Parent Handbook

The Early LearningCenter


Under the leadership of qualified staff, there will be a balance of large group, small group, and individual instruction; creative art; music;  outdoor play; conversation; enhanced literacy; science; numbers; free and dramatic play; Children’s Chapel; and opportunities to connect with the family and the community.  We believe parents are key players in their children’s care and early education.  Therefore, we will provide varied opportunities for parents and family members to participate in our program.


Our program will pursue a higher licensure status through “voluntary quality stars” developed and issued by the Division of Child Development, Raleigh, NC.  We are also enrolled in the Ratio Reduction Program sponsored by CarteretCounty Partnership for Children, providing lower staff/child ratios in classrooms.


Our administrative and teaching staff play a vital role in the development and daily operation of the program.  We are responsible for meeting or exceeding programming standards and for maintaining the requirements of North Carolina licensing and other  programs for which we receive funding.  It is also our responsibility to adhere to the policies and procedures as set forth by the EarlyLearningCenter Board in coordination with the FirstUnitedMethodistChurch Council.  We best teach our children by modeling personal responsibility and team cooperation.   



Mission Statement:  To provide high quality child care and appropriate, meaningful early learning experiences within a safe, nurturing, Christian environment.



*      Teach in a Christian atmosphere.

*      Love each child unconditionally.

*      Guide  in good citizenship and good character

*      Provide age-appropriate materials and challenging activities

*      Provide individual guidance, respect, and support

*      Provide opportunities for self-expression and creativity

*      Provide for each child’s safety and security


Symbol:  Noah’s Ark


Motto:  “The Wonder of Childhood…The Joy of Learning…The Love of God”


The EarlyLearningCenter accepts qualified children and does NOT discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion in the administration of admission, education policies or other activities.

Policies and Procedures are established by the Early Learning Center Board.  Should a parent wish to suggest a policy or change of policy, the parent shall first discuss the matter with the director who shall present any proposal to the Board for its consideration.  Policies and procedures shall be reviewed annually by the Early Learning Center Board of Directors.


A.   Drop-off:  Parents should turn off car engines and walk their child to his/her classroom, place their lunch on the cart outside the classroom door, sign their child in at the room, and be sure to have contact with the teachers before leaving.  Unless there is a legitimate reason, children should not be dropped off past   Please call the center by if you anticipate arriving late.


The doors will be locked from 8:30-3:30 for safety precautions.  If arriving between these hours, please dial the extension to one of the classrooms listed on the door.  [Happy Pals (One-year-old class) Ext. 124; Discovery (Two-year-old class) Ext. 120; Adventure (Three-year-old class) Ext. 123; Friendship (Four-year-old class) Ext. 122.]


B.   Pick-up:  Upon arriving please park in a designated parking space. Do NOT park in a space designated for the Pastor or Associate Pastor.   Do NOT leave other young children unattended.  Do NOT park on the grass.  If parking is unavailable in the church’s

Arendell Street
lot, parents may use the church lot located on
Bridges Street
and walk around to the
Arendell Street
entrance.  However, use extreme caution in watching for traffic when crossing
Bridges Street


C.   Security and the Release of Children:  The safety and security of each child is our highest priority.  Children are to be signed out upon leaving each day.  Parents and family members will need to be prepared to show a photo ID each time the child is picked up during the first week of the program year (which starts August 1).  We will post photos in your child’s cubby of the persons who have your permission to pick up your child.  You can bring in a picture from home, make a copy of a photo ID, or ask us to take a photo with the digital camera on site.  Once your child’s cubby is “decorated” with these special pictures, those picking up will no longer need to carry and show ID.   We will not release any child to persons other than those designated on the list.  (Parents prepare this list during the application process.)  If you wish to add or delete a person from the list, it must be done in advance of pick-up time.  Thank you for cooperating as we work together to keep all of our children safe.


D.    Car Safety Seat Policy:  In compliance with North Carolina Law, children under 8-years-old or under 80 pounds must arrive and depart in an approved and fully operational child safety seat.


E.   Anti-Discrimination Policy:  The Early Learning Center accepts qualified children and does NOT discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion in the administration of admissions, education policies or other activities.


F.     Program Year and Schedule:  The EarlyLearningCenter provides a full-day, year-round program from August 1 of one year through July 31 of the following year.  The program opens at and closes promptly at ; however, for the benefit of your child, we strongly recommend that he or she is not left in care from opening to closing.

G.   Holidays and Teacher Work-Days:  The center will be closed for designated holidays and three teacher work days each year.


New Year’s Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Easter Monday

Memorial Day

Independence Day

Labor Day

Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Friday

2 days at Christmas

Note:  If a holiday falls on a weekend, it will be observed as a day off on the next normal working day, or on the day it is observed in the community.  The director will identify the specific holidays and dates observed by January 5 of each year.


