The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

This Week in Our Room: October 17-20, 2016

imageFor only four days this week we were certainly very busy! Fine motor skill work was certainly at the forefront of everything we did during this rainy October week.

We finished the letter D in our Alphabet Books, and made these super cute diamond D’s as our craft. We will send home the children’s printing sheet and their craft in the next few days.

The children learned about colour mixing yellow, orange and red to make various versions of orange for our Painted Pumpkins. We started by using introducing pastels to the children which they love, because they are so smooth and give lots of colour without having to press too hard. After drawing the outline and ribs of the pumpkin as a full group, they mixed their colours using their pumpkin drawing as a palette. We want to provide multiple opportunities to use a variety of art tools and materials for our students to discover ways to creatively express themselves individually and as a group, and to see their work as a means of connecting with, and communicating their ideas, with the greater community. This project is from Deep Space Sparkle, our favourite Art website by Patty Palmer. Patty is a true inspiration for teachers and students alike!

Wednesday is the most highly anticipated day of the week as it’s Buddy Time in the afternoon. We’re starting to get ready for Halloweèen, so each Little Buddy made a Hallowe’en wreath supported by his or her Big Buddy. Our children are beginning to use a variety of tracers and templates – manageable for small hands, using both hands at the same time (writing hand, helping hand), and LOTS of scissor and gluestick work. A few stickers and a pretty bow make these little wreaths something very special!


We are really pleased with the children’s developing independence at managing their raincoats and boots. On a really rainy day, your child is changing their shoes 4 times – at morning recess, after morning recess, at lunch recess and after lunch recess. Needless to say, they’ve all become quite proficient with their boots after the downpours we’ve been having this week. You can see why slip-on shoes work best for us. We’ve been trying to help the children pull their sleeves back through their jackets before hanging them up. Admittedly, we’ve been having quite a bit of fun watching the teachers put their arms through the sleeves and flap around like a bird, but any teaching you can do at home would be very helpful! Thank you.

On Thursday, along with many others, Ridgeview conducted an Earthquake Preparedness Emergency Drill. In class, we told our children ahead of time this event was going to occur and that we need to practise so that in the event of a real emergency, we would be ready. We reviewed “Drop, Cover, Hold” moving quickly but calmly to the tables to crawl underneath, and counted to 60 as instructed. Here was another valuable opportunity for us to focus on the importance of our self-regulation; as the teacher counted, children could count as well (and many did) or they could focus on their breathing as a means of helping them to stay calm and focused. We reassured the children that although they may feel scared and want their parents, we were very experienced in looking after our classes during these sorts of drills and would take very good care of them if there was ever a real emergency.

Upcoming Events and Reminders
Early Dismissal next week for Parent/Teacher Conferences on Monday, Oct. 24th and Thursday, Oct. 27th at 2pm. Please pick up your child promptly at 2pm as we start our conferences
right away. If you have not already signed up for a conference time please do so Monday.

October 31st we will hold our annual Hallowe’en Parade. The students are allowed to wear their costumes for the parade. Parents are invited to watch the parade in the hallways. We ask that costumes not be too scary as this can be extremely frightening for some students. Swords, wands, or other costumes accessories that need to carried should be left at home. After the parade students will change out of their costumes into their regular clothes.

Ridgeview is also participating in the “We Scare Hunger Campaign”. We will be collecting non-perishable food items for our sister school, Grandview Elementary. Grandview is an inner-city school in Vancouver. The school has a food bank directly in their school that parents and students often visit daily. When choosing items to donate please encourage your child to help pick a few things they might really enjoy themselves. Our hope is to fill Ms. Wilson’s (our grade 7 buddy teacher) truck full of donated food!

Leave a comment »

The Zones of Regulation

fullsizerender-1You’ve probably heard it at home by now, that in Kindergarten we’re all about the Zones.

Those zones would be the “Zones of Regulation” from her excellent book, The Zones of Regulation by Leah M. Kuypers.

Christy and I started using the Zones of Regulation with our students a few years ago.  Briefly, it’s a curriculum on recognising one’s needs, impulses and emotional state (alertness); a classification system for feelings and emotions (the four Zones); the teaching of self-regulation skills and strategies; and the social awareness of how one’s behaviour may be seen by, and can affect, others.

Self-regulation is the foundation of our Kindergarten program.  Although what we do at our grade level is just an introduction, we support our children by teaching them to be aware of, and identify, their needs and emotions; accept that all emotions are present and valid; introduce and practise self-regulation skills and strategies to help them to manage their needs and emotions; and to choose appropriate social responses to the specific situation or environment (social awareness).

