The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Autumn’s Harvest:  This Week in Our Room:  October 10-13, 2017

It’s been a golden end of summer as we’ve moved into the most delicious autumn we’ve been able to recall in the past number of years.  We’re enjoying sunny, warm afternoons on the playground, reading some brilliant new books about seasonal changes and watching our Kindergarten children grow, change and mature.  

We knew that post-Thanksgiving is a special time as we watch our classes take significant step forward in their self-regulation.  We’ve really worked hard on our self-regulation strategy of deep breathing.  Most of the children realise how good it feels to breathe deeply and feel their bodies relax and become more peaceful.  

This week, we’re solidifying our routine by including the Zenergy chime as part of developing mindfulness.  After listening to quiet music to calm ourselves (right now we’re listening to a personal favourite, “Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest” from the movie “The Descendants”) we play the chime once and think about the sound.  We’re training our brains to focus.  We lead the children through a deep breathing sequence, and then play the chime a second time.  The children are learning to gently push away small noises they might hear, concentrate on their breathing and have a few moments of meditation when their mind can simply relax.  The most important take-away from this strategy is that the children know their breath is their friend – it’s always with them, it can help them to calm down, relax and be refreshed no matter where they are.  

Next week, we will start to discuss our emotions and feelings and the importance of sharing how we feel with others.

We worked on upper and lowercase D this week.  Lowercase “d” can be tricky because many children confuse it with lowercase “b.”  When practising printing at home with your child, remember that we print all letters left- to right, top to bottom.  

For lowercase “b” the stick is printed first (the left side of the letter) from top to bottom, then the circle is formed (the right side of the letter).  Both parts of the letter must touch without crossing over.

For lowercase “d” the circle is formed first (the left side of the letter), then the stick is printed from top to bottom (the right side of the letter).  Both parts of the letter must touch without crossing over.

Printing is all about precision, and so we strive to teach the children to at least try to form the letters correctly.  Forming the alphabet letters correctly will actually help your children to print neatly and quickly (this will become apparent and necessary as they move through the grades), and surprisingly, requires less energy so printing is not a tiresome task.   It goes without saying that it takes years of practise to have beautifully formed letters that sit on the line, with consistent size and spacing.  Each child arrives at this point when they are developmentally ready and is greatly influenced by their pre-printing experiences such as colouring, drawing and other fine motor play including playdough and Lego.

As classroom teachers, we recognise that each child has a different style to his or her printing and it’s exciting for us when we can identify a child’s piece of work without looking at the name printed at the top of a page!

We made these beautiful tissue paper apples last week.  We finally have everyone’s finished and up on the bulletin boards.  Are these not absolutely amazing?  The children separated small pieces of tissue paper (we’re always looking for activities to strengthen small fingers for strong fine motor skills) and glued them onto their apple cut-out.  Some mod podge and a whole lot of gold, red and green glitter later…well, if you could see how they capture the light in our room, they are breathtaking.

As part of our personal identity unit in Social Studies, we’ve been doing a lot of activities around our names so this week we thought we’d expand our knowledge and start to chat about our last names.  This discussion proved to be a little more challenging for our classes because not all the children have necessarily been required to say their last names very frequently and were a little shy to talk about it.  We think this is an important opportunity for you to talk about your family name so your child feels more confident in stating both their first, and last names.  

For our class activity, we created our initials using fruit loops.  The classroom smelled really good, and the children were very respectful about not sampling the fruit loops.  (Telling them that some of the fruit loops were left over from last year, and had been touched by MANY MANY hands, may have somewhat dampened their enthusiasm for tasting.  But our conscience is clear…we’re telling the truth).

We completed our October self-portraits with these cute pumpkin backgrounds.  It’s only our second self-portrait this school year and we are delighted with the children’s drawing, cutting and glueing skills.

Our Kindergarten children have completed a lot of fantastic work this week.  We’d say that so far, this year’s harvest has certainly been one of plenty.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Friday, October 20 is a Professional Day; students are not in session.

Monday, October 23 is a Curriculum Implementation Day; students are not in session.

