The PRES Press
Principal's Monthly Newsletter, October 2017
School Spirit and Unity Day
On Friday, October 20th, students are invited to wear ORANGE for Unity Day to spread a positive message of unity, support, and hope. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Unity Day is sponsored by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center. When we unite as a community to celebrate kindness, acceptance and inclusion, we can make a difference in the lives of children, our community, and the greater world.
Halloween at PRES
With the changing of the leaves, and the arrival of cooler weather and shorter days, our minds tend towards autumn traditions and holidays. One beloved tradition at PRES is the annual Halloween Parade.
During the morning of Tuesday, October 31, classes will participate in the traditional Halloween Parade. Because not all children celebrate Halloween, and some do not like wearing costumes, we want everyone to feel comfortable and involved. Students may wear costumes that they can independently manage (see guidelines below), or they may choose to wear autumn or fall themed colors or attire, or possibly their everyday school clothes, as is consistent with their own tradition, custom, or preference.
For safety, security and practicality, children may wear costumes that they can manage themselves or they may wear festive attire such as fall colors, Halloween t-shirts, hair accessories, hats, minimally painted hair or minimal make-up. Please be sure that your child will be comfortable for the entire day and will be able to engage in learning. Masks and toy weapons are not allowed in school. Because we have students with diverse ages, interests, backgrounds, and levels of comfort with Halloween, please refrain from costumes pieces or makeup that might scare students.
The parade will begin with our fifth graders and their kindergarten buddies, who will be followed by the rest of our students. They will exit the main entrance and parade around to the recess blacktop area, where students will take turns performing their dances learned in Physical Education class.
For the rest of the morning and afternoon, classes are invited to engage in “fall themed” curriculum-based activities in their classrooms (pumpkin math, fall-themed read-alouds, biographical lessons about Edgar Alan Poe or Washington Irving, etc.). It is sure to be a special day for all to enjoy!
Parents are invited to observe the outside portion of the parade by lining up along the road or sidewalk from the front door and extending back to the fence and entrance to the playground area. Please leave your pets at home. Parents may watch the grade level dance presentations from outside the playground area by lining up along the fence and handrail. Once your children have performed, please step back so that parents with students in the other grade levels performing have access to the best view by the fence. In order to account for the safety and presence of all students, parents should not enter the playground area as it interferes with our ability to manage and supervise the children. Some classes may be engaging in activities that require parent volunteers later that morning or afternoon; if you have been asked to volunteer in the classroom, please be sure to follow our regular sign-in procedures at the front desk.
Please keep in mind that parking will be challenging; once our small parking lots are full, someone will be stationed by the circle to direct parents to the Town Park. There will be a shuttle bus that will leave the Town Park at 9:00 AM, and will make a second trip, if necessary. The shuttle bus will begin return trips back to the Park beginning around 10:15 AM. Please be respectful of our neighbors at the Pre-school and the Inn at Pound Ridge, and do not park in their lots.
In the event of inclement weather, the festivities will take place inside, which would preclude parental involvement. We look forward to continuing the tradition of Halloween at PRES and making it a fun, safe, and educational day for children. Thank you for your ongoing partnership and support in helping this day to run smoothly and safely.
Fire Prevention Day at PRES - October 13th
Strategies for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference
Parent Teacher Conferences will take place on Oct. 20, Oct. 26 and Oct. 27.
October 20 = 11:30 AM Early Dismissal
October 26 = 11:30 AM Early Dismissal
October 27 = No School (for Students) for P/T Conferences
This article from www.care.com, posted by Rachel Bozek, articulates some key strategies for helping parents to have a successful parent-teacher conference. Consider these ideas as you prepare for your parent-teacher conference. This first meeting is a chance to develop a positive, productive, and respectful partnership with your child's teacher which can set the tone for your work together throughout the year.
The first day of school is a time for making memories: new backpacks, pictures in front of the house, tales of new friends. Once back-to-school momentum builds, parent-teacher conference season arrives. This is your opportunity to talk, usually for about 10 to 15 minutes, two-on-one with your child's teacher, about how your child is learning-and behaving-when you're not around. Yes folks, it's time to get serious.
For parents of many kindergartners and first-graders, this is the first meeting of its kind. Concerned about what you'll learn? Not sure what to ask? Apprehension is normal. Melissa Skabich, mother of three in Cedar Grove, NJ, and author of the blog Fits 'N' Giggles, says, "I had no idea what to expect for my first parent-teacher conference. I wish I had talked to parents of kids who had had that teacher for more insight about what to ask, what to look out for, and how to make the most of the time in the conference."