From the stories we’ve heard at school from the children and yourself, we know that many of the children have begun to use and apply their knowledge about the Zones at home:

When we’re in the green zone we are feeling calm, happy, focused, relaxed and ready to learn.When we’re in the yellow zone we are scared, excited, frustrated or getting carried away.When we’re in the red zone we are feeling very frustrated, angry and our body is out of control. When we’re in the blue zone we are feeling sad, tired or sleepy.

We teach the children that all the zones are “good.”  For example, you want to be excited and have energy (a higher state of alertness) when we’re on the playground or playing a sport so the yellow zone is where we want to be.  If we are tired or sick (a lower level of alertness), then perhaps recognising that we need to rest and play a quiet activity would be a better choice.   We are in the green zone when listening attentively at the meeting area, following teacher instructions, working on-task at our table groups, cooperating and playing well with our friends–it’s the optimal zone for learning.  We always try to identify and describe green zone behaviours so the children know what those behaviours might look like and sound like.

The red zone can be a bit trickier.  Just because we are angry and in the red zone does not mean we are “bad;” indeed, being angry and articulating (calmly) that we are angry is ok, but it’s how we respond which is key.  As parents and teachers, we need to calmly talk about our feelings and why we feel the way we do so that our children see what a socially appropriate response for a very high level of alertness and energy looks like.  We teach the children that yelling, hitting, pushing and throwing things are not socially acceptable responses and that there are other strategies to navigate their way.  Typically we would start identifying how a student is feeling, start a calming countdown (count backwards from 10) and then deep breathing together until words can be articulated and go from there.

We actively refer to the Zones throughout the day, what we observe about the energy in the classroom or where we should be for a specific activity.   The children are learning that different situations require different responses depending upon the context of the current social situation, and what should we do to get there–up-regulate or down-regulate.  We might need to up-regulate our energy with an Action Break if we’re feeling tired during instruction; or down-regulate our excitement with a slow, cool drink of water if we’re returning to our classroom after playing outside.

We practise a variety of self-regulation strategies in class.

At the beginning of the year, we taught deep breathing as a strategy for calming, using the Breathing Ball as a visual for breathing in and breathing out.  We did this first, so that the children would know how to breathe deeply down into their tummy (spine straight, in through our nose (silently), out through our mouth (silently) and keep our shoulders down).

The great thing about deep breathing for calming is that you always have your breath with you.  We can use this strategy when we are in line waiting to get into the gym for an Assembly or if our classroom line-up is exceptionally noisy.

Another strategy we’ve added has been to listen to music, from Jazz to New Age to Classical, for calming and relaxation following the morning recess.  Then, we work on our mindfulness by using the Zenergy chime to train our minds to focus and be in the present.  We also incorporate deep breathing into this time as well (having prioritized the teaching and practising of this strategy in September).  The children are experts as they have already had multiple opportunities to practise.

One of the primary roles of the teacher is to be a model of self-regulation.  Our ability to stay calm and focused, and to regulate and articulate our own emotional state, means we are better able to assist your children with regulating their optimal (green zone) state for learning.  Consider taking the time for your own “self-regulatory moment.”  In a busy classroom, we know it is very healthy, leaving all of us feeling energized and refreshed for the next part of the teaching day.

Leave a comment »

This Week in Our Room:  October 11-14, 2016

img_5980In our Alphabet work, we are listening to alphabet stories, brainstorming words that begin with the letter of the week, and teaching the alphabet sounds and the correct letter formation for the upper and lowercase letters.

“C” is our letter of the week.  We made our delightful caterpillar “c’s” which we will send home next week.  We will profile each letter we worked on in the newsletter, but the children’s alphabet craft and printing sheet will not come home until the following week.

But we’re not just teaching the Alphabet.  As part of our balanced approach to literacy instruction, we’re developing the children’s phonological awareness in the areas of sounds, syllables, rhymes and words.  Over the past few weeks we’ve been working on words, specifically focusing on syllables or parts of words.  Right now, the children are listening to the teacher say the parts (syllables) of words, then blending them together to say the complete word (eg., kit-chen = kitchen).  This is all part of oral language instruction which includes read-aloud books and storytelling, shared reading experiences such as poems, songs and chants and our teaching of the individual alphabet letters and sounds.  When we’re talking about sounds, we mean phonemic awareness, or the awareness that speech is made up of sounds in a specific sequence.  For more on phonemic awareness and phonological awareness click here.

