Parent Handbook



”Life presents us with a rich, sophisticated and complex tapestry of learning. Remember that children explore and learn holistically, without dividing that learning into categories. Take every opportunity to introduce your child to as many experiences as possible and trust that profound learning is taking place and that learning can be fun.”-Martina Whelshula, Ph.D., Member of the Colville Tribe

Children will be immersed in the performing arts as well as learning the foundations of pre-reading, science, math, writing, social-emotional, communication and visual art. Each day your child will have lessons in dance, music and drama combined with their academics to create a truly unique and enriching learning environment.

We believe children learn best when their bodies and minds are both active. Whether it’s dancing the alphabet dance, singing songs about insects and animals or counting using instruments, your child will have a wonderful and fun start to their schooling. We base instruction on Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development; basing each child’s instruction on what they can accomplish independently and with guidance and encouragement from the teacher.

  • Social-emotional
    • Self Esteem
      • Control emotional behavior
      • Takes pride in self
    • Relationships
      • Interaction with peers
      • Cooperate with adults
    • Self Management
      • Button shirt
      • Tie or Velcro shoes
      • Bathroom skills
      • Take turns
      • Talk about ways to solve a problem
    • Safety
      • Scissors
      • Wash hands
      • Follow safety rules
    • Problem Solving
  • Communication
    • Listening
    • Speaking
    • Follow directions – 2 and 3 step directions
    • Ask questions
    • Appropriate polite behavior
    • Retelling
    • Talk in sentences
    • Participate in group discussions
    • Take turns, raise hands in group
    • Develop broader vocabulary
    • Basic grammar
  • Math
    • Rote count
    • Write numbers
    • Connect number to quantity
    • Compare numbers – more, less and equal
    • Operations – addition, subtraction
    • Sort by size, color and shape
    • Pattern
    • Shapes
    • Spatial
  • Reading
    • Same and different
    • Print carries meaning
    • Concepts of print
      • Front, back
      • Left, right
      • Return sweep
      • Title and author
    • Alphabet – upper and lower case
    • Letter sound association
    • Rhymes
    • Phonics
    • Match pictures to print
    • High frequency words
      • I, we, like, see, can, and, a, the, to, go, is, are, do, you, be, am, me, he, she, it, will, have, has
    • Fluency
    • Comprehension – retell
  • Writing
    • Scribble
    • Trace
    • Copy
    • Write own name
    • Approximate phonetic spelling
    • Space between words
    • Use punctuation
    • Spell high frequency words
  • Science
    • Predict
    • Observe
    • Investigate
    • Experiment
    • Cause and effect
    • Physical Science
    • Life Science
  • Social Studies
    • Self
    • Different cultures
    • Different families
    • Community helpers
  • Conceptual Dance (Creative Movement)
    • Brain Dance Patterns – Breath, tactile, core-distal, head-tail, upper-lower, body side, cross lateral, vestibular *see more about the brain dance on the last page
    • Staying in a line
    • Slow/fast
    • High/Middle/Low
    • Big/Little
    • Close/far
    • Forward/Backward/Sideways
    • General space/Self space
    • Soft/sharp
    • Heavy/light
    • Pathways – straight, zigzag, curvy, circular
    • Off balance/On balance
    • Gross motor skills – jump, gallop, kick, skip, bend, twist, stretch, march, melt, swing, slide, roll
  • Pre-Ballet
    • Une Ballerina/Un Danseur
    • Parallel feet/Turned out legs
    • 5 positions of feet and arms
    • Placement & Directions
      • Devant – in front
      • Derrière – behind
      • À la Seconde – to the second position or side
      • En Avant – travel forwards
      • En Arrière – travel backwards
      • De Coté – travel sideways
    • Plié – to bend
    • Tendu – to stretch (pointed foot with straight leg)
    • Chaissé – to chase (gallop)
    • Battement – beating (big kicks)
    • Jeté – throwing step (leaping from one foot to the other)
    • Sautée – jump (a jump on both feet)
    • Échappé – to escape (a jump form first position to second position)
    • Relevé – to rise (balance on balls of feet)
    • Retiré – withdrawn (a balance on one leg with the toe touching the standing knee)
    • Arabesque – named from a Moorish ornament (a balance on one leg with the other leg stretched straight behind the dancer)
    • Piqué – pricked (to step directly onto the ball of the foot)
    • Fondue – sinking or melting (bend one leg)
    • Chaînés – chain or link (series of turns in a straight line or circle)
    • Spotting – looking at an object while turning
    • Rond de Jambe – round of the leg (drawing a half circle with a pointed foot around standing leg)
    • Pas de Chat – step of the cat (a sideways jump where the feet go up to retiré)
    • Frappé – to strike (foot quickly goes from flexed to pointed by pushing against the floor)
    • Pirouette – to spin (turn on one leg)
  • Tap
    • Dig – tap the edge of the heel on the floor
    • Toe walks – walking on the balls of the feet making a sound for each step
    • Toe tap – keeping heel on floor and tap the toe
    • Heel toe walk – articulating from heel to toe drop
    • Toe heel walk – articulating from toe to heel drop
    • Front brush – striking the toe tap forward
    • Spank or back brush – striking the toe tap backward
    • Shuffle – front brush and then a spank or back brush
    • Shuffle stomp – shuffle then stomp the foot
    • Paradiddle – dig, spank, toe, heel drop
    • Irish – Shuffle, hop on one leg, stomp shuffling foot
    • 4-sounded cramproll – toe, toe, heel drop, heel drop
    • Flaps – front brush, step (travels forward)
    • 5-sounded cramproll – front brush, then add a 4-sounded cramproll
    • 6-sounded cramproll – shuffle, then add a 4-sounded cramproll
    • Flap heel – flap then a heel drop
    • Ball change – rocking step from the ball of the foot to a flat foot
    • Triplet – shuffle then jump to other foot
  • Music
    • Tempo – fast (allegro)/ slow (adagio)
    • Dynamics – soft/loud
    • Pitch – high sounds/low sounds
    • Crescendo – getting louder
    • Decrescendo – getting softer
    • Forte – to play music loudly or strongly
    • Piano – to play music quietly or softly
    • Octave – all of the note (A,B,C,D,E,F,G) as well as their sharps and flats
    • Note Values – whole note, half note, dotted half note, quarter note, eighth note, sixteenth note
    • Rhythm
    • Singing and Rhymes
    • Improvisation – creating music and songs
  • Dramatic Play
    • Action stories – telling stories as the children act out the story
    • Creating worlds and spaces with simple props and costumes
    • Guess Who I am – act out an animal, insect, person
    • Pretend/Social play – dramatic play without instruction
    • Mirror – copy teacher’s or another student’s movement
    • Not Anymore – taking a simple prop and creating new uses for it
    • Museum – moving when the “guard” isn’t looking, becoming a statue when the “guard” is looking
    • Quiet Story – acting out an activity without talking while others guess
    • Parts of a stage
      • Center stage
      • Center stage right
      • Center stage left
      • Downstage (closest to the audience)
      • Downstage center
      • Downstage right
      • Downstage left
      • Upstage (furthest from the audience)
      • Upstage center
      • Upstage right
      • Upstage left
      • Stage left
      • Stage right
      • Back stage
      • Wings
      • Audience
    • Visual Art (fine motor skills)
      • Painting
      • Drawing
      • Coloring
      • Gluing
      • Cutting
      • Collage
      • Clay
      • Puzzles

