Reading with Your Kindergarten Child: Ways to Support Literacy at Home

One of our greatest joys as teachers is sharing our love of reading, writing and literature with our young students.  It’s important that we work together, as teachers and parents, to create supportive literacy environments at both home and school.

At school, one of our clues for “where to start” is from our children’s home literacy experiences.  We quickly learn about our children’s exposure to stories and nursery rhymes, and discussion (listening to others and speaking aloud) and book handling skills.   We observe their familiarity with using paper, pencils and crayons and can sense if the children feel that their scribbling, drawing and printed work is, and has been, valued.  We build upon those experiences by providing our children with a myriad of activities where they can use their literacy skills and develop them further.  The processes of reading and writing go hand-in-hand:  Good readers become good writers, and good writers become good readers.

One of the most important things we do is provide as many opportunities for oral languageas possible.  This includes Storytime, chanting poems and singing songs, brainstorming vocabulary, classroom discussions and teaching questioning skills.  In addition to teaching phonological awareness, the development of the children’s oral language is an important part of a balanced approach to reading instruction.

During Storytime and other oral language activities, here’s what we’ve noticed about our Kindergarten children’s story awareness:

-they love to rhyme and predict patterns

-they chime in to read the parts of the story they know (with and without cues from the teacher)

-they ask a lot of questions about the story

-they try to make connections between the story and their personal experiences

-they ”read” the picture clues and any known words in the text

-they show interest in what the words say on a page or a chart

One of the most popular Activity Time Centres in the classroom is the Imagination Station.  Here, the children are encouraged to write, draw and create to their heart’s content.  We supply colouring supplies, scissors and glue.  We add in colourful and patterned paper scraps, stickers, envelopes, small booklets we’ve made from leftover paper, lined paper and any other doodads (scrapbook embellishments) we might have to encourage the writing process.  Sometimes we have to create a secondImagination Station at another table because everyone that day has something important they want to express in print.  This is all in addition to our daily Alphabet and Theme writing activities.  Your children are writing, printing, drawing and colouring a lot in class.  This has been one of our most prolific years in Kindergarten.

During Alphabet and other writing activities, here’s what we’ve noticed about our Kindergarten children’s print awareness:

-they recognise their own name in print around the classroom and love to look for it

-they show an interest in the names of their classmates

-they show interest in reading and copying the environmental print around the classroom  (eg., names, daily schedule, numbers),

-they show interest in printing independently (“I don’t need any help; I can do it by myself”)

-they pay attention to the sounds and sound sequence when printing words

-they enjoys receiving notes with messages from their classmates and parents (in lunch bags)

-they enjoy communicating with classmates by writing messages

So, taking into consideration what we are doing at school, and based on our observations of our children, here are a few more ideas for you to support literacy at home:

Read aloud daily to your child.  As parents ourselves, we can say this is one of the most precious times you will spend with your child.  Enjoy every single story because the time will come when your child wants to read independently.  Besides the weekly Library Book, build a bedtime story routine into your evening so you can enjoy some cosy time with your child.  You can add a little bit of alphabet practice during your story (“Let’s look for the words beginning with the letter S”) and ask questions to develop understanding, but the idea is simply to enjoy reading and the pleasure of sharing a good book together.

Sing songs and listen to music.  Singing songs and listening to music, like nursery rhymes, is very important to develop an awareness of rhyme, rhythms and patterns.  Children learn songs and quickly memorise them; this contributes to their ever-growing oral language base which will help to make them stronger readers.  

Visit your local library regularly.  Does your child have a library card?  Do you visit your public library every week?  In addition to visiting our own amazing school library and our Teacher-Librarian, Mrs. Kennedy, regular visits to your local public library is a great outing for everyone.  Your child can borrow books, audio recordings and children’s magazines, and you can pick up some great new reads for yourself.  Your child will love to see what you’ve borrowed to read!

Model your own love of reading to your child.  Let your children see you reading books, the newspaper, the calendar, recipes, and let them know why you are reading.  They are learning from you that reading is purposeful, as well as fun.  Try sharing aloud funny things from your own reading, and your child will start to do that with you.  Children need to see moms and dads, grandparents and siblings reading.  When they understand reading is an activity valued by the people they love, they will come to love it, too.