You can imagine how important the children’s self-regulation is during oral language instruction.  It’s why we work so hard with our students all through the year on their listening skills; calming strategies to prepare themselves for instruction; mindfulness to focus and concentrate on the lesson and a positive attitude to foster a lifelong love of learning.  We listen to calming music, practise deep breathing and mindfulness daily, so that we are feeling relaxed, happy and in the green zone — ready to learn!

In Math, we are creating AB and ABC pattern multilink trains.  The children are learning a pattern needs to be repeated three times (eg., ABABAB) to show it is indeed, a pattern.

The children saw their beloved Grade 7 Big Buddies on Wednesday.  We’re beginning a new seasonal activity in Buddy Reading where our Big Buddies will select picture books to read aloud to their Little Buddies.  Then the children will work on some literary awareness skills (title, directionality, one-to-one word correspondence) and finally, draw a picture and talk about their favourite part.  We had a practise run this week, and will start officially with a fun Hallowe’en picture book in a couple of weeks.

Thank you so much to everyone for sending along rainboots and raincoats this week.  The children have achieved a high level of independence in changing into their boots and coats, necessary for Westcoast living.  Although we still have lots of inside-out sleeves (they make fun wings), we’ve made significant progress since September.  Please remember that if your child wears shoes with laces to school, he or she should know how to tie those laces.  Tying laces is not a skill we teach in the Kindergarten.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

We will be adding a sharing component to our Special Helper program next week. In addition to the daily Special Helper duties, the Special Helper will have the opportunity to bring in a special sharing.  Our sharing always has a theme and for the month of October and November our theme is “I Like Me”.  The students are asked to bring in three objects that tell about him or herself.  These objects should fit into a small Ziploc bag. There is more information posted on the parent boards and a sample Ziploc bag. The student calendar is also posted. Please help your child gather these items a few days prior to their Special Helper day and have them practice “sharing” with you.

Monday, October 17:  Parent Teacher Conference Sign-up.  The sign up sheets will be posted outside of the office.

Friday, October 21:  Provincial Professional Day.  School is not in session for students.

Monday, October 24 and Thursday, October 27:  2:00 Early Dismissal for Parent Teacher Conferences – please be on time to pick up your child as we start our conferences promptly at 2:10 pm.

Leave a comment »

Happy Turkey Day!



Happy Thanksgiving from The Self-Regulated Teacher.  We’re thankful for our health, love of family and friends, and of course, our wonderful Kindergarten children and their families!

Here’s some Thanksgiving love for you from your children:

I am thankful for…

  • Hugs from Mom and Dad
  • My birthday because my friends bring me presents
  • Food to eat
  • Basketball
  • My garden
  • My home
  • My body being healthy
  • My brothers and sisters
  • My school
  • Friends to play with
  • My parents
  • Fall leaves
  • My mom for taking me on a Disney boat
  • My mom takes me to Grandma and Grandpa’s
  • My mom gives me presents
  • Activities to go to afterschool
  • Airplanes to take us places 
  • The beach

Dear little thoughts from very dear little people….have a wonderful day with your family!

Leave a comment »

This Week in Our Room: October 3-7, 2016

fullsizerenderIt’s Thanksgiving Week in the Kindergarten and we’ve been doing all things Turkey.

We’ve read a variety of Thanksgiving stories, including some of our long-time favourites, Franklin’s Thanksgiving (Paulette Bourgeois) and The Thankful Book (Todd Parr).  We brainstormed the many, many things we are thankful for; it’s a special list which we will share with you on Sunday.  From these ideas, each child made a thankful leaf.  They independently drew their own pictures and the teachers scribed their wonderful ideas.

It was time to see our Big Buddies on Wednesday.  It’s become a tradition to make a Thanksgiving centrepiece in Kindergarten so we made our very fun, adorable turkeys.  Each child brought his or hers home for the holiday table.  One of the most fun things Christy and I have been doing is teaching Kindergarten long enough so that our former Kindergarten students are now our Big Grade 7 Buddies.  Many of the senior students had a huge smile when they saw the familiar turkey craft and shared that they still had theirs at home.


We’ve been learning about Patterns in Mathematics.  Patterning, sorting and classifying are part of our foundation teaching in Math.  We’re teaching our children how patterns can be found in daily living, nature and surrounding environment.  Sorting and classifying objects helps us to organise, categorise and group together similar concepts.  Our September pattern was AB and now it’s AAB for October.  We’ve been using a variety of math manipulatives to explore and create patterns, and during our daily Math Their Way calendar we are extending our monthly patterns every day.  For Thanksgiving, we coloured turkeys using warm colours and selected our own pattern for the feathers.


