Block Gan Yeladim Office.

4.      Ask the receptionist to use the walkie-talkie to page an ECE representative on channel two. 

Parent to School: Please write us a note about changes relating to any of the following items: Your child’s home routine (i.e. parents traveling, grandparent moving in, etc.), address, e-mail address or phone numbers (includes cellphone), emergency contacts, babysitters or nannys, and medical conditions. Hand this note to a faculty member.  Because of the busy nature of carpool, we advise against verbal messages and instructions at that time.

Parent to Teacher: Please refrain from conferencing with your child’s teacher in the carpool line or during class time. There will be scheduled conference times during the year. If you visit your child’s classroom (which you are always welcome to do), we ask that you not engage in conversation with the teacher when she is working with the students. Her job at that point is to be with the children. Please do not discuss sensitive issues with your child’s teacher in front of your child. Little ears can pick up so much! You can always call the office and we will have your child’s teacher return your call after school hours.

We maintain a current list of child and family support services available in the community. If at any time you need information on health services, mental health, nutrition, special education screening, subsidized childcare, etc., please see your child’s teacher or
someone in the ECE office 

Conferences with your child’s teacher are held twice during the school year. Dates are included in the calendar section. Please check your newsletter for the date to start signing up for specific times. At your conference, you will be shown some of your child’s work and have a discussion about your child’s progress. Between conferences, please feel free to contact the teacher whenever you have a special concern. We are always available to you and we want you and your child to have the best possible school experience.
You are welcome to visit the school at any time, an appointment is never necessary.

The curriculum plan of the ECE department is written and designed to enable our faculty to implement and fulfill our broad goals listed at the beginning of this page. The integrity of the curriculum and its implementation is overseen by the Assistant Director. The curriculum focuses on skill development that is appropriate to each age group within the program. Some skills are applicable to all ages whereas others only apply to one or two age groups. The structure of our curriculum ensures continuity in skill development from year to year, contributing to smooth program transitions.

Units or themes (when appropriate to the age group) are used as planning tools for the faculty and help enhance real-life experiences for the children. The units provide necessary variety since the skills are reinforced and taught continuously throughout the year. Many units are repeated yearly. As the children grow and develop, so do their cognitive abilities. The repetition from year to year provides new learning situations commensurate with their increasing capabilities.

We also use the nationally acclaimed Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) curriculum in our JK and Kindergarten classes. HWT has won the Distinguished Achievement Award for best children’s curriculum as well as a Teacher’s Choice Award. This Pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum uses music and multi-sensory learning materials to develop fine motor skills and handwriting readiness. Our teachers attended special training sessions for HWT and are ready to implement it. With only a few minutes of time a week, we should see real progress and more confidence in writing.

Kindergarten is the only age group that does in part use a commercially available curriculum for phonemic awareness, balanced literacy, and guided and structured reading.

Detailed curriculum brochures are available for each age group. Please contact the Early Childhood office if you would like one for your child’s age group. 

We emphasize the following skill areas in our curriculum:

  • Social/Emotional Skills

  • Literacy and Language Development

  • Listening Skills

  • Visual Discrimination Skills

  • Large Motor Skills

  • Manipulative and Fine Motor Skills

  • Social Studies and Community

  • Art

  • Music and Drama

  • Math

  • Science and Technology

  • Jewish Studies

or children who arrive before 8:55 a.m. (8:30 for kindergarten students) and stay past noon (1:40 p.m. for kindergarten), there will be some faculty and room transitions that occur. It is our intention to minimize these as much as possible for your children with morning to afternoon faculty and communication. Please call the office if you would like more details about your child’s individual transitions. It is also helpful to write notes regarding specific instructions about your child’s day. These notes can then be passed on to other faculty members caring for your child and the communication will be clear. 

We proudly accept any contributions that you, your friends, or your relatives wish to make. Contributions are a special way to express appreciation or sorrow, remember a birthday, an anniversary, a birth, or recognition of accomplishment. Contribution forms are available in the office and one is included in the back of your orientation packet.

 The William & Andrew Block Families Michele Block Gan Yeladim Scholarship Fund

An acknowledgement is sent to the appropriate party stating that a contribution has been made and acknowledgement is also made in the weekly preschool newsletter and the monthly JCA Alliance News.