Teacher Work Days - Three per year (the Tuesday following Easter and 2 days in July) for continuing in-service training and team-building, conferences, and work in classrooms.  The dates for teacher work days will be published at least 30 days in advance so parents can make alternate child care arrangements. 


See Attachment #1 for the current calendar.


H.  Tuition:  See Attachment #2 for the current tuition.


  1. There is a Registration fee of $50.00 for one child, $75.00 for two children, and $100.00 for three or more children.

  2. There are no reductions in tuition for holidays or the three teacher workdays each year.   However, tuition will be reduced on a prorated basis if the center unexpectedly needs to be closed for more than a day, such as during inclement weather.

  3. Tuition continues to be due in spite of child absence.  This policy includes the summer months.

  4. Weekly tuition is to be paid in advance and is due by the end of the business day Friday for the upcoming week.  A Late Payment Fee of $10.00 is to be assessed on any past-due account.  If tuition payment becomes two weeks past due, the child will not be permitted to attend the EarlyLearningCenter until the past due account has been paid in full.

  5. Parents may choose to pay in advance, either monthly or twice per month, if this better accommodates their pay schedules. 

  6. We request that all payments be made by check or money order. 

  7. Checks should be made payable to the order of The EarlyLearningCenter. 

  8. Parents will receive an invoice each week updating services rendered and payments received.

  9. Returned checks will result in a fee of $25.00 and the outstanding tuition payment must be made in the form of a money order or cash.


I.     Late Pick-Up Policy/Fee:  Our program opens (early children will be received for care) at   We close promptly at   We understand there are occasional situations that cause delays.  Please call us if you might be late so staff can be prepared.  A late fee of $1.00 per minute will be charged for any pick-up made after   Please be a good planner.  Have an alternate plan for the unexpected situations, if at all possible.  It’s important to be here on time for your child who is waiting for you and for our staff whose family is waiting for them.  Thank you in advance for your thoughtful cooperation.


J.   Lunch:  Children and staff shall bring their lunches from home until the kitchen is fully operational and the board has approved the serving of hot meals.  Our kitchen is equipped with freezers/refrigerated storage, microwave, and the essentials (inspected by local health and sanitation authorities) to provide and serve nutritious snacks, milk, and juices, and to safely store, heat, and serve lunches brought from home. All lunches should have the components meeting state regulations. (meat, meat alternate, vegetables and/or fruit , and bread.   Snacks, juices, and milk shall be provided for the children by the EarlyLearningCenter.  Teachers are expected to sit with the children during snacks and meals.  We value the opportunity to enhance language and social skills through informal conversation and practicing good manners.  Teachers shall assist in serving and clean-up from snacks and meals and sit with the children as they eat.


K.  What should my child bring to school?  Children in the Happy Pals and Discovery classes should bring diapers and moist wipes (as needed—some of our two-year-old children are potty trained).  All children will need a complete, weather-appropriate set of clothing and a small blanket for our Rest and Relaxation time. 


L.   Daily Activities:  This schedule is subject to change based on classroom needs. Your child’s schedule will be posted in his or her classroom.

·        Early morning greetings and activities ~ as children arrive between 7:00 and 8:30 am.

·        Morning snack ~ served between 8:30 and 8:45 am.

·        Greeting & Friendship Circle ~ 8:50 am.

·        Our instructional activities (Daily Lesson Plans posted in classrooms) ~ 8:30–11:30 am.

·        Lunches from home ~ delivered to classrooms between 11:05 and 11:30 am.

·        Sandman Circle ~ 11:45 am.

·        Rest & Relaxation ~ 12:00-2:15 pm.…depending on age group and children’s rest requirements.

·        Afternoon snack ~ served between 2:30 and 2:45 pm.

·        Sharing &

Smiles Circle
~ 2:50 pm.

·        Playground Fun ~ 3:00 pm.

·        Activity Centers open ~ 4:00-5:00 pm.

·        Quiet Table Games ~ 5:00-5:30 pm.

We will enjoy special weekly activities such as Children’s Chapel and music with FirstUnitedMethodistChurch ministers and staff.  Occasional special programs will occur based on available resources.


M. Playground:  Our outdoor time will be at least one hour per day, weather permitting.  We view this time as an opportunity to extend classroom fun and learning.  Our teachers will actively provide close visual supervision and stress playground safety. 


N.  Child Discipline and Behavior Management:  Each staff member shall read, sign, and observe the NC Discipline guidelines which are required of parents, also.  The use of “Time-Out” shall be used only when re-direction, positive guidance, and one-to-one interactions have not been successful and only for the proscribed age-appropriate time of one minute for every year of life. As the children progress they will learn to manage their own behaviors as they practice problem-solving skills.  Teachers shall adhere to the policy of modeling, encouraging, and supporting positive behavior, and self-management strategies.  Teachers and parents should work cooperatively, on the child’s behalf, to resolve any behavioral issues, including the writing of a behavior improvement plan or consulting with appropriate resources, as necessary.  Teachers, parents, and children shall treat each other with respect.  Classroom rules shall have a direct relationship to safety and courtesy.  