Provide a variety of reading materials.  We have a lot of books in the classroom, but we also have a Listening Centre, a Book Nook, reading wands to “read the room,” alphabet puzzles and games and now, Home Readers.  At home, your child can also play board games, read the environmental print on grocery packages, the fridge magnets, your shopping lists, the North Shore News and all of its accompanying flyers.

Spend time just talking with your child.  Respond to your children’s questions, take the time to explain concepts to them and use the correct vocabulary.  We all need to model good oral language.  The children will love to hear stories about your day, themselves when they were toddlers and preschoolers, and they will especially enjoy stories about you when you were young.  Time spent sharing between your child and you, or your child and grandparents, is an opportunity to share the history of your family.  Activities such as crafting, baking, cooking and gardening all have their own vocabulary, skills and processes which are not only fun to do, but doing them together creates shared memories of special times.

Provide a variety of writing materials.  The sky is pretty much the limit for what is available for your child in the way of school supplies and craft materials.  In our classes, Mr. Sketch (smelly markers) have been a huge hit every year.  With the exception of some inky noses, these are great markers for our Littles.  The children are used to using the larger pencils in class, but they do enjoy our fancy pencils, pens, skinny felts, pastels, bingo markers and paints and paintbrushes.  We give them a lot of recycled materials like old cards, envelopes, little notebooks and scrapbook paper for cutting, gluing, creating and writing.  Colouring book pages continue to be very much loved.  The children are very interested in using tape and staplers, hole punches and ribbon scraps to gather their work into booklets.  For outdoor writing and drawing, sidewalk chalk is very fun!

Model that you are a writer, too.  Through your own work, at home or out of the house, you can show your child that writing is an important part of everything you do.  Let your child see you write cards, shopping lists, cheques, or a short email so they understand that writing has a purpose.  You can respond with interest to your child’s writing, and answer the messages they write to you.  We often ask the children what a scribble, string of letters or drawing is all about and they are happy to oblige.  You can also take a moment to label your child’s work for her, show him the correct formation of letters or spelling of some words if he asks.  Your response demonstrates to your child how much you value their literary efforts.

Still looking for more ideas?  For further reading, you can visit these two posts where we describe in further detail additional ways to support literacy at home.

Reading with Your Kindergarten Child:  Establish an Atmosphere for Reading at Home

Reading with Your Kindergarten Child:  Literacy Awareness – A Book is More Than a Story

Sources:  The Phonological Awareness Companion.  LinguiSystems, Inc.1995; Conversation Connections Parent Program, Workshop 2:  Handout M.  The Psychological Corporation, 1993; Strickland, S.D., Mandel Morrow, L.  “Family Literacy and Young Children,The Reading Teacher, March 1989, pgs. 530-531;  Schiller, D., Quigg, J., Wylie, K.  “Stress Free Reading at Home:  A Handbook for Parents.”


Communicating Learning: Student-Led Conferences 2018


We’ve written extensively about Student-Led Conferences since we started our website and blog in December 2014.  We’re linking the three posts we’ve written below, with a new introduction to reflect what we’re doing this year for our Conferences.

It’s that time of the year again, The Self-Regulated Teacher’s favourite day of the year, Student-Led Conferences (SLC).  We’re delighted to announce that Student-Led Conferences will be held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 this year.

We’re so very proud of our little children and the way they have shown such tremendous growth since September.  It really is amazing when you think about it.  For Christy and I, sometimes it takes our breath away, we are still in such wonder about how our children develop and change.  Imagine, children starting school at ages four and five, away from their parents all day but doing what they do best:  Play of every kind.  They’re climbing, running and jumping, drawing and colouring, making new friends, building and imaginary play and listening to stories and songs.  And through it all, lots of talking, lots of questions, oral language and vocabulary development, and laughter all day long.  It’s a very precious time, and we don’t want to rush the days away.

For our part, we’ve been diligently putting together the children’s scrapbooks, organising papers into Math booklets, and we just finished the “Z” page in our Alphabet Books.  We don’t send home a lot of schoolwork because we’ve been saving and collecting it to show you now; we need time to show you the changes in a printed name, a cut out shape or a self-portrait.  We have so many special things to show you at our various Centres and it’s exciting to see what our children accomplished over the past eight months in Kindergarten.  