1.     ECE Office employees greet your students arriving by car from 8:55 a.m. until 9:05 a.m. on 9-month days and children are taken to their classrooms. Busy Bees must be walked in by their parents. They are too young to safely participate in carpool. Only students may enter through the awning area. All adults must pass through the main entrance to the agency. The awning door is locked and alarmed at all times. During regular carpool times, the alarm is disarmed. There is no 9 a.m. carpool on PreschoolPlus (interim) days.  

Kindergarten carpool is scheduled to start at 8:20 and go until 8:25 or until there are no longer cars in line. Younger siblings of kindergarten student who are enrolled for the early bird program are welcome to use kindergarten morning carpool.   

2.     All children (except Kindergartners arriving for carpool by 8:25 a.m.) who arrive before 8:55 a.m. should be brought to a designated room in their area where they will be under the supervision of our “early bird” faculty. Please check with the office for an exact location. Until 8:55 a.m., the teachers are busy preparing for the day and are not available to be responsible for the children. They will be brought to their classrooms when school begins. 

3.    Children arriving before 8:55 a.m. must be registered for early bird arrival or have made early care reservations through the ECE Office. Occasional reservations are subject to space availability. 

4.   When bringing your child late to school, please call the office to let our staff know you are coming. We will assume your child is absent for the entire day unless we hear from you by 10 a.m. We readjust our staffing at that time. If your child is in a napping group, please plan for them to nap at school and not at home before they come in. 

5.    Dismissal will be according to the following schedule:
Carpool Time                     Please be in line at
12:00 noon                        11:55 a.m.
1:30 p.m.                         1:25 p.m.
3:30 p.m.                         3:25 p.m.

We will bring the children down to the end of the awning and buckle them safely in your car as you come through the carpool line. Whoever is picking up the child must sign their child out on the attendance sheet indicating the time. Under no circumstances will we release a child to anyone under the age of 16 or to anyone who is not designated by you as authorized to remove your child from the program. We always ask for identification when we are not familiar with the person authorized to pick up your child.  

6.    Parents who arrive earlier than 11:55 a.m. and are in the front of the line may be asked to pull far forward or around to the end of the line so that the younger children may be dismissed. You may also park your car and walk up to the door for your child if you do not wish to go to the back of the line. Please remain outside the double doors, as dismissal time can be very hectic. Those who are waiting in the carpool line will be given first priority in receiving their children.

7.    Please do not get out of your cars to talk if you are in the line. This helps dismissal to be as speedy as possible. 

8.    If it is not raining, the first car in line must pull up two car lengths past the awning. If it is raining, the first car should be in line with the awning.    

9.    If your child is to go home with any adult other than yourself, written permission, along with a photo or a brief description of the person (if unfamiliar to us) and their car, must be sent to school EACH time. This applies even if the individual is authorized on your child’s enrollment form to remove him/her from the premises. Please instruct the person picking up your child that they will need to display a photo ID and sign your child out on the attendance sheet.    

10.   Any time you pick up your child please be sure that you verbally notify your child’s teacher or a faculty person your child is leaving and sign them out on the attendance log in the classroom. 

11.  Please use the parking lot entrance closest to San Jose Boulevard. Using the entrance further from San Jose Boulevard creates a traffic hazard by forcing cars to stick out onto San Clerc. 

* Note: When using carpool line for pick-up please pull up a few car lengths past the awning (unless it is raining.)

The JCA offers a wide array of enrichment classes during the 9-month school year. Classes typically include dance, music, sports, pottery, art, Spanish, Hebrew, swimming, cooking, and much more. These classes take place after the regular morning classes and require an additional fee. Enrichment classes typically fill quickly so please register early. Registration begins as soon as the information is distributed.  Non-members can register at anytime, but must wait until one week before the first scheduled class before space is confirmed. Typically, the instructor for the enrichment class will come to your child’s class, pick them up, and bring them to enrichment classes. If you prefer to bring your child yourself, you must notify the office of your choice as well as the enrichment instructor. Also, if you sign up for an enrichment class less than three business days prior to the start of the class, please call the ECE office and let them know in which class you have enrolled your child.

A blank Enrollment/Emergency Update form is included on this website for you to record any information that may have changed since you first enrolled. Please make sure you date the form and submit only the information that has changed to the ECE office.   

