Newsletter 10/29/13

I’m riding on a cloud right now because every single person in the class signed up for a conference with me. I can’t tell you how invigorating it is to meet with all of you and join together to care for your child. I hope that you found the meeting helpful and informative. Thanks again for making the time to discuss your child! I’m so grateful for such a wonderful class of parents!

In the classroom, we are beginning our work with numbers. The children are using counting stones in their baskets to solve and create math problems. Additionally, we began our quality of numbers block in which we talk about where numbers are found in nature and the special quality of a given number. For example, today we discussed the number one. We talked about how there is only one of each student and they drew a self-portrait. There is only one sun and moon on our one planet earth. We talked about how one is often seen as the smallest number, but one can encompass one whole, which can be huge and vast, such as the planet earth. Tomorrow we will discuss the duality of two and see how many pairs we have on our own, very symmetrical, body.

Your child needs rain boots, rain coat, indoor and outdoor shoes, and a labeled change of clothes. If your child changes their clothes at school, please be sure to restock his/her box right away.

Thank you to all parents who have sent in things for the classroom. I am feeling very blessed and supported by your acts of kindness and generosity.

The habit-forming cycle is thirty days and we have only been together for one thirty-day cycle. This means that we have not had enough time to set in place all of the rhythms and routines of the days and week by now but the children who need extra help or are more sensitive will need more time. By the third month, I expect that the whole class will fall in line nicely with all of the verses and songs that carry us through the day. In other words, it takes time to build a class. I am working with the habit body of the young child. It will be nice for everyone when we can quietly and kindly move through the day without making frequent individual invitations to do the correct thing.

What happens if a child chooses not to cooperate when we are obviously moving in a certain direction, for example standing quietly behind our desks or lining up to go outside? First, there is a reminder to the whole group. Then there is a private invitation. If the child is still not able to listen or cooperate, their name may go on the board. What this means is that that child has received a warning. Overall, it is not a big deal, but it serves as a reminder. If they continue to receive reminders throughout the day, they will spend some remembering time with the teacher at recess. This is when they remember what they were supposed to be doing when they received the warning. This is a very common order of events and consequences, especially in the younger grades. An additional consequence that might be given to the whole class may be to practice walking the halls. This is also a very common routine, especially amongst the lower grades, including the kindergarten. Children are often too loud in line or they play with each other. Learning how to walk the halls quietly is a task that all children of the school must take up as a serious responsibility.

Additionally, if I see a small infraction, I may ask a child to clean the cubby area to serve as an act of restoration. If a child hurts another child or is unkind, the consequence will most often include some act of restitution.

Clearly, we are working toward having a well-run class that will act to balance one another and operate from a perspective of inner responsibility and self-control. At times, in the process of becoming this well run class, children do need external reinforcements until their internal locus of control and responsibility is strong. Hence, the name on the board and consequences reinforce the values that we hold as a school community. Please note that the consequences in no way serve as a “dunce hat.” In a class where we all care about each other, we can recognize and appreciate the need for verbal and nonverbal reminders and timeouts.

I recently heard some interesting advice about media and outdoor time. One should plan to spend double the amount of time outdoors and your child spends watching television or playing video games, weekly. So if you only allow them to do these activities on the weekend, thank you, and if the total is four hours, then your child would need to spend a total of eight hours a week outdoors reveling in nature, getting exercise and vitamin D. This is above and beyond recess time.

Recently I came across some numbers having to do with reading to your child. What contributes the most to your child being an excellent reader? Reading aloud to them daily, of course, is the biggest indicator for future literacy. Twenty minutes to one hour a day is recommended. This can be on average, so do a little extra over the weekend. Children need exposure and experience with literature in order to build empathy and communication skills. Reading to your child and getting them outside will make them better, more balanced, empathetic, communicative, happier, healthier, kinder, human beings.

Once again, I want to remind parents that the adult to child ratio during the school day is 1 to 26. I only have an assistant during recess time. In order for all of the students to feel and be safe, they must listen to the teacher, follow directions, and behave appropriately. It is my responsibility to maintain the authority of the class and guide them to proper behavior at school. Having such a large class means that I will spend more time with building healthy habits so that the class is well managed and not “out of control.”

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Believe me, I would like to be the first to know! Feel free to email me at my Tamarack address and I will call you back as soon as I am free.

I Love Your Child! This class is easy to love. Thanks for giving the honor of being your child’s teacher.

My previous class has been emailing me about their success in high school. The next newsletter will include highlights from their reflections.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Marks