Kindergarten Roundup 2018 FAQ

During the three kindergarten roundup sessions in May 2018, 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 Principal Wright for fact checking this document, and Molly, Leigh, Maggie, Carissa, Matt, Erik, and Lucia for staffing the PTA presence at Roundup!

CLASS ASSIGNMENTS, TEACHER ASSIGNMENTS, AND SIZES

  • All families (K- 5th) should received their class placement by email during the week ending on August 17th 2018. If you do not receive the email by August 20th, please double check your spam folder, and then call Principal Wright (406-542-4050). 
  • Kindergarten classes up to 20 have 1 teacher. If 21 or 22 students are in a class then assistants are in the classroom.
  • The entire kindergarten class is expected to not exceed 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.

START OF SCHOOL 2018 – SPECIAL EVENTS SCHEDULE

  • August 22nd from 5:30- 6:30pm: School tour for new families of 1st to 5th graders. Siblings are welcome but please note this tour is not designed for incoming kindergarten families, unless you missed Kindergarten Roundup in May. Meet at the front main entry.
  • Find the First Three Weeks of events page here.
  • Find our general Calendar page at https://rattlesnakepta.org/calendar/ 

FIRST WEEK OVERALL KINDERGARTEN SCHEDULE

  • NO KINDERGARTEN August 29, 30, 31 (Grades 1-5 are in session)
  • NO SCHOOL September 3rd, Monday. See entry above for NEW Kindergarten Playdate on this day.
  • Tuesday, September 4, K from 8:25- 12:30 (K has a half day, please send your child with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful). K only busing available *
  • Wednesday, September 5, K from 8:25- 12:30 (K has a half day, please send your child with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful). K only busing available *
  • Thursday, September 6, K from 8:25- 2:00 (All school, Early Out, Lunch will be however you prefer in main cafeteria). Regular on time K – 3rd busing
  • Friday, September 7, K from 8:25- 3:00 (All school, Full Day, Lunch will be however you prefer in main cafeteria). Regular on time K – 3rd busing
  • * See Bus Schedule First Week Note below *

BUS SCHEDULE

  • Standard schedule and stops can be found at http://www.infofinderi.com/ifi/?cid=MCPS4CVNG54XW
  • Kindergartners often get very excited to ride the bus for the first few weeks. Please remind them to wear their “imaginary seat belt” and stay seated for the whole ride just like in a regular car or like for the city bus. This helps keep them safe, and keeps the bus drivers focused on the road.
  • * Bus Schedule First Week Note * – For the first two days of the first week in 2018 for kindergarten only, the half-day dismissal on Tuesday and Wednesday special kindergarten 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 just the half days (Tuesday and Wednesday), 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 those two days of 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!
  • Kindergartners 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.
  • If you child will be riding the bus, please review our “Bus Schedule First Week Note” in the paragraph above, so you can make a good choice for your child’s needs.
  • See the Supply List for the 2018-19 school year, organized by grade.
  • Worried you are forgetting something? Try our Back to School short list of reminders.

DROPOFF AND PICKUP GUIDELINES

  • Walk, bike, or bus is best!
  • Kindergartners getting off the bus in the morning will be assisted with finding their classroom meeting spot (marked with a traffic cone and sign) and will meet their teacher outside the school each morning.
  • 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, SPARE CLOTHING, 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 by class dynamics. Typically your teacher will permit a small blanket and a small soft toy, but this may vary depending on the classroom needs.
  • Most classrooms have a space for each child to have a set of spare clothing in case of accidents. It is normal for young children to accidentally pee their pants on occasion. If you are concerned about your child’s needs, please speak to your teacher or the school nurse as soon as possible so they can help.
  • 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 has allowed kindergartners in the past 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 confirm details!
  • Learn about afterschool programs here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/after-school-programs/

BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND MENU

  • Breakfast is optional before school and is from 8am to the 8:25am bell.
  • Lunchtime is a 25 minute period, with the exact time dependent on schedule and grade. 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.
  • Lunch money is put onto an account and each student is assigned a number. Our Menu page includes information on how to add money to your account, as well as the current menu and a few back menus for examples: https://rattlesnakepta.org/menus/

SNACKS, ALLERGIES, AND SCHOOL NURSE

  • 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: ltflanagan@mcps.k12.mt.us, (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 single letters and their sounds, then they 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

  • Kindergartners 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.

CELL PHONES AND “KID PHONES” IN SCHOOL

  • As a general statement, most students at Rattlesnake School do not have cell phones or smart phones, but some students do have specialized kid-type phones (such as the limited calling wrist style phones).
  • MCPS technology policy is that cell phones may only be used before and after school. The teacher recommendation is that students keep phones, wrist phones, and smartwatches turned off or on airplane mode and in their backpacks during the school day.

LICE, FEVERS, VOMITING, AND MORE

  • Rattlesnake Elementary follows the guidance of the Missoula County Public School district for all health and safety issues. Please review these guidelines each year to ensure you understand the basics for when a child must be kept at home, or not! Find our quick reference here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/sickness-and-lice/

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 (lateMarch), 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.

STANDARDIZED TESTING

  • 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
    • Emergency notifications are robo-called to parent or guardian phone numbers from the district on an as-needed basis.
  • Rattlesnake School:
  • 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

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