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Parent engagement

Some advice for those about to start kindergarten

Well, really this advice is for FAMILIES whose first-born child is about to start kindergarten. Two of my close friends fall into this category, and have been talking to me about their transitions. It's a big one! Some of the advice I've shared is below:

What is the parents' role in teacher assignment?

"What teacher do you want this year?"

That's the question heard over and over again in my neighborhood. Moms asking Moms, Moms asking kids, and even kids asking kids: Who do you hope you get this year?

At the core of parent requests, of course, are parent hopes that their child spends the year with a teacher who helps their child thrive cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Parents whose kids have spent a year in a less than optimal environment can tell you that a school year can be a VERY long time when the teacher-child match was bad.

My newest hat: PTO President

I'm going to be wearing a new hat at our elementary school: President of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). I'm sure it's going to be great, and provide me with experiences I wouldn't otherwise have. I hope to share the highs and lows in some of my future blog posts; please chime in with wisdom and wit! Right now, the work is just a bunch of administrative things to get us ready for the beginning of school.

Summer reading bags: access for all

In last week's blog post, I wrote about the research on access to books for kids in poverty. In short: all kids, but especially kids from lower-income households, need access to books over the summer. If there are no books laying around to read, it's unlikely that a child will lay around to read.

Tests and more tests

The end of the school year usually means one thing for kids: TESTS! In Virginia, our 3rd and 5th graders are gearing up to take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Other grade levels are preparing for end of unit tests, spelling tests, math chapter tests, tests to inform placements for next year, and tests just because teachers like to grade (just kidding).

Report card comment redux

Thanks for your feedback on the report card comment two weeks ago. Your comments highlighted the need for balance between the need to provide parent-friendly information with the need to provide accurate, research-based information. In a perfect world, a good comment would do both.

Raising money during tough times

Raising money is hard work, and our PTO's really feeling it. It's a combination of our fall fundraiser not doing as well as we hoped, and our considering postponing the spring fundraiser because of the financial pinch we all feel. It seems like every fundraiser goes back into the pocketbook of our school families. It might be time to take a break.

I have a boy! As a teacher! And he’s tall!

Those were the first sentences out of Anna's mouth when she read her teacher assignment for this year. Out of 20 classroom teachers at our school, there's exactly one male teacher. He teaches first grade, and Anna got him!

She's thrilled, of course. All the kids know Mr. B. All the parents love him. "Gentle giant," they say. "A real calm presence." Sounds good to me. I'll let you know as the year goes along.

New school year = rough transitions for some

My friend Kathy has a son with mild to moderate disabilities. Henry is going into third grade this year, and I just got an email from her:

"Back to school" has special meaning for Henry. Transitions are tough for him, so these first few weeks of getting adjusted are hard for everyone. I know things will eventually settle down, but I wish these this time of year could be easier. So many tantrums, so many tears.

School spending: Parents and teachers

Molly, Anna, and I went shopping for school supplies yesterday. It's always a bit of a giddy shopping trip; choosing which color for the composition book, 16 or 24 box of crayons, Elmer's or Rose's glue…getting to buy colored pencils…oh my! We were there for at least an hour.

Total cost: $47.00 for two kids.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps