Archive for May, 2015

I Is For Independence

May 31

When a kindergarten teacher told me years ago that my child needed to learn to be more independent, I just couldn’t believe it! I mean, what was she thinking. He was only 5! I tried my best to keep smiling and go along, helping him to learn the skills she said he was lacking in and got through the year. Five years later I became a kindergarten teacher and a realization of what she was saying hit me full force. They do need to have a level of independence before they come to school to make life at school a go a little bit smoother.

So, let me start this by saying the best independence you can teach your child before school starts is to be able to take care of their own clothing and hygiene issues.

With clothing being able to zip their coats and pants, tie their shoes and put their sweater or sweatshirt on correctly will be a wonderful gift for your child and their classroom teacher. It’s not that your child’s teacher doesn’t want to help your child, it’s that they usually have 25 to 30 five year olds in the room at one time and we can’t possibly get to all of their coats and shoes before every recess or end of the day. This will get them out the door quicker and cut down on stress if you have a teacher that is running short on time.

The second thing you can help your child to learn is how and when to wash their hands. We use only soap and water in my school (no sanitizers are allowed). Knowing that they need to wash their hands before lunch and after they are in the bathroom at any time will help you to cut down on germs.

Other quick tips include teaching them to: Cough into their elbow instead of their hands; don’t touch tissues or old paper towels. And definitely if it is wet and not yours, don’t touch it at all.

It is kindergarten, children will sometimes get sick, or have accidents in the classroom. We always move quickly to keep all kids away from anything like that, but a sneeze towards a book or table can mean germs as well. I tell my students it is better to let me wash the book or table than to have to have a cold and miss school!

With all that said, my thinking has changed and I too now ask parents to help their children have a little bit of independence before they start school each year.

H Is For Homework

May 30

Kids coming into kindergarten love the idea of homework. They have seen their older siblings, friends, daycare kids, etc. doing their homework and can’t wait to have homework also. Our parents are often shocked that we have homework in kindergarten. Every teacher will have a different homework plan and reasons why they send homework. There are three things I like for parents to know about my homework system before their child begins the school year.

What type of homework is sent home- Every teacher, school and district is going to have their own ideas on what and why your child has homework. Most schools will expect your child to also be reading at least 15 to 20 minutes every evening. An example from my classroom would be: Reading every night for 20 minutes, a monthly homework packet that includes a 10 minute activity to do 4 nights a week and a story retell every weekend. Make sure you understand what your child needs to accomplish at home.

When is homework due- Know when things are due back. Most teachers in kindergarten assign homework for extra practice and responsibility. I try very hard to make sure my students know, returning homework is their responsibility. I want them to take ownership in their work and be proud of themselves when they turn it in. But bottom line is I rely on my students wonderful parents to make sure that homework is in the backpack each week.

Does the homework count towards a grade- In my room homework is meant strictly as extra practice but that is not always the case. Make sure you check to see if your child’s homework counts towards their grade in class so you can be sure it is turned in on time.

I know we are all busy and have lots to do, but spending that 15 minutes a day, helping your child do homework can be a fun experience. Enjoy your time together!

G Is For Gym

May 28

Kids love P.E. and their P.E. teacher. My students can’t wait until P.E. day each week. Make sure you check with your child’s kindergarten teacher to find out what days your child will be going to P.E. Please make sure your child wears tennis or running shoes on those days as well as clothes that are appropriate to run and play in. It is almost impossible for a student to enjoy P.E. when they are wearing flip-flops or sandals. And you definitely don’t want your child to get accidently hurt because their shoes were not appropriate for the activity their P.E. teacher had planned for the day.

P.E. is an important part of your child’s learning at school both physically and socially. Enjoy!!!

F Is For Friendship

May 27

Kindergarten is a wonderful place for kids to make their first true friends, or it can be a place to get your feelings hurt really badly. I work really hard at trying to help my students learn the social skills they need to be good friends. But learning those skills and using them can often be two completely different things.

Here’s how you can help your child with their social skills:

Encourage your child to play with lots of kids instead of just he kids they already know or family friends.

