We are now in week 2 of the autumn term and many of you and your children are now familiar with some of the routines in Class 1, however, as I don’t always get to speak to you all personally I would like to warmly welcome you to Class One, and provide you with a useful point of reference in the form of this termly newsletter. I apologise in advance to those parents who have had some of this information last year, but a ‘belt and braces’ approach ensures that everyone is kept informed!
The EYFS Curriculum
In school we often use a range of acronyms and initials which I appreciate can be confusing. EYFS for example, stands for Early Years Foundation Stage, which is the curriculum document which both Nursery and Reception children follow. The primary school curriculum is separated into 3 Key Stages; EYFS, Key Stage One (KS1) and Key Stage Two (KS2). EYFS comprises of Nursery and Reception, KS1 comprises of Years One and Two and KS2 comprises of Years Three, Four, Five and Six. In class one we have Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children.
The EYFS classroom is set up to encourage child initiated meaningful play, which the children may refer to as ‘choosing’. By this, they mean that they are allowed to choose an area or activity set out, in or outside of the classroom. These areas of learning and activities are carefully planned and arranged to encourage spontaneous learning opportunities. These areas are known as the ‘Continuous Provision’. The areas will regularly be enhanced with topic related activities and themes as well as resources to reflect each child’s personal interests throughout the term.
In addition to the Continuous Provision, the children will be taught daily Phonics, Maths and Reading and Literacy lessons. Other lessons will be taught relating to the topic or identified areas of need. Initially these sessions will last no more than 10 minutes extending as and when the Reception children are ready. The Year One children are now ready for more sustained lessons and you may hear them complain that they ‘didn’t get to do any choosing this morning!’ That is because our literacy and numeracy lessons are much more substantial than when in Reception!
The Year 1 children are already accessing a more formal approach to their learning following the New National Curriculum, which came into effect in September 2014. The overriding topic theme for this term is ‘Castles’. During this topic we will investigate the capital cities of the UK and the castles which can be found in each city, we will investigate materials, create coats of arms, learn about the rule of law and elements of democracy (at an appropriate level) we will think about what makes us feel happy and proud of ourselves, we will learn action and rhyming songs, become more masterful when running, jumping, stopping and starting, we will learn a medieval dance, programme Bee-bots, learn about harvest and Christmas and hopefully we will all have a lovely time whilst doing so!
The classroom will be changed according to the EYFS led themes, our current one being Fairy tales and Nursery Rhymes!
We open the class doors at 8.40am and parents are welcome to drop off the children anytime after, school officially starts at 8.55am prompt. Children will come into the classroom and self-register; they will find their photograph and move it on to the register. The Reception and Year 1 pupils place their book bags in the book bag box and during this time we will hear children read, share books and encourage children to take part in the ‘morning activities’. All Nursery children will have a named box, where we put any letters or items to go home. Please check your child’s box for things to take home. At 9am we will all come together to formally register the children and discuss the day ahead. At 9.10 we have daily phonics. At some point between 9.30 and 10.15 a reading/literacy session will take place. At 10.15 we will stop for fruit and milk. If you would like for your child to have milk you must register them on the Cool Milk website. Please speak to me if you need more details about this. Initially I will use this time to reinforce good manners, good hand washing and sharing the fruit. Once the routines are established this session will be a good opportunity for children to talk. Playtime starts at 10.30am. The children can, if they wish, buy toast, plain biscuits or fruit juice. It is entirely up to you if you wish for your children to have snack money, (for 7p you can buy a piece of toast, or 2 biscuits and for 12p you can buy fresh orange or apple juice). The simplest way to organise this is for your child to have a named purse/wallet with enough small change for a week or two and I will send it home to be replenished when the money has run out! Lots of children do love to buy a piece of toast or a couple of biscuits and it is a good ‘real life’ experience of handling money and being allowed to make a simple choice. After break, we have our maths activity. The children in Class 1 will go for dinner 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the school; this will give the children 15 minutes of quiet, calmer hall time, plus additional time to eat. Either myself, Mrs Evans or Miss Simpson will be in the hall with the children. Every day they will have a choice from 2 main meals, a sandwich or jacket potato and the salad bar. We never force children to eat all of their dinner or to have something that they do not like. I will try to encourage them to eat enough to sustain them for the school day!