As always at the beginning of the month, we drew our monthly self-portraits according to our criteria of Big (fill your space), Bright (use five colours or more) and Beautiful (do your personal best).  We love the growth we see in our children as the school year moves along; they’ve become very attentive to the details in their drawings and working towards independently meeting the criteria.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Monday, October 10, is Thanksgiving Day, so schools are not in session.

October Scholastic orders are due Tuesday, October 11th. The online payment for parents is available now.

Family BINGO Night Order forms are due Wednesday October 12th

If you would like to order your child’s photo, please have the form handed into your child’s teacher no later than Tuesday, October 11th.

Parent/Teacher Interviews are scheduled to take place October 24th and 27th, and there will be a 2:00 pm early dismissal on these days.  Look for the sign-up sheets outside the library starting Monday, October 17th.

With the rainy days ahead, please ensure your child has shoes to wear inside, boots to wear outside and a rain jacket.



Meet the Kindergarten

img_5893Our school held a “Meet My Teacher” information afternoon this year, rather than our traditional school Curriculum Night.  Organised much like our Student Led Conferences, students were dismissed early; parents made an appointment for themselves, and their child introduced their parents to their teacher(s) and informed them about the classroom routines and curriculum.  The Kindergarten did not participate in this event as we had our Parent Intake Conferences the same week.

However, in Kindergarten there is always so much information for parents new to Ridgeview and parents new to Kindergarten and Ridgeview, that we’ve taken classroom routines and expectations from our Kindergarten Curriculum Night presentation and put it online.  

Meet the Kindergarten.  We are really enjoying teaching our classes this year.  The children are settling in well and adjusting to their new teachers and the classroom routines and expectations.  You may find your child is tired at the end of the day and that is for good reason, because they are all working extremely hard.  By the time Thanksgiving arrives, we will all begin to notice remarkable changes in their maturity, and their ability to self-regulate and manage their day.  We remind ourselves every day to be very patient with our classes as they make this important transition to being a full-day student.

Pick-up and Drop-off Routines.  The Kindergarten day begins at 8:50 am.  Children should wait quietly with their parents outside their classrooms. The teachers will open the door at 8:50 am. The children can independently hang up their coats and backpacks. A quick kiss and “goodbye” at the door, and a prompt exit by parents, has really helped reduce any separation issues and allows us to start our day on time.

“O Canada” is sung by our entire school population promptly at 8:55 am (in English Monday-Thursdays; in French on Fridays).  If you are dropping off at that time, please assist your children by encouraging them to come in silently and limit conversation in the cloakroom or hallway.

If you arrive after 9:00 am and the attendance has been sent up to the office, your child is considered late.  Please walk up to the office with your child, sign in, and then bring him or her back to class. You must also sign your child out at the office if you need to pick up early.

Your children should know each day how they are getting home.  Sometimes they tell us they don’t know who is picking them up, or wonder if they are going to the after school childcare centre.  We always reassure the children that we will look after them, but they will feel more secure and confident throughout the day knowing who will be there to greet them at 2:55 pm.

At dismissal, we make sure we see a parent or caregiver before we dismiss your child. If there is a change in pick up, such as with another child’s family, please let us know.  If your plans change at the last minute please call the school office, not another parent in the class.  Our school office will communicate your message directly to us.  We are able to release your child to another parent only with your permission.

fullsizerender-20Snack and Lunch Routines.  The children should use a lunch kit to bring their food to school.  It’s very awkward for them to be taking numerous containers and a water bottle out from their backpack and juggle them into the classroom.  Their lunch kit then goes into their backpack, which is also used to hold their weekly library book, notices and artwork for home.

We have snack twice a day.  We eat morning snack from 10:20-10:40 am, when the rest of the school is having outside recess time.  Our Kindergarten classes go out for recess from 10:40-11 am, and the children are supervised by playground supervisors as that is when the teachers take their break.  Our second snack time is around 2:30-2:45 pm, after our afternoon outside recess.

You might consider placing the morning and afternoon snacks in separate ziplocs or label the snacks to make it easier for your child.  Please tell your children what bag or container is for snack, and which one is for lunch, because sometimes they do get confused as they are still very young.

Please send a water bottle that is non-spill and refillable.  We are allowed to use the hallway water bottle refiller so the children can drink fresh, filtered water.  We encourage you just to send water, rather than juice, as it’s healthier and part of our healthy eating philosophy

Lunch begins at 12:00 pm and the children have about 25 minutes to eat. Currently they are supervised by an adult lunchtime supervisor and Grade 7 monitors.

