Welcome (or welcome back) to school! For those who don’t know me, I taught here for seven
years before teaching in Head Start for the past two. When the opportunity to return to St. Matthew’s in a
new role presented itself, I couldn’t resist the pull of this wonderful school and the chance to work again
with your families and our incredible staff! Please feel free to stop by to introduce yourself any time—as
you might imagine, there’s a lot for me to learn and do, but I am always glad to visit with you!
This newsletter contains dates and schedule details through October as well as some directions
for snacks and carpooling. Today you’ve also received a detailed description of the carpool routine, and
a print-out of student and family Information on File.
First order of business: please proofread the printout of Information on File.
Make additions or corrections or write “OK” if all is correct. List the names of individuals
who have your permission to pick up your child. Return it on your child’s next school day.
Be sure we have multiple ways to contact you, including your cell phone numbers and e-mail
address. Two persons OTHER THAN PARENTS must be listed as emergency contacts. If we
are unable to reach you, we turn to emergency contacts. The most typical “emergency” occurs
when a child is found to be ill at school and needs to be taken home. So, for your child’s sake: Keep us
up-to-date on changes in phone numbers through the year. We can’t contact you or your emergency
back-up if the numbers are wrong. Include their cell numbers if available.
If this is your first experience as a “school parent,” you’ll be learning and growing right along
with your child! Your child will need you by her or his side throughout school, and St. Matthew’s is a
good place to learn the ways you can help your child in this new adventure. Besides preschoolers, St.
Matthew’s includes a wonderful community of parents and teachers. There will be chances for you to
meet and get to know them as the year progresses (Back to School night and the Pumpkin Patch family
trip are the first). Here are a few things we have learned from parents and teachers through the years:
A reliable routine at home is “key” to less stress and greater success. A predictable structure at home will
help your child adapt to and live comfortably within a school schedule. At preschool, the child-centered
daily routine brings order, comfort and familiarity to the day. It helps school rookies become school
“pros,” channeling but not dampening their zest for learning. At home, the structure you adopt will have
the added benefit of ensuring your child gets sufficient rest (10-12 hours at this age) and arrives at school
on time feeling energetic and agreeable. That serves everyone well – child, parent, teacher, school friends.
Check your child’s tote everyday and read all notes. That’s one way we’ll communicate with you. Your
child trusts you to know when to be where with what. If you don’t already keep a family calendar,
start now. There will be events, occasions, and “due dates” throughout the year to keep track of. (This
will also be true in elementary school.) Put all Day School newsletters, notes, and lists in the folder your
teacher gave you on her home visit. If you forget a detail and can’t find that folder, you can also check our
Keep your teacher informed if your child is having difficulties that he may not be able or willing to tell us.
Also, if there are changes at home that may affect her or him in school or if a medication or illness is
causing a change in mood or energy level, please let your teacher know. This is critical information for
understanding and properly helping your child in the classroom.
Again, welcome aboard! We’ll work together to give your child the best “third,” “fourth,” and/or
“fifth” year of life that we can. Read on for more school details…
GO GREEN! Form a carpool. Carpooling makes sense for lots of reasons. Among them,
children get to class sooner because the car line is shorter, and you drive less often and
conserve gasoline. If you’re interested, we can help you to find potential carpool
partners in your area or neighborhood, and if your schedule is variable, we can
accommodate “sometime” carpooling. Call and ask to speak to Kathy Lundgren to
find out how you might carpool part-time or if you need more than one carpool card.
Become a Car Line Helper. You can cut your idling time and safeguard the children walking to
their classroom by becoming a parent volunteer at car line time. If you can help, please email Kathy
Lundgren at email@example.com. If you help at arrival, you will park and bring your child to class
at 8:50 for morning arrival, 12:20 for afternoon arrival. You’ll stay for the 15 – 20 minute car line window
(either outside or inside supervising children in the back hall). At the end of the day, volunteers come in at
11:35/2:50 and their child remains with his/her teacher until the car line end at about 11:55/3:10.
