For the Love of Learning™
Parent Handbook: Official Berry Patch Policies
Goals, Philosophy, Curriculum
The primary goal of The Berry Patch is to provide a loving educational environment where each child will be nurtured and stimulated to reach his or her full potential in a Christian atmosphere. The program will be a combination of free-choice as well as teacher-directed activities. Your child will experience group play and individual learning in a warm, caring environment. Children will learn new skills in language development, art activities, small and large muscle development, music and rhythm, listening and readiness activities as well as social development skills. It is our desire to build each child’s self-esteem through the use of positive reinforcement.
Our philosophy is simple and ambitious. We constantly set high standards for quality, creativity and excellence. We believe the preschool years are the most important time in a child’s academic and social development and we share your desire to provide the best possible start for your child. We are dedicated to helping children discover their love of learning while developing the values and social skills required to excel throughout life. To assure this, our entire program is oriented around the following five core values: LOVE, JOY, RESPECT, CREATIVITY and FUN. We strive to begin each child on the journey of becoming a lifelong learner.
Our curriculum is a theme-based, holistic approach to learning that follows the Minnesota Early Learning Standards developed by the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. We also reference other nationally accredited curriculums such as Creative Curriculum and Ages and Stages.
We believe children develop on a continuum, therefore the goals for specific ages may vary from child to child, and modifications and adaptations may occur depending on the assessment and needs of each individual child. Our rigorous curriculum advances with each age group. Huckleberries (2 years old), Blueberries (3 years old) and Strawberries (4 years old) focus on the following developmental skills throughout any given day:
- Social/emotional development
- Approaches to learning
- Language/literacy development (emergent reading and writing)
- Cognitive development:
- Mathematics and logical thinking
- Science (scientific thinking and problem solving)
- Social studies
- Creating and the arts
- Physical development
- Gross motor
- Fine motor
- Physical health/well-being
The Berry Patch looks to enrich the whole child—mind, body & spirit. Our hands-on, play-based morning program allows for much creativity as well as enrichment. The Berry Patch has developed Children Serving Others (CSO), which allows children to learn the importance of reaching out to others in our community and around the world through monthly service projects. Our objective with CSO is to help each child learn to become other-focused, rather than self-focused.
It is our desire that each child enrolled at The Berry Patch learns about the heart of God. Values like loving others, serving others, and respecting one another are important at The Berry Patch. The Berry Patch is not formally affiliated with any particular branch of the Christian faith and our curriculum does not include specific religious content. We are pleased to welcome children of all faiths to our school.
Parents are encouraged and welcomed to volunteer in the classrooms, on field trips, and in other various roles such as special events. Please see your classroom teacher to find out how you can get involved.
Program and Program Options
Children are placed in age-appropriate classrooms at the beginning of the year and remain there until May. The Berry Patch children do not experience changes with teachers during the school year—however, the following year they will transition into another classroom. We assist with transition by providing an open house before school begins each fall. For those children heading to kindergarten, we provide information about the area public and private schools. Teachers also provide letters of recommendation for families pursuing private school options.
The program will be a combination of free-choice as well as teacher-directed activities. Your child will experience group play and individual learning in a loving environment. Your child will learn new skills in language development, listening and readiness, social/emotional development, art activities, music and rhythm, as well as small and large muscle development. Incorporated into each child’s daily schedule is 30 minutes of gross motor activity. Children will play outdoors, weather permitting, or in the indoor gymnasium where supervision remains a priority.
We are pleased to offer the following program options:
Our youngest berries are 18-23 months old and meet at our Calvary location. Children this age are eager to learn and explore new environments. We provide a variety of activities to capture their young minds and interests during discovery times, projects and free play. Our teacher/student ratio is 1:5 which allows for individual and small group interactions. During this year, your child will grow in the ability to separate, show confidence in the classroom and make new friends.
Our two year olds, age 24-35 months, are experiencing an important stage of development: They begin to become more independent and inquisitive. Our teacher/student ratio of 1:7 provides individual attention and guidance during discovery times, projects and free play. During this year, your child will grow in his or her ability to listen, share and develop independence skills.
Our three-year-old students are bursting with excitement and curiosity. The classroom and schedule are structured to meet the needs of this age group with a teacher/student ratio of 1:10. This year is a big one for your child as he or she expands knowledge of the alphabet and numbers, communicates thoughts and feelings through writing projects and Show & Tell, and develops friendships.
This is the year our students eagerly anticipate—becoming a Strawberry as a four year old! We offer 3, 4, and 5-day pre-K programs for this age group. Children are now showing more independence, and their intelligence is expanding as they learn to communicate successfully and work well both independently and within groups. The Strawberries’ portfolios become more comprehensive during this final year of preschool, as our teachers assist them in developing the skills needed to transition seamlessly into kindergarten. A full-day Strawberry program is available at our Calvary location.
Miss Kristin loves introducing children to a wide range of music genres, allowing them to explore a variety of musical instruments, and incorporating creative movement in her weekly lessons. Children perform Christmas and end-of-year concerts.
The Berry Patch offers monthly Spanish classes for all of our students. Classes are taught by Zara Guevara—originally from Lima, Peru. Children are immersed in Spanish once a month for 20-30 minutes, depending on age. Our classes empower children to acquire the language by natural comprehension and communication through games, music and other fun activities.
We believe field trips are an important component to our program. They give the children opportunities to explore their communities and expand their surroundings. Field trips also help children learn important skills that help prepare them for elementary school: sitting quietly on a school bus, relating to others outside our homes and school buildings, demonstrating respect to others and the property of others, taking turns, and following directions away from school—to name a few. Our Blueberries and Strawberries take several field trips throughout the year to locations related to our monthly themes, and special guests are invited in to share their expertise about subjects we are studying.
Children Serving Others:
Another way we help your student pursue a holistic education is through our outreach program, Children Serving Others (CSO). This program allows children to learn the importance of reaching out to others in our community and around the world through service projects. Our objective with CSO is to help each child learn to become other-focused, rather than self-focused.
This optional program is offered daily from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm and is an opportunity for any of the children to bring their own lunches and dine with friends. It is a social time where table manners are taught in a loving way.
Please note that Lunch Bunch and P.M. Playmates will NOT be offered on the Mondays of monthly staff meetings. See the calendar for these and other dates when The Berry Patch is closed.
This optional program is offered to children age three to five, allowing them an extended time to play with school friends. This is a structured program with a curriculum that includes creativity in the classroom, large muscle activities, free play and some additional time with friends. A quiet story time offers a few minutes of rest and relaxation.
Afternoon Adventures is offered once a month (3rd OR 4th week) from 1-3 p.m. The afternoon will offer unique adventures in learning and playing. Some of the experiences children have enjoyed include: an afternoon with reptiles, special art projects with featured professionals from Abrakadoodle Art and Kid Create Studios, balloon animal art, face painting, and magic shows. This is a fun way for children to spend the afternoon with friends.
The Berry Patch offers three 8-week partnerships throughout the year. These partnerships with premier Twin Cities organizations are designed to expose preschool children to outstanding programs in the arts and sciences. These partnerships are offered once a week each fall, winter and spring from 1:00–3:00 p.m. All Blueberries and Strawberries are invited to participate.
The Berry Patch has partnered with Concordia Language Villages to create an exciting and developmentally appropriate language immersion option for your child. We call this our French Friday Program. Parents may enroll their three, four and five year olds to participate on Friday mornings.
Parent & Family Education:
As a Berry Patch family, you have access to a licensed Parent and Family Educator as part of the program. We are delighted to have Becky Danielson, M.Ed., on staff and available to you for one-on-one conversations, and both small and large group discussions at no additional charge. The monthly parent and family education newsletter is a wonderful resource for parents, too.
