Policies & Procedures


Admission is based on a full time, first come, first serve basis for children ages 6 weeks to 7th grade. The Early Childhood program is available only for DISD employees and the after school program is open to the public. No child will be denied enrollment on the basis of his/her race or religion. We do retain the right to deny enrollment if space is not available for a particular child’s age group.

Student Participation

Due to staffing and budgetary restrictions, and because Learning Ladder is not part of the District curriculum or instructional day, certain restrictions apply to student participation. All students must be physically, emotionally, socially and mentally capable of handling our daily routine and teacher to child ratio in all activities.


All information concerning an individual child and his/her activities in the program are confidential. Written records of individual children are kept and can only be obtained by the director, parent or state office.

Hours and Days of Operation

The Learning Ladder will run concurrently with the Decatur Independent School calendar. Typically, when DISD is not in session, the Learning Ladder will be closed. Yet, services will be provided on early release and teacher in-service days.

Every effort will be made to remain open during bad weather. Should conditions exist that require Learning Ladder to open later or close early, the decision will made by the Director.

Hours of operation on normal days of operation are as follows:

  • The early childhood program will open at 7:15 AM and run until 6:00PM.
  • The after school program runs from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

Early Childhood Program

Please accompany your child into the building. Each child shall have direct contact with a teacher or assistant upon arrival to assure that an adult is in contact with the child continuously. The parent is required to sign the child in, noting the time arrived. A sign in/out pad, pens, and a clock are all located near the front door. This is to be followed by signing the child out when they leave. This provides us with a written record of the child’s attendance, hours in our program and persons who bring and/or pick-up the child.

After School Program

After school students will arrive at the Learning Ladder by DISD transportation. The after school children will sign themselves in, however the parents need to sign them out.

Children will only be released to a parent or a person designated by the parent. If a child is to be released to any other individual than to a parent, a valid driver’s license number of the person picking up will need to be on file.

Discipline and Guidance

Discipline and Guidance at the Learning Ladder will be:

  • Individualized and consistent for each child.
  • Appropriate to the child’s level of understanding.
  • Directed toward teaching the child acceptable behavior and self-control.
  • Only be positive methods of discipline and guidance that encourages self-esteem, self-control, and self-direction will be used.
  • Praise, encouragement and daily reminders of expected behavior as well as redirection will be utilized.
  • As a last resort, brief supervised separation or time out from the group, appropriate for the child’s age and development, will be used and limited to no more than one minute per year of the child’s age.

There will be no harsh, cruel or unusual treatment at Learning Ladder. This means:

  • No corporal punishment or threats of corporal punishment.
  • Punishment associated with food or toileting.
  • Pinching, shaking or biting a child.
  • Hitting a child with a hand or instrument.
  • Putting anything in or on a child’s mouth.
  • Humiliating, ridiculing, or yelling at a child.
  • Subjecting a child to harsh, abusive, or profane language.
  • Placing a child in a locked or dark room, bathroom, or closet with the door closed.
  • Requiring a child to remain silent or inactive for inappropriately long periods of time for the child’s age.

If a child is chronically disruptive and his/her behavior begins to affect the behavior of the other children in a negative way, the child’s teacher and/or the Director will be in contact with the parent so that all parties may work together to correct the negative behavior. However, if this option fails, the parents may be asked to find an alternative form of childcare. Persistent inappropriate behaviors may include, but are not limited to, temper tantrums, rudeness, disrespect, noncompliance, and physical aggression with students or adults.


Please dress your child in play-clothes that are washable and comfortable for indoor and outdoor activities. Your child needs to bring appropriate outer clothing such as coats, mittens, hats labeled with their name. We recommend you dress your child with shoes that adequately protect their feet and are not slick-soled (sneakers are a good choice). We also recommend you provide at least one extra set of clothing (including socks) to be kept in the child’s locker for emergencies. Smaller children may need two sets, especially for accidents when learning to use the toilet.

Supplies Brought by Parents

Here a few items you will need to bring for your child and others we recommend:

  • A blanket, small pillow and/or special stuffed toy are requested for naptime for all children in the early childhood program.
  • Diapers and wipes are requested for children in the early childhood program.
  • Formula and/or baby food is requested for children in the early childhood program. The Learning Ladder provides 2% milk.
  • Breakfast and lunch, if child is going to be at Learning Ladder during mealtime.


All children under the age of five are required by state law to have a rest time. We will provide a safe, quiet place for your child to rest. Please supply the Learning Ladder with your child’s favorite blanket, toy and/or pillow.


Infants, 12 months and younger, will be assigned a crib for their rest times and will always be placed on their backs to sleep, unless there is a signed sleep position medical waiver on file. In that case, a notice will be posted on the infant’s crib. An infant will be covered with a blanket, but their head will never be covered. Infants will not sleep on pillows, have toys in their cribs or be propped to eat.

Preschool Children

Preschool children will be assigned a cot for rest time. Children who wake up before the rest will be guided in finding a quiet time activity to engage in so as not to disturb any sleeping children.


Learning Ladder has the following practice pertaining to the celebration of birthdays: if only some children are being invited to a birthday party, we ask families to mail invitations from home &if all students in the class are invited, invitations for a birthday party may be distributed at school.

To celebrate birthdays, some parents may choose to send a “special treat” to school to be shared at some point during the school day. Please be aware of and let parents know of any dietary limitations and allergies. All of Learning Ladder is nut-free. We ask that families keep this in mind when providing birthday treats.

Lost and Found

Lost and found items are collected with the hope of finding owners! Lost and found items will be placed in a box by the parent bulletin board. We encourage you and your child to check for all belongings. At the end of the program year, all unclaimed items are donated to local charities.

Parental Notifications

The Learning Ladder feels that open communication with parents is important for the welfare of the child. Parents or teachers can request interviews at any time. Both the Director and Teachers welcome parents’ thoughts and suggestions. All children enrolled in the early childhood program will receive daily reports. Parents will be notified in person, by telephone and/or in writing if:

  • Any changes are made to the operational polices or enrollment agreement.
  • Medication was administered to a child (Authorization for Medication Form)
  • There was an injury to a child that required medical attention by a health-care professional (Telephone and Injury / Illness Form)
  • Discipline or a behavior situation arose.
  • Has a sign or symptom requiring exclusion from the Learning Ladder.
  • A child had been involved in any situation that placed the child at risk.
  • A child had less serious injuries such as a minor cut, scratch and bites from other children that required first-aid treatment.
  • If any child or employee has contracted a communicable disease that requires reporting to the Texas Department of Communicable Diseases (in person, telephone and/or flyers)
  • When any child in Learning Ladder has an outbreak of lice or other infestation. (in person, telephone and/or flyers)

Learning to use the Toilet

When you feel your child is ready start to use the toilet independently, we ask that you begin teaching your child at home. At the Learning Ladder, we will provide support and encouragement for what you have implemented. Please keep in mind that the activity level here can distract your child from responding to an urge to use the toilet, more so than at your home. Therefore, we will continue to use diapers or pull-ups until your child can and consistently announces the need to use the bathroom and can control him/herself for a few minutes beyond that announcement. When the child has reached this point, training pants with plastic pants may be used. We also recommend that panties or underwear not be used until your child has naptime and bedtime control established. We also recommend dressing children in “user-friendly” clothing as much as possible as they will want dress on their own and clothing with too many “gadgets” makes it harder for the child use the toilet within a timely manner.

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