EXTENDED CARE – Early Bird and Lunch Bunch Programs

1.    For Busy Bees through JK age groups, early bird hours are from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and lunch bunch 12 noon to 6 p.m. For Kindergarten, early bird hours are from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch bunch 1:40 to 6 p.m. 

2.    Children in need of early bird or lunch bunch care on a regular basis must register accordingly via the school registration form, or a request for permanent schedule change form, available in the JCA  Administrative office.  

3.    Occasional care reservations (on an “as needed” basis) are subject to availability in your child's age group and are not guaranteed. Occasional care reservations must be made with the Early Childhood office no earlier than two weeks in advance of the needed date. 

a.    The cost per hour for use of occasional care is $10 per child, $18 for two children, or $25 for three. You will be billed for the hours which you have reserved even if you pick your child up earlier than the reserved time because the program will be staffed according to your reservations.

 b.   Although we try to be as flexible and understanding as possible with unusual circumstances, there will be a late fee of $5 per every 15 minutes that you arrive past your scheduled pick-up time. For example, if your child is scheduled for pick-up at 3:30 p.m. and you arrive at 4 p.m., you will be charged $10 ($5 for each 15 minutes you are late). After 6 p.m., the late fee is $1 per minute. For example, if your regular pick-up time is 6 p.m. and you arrive at 6:15 p.m., you will be charged $15. If you are late more than three times during the school year, the late fee doubles each additional time it occurs. For example, if you are supposed to pick up at 6 p.m. and you arrive late for a fourth time at 6:20, your late fee will be $40; if it is your fifth time and you arrive at 6:20 p.m., the fee would be $80 and so on. Please let the office know about extenuating circumstances. Excessive late pick-up may result in dismissal from the program. Dismissal is up to the ECE Director’s discretion.    

c.    Children arriving earlier than their scheduled time (during 7:30 – 8:30 or 9 a.m.) must make an occasional care reservation or they will be subject to the above fees. 

4.    Children staying for Lunch Bunch (12-6 p.m.) and all Kindergarten children, need to bring a lunch to school. All children (except Kindergartners) staying past 3 p.m. need to bring an afternoon snack. Lunches and snacks must consist of finger foods (cut into non-choking size) that your child can manipulate him/herself, a drink, napkin, and any utensils that may be needed. Afternoon snacks may be packed separately or added to your child’s lunch. Please refer to the dietary policy sheet for the appropriate guidelines. Food should be sent ready to eat and not require heating. Please check with your child’s lunch bunch teacher if your child has special lunch requirements. 

5.    If you need to reach a faculty person immediately at any time regarding your child in our care, please follow these guidelines:

           a)  Call 730-2100 and enter a Michele Block Gan Yeladim extension:
                Administrative Assistant………………………………..........……235
                Administrative Assistant….......................…….……...........242
                Assistant Director…....................................…….............259

b)  If no one answers, press “0” for the receptionist.

c)  Tell the receptionist you were not able to get through and need to speak to someone in the Michele Block Gan Yeladim Office.

d)  Ask the receptionist to use the walkie-talkie to page an ECE representative on channel two

6.    When picking up your children from lunch bunch, you will be asked to initial the daily sign-out sheet.  At this time, the supervision of your child becomes your responsibility.

Field trips are designed to enhance the curriculum for Kindergarten, JK and occasionally Teddy Bear classes. We travel via school bus, JCA van or by foot (if walking to The Temple). 
We also bring many resources into the facility to be enjoyed by all age groups. You will be notified as far in advance as possible when your child is scheduled to take a trip or attend an in-house resource. Parents are invited to make reservations through the office to join the trips, whenever possible, but are asked not to bring siblings. Parents should plan to pay for their own tickets. Room on the school bus is limited; it may be necessary for parents to drive themselves or carpool together at times. If a trip is scheduled on days for which your child is not registered, he/she is always invited to join the trip if accompanied by an adult but you must notify the office in advance to make sure there is space on the bus.

Scholarship applications are available through the ECE office. Distribution of scholarship money is based on financial need as well as availability of funds. All applications for financial aid are confidential and should be filled out completely with attached supporting documentation and handed in to the Assistant Executive Director of the JCA before April 1 of the preceding school year.