Sharing and Special Helper:  we’re starting another round of Special Helper soon and we’re ready to include Sharing.  Sharing is similar to the former “Show and Tell” but we will be giving a specific theme to follow each month.  Our theme this time is going to be “Bring 3 Objects that Begin with the First Letter of Your First Name.”  All three items must fit in a small ziploc bag.  We’re quite strict about that rule so please help your child to locate the appropriately sized items; your child should know the names of what he or she has brought to school.  Please Note:  if your children forget to bring their Sharing on their Special Helper Day, we will not be allowing them to bring it on another day. We’ve done this in the past and it frequently results in a backlog of Sharing and takes away from the child whose Special Helper day it really is.  Please check the posted calendar for your child’s Special Helper Day.

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Happy Turkey Day 2017

A very Happy Thanksgiving from our homes to yours…

 

And a few Thankful thoughts from the Kindergarten:

I am thankful for…

-a beautiful blue sky

-my family

-the ocean

-my Dad’s hugs

-playing at the beach

-the golden trees

-birds in the sky

-food to eat

-swimming in a swimming pool

-my teacher

-eating with my family

-clean water to drink

-my grandparents

-playing in the park, and a picnic

-the blue jays at my house

-my bird, Banana

-my garden

-nature and snow

-hugs and kisses from my family

We’re thankful for our friends and families, and our dear Kindergarten children.  We look forward to seeing everybody when school re-opens on Tuesday, October 10.

 

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Turkey Talk…This Week in Our Room:  October 2-6, 2017

It’s Thanksgiving week in the Kindergarten and we’ve been cooking up all things turkey. We’ve been making cards, colouring, reading and expressing our gratitude for one another.

The highlight of our week was meeting our Big Grade 7 Buddies and making the turkeys for our annual turkey patch.

 

These turkeys should have made their way home by now and will be a very adorable centrepiece for your Thanksgiving table.  

We’ve had two very fun activities with our Buddies now (Terry Fox Run last Thursday) and each pairing is developing a strong relationship.  Little Buddies gain so much in having positive examples set before them from senior students; it’s like having another big brother or big sister to show the children what to do and how things work.  Big Buddies learn empathy, compassion and patience as they slow their own work rhythm to help tiny hands manage scissors and gluesticks, or gentle reminders to focus on the teacher.  Christy and I have been working with Buddies since our Chartwell days and certainly since we’ve been together at Ridgeview – that would be the past 23 years.  A Buddy Program ranks among the most beneficial and popular activity for both Big and Little Buddies alike.

In Math we’re learning October’s pattern, ABC.  We’re using this pattern on our monthly calendar, the colour calendar and we represented it in turkey feathers as well!

 

We read some fantastic books the past couple of weeks on the Thanksgiving Theme:

  • Franklin’s Thanksgiving (Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark)
  • Cranberry Thanksgiving (Wende and Harry Devlin)
  • Thanks for Thanksgiving (Julie Markes and Doris Barrette)
  • Thanks for Thanksgiving (Heather Patterson and Mary Jane Gerber)
  • ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving (Dav Pilkey)
  • The Thankful Book (Todd Parr)
  • A Turkey for Thanksgiving (Eve Bunting)
  • Bear Says Thanks (Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman)

Thanks for Thanksgiving (Patterson and Gerber) was our inspiration for discussing what we were thankful for this holiday.  Sometimes it seems natural for children to talk about material objects – toys or digital devices – as what they’re thankful for but we really try to guide their thinking to reflect on their family, friendships and world gifts we might otherwise take for granted:  clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, birds in the sky.  Everyone illustrated their idea and the teachers scribed the writing for our “Leaves of Thanksgiving.”

 

We finished the letter C this week and made these cutie caterpillars as our Alphabet craft.  We’ll send these home next week.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

All Ridgeview families should wait outside until the first bell has rung to signal that you may enter the building.  We understand that everyone wants to come inside, particularly in the cold mornings; however, this is a working and preparation time for teachers and we are frequently meeting with staff or parents.  Once your children have entered the building, please do not leave them unattended or supervised by another parent.  Children are to wait quietly beside their parents, and enter the classroom calmly and in a self-regulated manner after the teacher opens the door.  Parents, please say your good-byes quickly and quietly so the children can walk directly into the classroom to begin their day.

As we requested earlier this year, students should all have non-spill, refillable water bottles.  Screw top bottles are not a good idea for our age group as it’s very easy to knock over the open bottles.

In addition, a medium sized Ziploc bag is necessary to hold the garbage created from snacks throughout the day.  It also keeps your child’s lunch kit cleaner, rather than having yogurt, small bits of food and wrappers mixed in with their food.

School is closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Monday, October 9.

