Lower School Handbook
We begin each day with a period of shared silence for all staff and students. We gather in individual classrooms or as a whole Lower School in the multi and use this time to get our bodies and minds ready and centered for the day ahead.
Please be on time for school as students entering late into the space can be a distraction to those already present.
Our day also ends with a period of shared silence.
Many of us pack these all together and our children choose which parts they’d like to eat for snack and which parts for lunch. Think about what might work for you, but keep in mind that you may need an ice pack because we have no refrigeration or heating available. As a community, we are committed to reducing the amount of trash we create, so be thinking about ways to pack lunches in an eco-friendly way.
Recess is an essential and valued part of our daily curriculum. Recess is held twice each day, after snack from 10:10-10:30 and after lunch from 12:20-1:00. Children should come dressed for the weather, as we are outside almost every day! Children may bring a pair of rubber boots for play in the creek at lunch recess; we also have boots at school that they can use. They should be sure to have a change of clothes in their cubbies just in case.
As a staff, we have done much thinking and talking about our procedures for pick-up
time at the end of each school day. In an effort to increase the safety of our children
and the efficiency of pick-up time, we will be implementing several new procedures
this year. Here’s an overview of how it will work:
• At 3:00, one teacher from each classroom will lead all the students who are not
going to AfterHours outside.
• The classroom teacher will stay with that group in a designated area out front.
• As you are facing the school, you will see, from left to right, River Class,
Mountain Class, Sky Class, and Forest Class.
• You must check in with the teacher from that class before taking your
• If you get out of your car for any reason other than loading children, you will
need to park in a marked parking space.
• Once your child is “officially” picked up, you are welcome to take him or her to
the playground to play under your supervision.
• You may provide written permission for a Middle School or Upper School
student to pick up your child, but no Lower School student may walk alone to
• If your pick-up plans change, please notify your child’s teachers with a note or
• We will continue to offer a “window” of pick-up time between 3:00 and 3:15.
At 3:15, all remaining children will be taken to AfterHours for supervision.
(Although teachers have often given their own time to monitor children after
3:15 when parents seem to be running late, we ask that you honor the pick-up
window and make use of AfterHours for any time beyond 3:15.)
We have created these procedures so that we can all enjoy and feel more secure
about our end-of-day time. We may make adjustments as we try this out, so we’ll
keep you updated on how it’s going. Thank you all in advance for helping to
make this work!
Drop off - Lower School students should be dropped off between 8:20-8:35. Lower School doors will open at 8:20 every day. Teachers come on duty at 8:20, so please be sure that, if you get here earlier, you stay with your child until the building is open.
We want to remind you how imporant it is for children to be at school by the time we start at 8:35 every morning. When children enter during settling-in, it can be disruptive for all. When children come in after settling-in, they are at quite a disadvantage. Friends may have already connected and made plans for the day, a valuable time to bond and chat with teachers is lost, and, most importantly, they lose out on a time central to our educational philosophy, settling-in. We believe strongly in giving children this foundational time every day and want to stress its importance. Aiming to drop kids off between 8:20 and 8:30 might give your children those precious few minutes to connect with friends and teachers before the lights go off at 8:35 for settling-in. We want everyone to have the best possible start to each day!
Pick up - Lower School students should be picked up between 3:00 and 3:15. Lower School children not picked up by 3:15 will be taken to the Lower School AfterHours program.
Parking - We continue to remind you that if you are getting out of your car for more than 1 minute, please park in the parking lot! Parking in the fire lane creates safety hazards and makes it difficult for other parents to pick up/drop off their children.
Rainy Day Pickup - Students wait under cover by library. Parents drive up, pause by the walkway and staff members will walk students to their waiting car.
- End of Year Reports
- General Contact Information
- Parent-Teacher Conferences
- Reporting Absences
- Various Communications
At the end of each school year parents receive an end-of-year report about their child. This report contains both curriculum information and a narrative about the child's academic and social/emotional experience in Lower School. These reports are typically sent out towards the end of June in electronic format.
We value and seek your involvement in your child’s education. Open and frequent communication between parents and teachers is vital to our success. Below are some of the ways we ensure regular communication – there are also many informal opportunities for us to connect throughout the year. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need us!
* Teachers and parents often have informal, brief chats on the playground and inside the building. This can work for quick questions or brief sharing of information. Since teachers have responsibilities with the students at these times, longer communications should be scheduled in advance.
* We ask parents to write down/email specific information that they want to share with teachers. Examples of this are information about a child not feeling well or not having slept well the night before, something your child is confused about at school, information about a different pick-up arrangement, or family happenings that might affect your child’s day at school.
* Parents can call teachers at school between 10:00 and 10:30 and 12:00 and 1:00. Teachers alternate between being on and off duty at these times, but if a teacher is not available then, another teacher can take a message. You can also leave a message on the Lower School voice mail at 919.383.6602 (ext. 234).
* Please send in dated notes with first and last names, if there are changes in pickup plans.