All families are expected to comply with financial policies set forth in this packet and on the financial contracts. We are happy to work with you if you require a special payment plan, but any deviation from the standard plan requires the completion of a Payment Plan Application (available in the Early Childhood office.) For your convenience, the JCA does accept payment by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express (however, at this time automatic debit is only available for JCA membership payments and not school tuitions.) All charges for field trips, teacher appreciation week, on site theatre productions, etc. are covered by the resource fee that you pay at the beginning of the year.


1.    A morning kosher snack program is offered to all children for a nominal fee.  There is a separate sheet that must be completed and returned to the office if you cannot  participate in the snack program due to food allergies. 

2.    Children with food allergies who cannot participate in the snack program must bring a daily morning snack. We do not provide afternoon snacks, unless the children are participating in a cooking project that afternoon. Students may have a separate lunch boxes if your child stays for lunch or eat what is left over from their lunch for afternoon snack. Kindergartners staying past 3 p.m. do not need an afternoon snack; it is provided for them. 

3.    Because good nutrition is an important part of our program, we  suggest that you strive to pack nutritious snacks and lunches representing a healthy and balanced diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always a great choice.

4.    Keep in mind our dietary standards, and only purchase those packaged products bearing symbols that are shown on the dietary guideline information chart found below. If you need more guidance, please ask. We are happy to help. 

5.    Some classrooms may be nut-free or peanut-free due to life-threatening allergies. You will be alerted at the beginning of the school year if your child is one of these classes. Please be respectful of this policy and contact the ECE office if you would like more information. There are many nut-free choices including Sun Butter (made with sunflower seeds), soy butter, etc., now readily available in most supermarkets. 

6.    All food sent to school should be pre-cut for the younger children, and age-appropriate. Be sure to include all utensils. Peanuts, popcorn, unsliced grapes and other foods that are common causes of choking are NOT permitted. 

7.    Busy Bee and Grasshopper lunches are refrigerated. Teddy Bear, JK and Kindergarten lunches are not. Please use an insulated lunch box and freezer pack if your Teddy Bear, JK or Kindergarten student needs any food items to stay chilled. 

8.    Breakfast foods for our full-time children in all programs may be kept in the kitchens labeled with your child’s name. The children eating breakfast must be at school by 8:15 a.m. to allow our faculty an adequate amount of time to feed your children and be prepared for school to begin. Breakfast cannot be served to children who arrive after that time. 

9.    Each day, Busy Bee students should bring a non-spill cup to school. Due to state requirements, this cup is sent home at the end of each day to be washed/sterilized. Please label all cups and lids with your Busy Bee’s name or initials. Grasshopper students and older should not bring sippy cups to school.

The following dietary guidelines are observed in the ECE department. Please ask for help in the ECE office if you have any questions. Any food handled in our kitchens or provided by the ECE department for our programming will follow these guidelines: 

1.  Please do not send in meat products of pork origin.


2.  Shellfish is not permitted. Tuna or any type of fish or eggs are fine and may be combined with dairy products.


3.  Meat and milk products must be packed separately and not eaten together for the same meal. For example, a turkey sandwich is fine but not a turkey and cheese sandwich. A turkey sandwich is fine with juice or water, but not with a container of milk. However, you may send dairy products for snack time and meat products for lunchtime, but they must be packed in separate containers.


4.  Full-time children leaving breakfast food products in the kitchen must be sure those products are marked with an accepted kosher symbol (see symbols below.)


5.  Packaged foods sent for snacks and lunches must be marked with an accepted kosher symbol. Lunchables are not kosher and typically not nutritious.  


6.  All food that is served to others for birthday parties or special events must be purchased from acceptable vendors such as Entenmanns’s, Publix on San Jose just north of 295, Carvel ice cream, and Krispy Kreme at the San Jose location. Remember, fresh fruits are great for birthdays and always kosher.


7.  Always check the package label for the seal or sign of certification. Not all runs of a given product are necessarily kosher. Sometimes certification is discontinued unexpectedly. In some lines, only certain flavors or varieties are kosher.


8.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are always fine.