We encourage your children to eat but we cannot make them eat and finish their lunches.  We always send home the uneaten food so you are able to see what your child is eating on a daily basis. Have a discussion with your children about what they like to eat, and have them help you to choose what goes in their snacks and lunches.

The Hot Lunch Program began this past week.  The children seemed to enjoy their food but we ask that you do not use the Hot Lunch Program as an opportunity for your child to try new foods here at school.  Please continue to send some snacks and a lunch from home until it’s certain that your child will eat the preordered food.  It creates a difficult situation when your child will not eat their Hot Lunch and there is no other alternative in their lunch bag.  Please send your child’s water bottle everyday, even if he or she orders lunch and a drink.

FullSizeRender-10Pack In/Pack Out Routine.  We call our waste management system at Ridgeview “Pack In/Pack Out.”  Children can bring a ziploc bag to collect their organic garbage and packaging waste to take home.  Many children simply put the garbage in their lunch bag which they seem to be comfortable doing.



img_5937Self-Care Expectations
.  The children are managing their washroom situations, which is washrooms located in Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Zambon’s classroom, and the children in Mrs. Daudlin’s class use the hallway washrooms.  We’re very diligent about hand washing and we try to check in with the children as they are returning from the washrooms.

We do remind the children at every break opportunity to use the washroom, but many of them are so excited to go outside or they don’t want to miss anything in class so they try to wait.  This is an important discussion for you to have with your child.

In the case of a bathroom accident, your child should have an extra set of clothes to leave at school in a small shopping bag to hang on his or her hook.  It’s a good idea in the event of rain or puddles or muddy spills to have clothes here.  Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Zambon’s class can use their bathrooms to change, and Mrs. Daudlin’s children may use a staff washroom so they have space and privacy.

img_1821When Should I Keep My Sick Child at Home from School?  We have found over the years, that even though a child is not feeling well, he or she still wants to come to school.  However, your sick child does not have the patience or energy to deal with the demands of the school day, friendship issues or school work expectations.  For the mutual benefit of the children, the children’s families and our teaching staff, a sick child needs to stay at home.

We spoke with Vancouver Coastal Health as they developed their new poster “When Should I Keep My Sick Child Home for School?” when we were writing our blog post, Your Kindergarten Child’s Good Health last January.  Please keep your children home from school if they have are vomiting, have a fever or diarrhea.  This includes known communicable diseases such as pink eye, chicken pox, strep throat, measles or an undiagnosed rash.

If your children have a very runny nose they cannot manage independently, or a bad chesty cough, those might also be reasons for them to stay at home.  We understand fully as working parents ourselves that it is not always convenient to take a day off from work to stay home with your sick child; however, we are unable to look after a sick child at school, nor are we able keep sick children inside during the playtime breaks.  A child who has taken a day or two to rest and get well at home is going to be back to health faster and more able to fight a future illness.

If your child is sick, we ask you to call the school call back line each day your child is away.

Communication through Remind.  This year we will be using “Remind,” a communication system to keep you informed through text messages or email.  Please subscribe if you have not yet already done so, and remember that this code is for parents and caregivers only.  Please feel free to come and see us about your child at any time during the year.  We are usually available for a quick chat after school; in the morning at drop-off time is difficult for us to talk as we are trying to welcome and settle the children in the classroom.  If you would like to speak with us and need a longer time, please arrange a meeting time with us. We will often call parents in at 2:55 pm if we need to share something with your briefly or talk about your child’s day

Communication through We also author, our Kindergarten website for keeping our class parents informed.  We post once or twice a week; we will send you a link through “Remind” so you can see what we’re learning and thinking about in Kindergarten.

Communication through Email.  You can also email should you wish to contact us.  If your child is in Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Zambon’s class, please copy your emails to both teachers.

On Thursdays our school issues the weekly ebulletin.  Please speak to our Administrative Assistant if you are not receiving these newsletters.  They contain important reminders and updates for our school, and community news as well.

We’re looking forward to great year of fun and learning with your children!  Our Kindergarten Curriculum Overview will be sent home as a hard copy later this week.




1 Comment »

This Week in Our Room:  September 26-30, 2016

A is an apple

A is an apple

This week we finished work on our first letter of the Alphabet, “A.”  The children will bring home their alphabet craft each week along with the Itchy’s Alphabet printing page.  Please help your child to collect each of the alphabet letters in the kitchen or their bedroom for review and discussion about the letters.  At school we brainstorm words beginning with the letter of the week and are beginning to draw a picture and label those words in our Alphabet Books.  You can help your child by talking about letters beginning with the letter “B” for next week’s brainstorm.

