Education and Program Information


Pickwick Early Childhood Center is a collaboration of successful preschool programs across the state, which means that we follow many performance standards in order to ensure the highest quality of education and care. The performance standards that we utilize are as follows:

  • Iowa Quality Preschool Performance Standards    
  • Head Start Program Performance Standards
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children Program Standards
  • Department of Human Services Licensing Standards
  • Iowa Early Learning Standards
  • Early Learning Outcomes Framework

These standards are the foundation on which our program  designs and delivers comprehensive, high-quality individualized support to children and families. Our program at Pickwick Early Childhood Center is truly unique as we are merging performance standards from the following programs: Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, Head Start Preschool Program, Shared Visions Preschool Program,  Early Childhood Special Education and Title 1. 

Teaching Strategies is a publishing company that specializes in Early Childhood.  They have developed high quality curriculum, assessment, and professional development, which our program uses.

Creative Curriculum is a comprehensive, research-based curriculum approach that honors creativity and respects the role that teachers play in making learning exciting and relevant for every child.  The objectives of the curriculum are aligned with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework, as well as the Iowa Early Learning Standards.

Teaching Strategies GOLD is our school wide assessment tool. We collect information on each child on a daily basis that is then used to make data informed decisions for future lessons. This information will be shared with you during conferences.

Additional Curriculum: Early Learning Second Step, Character Counts, I Am Amazing, Character Critters, Letter People, Kindness, Anti-Bullying

Additional Assessments: Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDI’s)

Pickwick Early Childhood Center follows “Developmentally Appropriate Practices.”  Activities are planned that are age/stage suitable, and individualized to meet the needs of each child.  The following are explanations of Developmentally Appropriate Practices:

  • Creative Art is to be a part of every class day and needs to be planned as part of free choice activities.  Children are free to choose to do an art activity or not.  All activities must be process oriented, not product.  No models, patterns, or ditto sheets are to be used in the classroom.
  • Patterns, for coloring and /or painting, are not to be used at any time.  Staff may not make a pattern for children to follow in any creative art experience.  Ditto sheets and flash cards, too, are considered developmentally inappropriate for pre-school children and may not be used.
  • Lines are appropriate for young children around the concept of safety, transitioning, and school readiness.
  • Transitions are to be used when moving children from one activity to another, as time fillers, and for attention grabbers.
  • Outside play is an important part of class time.  Children are to have a balance of inside and outside activities, as well as small and large motor activities.  
  • Manners are to be used by staff and modeled for the children.  Children will learn these courtesies through observation and repetition.  Staff should recognize a child’s use of these, however, may not require children to use them.

Your child will have the opportunity to participate in many activities on a daily basis that will help them grow academically, socially, and emotionally. These activities include: free choice activities, meals and snacks, tooth brushing, toileting, rest time, story time, outdoor play, small group instruction, large group instruction and musical expression. Each classroom will provide to you a schedule that is designed for student growth and success in a manner that we believe provide ample opportunities for engaged learning. 

At Pickwick Early Childhood Center, we also believe that learning will often look like play. Our goal is for students to use the information that they have been collecting in a play scenario in order to exercise their knew knowledge in a way that is fun and interactive. Our daily activities provide opportunities for children to develop skills in the following areas:

  • Initiative
  • Social Relations
  • Creative Representation
  • Language and Literacy
  • Math and Science
  • Health
  • Hygiene
  • Nutrition
  • Safety
  • Character Development
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

The mission of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Leadership Team is to raise teacher, student, and families’ awareness of the importance of social/emotional development in young children and increase school readiness through the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports framework.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a process for supporting young children’s social-emotional development and addressing challenging behavior.  This approach will be used in all of the Pickwick Early Childhood Center classrooms.  The focus is promoting children’s success:  building relationships, creating supportive environments, and teaching social-emotional skills.  This process will assist teachers and families understand and increase positive social-emotional skills while preventing challenging behavior.

