Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A strong sense of community

Dear Parents/Caregivers

One of the things that I really like about Papakowhai School is the sense of community that we enjoy together. This is evident in the way that our older pupils look after our younger pupils. There was a real buzz at 10:30 yesterday as children got into whanau groups in preparation for the picnic on Thursday.
It was great to see our new Year 8 leaders stepping up to explain how the day will work and organising children so that everyone has a buddy for the day. This is a very special feature of a full primary school.
The weather is looking great for our picnic tomorrow and I hope that you can join us even if it is just for 30 minutes down at the lagoon.

Classes for 2013 are working well and I have been around rooms looking at children’s work and seeing classes in action. Teachers have spent the last several weeks establishing class norms and ways of working together and these are being well established. I look forward to you being able to meet this year’s teacher at our interviews next week.  Why don’t you also check out our new classrooms while you are here? I will also be in my office both evenings and parents are welcome to pop in and talk with me or make an appointment if you would like to.

Another way that shows that our community is working together for the best of our children is with the wonderful volunteer help we receive. In the past week we have had people put their hand up for netball, Maths support, special needs support, spelling testing, camp helpers and parent helping in classrooms.
We really value this support. If you would like to help but don’t know what the needs are I would love to talk with you.

We are also building community in an online environment because we know that the majority of our parents cannot come to school between 9 and 3pm. All classes have a class blog and we have been appreciating the comments that you have been posting. You may have noticed that there are also 3 new blogs called, Reading, Writing and Maths. These blogs have been posted to give you ideas about how you can support your child at home. Teachers will explain this further at the interviews next week.

Swimming has been a good example of community and school working together. The participation level has been brilliant. Todd Morton and his team from Easy Swim have done a great job with the children and we have seen many Totara children improve from being able to swim less than 40 metres to more than 200! Currently we have our new entrant children swimming for 2 weeks. Working in a concentrated 2 week block seems to be working well for children’s confidence and progress. In the week starting 11th of March it will be Mrs Trlin, Mrs Dacre and Miss Simpkins classes’ turn in the pool. The week starting the 25th of March it will be Miss Koorey and Mrs Smith/Mrs Lewis’ class turn.

I hope you are enjoying this golden weather.

Kind regards
Mark Smith

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Working Together Opportunities

Dear Parents/Caregivers
Working Together Opportunities
Thank you to our amazing Home and School Committee for hosting our family BBQ last night. The weather was perfect and it was really nice to catch up with families. The hamburgers were awesome!
A number of faithful committee members are finishing shortly as their children are leaving at the end of the year. We would love new parents to step up and join the Home and School Committee. Remember their motto is, “Do what you can when you can” so you won’t be forced to do things that are too much or that you don’t want to do. The Home and School Committee run community events in our school like the BBQ, the disco and the quiz night, which have the benefit of raising funds for special projects in our school. There is an AGM on March 18th in the staffroom. You would be very welcome to attend. If you would like to join the committee but cannot attend the meeting please contact the Office. You can also check them out on Facebook.
Another opportunity is netball. Our wonderful co-ordinator Tui stepped down at the end of the year and, by March 5th, we need a new co-ordinator. This role involves attending a meeting at Tawa School on March 5th and liaising with coaches and team managers. If this is something that you could support the school in I would be glad to hear from you.
Being a walking school bus driver is another opportunity. We have started our Aotea to Papakowhai School route already. This walking school bus leaves the Marae carpark, opposite the entrance to the Aotea subdivision. Children are asked to not ride scooters or bikes, but Kindergarten or other siblings are welcome to come with parent supervision. The route is pram friendly although there are approximately three steps down to the school. If you would like to help or you would like your children to go on this bus please contact Lisa Avery (  ).
Last year we had an awesome team of volunteers who helped children walk to school along Tweed Road and we are keen to start this again. If you would like to help as a driver or you would like your children to walk in a group to school please contact me. I am very grateful to Lisa for co-ordinating the Aotea route and would love a co-ordinator for Papakowhai walking school buses.
Lastly we are meeting together for parent/teacher interviews on March 4th and 5th. School will finish at 2pm on these days, and interviews will start at 2.10pm. Appointments to see the teachers will be done via a website. It is a simple, accurate system.
The log-in code is 5UCNA
·         We would like to know how your child is settling into school this year
·         We would like to know about how your child learns best and what their strengths and weaknesses are
·         We would like to know about your child’s personality and how we can work best with them at school.
Meetings will be scheduled for 15 minutes and will be spread over 2 nights. Parents of children in Miss August’s class will have interviews on March 5th and the afternoon of March 6th.
We are offering supervision in the Hall from 2pm to 3pm on March 4th and 5th; however we would appreciate you making other arrangements for care for this period if you can.
Any children we haven’t been notified about will be supervised in the Hall until 3pm.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Learning Together

