updated August 2016
PHILOSOPHY: New Creation Preschool’s philosophy is that early childhood should be a time for exploration and discovery. Experiences in these early years should foster competence in young children in all areas of their lives. Our purpose is to provide an atmosphere for young children where they can grow physically, emotionally, socially, creatively, and intellectually while best preparing them for Kindergarten. We not only respect children, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest as a unique human being, not as an object. Our goal is an authentic child, one who feels secure, autonomous, and competent. When we help a child feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by the way we just look, the way we just listen, we influence that child’s whole personality and the way that child sees life.
HISTORY: New Creation Preschool is a non-profit outreach of New Creation Fellowship Church, a lively Mennonite congregation of 70-100 who gather for worship, potluck meals, congregational discernment, small groups, Sunday school, play and work that cannot and will not be limited or defined by color, gender or any other category. The preschool was founded and created by a group of people, including Kristin Neufeld Epp (current director/teacher), from New Creation Fellowship Church in 1994. In the first year, New Creation Preschool operated as an all day childcare program known as New Creation Early Childhood Program. Starting in Fall 1995, we transitioned to a half day preschool program. We moved to Asbury Park Retirement Community in 2002 after fire destroyed our classroom at New Creation Fellowship Church. We were enriched by added intergenerational experiences with elders before moving back to New Creation Fellowship Church 2009.
WHO WE ARE NOW: New Creation Preschool is licensed by the State of Kansas for children 2.5 years of age and not yet enrolled in kindergarten. Children attend one, two or three sessions per week. This program operates under regulations required by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Each class is guided by Ms. Kristin (lead teacher and director) and at least one Classroom Assistant. Volunteers will be welcomed into our classroom after training, health assessments and background checks required by the State of Kansas. New Creation Preschool Serving Unit (a group of church and community members) meets to support and care for the needs of the preschool. Matters pertaining to New Creation Preschool will be processed with staff members and brought to Preschool Serving Unit meetings. New Creation Fellowship Church warmly welcomes all preschool families to join us at 9:30 for Sunday School (in the preschool classroom) and 10:45 for a relaxed worship time (visit with Kristin or see http://www.newcreationnewton.com for more information).
HOW TO REACH US: New Creation Preschool meets in the basement of New Creation Fellowship Church, 221 Muse Street in Newton, KS. New Creation Preschool has an entrance on the north side of the building (turn in the alley to get to it). Parking is available in the parking lot off of Pine Street, on Muse Street in front of the church, or in the small parking lot at the end of the alley north of the church. Please do not park along the alley in order to keep the lane free for driving in and out.
Parents are welcome at New Creation Preschool at any time unannounced. Do not be alarmed if you find the door locked. Because we are in a church, there times that people come looking for help and understandably, follow the noise and come down to the classroom. Because this pulls staff away from the children’s needs and by having other unscreened adults in our classroom, we are violating State of Kansas regulations, we may lock door before school and once all preschoolers have arrived for the day. Preschool drop off is between 8:45-9 and 11:45-12. If you are running late, you can call or text to let us know. Please don’t bring children before 8:45/11:45 since that is our “crunch time” as a staff for last minute communication. All preschool activities take place in the designated classroom space. The sanctuary, pastor’s office, storage rooms, closets, and Sunday school room are not used by preschool other than storage and access to secondary exits. The closet doors adjacent to New Creation Preschool’s classroom are locked and off limits. The basement Sunday School room remains unlocked due to fire code and our needed access to the secondary fire exit. The nursery remains unlocked due to it being our storm shelter. Both the Sunday School room and nursery have window doors providing us with visual access at all times. A baby gate may be put in place at the base of the stairs when staff feel it is necessary. All windows will be kept free from adornment (which means that yes, you can peek in anytime!).
TUITION: There is a standard tuition level of $56/month per number of session your child attends in a week (ex: 2 days a week = $112/month). As a non-profit outreach of New Creation Fellowship Church, we offer reduced tuition levels based on income and the number of people in your home. Please contact New Creation Preschool for more information. After your tuition level is determined, a Financial Agreement will be made for your family. This will be used to keep track of all payments received and you are welcome to view our records at any time by contacting the director.
Tuition is broken into 9 equal monthly payments each due on your child’s first school day of the month September-May. Checks, money orders, cash, should be deposited into the TUITION BOX located in the classroom. Online payment options (ACH and PayPal) are available as well. You will be sent notification when a tuition payment is overdue. In the event that you have missed 2 tuition payments, you will be contacted by a New Creation Preschool Serving Unit member to set up a Payment Plan/apply for further financial assistance.