Make sure sharing is something you talk about with your child often.

Try as often as possible to talk to your child or read them stories about different cultures and how we can be accepting. I currently work in a school that has 22 different nationalities of students within its walls.

Ask your child about how school was each day and who they played with. Discuss problems and successes with them.

Here’s how your teacher can help your child:

If your child is coming home complaining that they have no one to play with or have no friends, please let their teacher know. We will work on friendships in the classroom.

If someone is bullying your child in anyway please tell their teacher immediately. Bullying is not tolerated in any form. Often small children will not tell us what is going on, but will come home and tell you.

Remind your child that no one has a right to treat them badly with their words or physically. They need to let an adult they trust help them.

Make sure your child understands who an adult at school is they can trust to help them if a problem arises at school.

Talk to your teacher often about how your child is doing socially at school. Parents tend to ask about the academic progresses of their child, but forget the social aspect.

Remember, kindergarten is a huge social year at school. If you feel there is a problem, please make sure your child’s teacher knows immediately. And don’t forget to check back in as often as you feel is needed. We want your child to love coming to school.

E Is For Email

May 25

I love getting email from parents. It is a quick, easy way for us to stay in contact. I know a lot of parents would rather call me, and that is great too. But if you get a chance also think about emailing your childs teacher every once in a while. I hope you will find that it becomes a quick check to find out what is going on at school.

A couple of things I would like you to remember if you decide to use email with the school. First, teachers only have a limited time during each day without students in their care. During my day, I only have 30 minutes before and after school and a short plan time 4 days a week. So, if you email and don’t hear back immediately, its usually going to be because I am either absent that day or teaching, and I will get back to you as quickly as I can. My goal is always to try to get back to you on the day I get your e-mail. Unless you email me in the evening and then you will hear back from me the next morning.

This brings me to my second point, if you don’t hear back from your teacher within a reasonable time please call them. I always tell my parents if you don’t hear back from me in a day, please call the school and get me on the phone. That is because my school (and most schools) have very tight spam filters on the internet. Often the first time a parent is emailing me their email goes into my spam file because the system does not know who they are. Once I ok their email I never have a problem again. So, please know that we would never just ignore you, chances are if you didn’t hear from us we didn’t get your email.

Remember we are here to help your child succeed in school. Communication between your teacher and yourself is a very important part of that success. Email is an easy access tool to communicating with your child’s teacher.

D Is For Dress Code

May 24

Hard to believe but yes there is usually a dress code even in kindergarten. The main reason is school districts will often adopt a dress code for the entire district. They then enforce the dress code throughout all grade levels in the hope of having parents and students learn it from the beginning of their school experience. Because each districts dress code will vary, make sure you know your district expectations from the beginning.

Mine does not allow dress or blouse straps that are less than an inch wide, no leggings worn as pants, offensive t-shirt logos, dresses and skirts that are more than 3 inches above the knee and/or baggy pants!

Besides the school district dress code, you may run into dress requirements or suggestions for different classes. The P.E. teacher in my building asks parents to please make sure your child wears running shoes (not sandals) on P.E. day. Also, the school frowns on wearing flip-flops on the playground.

Remember every school will have different policies but those policies are meant to keep your child safe and comfortable at school. It is never fun for a student to have to wear their coat all day to cover a shirt, or to have to turn their t-shirt inside out to wear it because of the logo on it. Broken flip-flops and sandals are a hazard and hard to walk in. If you know the requirements from the beginning, it will make school life easier. And a lot more enjoyable for your child.

C Is For Conferences

May 24

Most school districts have conferences for their students and their parents at least once or twice during the school year. Conferences are a great time to see how your child is doing in class and what they need to work on. I always love visiting with parents during this time. The kids get to show off their work and parents get to ask lots of questions.

Conferences may be a great time to visit, but please don’t make it the first time you come to school or visit with your childs teacher. We love having you involved in your child’s education. Come and meet me and visit with me whenever you want to and often.