Dr. Scott Mandel, author of The Parent-Teacher Partnership: How to Work Together for Student Achievement, explains that this is a meeting in your child's classroom to meet the teacher, form a trusting relationship, and hear what he or she has seen your child experience, socially and academically. It's incredibly important for parents and teachers to form a true alliance from the get-go. His first point: keep an open mind. If you've gotten the "scoop" on a teacher from other parents before you've had a chance to form your own opinion, be sure to still take the time to see if your personal philosophy and the teacher's are compatible.
There are several ways parents can contribute to making the conference a productive and informative meeting. Mandel shared a number of helpful strategies for you to keep in mind at your upcoming parent-teacher conference, and throughout the school year.
1. Plan ahead.
Mark your calendar. For families where the parents are separated or divorced, and if there are step-parents, try to ensure that everyone is included whenever possible (and if there's not too much tension). The goal is for all parties involved to be aware of what's happening in the classroom, even if they're participating via Skype or speaker phone.
2. Come prepared.
It's likely that the conference will flow smoothly and the teacher will jump right in and kick off a constructive discussion. Still, it can't hurt to have a few questions in your back pocket, in case he or she doesn't hit all of the points you're hoping will be addressed. Here are a few examples.
* What do you see as my child's strengths and weaknesses?
* What can we do at home to help maintain progress and success?
* At what point will we hear from you if you sense a problem?
3. Start with a team-player approach.
Approach challenges or issues the teacher raises with the attitude of "We have to address this problem as partners." This makes coming up with solutions considerably easier for everyone involved -- objectivity will be crucial for a successful school year.
4. Keep the teacher informed.
Teachers love-and appreciate-knowing what's going on with your child, both at the time of the conference and beyond. It's important to keep him or her up on any changes in your child's life, such as medications, family problems, if it's a dual-home family, or if a family member went into the hospital. Mandel points out, "Sometimes a child starts acting up in class, and the teacher thinks it's just a behavior problem, but doesn't realize that Grandpa had a heart attack this weekend."
5. Express interest in being an involved parent.
Whether you work fulltime or part-time, involvement is about making decisions and staying aware of what's happening within your child's education, not just about who's able to chaperone every field trip. Danielle Janson, mom of second-grade twins in Herndon, VA, says, "At my first conference, I wished I had asked more about the reading system and the level of books my children should be reading. There can be a big difference between the books they pick up in the library and the books they should really be reading."
6. Don't get hung up on academics.
According to Mandel, the most important lessons children learn in kindergarten and first grade are with regard to socialization, not academics. He points to Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten to emphasize this point and says, "Every parent should get a copy of that when their children enter kindergarten -- because it's true."
7. Respect the teacher's time.
Don't plan on taking up too much time during the conference. You might have questions after the meeting ends, and even in the days that follow. Before you leave, ask the teacher, "How do you prefer that we contact you-after school, via email, with a phone call?" Keeping a list of your questions and concerns can help you organize your thoughts so you can approach the teacher effectively whenever necessary. If you have a specific concern after the conference, definitely let the teacher know. Say something like, "I have some questions about this issue. When would be a good time for you to contact me?"
8. Maintain perspective.
Teachers really do understand how you feel about your child. Megan Unger, a kindergarten teacher in Minneapolis, MN, says, "For seven hours a day, I am responsible for the most precious thing in these two people's life. I try to remember that, during conferences and always!"
Still, Mandel mentions, "While the child may be the center of your universe, he or she is not the center of the classroom universe." Maintaining awareness about both ends of this spectrum can contribute greatly to establishing-and preserving-a healthy parent-teacher relationship. This partnership is the basis of the entire conference, and, ultimately, a long-term alliance. Success comes out of recognition that the teacher is an educational professional, and that your child is a complex entity who is different in different locations, from home to school.
Your goal is to leave the conference feeling confident in your child's teacher and in the team effort that has just commenced in the interest of your child.
9. Report new strategies
Now it's time to involve your nanny, babysitters, and any other after-school caregivers in what you've learned. Need a new homework plan? Create an after-school snack-and-study strategy and then an after-dinner review. Get all parents and caregivers on board so your child can have the most successful school year possible.