Attending Camp Sizzle Berry is an exciting way for current students, incoming students and children who live in the area to enjoy a dynamic summer experience. This camp is staffed by our exceptional teachers who love and nurture children throughout the school year and look forward to creating new and fun programs for the summer. Camp Sizzle Berry is designed to engage children in a variety of stimulating, creative activities based on themes such as Tell Me a Story, Little Time Travelers, Marvelous Me, and Sizzlin’ Sports. Four of our camps are 2 weeks in length and held on T/W/Th from 9 a.m. to noon. We also offer Camp FRESHBerries – a Mommy and Me class for our incoming two year olds, and Camp JAMBerries – a Kindergarten readiness camp for our outgoing five year olds. Both of these camps are held for three mornings in early August. All are offered at both locations and potty-trained children age three to five are invited to attend.
The Berry Patch is licensed by the Department of Human Services of the State of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN (651-296-3971). Parents are assured that high standards have been met regarding program, equipment, space and staff. The Colonial facility is licensed to accommodate 60 children ages 3-5 and 14 children ages 24-35 months each day. The Calvary location is licensed to accommodate 90 children ages 3-5 and 28 children ages 24-35 months each day.
Hours of Operation
The Berry Patch is open Monday-Friday of each week, unless closed for a holiday (see All-School Calendar).
Tuition and Fees
Payment is to be made by the 10th of each month, October through May. (September tuition is paid by March 1 of the previous school year.) Please make checks payable to The Berry Patch and note your child’s first and last names on the memo line of your check. No cash, please. If you have chosen to have your monthly invoice automatically withdrawn from your checking or savings account, it will be withdrawn on the 10th of each month after an invoice is issued. A $20 charge will be added to tuition for invoices not paid by the 20th of each month. Fees for Lunch Bunch and afternoon programming will be added to your monthly statements. Field trip fees for the year will be reflected in a one-time activity fee on a September invoice.
- Please note that it is important to pick your child up promptly at 12:00 after the morning program, promptly at 1:00 if staying for Lunch Bunch or 3:00 if participating in afternoon programming.
- We understand there may be extenuating circumstances that cause you to arrive late at some point. However, after the second late pick up, a reminder will be given and a $20 charge will be added to your invoice for subsequent tardiness. We appreciate your demonstration of respectfulness to our teachers and consideration of their time by being prompt.
- If your account is three months overdue, your child will not be able to attend the program until the account has been paid in full. Daily expenses remain constant throughout the school year. There will be no reduction in tuition for holidays, illness, vacation or other absences.
A non-refundable registration fee of $75.00 is required annually to enroll your child at The Berry Patch.
We encourage positive, creative play. Please reinforce the following behaviors at home:
- Be a good friend – share, be kind and respectful to others
- Listen when others are speaking; wait for your turn to talk
- Keep hands and feet to yourself
- Use safety rules – hold onto hand railings, walk, wait your turn
Children are asked to arrive at 9:00 a.m. when classroom doors open. Teachers are preparing for the day prior to that time.
Children 3-5 years old must be potty trained to begin the school year. This does not apply to the Junior program (ages 24-35 months).
Transportation to and from school is the responsibility of the child’s parents. Each child must be brought to the classroom and picked up by an authorized adult. The school must be notified of names of people unauthorized to pick up your child.
Weather-Related Closings and Fire Emergencies
Weather Related Closings: The Berry Patch follows Edina Public Schools for weather closings in order to stay consistent with our primary community. There are three days allocated and built into our calendar as possible release days. These days will be used prior to reimbursement or adding days to our school year.
Fire Emergency: In the case of a fire emergency, children will be evacuated and gathered in parking areas. If weather is a concern, Calvary students will be escorted to St. Peter’s Church, 5421 France Ave. S., and Colonial students to the Edina Fire Station at 6250 Tracy Ave.