PRESCHOOL STAFF: If you ask a preschooler of New Creation Preschool what the teacher’s job is, they are likely to say, “to keep us safe!” We take this call seriously. Our love of children prompts us to help provide the best possible life experiences for them. All volunteer and paid staff who work with children at New Creation Preschool are employees of New Creation Fellowship Church and will complete and sign an application, provide the names and contact information of 3 personal references, and undergo a criminal background check through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Individuals who have been convicted of physical or sexual abuse or neglect may not work at or be present in the building. Bethel College and Newton High School volunteers (who must be above the age of 16) will only be on site in conjunction with two current New Creation Preschool staff/volunteers. Staff will have access to a cordless telephone or cell phone at all times. Staff have been trained to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect, and are required by law to report to Social Services any suspected abuse or neglect of any child we care for. Training in child abuse and neglect is renewed every year.
CURRICULUM: New Creation’s curriculum is one that works to enhance your child’s feelings of being competent and cared for. This curriculum favors the development of your child’s physical, emotional, social, creative, and intellectual selves. Each day your child will be invited to participate in a planned activity for each of these areas. Working with the Kindergarten team of USD 373, our curriculum and activities involve the developmentally appropriate skills we believe will best prepare your child for Kindergarten. We will offer activities and experiences that revolve around our Letter of the Week, Color of the Month, phase of the moon and other holidays/significant days (for instance, the 8th, 18th and 28th days of each month are special because the 8 on the calendar is turned into either a spider or a snow person).
Our outdoor playground and picnic corner are fenced areas with several play structures and many trees. These serve as a wonderful extensions of our classroom. We spend time outside in most kinds of weather believing that a connection to nature is essential to a whole early childhood experience! The New Creation Preschool environment is carefully prepared for each child to move as slowly or as quickly as they need to and all activities are available for each child to do at their own pace. There is a fine balance between following a schedule and constructive independent times.
DAILY ROUTINE: During our 2 and a half hours together, we keep ourselves busy! There is a picture schedule board we work on together as a class, referencing it during the day. While the order may change, here is what happens during a preschool day:
Work Time: this is the time of day when preschoolers play! Teachers are available to guide activities and offer suggestions as needed. Some activities are always available, others change with the theme.
Circle Time: this is the time of day when we sit together (in a circle!). Here we practice many of the school skills that will be found in a traditional Kindergarten classroom: calendar work, alphabet sounds and recognition, name reading, color recognition, patterning, and more. This is also the time of day when we sing songs, play instruments, recite poems and act out fingerplays and rhymes. We enjoy making up new songs for the week’s theme as well as finding old nursery rhymes that many of our parents and grandparents know.
Project/Journal Time: this is the time of day when we create something. We ask for children to come in clothes that they can get messy in believing it is important for there to be freedom to participate fully. We use lots of paint and lots of glue during the year! Roughly half of the time projects will come home right away, the rest of the time they have been done in our Journals, composition notebooks that will be sent home at the end of the year.
Story Time: this is the time of day when the teacher is reading to the children. Through our stories we are able to introduce new concepts while having children experience the security of being read to. Our books are chosen based on the Letter of the Week and are connected to the other activities of the day.
Snack Time: this is the time of day we get our trays and eat together…there is always a fresh fruit or vegetable for us to try. Each child has a cup and permission to get water at any point in the preschool session. Families are invited to sign up to bring snack for their preschooler’s class each month.
Clean Up Time: this is the time of day we help put things away in the classroom. We play “Hard, Hard Worker” (by the Avett Brothers…look it up!) and remind preschoolers that we aren’t cleaning up just what we played with, but whatever our classroom needs!
Group Time: this is the time of day when a teacher guides an activity for the whole class or small groups…science experiments, alphabet work, math readiness, yoga, mindfulness, etc.
Show and Tell Time: this is the time of day we look at what preschoolers brought to show and tell us about. Our Show and Tell time is based on our Letter of the Week and children can bring something every day.
Outside Time: this is the time of day we explore on the playground and the wide open green space around the church. Weather permitting, we’ll often take other activities outside: snack at the picnic tables, story time under the tree, show and tell at the bench, etc.