School re-opens on Tuesday, October 10.

Early dismissal days this week are Wednesday October, 11 and Thursday, October 12 next week at 1:30 pm.

October Scholastic orders due Thursday October, 12.

 

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This Week in Our Room: September 25-29, 2017

 

 

Last year we started on a quest to find new and creative updates for our Alphabet letter crafts and we think we’ve found a winner for b….b is a bird!  Thanks again to Pinterest for the never-ending supply of cuteness.

Probably the best way to describe this week was rockin’.  We had such a busy week and the children did so well, demonstrating a lot of flexibility, patience, a “go with the flow” attitude that made each day very enjoyable despite the continual interruptions to our usual routine.

 

 

Tuesday was our first Primary Terry Fox Assembly, organised by the Grade 1-3 teachers.  The Kindergarten was invited to join the rest of the Primary students to listen to a presentation and watch a short video about our Canadian Hero,Terry Fox.  The Grade 2s also sang a Terry Fox song and invited us all to join in.  We learned a great deal in our short time together to ready us for Thursday’s big run.

All Ridgeview Primary students completed their Physical Literacy assessment which is simply a baseline of information on the children’s physical skill levels, including running (stopping, pivot, run back), hopping (on one leg, then the other), kicking a ball and throwing (overhand).  We were pleased with the children’s excellent listening and ability to quickly follow instructions from our Physical Literacy Specialists, West Vancouver Teacher Mentor Amber Wilson and Mentor Erin Crawford.  The children will be re-assessed in the Spring to celebrate their personal achievements.

We are pleased to welcome Ms. Amanda Sanford who will be teaching Primary Music at Ridgeview.  Our children attend Music class twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, with Ms. Sanford in the Music Portable.

The children are really enjoying the stories and book exchange during Library.  It’s very important our classes get into the good habit of returning their Library books on time.  We recognise this is a new routine and appreciate your support in helping your child to remember to pack his or her book the night before.  We encourage you to send the book back for Tuesday to give yourself one day’s grace in case you forget.

We could not have asked for better weather for the Terry Fox Run on Thursday.  What a glorious day, blue skies and a sea of children in red and white running for a very important cause.  The Kindergarten children had a “meet and greet” with their Grade 7 Buddies and completed their warm-up on the sport court led by Mr. Meldrum.  Then, we all walked down to the gravel field to run or walk two laps with our Buddies.  The children ran like champions and still looked quite fresh as they were finishing their laps.  Our Grade 7s left us at the playground while they went for their neighbourhood run.  We all met up on the playground for a few final remarks by our organising teacher, Ridgeview Vice-Principal Mr. Parslow.

  • Hot Lunch Update:

It was a bit of a hit and miss this week to the introduction of Hot Lunch at school.

Monday

-pasta with butter and parmesan cheese was much enjoyed (two thumbs up)

-pasta with marinara sauce was well received or not well received depending upon the student (one thumb up)

Tuesday

-the hot dogs looked quite appealing (Mrs. Campbell and I were thinking if they were chili cheese dogs they could have been a hit with the adults in the classroom) (two thumbs up)

-the macaroni and cheese was deemed “very cheesy” (two thumbs up)

Wednesday

-the chicken strips and grilled cheese sandwiches came bundled with the children’s request for ketchup or plum dipping sauce, all wrapped in foil bags and it was all nice and hot (two thumbs up)

-we overheard one of the children say, “This (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) is really good!”

Thursday

-the chicken teriyaki was rated “good” by the children but was cold or “a little bit warm” by the time it was delivered to our classes (one thumb up)

Friday

-Rocky Mountain Pizza was a huge hit (ham and mango, cheese, pepperoni)

-having personally eaten this pizza at school and in the restaurant, we can definitely say two thumbs up!

-the pizza boxes must go home. Please do not recycle them at school.

Milk and Juice

-we’ve had some major milk and juice spills (table, carpet, cloakroom) when we tried to send the leftovers home so what we’re going to do from now on is when your child has had enough to drink, we’re pouring out the remains and recycling the wet containers at school

Important Events and Reminders

Raincoats and boots.  Too many children did not have a raincoat during Friday’s downpour.  Although we had a few “loaner” jackets, we did not have enough for everyone.  Please bring an extra raincoat to school that you can leave in the cloakroom with the weather being so unpredictable.

