September 25, 2009
School is finally getting underway! I greatly appreciate you allowing me to come to your homes and meet you and your children. These visits really help the children gain a sense of comfort at school by recognizing at least one friendly face. Still, there are a few children who may take longer to feel comfortable in this new environment. I will be looking to each child to determine what kind of support they need. Please let me know right away if your child seems unhappy about coming to school. There are many available strategies that we can use together to help give your child the extra support that may be needed in the first few weeks of school.
I am eagerly getting to know the children as unique individuals and am putting forth a great deal of effort into facilitating their adjustment to school. While we have only had two days, the children appear to be comfortable with the routines. I look forward to all of them getting to know one another. The teachers will be watching for themes in the children's play that we will incorporate into our curriculum planning. Having the curriculum reflect children's interests is a very powerful way to give children ownership of their school experience.
Each Monday I will email out a copy of our weekly curriculum plan so you can keep informed about our classroom activities. If you do not get the emails, or would like a hard copy, please let me know. Each child has a folder for take home items such as research forms, permission slips, art projects, etc... I will try to empty the folders into your child's backpack or give you the items when you drop off your child. Please read the weekly plan so you will have an idea of what is being planned for the children to explore and learn about while they are at school. By reading about the teacher's version of what we are doing you may mistakenly believe that your child will know all about these plans and will be able to discuss them with you. Unfortunately the teacher's plans are usually quite different than children's perceptions of what they do at school. If you read that we are "exploring colors" at school as our science emphasis, the children may be able to tell you that they painted with red paint or looked through "rainbow glasses" or put colored shapes on the light box. It takes time, repetition and much discussion for some of the concepts we are focusing on to begin to make sense to children in the same way they do to adults. Nevertheless, keep on asking children about their activities at school, using the curriculum plan as your guide. The more specific your questions are, the more likely your child will be able to remember and talk about their afternoon. I will also make phone calls in the late afternoons if I need to let you know about something that occurred during the day that I was not able to tell you about at pick-up time. If you would like to call me in the afternoons please call the school office at 612-624-9543, if you are calling to report your child's absence or you want to talk to me before school starts, please call this number. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the teachers!
It is fun to be able to talk to your children about school and one of the topics they enjoy talking about is their teachers!! Here is a little bit of information to help you get to know us:
I could not be more excited to be back at the Lab School again this year! As some of you know, I co-taught in the afternoon three years ago and taught the afternoon class last year. I am also a graduate of the program here where I completed my Early Childhood Education teaching license and my Masters of Education. I live in Saint Paul Park with my family. My son Christopher is six and began first-grade this year. He has recently taken up skateboarding and puts my balance to shame. My daughter Aurora will be three in November and loves everything Dora and Princess. She also enjoys copying her brother's every move and walking him to school every morning. She believes herself ready for kindergarten. My husband Andy is an engineer at 3M and likes spending as much time as possible outdoors. We also have a cat named Mr. Clean and Newfoundland dog named Molly. As for myself, I was born in Iowa where I lived until I was fifteen. My family then moved to Albert Lea where I finished high school and met Andy. After graduation I attended the University of Minnesota and eventually found my calling as a teacher. Currently I enjoy running and am training to run the Twin Cities Marathon. Come out and cheer on October 4th. Preferably at the beginning miles when I look better!
Hey, my name is Lisa. I live in Plymouth with my daughter Corinna, who is 9 years old. We also have a toy poodle named Gracie. I love dogs so much that I write and draw dog stories. This is my last semester at the U of M. My major is in Early Childhood Education. I've been teaching at a variety of preschools for ten years. I will be moving to Arizona by the spring where I hope to get a teaching position in an American Indian reservation.
Hello families! My name is Emily and I will one of the teachers in our classroom. I am so excited! I am currently an undergraduate student in the Elementary Education program here at the U. I will graduate this December and move onto the licensing program next year. I live in Coon Rapids with my parents, my sister, Anna, and our four pets. I look forward to meeting everyone and having lots of fun at school as we learn and explore new things!
I live in Richfield with my boyfriend, yellow lab and cat. I got my BA from the University of Minnesota in Cultural Studies, and then got an MA in Film Studies from the University of Chicago. I am completing my Med in Elementary Education with a preprimary specialty.
