Preschool Frequently Asked Questions
PRESCHOOL LIFE UNDER COVID PROTOCOLS
The EDCJCC Preschool re-opened on September 1, 2020, under all applicable guidelines and regulations from OSSE (our licensing office), the Mayor’s office, and the CDC. We are open 5 days a week, for 8 hours a day, with limited numbers of children and teachers in each classroom and with staggered assigned drop-off and pick-up times. The information in the FAQs below is for a normal non-pandemic year; some of it does not accurately describe the 2020-21 school year. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how we are operating during Covid-19.
LOGISTICS AND PRACTICAL MATTERS
Our Preschool begins at age 2 and goes through PreK (five years old). If a child’s birthday falls after the start of the school year but before the end of November, they may start on or after their second birthday. However, tuition will be charged from the beginning of the school year. Children who turn two in December or later will need to wait until the following September to join the Preschool,
The EDCJCC Preschool is open Monday–Friday, 7:45 am–6:00 pm. The core tuition covers the school day from 7:45am to 4:15pm, and aftercare is available for an additional fee until 6:00pm. Exception: on some holidays we close at 1:00 or 3:00 pm; these will be specified on the annual school calendar.
Our core school day runs from 8:45 am–4:15 pm, and then parents have the option to extend the day to 6:00 pm on as many days as needed, for an additional fee. The Early Room morning program (7:45–8:45 am) is included in your regular tuition, whether or not you use it.
You are welcome to pick your child up early; please discuss any change in plans with your child’s teachers. We recommend that children be here at least through lunchtime, unless there are special circumstances. We cannot pro-rate tuition for children who leave early.
We are a twelve-month program. Our school year begins soon after Labor Day and runs through the middle of August, with a winter break between Christmas and New Years, a spring break at Passover, and additional time off for the major Jewish holidays. Parents are responsible for tuition from the first day of school through August 31 of the school year. Parents who withdraw a child for an extended period of time (e.g. vacation) are still required to pay for those months. All deposits, fees and tuition are non-refundable.
The EDCJCC is located at 1529 Sixteenth Street NW, at the corner of 16th and Q. The entrance is on Q Street. Our closest Metro stop is Dupont Circle on the Red Line. The Metrobus S1, S2 and S4 stops on 16th Street. The L2 line and 14th Street Lines (52, 53, 54) also stop near the J.
Children must be walked into the building, brought to their classroom (or the Early Room), and signed in by their parent or caregiver. There is a parking lot on the east side of the EDCJCC on Q Street that has designated spaces for drop-off and pick-up. You may also park in front of the building in the designated drop-off area for up to fifteen minutes at a time. For our many families that walk here or take public transportation, we offer full-day stroller parking inside the building.
For your child’s security and your peace of mind, you must give written permission for any individual to pick up your child. You may use the Emergency Contact and Pick-Up Authorization form, email or a written note. If you have not personally introduced us to this person, we will ask for identification.
No. We understand that most two-year olds and many three-year-olds are not yet toilet trained. When your child is ready, we work closely with the parent and child to toilet train the child in a consistent, calming, encouraging manner. We celebrate success and keep a positive upbeat attitude when the child has an “accident.”
The Preschool will be closed for the following Jewish holidays:
- Rosh Hashanah (2 days)
- Yom Kippur (1 day, with a 1pm closing the day before)
- Sukkot (two days)
- Shemini Atzeret (1 day)
- Simchat Torah (1 day)
- Passover (1 week)
- Shavuot (2 days)
The Hebrew calendar runs on a lunar calendar, which varies from the Roman calendar. Therefore, each year, the Jewish holidays are celebrated on different days on the secular calendar. Observance of Jewish holidays starts at sundown, and all closures and early closing times will be posted on the annual calendar.
