Avery County Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program is designed to meet the needs of four year old children. A special focus is directed toward children with special needs that include mental, physical and speech-language delays. The pre-kindergarten curriculum is based on the program philosophy established in Foundations: Early Learning Standards for North Carolina Preschoolers and Strategies for Guiding Their Success, a program based upon educational research describing the best practices for young children.
Avery County Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program is a component of Avery County Public Schools and operates under the Avery County Board of Education Policy Manual. The Program participates in the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program.
We believe all young children learn best participating in active play in a well-planned learning environment; they learn best by choosing what most interests them. Indoors and outdoors, children communicate, solve problems, develop self-help skills, and build motor skills. The classroom is arranged to help children interact socially and develop friendships. Teachers and teacher assistants ensure social and emotional growth by setting the classroom environment, interacting with the children in center-based play activities, and continually assessing the children's needs to further enhance learning. Parents are important partners in the planned learning opportunities that children experience in the pre-kindergarten program. And, since parents are the child's first and best teachers, regular communication promotes a strong relationship between the classroom teachers and parents, thereby greatly increasing the overall effectiveness of the young child's classroom experience.
Children registering for Pre-K must be:
- 4 years old on or before August 31
- a resident of Avery County
The following documents are needed for enrollment:
- Completed application form (see above)
- Child’s Birth Certificate
- Proof of income for parent/step-parent living in home with child (recent check stub is preferred)
- Current immunization/shot record
- Completed health assessment (completed on or after August 29, 2015)
- Proof of residence documents (power, water, gas, cable, landline telephone, rent, or mortgage) or residence affidavit
The North Carolina Kindergarten Health Assessment Form is available at the Avery County Health Department, and at your local physician's office.
Please note that registering a child for pre-kindergarten does not assure that the child will be offered placement. There is limited pre-kindergarten space at each of the sites, so there is not room for every child who registers. Each child who registers will be screened and children showing the greatest need for preschool will be placed first. Others will be placed on a waiting list. If your child is placed in a pre-kindergarten classroom out of your assigned attendance district, you will be responsible for providing transportation for your child to and from school.
Criteria to be Eligible for NCPK
- Child must be four-years old on or before August 31st
- Child is from a family whose gross income is at or below 75% of the State Median Income (SMI).
- Children of certain military families are also eligible without regard to income
- 20% of age-eligible children enrolled may have family incomes in excess of 75% SMI if they have documented risk factors in specific categories including:
- Developmental Disability
- Educational Need
- Chronic Health Condition
Although a child may meet one or more eligibility factors, placement is not guaranteed in an NC Pre-Kindergarten Classroom.
Avery County Schools
Avery County Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program was developed to meet the needs of children ages three and four by August 31st of that year. A special focus is directed toward children with special needs that include mental, physical and speech-language delays. The pre-kindergarten curriculum is based on the program philosophy established in Foundations: Early Learning Standards for North Carolina Preschoolers and Strategies for Guiding Their Success. This program was developed using educational research describing the best practices for young children. Avery County Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program is a component of Avery County Public Schools and operates under the Avery County Board of Education Policy Manual. The Program participates in the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program.
We believe all young children learn best using active play in a well-planned learning environment. They learn best by choosing what most interests them. Indoors and outdoors, children are learning to communicate, solve problems, develop self-help skills, and build motor skills. The classroom is arranged to help children learn social skills and develop friendships. The teacher and teacher assistant make this possible by setting the classroom environment, interacting with the children, and continually assessing the child's needs. Since parents are the child's first and best teachers, regular communication and a strong relationship between the classroom teachers and parents greatly increase the overall effectiveness of the classroom experience. Parents are important partners in the learning opportunities for children enrolled in the program.
Pre-kindergarten teachers welcome and encourage parents to become involved in their child's education. By becoming involved, parents show children that learning and sharing are important. Teachers provide parents with ideas on ways they can volunteer in the classroom, as well as ways parents can participate when schedules do not allow them to visit the classroom.
Parents and children are invited to an Open House before school starts to visit the classroom and teachers. In addition, parent ideas and needs are explored through regularly scheduled parent conferences. Parent volunteers are welcomed and parents are invited to become active in the school's PTO.
Avery County pre-kindergartens encourage daily communication between parents and center staff. Our staff have an “open door” policy. Parents are also invited to talk with the principal or the preschool director about program activities or issues of concern.