Important Dates

August 23rd                                             Preschool Orientation 6:30pm
August 30th                                             First day of 4 year old preschool
August 31st                                              First day of 3 year old preschool
September 4th                                         Labor Day – NO SCHOOL
October 16-21st                                          Costume forms and fees due for January show
November 10th                                       Veteran’s Day Observed – NO SCHOOL
November 13-14th                                  Parent Teacher Conferences 1 of 2 – NO SCHOOL
November 22-24th                                  Thanksgiving Break – NO SCHOOL
TBD                                                            Performance – Festival of Trees
December 6th                                           Tickets go on sale for January show
December 18-January 1st                      Winter Break – NO SCHOOL
January 15th                                             Martin Luther King Day – NO SCHOOL
January 22nd                                            REHEARSAL for January show 4:00pm @ RPA
January 27th                                           Performance 2:00pm @ Washougal High School
February 19th                                          President’s Day – NO SCHOOL
February 26th                                          Registration opens for currently enrolled students
March 3rd                                                 Performance – Children’s Fest @ Vancouver Mall
March 12-17th                                          Costume forms and fees due for June show
March 26-27th                                          Parent Teacher Conferences 2 of 2 – NO SCHOOL
April 2-6th                                                Spring Break – NO SCHOOL
May 7th                                                      Tickets go on sale for June Show
May 28th                                                    Memorial Day – NO SCHOOL
June 13th                                                    Last day of school for 4 year old preschool
June 14th                                                    Last day of school for 3 year old preschool
June 15th                                                    11:00am Preschool Graduation
June 18th                                                    REHEARSAL for June show 4:00pm @ RPA
June 23rd                                                    June Performance 2:00pm @ Washougal HS

All of these dates can be found on RPA’s online calendar at

Emergency Contacts and Picks Ups

Only those listed as “contacts” or “emergency contacts” in your online account may pick up your child. If there is an emergency and you need someone other than your contacts or emergency contacts picking up your child, you must call the preschool cell phone, not the main number, and let the teachers know. You must give the person’s full name, birth date and phone number. Upon their arrival, they must show ID and everything must match the information given. If someone other than those listed in your account comes to pick up your child and the teachers are not informed ahead of time, your child will not be allowed to leave and the late pick up fine will apply. Preschool cell phone (360) 823-7975.