One very special SLC Centre this year will be viewing the children’s Penguin Movie Magic projects.  In order to access your child’s movie, you’ll have to open the FreshGradeforStudentapp on a school iPad at the Science Centre.  Then, enter the access code for your child and press play!  Your access code will be attached to the Student-Led Conference agenda.  We’ll be there to help and you will love what your child and Big Buddy have accomplished.

As we get closer to the Big Day, we hope you’ve signed up for your Student-Led Conference, made alternate arrangements for siblings and are ready to join your child for an adventure in learning!  See you on Thursday!

Click the links below to read more about Student-Led Conferences and our expectations, so you and your child can have a happy and successful one!

Student-Led Conferences, February 23, 2015

Communicating Learning:  Student-Led Conferences, May 2, 2016

Tips for a Successful Student-Led Conference:  Getting the Most From Yours, April 19, 2017

Our Ridgeview Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Brady, has also written about Student-Led Conferences here.

Tips for a Successful Student Led Conference: Getting the Most From Yours

The Self-Regulated Teacher’s favourite school day of the year is right around the corner: Student Led Conferences are on Thursday, April 20, 2017 this school year.

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 in 2015 and 2016. 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.

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

1. Sign-up for your child’s Student Led Conference. In Kindergarten, we have a limited number of families we will host in our classroom for each time slot. Kindergarten sign-up sheets are posted outside the classrooms; all other Grades are posted in the main hallway near the Library.

2. Arrange for care for your other children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, so you can focus on your Kindergarten child. Older children can wait outside on the playground.

3. Arrive on time for your Student Led Conference and remember to bring your child with you. This Conference is for you and your child. We’ve had several instances where our students were left at home with a babysitter, on the playground or at the childcare centre.

4. 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.

5. Be mindful of your Conference duration and gently remind your child when it is time to go; other families are waiting for their turn.

6.Keep socialising with other parents to a bare minimum. Your focus is on your child.

7.  Be respectful of the SLC of other students and their parents by keeping your own child close to you at all times.

8. Refrain from engaging your child’s teacher in a discussion about your child’s progress; the teacher is supporting all students during the SLC process and has many jobs to do. If you would like an interview, make an appointment on another day for a mutually agreeable day and time.

9. This goes without saying, but our cell phones are a distraction. Please support us by turning off and putting all electronic devices away. Please do not take phone calls during your child’s conference: it’s disrespectful of the preparation we’ve done with your children; the other families; and most importantly, your children who are very, very excited to be the centre of your attention to share their learning with you.

10. Please do not bring any hot drinks into the classroom. It’s not safe to be carrying a hot drink around with so many small children present, and for the precious schoolwork which we have out on the tables in case of spills.

Our Ridgeview Principal, Mrs. Valerie Brady, has also written about Student Led Conferences. You’ll find an excerpt from this post on the Principal blog.

Student Absenteeism

img_0145Student absenteeism is never an easy topic to discuss. However, discuss it we must because when a student is away from class, it impacts everyone – the individual student, the class, the teacher and the school.

There’s a delicate balance when we start talking about students being away from school.

Sometimes it’s sickness and we definitely want you to keep your sick child at home from school. We know you have to get to work and your child may or may not want to come to class – but we, along with the office staff, are really unable to look after sick children. Your children would actually prefer to just be at home with you recovering from their sickness and then building up the strength to return to school to be full and participating members of the class. The other families in your child’s class, and us, the teachers, do not want to get sick. Your support in helping your children understand that they cannot come to school when they are sick, teaches them to have respect for their own health, the health and well-being of their classmates, and one day, their working colleagues. You can read more here about Your Kindergarten Child’s Good Health.

Currently, our icy and snowy weather and road conditions have made it difficult for some families to arrive at school on time. Add to that our limited parking spots around the school and it can be an exercise in frustration to run in before the bell. However, when your child arrives consistently late for school, and by this we mean 3-4 times a week, he or she misses out on the first routines of the day which are essential for setting the tone in the classroom. The first bell rings at 8:50 am when children are welcomed into the school building. We sing “O Canada” immediately following the 8:55 bell, listen to the school announcements, then take attendance. Finally, we review the Visual Schedule; this helps the children with their self-regulation so they know what to expect and may reduce anxiety about “what’s going to happen next?” The Special Helper, with a friend, start to walk to the office with the attendance. These morning routines take us about ten minutes so there is ample time to get into the classroom. Because it’s Kindergarten, we still give you a lot of leeway: if your child comes in after we have finished the attendance, but before the Special Helper has left for the office, then we will adjust the attendance form to say your child is “here.” Any later however, and your child is marked absent. You need to sign your child in at the office when you arrive at school and your child will be given a late slip.