PBIS focuses on the use of positive intervention strategies developed for each child based on their need.  Strategies are developed that focus on helping the child be successful in the classroom and at home, building positive social relationships, developing friendships, and learning further communication skills.

PBIS builds these social skills critical to a child’s social-emotional success:

  • Getting along
  • Following directions
  • Identifying and regulating emotions
  • Thinking of solutions
  • Staying on task
  • Communicating and playing with others

These skills will be the foundation to help children be successful learners in school and throughout life.

Children participating in our full school day will be provided a rest time. 
Children will be provided their own cot at the beginning of the school year. Due to Licensing Regulations cots and sheets are washed and sanitized weekly and are not shared with other children. Children are encouraged to bring their own blankets and pillows.  These will be sent home to be washed weekly.
Children who choose not to go to sleep will be encouraged to lie quietly or engage in a quiet activity until rest time is over.

Holidays will be celebrated in respectful and developmentally appropriate ways, exposing children to differing customs. At Pickwick Early Childhood Center, we meet the curriculum objectives and individual child goals by allowing children to individually express themselves in ways of their own choosing.   

Parents will have the opportunity to share ideas and learn of classroom celebrations during monthly parent group meetings.  Parents and members of the community are encouraged to volunteer and/or share their culture, customs, and traditions with the class. If your family does not celebrate holidays, please inform your child’s teacher.



Children are very active and use several different materials inside and outside during the day that could possibly stain their clothing. However, children do spill things on occasion and clothing could be stained.  Children do wear smocks for painting and staff assist children as much as possible.  Don’t send your child to school in any clothing you don’t want stained.
Each center is required to take the children outside on a daily basis including the winter months. The playgrounds do get wet and covered in snow. During the winter months it is required that each child wears a coat to school. It is encouraged that children have hats, and mittens. If children do not have a coat, hat, or mittens Head Start will assist families in finding some. Children are not required to wear boots to school. 
Pickwick encourages each child to have a change of clothing at school. This would include; a shirt, a pair of pants, socks, and a pair of underpants.  Please mark any garments brought in with your child’s name.
Licensing law states shoes must be worn at all times while at the center or on the bus. Flip Flops are not recommended for play at the center. Shoes with ties or straps are safer. 

Logos and sayings on shirts must be appropriate for children. Tube tops, skin tight clothing, see through clothing, swimwear, and skirts or dresses that are short enough to see the upper portion of the thigh are not appropriate.

When volunteering in the centers, attending parent meetings, or other Head Start functions all volunteers and parents must dress appropriately.

In the classroom, several messy materials are used. Bleach and other cleaning solutions are used in the kitchen. When volunteering in these two places clothing could become stained or even ruined. 
Times may occur when a volunteer will need to be outside with staff and children. Dress should be appropriate for outside conditions. 

Licensing law states that shoes must be worn at all times when volunteering at the center.

All children who are well enough to attend the center will be taken outdoors for play on a daily basis if the weather permits.  Exceptions will be rainy days, summer days when the heat index is over 90 degrees, and winter days when the wind chill factor is below 15 degrees.  Example: If the normal temperature is 20 degrees, the children are allowed outside but if there is a wind speed of 10, the wind chill temperature is 4, then they will stay in. Temperatures, wind chill, or heat index can be checked by the chart in the center, by calling the local weather service, or by the weather bug on the computer.

Studies have consistently shown that children do not have lowered resistance to colds or their infections because of outdoor play, but are much healthier and have stronger resistance to illness with exercise outdoors. This also strengthens children with transition activities and assists them in learning self-help skills by putting on their coats, learning to zip, button their garments, and putting on boots.

Children and staff need to be dressed for the weather and be prepared to go outside.

Limited transportation is provided to Head Start families. Your child’s teacher will let you know about what time the bus will arrive at the bus stops. Please arrive at the bus stop a few minutes before the scheduled bus time, as driving conditions may cause the bus to be early.  A Head Start staff person will be on the bus.  It is a privilege for your child to ride the bus.  

