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Information for Parents
Check Backpack Mail for downloadable/printable forms.
Information for New Parents
Backpack Mail: Backpack mail will be the main method of communication between you and your teacher, and you and the school. Please make a habit of reading everything that comes home with your child on the same day it comes home, fill out forms as soon as possible and send them back in right away, and please respond to requests and inquiries from your teachers, the school, or your Class Parents in a courteous and timely fashion. Very important: please provide your child with a backpack and a notice folder (it is usually part of the supply list from your teacher: regular 2-pocket folder)--they don't have to be anything fancy or expensive.
In backpack mail in the first days of school please look for blue emergency contact cards, the annual school lunch form, the school bus information packet, and the Afterschool program packet.
Volunteering: If your schedule allows it, WONDERFUL. One of the Brooklyn New School's huge strengths is parent involvement. Without it, our school suffers, especially in the face of recent budget cuts. There are many different ways to help, and there are quite a few things that don't need to be accomplished during the school day. Please consider finding out how you might be able to contribute. One easy thing you can do is keep in touch with your teacher, frequently asking them if they need any help or any supplies: paper towels, class trip chaperones, filing of student work, etc. If you cannot fulfill your teacher's needs, please help him/her reach out to the rest of the class families. You might consider volunteering to be one of your teacher's Class Parents for the year.
Very Important: Please be considerate, courteous and responsive to those parents who do volunteer. If you're asked to return a phone call, for example, please do so as soon as you're able. The parent volunteers are there to help the school, your teacher, your class, and, ultimately, to help provide the best school experience possible for your child.
Class Trips: Class trips are an important part of your child's curriculum and definitely important for community building. Class trips cannot happen without an adequate number of parent chaperones. Please plan to make yourselves available for as many class outings as possible. Also, it is very important that the minimum number of parents required to accompany a class on a trip also accompany the class back to school safely. And lastly, on the day of a class trip, if you haven't volunteered to chaperone on that day but can make yourselves available, please ask your teacher if he or she needs you after all. Sometimes parent volunteers find themselves needing to back out at the last minute because their child is sick or some other last minute issue, and the class is short a chaperone, or possibly two.
LICE!!! Every year the critters make their way into the public school system. Generally they're discovered as early as late September and disappear sometime in the spring. Important things to keep in mind:
- Lice do not discriminate.
- Contrary to myth, they prefer clean hair to unwashed hair, so, please don't judge.
- They do prefer hiding in longer and thicker hair.
- Lice affect pre-k, kindergarten and even 1st grade kids the most and almost exclusively because of their normal physical contact--little kids love hugging and play wrestling and sitting close and it's hard (and just plain sad) to train them not to.
- You may want to start talking to your little ones about not sharing hats.
- One of the big problems with lice infestations is that the affected kids have to miss school until they're lice-free.
- It helps if the class families work together to eradicate or at least reduce the problem by doing nightly head checks, for example.
- One thing that has been done to reduce the spread is to have large plastic bags available to the children for their belongings like coats, hats, backpacks, etc. In the first days of school you may want to consult with your teacher about helping her/him take preventive measures.
- Vacuuming the classroom rugs regularly can't hurt. You might want to volunteer to help your already busy teachers with this task.
And, finally, LABEL EVERYTHING. Your child will still lose things anyway. It's pretty remarkable how quickly the school's Lost & Found fills up every month and how much of that stuff goes unclaimed and off to charity. The school's Lost & Found is in the Cafeteria. Please know that sometimes it takes a day or two for your child's lost item to make it into the Lost & Found. Sometimes it sits on the window sills in the back of the cafeteria for a couple of days before it's collected and taken upstairs. If your child takes the school bus, checking with the school bus company's dispatch doesn't hurt.
Please join the school's newsgroup by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org describing your connection to the school. I *highly* recommend that you join -- the school newsgroup is used to supplement backpack mail but it is also used to share other useful information with parents that doesn't necessarily come home in backpack mail.
Some important meetings are coming up. Friends of BNS/BCS (our non-profit fundraising organization) meets the third Friday of every month. Please try to attend to learn what each organization is working on to benefit your child's school and to find out about ways in which you can help.
