A,B,C's of Turtlepond

I have created a handbook for our classroom with all you need to know about the in's and out's of Division Lucky 13. Please take the time to read it in detail below. If you have any questions that the handbook does not answer, please let me know and I will do my best to give you the information you need. Thank you!


Agenda or Planner - Your child has an agenda that needs to be returned to school daily. The front pocket of the planner is where your child will bring home any paper notices from school. Inside, we will use the monthly page for home reading and the other pages for communicating upcoming events.

Attendance – Your child's regular and on-time attendance at school is crucial to his/her success. I cannot emphasize this point enough! Most classroom learning activities are group oriented and involve interaction with classmates. It is not possible to make up this work at home. Please view school as a priority, and see to it that your child attends everyday except in cases of illness or emergency.

Arrival – Please do not bring your child to school before 8:40 a.m. There is no supervision until after 8:40. Children can play outside, go to the library or sit quietly in the hallway outside of our classroom between 8:40 and 8:55. Please be sure that your child arrives on time each day. If the door is open but I am not in the classroom, you are welcome to come into class and stay with your child until I arrive. Please do not leave your child unattended in our classroom.


Backpacks – Each child must have a backpack. The backpack must be large enough to hold their home reading bag, planner and library books. Please make sure to write your child’s name in permanent ink on his/her backpack.

Book Orders –  Every month I will send home Scholastic book order forms. Please take the time to look over these forms. They offer quality books at great prices – some as little as a toonie! All books purchases earn our class bonus points. I use the bonus points to buy more books and materials for our classroom. If you decide to order, please send order form and money to school in a marked envelope or small plastic Ziploc bag. You may send cash or a cheque written out to Scholastic Canada. If sending cash, please send the exact amount.

Birthday Policy – Birthdays are a special time for many children.  Many families like to send something to school to celebrate their child’s birthday. If you want to do this, please speak to me before your child’s birthday. Our community policy is that only small treats (such as individual cupcakes) or goodie bags be sent for these celebrations (one for each student in our class). We celebrate your child's birthday with a community cheer of their choice.  If you do not wish us to celebrate your child’s birthday, please let me know ahead of time. For children with summer birthdays, we will be celebrating their birthdays in June. 

Blog - I have a classroom blog (You are currently on it!!!). For more information about the blog, please see the entry Communication and Conferences below.


Communication and Conferences – I believe that school is a partnership between school, home and child. As a member of this partnership, I will communicate with your family regarding classroom events, your child’s progress etc. One of the ways I will do this is through our classroom blog. The address is http://teachinginturtlepond.blogspot.com . If you would like to email me, please do so at my VSB email address mhughes@vsb.bc.ca .

In addition to our daily communications, there are two set conference times for this school year; October and January.  

I am happy to meet at other times throughout the school year to discuss any questions or concerns you might have. Please speak to me or send me a note (put any notes in the basket on the small desk to the right inside our classroom door) in order to set up an appointment to meet. DO NOT write notes in your child's planner as I am not always able to check these daily.

ClothingPlease make sure that your child is dressed for play every day. Comfortable clothes such as pants, shirts and sneakers are ideal. Girls are not to wear high-heels or loose sandals at school. These are a safety hazard. If your child is going to wear sandals to school, the best ones for school wear are sport type sandals with Velcro straps at the ankle and across the toes (i.e. Teva or Keene brand). Also, please remember the school dress code at all times; skirts must be as long as the length of the child’s arm when hanging straight down, tops must be at least two finger widths wide at the shoulders (no spaghetti straps) and no hats are to be worn inside the school building.

Class Parent - each year we have a class parent that helps to organize fieldtrips (see more information below), classroom events and volunteers. If you are interested, please let me know.

Calendar – Every month I will be sending home a classroom calendar; I will also post coming events and important news to the Turtlepond Blog. Please refer to it regularly so that you can help your child be prepared for all planned activities.

Code Alerts – We practice code alerts for safety. A code yellow means that the school is locked down from the outside but it is business as usual within the school walls. This might happen if there was an incident outside from which the administration felt it necessary to keep the children away. A code red means that each individual classroom is locked down and children are to remain in the classroom and not be in the halls. This might occur if there were an intruder in the school. These drills are practiced on a regular basis.


Daily 5 – I use a language arts system called the Daily 5. This program addresses five areas of reading and writing: reading to self, reading to others, listening, working on writing and word work. The focus of these areas is to have the children involved in authentic reading and writing experiences. Each day your child will be working in these areas independently while I meet with small groups or one-on-one to do Guided Reading, word practice, etc. For more information about this program, please check out the website http://www.thedailycafe.com and http://www.the2sisters.com or speak to me.

