Archive for the ‘Kindergarten ABC’s’ Category


Jul 06

Please make sure your child gets plenty of rest. I know that in our crazy, hectic world it is often hard to make sure everyone in the family goes to bed on time each evening. And children are often tired at school due to work and daycare schedules or special events the night before. Occasionally a little less sleep is not going to hurt their education, but not getting enough rest night after night makes for tired kindergarteners. And tired kindergarteners have no interest in learning or socializing with their peers.  Remember setting that all important bedtime and sticking to it as often as possible will be a wonderful gift to your child and their education.

Y Is For A Year

Jul 05

A school year! It is really hard sometimes to imagine how much a 5 year old grows in just 9 months of kindergarten but they do. I find myself telling parents not to worry or let’s see how it goes for a couple of months and then look at things again. This is especially true when it come to the CCSS standards. Often parents look at those standards and their immediate reaction is, “Oh No!! My child can’t do that!!!!” So this is my please don’t panic entry!!!

  • Your child’s teacher is going to assess your child and then add to the knowledge they are coming in with.
  • The CCSS or standards are what we want a child to accomplish by the end of their kindergarten year, not come to the first day of school with.
  • If your child is behind and continues to stay behind, we will be discussing it with you and coming up with alternative teaching styles, ideas, curriculums, etc… Schools have a wide variety of resources we can pull from to help.
  • Remember some children are slow starters! It often seems that in January a little lightbulb goes off and they know, “That’s what you are talking about! Or that’s why I come to school!!”
  • Kindergarten is a huge growth year for children both educationally and socially! It is a hard transition from pre-school to kinder! Give them a little bit of time to adapt!
  • Remember that kindergarten today is not what kindergarten was 10 years or longer ago. We now expect kindergarteners to leave us reading, adding, subtracting and doing all kinds of other skills that were not expected in the past.
  • We need your help! Please help by making sure homework is completed and turned in, that your child comes to school regularly and on time, and that you emphasize to your child how important their education and working hard is to their future.
  • Lastly, remember these 9 months are a huge learning time for your child! But we are going to take it one step at a time!

The most important thing I would like you to know is please be an advocate for your child throughout the school year! We both want the same thing! Success for your child in their first school setting. We need to all be involved in order for that to happen.

X Is For Extra Clothes

Jul 03

Wet and/or dirty clothes can be extremely uncomfortable. If your child has an accident at school, these extra clothes will allow your child to clean up and change without having to wait for someone to come to school and get them. With busy schedules of work and errands we often have a hard time getting in touch with someone who can come to school in a moment’s notice. For those reasons we ask parents to please consider putting an extra set of clothes into their child’s backpack. A couple of pointers on extra clothes:

  • Put the clothes into a grocery bag, push it into the bottom of the backpack, and leave it there until needed.
  • Remind your child that these are for emergencies and not to be taken in and out of the backpack. We don’t want your extra clothes lost.
  • Check the clothes sizes at winter and spring break. Kindergarteners grow really fast and the clothes may need to be changed out for bigger sizes.
  • If your child does have an accident at school, please don’t worry. Accidents happen, especially when kids are at recess and don’t want to miss out on the fun. It’s no big deal; we will simply talk about a different choice next time they need to use the restroom. Kids are learning!!!
  • Some schools (like mine) will call you to let you know your child had an accident, but all schools may not. Check with your school office to find out their policies on phone calls home for wet and/or dirty clothes.
  • Finally, please remind your child to let you know if they used their extra clothes so you can replace the dirty ones.

Have a wonderful Friday!!!

W Is For Weather

Jul 02

Weather and recess are not always a great mix. When school starts in the early fall or ends in the late spring the weather is usually unpredictable. It is hot, than cold, than hot again the next day. When you add air-conditioning and heating systems and the placement of vents over certain tables or areas of the classroom to the outside weather, you’ll find kids changing between being hot or cold several times during the school day. Here are some quick suggestions to help your child out while they are at school during the day:

  • Always keep an extra sweater or sweatshirt in their backpack. These are often used by my kids in the fall and spring when we have rain showers or storms that cool the air down. Or because the air-conditioner is making the room to chilly in the afternoon.
  • Make sure their shoes are appropriate for the precipitation (tennis shoes and snow are usually not a good mix).
  • Hats are great in the winter but they are often discarded by the kids once they get outside and start running around. These discarded items usually end up I the lost and found. Hoods on their coat or sweatshirt work almost as well and they get to come home every night.
  • If you can’t afford snow boots, or you live in an area where it isn’t worth the money because your child will only use them a couple of times a year, consider having your child wear two pairs of socks.
  • Many of my students chose to wear pajama bottoms under their pants to school each day instead of purchasing long underwear. They seem to work great at helping the kids stay a little bit warmer.
  • Remember layers are the key to being comfortable at school. They can remove or put back on sweaters and sweatshirts throughout the day depending on how they feel.
  • Lastly, if you can’t afford gloves, hats and boots, please check with your school office. Many communities and schools have programs to help you find these items for your child with little to no expense.