SUGGESTED ITEMS/CLOTHING: Please send a good sized school bag or back-pack every day! Many times your child will have a stack of things to take home. And please remember to label it! We do Show and Tell every day based on the Letter of the Week, so look around the house or yard for something to bring! “Lovies” and special toys that may help your child transition from home to preschool are welcome. Our preschool plan is that if a child brings something from home and does not want to share it, s/he does not have to and can instead save it in his/her cubby.
Because so many of our projects require creative spirits, you are encouraged to dress your child in clothes they can move freely and get messy in! All the products we use are labeled “washable” to aid in clean up, however, stains happen! You are responsible for applying sun-block and bug spray before school when you think it’s necessary. As cool weather approaches please dress your child appropriately. Many children enjoy wearing layers so they can control their own body temperature while indoors (it can get really toasty in our classroom). We will go out even in the coldest weather so please send mittens, hats, etc. Children are allowed to take shoes and socks off in the classroom and on the playground (temperature permitting). Shoes that children can easily take on and off themselves builds self confidence and reliance. An extra set of clothing is helpful and can be carried in your child’s backpack.
“POTTY TRAINING”/BATHROOM PLAN: As a preschool that welcomes children in any stage of their “toilet learning” journey, we are aware that some preschoolers will require more bathroom help than others. Staff will encourage children to do as much for themselves as possible. Parents, please communicate your preschooler’s bathroom needs with preschool staff. Tell staff what terms your preschooler will use for the toilet, urine and feces and how your child usually uses the bathroom (sitting, standing, forwards, backwards, help with wiping, etc). Staff usually use “potty, bathroom, pee, peepee, poop, etc”; staff will use your choice of words with your child. Staff will use the general term of “bottom” and more specific terms of “penis” and “vulva” as is appropriate and natural in conversation.
If a child becomes agitated at using the bathroom alone or with staff near, parents will be notified. When a child has an accident, soiled clothes will be bagged up and sent home. According to state regulations, we are not able to wash or rinse soiled clothes. There is no shaming or disappointment expressed in cases of accidents, as we recognize the normalcy of them. Preschool will only use the bathroom adjacent to our classroom. With the door open, the toilet and sink are visible from the classroom. Preschoolers are allowed to keep door open or closed when they are alone. Staff will not enter the bathroom unless a child has requested help and the staff helper will alert another staff member when entering the bathroom to help a child. The bathroom door will remain open when any staff is assisting a child in the bathroom.
For preschoolers still early in their toilet learning, please consider dressing your child in loose clothing that they are able to manage easily and independently (ex. pants or shorts with all-elastic waists). Consider avoiding overalls, jeans with snaps and zippers, shirts with snaps between the legs, belts, tie waistbands, tights, and tight-fitting clothing. Dresses may also be a problem if your child can’t see to pull down their underwear or can’t pull the back of the dress up enough to avoid sitting on it.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT: Parents and caregivers are often concerned with discipline. We have a few guidelines that are in keeping both with our understanding of child development and with our philosophy. Children at New Creation Preschool are helped to not hurt themselves, others or things while we act from the belief that all behavior is either an act for love or a call for love. New Creation Preschool staff have been trained in Conscious Discipline® and follow the Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach.
We will view children as individuals and not separate by category in conversation or practice. We believe that for children to develop a sense of belonging they must see themselves, their families, and their communities represented throughout the center or school in books, posters, artwork, family sets, dolls, cooking utensils, environmental print in their languages, photographs, etc. and we work to meet that. Because young children think in simple terms they tend to think in stereotypes. Thus, one of our tasks in supporting diversity is to continually challenge young children’s simple thinking about: gender, race, ethnicity, culture, families, religion, income, language, etc. While we believe there is value in children feeling comfortable and around people who are like them, they also must enjoy investigating and exploring differences, newness, and what is unfamiliar. One way we encourage this behavior is for teachers to model a joy and enthusiasm in discovery, exploration, and uncertainty. From Francis Wardle: “Supporting diversity in early childhood programs is a two-pronged process: helping children to feel good about themselves, their families, and their communities, and also exposing children to differences, things that are unfamiliar, and experiences beyond their immediate lives. In doing so we must make sure these experiences are real and concrete, and that they continually challenge young children’s stereotypical thinking. We must insist on tolerance and respect toward all who are different. Finally, this process must be continuous and ongoing, not simply addressed on convenient occasions and implemented as an add-on to the curriculum.”