Performance Standards require that every child must be seated in a child safety restraint when riding the bus or being transported in a staff vehicle. Eating and drinking are not allowed on the bus.

Parents who transport their children to and from the center need to arrive on time or a few minutes early to pick up their children. Children should not be brought to the center early, as staff have tasks to do and can’t watch children at the same time. Children must be brought to the classroom door when being dropped off and picked up. This is for the safety of your child.  

Parents must complete an Emergency Permission Contact CDP #44a to indicate who they want their children released to. Any person picking up children will be asked for a photo ID. Please share this with family and friends on your list. This will also include a parent that the staff doesn’t know. 

If a child is not picked up within 30 minutes after center time and no contact with a designated adult has been made, then DHS and law enforcement will be contacted. For additional information, see Child Pick-Up Policy in purple Policies section.

Field Trips are designed to enhance the educational experience outside the classroom and within the community. Pickwick Early Childhood Center may offer field trips throughout the school year where children can be supervised safely. Examples of possible field trips include elementary schools, museums, fire/police stations, libraries, etc.  

Field trips making it difficult to supervise children safely with child/staff ratio will NOT be allowed. Examples of field trips difficult to supervise children safely include parks with equipment not designated for 3-5-year-old children, in/around bodies of water, horseback riding, hay rack rides, and/or go-carts, etc.  



  1. The adult to child ratio for Field Trips out of the county is one adult, not including staff, for each child attending the event.  For small trips inside the county, including walks away from the site, there must be one additional adult above the classroom licensing ratio per class, which may include staff. Parent volunteers are encouraged to attend.
  2. No siblings will be allowed to attend Pickwick sponsored Field Trips.
  3. Emergency Medical forms, First Aid Kits, and additional transportation must be available on all Field Trips.
  4. Parents must sign a Field Trip Permission form prior to the event.
  5. Parents attending will be asked to be responsible for their child. Parents must stay with the group and their children must participate fully in the activities and follow Ottumwa Community School District guidelines and the guidelines of the establishment. 

For your child’s safety, it is extremely important that you notify the center staff immediately if your address, phone or work number or emergency contact number(s) change.  Please also keep us informed of changes in child care names, numbers, and addresses.  We must have current numbers on file at the center so we can contact you and/or emergency contact people in case of illness or accident.  Keep your emergency pick-up list up-to-date of who may or may not pick up your child.  We CAN NOT ALLOW your child to leave with an unauthorized person.  See Child Pick-Up Policy for further information.  

Fire, Tornado, and Emergency Evacuation Drills are practiced at the center every month.  Everyone in the center at the time must participate.  Procedures and escape routes are posted in the room.  Parents are encouraged to practice these drills at home, also.  

We also have policies and procedures for medical and dental emergencies, intruders, blizzard, earthquake and other building evacuations.

Ottumwa Community School District complies with Public Law 103-227, Part C Environmental Tobacco Smoke, also known as the Pro-Children Act of 1994 (Act) and the Iowa Smoke-free Air Act of 2008. The Agency does not permit smoking, e-cigarettes and other nicotine-delivery in any portion of any indoor facility owned or leased or contracted by Sieda. 

Smoking, e-cigarettes and other nicotine-delivery devices are not allowed around the entrances or exits of the facility, including sidewalks, sitting or standing areas immediately adjacent to the building, a patio, a deck, a courtyard or any other outdoor area on school property. 
Smoking, e-cigarettes and other nicotine-delivery devices are not allowed on the grounds, in the parking lots or in private cars in the parking lots.
All applicants for employment will be notified that we observe the Smoke-free Air Act through notice on the application. 
Employees whose job requires them to visit clients in their private homes may schedule the visit in an alternate smoke-free enrolment with supervisory approval.