Until the car line begins, you will walk your child to and from the classroom. As you do so,
please help us keep track of all the children in the building. Pick-up and dismissal times are busy: children
are eager to reunite with family, moms are tending babies, toddlers, and preschoolers; children, moms, and
teachers are chatting; moms and moms are chatting . . . well, you get the picture. It’s a swirl
of bodies, especially at the three-foot level! We’re quick to get the carpool system up and
running because we can better safeguard children when there are fewer people in the
classrooms and halls. Until then, we worry about children following the wrong set of momlegs
out the door. Fix your eyes on your child and redirect any other children you may attract
on those first few days. When you take your child from the room, be sure to tell the teachers, “I have so-and-so.”
When you come to pick up your child, we’ll ask you to wait in the narthex until we indicate that
the teacher has finished and is ready to dismiss. We don’t want any child to be anxious about being the
last one picked up, so it’s better if no one sees Mom or Dad until everyone sees Mom or Dad.
Back to School Evening. This “parents only” meeting is planned as an occasion for you to:
- Meet parents of children in your child’s class. (You might make contacts for trading “toddler care” if
necessary, to enable you to participate in your child’s class or plan play groups for non-school days.)
- Visit your child’s classroom to hear about your child’s daily activities & your
teacher’s goals for the class (It’s too soon for a conference, so don’t expect a
detailed report, please.)
- Learn more or ask questions about St. Matthew’s program, the car line, etc.
- Sign up to volunteer in your child’s classroom or to help with Kiss & Rid.
- Here’s the Back to School night schedule. Plan to arrive at 7:00 and be home by 8:30
Hope McCaw’s 3-day class
Kristi Ellison’s class
Hope McCaw’s 2-day class
Janet Hawkins’ class
Lunch Bunch begins September 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29. I don’t know who likes this more, parents or the Lunch Buddies themselves! Lunch Bunch is a fun and enriching way to extend the school day until 1:30. Stephanie Andrews is our lead teacher with Christa Wallace, Maria Ellis, Mary Braun, and Sarah Maynard assisting. Lunch Buddies bring a lunch as well as their classroom snack; teachers lead the children through outdoor play, lunch, an enriched center time, and a story together. At 1:30 parents pick up their children in the usual car line fashion with their usual carpool number. Lunch Bunch families, watch for details in a letter coming September 11th & 12th. (Lunch Bunch is full Monday-Thursday. You are welcome to email Stephanie Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know you’re
interested in Friday or in putting your child on the wait list for another day.)
Pumpkin Patch Family Field Trip – October 4th. Details of this all-school field trip will be sent home later this month. In general, parents bring their child (bring along grandparents, siblings, and friends if you like) to Belvedere Plantation, north of Fredericksburg. (Children who attend the Day School on Tuesday and Thursday enjoy the Wednesday trip and have class as usual on Tuesday and Thursday.) It’s a great opportunity to get acquainted with other parents and children from your child’s class and have a good time together.
Children may play in the hay barn, pet small farm animals, ride on a hay wagon, pick a pumpkin, and have a picnic. This “real life” experience will serve as a point of reference for many conversations during the fall months.
School Pictures – October 17, 18, & 19. Greenwood Studios will take class and individual pictures during school and will return them to us by Thanksgiving. Siblings (friends and neighbors are welcome, too) may have their pictures Wednesday beginning at 12:00. You’ll receive a flyer with information. A portion of the sales benefits the Day School.
Grandparents Day. We invite grandparents to visit their grandchild’s school the day before Thanksgiving holiday. That’s November 20th for the 3-day morning classes and one 4-day morning class and 3 & 4 day afternoon classes, and November 21st for the 2-day classes and the other 4-morning class. Please pass that along to grandmas and grandpas who’ll be in the area!
Another word about snacks: Your teacher will guide you on the amount and suitability of the snack you send. The rule of thumb is that it be reasonably nutritious, and that it be neat – that is, easy to eat sitting on the floor picnic-style (avoid: yogurt, applesauce, and canned fruits that are hard to get from container to lips without drips.) We try to reinforce healthy eating, just as you do at home. Please also pack a single wet wipe and a cup (we’ll have water for the children to pour).
