What is a cooperative?

Our cooperative, Peopleplace, is an organization that thrives through the collective forces of families, staff and the community.  Together we ensure that everything runs smoothly, from day to day operations, to long range planning, to facility upkeep and financial stability. The expectation is that a family enrolls their child in this school, not only because it is a wonderful early childhood program, but also to be an active part of their child’s first school experience.

What are my responsibilities in a cooperative?

A family’s responsibility is to participate in the way that works best for them.  We expect each family to participate in one parent workday (usually a Saturday morning dedicated to facility maintenance held fall, winter and spring), assist with one fundraising event, help in the classroom or provide a morning snack for the group once a month or choose a task such as laundry, supply shopping, or serving on a committee.  There are MANY ways to participate at Peopleplace.

What are the benefits of a cooperative?

There are many benefits to being a part of Peopleplace.  Over the years we have heard many parents remark on the lasting friendships they have made at Peopleplace.  Other parents find great satisfaction in spending time in their child’s classroom – seeing their child interact in a group, and developing relationships with peers and their teachers.  Another benefit is simply  appreciating the satisfaction that comes from volunteering.

Can family members or close friends volunteer in class?

Yes, family members, or family friends may volunteer in the classroom.  It is especially rewarding to have grandparents involved in the Peopleplace community.

How much do I have to volunteer? What is this I hear about points?

In the past, a point system was in place to ensure equity among the Peopleplace families’ volunteer hours.  While the point system helped families know how many hours they needed to volunteer, it did not distinguish or qualify the many ways families contribute to the school.

Currently, families are asked to complete a “commitment form.”  The form allows families to select from a variety of identified needs throughout the year ranging from helping in the classroom on a monthly or semi-regular basis, selecting one of the 3 Saturday workdays, choosing to assist with one of the school fundraising events, as well as other tasks to help keep the school running smoothly.  There is no set number of hours that a family must volunteer, but everyone must commit to helping in some way throughout the school year.

What is the history of Peopleplace?

Peopleplace is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization incorporated in Camden, Maine in 1983; it was the outgrowth of a cooperative playgroup, which had formed three years earlier.  In 1985 the group moved into its current building at 69 Union Street in Camden, and the number of families jumped from 12 to 55 overnight.  With the purchase of the building and two acres of woods behind it ten years later, Peopleplace fulfilled a long-term goal.  In 2002, an extensive renovation of the building added 1000 square feet allowing more natural light and separate areas for specific instruction.  The dedicated efforts of many parents, board members, and friends in the community have made this growth possible.  The school is currently renovating the playground by incorporating more natural play-scapes and replacing an aging Cedarworks climber.

Peopleplace has now served hundreds of children from 14 neighboring towns.

The school is licensed by the State of Maine as a “child care facility for 33 children.”  The license is posted and state regulations are available in the office.

Peopleplace is accredited by the National Association of Early Childhood Programs, a subsidiary of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  Peopleplace was first accredited in 1989, and reaccredited in July 1995, July 1998, and August 2001.  Through this accreditation process, Peopleplace has refined curriculum policies and set guidelines for staff based on the most progressive philosophies of early childhood centers.

What is the Peopleplace Mission?

Our mission is to:

“…provide a family-oriented early childhood education that incorporates parental involvement in preschool programs and childcare services, offers supplemental educational programs for children and adults; and participates in activities designed to promote the general health and welfare of the community and its families.”

–Bylaws, Article II

What does it mean to be an accredited preschool?

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation of programs for young children represents the mark of quality in early childhood education.  NAEYC Accreditation began in 1985 with the goal of providing an accrediting system that would raise the level of early childhood programs. Today, over 7,000 programs are NAEYC Accredited.   NAEYC identifies 10 standards of high quality early childhood education:

1. Promote positive relationships for all children and adults to encourage each child’s sense of individual worth.

2. Implement a curriculum that fosters all areas of child development; cognitive, emotional, language, physical and social.