What Your Child Should Bring to School

Each day children should bring a snack, a water bottle, comfortable clothing they can dance in and ballet shoes.*Please provide an extra set of clothing in a quart sized sealable bag with your child’s name on it that stays at the school in case of bathroom accidents.

Bathroom Policy

Students must be potty trained before the first day of school and able to use the bathroom independently. If your child needs assistance in the bathroom, please discuss with a teacher and sign a bathroom assistance waiver before the first day of school.

Snack Time

Students need to bring a snack to school every day. Due to allergies, students may not bring peanuts, peanut butter, tree nuts, or tree nut butter. We will closely monitor snack to time to assure that students are not sharing or eating another student’s snack. Please go over the no sharing rule at home to keep all children safe. *Birthdays: If you would like to bring treats for child’s birthday, they must be brought in after school.

Indoor Play

During days that do not allow us to go outdoors, we will have indoor play with age appropriate toys.


We are firm believers in positive reinforcement and redirection. If a child is displaying inappropriate or disruptive behavior they will be told their behavior is not allowed and they need to make a choice to change the behavior or take a break. If disruptive behavior continues, we will talk to a parent to create an effective disciplinary plan.


RPA has four performances per year. Parents may choose to have their child perform in any show. The purchase of a costume and tickets are required in order to perform, with the exception of Children’s Fest. The costume and dance from January’s performance will be repeated and used again. Regardless of whether or not your child performs in our shows, they will learn a piece of choreography or song. Performances will be in November, January, March and June. See IMPORTANT DATES ABOVE.


For those of you who are paying per month, tuition will automatically be charged to your debit/credit card on file the first of every month. Please be sure that your child is able to be in school for the entire year when paying for the school year upfront. Once tuition has been paid, refunds and/or credits are not given for any reason. If you decide that your child will no longer be taking school, a drop form is due the 1st of the previous month. If a drop form is not submitted by the 1st, your credit/debit card on file will be charged for the next month’s tuition. There are no exceptions. If your child misses school due to illness, schedule conflict or unwillingness to participate, refunds and credits will not be given. *Ending time is 12:00pm and children must be picked up by 12:05pm without incurring a “late pick up fee” of $1 per minute.

Closures/Inclement Weather

Riverside Performing Arts Preschool DOES follow the Vancouver School District when it comes to closures. If Vancouver schools are closed due to inclement weather, RPA will be closed. If Vancouver schools have a 2-hour late start due to inclement weather, preschool will not be held that day.

All of these dates can be found on RPA’s online calendar at


Please let us know as soon as possible if your child will be missing school by sending us an email or calling the preschool cell phone (360) 823-7975.

A child may not attend school with any of the following: fever over 100.5 F, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, severe cough, unusual yellow color to skin or eyes, skin or eye lesions, rashes that are weeping or pus filled, difficult breathing or wheezing, or complaints of severe pain. If your child develops any of the listed ailments during school, they will be isolated from the other children and a parent will be called to pick up the child. If a child is injured during school, an incident report will be filled out and given to a parent to sign after school. If there is a medical emergency, we will refer to the medical release parents have signed. If a parent has checked the box “I wish to provide consent” we will call 911 in the case of a medical emergency. We will also contact the parent immediately.

*A copy of your child’s immunization records must be turned in to the office before the first day of school.


RPA staff does not administer medication. Please do not send medication to school with your child.

Parent Teacher Conferences

We will have two parent teacher conferences per year. School will not be held on these days. At this time we will discuss your child’s progress and answer any questions you may have.

Progress Books

Each child will have a progress book where teachers will add the child’s artwork and writings. Parents are invited to view these journals the last 15 minutes of class on the last Thursday or Friday of the month.

Lost and Found

Please remember to check the Lost and Found box frequently. We donate items from the lost and found box the last Friday of every month. Riverside Performing Arts is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items. Please leave all valuables at home.

Brain Dance

This “dance” is an excellent full body and brain warm-up for children and adults and can be done in any setting. The BrainDance may be used as a warm-up for any physical or cognitive activity; before tests, performances, and presentations; after sitting for long periods of time; as a break during computer work and TV watching; and to increase energy and reduce stress. It is a centering body/brain movement tool for brain reorganization, oxygenation, and recuperation. The BrainDance prepares us for learning and helps with appropriate behavior and social skills.

