Dear Hunnewell,

I hope you all enjoyed a relaxing February break! I think we all agree that it is wonderful to see daylight after 5:00pm and there is no denying the smell of spring in the air!

Prior to the break the teachers and I revisited our commitment to supporting the social/emotional development and executive function skills of our children, which we see in direct correlation to our C.A.R.E. values. For those not familiar with the term executive function, these are are the skills that allow us to effectively “get things done” daily and over time, and they take time, practice, and patience to develop. Additionally, last year the staff and community members read, Grit, by Angela Duckworth. While we know grit takes years and years to develop, we believe that we can definitely help our children increase their resilience, which is an important step to developing grit and a reasonable expectation for elementary school children. Both resilience and executive function skills support the social/emotional development of our children, which is something we all value! Our work on both of these fronts will be best supported in partnership with you. 

We need your help and here is the one request we have of you:

Develop a system with your child/ren that helps them be prepared school. Whether that happens the night before or the morning of, please make sure your child is ready for school. Make sure their backpack is ready to go. Listed below are items we think make for a ready backpack:

  • homework completed (name and date at the top; questions or notes attached)
  • lunch packed with any necessary utensils
  • appropriate cold weather gear (snow pants, boots, hats, mittens)
  • sneakers for Health and Fitness
  • notes for change of dismissal 
  • small, healthy snack (our preference would that it be in a separate container from lunch)
  • independent reading book

Moving forward we will not be allowing children to call home for any of the above items. While we do not have back-up snacks for children, all children can get a lunch. While it might not be a preferred lunch, it will serve the purpose of providing nourishment. The other forgotten items, will result in logical consequences, such a re-doing the homework, playing on the hardtop, waiting until the end of the day to clarify dismissal plans. We understand that your child may forget something, and we also believe your child will survive without any of these items for a day.  

To support the development of executive function skills, the teachers are investing the appropriate time in developing routines around unpacking and packing backpacks at the beginning and end of the day, respectively. Children who bring lunch will practice and be held accountable for making sure their homemade lunch is in the cafeteria when they arrive after recess. It is challenging for us to allow children to roam back into empty classrooms when a lunch is forgotten. As a result, we will be asking the children to purchase one of the extra hot or cold lunches or we will make a rare accommodation for the child to work out a time with the teacher to eat their lunch in the classroom after lunch. At no time is our intent to be punitive, and we will redouble our efforts to support children who have difficulty with these organizational skills.

Thank you for your support! I also hope you are trying the 21 Day Happiness Challenge! I am actually enjoying the challenge and am recording tonight my gratitude for working in a community that values the social/emotional development of the child alongside the academic growth of a child. 

Sincerely and appreciatively,

Ellen