Dismissal – Division 13 students are dismissed from our studio to the School Commons. I appreciate your patience as I learn to put each child together with his/her parent. It will take me a couple of weeks to get to recognize all the new faces! Please inform me in writing or speak to me in the morning if someone else will be picking your child up from school. My policy is that I only dismiss your child to a grown up or older child whom I have met or of whom I have been informed. If you are detained and will be late picking up your child, please contact our office so that I will know ahead of time. Thank you!

Discipline – Establishing good classroom discipline is essential to each child’s success, confidence, and well being. Every child should know that the classroom environment is safe and secure; free from all threats of physical or emotional harm. In addition, it is important that each child learn to develop self-discipline and good work habits, to resolve conflicts peacefully, and to think independently.

All expectations for behaviour in our classroom stem from Kitchener School's Code of Conduct which is:

Take care of yourself.

Take care of others.

Take care of this place.

As a class we spend time discussing and modeling what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like to be taking care of ourselves, others and our school. The children are then expected to make behaviour choices that are in line with the Code of Conduct.

If problems occur, I try to have the children problem solve for an appropriate solution. For problems that effect many, we will work together to create a classroom rule to solve the problem. For the most part, I do my best to resolve issues within the classroom. When necessary, I will let you know if there are problems which require parental involvement. Please tell your child to speak to me if there is a problem which needs to be brought to my attention. I can not deal with problems unless I know about them! Thank you.


Earthquake Drills – we review earthquake drill procedures during the school year. It is important for children need to know what to do in the case of an earthquake. Their safety and well-being is very important to us. Our district wide earthquake drill is in the Spring.

E-mail – my email address is mhughes@vsb.bc.ca  and I do my best to check it frequently. However, if you have not heard back from me please feel free to drop me a written note. There is a notepad and pen on the small desk just to the right inside the classroom door.

Field Trips – Field trips are a great way to extend learning. We go on a number of field trips throughout the year. Some of these will be “walking field trips” in our neighbourhood. Be sure you have signed the permission form that covers all “walking field trips” for the year. Your child will not be allowed to go with us if I do not have a permission slip on file.

For the field trips where we take a bus or other transportation, we will send home an individual form. Please sign and return to school as soon as possible. I am not allowed to take children on any field trip without written permission.

We often need parent volunteers for our field trips. If you are interested, please let me know when you return your child’s permission slip. I hope that some of you will be able to help out!

Fire drills – we have regular fire drills during the school year. Children need to learn how to be safe in the case of a fire. You will most likely not know when a fire drill is scheduled as often the teachers do not know ahead of time!


Gym – Ms. Shaw will be teaching our class gym this year. Our gym days are Monday and Friday first thing! Please ensure that your child is dressed for running, jumping, tumbling etc. Soft soled shoes are a must! Please have girls wear pants or leggings on gym days rather than skirts and dresses. Thank you!


Home Reading - Our Home Reading program will begin in October. I believe that children benefit from both reading by themselves and being read to by an adult. Please take the time to spend 15 minutes (or more!) per night reading with and listening to your child read. I am very aware that some days life gets too busy to read, this is fine, however, please make an attempt to read at least 4-5 days per week when possible.


Indoor Shoes – while these are not mandatory, I would strongly encourage you to send a pair of soft soled shoes to school for your child to wear. This helps to keep our classroom clean as throughout any wet weather. Velcro sneakers are ideal. Please do not send your child with lace up shoes until they can tie their laces by themselves. This is very important as loose shoelaces pose a serious safety hazard on the playground and in the school.

Illness - the Vancouver School Board has stated that if a child comes to school sick they will be sent home. Please do not send your child to school if s/he is sick. Even a slight fever or sore throat can mean that many children become sick. We are trying our very best to keep our classroom and school as germ free as possible.


Junk Food – I try to stress healthy eating as much as possible. To that end, I respectfully ask that you do not send junk food to school with your child on a regular basis. Children (and adults!) need healthy brain food to function well during the day. Please send recess snacks and lunches that include fruit, dried cereal, cheese and crackers, sandwiches, water etc.

