Frequently Asked Questions
How do parents and teachers communicate?
Communication from the kindergarten team will arrive via email. We will send a monthly Kindergarten newsletter to all families. Please subscribe to the Horizons Skylines for weekly time sensitive whole school information. The Horizons website is a great resource where you can find links to just about everything Horizons related. Of course if you have any specific questions you can always email us.
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
What if my child goes to Kindergarten Enrichment or Aftercare?
Children who stay for our fee based Kindergarten Enrichment Program will remain in the classroom for Enrichment with their morning teacher at 12:00 Monday – Thursday. Kindergarten Enrichment starts with lunch. Activities for Enrichment may include choice time, storytime, and other non-academic activities. There is an afternoon recess and on beautiful days, opportunities for extended play outside will be plentiful! Unless a child is signed up for After Care, Enrichment kinders must be signed out of the classroom at 3:30 Monday – Thursday. Parents who are late picking up children will be charged $1.00/minute! Please also call the office if you are running late.
Aftercare is a fee based program for children in grades K-8 which takes place from 3:30-5:30 Monday-Thursdays and from 12:45-5:30 on Fridays. A fee based program known as Adventure Days is offered during days off for conferences. Families who need Aftercare may get information about this program through here. For any questions about Kindergarten Enrichment, please contact the Enrichment Coordinator, Nicoleta Simon.
How does snack time work in Kindergarten?
We will have snack in the morning, usually right before or after morning recess. Snack time offers a wonderful opportunity for enjoying each other’s company while enjoying a bit of food. Snack provides children with an energy source mid-morning, when breakfast is but a memory.
Classes may provide snack in different ways. One class may ask parents to bring their own child’s snack every day for the whole year while another class may ask you to bring snack for the entire class for one week. Your teacher will let you know more about this once class lists are sent in August. Either way, we ask that you please provide a healthy, nutritious snack each day. We recommend a selection from various food groups. Think of snack as a mini-lunch, which might include protein and carbohydrates (half a sandwich on whole-grain bread, whole grain crackers and cheese, yogurt with seeds and nuts…), fruit and/or some veggies. Know that if cookies are sent, the children will eat these first.
Some children may have allergies or special diet restrictions. If your child has an allergy or diet restriction, please let your teacher know. Dietary restrictions are easy to work around as long as we know about them. Regardless of what a child may or may not eat, please keep in mind that a child’s growing brain and body requires adequate nutrition and that providing a balanced, filling snack is necessary every school day! (Note that K Enrichment will also have a snack time mid afternoon.)
What if my child has food allergies?
We are quite good at accommodate for special dietary needs or requests. If your child has a restricted diet, please be sure to let us know. Sometimes there may be a special birthday treat (see “Does Kindergarten celebrate birthdays?”) brought to school that does not fit into your child’s diet. We ask for you to provide a container of approved treats so that we may have something on hand in case birthday treats cannot be eaten.
What about water bottles?
As you know, a hydrated body and mind are essential to learning. We request that you provide a water bottle for your child. We will regularly send water bottles home to be washed out, refilled and returned. We have Sharpies available for writing names on bottles. Please make sure they are labeled.
Green Star School
Horizons K-8 School is one of a several schools in the Boulder Valley School District that have made a commitment to recycle not only paper and containers, but also to compost food scraps (as well as construction paper, tissues, paper towels and more). We encourage parents to pack snacks and lunches in reusable containers, drinks in reusable (or recyclable) containers and either pack silverware, reusable plastic ware or compostable spoons and forks. Your children will learn all about how this works at school and will be able to help you.
What about restrooms?
Each kindergarten classroom has a restroom especially for the little ones. There are also restrooms in the hallway across from our classrooms. One of the first things we do on the very first day of school is learn where the restrooms are! Each class will have times throughout the day to visit the restrooms. Students may also visit the restroom as needed. Students only use the restrooms outside of the classroom when the one in our room is busy or when we are in a different part of the building. A teacher or Para will always be nearby to monitor restroom visits from inside the classroom or from the doorway or hall.
On the first day of school, please bring in a change of clothing including underwear and socks in a Ziploc bag. As always, label everything! Even with precautions, sometimes one of our kinders may have an accident. Kids also can just get wet and messy. Children should be able to take care of these needs by themselves so please practice this over the summer if your child is still learning.
Does my child need to know how to zip, button and tie?
Our goal is to promote independence. Since there are only one or two adults for 18 students, it is important for children to zip, tie, and button as much as possible. This is especially true when it snows, as snow pants, boots, and winter coats can be time consuming to put on. Please practice zipping and unzipping jackets and pants, tying and untying shoes, and putting on and taking off snow pants at home with your kindergartener . We realize that all these skills may not be mastered in every child in time for kindergarten, and want you to know that we will gladly help as needed! But the more the children can do on their own, the more time we have to do other things.
What kind of supervision is there on the playground?