The Avery County Pre-Kindergarten Program welcomes parents and community members to volunteer in pre-k classrooms. (As a security measure, all visitors are asked to sign in at the office.) To better prepare for the visit, teachers ask that parents schedule volunteer time in advance in order to ensure that time will be productive for all involved.
A conference to discuss a child’s progress may be scheduled at any time; conferences are scheduled when teachers are free from instructional duties. Conference times can best be scheduled by contacting your child's teacher; communication is an essential key to a child's success.
Children must be 3 or 4 years of age by August 31st of the year enrolled. Parents must provide the following documents:
- Evidence that the child has received a health examination within 30 days prior to admission by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner stating that the child is free from contagious or communicable disease and is able to participate in child day care.
- A certificate of immunization prepared by a physician or other authorized person who administered the immunization which specifies the products administered, the date of administration and the physician-verified history of DTP/DTaP/DT, Polio, Hib, Hepatitis B, MMR, Varicella, or
- The official state immunization record care completed by the administering physician or health care facility, or
- A certificate from a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner stating that one or more of the required immunizations may be detrimental to the child’s health, and specifying which immunization may be detrimental.
- Evidence that the child has received a dental screening within 30 days of admission by a health professional.
- Evidence that the child has received a vision screening within 30 days of admission.
- Evidence that the child has received a hearing screening within 30 days of admission.
Avery County Schools follows the current NC recommended schedule for immunizations. A copy of the initial immunization certificate is maintained within the student’s permanent health record.
North Carolina Child Care Requirements mandates these documents are on file in the school and include the following:
- Child’s Application for Child Care
- Verification of receipt of discipline policy
- Verification of receipt of NC Child Care Law
- Concussion and head Injury policy
- Other documents as needed
Information relating to your child is confidential and will not be released unless written authorization is provided by a parent or legal guardian. An exception will be made in the event of suspected child abuse as state law requires school personnel to report any suspected neglect or abuse. Any such suspicion will be reported to the school counselor for immediate investigation/action by appropriate authorities. Parents who volunteer in the classroom are asked to respect the confidentiality policy.
CALENDAR AND HOURS OF OPERATION
The pre-kindergarten program follows the regular school calendar; each elementary school determines the pre-kindergarten program’s hours of operation. A schedule of operation will be provided before the opening of school.
Pre-Kindergarten follows regular school closing procedures. In the event of a delayed opening, the preschool follows the hours of the regular school (i.e. if school is delayed one hour, preschool will be delayed one hour). Information regarding emergency closing can be obtained by listening to local radio and television stations, by calling the school system’s snow line (733-6006, and by registering with the “Alert Now” notification system, which allows you to receive an automated telephone call regarding school closings, delays and early dismissals.
Avery County Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program provides preschool services for a regular school day and follows the required 180-day school calendar. Therefore, all children should plan to attend every day unless illness or family situation/emergency presents. Absences will be recorded as excused or unexcused. Parents are asked to send a note to your child’s teacher upon the child's return to school stating why he/she was absent. This note must be signed by the parent/guardian. Without written notice, the school will record the absence as unexcused. Since enrollment in the class is a choice rather than requirement, child are expected to attend regularly unless he/she is ill or there is a family emergency. Regular attendance provides children with tremendous opportunity for growth and development. Should unexcused absences become an issue, enrollment for that child will be reevaluated and the opportunity to fill that child’s seat will become an option for another child on a wait list.
If a child needs to leave school early, a parent is asked to sign their student out. In order to ensure the safety of each child, the parent is asked to notify the office if a person other than the parent/guardian is picking up the child.
Avery County Schools offers yellow school bus transportation to and from the elementary school where the child attends pre-kindergarten. No fee is charged for this service. Children must be four (4) years old to ride the bus and must reside in the school district where they attend school. Parents or another adult family member MUST buckle the student on the bus and also unbuckle them at dismissal. Families who are able to provide private transportation for their pre-kindergarten-aged child are encouraged to do so.
SAFE ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
Pre-kindergarten children receive a seat on the bus when they reside in their home school district. Avery County Schools offers bus service to all pre-k children who demonstrate ability to abide by bus safety rules. Parents help the child become a successful school bus rider by reinforcing bus safety rules. All bus riders are expected to stay in their assigned bus seat at all times and are encouraged to talk using an ‘inside voice’ while on the bus. Teachers will assist students to the bus and buckle them in their seat.