If you have questions about how the year or your child’s education is going please ask. When you come to conferences please feel free to bring a list of questions you want to know more about. And please feel free to ask questions or contact your child’s teacher after conferences as well. Conferences are often quick and packed with lots of issues and talking. After you get home and look through your child’s report card again, you may have more questions or need more information about something. Please feel free to contact your child’s teacher to get more information or better understanding about an issue.

B Is For Backpack

May 23

I know, I know! Really a post about backpacks? And yes, I am going there. Backpacks are a fun way to get your child excited about starting school but here are a few things for you to ponder before you make that all important purchase for the fall.

Make sure your school district does not have a policy on what type of backpack your child is allowed to bring each day. Several districts in my area will only accept clear or mesh see through backpacks being brought to school. You don’t want your child to be disappointed when they can’t use the backpack they have chosen.

Please don’t let your child talk you into buying one of those really small (yet cute) backpacks. My students who bring those are always struggling to get their items home (often in a Walmart bag I have given to them) because all their daily treasures won’t fit.

Another reason I really love the normal to large size backpacks is they give the students a place to store their coat when they are not wearing it. The last several classrooms my students and I have occupied have not had hooks for coats, so my students have to keep their coats in their backpacks during class. This is also a great idea when it comes to combating lice (I know it’s that terrible word every parent cringes at). But it is a fact of elementary school life. Coats touching coats on hooks are a great way to spread the lovely little critters. Having your child learn to put their coat in their backpack automatically when they take it off can help cut down on the transfer of our little friends.

My last little tip about backpacks is please check them both in the morning and at night. Night of course is so you can enjoy all those treasures we have made, notes from the school and fun events we are planning. In the morning don’t forget to check for toys. Kindergarteners love bringing their toys to school to show everyone. It always breaks my heart because they often get broken or stolen. It is always better to leave those special fun toys at home.


A Is For Attendance

May 21

Attendance really does make a difference in how well your child will does in school. The more they are present the better. Two things you should know about your child being absent from school.

First, check with your school office on how they like to handle knowing when and why your child will be absent. Some schools like for you to send a note the next day with the excuse or reason for the absence. Other school districts have policies which include calling a parent on the day of the absence before a certain time in the day to check on your child. The state I teach in does this. The policy was put in place so the school and parents could touch base and make sure your child wasn’t harmed on the way to school. As a parent I really appreciated this policy. A lot of children walk to school each morning while their parents are off to work. These phone calls made sure everyone knew where my children were supposed to be. If your school district has a policy similar to this, you will need to find out if they want you to call them on the days your child is absent or wait for them to call you.

Secondly, most school district now have policies on what type of absence is excused or unexcused. Of course being sick is always an excusable absence, but many other reasons for being gone, such as family vacations, are no longer excused. The main reason you will want to check into this policy, is most school districts now only allow so many unexcused absences before they will be contacting you to come meet with them. If you have a reason your child will be missing a lot of school days, please go in and talk to your school office. They are there to help you.

Remember, these policies were put in place to help you and they will more than likely not be an issue for you. But it is always wise to have the knowledge of what is expected when dealing with absences beforehand rather than after the fact.

ABC’s Of Kindergarten

May 21

Navigating through the school system with your first school age child can be so overwhelming. Your not only are leaving the fate of your most precious little one in our hands, but your trying to work your way through all the paperwork, rules, and policies of a school that you probably know little to nothing about. Believe me; school districts have policies and procedures for everything! Most are meant to make your life easier and your child’s time at school safer. That said, I have noticed that in our overwhelming world of things to do, and places to be school policies and classroom procedures can often make you and your child’s first school year experience a little stressful.

Teachers absolutely do not want you to be stressed about sending your child to spend each school day with us. We want you and your child to enjoy being at school, the wonderful people that work there and the many new friends you and your child are going to make while on this new journey.

This next set of blogs, The ABC’s of Kindergarten, is meant to give you a short, quick glimpse into some of the daily routines of both the kindergarten classroom and the school. I hope they will help you to feel more at ease and gain a little knowledge into our daily practices.