For the first part of the school year we will take our classes out to recess at a separate time from the rest of the school so that the kindergarteners may learn boundaries and school expectations for safe, inclusive play. This also gives them time to enjoy the equipment by themselves. Toward the end of the school year, kinders will join the rest of the students at recess. By this time the children know exactly what to do if someone falls and scrapes a knee or needs to visit the restroom, what is acceptable for each play structure, and what to do when the whistle is blown. They discover where to meet siblings or friends from other classes and they learn how to find a teacher or Para when needed. In grades 1-8 students will all have morning recess at the same time.
If my child does not want to play outdoors, or is not feeling well, may he/she stay inside for recess if I send a note?
Unfortunately, no. When teachers are not on recess duty, they are often busy doing other things and are not available to supervise a student who wishes to remain indoors. We play outside nearly every day and only stay inside if the weather is extreme (high winds, heavy precipitation, or extreme cold). Please send your child to school with weather appropriate clothing – snow pants, hats, gloves, boots, and so on as needed. When the days are hot and the sun is bright, please also put sunscreen on your child in the morning and consider providing a brimmed hat as well. Please label everything!
If your child is not well enough to go out for recess, please keep your child home. Please also know that if your child should become sick during school, we will call you, and if there is a recess to wait through, he or she might sit or lie down in the office and wait for you there.
The guidelines for sickness are if your child has had a fever (without medicine intervention) or has vomited within the last 24 hours they may not come to school. Coughs and sniffles are at your discretion but if we feel that your child is not able to participate in school activities we may send them home.
Will my little one be intimidated by sharing a school with older students?
They might at first. But before the first month of school is out, they will already be “Buddies” with a few of the older students who will come into our classroom on a regular basis to spend time reading with us or helping with projects or other activities. Soon your child will be totally comfortable with all the students in the school. One of the things we love best about Horizons is that there is a large amount of cross-grade helping, sharing, and interacting.
Can I volunteer or spend time in the classroom?
Yes! We think of Horizons as a partnership between parents and teachers and on any given day you will typically find parent volunteers in many of the classrooms. Volunteers are expected to be available to help all children in the class. We also hope that volunteers can be flexible and know that teachers may sometimes need you to work directly with children and at other times may need other jobs done. The only exception to this is the first 3-6 weeks of school. We ask that parents not plan on being in the classroom during this time. The first weeks of school are important for creating classroom routines and community. We have found that this works better better if there is one adult – the teacher – providing consistent answers and expectations. Students also develop a great sense of ownership and interdependence during this time. After that beginning period, we will post a sign-up schedule for parents who wish to volunteer on a regular basis. (Please note, however, if your presence in the classroom brings tears or clinging behaviors, we may request that you find other ways to volunteer – such as with field trips or with community events.)
We always appreciate volunteers for field trips. Actually, we depend on our wonderful field trip volunteers in many ways. For trips to Denver or other outlying areas, we usually use a district school bus. However, with visits that are more localized, we need volunteers to drive and supervise small groups of children. For these opportunities, a copy of your insurance and driver’s license is required to be on file in the office (see Hope for paperwork).
All volunteers are required to have completed background checks before they can volunteer with children. This is true for our Outdoor Ed trips that will happen in mid September so it is best to start getting your background checks now. Click on the volunteer link to get started. We will be contacted when your check is complete.
We also respectfully request that when volunteering, younger siblings are not brought along, either in the classroom or on field trips. Often a younger sibling can pull attention away from a parent who is there to support, supervise and enrich the experience of the students. Thank you for understanding.
If work or younger siblings prevent you from volunteering in the classroom or on field trips, there will always be opportunities to help out at home with prep. work, book orders, or other special events.
Do kindergarteners go on field trips?
Yes! We will regularly be walking to the Meadows Branch of the Boulder Public Library, as well as visiting the pond at Burke Park. Many of you have already signed the permission form that allows us to walk there as well as the option of visiting the Meadow Shopping Plaza. This is a one time form that is good for the entire school year.
For other trips, we will send home a standard school district permission form describing the specific event, fees and other requirements. Permission forms will need to be signed and returned by the day of the trip for your child to participate. Volunteers need to have a background check completed before being allowed to join us on any school trip.
While we often rely on parent volunteers during field trips we kindly request that younger siblings do not join us, as they can often require attention away from the students that you are there to supervise and support.
For some trips we travel by school bus but sometimes we need drivers to help transport students. When parents volunteer to drive, we will need to know the number of seatbelts/spaces available for children in each vehicle (front seats for adults only). Drivers are also required to fill out a specific form and to provide evidence of a license and insurance. Please be sure to do this in the front office well before the field trip. Children will also need to have their car seats brought into the building and clearly labeled for use in private vehicles.
Why do we have to clean classrooms?
In order to have small class sizes we have had to make some creative budgeting choices. One of these is to have less custodial staff than would be needed to clean every space in our school. This means we need you to help clean our classrooms. There is an option to pay for cleaning but this does not mean the class will be cleaned. If everyone paid for cleaning it would be impossible for D and Zac (our custodians) to physically be able to get to each classroom. So know that by paying, you are definitely helping us to get more cleaning supplies but we may not actually get a clean room. We also find that the ownership and sense of community that is built by taking turns cleaning our classrooms is hard to replace. The students know where everything goes and you get to experience a piece of their lives that you may not get to share otherwise. Thank you for volunteering in this way in advance!