3. Use developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate and effecting teaching approaches.

4. Provide ongoing assessments of a child’s learning and development and communicate the child’s progress to the family.

5. Promote the nutrition and health of children and protect children and staff from injuries and illness.

6.  Employ a teaching staff that has the educational qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment necessary to promote children’s learning and development and to support families’ diverse needs and interests.

7. Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with each child’s family.

8. Establish relationships with and use the resources of the community to support the achievement of program goals.

9. Provide a safe and healthy physical environment.

10. Implement strong personnel, fiscal, and program management policies so that all children, families, and staff have high quality experiences.

Peopleplace has been a NAEYC accredited program since 1987, and was among the first programs in Maine to become accredited.

What exactly is Reggio Emilia and how does it make a Peopleplace education different?

The Reggio Approach derives its name from its place of origin, Reggio Emilia, a city located in Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. Shortly after the Second World War, Loris Malaguzzi, a young teacher and the founder of this unique system, joined forces with the parents of this region to provide child care for young children. Over the last 50 years, this education system has developed into a unique program that has caught the attention of early childhood educators worldwide.

The Reggio Approach is a complex system that respects and puts into practice many of the fundamental aspects of the work of Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky and many others. It is a system that lends itself to: the role of collaboration among children, teachers and parents, the co-construction of knowledge , the interdependence of individual and social learning and the role of culture in understanding this interdependence. (Baji Rankin 2004).

At the heart of this system is the image of the child.  Reggio teachers believe in the competence of every child.  Children are curious, capable and inventive.  They have an interest in relationships, social interaction, and collaboration.  They are able to construct and negotiate their learning through exploration and inquiry.  Children are rich with wonder, resourcefulness and an eagerness to learn and experience.

Fundamentals of this approach include:

Relationships as the foundation of learning

The environment as a teacher

Parent participation in the school

Educators as partners in learning with children

Structure and organization to support collaboration

The power of documentation

Long term projects and ongoing experiences

“Peopleplace exemplifies the “amiable school” spoken of in Reggio Emilia – a place where everyone is seen as creative, capable and full of potential.”  Robin Brooks, artist.

Can I schedule a tour or a time to visit with my child?

We encourage families to visit the program to meet our teaching staff, see the classroom spaces, and have an opportunity to ask questions and get in depth information about our programs from the school’s director.   A prospective child is welcome to visit with their parents, but there is no “interview” or screening that is required during the enrollment process.

Do you have a summer program?

Summer @ Peopleplace is an 8 week, camp style program for children ages 18 months to 6 years of age.  Families can enroll their child by the week, and choose from a 2 or 4 day schedule, mornings only, or until 3PM.  Activities are based on weekly themes, with plenty of time for free play, inside and out.  Summer @ Peopleplace is available to any child of eligible age, the child need not be enrolled at Peopleplace for the school year.

What is your class size and teacher/adult to child ratio?

Typically the preschool class consists of 20 children with 3 teachers, a 1:7 ratio.  The downstairs (toddler) class is typically 10 children with 2 teachers,  a 1:5 ratio.

What are the ages served at Peopleplace?

For the downstairs class, a child must be 18 months old by September 1st of the school year. For the upstairs class, a child must be 3 years old by September 1st of the school year.  The downstairs group spans the ages of 18 months through 3 years, and upstairs is 3 years through 5 years of age.

Do you provide aftercare?

Any child enrolled in the morning program may extend their day into the afternoon with pick up on the hour until 5:30 PM.  A family may choose to select the extended day option for an annual fee at the time of registration, or may utilize a drop in option at an hourly rate.   A child need not be enrolled in the morning program to attend in the afternoon.  Peopleplace also offers after school care for kindergarten and first graders.

How do we sign up?

School year enrollment begins in early March for current families during a two week “in-house” registration period.  Families on our waiting list are then accepted, with open enrollment following – until the classes are full.  A child is considered enrolled when we have received a completed registration form and the registration fee.  A current immunization record is required before a child can attend Peopleplace.  Registration materials are available to download from our website, or by contacting the school office.