Health and Safety
The State Department of Human Services requires each student to have a health summary completed, including all immunizations up-to-date and on file, prior to the child’s first day of school. Health records must maintain up to date information in order to stay enrolled, with the exception of families that are claiming religious exemption. Please inform us of any updates regarding your child’s emergency contact information and health records as changes occur. The health records are kept in a confidential file that can only be accessed by Berry Patch staff, child’s parents or legal guardians and legal authorities upon request.
- Updates to children’s health and immunization records will be requested from parents mid-year.
The Berry Patch asks that all staff, children and volunteers wash hands thoroughly prior to entering our classrooms. Children should also be taken to the restroom before checking in each morning.
If your child is not feeling well, please keep him/her home to rest. Your child will be exempt from the Berry Patch if he/she has the following conditions:
- Fever (100 degrees or higher)
- Sore Throat
- Excessive cold symptoms
- Contagious Diseases (i.e., pink eye, chicken pox, etc.)
Your child may return to school 24 hours after symptoms have subsided.
Please report any contagious disease your child has developed to the school. The Berry Patch will notify all families whose children have been exposed. It is our desire to maintain a happy, healthy and safe environment while your child is at school.
In the event of a health care emergency, The Berry Patch will do the following:
At the onset of notification that a child tests positive for a serious communicable disease, such as e coli, The Berry Patch will report this to the State Health Department and follow their recommendations.
The Berry Patch will then:
- Contact every parent within 24 hours of the notification of the illness.
- Place a letter in each child’s cubby with information concerning the situation within 24 hours.
- Close the facility for a period of time if recommended by the State Health Department.
- Remove and sanitize all toys. Wash in dishwasher and use bleach sanitizer.
- Continue to communicate with the parents through written documentation until the situation is under control.
If a child becomes ill while at school, your child’s teacher will notify the parents. In the event that a parent cannot be reached, the emergency number on the Emergency Form will be called. The child will be removed from the class and will remain with an adult until picked up.
In the event of an accident requiring emergency (urgent) attention, the child will be transported to the health care facility designated on the child’s Emergency Form. If not specified, Fairview Southdale will be used. In the case of an injury not requiring emergency medical care, the Director or School Coordinator will contact the parents first and the child’s physician, if needed.
If a child receives a bump on the body while at school, a cold pack is placed on the bump. If a scrape or cut occurs and is not an emergency situation, the wound may be washed with soap and water and a bandage or Band-Aid placed on the wound.
No medication will be dispensed at The Berry Patch with the exception of an Epi-pen in the case of an allergic reaction or a medical condition that is evaluated case by case (i.e., diabetes).
Please inform the school if your child has a special medical condition, needs, or allergies.
The Berry Patch does NOT apply lotions, such as sunscreen or bug repellents on the children; therefore we encourage you as parents to apply protective lotions or sprays prior to attending school.
Children will experience outside play while attending the Berry Patch, therefore we want to remind you to provide appropriate clothing for the weather. If a child is not prepared for the weather we will make other arrangements for the child during outside play. The Berry Patch will ensure there is an opportunity to play in the shade on hot, sunny days.
Outdoor play will be suspended when weather is unsuitable to the safety of the children. This includes air pollution, high heat and humidity extreme cold temperatures and wind chill. Please call the KARE 11 weather line at 763-512-1111 to determine if outdoor temperature and conditions are safe for outdoor play.
The Berry Patch will continue to seek the guidance of community health resource people to maintain current health policies and will have our policies reviewed yearly by a Health Consultant. The Berry Patch will cooperate with state and local government disaster planning agencies working to prepare for or react to emergencies presented by a pandemic outbreak.
All staff members are certified in child/infant First Aid/CPR, and maintain this certification by renewing every 2 years as suggested by the American Red Cross.
The Berry Patch will report serious injury, fire, death, animal bite or reportable diseases to the Department of Human Services.
All parents of children in the Junior class are responsible for providing adequate disposable diapers and wipes.
