Welcome Letter

Dear Parents,
I am so excited to have your child in my class this year. First grade is such a fun and rewarding time for children. I am writing this letter to explain a few things that will be important for you to know.

Backpacks and Home Folders
Please make sure that your child brings a backpack to school every day. It is essential because we bring math homework home most days as well as important papers from the office.
It is also imperative that your first grader bring his/her "Home Folder" back to school every day. It is part of what we do during our “morning routine” and it is very disruptive if a few children habitually leave it at home.

We will celebrate your child’s birthday at school. We will try to do it as close as possible to the real birthday but may have to have it on a different day if our schedule is particularly hectic. It takes about 10 minutes and you are welcome to come if your schedule allows. For the children who have summer birthdays we assign them a “pretend” birthday and let them celebrate just as the others do. The time we have set aside for birthdays is from 10:35 to 10:45 on the assigned day. We go to recess at 10:45 and this allows us to take birthday treats (which are optional) outside to eat on the playground.

Sending Home Completed Work/Other Papers
Completed work and/or Art projects will be sent home on Fridays. Please take everything out of the section of the "Home Folder" labeled "Things to Stay at Home" each Friday, sending the folder back empty on Monday. You will still need to check the folder each day for math homework and other important papers that can’t wait until Friday.

Each week students will have the opportunity to go to the library. The librarian will read the class a special story, teach about the library and then allow them to choose a book to check out. In first grade they are allowed to bring the book home but it must be returned to the library the next week. Our library day is Wednesday.

All children are expected to go to recess. It is important for the development of social skills and also helps them to focus better in class because they have had a chance to get their “wiggles out”. As the weather begins to change please be sure to send jackets or coats as well as gloves and hats when needed. PLEASE LABEL THE INSIDE OF THE COAT-all of the first grade classes have recess together and against our better judgment kids will sometimes take their coat off and set it down.-if there is no name it is very confusing to get it back to the right owner.

The children will be going to P.E. just as they did in Kindergarten. It is more fun for the little girls if they do not wear dresses or fancy shoes/sandals on P.E. days. Our P.E. days are Tuesday and Friday.

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be conducting reading assessments on all of the children. This will help me to place your first grader on an appropriate reading level. Each student will be placed in a guided reading group and will receive reading instruction on his/her level in class 4 days a week. It is considered homework for all first graders to read at least 20 minutes per day, 5 days a week. The kids who do this reading make progress more quickly. The simple fact is the only way to become a better reader is to READ, READ, READ.

Reading Calendar
Students at Fiddlers Elementary will bring a reading calendar home each month. It is part of a school wide reading incentive program. As mentioned above, First Graders are expected to read at least 20 minutes, 5 times a week. Please record the number of minutes read on the calendar nightly. At the end of the month just total up the minutes, sign it and send it back by the date indicated on the calendar. In first grade this time needs to reflect the time your child spends reading, not the time you read to your child.

We are excited to have a school wide math program. It is called Go Math.  This program involves nightly homework. Each day in class we will completean assignment in class. Your first grader will then bring a math paper which is to be completed at home and returned the next day. You will find in first grade that the homework usually takes your child just a few minutes to complete. On test days there will not be homework. We have tried to schedule that on Fridays whenever possible. The best thing to do is just check the home pocket for homework every night.

We will be working with a fun and lively Phonics program called "The Phonics Dance". You may even hear your child practicing around the house! This is a great program that is very interactive and utilizes rhythm and rhyme.  For this reason it is not a program that can be “made up for homework”. Student attendance at school is critical. If a child is absent he/she misses large chunks of phonics instruction on that day. Whenever possible please try to schedule dentist appointments, eye appointments etc. for after school.

We will spend a lot of time writing in first grade. You will notice that we encourage the children to use “temporary spelling” which allows them to express their ideas on paper without being limited to only the words that they can spell correctly (research has shown that fluency in writing is more important than spelling accuracy in first grade). However, we do spend time learning to spell words that are appropriate for first grade.

Spelling tests
We will not begin having spelling tests until a little later in the year. When we do we will be focusing on utilizing word chunks and a list of most commonly used words for first graders.

To sum up here are the most important things at this point:
1. Backpack every day.
2. Home Folder returned to school every day.
3. Nightly math homework due every day.
4. Nightly reading by your first grader-about 20 minutes per night, 5 nights per week.

Looking forward to a great year!

Mrs. Robinson

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