If you have concerns about the temperature in the classroom, playground or on the bus it is always to better to be prepared then uncomfortable.

V Is For Volunteering

Jun 21

I love parent volunteers. I don’t know what I would do without them. They help me make things, clean my classroom library and work with my kids that need extra help, etc. etc. etc… Volunteering is a great way for you to stay involved with your child’s education and support the leaning they are receiving in the classroom. It doesn’t matter if you can volunteer once a year for a field trip or once a week to help in the classroom throughout the school year. All help is welcome.

Before you go into your child’s classroom to help you need to check with the school office to see if they have any type of process you need to go through before you can be in the classroom. In the districts I have worked in you must fill out volunteer forms which are then checked by the state police. I know parents are sometimes offended by this but please don’t be. This is for your child’s protection. Neither you nor the school district would want anyone in the classroom working with your child that cannot pass a state police background check.

A couple of things to remember about this process:

  • The background check can sometimes take up to a few weeks to come through. Especially at the beginning of the school year when a lot of parents are filling out the paperwork. So, if you are able to, fill it out at the beginning of the year and be done with it, even if you don’t have plans to help immediately. And give the district a little bit of time to get the forms processed.
  • If you are filling it out last minute because of a special event, please let the office know. They can sometimes expedite things.
  • Make sure you know how often this paperwork has to be filled out so yours does not expire. Some schools require it every year and others only require a new check every few years.
  • Once you’ve filled out the paperwork, don’t assume it has come back to the school. Check with the secretary or classroom teacher the first time you are planning to come in earlier in the week to make sure.

On a different note, when you are volunteering please remember you are not there to only help or work with your child. You are there to help the class. I often ask parents to help a child that is struggling that is not their own because their child is doing well in class. Or to work with a small group of kids instead of just their own child. Take this time to get to know your child’s friends, classroom and teacher while using your skills to further everyone’s education! Volunteers are the greatest!!!!

U Is For Unique

Jun 20

Your child is a unique individual and that should be celebrated. In a time when some kindergarten classrooms have up to 35 kids in a room, it is very hard for a teacher to get to know the kids quickly at the beginning of the school year. If you have special concerns for your child’s educational or social skills please let the teacher know within the first few weeks of school. You know your child better than anyone and we want to hear your insight into their thinking. This will help us to make sure we keep an eye on things and work on the skills your child needs.

That said; please realize that we sometimes see a little bit different version of your child at school. Sometimes kids who are talkative and outgoing at home become very shy and quiet at school. Kids who are not use to sharing often struggle the first few weeks with not being able to be in control. There may be times when your child’s teacher will approach you with an issue or something that has happened at school and your mouth will drop while you’re thinking “not my child”! (This happened to me more than once as I raised my five children.) Please, please remember, kids are kids, they make mistakes, then turn around the next moment and do really great, generous things. They are learning as they go!!! All your teacher would ask for in any situation is an open dialog. Remember ultimately, both you and your child’s teacher want what’s best for your child and you can only reach that goal as a team. Enjoy your child’s unique journey through kindergarten by being involved, and working with your teacher and school to get the best year ever!

T IS For Targets

Jun 17

Learning targets that is! Or Common Core Standards (CCSS). All but a few states have adopted the new standards and they’re either already teaching them in their classrooms fulltime or are they are gradually introducing them as curriculums become available. CCSS seems overwhelming but several school districts have already unpacked the standards and laid out how they will teach them to their students. A couple of things to know about the new standards your child will need to meet are:

  • Remember that these standards are what is expected of your child by the end of the school year. SO don’t panic when you see that long list of things they need to know. They will get there.
  • There are lots of books out there about the standards but unless you’re a teacher or really, really interested in every last detail of the CCSS, it is quicker and easier to use the internet. Several school districts across the US have already unpacked the standards and made them easier to read. Here are a few examples are you to look at.

The most important thing to remember is not to worry. Your child’s teacher will be able to answer any questions you have about the standards and how your child is meeting them.

S IS For Snack Time

Jun 16

Kindergarteners love snack time. In the districts that I have taught in, kindergarteners come to school all day. This is great when it comes to learning time, we get so much more accomplished now. But it is not so great when it comes to being hungry and tired. And believe me for the first half of the school year they get very hungry and tired by the end of the day. Going to kindergarten is so different than daycare, preschool or home just in the fact that they can’t take a nap when they need to (if at all) and there is not much time for snacks.