Parents of Reception children will soon receive an invite to join your child for lunch so that you can see first-hand how lunch times work at school.
The afternoon sessions vary depending on the activities, PE and ICT are timetabled due to resources. We recommend that PE kit is in school at all times to allow us to take advantage of the good weather when we have it. It also a good idea to send in a spare set of named clothes (not necessarily school uniform) in the event of an accident (muddy puddles, paint, toilet etc.)
Afternoon break is at 2.00pm. Can I remind all parents (including Nursery children) to ensure that your child has wellies, a waterproof and warm coat and spare ‘over’ or waterproof trousers for break times. As you are aware we like to make full use of the field as it allows all of the children the space and freedom to play the types of games they want to. The water proof trousers certainly reduce washing of school uniform for you at home too!
We have whole school assemblies at 3.10pm on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
Homework and Reading
It is very unlikely that your child will have a reading book for the first few weeks. I will be focussing on making your children feel safe and happy at school as well as establishing routines and expectations. Once a book does come home there will be a reading record book for you to make comments about the books you have shared. We can use this book for communication if you are not dropping off or collecting that day. Ideally, I would like for the children to share their book with an adult every night, this should take no longer than 5 or 10 minutes.
After about 4 weeks, the children may bring some letter sound/phonics related practise. I will endeavour to send accompanying explanations with each as and when I send the activities home.
Year 1 Children
All Year 1 children have reading books and in addition they will have one piece of homework and a set of phonic related spellings to learn and practise. I will give out spellings and homework and ask for both to be returned to school by Friday.
Dot the Dog
In Class One speaking, listening and engaging with others is a vital skill. To help children develop such skills we call upon the help of Dot the Dog. Dot comes home with one child per week, along with a school camera and a note book. We ask that you photograph Dot with your child and write about some of the daily routines or activities that you get up to; bed time, special meals, playing at the park, visitors or simply watching your favourite TV programme.
We can print off the photos in school and stick in the book alongside any commentary you have left. Please leave the photos on the camera, because once Dot is returned to school we display the photos on the large screen and your child has the opportunity to talk about them and answer questions from their friends. Previous experience shows us that the children love to be the one to bring Dot home and this is lovely non-threatening opportunity for your child to speak in front of the class. I hope that she will be just as successful this year!
We try to keep parents as fully informed about school, visits and anything extra happening in school via school letters. Some parents already have these delivered by email. If anyone would prefer to receive all possible letters this way, please send in your details to the school office. There will of course be occasions when we do not have an electronic version to send and so these will be sent home via your child.
Mrs Evans, Miss Simpson and I are always available for a chat at the start or the end of any day and we would urge you to come in and see us at your earliest convenience should you have any concerns, or questions about what is happening at school.
For some this first term can be a quite a traumatic time (usually more so for the parents than the child) but I am more than happy to allay any worries you may have.
Sometimes the school office is unmanned. Please do leave a message on the answer phone as we check for messages at break time and again at home time.
As a teaching headteacher I must take non contact time away from the class to fulfil my headteacher role and duties. I am not in class on Monday afternoons or Tuesdays. During these times Mrs Evans and Miss Simpson are in class.
Going For Gold
I am currently assessing the pupils and will aim to set targets for all the children in the class before October half term.
Many thanks for taking the time to read such a lengthy introductory letter and hope that you do find the information helpful. We are all really looking forward to the year ahead with your children and hope that they all enjoy the curriculum, visits and other exciting opportunities that we have planned for them.