The Preschool will close on the following federal holidays:
- Labor Day
- Veterans Day (we hold parent-teacher conferences that day)
- Thanksgiving (Thursday and Friday, with an early dismissal on Wednesday)
- Christmas Day (as part of the winter break)
- New Year’s Day (as part of the winter break)
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
- Inauguration Day (when applicable)
- Presidents’ Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
In addition, we are closed for a winter break at the end of December. We also close for two weeks at the end of August for a teacher vacation (one week) and teacher orientation and preparation for the upcoming school year (one week).
While we respect the diversity of our families’ observances in the home and outside of school, we do not celebrate non-Jewish holidays in the preschool, including Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Easter.
TUITION AND FEES
Our monthly tuition includes our core school day (8:45am-4:15pm) and our Early Room (7:45-8:45am).
For the 2021-2022 school year, our monthly tuition will be:
- 2-year old classes: $2,270 per month
- 3-year old classes: $2,135 per month
- 4-year old classes: $2,030 per month
Aftercare from 4:15-6:00pm is available for an additional $20 per day with a maximum of $300 per month. You do not need to sign up for or commit to the Aftercare program at the time of registration.
When you sign a contract, we ask for a deposit payment of one month of tuition payment (covering August, the last month of the school year), plus a $300 activity fee.
So for 2021-22, the total deposit payment will be:
- 2-year old classes: $2,570 ($2,270 + $300)
- 3-year old classes: $2,435 ($2,135 + $300)
- 4-year old classes: $2,330 ($2,030 + $300)
The deposit payment is non-refundable and non-transferrable to other EDCJCC programs.
We charge the monthly tuition automatically to your credit card or through a bank draft/EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, and charge a small administrative fee for credit card payments. We do not accept check or cash payments. We bill credit cards and bank accounts on the fourth (4th) of each month, or on the nearest business day if the fourth falls on a Saturday or Sunday. We expect that you will have sufficient funds available in your bank account or on your credit card on the 4th of each month. Late fees will be assessed starting on the 5th of the month if sufficient funds are not in your account.
A Family Fitness Membership is included with your tuition! Your family will have access to all of the fitness facilities—pool, gymnasium, locker rooms, fitness center—and a wide range of group exercise classes free to Fitness Members. As always, your DCJCC membership gives you substantial discounts on Camp, Parenting Center, and other programs.
Your Family Fitness Membership will start on the first day of the school year; please visit Member Services for details and to activate your membership.
The activity fee covers all field trips, special events during the school week, performances, and swim lessons in the summer for our oldest classes. This way, we do not have to ask for money throughout the year for the special events.
CURRICULUM AND JUDAIC CONTENT
It is our intention to foster a nurturing environment of open-ended exploration, curiosity and growth for children, teachers and parents that deepens our connections to Judaism, the community and the world around us.
Our educational vision is inspired by the emergent curriculum principles of the world-renowned schools for young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As a school community, we are committed to values based on an image of children as curious, competent and capable. Our journey begins as our staff asks questions, listens to children, collaborates with them and documents their work. As children discover and explore, they work on investigations that last a few hours, a few days, or a few months. All projects are meaningful to them and their world. By creating a classroom environment that allows for open-ended learning and discovery, we give children a chance to build their understanding of the world. By providing “scaffolding,” the teachers assist children to become confident in their skills so that they may express themselves in many different symbolic languages—speech, drawing and acting, to name a few. We also believe that learning is a cooperative venture which includes other children, their teachers, their families and our larger community. Literacy, math, social studies, science, music and arts are all emphasized through a framework of hands-on contextualized experiences. Read more about our child-centered approach here.
Instead of a strict universal schedule for the school, the structure of a school day is flexible and guided by factors such as the children’s age, energy level and degree of engagement in a specific activity. Some mornings, children might spend the majority of their time on an exploration, whereas on other days their teachers might determine that they might need more gross motor play. Keeping our schedule fluid allows for teachers and children to shape school experiences that best suit their needs. See what a typical school day looks like here.
