Communicating Learning: Student-Led Conferences at Home: Special Edition Newsletter April 25, 2021

The weeks fly by so quickly and here it is time again for our absolutely-best-ever-most-favourite day of the school year, Student-Led Conferences!  We’re reblogging this post (with a twist) from April 2019 (the last time we held Student-Led Conferences in school) with our best suggestions for having a successful Student-Led Conference at Home with your Kindergarten child. 

First, some background information about Student-Led Conferences:

Christy and I have been holding Student-Led Conferences (SLC) for many years; in fact, my first Student-Led Conference as a teacher was here in West Vancouver at Chartwell Elementary School in 1990 when I was teaching Grade 3.  We’ve gradually refined our practises to make it perfect for Kindergarten but the core tenets of the Conferences has always stayed the same:  to provide an opportunity for students to communicate learning to their parents in a meaningful format; self-reflection for students to identify their personal accomplishments, strengths and areas for improvement; give parents an insight into how their children learn; and an inside look at student work, their classroom and school.

We’ve written extensively about Student-Led Conferences at  You can use the search tool on our website to find our posts.  You can also read about Student Led Conferences in my Grade 3 classroom during my Chartwell days in Evaluating Literacy:  A Perspective for Change (1991) by Robert J. Anthony, Terry D. Johnson, Norma I. Mickelson and Alison Preece.

Our Kindergarten Student-Led Conferences are a twist on the traditional Student-Led Conference.  In the years we were teaching Grades 1-4, each student would welcome their parents to his or desk, where a curated selection of work would be waiting in a file.  A letter of welcome for parents, plus a class created agenda, provide structure for the Conference time.

In Kindergarten, however, we use a Centre approach, in much the same way we use Centres during the morning Activity Time, Math Centres, or our focus afternoon Centre Time.  Parents can expect to see an Alphabet Centre, Math Centre with tasks and participate in the daily Calendar activities as part of our Student-Led Conferences.  

Kindergarten is a special grade, the first formal schooling for most children, the first Student-Led Conference for most parents, and it’s important for us to set the tone and expectations for how the Conferences are conducted because you’ll be enjoying them for the next eight years while at Ridgeview.  As one of two informal Communicating Learning opportunities, we want this to be a positive and successful experience for you and your child.  The format will be different as you move through the grades, but its value is always the same:  priceless.  

This year, due to the restrictions of Covid-19, we’ve been planning and thinking over the past two months about how to bring the same energy and excitement to Student-Led Conferences at home.  Using the same Owl envelopes the children have been using to take home their special artwork once a month, we’re putting them to good use by packaging everything your child needs for their conference.  Inside your child’s envelope you will find an introductory letter from us, an agenda for the conference with some paperwork attached, and then the children’s schoolwork to be enjoyed at your leisure.  We’ve included some artwork in an Art Gallery folder.

We have practised with the children how to conduct their conference; remember, this is a student led conference, so your child is in charge of leading the conference which is the same as we would have done at school.  Your role is to provide support, encouragement, praise and notice improvements in their schoolwork, skills and confidence over the past year.

Please note:  At the end of the conference, your child may keep all of their schoolwork at home.

-we will send home the Y and Z alphabet sheets when they are completed and marked for you to add to the Alphabet Book.  Then the Alphabet Book is complete, from A-Z.

-we need you and your child to fill out the Two Stars and a Wish Self-Reflection sheet and return it and the Owl envelope to school

Here’s our Top 10 tips for a successful Student-Led Conference at Home:

  1. Please schedule your child’s Student-Led Conference into your day.  Set aside 20-25 minutes to be with your child.
  2. This goes without saying, but our cell phones are a distraction so please put all electronic devices away for the duration of your special time together. Your children are very, very excited to be the centre of your attention and share their learning with you.
  3. Keep your child’s Owl envelope with the Student-Led Conference work in a safe place until you sit down with your child.  We will be sending them home on Wednesday.
  4. Arrange for care for your other children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, so you can focus on your Kindergarten child.
  5. Give praise and specific, positive comments to your child eg., “I like how you used a variety of colours in your drawing;” recognise that your child might find some tasks difficult so encourage them to keep trying their best.
  6. Be mindful of your Conference duration.  If your child wants to review every page and activity with you, please feel free to divide the conference package over the two afternoons (there are 24 pages in the Alphabet Book alone).
  7.  Let your child be the leader.  They can choose the order in which they wish to share their work.  You do not need to follow the order of the activities, just ensure you have completed each one by the end of the conference.
  8. After each activity is completed, please have your child place a sticker beside it on the line.
  9. You may notice some work is incomplete due to absence.  Your child is free to finish any missed activities at home.  There is no need to return them to school.  
  10.  Please return your child’s Owl envelope and the purple Two Stars and a Wish Self-Reflection sheet, completed.