Benefits of the BrainDance

Reorganization of the neurological system: The developmental movement patterns wire the central nervous system laying the foundation for sensory-motor development and life long learning. When patterns are missed or disrupted there may be missing gaps in a person’s neurological development. These gaps can cause neurological dysfunction that may later appear as learning disabilities, behavior disorders, memory problems, sleep disorders, speech, balance or filtering problems, and a host of other difficulties that may disrupt the flow of normal development. Cycling through the BrainDance patterns on a daily basis may correct flaws in a person’s perceptual process and reorganize the central nervous system to better develop proprioception, balance, attention, memory, eye-tracking, behavior, sensory integration, and motor skills. Neurological repatterning coordinates all parts of the brain and body for emotional, social, and cognitive balance.

Increased blood and oxygen flow to the respiratory system and brain: Because oxygen and blood are food for the brain, deep breathing and aerobic exercise are essential for a fully functioning brain and body. Oxygenation reduces stress and brings flow and ease to all movement. Blood and oxygen in the brain improves ability to stay focused during class.

Enhanced core support, connectivity, and alignment: The BrainDance reviews for us the early baby patterns that lay down structure in the neuromuscular system, influence brain development, and help us cope with the world in an embodied way. These patterns, done in an orderly progression, help us remember the parts of our visceral and muscular system that support our body structure. Each pattern underlies and supports the next pattern. When done in succession, they bring a wholeness, aliveness, and connectivity to our use of the body, which reflects an integration of body and mind. By separating the eight patterns we become more aware of each pattern. This allows us to focus on a particular pattern to ease blocked body/mind areas. The developmental patterns are the foundation for all movement. Patterns establish internal and external gradated rotation in proximal joints, laying foundation for correct and clear alignment in the upper and lower body and correct use of scapula and arms and turn-out and rotation in the hip socket. Awareness of body mechanics and inner connectivity develops stronger technique, physical balance, and coordination needed for complex sequences of movements, choreography, etc.

Deeper understanding of the elements of dance technique: Focusing on BrainDance patterns at the beginning of class helps dancers become more articulate and expressive as the developmental movement patterns are an integral part of every dance style. The first four patterns of the BrainDance are fundamental to performing any form of dance. The last four patterns dancers practice daily: pliés and port de bras (Upper-Lower), tendus, battements, (Body Side), center work (Cross Lateral), turns and springs (Vestibular). Whether taking a Ballet, Modern, Jazz, African, or Creative Dance class, students who have warmed-up with the BrainDance are able to integrate and apply the patterns to their technical skill development. Movement intent becomes clearer as dancers embody the BrainDance patterns. Dancers gain a new vocabulary that allows them to be more articulate physically and verbally. The BrainDance patterns provide a new entry point for teaching mechanics of steps and movement (e.g. chainé turns use the Body Side pattern).

BrainDance Patterns
Body Side
Cross Lateral

These patterns are explored in class integrating dance concepts and utilizing a variety of movements, dance styles, music, and props allowing for a balance of repetition and novelty.

How the Patterns Developed

  • The baby does his or her own BrainDance very naturally in the first twelve months of life if put on a smooth, non-carpeted surface on his or her tummy.
  • Baby’s first breath starts the wires growing from the brain cells.
  • Tactile stimulation begins with the first touch of skin on skin and is essential for promoting appropriate behavior and emotional and social intelligence.
  • In the first two months of life the baby will reach into space in order to connect with her environment and curl back into the womb position, demonstrating the core-distal pattern.
  • At two months the baby has better head control and will lift and turn the head in both directions continuing the head-tail pattern begun at birth.
  • Discovering the upper and lower body halves comes next as the baby pushes with the arms and hands and then with feet and knees.
  • Between five and seven months, the baby reaches with one side of the body, moving the left half of the body as one unit and then the right half. As the baby crawls on her belly she will develop horizontal eye tracking.
  • Between seven and nine months, baby pushes herself up onto hands and knees and begins a cross lateral reach from the upper body. Vertical eye tracking is part of the growth triggered by creeping on hands and knees. The convergence of horizontal and vertical eye tracking is essential for reading. From one-year onward cross lateral patterns appear in walking, running and eventually skipping.

The vestibular system begins developing in utero and continues to be very active through the first fifteen months as baby rolls, crawls, creeps, sits up, and walks. The vestibular system analyzes movements through the whole body, helps us know where we are in space and links up to all forms of sensory information. This very important system is used when we read, hear, speak, touch, balance, and move. Every movement stimulates the vestibular system, which stimulates the brain.