Another consequence of being late for school is that teachers need to stop our teaching, or helping a small group or individual, to greet the late arrivals, tell them where we are in the morning and help them to get settled. We also need to remind you that you need to check in at the office if your child has arrived without a late slip This is disruptive to the other students, particularly when we’re teaching the whole class, and the “flow” of the lesson is affected. We understand when you come in late from a dental or doctor appointment; but those are usually infrequent as most of you make them for later in the school day or have given us notice the previous day so we are prepared.

If you are going to be late, please call the school office. Our parent organized school callback line and administrative staff have to phone you, and follow-up with us, when you have not notified them. If you do not remember to sign in your child when you arrive, then the school office must call down to our classrooms looking for your child. We do all of this for the protection of your child so please help us by doing your part.

The other morning, while watching the news, there was a preview of the men’s golf tournament taking place in Kapalua, Maui. You could just feel the heat and sunshine. With the way our weather has been this winter and less expensive flights during the off-season, many of you will hear the siren call of palm trees, tropical breezes and hot sand beneath your feet. While missing two weeks of school is not really ideal, we also understand the need for families to reconnect and bond; and frequently for some that can only happen when they travel. We recognize the importance of family time and creating life experiences with grandparents and other relatives, and that travel is its own unique learning to become a citizen of the world. We can only speak from our perspective as Kindergarten teachers, and the influence of our own personal and professional life experiences.

However, the common understanding we do have with other grades is that we are unable to make up the work your child misses while on holiday. We’re often asked if we could “prepare the work my child will miss while we’re on holiday.” Kindergarten is a difficult grade to send meaningful work along with you. Our read-aloud stories and the class discussions which follow are powerful for the oral language and shared learning that happens among the students. Children are learning their alphabet sounds from the teacher and building vocabulary collaboratively with their peers. When children are working on their number patterns and number centres, they are .using masses of manipulatives that have been specially created or purchased for them. Much of a student’s learning is meant to happen in a larger social context, in addition to an individual one.

As parents, we can create a special activity for our family while travelling. Pack an empty notebook, a small set of scissors, gluestick and fet pens in a ziploc bag and you have all the materials you need to create and write an amazing travel journal. Everytime you go sightseeing, pick up stickers, postcards and brochures and save all your admission tickets. Take some time each evening to reflect on what you did during the day and together, print a few notes about what was your favourite activity and cut and paste in your postcards and brochures. Don’t forget to save one of those cute tourist maps for reference. We know you’ll be taking lots of pictures. You can leave some space for adding a few photo when you get back. If you work on it everyday, on your last day of travel you’ll have a memorable souvenir that your child can bring to school and show the class upon your return.

And while you’re visiting the tourist and gift shops, browse through the children’s book section. When we travel, we always look to see what interesting children’s books, specific to our holiday locale, are available for purchase. A book to read from your holiday destination is another great momento to bring home.

So, snow, sickness and holidays aside, school starts at 8:50 am tomorrow! We’ll see you then.

Sharing and Special Helper

fullsizerenderOne of the most exciting parts of Kindergarten is to be the Special Helper.  There are many varieties of this special day such as Student of the Week or the VIP (Very Important Person) but we like Special Helper because let’s face it, our Kindergarten children are so very, very special and wonderful…and sweet….we could go on, but we’ve got teenagers at home making noises about dinner so we better get on with writing.

Your child has a few weeks during the fall to observe the roles of the Special Helper and learn about them from the teacher.  Each student gets to be Special Helper about once a month.  It’s an excellent exercise in self-regulation as they see that each child gets a turn but must be patient while waiting for their own.  It’s like Christmas….we all know it’s coming.  We post the children’s names on a calendar on the Parent Bulletin Board so parents know when their child’s turn will be.  We also have an alphabetical list of names in our classroom in the meeting area.  The children see the clothespeg moving down the list each day as the Special Helper has his or her turn and, like the visual schedule, can anticipate when their turn is coming.  We’ve been asked, “How many sleeps until it is my turn?” many, many times and we all help out by counting down the days.