Dear Parents/Caregivers

Our new vision statement is Learning Together. Children and staff have been learning well together over the last week. There is a really positive tone in the school and it is really pleasing to see children already engaged in their learning.

The vision of Learning Together is not just for children and teachers; we want it to be a three-way partnership that includes parents and caregivers. Here are some of the ways that we can learn together this year:

Attending Parent/Teacher conferences is really important. On Monday March 4th and Tuesday March 5th we will have two opportunities for you to meet with your child’s teacher.  An online booking system will be available shortly for you to choose a time that suits you. This is an opportunity for you to share about your child and to discuss expectations for the year.

We want your child to enjoy and engage in learning at Papakowhai School. If there is a problem we want to know about it early on so we can do something about it. You don’t need to wait for set interview times. Please email or talk to your child’s teacher about any questions or concerns you may have. You are also welcome to talk with me or email me anytime.

We have an open door policy so you are welcome to pop into your child’s class and look at their work anytime.

Please sign up for our weekly newsletter emails by contact me at . We also have our website and class blogs which are already up and running. Go to our website and click on the Our Learning tab. We would really love you to leave comments.

Often as children get older they tell you less and less about school. This is perfectly normal. I have a 14 year old son who tells me nothing about school. I have found that rather than asking, “How was school?” it is better to say, “Tell me about what happened at school today.” This often elicits more information.

Being at school on time and regularly attending school contributes significantly to children’s achievement levels. Making sure that children get to bed on time (especially on Sunday nights), limiting the amount of term time sleepovers and term time holidays are also positive contributions you can make to your child’s learning this year. Children who regularly arrive late to school miss important interactions with their peers and key instructions at the start of the day.

Please ensure that your child is at school by 8:50 at the latest. If your child is not attending school it is very important that you phone the Office before 9:00 and leave your child’s name, their teacher’s name and the reason for their absence.

When children read regularly and practise appropriate number knowledge skills, it makes a difference to their learning. You should assume that there is homework every week unless you receive a newsletter telling you otherwise.  Homework will contain a reading log to be signed by parents/caregivers. There may also be an optional reading response. There will also be a Maths component for Rimu, Totara and Kauri syndicates.  This will be Mathletics but could also include downloading workbooks from the Mathletics site, practising basic facts or parents setting their own Maths tasks. In Rata, Mathletics is desirable but not compulsory. There will also be a spelling component for Rimu, Totara and Kauri.

It is expected that teachers will monitor homework on a weekly basis. A record will be kept of who has or hasn’t completed their homework. It is expected that teachers will set activities in Mathletics at all levels and monitor what children have done on a weekly basis. If for some reason this is not happening please contact your child’s teacher or myself.

If your child doesn’t complete their homework a letter will be sent home. The child is to return it to their teacher signed by their parent/caregiver. We will incentivise completion of homework by giving whanau points for students who have done their homework. This will contribute to a bigger focus on whanau group pride. Whanau leaders will collect the points each week and points will be posted on the website.

Getting involved with class trips, being a parent helper in the classroom, driving a Walking School Bus, contributing to the Home and School Committee, or standing for the upcoming Board of Trustee elections in April are all ways that you can be involved in the school community. Getting involved is a great way to get a feel for what is going on at school. If you feel disconnected from what your child is doing at school, find a way to get involved. If you are unsure how to be a parent helper or who to talk to about the Home and school Committee or School Board I would be happy to refer you on.