October Homework Calendars were sent home this week.  Please send back your September Homework Calendar (even if it’s not totally finished) next week for a sticker.

Scholastic Orders for October were also sent home.  Please have your order form returned to school by Friday, October 13.

Wednesday is our first Buddy Day in class.  We’re making a fun Thanksgiving craft!

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This Week in Our Room: September 18-21, 2017

This week we continued with the letter A.  At the beginning of the year, not only are the children learning about the letter names, sounds and formation of upper and lowercase letters, we are carefully teaching the structure of each of our Alphabet activities. After all, we’ve got 25 more letters to go! Like how we organise much of the Kindergarten, routines are safe and familiar for our little learners whether it be in how we line up, get ready for snack and lunch or remember to print our name at the top of the page

We’re completing two alphabet printing tasks at school, in addition to our stories, brainstorming and other literacy activities. We’ll start sending home one printing sheet every week and the other we are collecting for the children’s Alphabet books which they will proudly bring home at the end of the school year. Attached to it will be the children’s Alphabet craft. You can help your child practise their sounds by posting each craft in a highly visible space such as your kitchen or in your child’s room. Next up: Letter B.

The children have been free exploring the classroom math manipulatives. Now, they are ready to start taking on a few small tasks while working in their small groups. September’s math pattern is AB, so the children have been creating AB patterns at their table groups. The children have been rotating through the five tables, each with a different kind of manipulative. They are extremely creative as you can see from these teddy bear patterns.

We also reinforce what we’re teaching in class through our morning Centres time where we will invite the children to apply their skills to a new manipulative.

We started an informal round of Special Helper this week without Sharing. We’ll include Sharing, which always has a theme in our classrooms, after each child has had a chance to be the Special Helper, be the line leader, sit in the Special Helper chair and lead the class through the morning Calendar. The Special Helper rotation is always posted outside our classrooms on the Parent Notice Board.

In Social Studies, our focus is on Personal Identity, and we started with making a fun project with our names, Bean Names! We were super impressed with the children’s fine motor skills and perseverance in placing the beans carefully along the glue lines.

We encountered quite the rain deluge earlier this week. Please send your child with a coat everyday. We are trying to get into a good habit of at least starting with a coat for the beginning of the morning and lunch recess. We know the children get very warm from running, so they may ask permission from the duty supervisors to return to the classroom with a friend and hang up their coat. We do not want children leaving their coats on the benches or hanging from the playground. Finally, if you’ve not yet sent in an extra change of clothes in a small shopping bag to hang on your child’s hook, please support us in getting these things organised.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Thank you to everyone who made a Scholastic purchase. Please return your child’s order form on Monday as we cannot complete the ordering process without it.

Your student verification forms and emergency comfort kits are now due.

We have many students whose families have not yet completed the Policy and Procedures online forms. This is the online form which gives permission for students to do a walking field trip off the school grounds (Terry Fox Run, events held at WVSS and the Kay Meek, nature walks to Chatwin Park). We receive a daily notice from Mrs. Lytle of which families have not signed off on this requirement. If you are not certain this includes you, please check in with us or at the office. And a form must be completed for each of your children, not one for your family.

Tuesday, September 26: Terry Fox Assembly for Primary students. We realise the Terry Fox Run may be new for some students we so will take some time with the other Primary classes to have a short talk about Terry Fox’s courage, his dream to run across for Canada and his legacy for all Canadians.

Wednesday, September 28: All West Vancouver Primary students will be participated in our District Physical Literacy Program. We will be gathering a baseline for basic movement skills so each student can work towards a personal goal. Please ensure your child is wearing running shoes to school on Wednesday.

Library Book Exchange for both Kindergarten classes.

Thursday, September 28: Ridgeview’s Terry Fox Run. The Kindergarten children will be joining up with their Grade 7 Big Buddy to run a lap or two around the gravel field (please note we do not leave the school grounds). First, we will participate in a group warm-up. Then, following our run we will wait on the playground for the rest of the school to complete their off-site run before we finish with some closing remarks from the Grade 6 student organisers. At this time, the draw for the Terry Fox t-shirt will be held. We encourage our children to wear red and white clothing (your Canada Day t-shirts are perfect) and everyone must wear runners.

Please remember to bring your toonie for Terry. All proceeds are donated to the Terry Fox Foundation. For donations of $5 or more, students will receive a raffle ticket for the t-shirt draw.

