Family Handbook

Check out our Full Family Handbook here.

Below you will find highlights:

Arrival and Departure

When you arrive, always sign your child in with your full name and the time.  Your signature on the sign-in and out boards is our only record of the children who are actually present each day.  In case of an emergency, we rely on the accuracy of these sheets.  They are located on clipboards hanging in the alcove next to the classroom entrance or, if outdoors, they will be hanging on the east yard wall.  At the bottom of the sign in/out sheet is a space for notes. If you have any messages for the day, please tell a teacher and write them in the space provided at the bottom of the sign in/out sheet.  You should inform us about schedule or pick-up changes, medicine, diet changes, etc.               

Enter the classroom or outdoor play area with your child and let a teacher know he/she is there.  Teachers are available for a brief exchange of messages, but please remember that arrival is a busy time for them.  You are welcome to set up separate times for short meetings or phone consultations.  In general, try to say good-bye after a few minutes.

Please be prompt when picking up your child.  You must sign out!   Please collect any belongings from his or her cubby before leaving for the day.  In “Outdoor Adventures” or “Out and About”, if you have arrived late and no one is there, your child is being transported back to Little School in a teacher’s car.  This will vary year to year based on carseat capacity of teachers/programs, please contact teachers directly if you will be late.  Please assist your child in making a fairly prompt departure.  

Authorized Persons

All persons who are authorized to pick up your child, including regular child care providers or carpool drivers, must be listed in the “Authorized Persons” section on your Emergency Identification and Information form.  When someone who is not authorized on your form is going to pick up your child, you must send an email or tell a teacher directly.  At times when you are unexpectedly delayed, we will call the authorized persons on your form.  It is helpful if at least one is a Little School parent.  We cannot release your child to anyone if you have not left us clear authorization – via a note, a phone call, or including them on your authorized persons list.  Inform anyone who comes or leaves with your child about parking, arrival and departure procedures.  NOTE:  We will need to check the I.D. of anyone picking up your child to whom we have not been directly introduced.  Please also make sure you have shared the previous information on arrivals and departures with anyone transporting your child.

Clothes and Dress

Children learn through exploration.  This often means they get wet and messy.  Dress your child in clothes that they (and you) will feel comfortable getting wet and dirty.  Likewise choose clothes that are comfortable to move in and good for enhancing independence in toileting.  We encourage pants or leggings for girls as well as boys to prevent skinned knees.  Because San Francisco weather is unpredictable at best, a jacket or sweatshirt is always recommended.  All clothes should be labeled with your child’s name.  Please bring a complete change of clothes (minus diapers), all with your child's name, which will stay at Little School (extra clothes should be in your child’s backpack for “Outdoor Adventures” or “Out and About.”)  If these extra clothes come home, replace them.  If your child comes home wearing an item of Little School clothing, please remember to return it in the near future.

Physical Contact

Young children learn with their whole bodies and their five senses.  They are in constant physical contact with the environment and the people around them.  At Little School, we believe physical contact is important at affectionate times and limit setting times.  Here are the guidelines we follow:

Teachers may have children on their laps, hug them, tickle them, or hold their hands.  Teachers model appropriate affectionate physical contact between adults and children and set clear, non-judgmental limits for inappropriate child-initiated physical contact.  If children do not wish for playful or affectionate teacher contact, teachers respect their limits.

Sometimes children need to be carried away from a situation.  If a child is out of control, a teacher may need to use restraining techniques which do not physically harm the child nor leave the teacher vulnerable.  Teachers may not use any physical contact that may harm a child including yanking, shaking or hitting. If you ever have any questions about teacher behavior, please speak to the teacher or Director as soon as possible.

Teachers toilet children alone or in groups.  Boys and girls toilet together.  In the process of toileting, for some special projects or on hot days, children may take off articles of clothing.  Preschool children should be allowed to feel comfortable with their bodies and take pleasure in them, and a certain amount of exploration in young children is expected.  Adults have different ideas about what is appropriate public behavior for children in this area (nudity, masturbation, etc).  We think these are very individual matters and we welcome any concerns, feedback, or information about your parental decisions.