O.  Communication:  Classroom concerns should first be directed to the teachers. Direct communication usually brings solutions and reassurance and models the parent-teacher partnership for the children.  We will be glad to arrange for a director-parent-teacher conference to address any unresolved issues. If unresolved issues persist, then a meeting may be scheduled with the ELC President.


P.  A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: You will notice photographs of our children on hallway bulletin boards and decorating the walls of the classrooms and cubbies.  We value our children and families and will feature their smiling faces in addition to the children’s creative artwork throughout the year.


Q.  Confidentiality:  It is imperative that a trust be established and maintained with our staff and families.  Each EarlyLearningCenter staff member shall read, sign, and observe a Confidentiality Agreement.  


R.  Hand-Washing Policy:  All children, staff members, and resource teachers shall wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap upon arrival at the center.  Children and staff shall wash hands periodically throughout the day as required by health and sanitation regulations.  This policy shall be implemented in order to promote a healthy environment for all.


S.  Sick Child/Exclusion Policy: Children who are running a temperature above 100 degrees or those who are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea (more than 2 episodes) or undiagnosed skin rashes should remain at home in order to limit exposure to illness spreading throughout the program.  Children who are on antibiotics for respiratory infections may return to school the day following the start of medication if their temperature is below 100 degrees.  Children who become sick at school will be excluded from others and will be made comfortable on their cot while remaining in the supportive environment of their classroom until a parent arrives. If their temperature is above 100 degrees or if they are having more than 2 episodes of diarrhea and/or vomiting, the parent or emergency contact person will be called by the director or teacher.  Should this occur, the child will need to be out for 24 hours (1 day).


T.   Medication Policy.  If a medication is prescribed to be taken twice a day, please administer at home.  Medications that must be given at the Early Learning Center must be given to the teacher directly by the parent and must be in the original container with prescription label, instruction clearly written out, and signed permission received from the parent.  Refrigerated medications will be kept in a locked box in the staff work room refrigerator.  Dry medications will be kept in the classrooms in a locked cabinet and will be administered and documented by the classroom teacher.  We will talk with each family about medications as the circumstances present themselves.


U.  Weather-Related Closings or Delays:  We need to meet the child care needs of families but also guard their safety during periods of inclement weather.  We will follow the schedule of CarteretCountySchool System in the event of weather-related closings or delays.  If inclement weather occurs when the public school system is not in session (such as on a teacher work day or during summer vacation), parents should check for announcements on WTKF-107.1 radio and WCTI-TV-12.  The director may also ask teachers to activate our “classroom call list” in which case administrative staff and teachers will call parents as soon as decisions are made. 


V.  Facilities Safety & Security Policy:  It is the goal of the EarlyLearningCenter to maintain a safe and secure environment for all of our staff and children.  Thus we have implemented the following policies:


Smoke – Free Policy – In keeping with NC licensing regulations and as a policy of good health, the EarlyLearningCenter is a smoke free facility.  Smoking is prohibited in the building and on the grounds.


Weapons – The Early Learning Center prohibits all persons who enter the learning center from carrying a handgun, firearm, or other prohibited weapon of any kind regardless of whether the person is licensed to carry the weapon or not.


Drug – Free Policy – It is the goal of the EarlyLearningCenter to maintain a drug-free workplace.  To that end, the ELC prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol on ELC’s site and/or sanctioned activities or as a part of ELC’s activities.


Violence in the Workplace – The ELC has adopted a policy prohibiting workplace violence.  Consistent with this policy, acts or threats of physical violence, including intimidation, harassment, and/or coercion, which involve or effect ELC or which occur on ELC property will not be tolerated.


Videotaping of the Classrooms – It is the policy of the ELC that classrooms and other premises of ELC will be videotaped.


Safety Rules – Safety at the ELC is given primary importance in every aspect of planning and performing all ELC activities.  The ELC wants to protect staff, children and visitors against any preventable industrial injury or illness.  Staff members are trained in location and use of fire extinguishers and the labeling and storage of hazardous materials.  The ELC participates in periodic fire drills conducted by the Morehead City Fire Department.



W. Volunteer Policy:  We encourage parents to participate fully in our program and share their hobbies, talents, and work expertise with us. Guidelines for volunteers are available in the ELC office.  All volunteers and visitors must sign in.


X.  PTO:  The mission of the Early Learning Center Parent Teacher Organization (ELC PTO) is to encourage early parent involvement and to encourage parent and public involvement.  The purpose of the ELC PTO is to enhance educationally related opportunities for our students, our teachers, and the community in a Christian atmosphere.  The ELC PTO also provides a vehicle for parent and teacher interaction through cooperative undertakings.  Ideas are shared and pursued with trust and confidence.  The ELC PTO prides itself on creating early partnerships in education that will last a lifetime.