Beginning of Year Letter to Parents
Russell Yates and Heidi Mattern
2nd/3rd Multiage Classroom
As with most teachers, my teaching partner and I sent out
an informational letter to all of our students' parents at the
beginning of the school year. Below is a copy of our first letter.
September 18, 1995
This letter contains information regarding important aspects
of our classroom and program. Please read this letter carefully,
keep the information you need, and sign and return the slip at
the end of the letter.
The First Two Weeks of School
We have been spending the first few days of school helping
students get to know one another and become comfortable with
various classroom routines. One of our goals is to help students
become independent workers, so students are currently learning
how to organize work in their 3-ring binders, file papers, and
organize their cubbies. These next few weeks students will spend
some time each day at various learning stations, working in small
groups. During this time we will emphasize the skills of completing
work independently, and putting materials away. As students learn
to work on their own, this will increase our ability to meet
with small groups of students, and to help students progress
at their own pace.
Here are some of the other things we've done during the first
few weeks: students made a time capsule filled with September
work. We placed the time capsule papers in a bucket, and buried
the bucket on the edge of the school property. We will unearth
our time capsule in June. Mr. Yates has been reading Sideways
Stories from Wayside School aloud each afternoon. It's been
a popular book. Students have been reading a short chapter book
called Catwings, and have been working in a reading packet
connected with this book. We've also begun doing some assessments
in math and reading, in order to find out where to begin with
It costs money and takes effort to make birthday treats for
almost fifty students. If you and your child choose to celebrate
their birthday at school, we invite you instead to donate a book
to the class on your child's birthday. Please help your child
wrap it, and he or she will be able to choose a friend to help
open it and present it to the class. Birthday books will be kept
together on a special bookshelf. They are a gift that every child
in our class can enjoy again and again. You may still choose
to send treats for 50 students. We will pass these treats out
Person of the Week
This year we will celebrate individual students by inviting
them to be our special "Person of the Week". We will
draw two names randomly each Monday. When your child's name is
drawn, we'll send home a notice, and you will have a week to
gather photos of family and pets, and other items your child
would like to put onto a bulletin board about themselves. They
will have time on Monday of that week to share their information
with the class.
Absences and Tardies
The state legislature has recently passed tough laws regarding
student absences. You will receive more information about this
soon, but in the meantime we need to ask you to be SURE to send
us a note explaining why your child has been absent. We cannot
ignore unexcused absences.
P.E. and Library Days
Your child will be in a permanent group of mixed second and
third graders when they attend music, P.E. and library. Please
ask your child which group he or she is in. Some children like
to wear more comfortable clothes and shoes on P.E. days.
Blue group: P.E. days are Tuesday and Friday. Library
day is Thursday.
Green group: P.E.days are Monday and Wednesday. Library
day is Friday. If your child needs a new library card, please
send 50 cents. Students may keep their cards at school or take
them back and forth from school to home. Students need their
cards in order to be able to check out books on their library
Expectations for Behavior in the Classroom
We will constantly emphasize three expectations in our classroom:
be responsible, be respectful, and be curious. In addition to
these expectations, we will help students learn to become increasingly
independent as the year progresses. Students who show independent
work habits will be able to be "teaching assistants"
for students in our room and in other classrooms. They will also
have opportunities to use special materials, have the privilege
of being line leaders, delivering messages to the office, and
so on. Our goal is for ALL students to become independent learners.
If a student has difficulty with behavior, we will ask them to
fill out a problem-solving form to come up with a solution to
the problem. Chronic problems, or severe misbehavior will need
to be handled with more specific consequences. We will let parents
know immediately if a student is having severe problems with
behavior at school.
Beginning today, all students will bring home a yellow home
and school (homework) folder. Please check it daily. We will
ask students to put parent notices from school into this folder
for you to read. Also students will have homework placed in this
folder. Please help your child complete the homework, and please
also put your initials on the homework so we know you have checked
it. Parent involvement is crucial. The more involved you are
in your child's learning, the greater success he or she will
have in school. We ask that you help your child with two kinds
of homework this year. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday they
will bring home a short assignment that might be math, reading,
writing, art...the emphasis is on learning organizational skills
by completing and turning in homework. It is our hope that the
variety and brevity of the assignments will help students get
into the "homework habit." The other homework will
be a daily activity using students' spelling lists. After the
first few weeks of spelling, it is our intention to allow students
to progress at their own pace in spelling. We'll have different
students on different lists of words, so we really need your
help with spelling. We won't be doing as many whole-class spelling
lessons this year. It will be up to you to help your child learn
his or her list of words for the week. Watch for these spelling
lists to come home each Monday. Within the next few weeks we
will send home a detailed explanation of our spelling program,
including a description of our nightly spelling assignments.
We want to be sure there is clear and frequent communication
between home and school. To that end we will send home a packet
of student work each Monday in your child's home-school folder.
At the front of the packet there will be a teacher-parent form,
with room for comments, and also a tally of how many homework
assignments your child completed the week before. Please sign
this form and return it the next day. This form will help us
keep track of whether or not you are receiving information about
how well your child is doing with homework. The form also allows
you to communicate with us without having to call us on the phone.
In about a month we will ask you to give us feedback on how homework
is going, whether there is too much or two little of it, and
Please read the attached directions on book clubs, which is
stapled to our first book club forms.
If you are interested in helping out in our classroom, please
read and return the attached Parent Volunteer Questionnaire.
Please feel free to call either of us after school hours at
home whenever you have questions or concerns. Our home phone
numbers are: Heidi - XXX-YYYY, and Russ - XXX-YYYY. Thanks!
Russ Yates Heidi Mattern
Please sign and return the segment below, indicating you have
read this information.
Parent confirmation Slip September 18, 1995
I have read the parent information sent home by Russ Yates and
Parent signature and date