Health and Illness Policy

The Department of Social Services requires the following:

  • A medical form you will receive from us.  This must be filled out by your physician based on an examination within the last year.  It must be received by the school before your child starts.

  • A record of updated immunizations. Your child must be updated on all immunizations before starting school.  Please call the office if your child is exempt from any or all immunizations due to medical reasons or your personal beliefs.

  • A daily inspection by staff of children when they arrive.

Parents can control the spread of illness at school by keeping sick children home.  Children must stay at home, if within the last 24 hours, they have: had a fever, had more than one bout of diarrhea or vomiting, or started antibiotics.  This also includes children who have conjunctivitis or other contagious illnesses.  This does not include children with a minor, straightforward cold and no other symptoms. Any child who appears ill on arrival or who becomes ill during the day will be sent home promptly.  If no parent is available that day, we may call your authorized contacts.  If you find your child has a contagious disease, please phone the office so that we can alert other parents.  With certain symptoms, we may require that your child see a physician before he or she can return to school.


If a child is injured, s/he will be taken to the closest hospital via ambulance.  The parents will be contacted as soon as possible.  If parents are unavailable, we will contact other authorized persons on your form.  All staff receive training in first aid and CPR.  Teachers in the “Outdoor Adventures” and the “Out and About” program carry cellular phones for emergency purposes.

Mandated Child Abuse Reporters

Be aware that all individuals who come in contact with children as a part of their profession are required by law to report specific symptoms or statements that indicate a reasonable suspicion of physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse to the Children's Services Division of the Department of Social Services.  By law, teachers cannot decide on their own, nor try to figure out whether an incident did or did not occur.  They cannot let a supervisor or member of the Board of Directors make the decision for them.  They must simply report.

In our experience when we have had to report, the Children's Services Division has acted reasonably, letting go of situations that didn't seem to warrant follow-up and providing support and intervention to families when necessary.  Parents might have reasonable difficulty believing in or maintaining the parent-staff alliance if a report has been filed, but we will invest effort to maintain it.  The staff at Little School see ourselves as the allies of both parents and children regardless of circumstances.


Your child's file is located in the classroom or, in the case of the outdoor programs, with a teacher.  Please make changes on your form as soon as information changes.  Please be aware of other individuals around the school.  If you do not recognize someone as a parent or child care provider, do not grant them access by holding the door open, etc.  Because it is important that the keypad door code remain unknown, please do not let your child learn or enter the code.  If you have any concerns about procedures, materials or equipment being unsafe, please share your concerns with staff.  Our high level of safety is maintained through parent/staff awareness and joint problem solving.

Fire and Earthquakes

Little School is equipped with fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, and we conduct regular fire drills and “drop and cover” drills with children.  Some earthquake supplies are kept in each classroom or in the trunks of teachers’ cars when they meet away from school.  We also keep individual earthquake backpacks on site.  In the aftermath of an earthquake staff plan to stay with children as long as possible. Please note the individual plans for your child(ren)’s class(es):

  • For classes that meet at Little School, staff plan to stay in the building as long as it appears to be safe.  Staff plan to stay with children as long as possible.  If staff need to depart from Little School or if Little School is unsafe, children will be relocated to pre-surveyed sites from the Department of Emergency Management, if available (see enclosed “Little School Emergency Procedures” for details).

  • For Outdoor Adventures (MFAM/PM), the group will try to congregate on the lawn attached to JK playground or, if they are in Golden Gate Park, Blue Playground.  If they cannot, they will find a safe place as close to that day’s drop off site as possible.  Staff plan to stay with children as long as possible.  If staff need to depart, they will take children to the Little School.  If staff need to depart from Little School or if Little School is unsafe, children will be relocated to pre-surveyed sites from the Department of Emergency Management, if available (see enclosed “Little School Emergency Procedures” for details).

  • For Out and About will stay where they are if it is safe. If they cannot, they will find a safe place as close to that day’s drop off site as possible. Staff plan to stay with children as long as possible. If staff need to depart, they will relocate to the site designated by the Department of Emergency Management. 

  • For all classes, you can check on their status through our emergency contact numbers: (207) 797-9366 and (206) 283-3100.  We will also attempt to notify parents via email.