New Creation Preschool Discipline Philosophy
New Creation Preschool adapts the following principles to our preschool age children. Incorporating a deep respect and appreciation of the young child as more than a helpless object, Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach/RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) encourages young children and adults to trust each other, learn to problem solve, and embrace their ability for self-discovery. When allowed to unfold in their own way and in their own time, children discover and inspire the best in themselves and in others.
THE BASIS OF THE RIE APPROACH: RESPECT: Respect is the basis of the RIE philosophy. We not only respect children, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest as a unique human being, not as an object.
OUR GOAL: AN AUTHENTIC CHILD: An authentic child is one who feels secure, autonomous, and competent. When we help a child to feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by the way we just look, the way we just listen, we influence that child’s whole personality, the way that child sees life.
TRUST IN THE CHILD’S COMPETENCE: We have basic trust in the child to be an initiator, to be an explorer eager to learn what they are ready for. Because of this trust, we provide the child with only enough help necessary to allow the child to enjoy mastery of their own actions.
SENSITIVE OBSERVATION: Our method, guided by respect for the child’s competence, is observation. We observe carefully to understand the child’s communications and their needs. The more we observe, the more we understand and appreciate the enormous amount and speed of learning that happens during the first few years of life. We become more humble, we teach less, and we provide an environment for learning instead.
CAREGIVING TIMES: INVOLVING THE CHILD: During care activities (diapering/bathroom helping, feeding, dressing, etc.), we encourage even the youngest to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient of the activities. We create opportunities for interaction, cooperation, intimacy and mutual enjoyment by being wholeheartedly with the child during the time we spend together anyway. “Refueled” by such unhurried, pleasurable caring experiences, children are ready to explore their environment with only minimal intervention by adults.
A SAFE, CHALLENGING, PREDICTABLE ENVIRONMENT: Our role is to create an environment in which the child can best do all the things that the child would do naturally. The more predictable an environment is, the easier it is for them to learn. As children become more mobile, they need safe, appropriate space in which to move. Their natural, inborn desire to move should not be handicapped by the environment.
TIME FOR UNINTERRUPTED PLAY AND FREEDOM TO EXPLORE: We give the children plenty of time for uninterrupted play. Instead of trying to teach new skills, we appreciate and admire what children are actually doing.
CONSISTENCY: We establish clearly defined limits and communicate our expectations to develop discipline. When a child is outside of the limits, we meet them with immediate goals of safety for all children and an understanding of why/how.
New Creation Preschool Safety Plans and Procedures
New Creation Preschool can be reached by cell phone at 316.217.5650 during classroom hours. Please note: the only safety procedures we practice, discuss and record per state guidelines are monthly fire drills and severe weather drills (both without alarms). For instance, we do NOT practice or discuss “lock down” or “bad guys coming in” or “bomb threats,” etc. with the children. What we reinforce is that we have plans to keep them safe…period.
HEALTH INFORMATION: By state regulations, each child is required to have on file the following forms: Authorization for emergency medical care, Medical Record (general information form including immunization record), Child Health Assessment (completed by doctor) and Permission to leave premises (will be sent home in the case of field trips). Parents are required to indicate dietary restrictions/food allergies on the required Medical Record form. If there are foods that preschoolers are not permitted to eat, parents will provide “safe snacks” for their child. These are labeled by child’s name and will be stored in the preschool cupboard in the kitchen. They will be used only for that child and parents will be notified when snack supplies are running low.
ILLNESS: The following are conditions which will exclude a child from New Creation Preschool: FEVER (an oral temperature of 99.1 degrees or greater), VOMITING (one or more episodes in a 24 hour period), DIARRHEA (uncontrollable, increased number of stools), RASH (should be evaluated by a healthcare professional), COMMUNICABLE DISEASES (if contracted, a notice of possible exposure will be posted).
EVACUATION (in case of fire/smoke, bomb threat, criminal activity, intruder, gas leak, structural damage, flooding): In case of emergency that requires evacuation, staff will assist the children to exit through the New Creation Preschool entrance/exit. If that door is blocked we will exit through our secondary exit through the back Sunday School room, and failing that, through a window. In any case we will gather along the fence of our playground. Staff will ensure that all children are accounted for. Should we need to evacuate the church property within walking distance, we will gather on the main floor of the office building at 215 S Pine. Should emergency dictate evacuation beyond walking distance, children will be transported by staff or emergency personnel to Newton Medical Center, 600 Medical Center Drive. All families will be notified.