We were a beautiful sea of Canada red and white as Ridgeview School ran in the memory of Terry Fox.  Thank you so much for helping your child gather together clothing to show their national pride.  We ran laps around the gravel field with our Big Buddies and had a short time together on the playground afterwards.

Marigold is ready to run, are you?

Marigold is ready to run, are you?

We really enjoyed the Axis Theatre production of “Robinson Crusoe.”  With great humour and some silly antics by a parrot puppet, the actors told the story of Robinson Crusoe and his lengthy stay stranded on an island.  They had a fabulous set, lots of songs and a remarkable number of props that really kept our children engaged.  We were delighted with the Kindergarten children’s audience behaviour.  They sat peacefully or about 45 minutes, listened well and showed their appreciation through polite applause at the end of the show.  Here are some of the expectations we shared with our children before attending the performance. Click here for the link.

Sometimes at the end of the school day, the children are very tired and not their usual calm selves when you see them at 2:55 pm.  They might seem teary, restless or hard to please.  The children are playing and working very hard at school, and “keeping it together” as best as they can to persevere through the long day.  The energy and self-regulation required to be friendly, kind, cooperative, and a good listener for six hours straight is probably far more than we realise or can remember as a child;  our students are five years old and we think they are amazing.  When your children see you and let loose the gamut of emotions they have been holding in all day, when they can finally truly relax in your safe arms and love, they might have an emotional outburst.  A West Vancouver teaching colleague sent this article our way which has some great ideas for what to do at the end of a long day with your little.  Click here for the link.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

If you have not yet completed the Online permission form please do so as soon as possible. Each students must have a form on file and this allows them to participate in any walking field trip where we leave the school grounds. Click here for the attached link

We still have a few families who have not yet completed their Verification forms.  Please return those signed forms to the classroom as soon as possible. We do not have any emergency information or contact information about your child if these forms are not yet completed.

Please remember to complete your child’s Comfort kit.  They will go into the emergency storage bins next week.

We have been blessed with some beautiful sunny weather these past few weeks! With that said, we know the rain is coming…. Please remember to leave a change of clothes in a drawstring bag on your child’s coat hook. Rain boots can also be left at school on a permanent basis so we always have them in case of a sudden shower.

It’s Walk to School Week starting Monday. If you live close to the school please try and walk every day next week. If you live too far away, try and park a block or two away and walk from there.

Our schedule next week:

Tuesday: Library and Music

Wednesday: Buddies (Turkey Fun)

Thursdays: Music


Leave a comment »


snack and lunches should be packed in a food bag

snack and lunches should be packed in a food bag

This week we completed our first week in the full day Kindergarten program.  One of the most important things we do in a full day, compared to the half day program, is have your children eat lunch at school.

After many years of watching children each lunch in our classrooms, there’s one thing we know very well: eating at school can be a complex, social affair.

In terms of the children’s self-regulation, eating is calming.  If the children are tired and running low on fuel, a snack is often what they need to help them up-regulate from the blue zone to the green zone.  When the children sit down to eat after a busy morning of learning, eating at lunch to fill up hungry tummies is just the thing they need to stay relaxed, calm and focused for the next part of the afternoon.  In these early weeks of September, we have a “last snack” time for the children around 2:35 before we dismiss at 2:55 pm.  Most of the children partake of a few pieces of fruit or crackers, or the last bites of a sandwich, and everyone wants long drinks of water to help them rehydrate.

When students eat snack and lunch at school, the social dynamics are very different than eating at home, or even in a restaurant.  We try to set up a calm, self-regulated environment for eating:  quiet music is playing in the background, the lights are turned down low and there’s the initial quiet as children are settling down to eat.  There will be some quiet conversation and even a bit of laughter.  But the expectation is that the children know and remember that their job at that time is to refuel first, then go outside to play.

a great idea to label snack containers in the food bag

a great idea to label snack containers in the food bag

At the tables, there is not typically an adult who sits down beside students to assist or cajole them to eat.  At school, even in Kindergarten, the children have to be able to eat independently which includes using a spoon or fork.  We have an adult lunchtime supervisor and Grade 7 monitors (who need to eat their own lunches) to help children with opening tight lids and or well sealed packages.  We will not, and cannot, make a child eat.  There is no negotiating, but we might give a gentle reminder:  “eat one more bite,” “two more mouthfuls” or “finish half your sandwich.”  So if your child is bringing home uneaten food, please know we have tried our very best.

