During the four kindergarten roundup sessions in May 2017, members of the PTA took notes on the most frequently asked questions as heard from parents of incoming kindergartners. We used those notes to create this list of short topics and details – and we hope it proves helpful to everyone! Many thanks to Jen Jencso and Principal Wright for helping gather and edit these answers.
Class assignments, teacher assignments, and sizes
- Kindergarten classes up to 20 have 1 teacher, if 21 or 22 students are in a class then assistants are in the classroom.
- Kindergarten families received their corrected class placement letters by email and voice mail on Tuesday, June 20 2017. If you did not receive a message, please email Pam Wright. After that letter, you will receive additional communication from the teacher throughout the summer.
- 2017-2018 Kindergarten class is expected at or near 88 students (i.e. 4 classes). If by the start of the year, enrollment exceeds 88, then decisions on differing enrollment will be made by Superintendent’s office. This process is referred to as leveling.
- Grades 1 through 5 class/teacher assignments are expected to be emailed out in mid August.
First week Kindergarten schedule
- M 8:25 – 11:45 (before lunch) – K only busing available *
- T 8:25 – 12:30 (after lunch) – K only busing available *
- W 8:25 – 12:30 (after lunch) – K only busing available *
- Th 8:25 – 2:00 – regular Thursday time with regular on time K – 3rd busing
- F 8:25 – 3:00 – regular Friday time with regular on time K – 3rd busing
- * See Bus Schedule First Week Note below *
- Standard schedule and stops can be found at http://www.infofinderi.com/ifi/?cid=MCPS4CVNG54XW
- * Bus Schedule First Week Note * For the first week only, the half-day dismissal Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Kindergarten only buses take longer and will bus to more than one route. This extended route can prove stressful to kids that are not very excited about being on the bus. If you think your kid might be upset by this, the PTA suggests sending them on the morning buses all week (those are the consistent and regular route), picking up your child at the school for the half days M/Tu/W, and then having them ride the bus on Thursday and Friday afternoons. This allows them to get used to the normal bus routes while skipping the possible stress of the extended bus routes.
Prep for the first day
- It is best to try to stick to talking about drop off and pick up only the night before- don’t build it up too big or with too many fine details.
- Do your best to get your child to bed at a consistent time for at least a few nights before school starts. Sleep is so important at this age!
- Kindergarteners get summer home visits to meet their teachers – these will take place in late August or early September. Look for letter from your teacher about this, later in the summer.
Dropoff and pickup guidelines
- Walk, bike, or bus is best!
- See https://rattlesnakepta.org/school-map/ for the map that details car dropoff guidelines
- Kindergartners must have an authorized adult to pick up – they will not be released alone from the school nor off the bus. Kindergartners with no authorized adult at the bus stop at afternoon dismissal will be bussed back to the school to ensure their safety. Please be on time to meet the bus!
Daily schedule, rest time, and recess
- The basic daily schedule is here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/schedule/
- The K day includes rest time in fall for all classrooms. Rest time in winter and spring is figured out per classroom, as needed with class dynamics. Typically your teacher will permit a small blanket and a small soft toy, but this may vary depending on the classroom needs.
- Kindergarten has three recesses per day: First Recess, Pre-Lunch Recess, and Second Recess.
- Recess is held outdoors in nearly all weather. It is only held indoors in very specific hazardous weather conditions. Learn more here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/snow-and-weather-policies/
Afterschool care options
- All Kindergarten students’ families will be able to indicate how they are dismissed each day in a form from their teacher, to ensure they safely and correctly follow their schedule (i.e. if your child will do Campfire Monday – Thursday, and home on the bus on Fridays, you will indicate that in writing).
- Changes to your child’s routine must always be communicated prior to 2:30pm (1:30 on Thursdays).
- Note that during the first week, Clark Fork School aftercare does allow kindergartners to be dropped off for their regularly registered aftercare schedule (from 3pm onwards) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Talk to the folks at Clark Fork to learn about this helpful timesaver for these first days!
- Learn about afterschool programs here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/after-school-programs/
Lunch and Menu
- Lunchtime is a 25 minute period. Hot and cold purchase options are available, or students can bring their own lunch. There is a nut-free table available for students with a nut allergy.
