SAMPLE ECC GRANDFRIENDS HANDBOOK*
*Please use our sample to inspire your work in a way that fits the needs of your particular community.
BRUCHIM HABAYIM- WELCOME!
We are thrilled that you have chosen to be a grandfriend! Your presence adds immensely to the classroom: to the lives of our children, staff, and families.
WHAT IS A GRANDFRIEND?
Some of our volunteers have grandchildren in the program, some do not, and some grandchildren have long graduated. Therefore, we choose to use grandfriend rather than grandparent because we know your presence is valuable for all the children, teachers, and families in the classroom whether you are related or not! As a grandfriend, you will experience the joy of adopting a classroom, and being adopted by that classroom community in return. You are a valuable member of our community.
BEFORE WE BEGIN
A grandfriend is legally considered when: ….FILL IN ACCORDING TO YOUR CONTEXT. Therefore, we must have all proper paperwork (in compliance with the Department of Children and Family Services) completed before your first day in the classroom.
This paperwork entails: (be specific)
FLOW OF THE DAY
Although the teachers in each classroom set their own flow of the day, there are some basics that are consistent throughout most of the school, so that you know what to expect. Please note that all times are approximations. We follow a routine, not a schedule. They are as follows:
7:30-9 Early Care and Breakfast. Breakfast ends around 8:30 to allow time for clean up and a smooth transition for the incoming half-day children. Teachers usually prepare breakfast, and sit with the children during this time. If you are here for breakfast, feel free to join the children at the table.
9:00 Half-day drop off. This is a transitional time. Some children will have already had breakfast and be playing while others are arriving and separating from parents and caregivers. This is a great time to engage the children who are already playing while teachers settle the incoming children and connect with parents and caregivers.
9-10 Open Exploration: Children and teachers engage in and out of the classroom in small groups. Different opportunities will be out around the room, and children are also free to explore materials in the classroom. This is a wonderful time to engage a small group of children in play, read a book, or strike up a conversation with the children.
10-10:30 Clean up and Morning Meeting: Morning meeting is an opportunity for children to gather communally. Each classroom has its own rituals. They usually include: sitting in a circle, saying the Modeh Ani and Shema prayers, and counting how many children are present. In some classrooms children have the choice to sit in adult laps while other classrooms do not. You can check with the teachers in your room. Feel free to sit on the carpet with the children, or pull up a chair to the circle.
10:30 Snack: This is a time to refuel and enjoy schmoozing! You can pull up a chair! Snack time is a community time. This is perfect for children to learn the meaning of family dialogue. Feel free to engage the children in conversation, by sharing stories or by asking questions that might elicit storytelling. These are great skills: both listening and sharing.
After Snack Outdoor Exploration: Outdoor exploration can really be at any time of day, and for as long as the classroom or group would like, however this seems to be the most popular time of day to go out. Outside, you can engage with the children, play games with them (eg ball or frisbee), or sit by the sandbox with them to name a few ways to engage.
12 Lunch: The teachers prepare plates of the kosher catered food that we enjoy together. Lunch is a time to sit with the children and enjoy asking questions, telling stories, and getting to know one another. Feel free to eat with us!
12:40-1: Pick up for half-day children. This is a transitional time, and you will notice teachers are connecting with parents and caregivers, and also preparing the room for the children who stay to nap. You can enjoy being with the children who are staying to nap, or ask the teachers how you can help with the transition. Many classrooms read a story before nap and would appreciate a reader!
1-3 Nap: With the exception of the oldest children (who have enrichment activities from 1-2), this is the children’s time to recharge. Many teachers take their breaks during this time, and it is also a typical time when teaching teams have meetings and communicate with parents through documentation and phone calls.
3-6 Afternoon Program: Our afternoon program consists of snack, sometimes an afternoon meeting, and outdoor or social hall play. As there tend to be smaller groups by the end of the afternoon, this is an opportunity to engage children in small group activities or one-on-one.
YOUR FIRST DAY
What do I do in the classroom?
First and foremost: enjoy spending time with the children! You can do that by:
- Reading and telling stories-trips you enjoyed, resilience and learning stories
- Offering a lap for a child to sit in
- Listening to children’s comments and stories
- Asking questions so as to know the children such as if they have pets, who is in their family, what are their favorite books, toys or games. What they may have done over the weekend, about their routines etc.
- Bringing in photographs of your childhood to share
- Helping with all projects and games
- Helping during lunch and snack time (such as sitting with them and talking, and helping serve with gloves on)
- Singing songs and playing
- Helping with putting coats, gloves, boots and hats on during winter
- While outside playing ball, Swinging children on swings on the playground, sitting or standing by the sandbox while the children play
What are things that only teachers may do?
- Discipline a child
- Pick up any child at any time (with the exception of the infant room)
- Be alone with a child
- Be in the bathroom with a child
- Change any diapers or pull ups
- Speak to parents regarding child’s day, behavior, or developmental progress
SOME IMPORTANT REMINDERS
Confidentiality: grandfriend volunteers are to consider CONFIDENTIAL whatever they see or hear while volunteering. This would include discussing a student’s behavior or progress with his/her own parents or other community members. What happens in the classroom, stays in the classroom. As a volunteer, you represent the school. This may be especially challenging when you have a grandchild in the classroom. If you have any questions or concerns that you would like to share, please speak directly with our Director.
Discipline: Please make a teacher aware of any discipline issue that might arise while you are working with students. You are not expected to discipline students.
All volunteers abide by the staff regulations, such as:
No Hot Drinks in Classroom: please do not bring any hot drinks into the classroom. Water bottles are fine.
No Cell Phones in Classroom: Of course we understand if you have to make or take a call. Please step out of the room to do so.
Snowbirds: Some Grandfriends may choose to spend part or all of the winter in a warmer climate. During that time, please find ways to keep in touch with your class. Some ideas are weekly FaceTime calls, letters, emails, and sending recorded videos.
We hope that you will enjoy the children, and that they will enjoy you! Please let us know if there is anything we can do further to enhance our time together. We will hold a few meetings throughout the year so that you may raise any questions you may have or just to share your experience with other grandfriends.
I have read and understand the Grandfriend Handbook, and agree to abide by its tenants.
I agree to volunteer weekly, at a regular day and time of ___________________________ to ____________________ classroom.
Grandfriend Signature Date