Wow, I hope you are as proud of the little ones as I am; they had such a fantastic start to their school life last week and have already learnt so much. The children know where their belongings go, they know how to find their way around the school, how to get the teacher's attention, how to sit during Collective Worship, how the School's behaviour chart works, how to play with their friends, and how to look after the resources and tidy them away. I expect they were rather tired over the weekend as there is so much to adjust to, they have coped beautifully.
Thank you for your support and understanding with the 'start of day' routines, I realise it can be hard to see your little ones whisked away into the classroom, but this makes for a positive start for all, and believe me, they are soon quickly occupied when they are in the classroom. Please remember, I am nearly always available at the end of the day if you'd like to talk.
I have uploaded some photos of the children's first few days to our class gallery. Please go to the school website, click on 'classes' and select Hippos page. There you will find a 'galleries' tab. Enjoy!
This week the children finish at 12pm, and next week they finish at 1.30pm. We have a packed afternoon schedule of home visits where we really enjoy seeing your child in their familiar environment, get to know you a little more, and answer any questions. We will talk about how we manage the children's reading in a little more depth during this visit as I am sure many of you are curious. Home visits last approx. 15 minutes.
2build a profile: You should have recieved a link from '2build a profile'. Please click on it should you want to see photos and observations of your child during their school day. If you have not recieved the link, do let me know either at the home visit or a note in your child's planner would be great. Please understand that these observations are taken 'on the go' and may occasionally have the odd typo. The purpose of these observations is to document your child's development and we refer to them as 'profiles'. From July 2016 'profiles' became non statutory, but we feel this kind of formative assessment is good practice and additionally allows you a lovely insight to your child's day. It is also important to be aware that these observations do not necessarily 'sum up' where we think your child's capabilities are at that moment in time, we may have captured a snap-shot of your child's learning half way through an activity for example. Also, we find these observations really boost your child's confidence, they love knowing that Mummy or Daddy is going to see what they've achieved regardless of the scale.
Timetable: There is a class timetable available to see on Hippos class webpage; this is subject to slight change week on week. The timetable isn't fully in action until your child starts full time with us. The transition process is very much the focus until then; learning, revising and revisiting class rules, school rules, and routines and getting to know one another. Over the next 2 weeks we will carry out 'baseline' assessments. We will also participate in a range of number activities, reading activities, phonic activities as well as arts & crafts and music.
'Child Initiated play time' is timetabled twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and lasts approx. 1 hour. The purpose of child initiated time is to provide your child the opportunity to choose an activity wholly decided on by them, which is driven by the need to explore a project or express an idea. Child Initiated time follows a 'teacher directed' activity where children may then choose to extend their learning from that session by making use of a variety of purposeful resources and go on to demonstrate a complex range of knowledge, skills, and understanding.
For those of your who have other children in the school, you will note that the children do not go out to morning break with the rest of the school (at the moment). The reason for this is that I had observed in previous years that really valuable 'child initiated play time' in the class designated indoor and outdoor area was being interrupted so that the children could then go to 'break' for an additional 15 minutes. It is however, important to be aware that if the child initiated play time comes to a natural early finish; we may well then take the children out to play with the rest of the school. The children will join the whole school for the lunch hour playtime where their year 6 'buddies' ensure they are looked after.
Reading: Please note that we change reading books on a Monday and a Friday and Mrs Coleman monitors this. All children are provided with picture books to start with. Whilst I appreciate some children may know some of their sounds, we really want to encourage an early love for reading so it is vital that we do not rush children by introducing words to early. Additionally, we need to make professional assessments before we can move children on and this can take time. There are so many lovely things you can do with your children using the picture books; ask your child to think about what’s going on in each picture; why might a certain character be doing what they are doing? What sounds might they hear? How might the character feel? What might happen next? It’s valuable to ask your child the reasons behind their thinking; reading is assessed on children’s comprehension of what they are reading not the speed in which they can decode the words.
My PPA time: Half a day a week (Tuesday morning this term, Tuesday afternoon next term) I will be out of class for a day for PPA time (planning, preparation and assessment) We are so fortunate to have Mrs Mileham covering in class for these sessions, a specialist PE teacher amongst an endless list of talents.
Already we have been able to introduce the children to our 'house' system in school. Here at Goudhurst the children are allocated to a 'house' to be part of. The 'houses' are named after local landmarks and are associated with a colour.
Bedgebury - Green
Glassenbury - Yellow
Pattenden - Purple
Scotney - Blue
I have talked to the children about which 'colour' group they belong to and they are fast getting to grips with it. Over the course of the year, the children can earn house points for their house which are counted and may lead to the most successful house winning a trophy at the end of each term. The house system is also used for grouping children together across the year groups for large discussions, or for election processes. On sports day, the children also work as a 'house'. The system is extremly popular.
As the children have settled so well, have taken on board instructions brilliantly, this week I have decided to have a go at introudcing Phase 2 phonics. Phase 1 is taught in preschools, and at home (perhaps without you realising) and is about making sense of the sounds around us.
Phase 2 introduces the 44 phonemes (a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that a letter makes). The children will work on learning 1 phoneme a day. This is the order in which they are taught
Set 1: s, a, t, p
Set 2: i, n, m, d
Set 3: g, o, c, k S
et 4: ck, e, u, r
Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
This week we will learn;
s- for this sound, children move their hand like a snake and make the sound 'ssss'
a- for this sound, children move their fingers up their arm, as though ants are crawling up it, and repeat the 'a, a, a, a' sound ('a' for ant)
t- for this sound, children mimick and audience watching a tennis match by moving their head from left to right saying 't, t, t' ('t' for the first sound in the word tennis, not a 'tea' type sound)
p- for this sound, children pretend their finger is a candle on a birthday cake and try to blow out the fame with the 'p' sound repeating 'p, p, p' ('p' for the first sound in pig, not a 'pea' type sound)
To support the learning of sounds, children then have a go at writing the shape of the sound by writing it in the air, or on their friends back, or by using a sand/rice/foam/gel tray. This allows them to experiement with the shape of the letter without worrying too much about perfect formation.
I use the following to support phoneme recognition and the children love it.
I run an 'early phonics and maths' workshop for parents in October should you want to find out more!
Dates for your Diary
Tuesday 12th September: The Kent Messenger will be photographing Reception class (this is quite a tradition for local newspapers who also photograph the Year 6 leavers in Summer term)
Friday 22nd September: Jenes for Genes day (children may wear jeans with the rest of their school uniform for a donation to this charity)
Thursday 19th October, 2pm: Hippos children, along with their Year 6 buddies are treated to a Magic show in the school hall, this is funded by the PTFA and is to celebrate the special bonds already forming between the children.
Friday 27th October: Last day of term 1.
Please note, Mrs Roberts has arranged 'Meet the Headteacher' sessions for parents. They are on the 20th, 22nd and 28th September and allow you a private meeting with the headteacher to get to know her, discuss any worries, ask any questions etc. There was an opporunity to sign up to these at the welome meeting in July. Otherwise, please enquire at the school office about booking a slot.