9.  Snacks and lunches sent from home are to be packed in closed containers or bags.


10. Please clearly label your child’s lunch box or bag on the outside.


     11. The following symbols are acceptable: 

During Passover, Michele Block Gan Yeladim is only open for PreschoolPlus students. Packing lunches and snacks for your child to eat at this time can be challenging. However, some grocery stores including Publix and Winn Dixie offer a vast array of items that are kosher for Passover including cereals, cookies, crackers, chips, and more. All kosher items labeled with a “P” for Passover are fine during this time. Fresh fruits and veggies are always great (excluding corn) and dairy products like yogurt and cheeses are fine unless combined with meats. 

Children typically enjoy many things on matzah (the traditional unleavened “bread” eaten for the duration of Passover). A few of the favorites are: plain or flavored cream cheese; peanut butter and jelly; tuna fish; buttered with cheese slices; egg salad, etc. You could also pack some of these items separately and your child may break their matzah and “dip.” 

Foods to avoid are: refined wheat or leavened bread products, rice, corn, products with corn syrup, or legumes.

HEALTH, EMERGENCY, AND DCF (Department of Children and Families)
Contained in your registration packet are Health forms, Emergency Release forms, Alternate Nutrition Plan Agreement, “Know Your Child Care” booklet and the Michele Block Gan Yeladim Discipline Policy Acknowledgement. All of these forms must remain current in your child’s folder. Parents of children with expired forms must provide current forms within 10 days of expiration in order for the child to remain in our program. The ECE office will notify you if your child’s forms have expired. In addition to the above forms, we will also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate or a notarized affidavit of birth date. 

DCF also requires you to fill out a flu shot form in the month of August or September.  You are not required to seek immunization for your child but must sign the form stating that you know it is available.  

While we celebrate cultural diversity and various national and Jewish holidays, we do not participate in the celebration of Halloween, Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or Easter. Please refrain from sending in cards or candy related to these holidays for distribution to the children while in our school. See the attached calendar for Jewish Holiday closings. 

Through the generosity of the David Stein Foundation, Michele Block Gan Yeladim is pleased to offer services free of charge to our students and families during the 9-month school year. Services (offered mainly to Teddy Bears, JKs and Kindergartners) include pro-social skills play groups, behavior modification, speech therapy play groups, classroom observations with recommendations, and computer training for Kindergartners. In addition, Hope Haven provides free parenting seminars and faculty in-services. Referrals are made from parents and/or teachers. Screening will be done by the appropriate Hope Haven professional and results will be shared with parents. When screening results indicate intervention may be helpful, your child will be added to the schedule for services.

In the event of severe weather, community/national emergencies or utility outages, the JCA may need to close our programs.

For severe weather, we will close according to the following criteria:

* 9-month Preschool or Kindergarten Students – If Duval County Public Schools close for severe weather, Michele Block Gan Yeladim’s 9-month preschool and kindergarten programs will also close.

* 12-month PreschoolPlus Year Round Students - Even if Duval County Public Schools close for severe weather, assume that the JCA will be open for services unless one or more of the following conditions exist:

1) No utilities (water and/or electric is out).
2) A state of emergency is called (requiring the closing of local businesses).
3) Weather conditions inhibit adequate staffing of the program.

In the case of severe weather conditions and the PreschoolPlus program remains open, it is imperative that parents, guardians, or emergency contacts are reachable by phone in case of loss of utilities or worsening conditions. Please know that our phone system requires electricity to operate and loss of electricity would result in an inability to reach the JCA by phone. In this case, you would be contacted by an ECE representative by cellphone.

If you use an insect repellant, public health authorities recommend only repellants containing DEET. It should only be applied once per day. If it must be done at school, we require written permission from the parent or guardian, the repellant must be in its original container, and your child’s name must be on that container.   

In compliance with Florida State Statutes, we require documentation regarding which parent has legal custody in the case of separation or divorce. If there is no legal documentation, then both parents have the right of access to JCA records and pick-up of their children. It is the responsibility of the custodial parent to provide legal documentation verifying custody arrangements. Custodial parents are responsible for notifying the JCA, in writing, of any special circumstances with regard to the rights and obligations of the non-custodial parent. This includes providing written permission for the non-custodial parent to pick up a child on a regular basis or for a special occasion. 

