Voices Vol 41 No 1

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS: Early Childhood

November and December Reflections

By Monica Schnee

N ovember and December are busy months in very different ways. By now, we know our students and we can clearly define our expectations of them. We also know their parents and how to work with them to help them support our work. We have now set a baseline for our students to build on and we have shared their strengths and weaknesses with mainstream classroom teachers and parents alike.

November brought Parent/Teacher Conferences and report cards. I like to hold an ELL Parent Meeting to discuss what parent/teacher conferences mean and what parents should expect. This practice has proven very successful to all stakeholders. Another thing that has helped classroom teachers and parents is having a translation of the school report card for teachers to have with them as they discuss the child’s progress. I have asked parent volunteers to translate our report card into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and I have translated it into Spanish. We also provide a separate ESL report card, which is translated into these languages. Every year brings new challenges and new insights into our students and our profession.

Some reflections on my experience this year conferring with Kindergarten ELL parents:

I realize that so many parents are looking for parental advice. They need “Parenting 101” so they can understand not only the academic aspects of school but also the social, emotional, and behavioral demands.

Thanksgiving is a time to have your ELL parents join you for a fun lesson on the meaning of this holiday for Americans. I go through the history, share the traditional foods and some recipes and show them a wonderful video of the Plimoth Plantation so they can keep it in mind for a family visit. http://www.plimoth.org/

December is always busy with class parties, making gingerbread houses, cutting the first snowflakes and the holiday concert. It is always a wonderful time to invite your parents to join you to discuss different end-of-year celebrations. It is also a time when you find that so many of our learners have finally “cracked the Kindergarten code”! They have now truly become Kindergartners.

On that note, please remember that our Spring Conference is a great forum to share successes, best practices, and concerns. As your SIG Representative, I am always interested to hear from you. Please email me at mschnee@njtesol-njbe.org . I look forward to meeting you on May 30 & 31 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Brunswick.

*WIDA Update:  The 2012 WIDA Standards will no longer include standards for Pre-K. According to WIDA, they are in the process of developing new Pre- K standards separate from the K- 12.

Monica Schnee is the Early Childhood Special Interest Group Representative.