NOTE: We are nut-free school-wide.
Cold and Flu Avoidance. A useful and healthful habit to establish is to help your child wash hands thoroughly when you get home from school. (The children wash with a wet wipe and get a squirt of hand sanitizer when they arrive and learn and practice good handwashing practices in the bathroom. In class, we teach the children to cough or neeze into their elbow (or “germ catcher!”) to reduce the number of germs on the hands and to get another squirt of sanitizer after throwing away used tissues in the waste basket. Since parents have had to manage these things for very young children, now is the time to teach your preschool child to do them on her or his own. You’ll have to say it more than once (!) and monitor as they practice, but by year’s end we’ll establish habits that will keep them (as well as siblings, mom, and dad) healthier. Keep feverish (or otherwise contagious) children at home. They must be fever free without medication for 24 hours before returning. We have some children and family members who are under treatment for conditions that make cold and flu germs a serious threat. Read the symptoms in the Parent Handbook and protect other classmates and their families. Young children are more likely than other age groups to be carriers of colds and flu. If this is your first preschooler, it’s probably impossible to avoid an extra cold or two this year but if we do our part at school and you do yours at home, we can keep them to a minimum.
Here’s an expanded schedule for the first few days:
For 3 & 4-day classes
- September 5/6 4 day AM classes meet 9:00 – 10:45 (1/2 class each day)
- September 6 3 and 4 day PM class meet 12:30 – 2:00
- September 6/8 3 day AM classes meet 9:00 – 10:45 (1/2 class each day)
- September 7 3 and 4 day PM class meets 12:30 – 3:00 (regular schedule)
- September 11 4 day AM classes meet regular schedule (dismiss 11:45)
- September 11 3 day AM classes meet 9:00-10:45 (whole class)
- September 13 3 day classes meet regular schedule (dismiss 11:45)
- September 11/12 All classes: Car Line INFORMATION DUE (sharing or not)
- September 13 Car Line begins for all PM classes
- September 15 Car Line begins for 3-day AM classes
- September 18 Car Line begins for 4-day AM classes
For 2-day classes
- September 5/7 1/2 the class each day from 9:00 – 10:45
- September 12 All 2-day children meet 9:00 – 10:45
- September 14 2-day classes begin regular hours (dismissal 11:45)
- September 19 Car Line begins T/Th classes
Visitor sign-in & sign-out. The front inner doors are locked after classes begin. To enter, push the
button to the left of the front door, and Jamie will buzz you in. Come to the office to sign-in and get a
visitor sticker before going into the classroom. When you leave early with your child and/or other
children, sign them out in the office log before you collect them from the classroom. This enables us to
account for all children at dismissal time.
Welcome again to St. Matthew’s! This will be a great year full of new friends and fun. We’re committed
to providing a positive, supportive setting in which your child will continue to grow and learn.
Remember, you play an important role in your child’s education. We look forward to sharing with you the
successes and challenges your child will encounter along this part of their journey. Together we can work
to strengthen the attitudes and behaviors that will serve your child well and influence her or him to learn
and practice effective ways of living and growing in a community of life-long learners.
We look forward to getting to know you better in the coming days: when you bring your child to
class, when you attend your Back to School evening, and at the Pumpkin Patch. Before long the Day
School will be up and running, we hope like a well-oiled (but living!) machine. If you have questions or
want to comment at any time, don’t be put off by our single mindedness—it’s just us keeping children
safe and busy learning. Teachers can’t “confer” during class, but a call or e-mail to your teacher after class
or to me anytime is never a problem. As well, our secretary, Jamie Fries, reads all newsletters and keeps
them at hand so she can remind or assure you of dates or times if necessary. She will receive your calls
and pass on the news when you report your child’s absence. Please keep her informed of any changes to
your child’s emergency information as the year goes along.
Again, I’m thrilled to back and part of the St. Matthew’s community! Thank you for choosing the
Day School—we look forward to a wonderful year with you and your child!
Take good care,
Jen McLaughlin, Director