The Michele Block Gan Yeladim Library holds over 7,000 volumes of hardcover books. At this time, the library is used primarily by teachers for story time and checking out books and story kits for their classroom use. Teachers check books out and in using the computer just outside the library. 
At this time, students and their parents may also check out a book by filling out a small form located near the computer. We operate on the honor system and do not send out reminders to return books. Parents and students are welcome to visit the library at any time and read books together.     

Medication is administered only when accompanied by a properly completed medication form including the child’s name, name of medication, time and amount of dosage and parent's signature. A separate form must be completed for EACH day medication is to be given. Forms are available in the office.  Medication must be in its original container with the child’s name on the prescription label. No medicine can be given after the expiration date on the label. Medication will not be added to juice, milk, etc. Over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, etc., are not administered by school employees. If your child is in need of such drugs, he/she is not well enough to be at school!

All Busy Bees and Grasshoppers staying past 1:30 p.m. are required to nap or lie down for quiet time. Please remember to send in a labeled crib sheet and blanket or any “loveys” that will help your child feel more comfortable during this time. If your child uses a pillow, please make sure that it is airline size or smaller. We do not have the room to store regular-sized pillows. All nap items are sent home at the end of the week for parents to launder and return at the beginning of the next week. For Teddy Bears, JKs and Kindergarten, naps are available, space permitting, but optional.

There are two wooden news boards located in the hallway. Various photos and story boards are included on these boards. Articles relating to various parenting issues are available. If you desire articles or information on other subjects at anytime, please ask your child’s teacher or the office. Typically three parenting seminars are offered each year during the evening hours, and there may be a few weekday morning programs. Please check your bi-weekly newsletter for more information.

Michele Block Gan Yeladim has a track record of strong parent involvement. Parents may participate in several areas. Our fund-raising activities are extremely important to our program, and we encourage everyone to help in some way. Additionally, our teachers encourage parent participation and will ask you to volunteer throughout the year. Any parent who volunteers to work with the children or go on field trips must have a Sheriff’s Office background check done prior to volunteering.
Forms are available in the ECE Office. We love to include parents in the classroom who have a hobby or job that is connected to what we are learning about. Be sure to let your child’s teacher know if you are willing to come into the classroom and talk.

One of the most effective ways to become involved is to assist the Early Childhood Education Parent Organization. Sub-committee chairs are selected at the end of the previous school year, however, help with sub-committees is always needed and appreciated. At orientation, you will receive a separate packet of information about the ECE Parent Committee.

We encourage families to contribute to the school’s decisions about their child’s goals and plans for activities and services. Sometimes we get our best ideas for visitors or activities from parents.

Fully mastered toileting skills are required for the following programs and activities in the Early Childhood Department: Teddy Bears, Junior Kindergarten, Kindergarten, enrichment classes, field trips off premises, and instructional swim during summer camp. Fully mastered means that your child is able to indicate to the teacher that he/she needs to use the toilet in advance of going; that your child is able to undress themselves enough to use the toilet; and that your child is able to use toilet paper and/or flushable wet wipes effectively when needed. We understand that occasional accidents may occur and we are happy to facilitate cleanup. We are also happy to help younger age groups with mastering toilet learning and there are many books and resources on this topic available in the Parenting Library. 

Please note that students applying for a program requiring fully mastered toilet learning must have mastered this skill by July 1 of the summer prior to the beginning of the program. Incoming Teddy Bear students who have not mastered this skill by that time will remain in Grasshoppers. Students may move up if space is available once the skill is mastered.     

During each school year, the parents will be asked to complete a questionnaire evaluating all aspects of the program. If it is an accreditation year, you may be required to fill out two questionnaires. 
Survey results are reported in the school-wide newsletter. If you have concerns at any time during the year, please do not hesitate to call an appropriate faculty person. Your feedback is extremely important to us! Supervisors cannot be everywhere at all times and we count on our parents to let us know if something is in need of correction. 

Preschool hours are from 9 a.m. until 12 noon, Monday through Friday. Kindergarten hours are from 8:30 a.m. until 1:40 p.m. 
If you drop off early or pick up later than your scheduled time, you will be assessed accordingly. We encourage punctuality and thank you for your cooperation in this area. This enables us to keep our adult-to-child ratios low.