Reminders and Announcements
I would like to create a family board that includes a family photo for each child and teacher. This helps to create a sense of belonging in a community. I will be sending home a short form with questions about your family for you to fill out with your child. If you have already given me a family photo I will attach it your sheet when you return it to school. If you have not given me a photo yet, you can attach it before sending it back to school.
Question of the Day
As your child comes to school each afternoon you may notice that there is a question of the day on the white board outside the classroom. I began doing this after attending a training session on Responsive Classroom. I was also involved in this teaching approach, which puts an emphasis on both academic and social-emotional growth of children, during my primary student teaching experience. The question of the day is based off one component of "morning meeting", or in our case large group. The question will pertain to something that is occurring in our classroom and will often be discussed during large group. It also builds on a variety of skills including literacy, math and social discussions.
Parent Advisory Committee Meeting
The first meeting of our Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) is scheduled for Tuesday October 6th from 7-8:30. PAC is a group of parents working to support the school in a variety of ways and is open to EVERYONE. It is NOT an elected board. We need your support! Please come and get involved in your child's school.
I will be having parent conferences beginning the week of October 19th. During these conferences we will discuss school adjustment and establish goals for your child. I will ask you to fill out a specific list of questions to help guide the conference. These conferences will take place at school in the late morning and evenings. I will have sign-up notes go home. While I understand difficulty in finding child care, it is often easier to conduct these conferences without children present. If you are unable to coordinate child care please let me know in advance so we can make arrangements.
I appreciate any parent involvement in the classroom. I understand that parking, work and family schedules make this difficult. Despite these factors, I want to encourage all parents to think of ways they could make contributions to our classroom activities. From simply coming in and spending time with your child, to helping with projects or sharing a special interest with the whole class...we want you!! I will be reading the parent volunteer forms that you filled out and contacting you about opportunities. There are many different ways to be involved in your child's classroom and each one is needed and appreciated by myself and the children.
As a general rule, we do not have special holiday "parties" at school. We do acknowledge the holidays that families in our class celebrate in a low-key, child-centered manner. We have appropriate stories, art materials and special snacks, which help children understand some of the cultural traditions that go along with celebrations. We welcome parents to come in and share their families' special traditions with the class. I will look to the children as to how interested they are in these types of holiday activities. On Halloween we will not have the children dress in costumes as that usually causes so much excitement and confusion that the afternoon becomes chaotic.
When it is your child's birthday (or any day you and your child would like to celebrate) we welcome a special snack and have a small celebration at school. The State of Minnesota requires that all snacks be either store bought or prepared at school. I invite you to come to school on your child's birthday (or any day you would like to) and prepare a special snack with us! (This is also usually cheaper than buying pre-made snack.) While we do not have any peanut allergies we ask that the snack not contain any traces of nuts. In line with our nutrition program we also ask that you bring in a snack that is healthy. If you need suggestions for a snack please talk to me and we will figure something out. There will also be a list posted on the parent board with snack suggestions.
It is helpful if each child has an extra set of labeled clothes in his/her cubby. I have found it most convenient to have the extra clothes in a large zip lock bag, this keeps extra clothes from finding their way into other children's cubbies We have some extras, but not enough to go around five classrooms. Also if your child does wear school clothes home, please return them. If you have any clothing at home that you are ready to "give up" let me know.
Bringing Toys from Home
I have discussed with most of you my thoughts regarding toys from home. Generally, I find security items, such as a special stuffed animal or a blanket to be helpful in getting children adjusted to school, although it is best if these are left in the cubbies. It could be very distressing to a child to lose their "lovey". It seems amazing that this could really happen in the classroom but it does. Sometimes children really want to share a favorite book with the class, and this works out well. Once we begin project work, children will have the chance to share items that relate to topics we are "studying" in our small groups. Toys from home that can cause problems at school would be those that are very attractive to others, such as action figures, special dolls, mechanical toys and cars, anything breakable, etc... We also have a NO WEAPONS policy in our school. Please do not let your child bring these kinds of things to school. Thank you for your understanding!
Appropriate clothing and shoes
Children get dirty. They learn through touching and feeling the world around them. Please keep this in mind when dressing your child for school. While we wear smocks for many messy activities, they do not keep all the glue, paint and markers off of clothing. So please dress your child in clothing that is fit to be worn in a preschool environment. In addition, please ensure your child's clothes and shoes are suitable for safely running, jumping climbing and all other physical activities.
Please provide me with any feedback throughout the year; I look forward to making this a successful year together!