*When leaving a phone message about a change in pick-up plans, an absence, or a message for a student, please call the staff room extension, 919.383.6602 (ext. 234), rather than the head teacher extension, x. 233.
In the event of an emergency
If you need to contact your child immediately, tell whomever answers the phone that the message is an emergency. A staff member will try to find your child at once.
Parent-teacher conferences are held twice per year, in October and in February. These are essential times for parents and teachers to connect in a one-on-one, extended way. This time is scheduled in advance specifically for this purpose, so it is important to attend conferences during this designated time. We would appreciate you not scheduling vacations during this time. Siblings on main campus have their conferences scheduled by our school secretary; once these are scheduled, teachers will schedule conferences with families with only one child on the main campus.
When a child is going to be absent, come in late, or be picked up early, please let us know by emailing the teachers directly or by leaving a message in the LS staff room, 919-383-6602 x. 234. Staff room messages are checked regularly at least three times a day, while other extensions (such as the head teacher's) might not be.
* Lower School, your child’s classroom, and specific teachers will send home periodic emails, letters, and notes.
* Classrooms send home regular newsletters via email.
* Next Week at CFS is emailed every Friday; printed copies are available in the Center Building.
* Lisa’s Monday Memo is a weekly email with thoughts and information from the Head Teacher.
* Parent Update is published by parents and emailed monthly. It covers upcoming events at CFS as well as unit-specific information.
* We and Thee is a publication featuring articles about the school’s philosophy and events and happenings at CFS. It is mailed out quarterly.
* Each fall Back-to-School Night provides information for all parents in the unit, both related to the Lower School and to specific classrooms.
*Although email is not effective for every type of communication, we find it helpful, efficient, and eco-friendly for many types of messages. Please let your child’s teacher know if you do not use email or prefer to receive paper copies of all messages.
Each year Lower Schoolers and Staff celebrate a variety of holidays and traditions.
*Halloween traditions include dressing up (optional), a hay ride, a costume parade, a Halloween play performed by the Lower School teachers, and a class party.
*Thanksgiving traditions include classes providing food and coming together as a whole Lower School to eat and share a special Meeting for Worship together.
*Valentine's Day is celebrated in individual classes.
*Families are encouraged to come and share information about their own traditions and celebrations.
*Hundredth Day of School - River and Sky Classes celebrate this special day in a number of ways. Children bring in collections of 100 and participate in a variety of fun activities.
*Individual classrooms have various celebrations throughout the year; class newsletters will provide details.
Field trips offer the opportunity to extend students’ learning beyond our campus in interactive and meaningful ways. Field trips are typically scheduled by classroom and designed to enrich our curriculum. When we go on field trips, we travel either in cars or school buses driven by teachers or parents, or in hired buses. We always use seat belts in cars and the school’s buses. If you would like to help drive for trips in general or a specific trip, please contact your child’s teacher.
Please note that children of 8 years of age or 80 lbs in weight may use a regular seat belt without a booster seat. All others must come with a booster seat if riding in a car. Boosters are not required on school buses, however if you prefer to send a booster for your child if they are riding in a car you may do so.
Please join us! Interest and Discovery Groups are special activities offered to Lower School children on Friday afternoons. Teachers offer groups on topics of interest to them, and we welcome and encourage parents to join us in offering a group. Contact Emi Charboneau to learn more about offering a session.
* Sessions last 3 weeks.
* IG/DGs begin at 1:15 and end at 2:30 on the Fridays in each session (unless otherwise noted).
* Groups vary in size from 6 on up, according to the needs of the group.
* Interest Groups include children from all four classes.
* Discovery Groups include children from the older classes, Mountain and Forest.
* Dates for each session are noted on the LS calendar.
To offer a group, you will need:
* Availability for all group meetings in a session
* A catchy title
* A brief (1-2 sentence) description of the group to capture kids’ interest
* A willingness to plan active, hands-on experiences to explore an interest of yours with kids!
* You may want to ask another parent or your child to help you plan and lead a group. Some of our groups led by students, with adult supervision, have been very successful.
At the beginning of every school year, parents must complete a Permission and Emergency Form on which they list important contact information for them, physicians, insurance company, etc. This form also serves as a yearlong permission slip for field trips and outings.
Parents can also list medications that teachers are allowed to administer to their children. Medications other than acetaminophen or ibuprofen will require a signed and dated note for each request.
During the first day of school the teachers in each class will begin preventative screening for head lice as recommended by the Orange County Health Department. We’ll also do periodic head checks throughout the school year. Because of time and staffing limitations, we can typically only spot infestations of lice; we count on parents to periodically do careful checks for lice and nits at home and report any cases to us. If we find head lice or nits on a child, we will contact you immediately.
Children with lice and/or nits must be treated before returning to school. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that parent education is most helpful in the management of lice in the school setting. It is important to note that it is the parent’s responsibility to treat the child before entering school the next day. The product needs to be used properly and at least twice at intervals as stated on the medication.