Can my child bring toys to school? Do you have “Show and Tell”?
We regularly share “news”, when children speak in turn of how their day went and what they are looking forward to, or special events (Grandma visiting, a loose tooth…). Students also have the opportunity to share work and creations throughout the day. If there is a special item your child wishes to bring, please check with your teacher first. If students bring in something connected to a topic of study, the teacher may request to arrange for a display space so that classmates may examine it during the day.
Sometimes a child may wish to bring a “stuffie” as an item of security or comfort. Stuffed, huggable comfort toys are welcome. Please just make sure stuffies are quiet, without distracting features that light up or make noise.
Bringing toys from home is not allowed. Teachers cannot take responsibility for toys brought from home and we will ask parents to help their child if something should get misplaced. Unfortunately, toys can also cause hurt feelings and other social struggles at school. Thank you for keeping these at home.
In general, if an item brought from home becomes distracting, we ask that it stays at home, otherwise we welcome whatever makes your child feel comfortable.
Is there homework in Kindergarten?
Yes! We ask that our kinders spend some time reading at home every day. To help facilitate this, we sign students up for Raz Kids (Reading A-Z), an online reading program through BVSD that gives kids access to hundreds of books. More information about Raz-Kids will be sent home soon after the school year begins.
Your child may also come home with booklets to read. Your job is to be a supportive listener and to help make sure any classroom books brought home are returned promptly. Read together daily, at least 15 minutes or more. Kids may read with parents, grandparents, and siblings or even to pets! Reading homework includes listening to reading so don’t forget to continue with those awesome read alouds!
Other homework may be sent home intermittently, such as family graphs, special topic backpacks and so on and there are sometimes optional homework opportunities.
My child is a very “young” four year old. How do I know if he/she is ready for kindergarten?
There is not a perfect definition of readiness, however there are guidelines. Below is a list of qualities that demonstrate kindergarten readiness. You know your child – if you have doubts, then we recommend that you wait a year. We have discovered that children who enter kindergarten with more of the readiness traits listed below tend to have a more successful experience at school.
Children who are ready for kindergarten:
- Separate from parents with little anxiety
- Listen to stories without distracting behaviors
- Sit in a group setting for 10 – 20 minutes
- Clean up supplies after projects
- Share community supplies
- Communicate needs and requests
- Use words and can speak in complete sentences
- Manage restroom needs independently
- Hold and write or draw with crayons or pencils with a correct grip
- Cut with scissors
- Are interested in learning/going to school
- Are respectful of others and their belongings
- Can button and zip clothes (and are learning to tie shoes)
- Take turns, are helpful
- Can print their first name
Academics (knowing letters, numbers, etc) can be helpful but we take learners from where they are. If a child is ready to learn, the academics come pretty easily.
Does kindergarten celebrate birthdays?
Yes! As your child’s birthday approaches, let your teacher know if you wish to celebrate with the class. We will choose together a time that works. Birthday celebrations take about 15-20 minutes.
Bring one photograph for each year of your child’s life and be prepared to share a memory or brief story for each photo. You and your child can tell your stories as your child walks around the “sun” one time for each year they have been on this Earth. Your teacher will guide the process and let you know exactly what to do.
You may also bring a special treat, keeping in mind that an excess of artificial colorings or sugar can really affect the energy levels and moods in our classroom. As always, the less processed and sugar-loaded, the better! Know that treats do not have to be food based, for example, I often bring flowers when it is my birthday. Others like to bring pencils or a similar token such as stickers or temporary tattoos. It is also ok to not bring anything.
If your child’s birthday happens during the summer months you may wish to determine a half-year date upon which we may celebrate your child’s “Half-Birthday”. We can also celebrate in a “school month” closest to your child’s birthday – just be sure to let your teacher know ahead of time to make sure the date works with the class schedule.
All this sounds like a lot of work for a five year old! Will my child be too tired?
One of our goals for Horizons’ students is to become independent, self-directed learners – however, we “scaffold” this by providing as much play based learning as possible. We embrace play throughout our day as we expand our social skills, explore materials, and learn together. We want children to enjoy learning and to look forward to coming to school each day. But it’s more than that – we also seek to honor each child’s need for playfulness by offering opportunities for drama, song, movement, and laughter every day! That being said, we also expect children to understand that they will be asked to “work” during work times. For example, children may not play in the block area during writing time (unless they are writing a story about their blocks). This can be a switch from preschool and some may come home tired and grumpy -even after only half a day of Kindergarten. The children tend to save their meltdowns for their parents so plan on having a snack ready at pick-up time to help ease this transition from school to home. Soon the routines will be comforting and your children will be wanting to stay all day:)
What if I have more questions?
There will be an Open House at school in September where parents will have an opportunity to hear about curriculum topics and ask questions of a general nature. If you have specific questions about your child, please contact us.
Thank you everyone! We look forward to getting to know you and your children!