SERVICES: If New Creation Preschool loses the use of heat, water or electricity at any time during the day, we will evaluate the situation to see whether care can be provided without undue loss of quality. If safe, quality care cannot be provided under the circumstances, we will notify each family and payment for days that New Creation Preschool is closed due to loss of services will be credited to your account. We will remain closed until safe, quality care can be provided.
INTRUDERS: Should someone enter New Creation Preschool and staff deems it necessary, at least one staff member will escort all children into the back Sunday School room (where our secondary exit also is) and call 911 while at least one other staff member remains engaged as appropriate with intruder.
SEVERE WEATHER: In the event of a tornado or severe thunderstorm staff will assist the children to the church nursery (connected to our classroom) while listening for the all clear’ signal.
RELEASE: In order to keep your child safe, staff will only release a child to their parents and to persons listed on the enrollment form. If anyone other than the child’s parent or a person listed on the enrollment form is to pick up a child, we need to be notified in advance in writing or by a phone call. Preschoolers are instructed by staff to stay close to a teacher until we have dismissed them to their parent/grown up. With the parking lots being busy and crowded, we work to make sure that preschoolers do not run out to their ride without staff’s permission. We know this is hard rule to follow, so parents can help communicate this plan ahead of time. Please drive mindfully staying alert for children.
MISSING CHILD: No child is ever left alone and staff do regular checks to make sure all children are accounted for at all times. If a child is lost, staff will quickly check all areas of the church and property. If the child cannot be found, the police will be called immediately, and then the child’s parents or emergency contact person will be notified.
New Creation Preschool Family Opportunities
SNACK TIME: An important time each day is snack time! We use this as an opportunity to introduce new foods and teach healthy eating habits. We’ll also practice our table skills such as passing foods, pouring drinks, etc. You are invited to participate by signing up to bring fresh fruits or veggies. You are also welcome to bring additional food: crackers/cookies/etc. Parents provide “safe snacks” for their child if there are dietary needs/restrictions.
BIRTHDAYS: We will celebrate each child’s birthday during the school year. This celebration includes figuring out how old the birthday child is, singing the Birthday Song, flying in the Birthday Chair and lots of counting! You are invited to bring birthday treats to add to our snack time. Let Kristin know which day is most convenient for you.
SHOW AND TELL: Your child is invited to participate in show and tell experiences every day at New Creation by bringing something that starts with the Letter of the Week.
PLAY DOH HELPER: You are invited to sign up if you are interested in providing play-doh for your child’s class once during the school year. This can be store-bought or made at home.
DONATIONS: Throughout the year, we accept donations of tape, glue, extra crackers/cookies, glitter, baby food jars, stickers, baby wipes, bubble wrap, anything rainbow and anything else you think we might want to use!
PRESCHOOL FUND: The Preschool Fund is money used solely for equipment and supplies for the preschool. Over the years, the purple rugs, colorful banners, puzzles, blocks, books, low tables and chairs were all purchased with money from the Preschool Fund. You are invited to help replenish the Preschool Fund anytime with loose change/cash in the yellow coin drop bottle or checks with MEMO Preschool Fund.
SCHOLARSHIP FUND: Every year New Creation Fellowship Church gives generously to help support this preschool program. While New Creation Preschool relies on tuition to meet costs, we make arrangements for each family to attend regardless of financial situations. Therefore, a Scholarship Fund exists. Everyone is invited to give this fund on a regular basis or as a one time gift with the MEMO “Scholarship Fund.”
VOLUNTEER: We view our volunteers as “teacher friends” and look forward to building these relationships. You can volunteer as often as you like and according to the schedule that works best. Please communicate your interest using the following form to Kristin. All volunteers will receive initial training information and be required to have a background check.
PARENT TEACHER COMMUNICATION: We will have Pre-Kindergarten Transition meetings in the Spring of the school year. Private meetings with Kristin are always available upon request. Trust that Kristin will communicate any concerns as they arise.
Note from Kristin: Please don’t hesitate to communicate concerns with me. When they don’t want to come to school, let’s see if we can figure out why. It doesn’t offend me to hear a child is bored or doesn’t like school, it encourages me to look at how I can adapt. Your child’s sense of safety and being cared for is my highest priority and it is an honor to help care for them.
“Life, love, and laughter – what priceless gifts to give our children.” –Phyllis Dryden