Spring Sunshine: This Week in Our Room: April 12-23, 2021

We’ve been enjoying the most amazing sunshine this past week!  It’s really helped to lift our spirits as we progress through these unusual pandemic times.

As always, the children’s safety is uppermost in our minds.  We’re pleased to note that many of the children continue to wear masks as part of our school culture.  We talk a lot about the importance of masks as a way to protect ourselves and each other, and all of our families and loved ones.  Our hand-washing protocols are second to none – the children are doing a great job of handwashing before eating, and hand sanitizing or handwashing between activities.  As much as we can, the children are working in smaller groups for Centre Time and work activities.

We’ve been working hard on our Alphabet Activities – can you believe we are working on letter X this week?  We’ve read the most wonderful book, Alphabet Mystery by Audrey and Bruce Wood, a whodunit about the letter X.  This was a terrific way to introduce the genre of mystery books to the children.  Last week we read The Wildlife ABC by Jan Thornhill, a beautifully illustrated book of animals.  We try to take advantage of every opportunity to read amazing literature to our children to present them with the best in words and illustrations.

We had some very fun excitement last Friday with our first Forest Friday.  Forest Fridays is a special day for the Kindergarten when we can enter the magical forested space on our playground.  It is a beautiful area for our children to play, with a low running creek, a variety of trees and shrubbery, with large tree roots, rocks and embankments to climb over.  We had our first exploration, and reviewed our expectations for safe behaviour.  The children will be allowed to wear their boots and walk through the creek while under our supervision.  We do not allow the children to go to the Forest during morning recess and lunch playtimes.   Instead, we visit once a week with close supervision from the teachers and educational assistants.  We look forward to more adventures in the weeks ahead!

Last week we sent home a parent letter and information on “Let’s Talk About Touching,” the Kindergarten personal safety program.  This is part of our Physical and Health Education curriculum and we will be teaching weekly lessons on healthy living, kind and helpful touches and scientific names for the private parts of the body.

Please watch a Remind that goes over our expectations for Student-Led Conferences at Home, to be held next week.  Student-Led Conferences are one of favourite days of the school year where typically, the children would welcome you into their classrooms and complete a series of activities and Centres to show you what they’ve been learning about.  It’s a joyous time to celebrate the children’s learning, admire the progress they’ve made over the year and to think about further goals for the remainder of Kindergarten.  This year, due to Covid-19, we’ve had to make some adaptations to our Conferences.  But the children’s enthusiasm and excitement is still the same, and their joy in sharing with you their learning will make you so proud as you notice the pride they have in their school accomplishments.  

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Friday, April 23:  Library Book Exchange

Wednesday, April 28:  Student Led Conferences at Home – early dismissal for Kindergarten at 1:20 pm

Thursday, April 29:  Student Led Conferences at Home – early dismissal for Kindergarten at 1:20 pm

This Week in Our Room: March 29-April 9, 2021: Spring and Easter Round-Up

It’s been a bit of an odd couple of weeks with just a few days in each of the past two weeks but nonetheless…we are working very hard in Kindergarten!  

It’s been a strange time for all of us.  The children have been such troopers in managing all of health and safety protocols (endless hand washing and hand sanitizing to the point where we are worried now about the dry skin on their hands), social distancing as best they can and mask wearing for those who are comfortable wearing one.  We’ve been trying hard to provide as much of our regular Kindergarten program as possible, and tweaking things gently to make activities safe for the children.  This is primarily during Centre Time, where we have reduced from 4 to 2 children at a Centre (since September), spacing when seated and using all sinks available to us so the children are not gathering too much during hand washing.  We are really proud of the children and their resilience in coping with change.  

We’ve been busy making lots of Easter Art.

And we’re continuing to forge ahead in the Alphabet and our work in Numeracy.

Our next big event coming up is our Student-Led Conferences which the children will be completing at home with you due to Covid-19 restrictions.  From us, you can expect your child to bring home their big Owl envelope with the contents of the Student-Led Conferences, an agenda and an opportunity to reflect and talk about their schoolwork.  The agenda and reflection should be returned to school following your conference.  We will have a lot more information for you in the coming weeks.  Please note on your calendar that Student-Led Conferences are Wednesday, April 28 and Thursday, April 29.  Dismissal is at 1:20 pm for Kindergarten both days.  If your child is attending Camp Ridgeview, please make your arrangements for early pick-up.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Friday, April 16 – Library Book Exchange

Wednesday, April 28 – Student Led Conferences and Early Dismissal at 1:20 pm

Thursday, April 29 – Student Led Conferences and Early Dismissal at 1:20 pm