Should a problem or issue arise, the bus driver will contact the principal. Parents will receive a call from the school to help resolve the problem. Unresolved issues will result in loss of bus privilege for a short time span. Should the problem persist, the child will lose his/her privilege to ride the bus. If a child should have an occasional need to ride a bus other than the one assigned, parents are asked to write a note stating which bus s/he is to ride and at what stop, or with whom, the child is to get off. Without written parent permission, a bus change will be denied.
No person other than those whose name appear on the departure authorization form will be allowed to pick up a child. In the case of separation/divorce, the parents maintaining custody will be asked to submit in writing when the visiting parent may pick up the child. Copies of custody papers must be on file in the school office. Any adult other than the legal guardians, may be asked for identification.
Parking areas can be busy places at certain times of the day. The school offers the following tips and asks for parent cooperation:
- Please hold your child’s hand in the parking lot.
- Please make sure your child does not run ahead or behind upon arrival and pick up.
- Upon arrival, please park your car in the parking lot (not the carpool lane) and walk your child to class.
- Feel free to call ahead if you want us to have your child ready for early pick up ((at least 15 minutes before school ends).
- Please drive slowly in all school parking lots.
- Please do not leave a child in your car while you are dropping off your pre-schooler.
Children are very flexible and have a unique capacity to make new friends and adapt to new situations. Confusion over supervisory roles can occur when a parent remains in a classroom after the school day begins. This, of course, is normal. Parents are encouraged to communicate to their child that we all follow classroom rules whenever we are in the classroom. After a short transition period, a parent may start to move further away from the child, positioning him/herself closer to the door. Parents should always say good-bye to their child, rather than ‘sneaking out’.
In order to protect the health of all children, we ask that parents keep their child home when they are sick. Children who become ill during the school day will be sent home. Parents are notified promptly and are expected to pick up their child as quickly as possible. In all cases, the preschool program reserves the right to send home a child with suspicious or prolonged symptoms. The teacher (or the principal) shall make that determination based on his/her best judgment and, when necessary, in consultation with the school nurse. When a child is absent due to illness, the parent is asked to notify the school as early as possible on the day that the child is absent. The parent is asked to provide the school with a written note to document the excused absence.
We ask that you keep your child at home should the following present:
- A temperature of 100 degrees or any fever accompanied by a deep cough, an earache or draining ear, spasms of cough, sore throat. The child must be without a fever for 24 hours without medication before returning to school.
- A rash of any kind until diagnosed, treated or declared harmless by a physician
- Early colds, very bad colds with excessive discharge
- Diarrhea or vomiting (child needs to be free from vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours before returning to school)
- Red, runny or matting eyes (conjunctivitis/pink eye)
Should district employees be asked to administer non-prescribed medications during school hours, written authorization by a parent/legal guardian and written order by a physician is required. Over-the-counter medication must be in the original container with the manufacturer’s label and directions for administration. Such medication must be labeled with the child’s complete name, stored according to the instructions on the label, kept beyond the reach of children, and returned to the parent when no longer needed. Prescription medication must be in the original container and labeled with the child’s complete name, the medication name, recommended dosage, time intervals for administration, method of administration, expiration date and the name of the individual prescribing the medication and their license number. Such medications will be stored according to the instructions on the label, kept beyond the reach of children, and returned to the parent when no longer needed.
BREAKFAST and LUNCH PROGRAM
North Carolina Child Care Requirements mandates that our program provide breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. All students will be given a Free and Reduced Lunch application. A menu is posted in the classroom each week. If preferred, the parent may send a packed lunch with the child. Milk will be provided at school unless brought from home. Parents are asked to notify the teacher in writing of any food allergies. Allergy alerts are posted in the food preparation and eating areas. If a parent chooses to send a lunch with the child, state law requires that the following items be included:
- One bread or bread alternative
- One meat or meat alternative
- Two servings from the fruit and/or vegetable group
- 100% fruit juice (not concentrate)
- Milk or soy milk
Breakfast is open to any child who wishes to participate; snacks are served daily. Children are given the opportunity to help prepare snack whenever possible. The pre-kindergarten program follows the nutritional guidelines of the North Carolina State Schools food service.
Outdoor clothing should be appropriate for the season (boots and snow pants for cold weather). In addition, each child should have at least one change of indoor clothing. All clothing should be labeled with child’s name. Shoes and clothing should be comfortable and easy to wear. We encourage children to become independent in their personal behaviors—buttoning, tying, buckling, etc. are all tasks that the pre-k student is encouraged to perform independently. Please ensure that clothing is easy for the child to manage. If your child is not toilet trained, parents are asked to send in all items needed for diapering.
