Q: How is DIG related to the YWCA and VPDP?
A: Venice Parents Daycare & Preschool (or VPDP) is the name of the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that operates DIG Childhood Center. VPDP dates back to the 1990s, when a group of like-minded parents started the cooperative and operated for many years as a home-based, licensed child care in Venice and later, in Mar Vista.
In 2011 the school moved to the former YWCA in Santa Monica and the YWCA took over operations under the name YWCA Family Cooperative Preschool (YFCP). In 2016 the YWCA was closing and some steadfast members of the VPDP Board of Directors (as well as several YFCP parents who joined up) decided to revitalize the non-profit and take back over operations of the school instead of letting it close with the YWCA. DIG Childhood Center was born! In 2017 we underwent a massive relocation and construction project before settling in our new home in Mar Vista.
Q: Where are you located?
A: Our facility is located at 3840 Grand View Blvd. in Mar Vista.
Q: When should I apply?
A: Children are eligible to enter our Toddler Program in the August after they turn 2 years old. You should apply for the Toddler Program the fall before they would be eligible to start.
Children are eligible to enter our Preschool Program in the August after they turn 3 years old. You should apply for the Preschool the fall before they would be eligible to start.
Q: Are you a co-op preschool? What level of parent participation is expected from families?
A: DIG is a parent participation preschool which means we have parents and family members working in the school environment. We do this because it helps keep our adult-to-child ratio low (1:4) and also because it helps build community. We feel that being in the school and working with the children allows for a greater understanding of how the school works, how the philosophy is applied, and brings a greater connection between you, your child and the school community.
The parent participation requirements for the preschool are as follows (these requirements do not apply to families in the Toddler Program only):
- A parent from each family must work one “Parent Provider” shift every 4 weeks (this means working in the classroom as a teacher)
- Each family must fulfill the obligations of a “Parent Job.” Parent Jobs range from extra shifts in the classroom, to laundry duties, website design, etc…
- Each family must fulfill 8 “Teacher Support Hours” each year. These can be completed by bringing snack, fixing things around the school, or other duties as assigned by the Director.
- At least one parent from each family must attend each of 7 “Parent Education Meetings” throughout the year.
- At least one parent from each family must fulfill 4 hours of work at each of 2 “Maintenance Days” every year.
Q: Are kids separated into different classes by ages?
A: The only separation is between our Toddler Program (age 2+) and Preschool (age 3-5+). In our preschool program, we believe in mixed-age group learning. We feel this allows for younger children to learn from older children and older children to help younger children.
Q: Is the Toddler program completely separate from the Preschool?
A: Not completely, though the toddlers do have a separate indoor space for connecting with just their group as well as dedicated time in the Pillow Room. We recognize the different developmental needs of a toddler versus a preschooler, but similar to the benefit of a 3 year old learning from a 5 year old, we feel the toddlers and preschoolers benefit from interacting and learning from each other. We also find that allowing for the toddlers to be in the preschool space with preschoolers offers a much easier transition when they are ready to move up to preschool.
Q: How much time do children spend outside?
A: We allow for children to spend as much time as they want outdoors. In fact we are so invested in the importance of children being outside that we follow the “Standards” of the Outdoor Classroom Project. The characteristics of an Outdoor Classroom are:
- Most activities that can be done indoors can be done outdoors. Some activities occur best outdoors; some can only occur outdoors.
- Children spend substantial periods of time outside, and it is easy and safe for them to get there; they are free to move easily between the indoors and outdoors.
- There is a full range of activities for children to participate in, including many activities that are traditionally thought of as “indoor activities.”
- The outdoor space offers a balance of areas for physically active and less active play.
- While outside, children frequently have the opportunity to initiate their own learning experiences and activities, with teachers available to support them.
- The outdoor curriculum evolves from and changes with children’s changing needs and interests.
- Children experience nature in as many ways as possible.
Q: Do you have a waitlist and once I’ve applied, how do I find out where I am on the waitlist?
A: We have a wait pool. The difference is that we don’t just pull the top name from the list when there is space. We take great care to make sure that our school is the right fit for your family and that the classroom communities are well balanced with different temperaments, interests and ages.
Q: When will we know if our child was accepted or not?
A: We are part of a coalition of preschools in Los Angeles, LAPP, that have adopted a common notification date for admissions decisions. This date varies slightly year to year – in 2019 the date will be in February.
We do also accept applications year-round however and a child may start mid-year if space allows.
Q: How is your curriculum planned? Are you Reggio? Waldorf? Montessori?
A: Our curriculum is emergent and child-directed. We observe the children’s play and act as stage managers supporting their needs. We have a strong emphasis on socio-emotional growth and development.
Q: We would like to enroll in the toddler program and but are planning to attend a different preschool the following year. Can we do that?
A: Our expectation is that families who become part of our community through the toddler program will stay in the community and become part of our preschool the following year. If you don’t intend to continue with the preschool after the Toddler Program, our center may not be the right one for you.
Q: Is DIG a year-round school? What are your closed dates?
A: We are a year-round school. Our school year is August through July. We close for 2 weeks for Winter Break, 1 week for Spring Break, and 4 days for Summer Break. We also close for 3 Staff Development days and 4 Parent-Teacher Conference days each year in addition to closures for Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving and the following day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day.
Q: How do you handle conflicts between the children?
A: We believe that conflict is an opportunity for growth. Our 1 to 4 ratio allows us to take the time to problem solve with the children and support any feelings they may be having. Our philosophy is non-judgemental so we do not label children as victims or aggressors. We believe that behavior is expressing the need and we work very closely with children and their families to get to the bottom of that need.
Q: What forms of communication are there between the Teachers and the parents?
A: We have two 30 minute Parent-Teacher conferences each year. We can schedule additional time to meet and talk as needed. We are proud of our “ouch reports” that you will receive if and when your child gets a bump or a scrape at school. The Director is available by email, phone and texting.
Q: Do you offer Financial Aid?
A: We do have a small financial aid pool. Financial Aid applications are available around March each year and are due in May for aid to be applied for the following school year. For more information, check out http://www.digcenter.org/financial-aid.
Q: Will my child be ready for kindergarten?
A: DIG alumni attend a wide array of elementary schools in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. We check in with our alumni each year and have only heard wonderful things about their transition to kinder and beyond.
Q: How many children do you have at one time?
A: We have a maximum capacity for 30 preschoolers and 6 toddlers each day.