This year BNS Curriculum Night will take place the evening of Thursday, September 18. You don't want to miss it. Your teacher will be sharing with you what the school year will have in store for your little ones. Curriculum Night is also when parents volunteer to be Class Parents. Please book a babysitter - we will not have childcare.
Please Note: Your teacher will not have any *official* Class Parents until the end on September. In the meantime, please check in with him or her to see if you might be of help. Throughout the rest of the school year, please continue to offer help and not assume the Class Parents have all the bases covered -- they're busy people too.
Please read the following... Whether you're thinking about volunteering to be a Class Parent or not, this will give all of you an idea of some events and things that will be coming up and also an idea of the help that will be needed from all of the classroom families to make it a successful school year...
CLASS PARENTS support the teachers by helping them keep in touch with all of the class families regarding classroom events, supply needs, class trips, etc. The job of the Class Parent does not require that one attend meetings (except for the one Class Parent training where all of this will be covered) or invest too much time at all. Ideally, there should be more than one Class Parent for each classroom so that someone is always available to the teacher and so that Class Parent duties can be shared or split up. Class Parents need to maintain communication with each other.
These are the year's duties of the Class Parent(s):
1. A Letter of Introduction should be sent out to all the classroom families wherein which the Class Parents introduce themselves and outline what they need to accomplish for the teacher throughout the year with the help of all the classroom families. Show a draft of your letter to your teacher before you distribute it to the other families.
2. A Class Family Directory should be put together and updated so that families can reach one another (playdates, homework, etc.). Teachers appreciate help in making sure all their family contact information is correct.
3. Class Parents should set up a Phone Tree (or something like it) should the need arise for the teacher (or the school) to reach the classroom families quickly (regarding a school emergency, or a last minute cancellation of a class trip, for example). Set up your Phone Tree to be user friendly and uncomplicated. Once organized, a copy of the Phone Tree should be distributed to all the families and your teacher. Some teachers use the Phone Tree pretty regularly, some rarely. You may also make use of email to supplement the Phone Tree but unfortunately email alone is not reliable enough in making sure everyone is reached promptly -- it all depends on the nature and urgency of the message.
4. Several Potluck Events will occur in the classroom throughout the year where each family brings in food, beverage, paper goods and the like, to share. The Class Parents are responsible for helping to organize the potlucks. Consult with the teacher about what supplies will be needed (paper plates, etc.) and what foods would be appropriate (are there allergies to be aware of, for example). Class Parents may put up a sign-up sheet so everyone can keep track of what is being brought in and what is still needed, and a flyer should go out so that families who don't have email can be kept in the loop. Ask parents to volunteer to set up before the event and to clean up afterwards.
5. It is a BNS tradition for families to chip in on a Holiday Gift for the classroom's use, instead of giving individual personal gifts to the teacher (20% of money collected goes to the cluster teachers for school supplies and equipment). The Class Parents must ask the teacher what she or he would like for the classroom (a small fridge, boom box, art supplies, and books for the classroom's library are some of the things teachers have asked for in the past). A letter should go out to families with a deadline for sending in the monetary contributions -- give families a ballpark dollar amount but also tell them to give want they can. The Class Parents must then purchase the items and discuss with the teacher how he or she would like the presentation of the Holiday Gift handled.
6. The school's biggest fund raiser of the year is EAT DRINK DANCE SHOP, a fun adults only event in May. Each classroom donates a themed Silent Auction Basket for the event, filled with items the classroom families have contributed -- the Class Parents are responsible for organizing this. A letter should go out to the families indicating what their class's basket theme is, the items that are desired for the basket, and a deadline for sending them in. One of the Class Parents should be responsible for acquiring the "basket" (aside from the traditional wicker basket, in the past some "baskets" have been a large plastic bin for art supplies, and a baby bath tub for baby items, for example).
7. Class Parents should regularly be in touch with the teacher about the class's day to day needs and communicate the need for supplies, volunteers, etc., to the families (class trip chaperones, paper towels, class project helpers, etc.).
A final word to all parents... We're all busy with our lives away from school happenings as are all our school volunteers. Please be polite, considerate and responsive to your Class Parents and all school volunteers. They're helping in many different ways that ultimately enhance your child's school experience in one way or another. An occasional thank-you sent their way is a good thing too.
Have a wonderful and successful year!