For children requiring diapers or pull-ups, parents are asked to provide those diapers and pull-ups that are commercially available and disposable. Staff will check children frequently throughout the morning and change them as soon as a wet or soiled diaper is detected. Clothing that becomes wet or soiled will immediately be changed, placed in a plastic bag and sent home that day for laundering.
Pets visiting school (for a specific reason related to the program) must be inoculated.
The Berry Patch is smoke free; therefore, please do NOT smoke in or on the grounds of the school.
Minnesota State Law requires that all cases of suspected child abuse and/or neglect must be reported by the school staff.
Reporting Policy for Programs Providing Services to Children
Who Should Report Child Abuse and Neglect?
- Any person may voluntarily report abuse or neglect.
- If you work with children in a licensed facility, you are legally required or mandated to report and cannot shift the responsibility of reporting to your supervisor or to anyone else at your licensed facility. If you know or have reason to believe a child is being or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years you must immediately (within 24 hours) make a report to an outside agency.
Where to Report:
- If you know or suspect that a child is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
- All reports concerning suspected abuse or neglect of children occurring in a licensed facility should be made to the Department of Human Services, Licensing Division’s Maltreatment Intake line at 651-431-6600.
- Reports regarding incidents of suspected abuse or neglect of children occurring within a family or in the community should be made to the local county services agency at 612-348-3552 or local law enforcement at 612-348-2345.
- If your report does not involve possible abuse or neglect, but does involve possible violations of Minnesota Statutes or Rules that govern the facility, you should call the Department of Human Services, Licensing Division at 651-431-6500.
What to Report:
- Definitions of maltreatment are contained in the Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act (Minnesota Statutes, section 626.556) and should be attached to this policy.
- A report to any of the above agencies should contain enough information to identify the child involved, any persons responsible for the abuse or neglect (if known) and the nature and extent of the maltreatment and/or possible licensing violations. For reports concerning suspected abuse or neglect occurring within a licensed facility, the report should include any actions taken by the facility in response to the incident.
- An oral report of suspected abuse or neglect made to one of the above agencies by a mandated reporter must be followed by a written report to the same agency within 72 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays.
An employer of any mandated reporter shall not retaliate against the mandated reporter for reports made in good faith or against a child with respect to whom the report is made. The Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act contains specific provisions regarding civil actions that can be initiated by mandated reporters who believe that retaliation has occurred.
Failure to Report
A mandated reporter who knows or has reason to believe a child is or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused and fails to report is guilty of a misdemeanor. In addition, a mandated reporter who fails to report maltreatment that is found to be serious or recurring maltreatment may be disqualified from employment in positions allowing direct contact with persons receiving services from programs licensed by The Department of Human Services and by the Minnesota Department of Health, and Unlicensed Personal Care Provider Organizations.
The reporting policies and procedures must be provided to parents of all children at the time of enrollment in the childcare program and must be made available upon request. The Division of Licensing recommends that parents with children currently enrolled in your childcare program are informed of the development of the reporting policies and procedures, and provide them with an opportunity to request the information.
Snack Time and Lunch Bunch
The Berry Patch is committed to providing a healthy snack each day. According to our licensing guidelines we provide a snack with a minimum of two food groups represented and expiration dates of foods served are checked regularly. We do not offer foods that are choking hazards such as hot dogs, popcorn, raw peas, or hard pretzels. If teachers are serving foods that need cutting, they cut into pieces no larger than 1/2 inch squares.
For children staying for Lunch Bunch, The Berry Patch strongly encourages families to follow USDA requirements for healthy lunches:
- Please label your child’s lunchbox with first and last names.
- Provide a lunch with either non-perishable food items OR include an icepack or thermos for perishables.
- Both snack time and Lunch Bunch are a social opportunities where good manners and interesting conversation are encouraged.
If your child has special food requirements or restrictions, please notify a teacher promptly. Due to food allergies, we require that all snacks be store-bought and nut-free. Please carefully read labels to avoid nut products for all snack AND lunchbox items. We do not allow nuts or products manufactured with nuts at school.
