The New Family Open House is a low-key spring gathering for new families here at school. Both teachers are here, along with a parent from the board who can answer your questions about family involvement in the school. The classroom and playground are set up for play, and we have plenty of snacks for everybody. During this hour of fun, we do a little bit of important “starting school” business, too.
We will give you a big folder of homework for the summer – licensing paperwork and the pages your family will make for our Book of Children First Families. We will photograph your child, and your family, so that we can incorporate those images into the classroom before we begin the new year.
And most exciting, we will present your child with a “Welcome Book,” made by the teachers and children together, full of images and information from both the adult and child perspective on life at Children First. We hope the Welcome Book will be a source of information, reassurance and inspiration for all of you over the summer, as you anticipate beginning at Children First.
Children will choose the signs that will be their personal symbol throughout their life as Children Firsters. The sign is a visual symbol that will accompany your child’s name at school. The sign is a literacy device — a sort of reading that precedes reading letters; it is a motivator for learning to draw; it is a communication device — kids use each other’s signs with terrific fluency in making mail; and it is also an identity device — the sign often becomes very important to the child, a part of who they are, uniquely, at Children First. For that reason, no sign is ever used twice at Children First — when a child graduates, his/her sign is retired. The symbols we offer your child at open house will all be things that are recognizable and easy to draw.
Each new family will have a designated buddy family who is already familiar with the school. During the summer before you begin your life as Children Firsters, your buddy family will get in touch and plan a get-together, so that both you and your child will know someone during those first days of school.
During the week before your child begins school, we will arrange a time for your orientation visit. We allow a full hour for these visits. This is the time when one teacher plays with and gets to know your child, while you meet with the other teacher to give us as much detailed information as you can about your child and your hopes for your child’s experience at school. We will have many questions for you, and will be prepared to answer the questions you have for us.
At the time of the orientation visit, we will ask that you return all paperwork, so that we can have everything in place for the beginning of the school year.
If it is all right with you, one or possibly both of our teachers will arrange a time to come to your house for a short visit with your child. We try to schedule the home visits after the orientation visit, often during the first week or two of school, so that the child has some context into which to place these visitors. Because the purpose of the home visit is to help cement the relationship between teacher and child, the teachers focus on following the child’s lead. Sometimes parents think the home visit is about making a good impression on the teachers, and get busy cleaning their houses or encouraging their child to behave. Trust us — it’s not about that at all and we don’t want anyone to have to work hard at it! The home visit is intended to be a relaxed, playful occasion, with the focus on the teacher and child spending some low-key time together on the child’s home turf.
We encourage parents to allow their child to begin a little slowly, with a few shorter days the first week of school, depending on our collective assessment of what will work best for their child and what you can manage logistically. We will reserve the first day of school for our returning children, who will be making a big adjustment after their summer away — we’d like them to get back some sense of belonging before they begin the adjustment to all the new kids who will become their friends (but who start as strangers intruding on territory from which their older friends are noticeably absent!). We can talk more about the specifics of your initial schedule during your orientation visit.
It was very strange at first, but as the year goes by you feel that it's kind of like your home.