Is there a wait-list?

Peopleplace maintains a wait list on a first come, first serve basis.   We ask families who want to be placed on the waiting list to complete a registration form – the registration fee is paid when a space becomes available.

What is the tuition schedule?

Most families make tuition payments in 10 installments, beginning in August and ending in May.  There is a 5% discount if tuition is paid in full by September 1st.  Monthly statements are sent at the beginning of the month as a reminder, with payment due by the 30 of each month.  Other payment options can be negotiated with the school’s director.

Are there other fees?

There is a registration fee of $90 for a new child, and $45 for a returning child.  A $5 late fee is added to the monthly bill if you are late for pick up and have not called the school.

Are there any scholarships?

Peopleplace offers tuition assistance as long as the budgeted funds are available.  Please request an application, or download from the website.  We will let you know as soon as possible what amount will be awarded.

Is it OK to arrive late to school?

To get the most of the preschool day, it really helps to arrive on time.  It is much easier for a child to engage with the group, and for the teachers to offer assistance with saying good bye to mom or dad during the expected drop off time.  Later in the morning, teachers and children are usually occupied with the day’s activities, and a late arrival is an interruption.  That said, we understand that some children (or parents) move rather slowly in the early morning, and arriving at school at 8:30 is a big project!

Is it OK to arrive late at pick up time?

Unless there is a very good reason (flat tire, family emergency, etc) being late for pick up is not ok.  Please call the school if you are running late so the teachers know when to expect your child to be picked up.  There is a $5 charge for late pick up if a parent does not call.  There is an additional $7.25 charged for pick up after 5:30 PM.

Does my child need to be potty trained?

Children do not need to be potty trained to attend Peopleplace.  Our teachers are very good at working with families for a successful transition out of diapers, when the child is ready.

How do you handle food allergies?

Peopleplace must be informed of the type and severity of any allergy.  If a child is allergic to peanuts we will post the school as a peanut free zone, banning all peanut products.  Parents are asked to provide complete allergy actions plans.  Peopleplace staff will always check allergy lists to compare with food being served to keep your child safe.  All Peopleplace staff are Pediatric CPR/1st aid certified.

“I love Peopleplace but I’m concerned it is not academic enough. How does it prepare children for kindergarten?”

Peopleplace’s highly qualified teachers plan the curriculum based on their knowledge of developmentally appropriate experiences, as well as with the expectations of kindergarten readiness in mind.  Their goal is to have every child “ready” for Kindergarten when the time comes to leave Peopleplace.  At the core of a child’s Peopleplace experience is the opportunity to grow as an individual; socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively.  While academic “skills” are not taught directly, care is taken in setting up the classroom environment and activities to provide ample opportunities for exploration and learning in all the cognitive domains.  Through the practice of frequent informal assessment, such as observations, work sampling and interviews, teachers are aware of each child’s development and are able to provide individual support.

What do you offer as far as art, music, movement, etc.?

Art, music and movement are woven into every day at Peopleplace.  Each classroom is equipped with extensive art materials and the children are encouraged to explore the mediums as a form of self-expression according to their developmental abilities.  Peopleplace has a lovely collection of percussive instruments that are always available for children to use.  The classrooms have CD players and selections of a wide variety of music.  Dance, yoga, and tumbling on “the mat” are active indoor choices during inclement weather.

Do the children go on field trips?

The preschool children may go on field trips.  Typically there is an excursion to an apple orchard in late September.  At other times of the year, small groups of children may go on a field trip to enhance their understanding of a particular subject or area of interest, perhaps to the library, or nearby Rockport Harbor.  Parents are asked to transport their own child, or arrange for him/her to carpool with a friend.  The downstairs class may take a short walking trip to visit a neighborhood place of interest (e.g. a walk to the local hardware store to purchase a bird feeder…)