Yes. Our way of teaching, by having the students learn how to learn, prepares them for success in Kindergarten and beyond. They will build the foundation for literacy, math, science, creative, motor and social skills they will need to do well in later schooling. The difference is that the skills are taught in the context of what is interesting to the children.
We teach about the Jewish holidays and celebrate Shabbat as a school community. We teach human and universal values, but because we are a Jewish Community Center, we teach them through a Jewish lens with the Hebrew phrases. These include Tikkun Olam (healing the world), Tzedakah (charity and justice) and equal rights for all.
Because our school is made up of Jewish, interfaith and non-Jewish families, we do not assume that every family practices or knows about any aspects of Judaism. Therefore, we do some parent education about what the children are learning about and why.
Friday is a special day in our week: it is when the Preschool celebrates the Shabbat with a sing-along, blessing recitation and special snack of challah and grape juice. We celebrate and remember this day of rest that is separate and special from the week. We have found that this tradition is fun for all of the children, even those who do not observe Shabbat at home. We say blessings for the candles, “wine” (grape juice) and challah. The blessings (brachot) are listed in the Preschool Parent Handbook. We welcome and encourage parents to join us.
We maintain our regular hours (7:45 am–6:00 pm) on Fridays throughout the year.
IN THE CLASSROOM
We have Jewish, interfaith and non-Jewish families in our school. We welcome all children, regardless of religion, race, family type or cultural background. We have many different types of families at the EDCJCC. We are proud of the diversity of the students and their families as we feel it strengthens the program and the children’s development.
The Preschool follows the Kashrut policy of the EDCJCC. All food sent into the school by parents for their individual child must be meat-free, chicken-free, and shellfish-free. Any food supplied by the school to all children (for example, a treat for a holiday celebration) will be strictly kosher. This policy reflects a sensitivity to and awareness of the diverse practices within the Jewish community. Please feel free to ask any questions regarding our dietary policy.
Birthday treats or other foods brought in to share with the whole class must be certified kosher. We can give you guidance on what this means when the need arises.
In general, we do not move children from one class to the next except at the beginning of the school year in September. They stay with children their own age and have a greater opportunity to bond with their teachers and form friendships with the other children of the class.
To decrease the spread of illnesses and germs, general housekeeping chores are part of the teachers’ daily routine and toys are sanitized often. A professional cleaning crew also takes care of cleaning, vacuuming and mopping on a nightly basis. They also clean rugs/carpets and wax the floors as needed.
The ratio is determined by the age of the children and the size of the classroom. In general, we have 12 children and 3 teachers in our younger-2-year-old classes, 14 children and 3 teachers in our older-2-year-old-classes, and 16 children and 3 teachers in our 3-year-old and 4-year-old classes. We exceed the DC licensing requirements, which mandate an 8:1 ration for 3 year old classes and a 10:1 ration for 4 year old classes.
Field trips enhance the curriculum and children’s learning experiences. The teachers will arrange several field trips throughout the year, guided by the appropriateness for the age, weather conditions and interests. Parents are asked to volunteer to chaperone field trips whenever possible. We take many of our trips using public transportation, but car/booster seats are required for all children as designated by law if we are driving.
We offer nap time each afternoon. We provide a cot or mat for all children with the expectation that they will use the time to either sleep or rest. As the children get older, they are invited (with parental approval) to participate in other quiet activities if they no longer need a nap. A washable, size-appropriate, labeled blanket or napmat needs to remain at the Preschool for rest-time and will be sent home weekly for washing.
We believe in “positive discipline,” which focuses on good behavior rather than bad, and follow the guidelines for developmentally appropriate practices set by the National Association for the Education of Children (NAEYC). While some behaviors are typical for a specific “age and stage,” we recognize that children learn appropriate social behaviors at different rates. With that in mind, we observe and make individual behavior plans when necessary. As children get older, we encourage them to resolve conflicts on their own, building social skills and self-confidence in difficult, emotional situations.
