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For Interested Families - FAQ

What is a laboratory school?

The Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education provides a setting in which excellence in developmentally appropriate practice and best practices in education theory can be observed, studied, used by teacher candidates and used by other pre-service school professionals.

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Where is it located?

The Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education is located on the first floor of Pugsley Center on the South Dakota State University Campus in Brookings, SD.

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Where may I park?

All family members may park on the east side of the Pugsley Center. The entrance to the parking area is located on the east side of the Wintrode Student Success Center about in the middle of the block between 11th and 12th Avenues. The one-way entrance winds its way between the Wintrode Student Success Center and Crothers Engineering Hall. Families may park in front of the Wintrode Student Success Center and along the playground side the Fishback Center during drop off and pick up times. If you plan to stay and observe part of the day, please sign in at the front desk and include your parking permit number.

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Is there a waiting list maintained for the preschool?

Currently there is a waiting list for the SDSU Preschool. If you would like to have your child placed on the waiting list for the following academic year, please contact Laura Gloege, Coordinator for the SDSU Preschool at 605-688-6477.

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Is there a waiting list maintained for the kindergarten?

Currently there is a waiting list for the SDSU Kindergarten. If you would like to have your child place on the waiting list for this year's academic year, please contact the Brookings Administrative office at 605-696-4700 for more information.

There is not a waiting list maintained for the following academic year. The enrollment for the SDSU Kindergarten Program occurs each year in the spring for the following fall during the Brookings School District Kindergarten Screening Time. Interested family members need to indicate on the enrollment information that they would like their child to attend the SDSU Kindergarten as an alternative placement. Then twenty-two children are chosen randomly from the pool of interested families. The rest of the families are then placed on an annual waiting list.

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May my child attend without having his/her immunization forms and health check on file?

Typically, immunization forms and physical health checks need to be on file when your child begins the program. A case-by-case review occurs and exceptions may be made. Please contact Laura Gloege, the Coordinator of the SDSU Preschool and SDSU Out-of-School Time Coordinator at 605-688-6477 to discuss your particular situation.

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Is lunch available for the SDSU Kindergarten Program?

Hot lunch is available through the Brookings School District meal program for the SDSU Kindergarten Program.

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Are snacks available at the Fishback Center?

For the SDSU Kindergarten, snacks are set up at the beginning of the year and families volunteer to provide nutritious snacks following a snack calendar set up by Deb Schaefer.

For the SDSU Out-of-School Time Program, the SDSU Preschool Program and the SDSU Toddler Program, nutritious snacks are prepared on-site and provided daily.

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Is transportation provided?

Given the SDSU Kindergarten Program is considered a parent's choice alternative placement in the Brookings School District, there is no school bus service. Transportation is the responsibility of the parents.

For the SDSU Preschool and Toddler Programs, drop off and pick up are the responsibility of the parents. Some family members drop off and pick up their children directly. Some families arrange transportation with childcare providers. Some families choose to arrange transportation with the BATA bus; others make car-pool arrangements with others families whose children are enrolled in the program.

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Where do families park?

The Fishback Center’s main entrance is on the east side of the Pugsley Center building. The entrance to the parking area is on 8th Street, just to the east of the Wintrode Student Success Center. It is a one-way entrance that loops around the Wintrode Student Success Center and then into the parking area of the Fishback Center. This area is specifically for families whose children are enrolled in the Fishback Center and visitors of the center.

In addition to the main parking area, there are 5 additional parking spaces on the west side of the Pugsley Center building. These parking spots are designated for SDSU Kindergarten families and SDSU Toddler Program families.

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What about inclement weather?

When inclement weather occurs, the Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education follows the Brookings School District closing decisions. Local radio stations (KBRK) will broadcast weather related school closings. In addition, for the SDSU Preschool and Toddler Programs, we strongly encourage parents to use their own judgment when the weather is questionable because we are working with very young children. If you consider the weather to be unsafe for young children, please keep your children home and call us to inform us of your decision. Please call 605-688-5698.

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Do the children go outside if it is cold out?

The Fishback Center’s rule of thumb is that the children will go outside if the temperature (including wind chill) is above 20 degrees Fahrenheit for the toddlers and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for the preschoolers and kindergarteners. Teacher's reserve judgment when the temperature is around the cut-off point. Classes will use alternative forms of large motor play on days when it is too cold to go outside.

Please dress your child for winter outings (hat, mittens, winter coat, snow pants and boots-if snow is present) when the temperature gets to 45 degrees or less. Please dress your child for fall days (light jacket and long sleeves) when the temperature is between 45 & 55 degrees.

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Is your program structured?

Yes, we carefully structure how we use time, use our space and use the selected materials. We believe that in order to learn effectively children must be meaningfully engaged in their work. Providing blocks of time when children may choose their activities supports our ability to respect the children's work, as well as allowing us to nurture children's ability to attend to their work in a focused fashion. We believe that it is important to balance time carefully with blocks of time for environmentally supported, child-initiated activities and blocks of time dedicated to group experiences led by a teacher.

In the SDSU Toddler Programs, blocks of individually chosen time includes playing in the room, materials exploration time and outside time. The blocks of group experiences include snack, singing time and group walks.

In the SDSU Preschool Programs, blocks of individually chosen time includes center time and outside time in the Outdoor Learning Lab. The blocks of group experiences include large group, snack and small group investigation time.

In the SDSU Kindergarten Program, blocks of individual chosen time includes choice time, literacy centers, Writers' Workshop and outside time in the Outdoor Learning Lab. The blocks of group experiences include Large Group time, Music time, Physical Fitness time, Read Aloud time and Project time.

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I've heard it said that the Fishback Center is Reggio-inspired, what does that mean?

Reggio Emilia, a city in northern Italy, is world famous for its municipal preschool and infant/toddler centers. We have been influenced by the work of the teachers at these schools and other schools in the United States that work in a similar fashion. We started studying the work of the Reggio Emilia teachers in 2001 and what we have learned is seen in our environments, in the curriculum and in the college courses for the Early Childhood Education majors.

Our curriculum is freshly developed every year as teachers learn about their groups of children. One preschool classroom might discover that the children love storytelling and building characters and the teachers will build curriculum around this passion. Another group may have much focus on building structures and machines. The teachers in this group will listen to the children and create a curriculum of learning around architecture, structures and block building. Our goal for the children is to support their thinking, wondering, and questioning about how the world works and for teachers to support the children’s questions. That idea drives our inspiration of the teachers in Reggio Emilia, Italy. For more information about Reggio-inspired practices click on the following links:

Do you have a philosophy about discipline?

Working together with families to help children acquire the skills and tools of self-regulation and social problem solving is our goal to discipline. Each conflict and situation gives us a chance to help children to find strategies to solve problems and to see each other's perspectives. We never shame children or isolate them to punish them. As teachers, we try to anticipate, when possible, and to convey clear and understandable messages about what to do rather than what not to do. Because the environment is well-structured with well-chosen materials, the need for discipline is often low.

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