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Tips for Parents

Parent to Parent:  Tips for New Brook Knoll Parents

If you are new to Brook Knoll, this article is for you! Consider this a sort of Lonely Planet Guide to Brook Knoll with tips and advice from Brook Knoll parents who remember what it was like to be the new mom or dad on campus.

If you are a seasoned Brook Knoll parent, read along for helpful reminders and perhaps some information you missed along the way.

Thanks to Laura Gonzalez for writing this article and Jessika Garcia, Kirsten Gomez, Julia Wills-Mook, Maria Kelly, Laurie Ponos, Nancy Ross, and Michelle Summers for their contributions to this article.


Kindergartners

The number one recommendation for helping kindergarteners adjust to their new school is:

Don't Rush. Arrive early to park and walk your child into class. For the morning session, parking is easiest before 8:00. For the afternoon session, parking will be difficult on Thursdays when grades 1st-3rd get out at 12:25 and grades 4th & 5th get out at 12:35. "Spend a few minutes with the kids adjusting to the morning schedule," recommends Michelle Summers. "This is also a good time to get to know the other parents in the class."

Arrive before class ends to pick up your child at the door. "I can still remember their little eyes looking around to find me," said Jessika Garcia. "As soon as they saw me their little faces just lit up."

Garcia also recommends restricting activities during a kindergartener's first week. "Be sympathetic." said Garcia. "They will need lots and lots of hugs and kisses. That first week will be filled with new people and experiences and I'm sure at times it is overwhelming. They will come home tired, and some days will be better than others."


Back To School Night

Back To School Night is an opportunity for your child's teacher to introduce herself or himself, to preview the year, to orient you about classroom schedules, events and procedures and to answer your questions. It is a very important opportunity for you to get informed and involved, so don't miss it.

Back To School Night is a parent-only event. The classroom discussion is for adults only and there is no supervision on the playground. Moreover, kid noise outside the classroom is very distracting and can unfairly disturb the evening for the teachers and for parents who made the effort to find childcare. Book your babysitter or work out your child care plans now!


Volunteering In The Classroom

Brook Knoll parents strongly recommend working in the classroom as a way to support their child's education and to understand their school life. "I found that volunteering in the classroom was great," said Garcia. "I got to know the teacher. That gave me an inside look as to what was expected of my children and how I could better help them."

Julia Wills-Mook recommends asking teachers about how to handle difficult situations, such as when a child doesn't want to do something. "I think it's important for any parent volunteering to take it seriously, as they have an important role when spending so much time with kids. In our class, most of the parents were there once a week - that's a lot of time!"

Nancy Ross, who works for Cisco, recommends that you find out whether your company has a program that matches volunteer hours with cash contributions to the school. This is a wonderful way to give both time and money to the school. Stay tuned on this website for more information about helping your company set up a volunteer matching program. If your job doesn't allow you the flexibility to work regularly in the classroom, look for other opportunities to participate, such as handling the monthly Scholastic book orders for the class.


Be A Room Parent, Or Be Nice To One

You have the opportunity to volunteer as Room Parent or Assistant Room Parent for your child's classroom on the Volunteer Sign Up Form that comes home at the beginning of the school year. The Room Parent's role is to organize classroom parties (Halloween, Valentine's Day, etc.) and special events such as Teacher Appreciation Day. The Room Parent is a coordinator and one who delegates, so if you like getting people organized, this is a good job for you. The PTA Room Parent Coordinator orients all the Room Parents at the beginning of the year, so you will know exactly what to do.

Be supportive of your Room Parent throughout the year. Respond promptly to his/her requests for help and express your appreciation for his/her efforts on behalf of your child's class.


The Brook Knoll Student Directory

The BKEC publishes and sells a student directory in the Fall. Most Brook Knoll families find that the directory is an invaluable resource for setting up play dates, checking homework assignments, sending invitations, etc. Keep these uses in mind when you fill out the Student Directory Information Form in your Back To School Packet. For example, if you want it to be easy for other parents to send your child a birthday invitation, include your address. If you would like to receive online updates and reminders about school functions, include your email address.

Be aware that it is parent volunteers who give generously of their time to enter all those names and numbers. They try to be as careful as they can, but if your information is incorrect, be sure to inform the Directory Chairperson so that the information may be corrected for the next year.


Parking on Special Days

Don't get caught lugging platters of Valentine's cookies up the hill on Treetop Drive. On special days, parking is very difficult. See the "Get Organized" tips below so you can anticipate when you need to arrive early to park, or when you might want to bring a wagon or stroller along if you can't get there early.


Get Organized

Review the school calendar - note key Brook Knoll events in your regular calendar. At Back To School Night, you might receive field trip dates or other dates for your child's classroom. Add those to your regular calendar as well. Your Room Parent will send home a list of dates for class parties and events. Put those on your regular calendar too. Periodically check the online calendar for the school and for BKEC events calendar for updates and note the reminders sent out in emails.


Lost and Found and Lost and Found Again

Kids seem to drop sweatshirts and jackets the way that trees shed leaves. Write names on every piece of clothing, backpack and lunch bag. Once a week, check the "Lost and Found" corner, located across from the lower-grade restrooms. "Believe me," said Garcia, "I have been surprised many times by finding sweatshirts that I didn't even know were lost."


The Library

Each class has a library day, and children can check out two books. Make sure you know which day your child needs to return the books; teachers usually want books returned the day before library day. 


Spirit Wear Days

Maria Kelly, parent of a new kindergartener, didn't find out about Spirit Days until the last month of the year. Friday is "Spirit Day" at Brook Knoll. That means that students are encouraged to wear blue and yellow, which are the school colors or school t-shirts or sweatshirts. As a math tally project, 5th grade students will visit classrooms and count how many children are wearing spirit colors and there is a little friendly competition between classes. Occasionally, Spirit Day has an alternate theme depending on the season or holiday, such as red-white-and-blue. Alternate themes are generally announced to the students on Thursday for the following day, so you may not know unless your student is motivated to dress up. It's all for fun, so don't feel like a failure as a parent if you arrive on campus and notice that your child missed the theme of the day.


 

Communicating With Your Student

Be aware that kids differ in when and how they want to talk about their school day. Some are so tired that they don't want to talk about their day until they've had time to relax. Others want to tell you everything all at once and immediately, which can be tricky when siblings are also trying to talk. Some parents find that kids talk the most when they are driving; perhaps the lack of eye contact makes them feel freer to share. Whatever your child's communication style, all children want to know that their parents are interested in their school life. Try, "Tell me about your day . . ."


Communicating With Teachers, Staff, and BKEC

According to Wills-Mook, "The kindergarten teachers are incredible and want you to be happy. They can't remember to tell you everything, so if you need to know something, ask, ask, ask! This goes for other stuff, too. Everyone's great about answering questions at Brook Knoll!"

 

The BKEC is eager to help new parents - see the BKEC contacts and email us with your questions. Join us at the BKEC general meetings check the Meetings page for dates, time and location.