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This Week in Our Room: September 11-15, 2017

It’s been a very, very busy week in Kindergarten but we’re pleased to say the children have held up extremely well under a fairly challenging schedule.

Our children were dismissed early on Monday and Friday this week as we held our Parent Intake Conferences as part of the Gradual Entry for Kindergarten. Thank you very much for attending your Conference. We are missing many of the Developmental Questionnaires we sent home as part of the Conference. Please take some time this weekend to fill it out and return to your classroom teacher. We will contact you to speak further if we have any questions or concerns.

Lunch went very nicely this week, as it was the first time we’ve all eaten together other than snack. Please note our classrooms are NUT AWARE. We ask everyone, in the spirit of goodwill, to please carefully check all packaged food items such as granola bars, cookies and crackers and breads. Cashew nuts, walnuts and pistachios and of course, peanuts, are the nuts we are particularly wary of in both classes.

 

 

In class, we’ve begun working on our Alphabet, starting with the letter A as our Letter of the Week. We complete a variety of activities for each letter:
-read an Alphabet story
-work on sound production (making the sound) and sound recognition (recognising the sound), -teach the correct formation of each letter
-brainstorm words beginning with the sound
-draw pictures in crayon and label in pencil each one

 

We’ve also began the first of our monthly self-portraits for Kindergarten. We love to watch the children draw and how they see themselves. Our general criteria for all artwork is:
Big – fill your space (use the whole sheet of paper)
Bright – use five colours or more
Beautiful – do your personal best

Wednesday was a big day for both classes. We have our Music and Library classes back to back. We were very pleased to see how well the children are self-regulated as they move through the hallways, quietly walking and watching the teacher ahead of them.

Our school Library has been newly renovated. Thanks to the fundraising by the RPAC (Ridgeview Parent Advisory Council) the Library has a whole new look with new shelving and furniture. It’s calming tones of grey and white certainly make it a self-regulated environment in which the children will be relaxed, focused and ready to learn.

Mrs. Kennedy, our Teacher-Librarian, clearly set out the behavioural expectations while in the Library.
-quiet voices
-walking feet
-be responsible and do not leave any messes (no books to be left on the floor)
-be respectful (kind and polite behaviour is expected from everyone)

On Thursday we held our Kindergarten Curriculum Morning for parents to talk specifically about our classroom routines and class expectations. We used the app Haiku Deck haikudeck.com to build a slide presentation on our iPad mini of pictures around our classrooms and school. We had an excellent turn out and thank you to everyone for taking the time to stop by and meet the teachers.

As part of our Meet the Teacher Curriculum Day, our school also held an Ice Cream Social mixer for all students afterschool. Students were all treated to a free ice cream cone. Naturally, the Kindergarten was in an elevated state of emotions (yellow zone and very excited in the sweetest ways possible) for the rest of the afternoon as everyone anticipated their ice cream cone…which was extremely delicious. Thanks to Mrs. Brady for providing ice cream tickets for the school staff as well.

Next week there is talk of rain. It’s a good idea to use a small shopping bag, labelled with your child’s name, to place an extra set of clothes to be hung on your child’s coat hook. Also, if it’s raining, children should bring boots to school and indoor shoes they can put on themselves. Children should not wear their boots in the classroom as it makes the floor wet and slippery. If your child wears shoes with laces, he or she must be able to independently tie them. We really encourage slip-on, or velcro fastened, runners.

Reminders and Upcoming Events

Next Wednesday is going to be a very big day for us.

Wednesday is Library Book Exchange for both classes. Please help your child to return his or her book on time. We strongly recommend bringing your book back on Tuesday so you have an extra day in case you forget. Students are not allowed to borrow a new book unless the previous book has been returned.

Wednesday, September 20 is Photo Day. We always start with the Kindergarten classes to capture them at their best before snack and recess playtime. Please arrive promptly for school at 8:50 am as we begin shortly after the morning announcements.

Friday, September 22, is a Professional Day. Students are not in session.

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This Week in Our Room:  September 6-8, 2017

copyrighted to Susan Winget

Welcome back to school, and especially to Ridgeview Kindergarten!

We were delighted to meet all of our children.  We’ve had a really fun first week of Gradual Entry, taking our time to get to know the children, the children meeting their new classmates and everyone is learning about classroom rules and routines.  There will be a lot of changes moving from preschool to Kindergarten, and in a big school like ours it’s important for everyone’s safety that we review the expectations.