As the Special Helper your child has a variety of roles.  The first is as a Leader and Role Model.  We have seen many times how a student, quiet during class discussions and with gentle interactions among classmates, embraces their leadership position and simply relishes in the role.  Sometimes, we don’t get an opportunity to exercise our leadership until it is thrust upon us.

The Special Helper is the Line Leader anytime we leave, or return, to the classroom.  On certain days, that can be up to 6-7 times during the school day your child gets to be the first one in line, and close to the all action.  The Special Helper never needs to worry about where he or she might stand in the line as he or she is always FIRST.

At the meeting area, your child sits on the Special Helper chair, not on the carpet with the rest of the class.  Special Helpers, like their teacher, get to survey the kingdom…whoops, classroom,  in their role.

The Special Helper leads the Math Their Way Calendar.  First, your child chooses a wand (rather than a pointer) to lead the class, like the teacher. The Math Their Way Calendar is a very special job.  There are four main tasks, with many math skills embedded in it.  We sing the “Days of the Week” song, chant the days and turn over today’s card; count the number of days we’ve been in school while patterning the actions to the monthly pattern, and add to the pattern; chant the colour pattern we’ve chosen, and colour in the next square and print the date; and be the meteorologist by checking the weather and colouring in the weather graph.  

Your child has just led the class in reciting the days of the week; reviewing the concepts of “today, yesterday and tomorrow,” rote counting; extending patterns; showing an understanding of directionality (left to right; top to bottom); statistical analysis and demonstrating their fine motor skills by colouring and printing the date.  WOW!  Our greatest compliment is when we hear students are creating their own classroom and calendar area at home so they can be the teacher to teach their younger siblings and stuffed animals, who willingly act as students.

Sharing is the new phrase we use now, rather than “Show and Tell.”  Show and Tell seemed to almost have a bragging quality to it, so we use Sharing which makes us feel like we’ve been invited to participate in seeing or learning about something special…which we most definitely have.

During Sharing your child is again in a significant leadership role.  Your child is standing up in front of their classmates with all eyes looking.  It’s really exciting to watch your children proudly taking special objects out of their ziploc bag.  Many like to keep the objects hidden away (special cupboard in the classroom, or tucked behind the Special Helper chair).  Sometimes parents send in a few notes for us with extra information which is very helpful if there is a lot to remember – after all, some of us are still just 4 years old.  We are happy to help and prompt your children.  Sometimes, they just need a little support and encouragement.

Your child knows when his or her turn is coming up — the list is posted in the classroom and everyone is checking daily to see when it’s their turn.  Please check the calendar outside on the Parent Board so you know the date and can give yourself some time to prepare the Sharing with your child.  Your children won’t always need or want your help for school assignments but right now, Sharing is a teaching and learning process for them.  

Let us share our experience as parents of teenagers in high school and University:  when your child sees you are interested and involved in their schoolwork, their commitment to their schooling and doing their best is deeper.  We’re not saying to “do the work” for them, but these tiny people have not necessarily had “an assignment.”  Teaching your children that they have a personal responsibility to bring in their Sharing, and that you will support them, is forming good habits about homework.  You’ll always know in advance what the theme for the monthly Sharing is…so start a few days ahead of the big day, give your child two or three choices to bring in for Sharing, and then talk with them about what they might say to the class and make a few notes if necessary.  Have a little rehearsal at home for the parents, brothers and sisters — it’s fun!

Every year we have students who are reluctant to bring a Sharing; but send it along anyways and we will model their Sharing for them with the class.  It’s amazing how quickly the children want to do it themselves once we start doing the talking!  “No, like this!!” is typically how we are interrupted.  We want your children to feel like they are participating fully in class activities, and not to worry…their classmates are always an appreciative audience.

Please note:  We are no longer going to allow the children to bring in their Sharing on another Special Helper’s day, if they forgot to bring it on their own day.  We find it takes a long time to go through up to three sharings if children forget.  If your child is going to be away, let us know and we can try to switch with another student.

Now, our current theme of Holiday (Christmas) Sharing is in progress and we are having FUN seeing your children’s stockings, Christmas ornaments, Christmas storybooks, and decorations!  Thank you to everyone for opening up those Christmas boxes early to accommodate us!

