Young Toddler Program


How are the Young Toddler Classes structured?

The Shlenker School encourages the social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and spiritual growth of each child. Goals for children enrolled in the Young Toddler program include: developing trust, separating from parents, establishing autonomy and self-control, developing strong language skills, and learning to be with peers. Activities focus on sensory experiences, hands-on learning, constructive play, music and movement, communication with peers and handling feelings in acceptable, socially appropriate ways. Children will participate in small group activities, learning centers including art, dramatic play, manipulatives, outside play, and early literacy activities.

School Life as a Young Toddler


Typically, children should be 15 months old prior to September 1 in order to be in the Young Toddler grade level. For participation in the class, however, it is more important that your child be developmentally ready. Your child must be walking before joining this class. Other developmental "readiness” factors we look for include: child naps in the afternoon only and is able to drink from a cup (can be a sippy cup). The children are so busy during their day, so there is no time for a morning nap! It is important that your child not only be able to drink from a cup, but is no longer drinking from a bottle. It is our experience that it is emotionally confusing to drink from a cup at school and from a bottle at home. Many children experience comfort when drinking from a bottle when they are still doing so. When they are in a new environment such as school, and their bottle is not available, it can potentially be very distressing. We are firm with our policy regarding bottles as children in this class can be in different stages of weaning off the bottle. Some children may have been drinking from a cup for many months while for others it may be a recent task. If one child has a bottle, the other children are very perceptive!

The Young Toddler classes meet from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm, with morning drop off beginning at 8:45 am. Prior to 8:45 am, teachers are gathering materials and preparing the classroom for the day. We thank you for respecting their morning set-up time and for refraining from entering classrooms prior to 8:45 am. The group size is limited to 8 children in each class, and two teachers are assigned to each group of children. Our 1:4 ratio meets accreditation guidelines administered by the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) Academy for Early Childhood Program Administration. A typical day consists of free play at learning centers, music and movement, stories, outside play, and visits to our specialists. Specialists vary by day and include motor development and music. Young Toddler students participate in Kabbalat Shabbat services each Friday.

Because young toddlers are at a stage where transitions and separations can be difficult, your child's first day of school will serve as a visitation day, with the half of the class (first part of the alphabet) attending from 9:00-10:30 am and the other half of the class attending 10:45 am -12:15 pm. Parents or caregivers should plan to come to school and stay with their child. This provides a chance for your child to visit the class, meet the teachers, and become more familiar with the classroom environment while you are present. Our goal is for your child to visit for as long as he/she is comfortable, and to leave happy, content, and having had a positive experience! We suggest that during this first visit you help your child by playing with toys, interacting with the teachers and maintaining a positive attitude. When your child sees that you seem comfortable in the classroom and trust the teachers, he/she will transition into the school environment more effectively than if you express feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Your child may be ready to follow the regular schedule the next day of school. Please keep in mind that some children need more time to adjust to a new environment. The teachers will talk with you individually to develop a plan to meet the specific needs of your child. In addition, please know that you are welcome and encouraged to stay in the building as long as you need to feel comfortable with your child's experience. Feel free to call the school office anytime to check on your child. For children who enroll in school mid-year, the first day (visitation day) may vary based on the needs of your child. The Early Childhood Principal and your child's teachers will talk with you about transitioning before your child begins school.

Children in Young Toddler should be brought to and picked up from the classroom as they do not participate in carpool. The transition from home to school and vice versa is much smoother when parents or caregivers bring their child directly to the classroom. This also provides an opportunity for parents and teachers to briefly talk with one another. You may drop off your child in the classroom beginning at 8:45 am. The children's day begins promptly at 9:00 am. Children who do not stay for Afternoon Adventures begin dismissal at 12:30 pm., and must be picked up by 12:45 pm. Late charges begin accruing at this time. If you child will be staying for Afternoon Adventures, they will spend time outside on the playground or inside in the classroom until it is time to eat lunch. After lunch, the children will transition to nap. As they wake up, quiet activities will be provided.

How should my child be dressed?

Children should come to school comfortable and ready to play. Please do not send them in clothes on which you do not want to see paint, play dough or food. Early learning can be messy! For safety purposes, please do not send your child in any type of open toe or heel shoes, with or without socks. This includes Crocs™, sandals, clogs, etc. In the event a child's toes are stepped on, closed toe and heel shoes will protect his/her feet. If you would like your child to wear sunscreen or insect repellent, please apply prior to coming to school.

What should I bring for my child on his/her first day?

  • 1 photo of your child to label his/her cubby
  • Sippy cup with your child's name on both the lid and cup (to be kept at school)
  • 4-5 photos of people or pets who are important to your child (mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, etc.); please label photos with "Mom”, "Nana”, "Daddy”, etc.

These will be used to make a family collage for your child. Photos will not be returned.

  • Extra set of clothes, socks and shoes

(Please label each piece of clothing with your child's name, including socks and shoes, and place in a Ziploc bag also labeled with child's name)

  • 64-count of diapers and baby wipes (if your child uses diapers)
  • Any transitional objects that might calm your child (blanket, toy, pacifier)
  • Small blanket and crib sheet (fits over nap mat).

We provide each child with an individual nap mat to be used only by him/her for the school year. This 2” thick mat is cleaned and sanitized each day. Due to limited storage space, please limit your child's belongings to a small blanket, a crib sheet, if desired. We purchase and plan on having a mat available for each child, therefore it is not necessary to send a mat to school with your child.

Please do not send: toy weapons or other violent toys, jewelry, or money. Please note that each child will be given a blue Shlenker tote bag at the beginning of the year. This bag is used for sending the children's items to and from school. Teachers only send home art, other work, and school correspondence on Fridays. We use this routine specifically so that backpacks and other tote bags are not needed throughout the week. Due to limited storage space in the classroom, please do not send backpacks or other items for your child to carry to and from school each day. Blue bags will go home on Friday and should be returned each Monday.

What food do I need to provide?

We follow nutrition guidelines set by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and NAEYC. Parents will have an opportunity to participate in our parent snack day by signing up to bring a healthy snack to share with the class on the designated day. Additional information will be provided about food guidelines for the special snack day. Your teachers will talk to you to reconfirm food allergies or dietary needs your child might have. Please provide a healthy lunch with a drink each day. If your child's lunch needs refrigeration, please place a frozen "cold pack” inside the lunch box. This keeps the lunch cold and meets food safety guidelines. We are unable to refrigerate or heat food in the classroom. Please refrain from sending soft drinks or candy, and remember to include any needed utensils. Please remember no pork or shellfish may be brought into the building.

What about toilet learning?

Our toilet training philosophy is to collaborate and respect each family's tradition in this process. We recognize that children develop at different rates, and that they will achieve bowel and bladder control when they are both physiologically and developmentally ready. When a child shows beginning success in the home environment, we will support their efforts and incorporate potty training within the limitations of the particular group. Teachers will provide regular and consistent opportunities for the children the use the restroom in support of parents' efforts. It is important that the teachers and families stay in communication during this time to ensure the child's success. We do not have strict ages to begin or achieve potty training at Shlenker.

Important names to know:

Janna Barnhart, Early Childhood Division Head
Ricki Komiss, Head of School
Gail Rovinsky, Director of Admissions
Staci Jefferson, Early Childhood Administrative Assistant