We will be continuing with Gradual Entry for September 11-15.  Next week’s schedule is as follows:

Monday, September 11:  9 am-12 pm for all Kindergarten students.  Please bring a snack and a non-spill water bottle.  Please be on time to pick-up your child.  Intake Conferences for Kindergarten parents begin promptly at 12:40 pm.  

Tuesday, September 12:  8:50 am-2:55 pm for all students.  Please bring two snacks, lunch and a non-spill water bottle.  Please indicate to your child that one snack is for the afternoon.

Wednesday, September 13:  8:50-2:55 pm for all students.  Please bring two snacks, lunch and a non-spill water bottle.

Thursday, September 14:  8:50 am-2:55 pm for all students.  Please bring two snacks, lunch and a non-spill water bottle.  Please Note:  “Meet My Teacher” for Grades 1-7 have an early dismissal at 2 pm.  Kindergarten is in session until 2:55 pm.  Kindergarten Families are encouraged to visit the sale of Ridgeview Spirit Wear and the Ice-Cream Social at the undercover area across from the portables after dismissal.

Friday, September 16:  9:00 am-12 pm for all students.  Please bring a snack and a non-spill water bottle.  Intake Conferences for Kindergarten parents begin promptly at 12:40 pm.

Reminders and Upcoming Events

Please sign-up for your child’s Intake Conference if you have not have already done so. If your child attends Camp Ridgeview, please inform them to make arrangements for early pick-up and which classroom your child is enrolled.

It’s very important to sign-up for Remind.  We send home many reminders and information for parents this way.  We also send you the link when we have posted our classroom newsletter or posted on our blog, theselfregulatedteacher.com  We have an information sheet posted on our Parent Bulletin Board on how to sign up, or if you need a paper handout then please ask.  We do a lot of parent communication online so all parents, particularly working parents, receive information about our classes at exactly the same time.  

We sent home our Developmental Questionnaire today for you to fill out.  Please return at any time before your conference, or bring the questionnaire on your day.

We sent home the Kindergarten September Homework for some fun activities for you to do with your child on Thursday this week.  Attached was the new Ridgeview Traffic Safety and Parking Map from our Principal, Mrs. Brady.  Please take some time to review this very important document as traffic safety affects everyone, students and adults alike.

Although we are sending this newsletter home on paper, it will be the only time this year. We have also posted it on our classroom website: theselfregulatedteacher.com.  All future newsletters will be posted on the website.  Please check our website weekly.  We will send you a link on Remind when the newsletter is posted.  

 

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Kindergarten to Graduation:  We’ve Come Full Circle

Courtesy of Pinterest

This past school year was a particularly busy one for Christy and myself as we each had a child graduating from Grade 12.  This Labour Day weekend marks a new beginning for us as parents as our children move on to University, no longer living at home.  We hope that the foundation we’ve laid with them since they were young is solid enough as they experience new found independence, freedom and challenges.  We’ve tried to teach them resilience and perseverance when faced with difficult times, establish a strong moral compass based on family values when it comes to doing the right thing, along with empathy, compassion and a healthy dose of common sense.  We will see if our modelling and lessons on the beauty of our mindfulness to stay in the present, underpinned with a self-regulation structure has transferred now that they are out of the house!

Our own self-regulation certainly came into play as we navigated our way through the Grade 12 Graduation year.  Beyond the regular classroom instruction was University applications, Scholarship applications, Graduation photos, Graduation events, performances of all kinds from musical theatre, choir and dance…and that’s just what our kids were involved in.  University and Scholarship applications all have due dates and demand references which needs to be organised well ahead of time.  Special events require early ticket purchases.  It’s hard not to be constantly harping at your kids with reminders about when things are due, emotions on the rise.  But for the strength of our husbands to “let the chips fall where they may,” that meant allowing natural consequences to happen.  Truly, we found out that our kids are much more resourceful than we believed them to be.  

Having now gone through the complete cycle of K-12 public education (twice for me with two kids graduated), we’ve been talking and reflecting on our roles as parents.  We want to emphasise the importance and responsibility of our life-long commitment as parents to be involved in our children’s education and schooling, beyond the needs of shelter, nutrition and care.   We might think that support doesn’t begin until Kindergarten or even Grade One, but it actually starts much earlier than we think.  