Juice Box Free Zone – I respectfully ask that you do not send juice boxes to school with your child unless you absolutely have to. Last year, we had problems with juice spills and fruit flies. If your child must drink juice at school, please send it in a reusable plastic drinking container such as the ones made by Rubbermaid. Any juice boxes that do come to school will have to be drunk in the lunchroom and NOT in our classroom. Thank you!


Kleenex – when the cold and flu season approaches, I may ask for you to donate a box of Kleenex to the class. It is also a good idea to send individual Kleenex packs with your child in his/her backpack.


Lunch – lunch is from 12:10 to 12:55 every day. Please make sure your child knows if he or she is eating at school or at home. If your child is going home for lunch, please be at our classroom by 12:05 in order to pick him/her up. If we are not in the classroom, please come down to the lunch room to pick your child up. Please send healthy lunches!!!!!

Label – please label all your child’s belonging with his or her name. I can not stress enough how important this is! Many children have similar items of clothing or lunch bags and they often get mixed up due to a lack of labeling.

Library – your child will be going to the library once a week with Mr. Raikes. Please help your child to remember his or her book that day. Our library day is Tuesday.


Money –  Please try to send money in a plastic Ziploc bag or envelope. Please send EXACT amount! Put any permission slip or book order in the bag or envelope as well. As with school policy, no child will ever be excluded from any activity due to a lack of funds. Please speak to me privately or write me a note if you need financial assistance. All such requests will be treated with confidentiality.

Music – your child will be going to our Music Specialist, Ms. Der, once per week. Our Music days is Wednesdays


Newsletters – you will receive school newsletters either via email.  Please be sure to read over the newsletter and make note of any special events or information.

Notices – I will try to send notices via email whenever possible. I plan to send paper notices home only when absolutely necessary. Please let me know if you require paper notices all the time.

Nut Free - This year we are a nut free community as we have students (and staff) with life threatening nut allergies. Please do not send any food to school that contains nuts. Thanks!


Open House –  Our open house or Meet the Teacher Night will be held in September. Please check the school newsletter for more information.


PAC – School needs you! Please try to attend one of the PAC meetings and find out how you can help your child’s school. Look for dates of the PAC meeting in the school newsletters.

Popcorn Words – these are simple sight words that “pop” up all the time! Your child will be working through a number of lists of Popcorn Words this year. These words can be found on our blog under a page entitled Popcorn (or Dolch) Words. Please feel free to print out the lists to practice at home and work on these words as time permits.


Questions – there is no such thing as a silly question! Please feel free to ask me any questions about the school or your child’s progress.


Recess – the children will be going out for recess every day unless there is a torrential downpour. This means that they will be outside on drizzly days. Please remind your child to keep this in mind when selecting his or her clothing for the day. I believe that the exercise and fresh air is very beneficial for all children and provides them with a much needed break from the activities in the classroom. On really rainy days your child can go to the library or one of the school commons to play or read quietly.


School Supplies – Information regarding school supplies will be sent home from the office. Please do not send any school supplies to school with your child. If we ever need special supplies, I will let you know. Thank you!

Special Helper - starting at the end of September we will be having a special helper each day. The special helper is welcome to bring something to share with the class. They also get to walk first in line, hand out papers et.


 Toy Policy – I respectfully ask that the children leave their toys at home. It is too easy to have a toy lost, stolen or broken with the result being a very unhappy child. If a child does bring a toy to school and is using it inappropriately in the classroom, I will confiscate the toy. My policy is that the toy will be returned when a parent comes to the class to pick it up. Any toys not claimed by the end of the school year are donated to charity along with our Lost and Found items.


Underwear – please send an extra set of clothing (shirt, pants and underwear) to school. A Ziploc bag will be sent home for this purpose. It is handy to have an extra set of clothes in case your child gets wet or dirty outside or has an accident.


Volunteer Opportunities – Throughout the year, I will need volunteers to help with a variety of projects and activities. If you are interested in volunteering, please be sure to let me know.


Water – water is the number one best drink to send to school with your child. Children perform and feel their best when they are well hydrated. The children are allowed to drink from their water bottles throughout the day. If possible, please try to send water daily instead of juice.


Exciting things are happening in our classroom every day! Please feel free to come in and see what is going on. You are always welcome!


Youngsters – There is a lot for your child to learn in the coming months but I ask that we all remember that your child is still young. He or she has only been on this earth for a short time and needs love, patience and guidance to be the best he or she can be.


ZZZZ’s – A growing child needs between 10 and 11 hours of sleep EVERY night. Please help to make your child’s school life a success by ensuring that they are well rested and ready to learn each day.