Kindergarten Parent Orientation 2019

FOR SCHOOL YEAR 2019-2020 

The Rattlesnake PTA board took notes on the question and answer session during the Kindergarten parent orientation session in May 2019, and we’ve used those notes (as well as the notes and concerns from Kindergarten Roundup in prior years) to create this reference list for the parents of incoming kindergartners. Many thanks to Principal Wright for fact checking this document, and Molly, Leigh, Judith, and Lucia for staffing the PTA presence at Parent Orientation!


  • All families (K- 5th) should receive their class placement by email during the week ending on August 23rd 2019. If you do not receive an email or text by 5pm on August 23rd, please double check your spam folder, and then call the main Rattlesnake office (406-542-4050). 
  • Kindergarten classes up to 20 students have 1 teacher. If 21 or 22 students are in a Kindergarten class then assistants are in the classroom.


  • August 20th from 12:30- 1:30pm: 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. Meet at the front main entry. This is a school event.
  • August 25th from 3-5pm: Kindergarten Playdate. Come to the playground and meet other Kindergarten families the Sunday afternoon before school starts! Stop by any time from 3-5pm to jump around on the playground and meet new friends. Hosted by the PTA.
  • August 27th TBD (estimated 10am-noon): Kindergarten Orientation for K only. Meet your teacher, see the classroom, get excited for school! This is a school event.
  • August 27th 5-6pm: Back to School Night for Grades 1-5 only. Meet your teacher, see the classroom, drop off supplies. Please note that while Kindergarteners are welcome to visit the school with an older attending sibling at this time, the Kindergarten classrooms will be closed and the teachers will not be on site from 5-6pm. This is a school event.
  • August 28th 8am- 930am – First Day Welcome Coffee – Swing by the school garden to meet other parents, laugh or cry, and drink some coffee after your child is dropped off for their first day. Hosted by the PTA.
  • August 28th – First Day of School – Kindergarten will start with the bell (8:25) and dismiss early (12:40). Please send your Kindergartener 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 * Note: Grades 1-5 will dismiss at standard times.
  • August 29th – Thursday is early out – Kindergarten will start with the bell (8:25) and dismiss early (12:40). Please send your Kindergartener 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 * Note: Grades 1-5 will dismiss at Early Out times.
  • August 30th – Friday! – Kindergarten will start with the bell (8:25) and dismiss early (12:40). Please send your Kindergartener 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 * Note: Grades 1-5 will dismiss at standard times.
  • Find our general Calendar page at 
  • * See Bus Schedule First Week Note below *


  • Standard schedule and stops can be found at
  • 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 three days of the first week in 2019 for kindergarten only, the half-day dismissal 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 (August 28, 29, and 30), and then having them ride the bus the following week in the afternoons. This allows them to get used to the normal bus routes while skipping the possible stress of those three first days of extended bus routes.


  • Please don’t bring your child to visit the school to peek through the windows prior to August 27th, when classrooms will be fully set up and your child will be able to experience their new classroom in person. Kindergarten aged kids cannot really imagine how a blank summer cleaned-up room seen through a window will transform into a happy and inviting classroom, so they might be dismayed to see all the cardboard boxes and upside-down chairs.
  • 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!
  • 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 page for reference.
  • Worried you are forgetting something? Try our Back to School short list of reminders.


  • 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 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!


  • The basic daily schedule is here:
  • 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:


  • 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).
  • Learn about afterschool programs here:


  • 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:


  • Most classrooms have food-free celebrations and birthdays – learn more about this approach at the MCPS page Smart Snack initiative 
  • 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:, (406) 728-2400 ext. 4511, or (406) 239-9065


  • Highly detailed curriculum descriptions are available at
  • Kindergarteners develop important skills in their first year of school such as listening to and following directions, being flexible, and adapting to change. Simple activities like going new places over the summer (for instance, trying a different playground), playing a new board game with unfamiliar rules, or having playdates with a variety of friends and neighbors can help ease the transition into school.
  • 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.


  • 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:


  • 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. 
  • In class volunteers (called a Supervised Volunteer) must sign a district volunteer form (see 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. In general, district wide Standardized testing within MCPS starts in 3rd grade.
  • 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.


  • School District:
    • Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) website:
    • 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, 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!
    • PTA facebook:
    • 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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