For our University bound children we know there will be many opportunities and temptations that will present themselves.  We can only send our kids off, confident in that as parents we have communicated openly about the issues and difficulties young people face today and the repercussions of those actions.  Our Principal wisely reminded us that our young adults are able, and we should see and trust that they are able as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

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All We Really Need to Know We Learned from You, Our Kindergarten Students

Every year we write a letter to our Kindergarten children, reflecting on the past year and the connections we formed. We were inspired by Robert Fulghum’s poem “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” So with thanks to him, here is our letter for 2017. Please note: This post has been slightly modified from the original our students received.

 

To our Dear Kindergarten Children,

There’s a wonderful poem called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. It’s a beautiful poem, and talks about important things such as sharing with others, cleaning up after yourself and washing your hands before you eat. These are important life lessons and when people think back about what they learned in Kindergarten, these are the kinds of things they remember learning and doing. They are lessons that stay with us always.

But we’ve been teachers for quite a long time now, and many of those years has been as Kindergarten teachers. So what we might say is that All We Really Need to Know We Learned from You, Our Kindergarten Students.

We learned about patience, one block at a time. This was a year for Master Builders. You’re one of the most amazing groups of children we’ve taught who not only love to build, but do it very well. You understand about creating a sound foundation to build a strong structure. Whether you were using Keva planks, Lego, sticky bricks or soft blocks you were meticulous in taking your time to create and re-create the ideas in your head.

We learned about sharing and the many forms that it took in our class. You took turns to share the Smelly Markers and the most popular treasure boxes. You waited calmly for your chance to use a sand tray. You also liked to share your ideas during class discussions. And you loved bringing a Sharing to show the class on your Special Helper Day. We thought you really grew in your ability to share with others, we know it’s not easy. But one of your greatest strengths is your willingness to please, so we know that between your self-regulation and your tenacity, you were always able to do the right thing.

We learned about acceptance and empathy as you were getting to know all the children in Kindergarten, your brother and sister’s friends and your Grade 7 Buddies regardless of gender or language. We loved how you used the language of social play as your common language whether you were making books at the Imagination Station, walking the forest creek or running races down the grassy hill.

We learned about love and affection as we watched you and your Big Buddies this year. The attachment you and your Buddy have for each other is strong. Your eyes are always searching for one another in the big group. There is devotion in the way you look at each other. We see how hard you work together to accomplish a task. You’re learning valuable lessons in getting along with others and building a relationship. We’ve never had a class who always remembers Wednesday is Buddy Day and you looked so forward to seeing them.

We learned about courage and risk-taking when you discovered all that the playground had to offer you. From the fireman’s pole to the tire swing to the monkey bars…you never failed to show your courage and resolve to conquer these activities. We know this for sure because you’ve got the callouses to prove it! When the swings were flying high or you were reaching for that next ring, you were confident in your abilities and willing to take the risks to achieve your goal.

We learned about friendship by the way you supported each other. Whenever a classmate was feeling poorly, or had been hurt, you were always there ready to hold your friend’s hand and walk him or her to the office or to the classroom. You seemed to know when another student was feeling sad or lonely; and you tried to engage your friend by inviting him to play or making her laugh. You show a level of empathy that is very grown-up for your age.

We learned about perseverance and grit as you practised over and over again, the careful printing of your name. This was a significant year for printing your names. Some of you had not printed your name in full before but you were so determined to master this important skill. For those of you who were already printing your names, you’ve been working on using upper and lowercase letters perfectly. We’ve watched you develop precision in your printing, and we can say with confidence that many of you print as well as us and sometimes, even better.

We learned about finding joy in the little things. Glitter, sparkle mod podge, playdough, printmaking with an acorn squash, a Hello Kitty colouring sheet and eating cupcakes were just a few of those little things that made you say, “Oooohhh.” We loved how excited you were to work on a new alphabet craft, or the wonder on your faces when you saw our decorated Christmas tree. Who knew there was so much happiness to be found in a small container of turquoise sparkles?

Each September we receive a new class of children; some of us already know each other, while others are new friends. Each year we wonder how we will bond together as teacher and students. And we thought that this year was very special, our heartfelt connection with each of you and between all of you. You started off your Kindergarten year as young children from different places, to become classmates and friends held together by shared learning, experiences and fun.

Your next step is Grade One. There is excitement and uncertainty, looking ahead yet taking one more glance back. We’re going to miss you so much, but we know it is time for you to move on to Grade One.

