Helping Kids Flourish in Kindergarten and Beyond
There are so many things I can share about the wonderful teacher Miss Harrington is. She is not only highly reflective, hardworking and effective, but her giving heart and fun spirit have made our year together one of my best years teaching! Our students have flourished, grown leaps and bounds, and her addition to our classroom is surely a key reason. Thank you so much Miss Harrington. We love you!!
Since the last couple of weeks get a bit chaotic, I just thought I would jot down a few reminders to help keep us all on track!  Our walking field trip to Jack Fisher Park with our reading buddies class is scheduled for Friday, June 4th. Please be sure to send in your permission slips right away and let us know if you plan to chaperone! All are welcome :-)
We will be leaving school right after recess, 10:30 a.m. and plan to be back to school by 1:00. It is helpful if you have your child wear his/her bathing suit under clothes to school. Boys can just wear their swimming trunk shorts and shirt of course. The park has a fun water area to play in. Please remember that we will be walking to the park so be sure your child is wearing safe, closed-toe shoes. If you would like them to wear sandals or water shoes at the park, they can carry them along in a bag. Also, please send along a towel for your child to dry off with after playing in the water area. We will make sure kids have plenty of time to dry off before walking back to school!  Finally, please be sure your child brings lunch that day! There will not be an opportunity to have the school lunch since we will be off-campus at lunch time. We would love for a parent to drive our lunch bin over to the park so the kids don't have to carry them.  Please let us know if you are able to do that for us!
Thanks so much for your support.

I love this picture and the cartoon effect as it highlights the individual character and spunky spirit of all of the amazing kids in our class this year. As I complete our assessments, I can't help but reflect on the growth of this year. Our kids are ready for first grade, and we could not have had this success without YOU!
Parents and teachers are a very powerful team in helping motivate and empower kids to learn. I cannot tell you how much it means to have had your support this year. At times I have worried about coming across as "too firm" or holding the kids accountable for "too much" but I have learned that with the proper scaffolding by parents and teachers, kids can rise to the occasion! Yes, they are five and six, and need lots of room to run, roam, creatively explore new ideas and make big messes as they do so. They also, though, are constantly testing to be sure that we have put limits and boundaries around them, so that they can feel safe and secure. Together we have created a learning environment this year where kids are kind, loving and accepting to each other. Thanks to you, we have begun the long learning journey with our kids understanding the importance of trying hard and not giving up at the first disappointing mistake. Because of your support, we have held the standards high and let our learners know that we expect them to do their best work. 
Without any more rambling, I just want to express my sincere gratitude for all that you do, and for sharing your precious (not quite as little) ones with Miss Harrington and I this year. Thank you, thank you thank you!

Some of you may have found me on Twitter, where I connect with wonderful educators and others who work with and help children across the globe. I have recently spoken with Wendy Young, (no relation!) who has a wonderful website Kidlutions where many resources help parents deal successfully with a variety of  issues.
Here is some information on an upcoming webinar to help parents help kids deal with anger!

Anger Toolbox for Kids(tm):

FREE Teleseminar Sign-up. 
Monday, May 24, 2010

7-8 pm (CST)
/5-6 pm Pacific time

We look forward to spending some time with you to talk about helping kids deal effectively with anger.  Our 45 minute teleseminar will help you understand:

1. The origins of anger in children
2. The physical and emotional reactions that occur when kids get mad 
3. Why some kids experience anger much more intensely than others
4. The top ways we inadvertently encourage more "over-the-top" anger reactions in our kids
5. Ways we can HELP our kids deal with anger


Most importantly, we'll share the good news about some ways we can help kids tame their temper and learn how to shrink it down.  We'll discover that mad isn't bad and we will take a hopeful and realistic look at teaching kids the important lifelong skill of anger-management. 

You'll also get a sneak-peek at our all new "Anger Management Toolbox for Kids". 

All that and more is just a FREE phone call away.
All you need to do is click this link and you can sign up for this free seminar!
It all started with an idea to reduce stress during testing. Last year, during a moment of my own stress over having to give a writing assessment where my students would have to work quietly, write in response to a prompt, and not look at each others' work, I had a brainstorm. What if I used manila file folders to divide the kids, put a smiley face on them to help reduce stress, and give them to each student with a pep talk ? This year I decided to do a bit more and add a class cheer: "We can do it!"  The results: priceless.
When we prepare kids for testing we can help add a positive spin with encouraging messages like: It's your chance to show all you know! It's just to show what you do already every day. Although it wasn't easy for kids to remain quiet while writing, the folders helped them avoid looking at each other and focus on staying on task. While they were asked to write about their favorite subject, themselves, the scenario always evokes anxiety, especially since I am not allowed to offer any help.
The results were quite amazing. Every student wrote: some wrote so much they had to turn over the page, and all drew a picture to match their words.
I am very proud and excited about how much progress our kids have made this year! Thanks for your support!

It's an exciting time of the year when our students are showing their amazing growth in reading, writing and math! It's also a time when kids might become a bit stressed about the changes that are about to occur: completing kindergarten, summer vacation,  going to first grade in the fall.  Somehow this impacts kids in the classroom and this year is no exception. During this past week, kids who normally get along have begun to have conflicts about sharingKids are saying unkind words to each other like, "I am not going to be your friend if you don't do x, y, or z. " Many students have been interrupting Miss Harrington and I when we are talking, and even more frustrating, interrupting other students who have raised their hands to speak.  When asked to clean up after an activity, some students have disregarded our instructions or even refused to comply. Even if you think this does not apply to your child, please have a conversation about how things have been going at school. Many times your child will not voluntarily offer up information, but if  you ask, in general, if they have been following expectations they will offer up the truth!  We try to get around to our "self-reports" each day but sometimes the day gets away from us and we run out of time.  Sometimes we also decide instead to have a class meeting to discuss successes and challenges of our day in an attempt to make plans for better days! 
As always we appreciate your support in helping your child understand the school-wide expectations of respect, responsibility and safety. 
Thanks so much for all you do to contribute to a positive learning environment.
In honor of you, and to celebrate Mother's Day, we made a little podcast to share with you. We asked the kids to answer the question: What do you love about your mom? Since we recorded them individually, they got to really think about and give their own answers. The result: a very sweet tribute to you. Enjoy!