We are fortunate to have access to computers in all of our classrooms. We use these as tools for the teachers to communicate with the parents via email and to type up documentation. They may also use it for research. For the children, their use is limited to research and typing up their own notes with the direct guidance of the teachers. We do not use the computers for playing games or independent web-surfing.
Occasionally, we will use video to enhance a lesson or demonstrate a point directly related to a project, for example to show an animal in motion, an example of a dance or for a “tour” of Antarctica. These will be used for specific educational purposes, and we will limit the duration of the videos.
ADMISSIONS AND STARTING SCHOOL
The Preschool is licensed for children ages 2–5; therefore, a child must have had his/her second birthday in order to start preschool.
If your child is turning two after September 2 but before December, we are able to offer you a spot for them to start after their 2nd birthday, but you will need to pay tuition for those months to hold the space. If you would like to defer, we can put you back on the list for consideration as spaces become available.
Starting before September is a possibility, but it depends on space being available in your child’s current age-appropriate class.
A waitlist application must be submitted through our CampMinder website with a non-refundable $50 application fee. We give siblings registration priority, and we then generally go by date of waitlist application, with consideration given to other factors in order to create balanced classes.
Parents of children turning two years old will be notified in late January if their child has been accepted for enrollment in the two-year old class for September. Parents of children who will be three or four-years-old will be notified in mid-February, after our re-enrollment process for current families has finished. All current families are given the option to re-enroll before we offer spots to new families.
Admission is determined by a number of factors, including, but not limited to, whether an older sibling has been a student, date of waitlist sign-up, the age and gender of the child, past participation in EDCJCC programs, and other considerations necessary to create balanced classrooms. We do not give out a waitlist “number.” We do our best to be fair to all of our applicants and give you as much information as possible about your status.
We will continue admissions on a rolling basis, with a one-week deadline to submit the signed contract and deposit, until all spaces are filled. We keep the waitlist throughout the year and will contact families as spaces become available.
If you do not get a placement for the first round, we will send you an email confirming that your family is still on the waitlist and the timing for the next round of announcements. We will keep you on the waitlist until you tell us to take you off. We will continue to accept students on a rolling basis as spaces are available.
If you wish to decline a spot we’ve offered, or if you would like us to take your child off our waitlist, please let us know as soon as possible.
To hold your child’s space in our school, we require a signed contract and deposit payment within one week’s notice of admission, as stated in the emailed offer.
Children who are entering our two-year old classes (including both the older twos and the younger twos) will have an abbreviated schedule to ease their transition. Details about this will be sent out before the start of school, but generally we have the children stay only through lunchtime on their first day.
Returning students and new 3 year olds and 4 year olds will start with their regular schedule.
Incoming parents will receive information via email before the start of school, as well as check-ins from current families. We also offer a Meet the Teacher Open House during our staff training and transition time before the start of school. This is a great opportunity for new and returning families to meet their new teachers and explore their new rooms. Please note that the teachers will be working on preparing the rooms for the first day of school, and they will not “look ready” at the time of the open house.
What forms do we need to fill out before school starts?
Our school, OSSE (our licensing agency) and the DC Department of Health require many forms to be on file before your child starts school. Currently, the list of required forms is:
- DC Health Form for Preschoolers, including immunization records
- Dental Health Form (for all children three years and older)
- Authorization for Child’s Emergency Medical Treatment
- Authorization for Recurring Payment
- Permissions and Authorizations Form
- Child and Family Information Form
These forms will be submitted through our CampMinder system and must be updated annually.
Lead teachers meet the DC licensing requirements and often exceed the necessary qualifications. All have taken formal early childhood education classes, and many hold degrees in early childhood education or a related field.
Assistant teachers also meet or exceed basic requirements. All of our assistant teachers are degreed and/or have several years of early childhood education training and/or experience working in an early childhood setting.