The following link will provide details from the AAP that may help you prevent, recognize, and treat lice: www.aap.org/en-us/search/pages/results.aspx?k=lice.
Please note that the speed limit on most of the campus is 14 mph. The speed limit lowers to 7 mph as you turn into the Upper School area. Additionally, we have increased the number of cross walks, and ask that drivers always yield to pedestrians, even when they are not in cross walks. In particular, the afternoon pick up time brings a large number of cars to the campus during a very short time period, during which we ask the following: If you are able to remain in your vehicle, please pick up along the sidewalk area that runs in front of Lower School and the Center. If you wish to park and get out of your car, please use one of the parking spaces, (i.e. not the grass or dirt areas). Please do not park along an area that has a yellow line. If you are hard pressed to find a space, know that more spaces will be available in front of the gym. Thank you for helping to keep this campus pedestrian friendly and safe.
Please respect the health of other students and teachers and do not bring sick children to school. If your child has a fever, we ask that you keep them home until the temperature is normal for 24 hours (without medication). If a student is well enough to come to school, we will expect them to go outdoors and participate in all activities with their class. If a child becomes ill during school, we will contact parents or other emergency contacts to pick the child up.
The school asks that students wear clothes that are "clean, comfortable, and appropriate." In winter, "appropriate" means warm and woolly because most students spend time outdoors during the day. Always dress your young ones for the weather because most of them will choose to play outdoors. Please remember to put names on your children's clothing.
We recommend you send sneakers or other active footwear (not Crocs) to school (if your child typically does not wear this kind of footwear) since our curriculum frequently involves active explorations.
For safety reasons loose shoes such as Crocs or flip flops are not allowed on the sports fields.
One of the most common questions that people have as they enter the Lower School is: What should I bring?
On the first day:
*Just a snack (because there’s a noon dismissal)
On other days:
*A snack and a lunch - Many of us pack these all together and our children choose which parts they’d like to eat for snack and which parts for lunch. Think about what might work for you, but keep in mind that you may need an ice pack because, unlike the Early Schools, we have no refrigeration (or heating) available. As a community, we are committed to reducing the amount of trash we create, so be thinking about ways to pack lunches in an eco-friendly way.
*A bookbag - We’ve found that tote bags or small backpacks work best for kids and fit well into cubbies. Rolling backpacks tend to be a bit unwieldy; don’t fret if you’ve already bought one, but it’s something to keep in mind if you haven’t yet. We’d also recommend doing a weekly bookbag check at home. It is not uncommon to find sticks, partly finished art projects, overdue library books, a rock collection, 8 stuffies, and other items that will just weigh down your child unnecessarily.
*A small stuffed animal - Having one at school, especially in these first days, can be especially comforting. Please limit it to one small stuffed animal to help keep down our stuffy population. :)
*A change of clothes (labeled) - accidents occasionally happen.
*School boots are available for creek use. Children may bring their own boots, if they prefer.
*No electronic devices including video games, iPads, cell phones, etc. If there is a special need for bringing an electonic device to school, parents should contact the classroom teachers to make arrangements.
*No food that needs to be microwaved or refrigerated.
*No school supplies necessary We've got the paper, pencils, notebooks, glue, etc., that Lower Schoolers will need, so there's no need for that fun school supply shopping at Staples (sorry!).
*No shoes that are unsuitable for running or playing.
The decision to open or close school is made by 7:00 am. Please do not call the school or staff for an earlier decision. Conditions on local county roads surrounding the main campus often differ from those in town. It is this county situation that dictates our closings.
If bad weather sets in during the school day, feel free to pick up your children at your discretion. You needn't call first. Please make prior arrangements with your children and their drivers concerning at-school closings. Our phone lines do not meet the needs of over four hundred students when at-school closings occur.
As a matter of record, every attempt is made to open school each day as planned.
In addition to the information on our home page, announcements are made over radio station WUNC (91.5) in Chapel Hill. On television, tune to Channels 11 (WTVD) in Durham and 5 (WRAl) in Raleigh.
Another option for checking on school closings/reopenings is to call the school's main number (dial 919.383.6602, and press 8) to hear about a message about the status of school for that day.
"...belief that peace is not the absence of conflict but the peaceful resolution of conflict..."
Lower Schoolers are encouraged and supported to use our Conflict Resolution process (see chart below). The first step is to try and solve a problem with another student independently. If this is unsuccessful the next step is to get help from a teacher. Students are taught to listen to one another and to take turns talking out their feelings. Modeling of this behavior is done by the teachers using methods such as role-play.
Once each week, we have a Meeting for Worship, a time of quiet reflection into which people can speak as moved to do so. Each month, a different class designs a query, or question, to help focus our thinking in Meeting for Worship.
Examples of past queries include:
How can I be caring to someone who is hurting?
How can I be helpful when people around me are making bad choices?
How do you show love and kindness to your grandparents and elders?
Spring is a time of new beginnings. How can I prepare myself for new challenges and changes I'm facing?