Each child is provided space (cubby/locker) for storing coats and other personal belongings. Because these spaces are open, parents are discouraged from sending valuable items to school so as to reduce risk of breakage, damage and hurt feelings. The school encourages children to bring in interesting items to share with classmates. These might include a book, a treasure found in nature, souvenirs from a trip, etc. Toys associated with violence (guns, knives, swords, etc.) are not permitted in the pre-k classroom.
A combination of custodians, teachers, teacher assistants, parent volunteers provide cleaning services for Avery County Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program. Cleaning routines include the following procedures:
- Proper cleaning of eating area and multi-use tables before and after each use requires that tables be wiped down with soap and water, then sprayed with bleach water and allowed to dry.
- Children are required to take their blankets home for weekly cleaning.
- Vinyl floors are swept/mopped and carpeted floors are vacuumed daily. Sidewalks are swept as needed.
- Toilets and sinks are cleaned and disinfected daily.
- Inside toys are be placed in their labeled area; outside toys are placed in storage room.
- Trash is picked up on playground and around classroom.
- Counter surfaces are wiped clean.
- Trash cans are emptied and relined.
- Refrigerated juices are checked for freshness (if applicable).
- Cleaning supplies are stowed in locked cabinet.
- Playground mulch is fluffed.
- Lights are turned off.
- Fixtures are wiped clean.
- Tables and chairs are wiped clean.
- Toys and shelves are cleaned and organized.
ABUSE AND NEGLECT POLICY
Teachers in the Avery County School System are required to follow many regulations. In the State of North Carolina, any adult who has reason to suspect the abuse or neglect of a child is required to contact the Department of Social Services for review. The teacher with concern will notify the principal and a telephone call will be made.
DISCIPLINE AND BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT POLICY
The basic rule for all Avery County Schools pre-kindergarten classrooms is that children must be physically and emotionally safe at all times. Hitting, biting, name calling, or hurting others in any way is not tolerated. Desired behavior is modeled and taught in classroom interactions and routines, rather than by using rewards (stickers, candy, etc.) to achieve desired behavior. Children are taught to do the 'right thing' because it is the right thing to do, not in order to receive a reward. On occasion, the use 'time-out' and/or removing a privilege is appropriate in the classroom. On occasions when a child 'misbehaves', the situation is used as a learning opportunity for behavioral growth. Children and adults learn from mistakes. Children at this age and stage of development are learning right from wrong; the pre-k classroom is the ideal environment for teaching appropriate behavior in varying situations. Most importantly, children discover that their behavior affects others. Classroom behavior limits are in place so that children are encouraged to make good choices about their behavior. When a child is in conflict with another child, the teacher encourages child-to-child interactions to provide the children opportunity to work out the disagreement on their own. Teachers monitor the process and, when necessary, step in to help resolve the issue.
Parents are urged to share discipline techniques that work at home so that teachers can provide discipline continuity and consistency at school when and where appropriate.
PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM TRANSITION TO KINDERGARTEN
Transition to kindergarten is one of the most significant transitions in a young child's life—one that provides a foundation to the child's future school success. Avery County Schools is committed to promoting a smooth transition and takes deliberate steps to involve families, teachers and the school community. A well-coordinated transition process ensures that children are ready for school and that schools are ready to receive children and their families.
Transition for Families: Families of rising kindergarten children are invited to observe the kindergarten classroom and the early childhood/kindergarten curriculum during kindergarten registration. Scheduled kitchen table conversations, family information evenings provide opportunities for parents to become accustomed to the kindergarten program. In addition, print materials, website, newsletters and media articles further inform and update the community on kindergarten events.
Transition for Professionals: Over the course of the year, pre-k and kindergarten teachers have occasion to meet formally and informally to ensure that curricula of both pre-k and kindergarten programs are aligned. During the spring, transition meetings are scheduled for pre-k and kindergarten teachers to share rising kindergarten children's assessment reports and specific identified special needs. Kindergarten teachers are advised of pertinent child information so as to enable planning and developing effective school readiness and transition activities for the upcoming school year. Standardized reports include, but are not limited to the following assessments:
- Cognitive development
- Language, articulation and communication development
- Health and physical development
- Social and emotional development
- Responsiveness to the learning environment