Kindergarten Home and School Communication

img_1970Today was a beautiful October day.  The leaves were in their autumnal shades of red, orange and yellow, the sunlight shining down through the trees and a beautiful fresh smell in the air telling us that fall will soon be over and winter is coming.  

We’ve already had a particularly busy time this year as Christy and I each have a child graduating from high school.  We’ve already been shopping for evening wear for our kids’ Grad events, making Grad photo appointments and the kids have been attending information sessions about universities, requesting letters of reference and preparing their resumes.  

When folks with younger children ask, “How do you know what to do to get your child ready for Grad?” the answer is simple:  The Grads hear about events and activities at school; but for the parents, we must read the weekly school newsletters (bulletins) and any communication from the Administration.   But the newsletter isn’t just for Grade 12:  we’ve been reading school weekly bulletins since our children were in Kindergarten, so we’ve come to expect that important information regarding Graduation, plus concerts, sporting events and school services will appear here.  

Communicating student learning is a vital part of a successful school experience for you and your child.  Home and school communication can consist of many components, depending upon your child’s school.  In our Kindergarten we have the following:

  • Weekly Ridgeview e-bulletin
  • Weekly classroom online newsletters on our Kindergarten website
  • Weekly blog posts on our Kindergarten website
  • Remind texts from the teacher app
  • Informal parent-teacher interviews with your child’s teacher(s) (by appointment)
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences with your child’s teacher(s) (scheduled)
  • Report cards (three formal reports a year)
  • Student-led Conferences (scheduled)
  • Open House for Holiday events (impromptu)
  • Student work sent home (weekly Alphabet work)

Weekly Ridgeview e-bulletin.  Did you know our wonderful office administrative assistant sends a Ridgeview e-bulletin to your email every Thursday?  If you’re not receiving this valuable piece of home-school communication, please check with the office to ensure your e-mail address is correct in our system.  It’s very important that you read the school newsletter.  There is a great deal of information provided to you that we would not necessarily include in our This Week in Our Room online newsletter because it would make our newsletter too long.  However, to have the complete picture about what’s going on at school for your Kindergarten child, please ensure you read both newsletters. and Remind.  We write a weekly newsletter and weekly blog post (most weeks) on our Kindergarten website specifically for our classroom parents so you are informed every week about the fun and exciting things your child is learning at school.  One of our goals is to provide you with enough information so you can open discussions with your child about what’s happening in class.  Instead of asking your child, “What did you do today?” you can say, “Tell me about how your teacher printed the letter E today,” or “I heard you were making AAB patterns.  Let’s make these patterns with some treasures at home.”  We also try to include upcoming events and reminders so you know ahead of time what you need to prepare with your child.  The Remind texts are simply notes and reminders for you about what we did at school, or what your child might need in the next few days.  We’ve made our classroom communication available online so all parents can have equal access at the same time.

Informal interviews with your child’s teacher.  In the same way that we make appointments to see our family doctor or dentist, we ask that you contact us to make an appointment to schedule an interview.  We really want to talk to you when you ask us for a few minutes as you arrive at the door with your child, but it’s not a good time.  We have five minutes, from the time the entry bell rings to when the school starts singing “O Canada,” to welcome each child, gather papers and library books and then settle them into their first routine of the day.   If we’re talking to you, then we are not welcoming or supervising the children, who are our priority.  Let us know in the morning if you want to get together to chat; send an email, or write a note to ask for an appointment, and we’ll get back to you when we can to arrange a mutually agreeable time.

Five reporting periods per school year.  We just finished our Parent-Teacher Conferences this week.  It was the second conference following the Parent Intake Conferences (as part of the Kindergarten Gradual Entry) we held in September.  Therefore, it’s easy to understand the confusion that these conferences might occur monthly.  Rather, these scheduled conferences where we dismiss the entire school early occur once in the school year, in the fall.  We have additional interviews by appointment only, typically on an as needed basis which will differ between families.

Schools provide five reporting periods per school year:  there are three formal written report cards (at the end of each term); and we have two scheduled informal reporting periods.  At Ridgeview the October Parent-Teacher Conference was the first informal reporting session; and Student-Led Conferences, the second informal reporting session, will be held next Spring.  

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.