In my school, we do have a short snack time for the first half of the school year. So do other schools in the district, but each school handles snacks and how we have them differently. At the school I teach at, we ask parents to provide a healthy snack each day if they would like or we provide goldfish crackers or pretzels for the kids who don’t have a snack each day. Another school in the district has parents each provide a box of crackers, goldfish, or pretzels as a part of their school supplies at the beginning of the year. The teachers then store them and hand them out as the year goes by. But what ever the differences are with the schools here are a few quick tips on snack time:

  • Make sure to ask your teacher if they have a snack time each day or not and if they do, what do you need to do to help. If they do or not it is also a good idea to make sure your child knows how important it is to eat their breakfast and their lunch each day so they do not get to hungry.
  • If your child has food allergies please make sure the teacher, office and nurse know about it immediately. Schools will often ask you to provide your child’s snack throughout the school year for safety reasons. But you need to make sure everyone knows up front that snacks are not an option for your kindergartener.
  • If another child in the classroom has a food allergy please try hard to avoid sending that food item to school for your child just as a precaution. Some children are allergic to the oils of the food item and just touching it on a desk or someone’s hands can be a danger.
  • Check to see if your school is peanut or nut free. Many schools are now asking students, teachers and all school employees to avoid bringing peanut and peanut products to school. This year I had a student in my room that was allergic to tree nuts. I choose to stop bringing almonds and nuts in my lunch for the year just as a precaution. None of us want to see a child have an allergic reaction.
  • If your child has a food allergy, check to see if you can provide snacks or foods they can eat in an airtight container to be stored in the classroom or school freezer. Many classrooms have parties, birthday cupcakes, etc… If your child does not have a food item from you, they will have to go without on those spur of the moment special occasions. I ask parents to provide items that I keep put away for those last minute surprises.
  • Lastly, if you want to provide a snack for the class, please contact your child’s teacher at least a week before hand. This will give the teacher time to call the parents of students with food allergies and work out an alternative for their snack. If you are thinking about providing a special birthday treat, please do the same. We often have students that do not celebrate birthdays and need to find other accommodations for them as well as checking on our food allergy students.

Remember, communication is the key to a successful year. Your child’s teacher and the other parents will really appreciate you taking the extra time to make sure the entire class is safe and respected. J

R Is For Responsibility

Jun 15

Every stage in a child’s life helps them to take steps toward eventually begin an independent adult, but kindergarten seems to be one of the bigger steps. For a lot of children it is their very first time in a school setting. For most it is their first time in a big school with lots of other children. Since kindergarten is a great time to gain more and more independence and responsibility, here are a few things that we would like students to be able to do on their own as the school year proceeds:

  • Take care of the library book. I try to get my students to keep their library book in their backpack when they are not reading it to keep it from getting lost. When the book does not come back on library day I often hear, “My mom forgot to put it in my backpack!” WHAT??? You will hear me telling my students that their library book is their responsibility and not their mom’s. OK, but I am realistic, I have 5 children, I remember looking for a lot of library books also. But that said, try to get them to keep their library book in a special place (high up from younger siblings) or in their backpack so they know where it is and are responsible for bringing it back to school.
  • Homework is another way to help them be responsible. Of course, they will need your guidance in doing the homework, but taking it back and forth from school and remembering to turn it in will help build their responsibility.
  • Asking them to be responsible for notes and items going back and forth to school such as coats, hats and gloves. If something is lost, try to get them to come in and ask me if I have seen it. The more they become responsible throughout the year for their own items the better.
  • Make them responsible for telling you how their day went and what they did each day at school.

As you can see, none of this is earth shattering. These are all things you already work on with your kids. Step by step we will help them grow into first graders and their independence will grow with that.

Q Is For Questions

Jun 15

When my kids were little and in school I used to drive them crazy with questions on how their day at school went. Of course I always got the same answers. We didn’t do anything today, or the same old thing, were two of their favorite answers to anything I asked about what they did during their day. But ask I did, every day after school through all five of my own children’s educations.

Even though they didn’t always give me a great answer, they always knew I was interested. And there were plenty of times I got great answers about their day away from me. Leading to great conversions about everything they were excited about.

But more importantly were those days when they came home from school and couldn’t wait to spill the beans about something that had happened and upset them. Those teachable moments when I could help them better understand our society and how it works.

Don’t forget to ask those questions and discuss the day with your child when you get home each evening. If you find out something is wrong and your child needs help with something or someone at school, please don’t hesitate to call your child’s teacher and talk to them about what is going on. A lot of times kids will not tell me when they are being teased or bullied but they will go home and tell their parents. I love it when their parents contact me. I want all kids to be safe and feel safe at school. If your child is not feeling comfortable at school, make sure their teacher knows and learn how their teacher plans to help your child.

Ask those questions! Let us know when we can help you! And enjoy your child’s answers. They are often the best part of a parents day.