As expected, the children are talking with their seatmates during eating times.  However, if there is too much talk then there is not enough eating.  The children are very eager to go outside to play on the playground, but our expectation is that a “reasonable amount” of food is consumed before going outside.  As teachers and moms of teenagers, we have a lot of experience dealing with kids and food and a pretty good idea of how much each child should eat to sustain his or her energy.

Eating in multicultural classrooms such as ours, where many different kinds of foods are brought to school, is a wonderful, global experience for everyone.  This year, your child can be sitting at a table of four where all four children are eating the food specific to their home country!  You can imagine how delicious it might look and smell in our rooms.  Some children are naturally very curious to try each other’s food, or wish to share their own, but we have reminded our students there is to be no sharing of food.  We are “nut aware” classrooms and as allergies can be known and unknown, we do not wish to take any risks of an allergic reaction.  You can help us by reinforcing this important message at home.

Preparing Snacks and Lunch at Home

After years of preparing lunches for our own children, and teaching many Kindergarten classes, we know that pleasing the particular and somewhat discerning five-year old palate, is not easy.

For the most part, we know the children are more than content to eat home prepared food.  They love to tell us if they are eating last night’s leftovers, or that their mom or dad got up early to prepare a favourite meal for them.  We love it when children bring food from home because most times they would have eaten at home first and are confident they will still like the taste at school.

Snacks are easy.  The children are often very satisfied with their yogurt, sliced fruit or veggies or small sweet treat such as a cookie, to go alongside their healthy food options.  Snacks are easy to present in a finger food format.  There are also many ways to purchase snack food that is manageable for children; for example, the “100 calorie” food packages of crackers or cookies, “cheesestrings,” small fruit cups and containers of yogurt (please remember to send a spoon for yogurt and fruit cups).  Healthy, fun food can go into a small, reusable containers such as popcorn, fish crackers, cucumber slices, olives and pickles or a fruity muffin.  Hummus is a great dip for veggie sticks.

a great assortment of healthy and fun food for snack time

a great assortment of healthy and fun food for snack time

For beverages, we prefer the children drink water from their non-spill water bottles.  Fruit juices, while sweet and tasty, are very sugary and spilled juices on the carpet and floors bring the inevitable ants to our classrooms.  Fruit juice boxes also create a lot of garbage.  We have access to taps and water bottle fillers to refill so fresh, cold water is always available.  Please send a water bottle everyday; it’s much cleaner for your child to drink from their own water bottle than use the water fountain, no matter how careful they are when drinking from it.

Eating lunch can be just as fun as snack time.  Again, a finger food format for presenting your child’s lunch is very appealing to them.  Last week we saw delicious wraps and sandwiches, made with special breads or buns and fillings, emerging from your child’s lunch bag.  When your children see this lovingly prepared food, cut into small quarters or halves just right for small hands, it’s like they are eating at a picnic or tea party, and how fun is that?  We see yummy slices of cold pizza, quesadillas, bagels and creamcheese, slices of meats, cheese and crackers that we know are very appreciated.  You can make eating time easier for your child by simply cutting your child’s food into small, manageable pieces for them to eat, such as a sandwich cut into halves or triangles.  Thank you to everyone for using reusable containers and bags for your child’s food, and for sending along a ziploc to catch the garbage in so we can send it home.

a ziploc bag is helpful to collect food packaging

a ziploc bag is helpful to collect food packaging

Sometimes the children want a warm lunch and a small thermos of soup, pasta or last night’s rice casserole are great options.  You can help us by remembering that when you place the lid on a hot container of food, it creates a strong seal which we often cannot open ourselves.  Please allow the food to cool for a minute or two to make the seal less strong.  As well, if your child is eating rice, a spoon is a better utensil to send to school as it can be tricky to use a fork because the rice always falls off.

Hot Lunch Program

This coming week begins a shift in our eating experience at school with the advent of the Hot Lunch Program starting on Monday.  This program, albeit very convenient, is not always met with the same enthusiasm by the child once he or she begins to eat.  “It doesn’t taste right,” is a phrase we have heard many, many times.  We encourage you to send along some extra food in your children’s lunch bags, in case they do not like their ordered lunch, until you know for certain that they will eat it.  We will let you know in a few weeks time what is popular and well-eaten by our classes.  All children must still bring snacks and water to school, even if they order a hot lunch.  It’s too long for a child to go from breakfast to lunch without anything to eat.   A hungry child is a child who is not self-regulated and without self-regulation, will have difficulty focusing and learning.

Finally, the hot lunch program creates some garbage.  Your child should bring their lunch bag and/or a large ziploc bag to contain the garbage and leftover food which we will be sending home, except for frozen treats or anything with a lot of liquid.  We will dispose of what we can at school and send the rest home with your child.