We’ve had many great teachers in our lives, but none so great as you. Our wish for you is that your love for learning and literacy remain with you always, and that you continue to find joy in all the little things. We know we will. You have taught us well.

Love,
Your Kindergarten Teachers

 

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This Week in Our Room: June 19-23, 2017

It’s been a Royal Week in the Kindergarten. It really has just been so much fun watching the growing independence of our amazing children.

We had a wonderful time at the Vancouver Aquarium on Monday! The natural curiosity and wonder of 5- and 6- year old children as they asked hundreds of questions, shared their knowledge and tried to make connections with their understanding of the Ocean World is truly astounding. It was so clear to us how many discussions the children have had with their parents, read books and watched movies together and taken in so much information. We’re proud that our students have such a keen interest and awareness of the natural environment and as are all stewards of the Earth, we’re motivated to help conserve as much as we can for their learning and enjoyment in the future.

We had a serious chat with our children about the importance of representing our school while we were away on our field trip. Attendance on a field trip is a privilege; as the teachers, we need to be able to trust our children while they are being supervised in a non-school setting by us, parent volunteers and interacting with the Aquarium staff. As we moved through the exhibits, we watched our children walking between the crowds, staying within sight of their adult leaders and taking turns with students from other schools at the shared activities. For Christy and myself, observing the transfer of self-regulation strategies to multiple social environments is key for us in confirming our teaching practises.

Our next major event of the week was a day of great excitement: Division 16’s William was Ridgeview’s Principal for a Day. William’s family had the highest bid for this special privilege during the live auction at our school’s Library Modernization Fundraiser Gala back in May. William was able to spend half a day with our principal, Mrs. Valerie Brady, to learn all about the different responsibilities and decision-making the principal of a large school has to take on.

For his first principal decision, William extended the morning recess by five minutes, much to the delight of the student body. A tour of the custodial offices, a visit to the school kitchen to check on the leftover Sports Day Freezies and a ride on the school elevator down to the Primary wing to deliver the Grade One school supplies “suitcases” made for a busy and productive morning.

It just so happened that Principal of the Day coincided with the Kindergarten Prince and Princess dress-up day. We welcomed our handsome princes in their suits, jacket and ties and our lovely ladies who wore their beautiful fairytale gowns. We made beautiful Fairy Tale castle covers for our Fairy Tale activities and decorated them with glitter. After recess, the Kindergarten children walked through all of the Primary classes on a Royal Parade. And at lunch, we ate some of the yummiest cookies we’ve ever tasted (Circus Circus cookies from Fresh Street Market) courtesy of the “Principal’s Office.”

We finished off the school week with the annual Primary Variety Show featuring children from Kindergarten to Grade 3. Students performed on the piano, sang, played guitar and we even had an amazing hoola hoop dance! Division 16’s Maaike played the piano for an appreciative audience and we were very pleased and proud that one of our own was up on stage.

All in all, it was a very satisfying week.

This is the last Kindergarten newsletter! We can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and how our little ones have grown to now be entering Grade One.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

This week we are collecting all Home Reading books. Last Friday was the last day to take home books. Please return all books you might have a home.

Tuesday, June 27: It’s our “Beach Day” for Kindergarten. We’re not actually going to the beach; rather, we’re going to do some beachy activities in our undercover playground. The table we use in the House Corner for a baby change table was just recently discovered by some students to actually be a water table, so we will bring it out and put it to its proper use. We’ll have sand trays, bubble blowing, hoola hoops, and lots of outdoor games such as chalk, skipping ropes and hopscotch going on. Thanks to our parent volunteers for bringing in snacks!

Wednesday, June 28: It’s the Grade 7 Graduation Ceremony and our children are playing a very important role. We will be presenting flowers to our Big Buddies. We would like our children to dress-up for this formal occasion. Children can bring clothes to change into for the afternoon. We will open the staff washroom for them and the children can change one at a time in private if they wish.

Girls: dresses, skirt and top; dress shoes
Boys: dress shirts, pants; dress shoes or cleaned up running shoes

We should be “on” around 11:40 am, if the schedule is the same as last year’s. Parents are welcome to come and watch but please leave room for us to enter the gym and walk up along the East wall.

Thursday, June 29: It’s the last day of Kindergarten and we will just be enjoying some time with our students. Please remember that dismissal is at 12 noon for Kindergarten only.

 

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