1.    Parents, or designated caretakers, of children who exhibit ANY of the following symptoms will be called to come to the JCA to pick up their child within a one-hour time period:

Fever of 100.4 degrees and above
(2 or more loose stools)
Abnormal behavior 

Students displaying any of these symptoms will be removed from class and brought to the designated area in the office to rest until parents/caregiver can pick up. Pick-up must be within the hour.     

2.    Although the presence of a runny nose, clear or colored, may appear ominous, exclusion from school is not necessary unless accompanied by any of the symptoms listed in No. 1. 

3.    Please do not bring your child into the program with any of the above-mentioned symptoms. If in doubt about your child, please keep your child at home.   

4.    It is highly unfair to healthy faculty members and children to expose them unnecessarily to illness.  Remember also, that once a virus begins in a group, it becomes very difficult to control. Please be considerate of others. 

5.    Please alert the office when your child develops a communicable disease (chicken pox, strep throat, pinkeye, head lice, etc.) so that we can notify the other families of a possible exposure date. All names are kept confidential. Knowing what is going around in a class will help in early treatment and possibly slow or stop the spread of infection.

6.    We understand that it is sometimes difficult for working parents to make arrangements for their sick children, however, the JCA program is for WELL CHILDREN only. We are not set up to care for sick children. It is the responsibility of the parents or guardians to have advance alternative plans to provide for their sick children. 

7.    Children sent home with a fever will not be allowed back into the program for at least 24 hours after being discharged. Children must be fever free (under 100.4 degrees), without fever reducing medication, for 24 hours before returning to school. A note is made at the time of dismissal. 

8.    Children with head lice, eggs, or nits, are not permitted in the program. Children with any of these present, even after treatment, will be asked to leave immediately. We ask affected families to follow the treatment protocol outlined by the Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/lice/head/ If your child has been treated chemically, there is still evidence of activity (lice, eggs, or nits present), and the recommended time between chemical treatments has not elapsed, you must treat again with a natural remedy for lice (such as “Zero Lice” which contains tea tree and Eucalyptus oils and is available at your local health food store) and be free of evidence of activity before returning to school. Eggs and nits require manual removal after treatment. Please visit the Center for Disease Control website and follow the treatment protocol.  Contact the ECE office if you need a printout of the procedures. In order to contain any outbreak, affected children AND enrolled siblings must be checked by ECE office staff and totally free of evidence  before returning to the classroom that day as well as continue to be checked every other day for a 10-day cycle and be evidence free each time to remain in school. 

The JCA facility, outdoor playground, parking lot and courtyard areas are entirely smoke-free. Please refrain from smoking in the presence of the children as well as at any Michele Block Gan Yeladim sponsored event or activity.    

Our facility is ADA compliant and we will do our best to make reasonable accommodations to our program so that all children can participate. We welcome all children who apply for admission if space is available. If your child has special needs or you have any questions about whether your child will fit into our environment with reasonable accommodations made, please meet with the school director or assistant director prior to the beginning of school.
We urge parents to advocate for their children; ultimately we believe it is up to the family to make the primary decision about services that their child needs. In many cases we are able to provide information about programs and services from other organizations. Our special needs policy is a follows:

          A child with special needs is defined as one whose developmental progress does not fall within the range expected for the child’s chronological age or when development in any of the following areas appears to be atypical: cognitive, speech/language, gross and fine motor, social/emotional, self-help or behavioral. 

          The JCA will attempt to meet the needs of children identified as having special needs in the regular classroom, whenever possible or deemed appropriate. All actions will be at the discretion of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Director in consultation with other special needs professionals including:

  1. a parent interview
  2. an observational screening of the child
  3. contact with other professionals involved with the child (i.e., early intervention program, preschool special needs teachers, and therapists)
  4. Demonstration that the child has the ability to participate and cooperate as a part of the preschool/kindergarten program for the great majority of the program time with appropriate program modification and support.

The ECE Director and/or designees will closely monitor a child accepted into the program assessing whether or not the aforementioned criteria can be achieved or other adjustments need to be made. The ECE faculty will assume a proactive role to ensure that a child’s placement within the program is successful and benefits the child.

If, after meeting with the parent(s), observing the child in a Michele Block Gan Yeladim setting and/or conferring with the appropriate professionals, it is deemed that the best interests of the children would be served elsewhere, the child may be denied admission or removed from the Michele Block Gan Yeladim program. Michele Block Gan Yeladim may then recommend that the parents pursue a more intensive or specialized service, including early intervention or preschool special needs programs.

