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Top Ten Tips About PCMS

Welcome to the adventure of being a parent at Portage Collaborative Montessori School! We’re so glad you’ve chosen to join this dynamic, diverse, and wonderful community! As the 2016-2017 school year gets underway, we are happy to share with you our Top Ten Tips About PCMS. We hope this  information helps you navigate the first days and months at PCMS.

Attend Parents’ Night on Thursday, September 8th:

Parents’ Night is a fantastic way to better understand Montessori, PCMS, and what actually happens in your child’s classroom. This event is for parents/guardians only, please make other arrangements for children.

Schedule:

  • If your child is in Primary (Preschool-K) or Upper Elementary, plan to attend the 5:30-6:00pm segment in your child’s classroom.
  • At 6:00pm in the multi-purpose room, Friends of PCMS, our all-volunteer parent board, will give a short presentation and share ways to get more involved with this awesome community.
  • Lower Elementary and Middle School parents will meet with teachers from 6:30-7:00 pm in their classrooms.

School Email and Facebook group:

Your student has a PCMS email account. This is our main form of communication as we work to become paperless and reduce our environmental footprint. Please plan to check this daily (see the details that were mailed in the beginning of year packets). For safety and privacy, restrictions have been put in place on these school accounts. PCMS email addresses cannot send messages to non-PCMS email accounts, nor can they receive messages from non-PCMS email accounts.

An “unofficial” but great place for news and information is the parent/guardian Facebook group, “PCMS Family Chat.” Search “PCMS Family Chat” and ask to join. Here you’ll find informal questions, news, promotions, and photos from our parent community.

Website:

Looking for details about the school, updates, the calendar, forms like lunch order forms and medical authorizations? Looking for opportunities to pay certain fees through PayPal?  The PCMS website/blog is a great place to check.
And keep checking the website throughout the year as more features may be added!

Pick up and drop off details:

Getting to know the routine of a new place can be confusing! Check out the details below to help the transition to the classroom flow smoothly for both you and your child.
Primary Arrival Procedures

We have two ways to arrive at your child’s classroom door in the morning. The first way is to walk in with your child and escort them to the classroom door. Please enter at  Door #2. There will be a staff member at that door to let you in as it is normally locked. If you arrive after 8:00am, you will be required to use the main entrance (press the buzzer on the wall to the right of the door to be let in). You will need to escort your child to their classroom; however, please be aware that we begin our day promptly at 8am, so we encourage a quick goodbye, so as to not disrupt our morning.  Primary parents are welcome to walk to the classroom door, but parents of children in 1st-8th grades should say goodbye at the top of the hallway that leads to the classrooms to minimize distractions in the morning routine.

If your child (or you!) is struggling with separation, please discuss a plan with your child’s teacher to help. Children are quickly distracted once they arrive — please don’t worry, those tears of separation are often short! A crying child who sees family after already separating may become more upset.  Please walk just around the corner while the child is distracted and wait until the teacher peeks out with a thumbs up. Remember, if your child sees you, he or she may get upset again. Our primary teachers are experienced (and are parents themselves!) and have creative ways to make this transition as smooth as possible.

The second way to arrive is our car line. Many families find this to be convenient and can help with separation. The car line forms outside of Door #4. You will see the line and can pull in behind the last car, following the line around. The first car needs to pull up to the end of the sidewalk and all cars behind follow. When the cars are stopped, an adult will safely escort your child from your car to their classroom.

For PM students, Door #2 remains locked, so please enter enter through Door #1 or use the car line.

Primary Dismissal Procedures

We have two ways to dismiss. You can come into the building to pick up your child by using Door #1 and walking down to the parent pick up sign. An adult will walk your child to you.

You may also use the car line for pick up. It flows just like arrival, but an adult will help your child into the car.  Please know that we cannot buckle your child for liability reasons. If your child needs help buckling, please pull forward to an empty parking spot and assist them.  For AM pick up or PM drop-off, please be aware that this happens during recess time for our older students.  They love the basketball area, so please pull into the car line on the left side of the yellow side and not in the basketball area.

Primary Parent/Child Experience Night, October 12th:

Plan to attend the annual Parent/Child Experience as an opportunity to learn more about what your student is doing each day, as they proudly show you around their classroom. There are two time slots, from 3:15-4:15 pm and from 6:30-7:30 pm. If that date does not work for your family’s schedule, or you want to learn more throughout the year, please touch base with your child’s teacher for alternate arrangements. This is an opportunity for your child to share his/her environment with you.  If you have questions or concerns for the teacher, please ask the teacher to set up a different time to talk.

Additional parent/student opportunities will be held throughout the year:
Lower Elementary Parent/Child Experience Nights:

  • October 19th – 6:00-7:00 pm
  • April 13th – 5:30-6:30 pm

Arts and Academics Night for Upper Elementary:

  • Thursday, April 13th – 6:30-7:30 pm

Get involved!

There are many ways to get involved, and PCMS needs and wants your help! From planning events to helping in the library to being a part of fundraisers and so much more, there is a way everyone can help.

As the school year gets started, keep an eye on your email for a packet of information about volunteering, and that same info will be available in hard copy at the office.

Be on the lookout for fun events throughout the year for the whole family!

One great event to get acquainted with the PCMS family is monthly skating parties, fun for parents and students alike. They are a great way to learn to skate and get to know your child’s classmates, parents, and teachers. And it’s ok if your student doesn’t know how to skate, many others are learning as well. Parents and older students are also often happy to help!
Our fall and spring festivals are full of family fun and friends to meet, and there are a lot of other events throughout the year to consider. The middle school holds several events as fundraisers for their annual end of year adventure trip, such as the back to school bash, spirit wear sale, and delicious pasta dinner in the spring.

Program Fee

While PCMS gets funding from our collaborating districts, certain programs like music, art, KidFit, the library, and other needs are fulfilled by parent support. In the past, numerous fundraisers have been used. Beginning with this 2016-2017 school year, in response to feedback from the community, these fundraisers have been replaced with a $50 per kindergarten-8th grade student program fee. One hundred percent of this fee goes to the school and covers the costs of these enrichment programs for our students.

Additional funds will come from existing ongoing programs, like our annual walkathon, Moving 4 Montessori; community restaurant nights; box top collection; book fairs; and our largest opportunity, our annual spring fundraiser. This one is so big it needs its own point, see below!

Spring fundraiser

Our annual fundraising event is so amazing that it deserves it’s own point! Each year, the Friends of PCMS hosts an adult-only event designed to raise money to support the art and music programs at PCMS. Previous events have included live entertainment, live and silent auctions, as well as amazing raffle baskets. This year’s event is going to be just as spectacular, so look for more details as the school year goes on, and plan on attending! Better yet, plan on volunteering!

The school is like a big family!

Have a question? Our parent community is friendly and helpful! If you want to learn more about anything mentioned above, our school, your child’s classroom, or Montessori generally, just ask a fellow parent!  If they don’t know, they can help you find someone who does.

Our older students are especially helpful and involved in the school. Multi-age groupings are a hallmark of the Montessori Method and our upper elementary and middle school students can often be found reading stories or giving lessons in your child’s classroom.  Don’t be surprised if your child talks admirably about these superstars.

And, of course, your child’s teachers are wonderful resources, as is Lisa Groves, our amazing school secretary!

Again, welcome to the PCMS community! We’re so glad you’re here.