A Note from Principal Tony Byers: October 2016

And just like that, it’s October! The first month of school is behind us and we’re heading into fall. Like the start of anything, the first month of school is a tremendous amount of work, for both teachers and families. A productive school day and a productive home life both depend on routines, and September is all about learning and relearning the routines that set up a successful school year. For us, that means teaching students everything from how to greet each other to how to put the cap back on a glue stick (we lose many good glue sticks every year to indifferent cap replacement). For families, the start of the school year means mastering the many routines, and associated emotions, required to get children to school on time, into bed at a reasonable hour, and navigate the logistical and parenting challenges in between. So everyone is to be congratulated for making it to October in one piece! Well done.

In addition to setting routines, September is also the time to establish or strengthen relationships between home and school. It’s no mistake that the Family Potluck, Back-to-School Night, and the Friends of G&P 30th Anniversary Party all took place in the first month of school. These school-wide events encourage families to think of our school as a community, a place to be and to belong for everyone, and not just as a place of formal schooling between the hours of 8:15 and 2:25. Beyond school-wide events, September is also a time of frequent communication between home and school. The adjustment to school, whether it’s to a new classroom or a new grade, is smoother for some children and families than others. And the beginning matters, so it’s important to get things right, to begin the year by building a cooperative home-school partnership grounded in listening to each other and solving problems together.

School-wide events and relationships amongst staff and families are two important components of family engagement. In addition, our school could not function without the many families who volunteer to organize events, join a committee or group, like the Friends of Graham and Parks or Room Parents, and help out in a classroom. Our teachers cannot do their work alone, and we are so grateful for the help we get from our community.

But you don’t have to volunteer for every committee (although we’d love your help!) to be engaged in your child’s education. Be in touch with your child’s teacher, ask questions and keep them updated about what is going on with your child. And the most important aspect of family engagement is the work you do at home to support your child’s learning. Reading to your child, creating routines to encourage independence, and modeling kindness and curiosity may seem like small things, but they have a large impact on how a child approaches learning… and life. So thank you for doing this work and for sending us your eager, open, and curious children everyday. They’re a joy to teach, even when they forget to cap their glue sticks.