The JCA recognizes that, due to the nature of young children and early childhood development, a child’s special needs may not be identified before the child is enrolled in the ECE program. As a result, the JCA may be the first to inform a parent that a child requires evaluation by a child study team or physician for further information regarding development. In such instances, an effort will be made to maintain the child at the JCA and to continue to provide service within the ECE program unless it jeopardizes the health and safety of others in the program.

The JCA reserves the right, after meeting with the parent(s) and conferring with the evaluating professionals, to refer a child for more intensive or specialized services, or for early intervention or preschool special needs services in the best interest of the child
or for the child to be present in the program only with a trained paraprofessional or credentialed private contractor. The JCA may allow a parent to engage a credentialed private professional on a contract basis at the sole expense of the parent or guardian. The JCA reserves the right to supervise and evaluate the credentialed private professional ensuring that they adhere to all policies of the JCA. For each classroom, the JCA reserves the right to limit the number of children requiring a paraprofessional to one child.

In the event that a child is identified as having special needs after the school year begins and there is already a child with a paraprofessional assigned to the classroom in which the newly identified child is placed, the ECE Director may determine that a change in classroom placement is necessary in the best interest of a child or the program. 

The Purpose of a Paraprofessional
Providing a paraprofessional ensures the health and safety of a student who is integrating into our school environment that is designed for children who are typically developing. A paraprofessional eases the transition into our curriculum by facilitating one-on-one assistance when necessary. The ultimate goal of the paraprofessional is to extinguish the need for their services.  

Role and Function of a Paraprofessional
A paraprofessional is in the classroom because there is a child with special needs present. Having a paraprofessional allows the teacher to focus on the whole class without significant disruption. The role of the paraprofessional will be defined by the ECE Director or designee in cooperation with the parents and teacher based upon the child’s behavior manifestations and needs. The paraprofessional is utilized to help the child with special needs integrate into the school environment but does not take the place of the teacher. They are for the benefit of the individual child and not the class. Paraprofessionals are asked to sign an agreement prior to working at the JCA. There is only one paraprofessional per class. The paraprofessional is hired, given general school training, and supervised by the JCA. In some situations, the parents may be permitted to employ a private paraprofessional. This permission is granted solely by the Executive Team of the JCA based on a recommendation by the Early Childhood Director. If granted, the paraprofessional must meet established JCA criteria of educational degrees, professional training and experience.

Paraprofessional Financial Terms and Conditions
For paraprofessionals hired by the JCA the parent(s) are financially responsible for covering the cost of the paraprofessional including any training specific to their child’s situation. Payment must be made one month in advance of services rendered. When possible, the school may seek grant money or money through private donors to help reduce the cost of a paraprofessional to the parent(s). If we are unable to secure grant money or donors, the parents are responsible for the total cost.    

When the parents hires a credentialed private professional on a contract basis, it is the sole responsibility of the parent to pay for that professional and make sure the privately contracted professional is present in the program at all times the child is in attendance.

Sun-protective clothing, applied skin protection, or both with UVA and UVB protection of SPF 15 or higher is recommended. We require written parental permission to apply it. The sunscreen must be in its original container with your child’s name written on it.

Students are given a Michele Block Gan Yeladim Preschool T-shirt at orientation. Please have your child wear this T-shirt to school on Fridays for Shabbat and on field trips where applicable.  

We welcome all visitors to our program. If you want to bring a visitor, please check with the ECE

Assistant Director or the Director in advance. You must have prior approval. If your visitor has any

contact with other children, then the visitor will be required to submit to a background screening. 

Our school relies greatly on the support of volunteers. Whether it is shelving library books, accompanying students on field trips, helping assemble holiday fun meals, or doing a special cooking project with children in the classroom, we welcome everyone to help at Michele Block Gan Yeladim. Studies show that students with parents who are involved in their child’s school have a more successful educational experience.     

For the protection of all our students, we require a background check for volunteers in our program. If you plan to volunteer during this school year, please return the appropriate form to the ECE office with the rest of your school paperwork. We will submit your application to the local Sheriff’s Department for a background check.