- Find the current menu and a few back menus for examples, at https://rattlesnakepta.org/menus/
Snacks, allergies, and related medical concerns
- Most classrooms have food-free celebrations and birthdays – learn more about this approach at the MCPS page Smart Snack initiative http://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/2749
- Some K classrooms have group snacks, others do not, your teacher will communicate these expectations in the fall.
- There is a nut-free table available in the cafeteria for students with a nut allergy.
- Nut-free or food free classrooms are designated as needed, per classroom.
- If your child has allergies and you have already submitted a completed medical form, you should have already heard from our assigned nurse. If you have not heard from her, please call or email Lisa Flanagan to discuss your child’s needs and ensure the forms were received: email@example.com, (406) 728-2400 ext. 4511, or (406) 239-9065
Curriculum and reading expectations
- Highly detailed curriculum descriptions are available at http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/1827
- Kindergarten classrooms at Rattlesnake Elementary begin the year reviewing letters and their sounds, progress to two letter combinations (like “sh” and “st”), then learn to sound out short words and syllables, and finally will work on sight reading short words (such as “the” and “dog”). By the end of kindergarten, some students will have begun to read in full sentences or even books, and some will not- and that’s OK. Please speak directly with your teacher if you have concerns about reading expectations or classroom experiences.
Technology and screentime in the K classroom
- Kindergarteners have limited use of iPads and computers with educational goals in mind. Teachers also have interactive white boards used for calendar time and story times.
- Grades 1 through 5 incorporate technology and screentime in different ways that are age appropriate. Please speak with your assigned teacher if you have any additional questions.
In class volunteering
- For Kindergarten, general classroom volunteering typically starts in late October. This helps the classrooms settle into their routines, prior to adding volunteers into the mix.
- If you want to volunteer your particular knowledge for a self-led lesson or classroom experience, talk to your teacher about how to best schedule and plan. Please keep in mind that scheduling is particularly tight in September, December, just prior to Spring Break (i.e part of March), and in May and June. Planning ahead with your child’s teacher will let you work with him or her as a team to ensure your time working in the classroom is a great experience for everyone!
- In class volunteers (called a Supervised Volunteer) must sign a district volunteer form (see http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/9033). Volunteers that would be working with students unsupervised are also required to sign more forms plus get a background check- this is less common and isn’t the kind of volunteering that you’d be likely to do with a Kindergarten classroom.
- There is no standardized testing done in Kindergarten at Rattlesnake Elementary.
- Teachers use a variety of assessments to guide instruction, some of which are standardized in format (i.e. a consistent assessment is applied to all students). Please note these are not standardized tests, but rather they are evaluation tools to help better understand student and classroom progress.
- Standardized testing within MCPS starts in 3rd grade.
Many ways to communicate!
- School District:
- Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) website: https://www.mcpsmt.org/
- MCPS App: Search in App Store or Google Play Store for “Missoula County Public School” and you should find it!
- Administration Building: 215 South Sixth Street West, Missoula, MT 59801, 406-728-2400
- Rattlesnake School:
- Rattlesnake School website: https://www.mcpsmt.org/rattlesnake
- School-wide emails: You will receive these frequently. Please note they are addressed from “MISSOULA COUNTY PUBLIC…” in all caps.
- Rattlesnake School facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rattlesnake-Elementary-School-296447163854598
- Rattlesnake School twitter: https://twitter.com/rattlesnakemcps
- Your child’s teacher:
- During the school year, teachers can be reached via email or phone (find these on Rattlesnake School Staff Listings, https://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/2287) and will send a weekly newsletter via their school email.
- You will get handouts and other paper format notes in your child’s “boomerang” (or “boom”) folder. The boomerang folder gets its name because it goes back and forth from school each day with your child.
- Rattlesnake School PTA:
- PTA website: you are on the PTA website right now! https://rattlesnakepta.org/
- PTA facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA/
- PTA specific email list: You MUST sign up separately for PTA emails to receive them! Sign up at any PTA event, or use the Contact Us form and simply write “please add me to the PTA email list” in your note. Thanks!
- PTA via US Postal Service: Rattlesnake PTA, P.O. Box 7211, Missoula MT 59807