All teaching teams function as equals; co-teaching and sharing the responsibilities of the classroom are essential components to a Reggio-inspired curriculum.
All of our teachers, full-time and substitute, go through an interview process with the Director, Assistant Director and/or Aftercare Coordinator. They spend time in a classroom for a working interview as well. We check references and perform thorough background checks for all staff, including substitute teachers.
We believe that it is important for our teaching staff to be dedicated learners themselves, and we provide numerous opportunities for continuing education and professional development throughout the year, including trainings, conferences, mentoring. and classes, as well as CPR and First Aid certification.
We welcome and encourage parental involvement in a variety of ways. Our parents plan and organize special events and fundraisers, and support the program and staff. We have Room Parents for each class, who facilitate class social events, teacher gifts, and other community-building events.
We host family activities throughout the year. These events are a great opportunity to get to know other families at the Preschool and to see your child in action with their school friends. We have a Back-to-School Night (for parents only), Thanksgiving lunch, Chanukah party, Purim party, Passover Seder and summer class celebrations. We offer these at different times of the day and different days so that working families (the vast majority of our school community) have an opportunity to join us.
Parents are always welcome for lunch, birthdays or simply for visits. Please make arrangements for celebrations with your child’s teacher. We also invite parents to share their talents, occupations or hobbies with us.
We communicate formally in a number of ways. Teachers post pictures and video to our password-protected Seesaw platform on a daily basis and send out a weekly “This Week We” newsletter about goings on in the classroom. These updates are general, not necessarily about your specific child. We have half-hour parent teacher conferences twice a year, in the late fall and in the spring, where you get a formal detailed update on your child’s progress, including a developmental milestone screening.
Please be aware that unless there is a specific concern, you will not receive formal daily information about your child.
We also welcome informal communication; teachers can talk with you briefly during morning or afternoon pick-up, or you can email them directly. Since drop-off and pick-up can be rushed and busy times for children, parents and staff, if you would like to have more than a moment to chat, we encourage you to set up a phone conference or a personal conference time with the classroom teacher. Please be mindful of the fact that teachers are busy engaging your children during the school day and therefore are not necessarily checking their email between 8:30am and 4:15pm. Please give them at least 24 hours to reply. If you need to reach a teacher directly during the school day on an urgent matter, please call a member of the Preschool Administration team.
Please also feel free to call or email any member of the Preschool Administration team with any of your questions or concerns.
HEALTH, SAFETY AND SECURITY
The Edlavitch DCJCC takes security concerns very seriously. We have a full-time Security Director on site and a trained Crisis Management Team. Our Security Director constantly monitors situations that would affect the safety and security of our children and makes plans accordingly. We will keep parents up-to-date when specific situations arise.
We have evacuation and emergency response systems in place to best protect the students and staff in our program. We conduct periodic fire/evacuation/security drills for the entire building, including the Preschool.
Please note that the only way to enter the DCJCC during school hours is through the entrance on Q Street. Members must show their ID to enter the building and parents will be given an ID badge to show at the front desk. You will also need this ID badge to enter the Preschool wing of the building.
If you have questions about these and other security systems in place, please contact us.
Please remember to alert us to any food allergies. We will offer children alternative snacks if necessary. This is one of the reasons why we do not allow children to share their food.
We post a list of children with allergies in each classroom so that all of the staff is aware of the precautions that need to be taken to protect our children. All of our teachers are CPR/ first aid certified and trained to administer epipens. In an emergency, any of our teachers, the Preschool Director and the Assistant Director can administer epipens.
We are a peanut aware school: Our Preschool does not allow peanuts to be sent in the lunches. We do this to protect the safety of our students with severe peanut allergies. We cannot guarantee a peanut-free environment, but we will do our best.
For more information about any of these topics, or any other questions about our Preschool, please contact our Director of Admissions, Miriam Szubin, at email@example.com.