Leave a comment »

This Week in Our Room:  September 19-22, 2016

img_1746-1It goes without saying that the absolute highlight of our week was meeting our Big Grade 7 Buddies.  Mrs. Campbell’s class will buddy with Mr. Meldrum’s Grade 7s and Mrs. Daudlin’s class will buddy with Ms. Wilson’s class.  We meet once a week, usually on Wednesday afternoon, to socialise, make holiday crafts, play and enjoy each other’s companionship.  Next week, however, we will see our Buddies on Thursday for the Terry Fox Run.  We had a grand time filling out a reminder sheet for you with our Big Buddy’s name, and then a short playtime on the playground.

We visited the Library again and borrowed our weekly books.  As you greet your children afterschool, please help them to place their library book in their backpack, or place in your own bag if it’s too big, to keep it safe and dry.  You will be billed for books which are lost or damaged.  As many of our hardback picture books are now out of print, it is very costly to try to find replacements.

beanAs part of our “Personal Identity” Social Studies unit, we’ve been exploring our Name.  We read the delightful book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, and have gone on to talk about our names and nicknames.  We’ve made several name art projects, including Bean Names and Fruit Loop Initials.


Upcoming Events and Reminders

Scholastic Book orders are due on Tuesday, September 27.

We will be watching the play “Robinson Crusoe” presented by Axis Theatre on Wednesday, September 28.

The Terry Fox Run will take place on Thursday, September 29. Kindergarten students will be running, hopping or skipping one or two laps around the gravel field with their Grade 7 Buddies, then meet with their teacher.  Please remember to wear red and white and show your Canadian spirit. Thank you to parents who volunteered to help marshal the road route for Grades 1-7.

Leave a comment »

Kindergarten Basics

fullsizerender-19This week we’re going to bring your attention to an important part of, and that is the category of Kindergarten Basics.

Here we categorise the posts we believe form a basic part of Kindergarten life at Ridgeview.  We cover many different topics, from what we might do on a typical day in Kindergarten, to reading with your child, to the importance of play.

At the beginning of the school year, here are three important blog posts that you may find informative to help you understand what we’re thinking about.

Start the Kindergarten Day Off Right! (February 16, 2015)

Like the routines we create and follow at school, having routines at home helps us to be organised so everyone knows their job, mom, dad and kids.  We establish a strong classroom structure to provide predictability and ultimately, security for our children:  when the boys and girls know what’s expected of them and the other children, they feel much more confident in knowing what’s going to happen.  It’s very exciting when they remember the routines and it all just seems to magically happen!  We know it’s not magic, but rather the result of methodical planning and consistent behaviour on the part of the teacher.  The same can be said for home where the children have afterschool, dinner time and bedtime routines.  In the same way classroom routines make for a smoother and more enjoyable day, so can the ones related to getting up in the morning, preparing for the school or work day, and probably the most important, getting to bed on time!  Click here to read the original post.

Waste Management, Revisited (October 19, 2015)

You’ve probably already heard from your child that we are asking them to put specific items in the organics garbage can in our classrooms.  Right now, it’s mostly just wet paper towels after handwashing.  The odd fruit pit or cupcake wrapper ends up there which is ok, but we really need everyone to participate fully in the waste management system at school.  We’ve been doing this for three years now, and we need to ensure good habits are in place in Kindergarten as this will be the system for your child’s Ridgeview school life.  Currently, we are asking children to put the food packaging garbage back into their lunch bags to take and sort out at home.  Better still, please send your child’s food in recyclable containers to eliminate any garbage.  A small ziploc bag, or vegetable plastic bag might be more preferable for your children to take home fruit peels and pits if they don’t want them loose in their lunch bags.  Click here to read the original post.

A Day in the Life of Kindergarten

This is probably one of our favourite pages in the Kindergarten handbook that we’ve ever written because it sums up what a day in our Kindergarten life looks like.  It can be hard to imagine what we’re doing all day, although we will reassure you that your children are playing and working extremely hard.  By the end of last week, the children were very tired; indeed, there were many small heads drooping at the morning assembly.  Sharing, turn-taking, negotiating, compromising, cooperating, speaking kindly to your neighbour, listening to your teacher and paying attention to the many social cues that go on around you telling you what you should do next takes tremendous energy and self-regulation.  We do as much as we can through play, within our classroom structure, as the children become better acquainted with each other, their teacher, and themselves as a learner.  As the days go on and the temperatures become cooler, we will see remarkable growth in our Kindergarten students!  Click here to read the original post.


Leave a comment »