It is fun to bring a special treat for your child’s birthday. Please consider items other than food to share with your class.
An Open House orientation will be held prior to the first day of school.
A monthly newsletter will be written and emailed to inform parents of upcoming themes and events. Parents are asked to complete and return a “Let’s Get Acquainted” / pre-conference form which provides teachers with valuable information about the children. This Information is used throughout the year as teachers plan activities and prepare for conferences.
Child Assessments: Children are assessed both formally and informally throughout the school year. The assessments take place within the classroom in fun, non-invasive manner, where teachers can evaluate children in their natural environment. Our goal is to create a place that nurtures each individual child’s unique and special gifts and talents.
- Formal assessments take place through individual conferences in the fall and spring. At this time your child’s teacher will share your child’s progress in person and through a written assessment of his/her intellectual, physical, social and emotional development.
- Informal assessments are made daily through conversations with the children and observations in the classroom, gym, music, etc. Teachers have observation notebooks where information is documented in order to provide a comprehensive assessment of your child’s progress and growth areas.
- If a teacher suspects that a child may have a development delay or any other special need this information is communicated to parents in a confidential and supportive manner. Teachers will provide documented accounts for the concern and share next steps for evaluation or additional resources. Teachers work closely with Director during this time to encourage and assist families in obtaining the needed services.
Communication is very important. All parents are encouraged to contact the teachers with any concerns that might arise during the school year. We are committed to collaborating with families to make sure all concerns are addressed.
Teachers are trained to practice confidentiality and thus encourage parents to call to discuss matters in a private manner.
Individual student records and student files are kept secure and confidential in a locked office.
Written parental permission will be obtained before each occasion of research, public relations activity or additional professional observation or request of student information.
Please visit anytime!
Field Trips and Community Resources
Field trips offer valuable learning experiences for children. Prior to the school year, a parent must sign a permission slip for his/her child, covering all field trips for the year. Transportation will be by school bus.
We will visit nursing homes twice during the school year, attend cultural or performing arts events, visit museums or nature centers, enjoy a Minnesota apple orchard and experience a working farm. We enjoy special visitors, both parents and community members, throughout the school year who share special talents, careers and cultures. We also have ongoing relationships with many community resource people.
Please dress your child comfortably for play. Children enjoy themselves more if they do not have to worry about keeping their clothing clean.
The children will be exposed to many kinds of art media (i.e., finger-painting). Protective shirts/smocks are provided.
During the school day the children will be going outdoors so please dress your child accordingly. During the winter months, children continue to go outdoors, unless conditions are extreme. We go outside unless the temperature is below 10 degrees by 8:00 a.m.
Please mark all clothing (including hats, mittens, and boots) with your child’s name.
Each child will be provided with a positive model of acceptable behavior. Our behavior policies are designed to meet the developmental level of children attending The Berry Patch.
Children will be taught to use acceptable alternatives to problem behavior in order to reduce conflict. It is our policy to protect the safety of the children and staff while on the premises.
Immediate and directly related consequences shall be used for a child’s unacceptable behavior. Some examples of unacceptable behavior include: hitting, biting, and using unkind words. The staff will:
1. Observe and record the behavior of the child and staff response to the behavior.
2. Upon continuous unacceptable behavior, parents will be notified and action taken by both parents and staff to improve the child’s behavior.
If a parent has a concern, he or she is to contact the Director immediately. Action will be taken promptly to correct the situation. If the grievance is against a teacher, the Director will promptly counsel with the teacher and develop a plan for correcting the situation. All parents are encouraged to openly communicate with the staff. The parent will be notified of the action plan within 24 hours.
- The primary language spoken by children and parents at the Berry Patch is English, however, The Berry Patch will secure a person to interpret conversation in native language if deemed necessary.
The Berry Patch carries Commercial General Liability Insurance.