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#81407 - 07/28/10 10:05 AM Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher
Maryann1 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/04/10
Posts: 81
Loc: Midwest
We just received our daughter's welcome packet & first grade placement in the mail last night. In the letter from the principal, he encouraged parents to write letters of introduction so that the teachers will have a chance to know something about the children before the first day.

I'm struggling with what to write.

Our dd is currently reading & writing near mid-late 2nd grade level, understanding multiplication & fractions, etc. Our dd likes to observe before entering a new situation, is (already) a perfectionist, and afraid of taking risks. She deals well with other children and is very well socially adjusted. After the initial break-in period she becomes a leader, even with older children.

We've already had to make the request that she be accepted into first grade this year, rather than K (first acceleration - according to MO law). Which was granted based on a letter from her teacher at the private K program. She'll automatically be the youngest in her class. But she would get more out of 2nd grade academically.

I want the teacher to know that we're expecting differentiation, but that we're willing to help in whatever way is necessary to make it easier to accomplish this. We know that the only way for dd to deal with her perfectionistic tendencies is to be challenged and learn risk-taking skills.

The school offers pull-out gifted programs that will likely begin second semester. But the pull-out programs are more project based, rather than core-academic based. The classroom teachers are expected to be differentiating as necessary.

I want to be up front about all of this, without overwhelming the teacher (or becoming pushy). I also don't want to focus on the age issue for fear of making things harder when school starts.

I'm thinking of asking my daughter to write a letter to the teacher too.

Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions or encouragement would be welcomed!

Thanks!

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#81414 - 07/28/10 10:49 AM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: Maryann1]
onthegomom Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1743
I'm not good at adovocacy so I don't want to give advice here. I would suggest talking to other parents with simiar experiences. to see how things work there. best of luck.

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#81415 - 07/28/10 10:54 AM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: Maryann1]
JaneSmith Offline
Member

Registered: 01/20/10
Posts: 206
I would say very little. I would mention the grade skip, as this will make the teacher aware that your child's abilities have been reviewed and assessed by others and they are advanced. Then I would write some stuff about how she has a baby brother and loves kittens or soccer or whatever fits her situation.

I like the idea of having your daughter write too. Make sure she signs with her first and last name.


I think it's fine to be pushy if the situation demands it, but I don't think this is the right opportunity.

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#81418 - 07/28/10 11:30 AM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: JaneSmith]
BonusMom Offline
Member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 151
Loc: IL
As part of her "current interests," listing a few books she has recently read ought to indicate her reading level subtlely.

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#81422 - 07/28/10 01:39 PM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: master of none]
incogneato Offline
Member

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 2231
Loc: up in my head.......
Originally Posted By: Maryanne1
Our dd is currently reading & writing near mid-late 2nd grade level, understanding multiplication & fractions, etc. Our dd likes to observe before entering a new situation, is (already) a perfectionist, and afraid of taking risks. She deals well with other children and is very well socially adjusted. After the initial break-in period she becomes a leader, even with older children.


Dear Teacher,

(Child's name) is so excited to begin school in your class. She loves school, especially reading. Her two favorite books are (book that she is reading that is above level) and (other book above level, I'd be really careful about mentioning a book that is the peak of her reading level).

We noticed that last year in school, she very much liked getting answers correct and refrained from guessing unless she knew the answer for certain.

She's very social and the other children seem to gravitate towards her. Last year she enjoyed her classmates very much.

Her favorite things to do are:

Her hobbies are:

She gets very upset when:

Thanks for giving us this opportunity to let us tell you about our child. We're looking forward to a great year!

Then have both mom and dad sign.

Don't borrow trouble. If issues come up, and they probably will, take it step by step. It seems so logical to us as parents, to feel like giving them all the pertinent info right up front, right? I mean, who wouldn't want to know that stuff, it'll probably help them in the long run.

Wrong. Teachers think very differently than we do. If you barrage them with too much information up front the can easily become defensive and it's really hard to turn that around once you've started off on the wrong foot.

Additionally, I would suggest you attempt to volunteer with the school parent group if you can. Also if the teacher allows parents to sign up to help in the classroom it's a good idea to do that.

It's a valuable thing to be able to observe your child in the classroom environment if you can. It makes it a lot easier to see whether or not there is a problem.

Best,
Neato


Edited by incogneato (07/28/10 01:44 PM)

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#81427 - 07/28/10 02:28 PM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: incogneato]
gratefulmom Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 156
Loc: N. California
I absolutely agree that you'll want to keep it short and friendly.

I would avoid suggesting what grade level you think she's at in any given subject. As we all know, grade level widely varies depending on the curriculum, actual proficiency, standards used by that particular school, etc. It's the very easiest thing for them to use to show you're on different pages. It's also easy to backfire with this, since if you underestimate where she is, they might not further challenge her, but if you overestimate, you could leave her with foundational holes (and burn your credibility). They'll quickly be able to see where she's at.

Similarly, saying she is social is wonderful! Talking about other children gravitating towards her is probably unnecessary and overkill, esp. if that doesn't happen right away in this new class.

I would definitely encourage a friendly partnership with the teachers. Tell them you respect their expertise and would like to work closely with them (even if you have to challenge some later day). I wouldn't say she's afraid of taking risks, because that could be seen as a developmental/maturity issue ('though we know differently).

Absolutely volunteer! I was in DS's class one day a week last year, and it was invaluable information when we decided to pull him. I also agree about getting involved. Teachers who know you and depend on you are a LOT more willing to go that extra mile with you.

Also, one thing I've discovered is that when you meet other parents, you'll want to minimize the amount of time you spend spreading talk about how young/gifted she is. Other parents hate it when we're "those kind of people," and as you start your family's time in that school, the more "normal" you are with other parents, the more networking and information you'll gather that can help you in the long run.

I hope she has a great new year, and that you get a great teacher!!




Edited by gratefulmom (07/28/10 02:30 PM)
_________________________
HS Mom to DYS6 and DS2

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#81434 - 07/28/10 02:51 PM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: gratefulmom]
incogneato Offline
Member

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 2231
Loc: up in my head.......
Originally Posted By: gratefulmom
Similarly, saying she is social is wonderful! Talking about other children gravitating towards her is probably unnecessary and overkill, esp. if that doesn't happen right away in this new class.


Hmmm, I might agree with you that it's unnecessary. I was simply trying to rephrase the comment about being a leader, even with older kids, in a way that might be more palatable to the teacher. It seemed that Maryanne1 felt that this was important to express. I do agree that the teacher would probably pick up on this on their own, though.

I don't agree that it's overkill and this is why. If the child is indeed a natural leader it might be important for the teacher to know this upfront, especially if the child starts to shut down in class, which sometimes happens with very gifted children.
Had the teacher not know that generally, the child is very social and leader-like, she/he might just assume the child is shy. Which does not seem like the case.

In any event, I'm sure the letter that you write will be very good, whatever you do decide to include, Maryanne1.

smile

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#81447 - 07/28/10 07:25 PM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: incogneato]
Chrys Offline
Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 370
Loc: Central Ohio
We got a lot more mileage out of the handful of emails my 2nd grader wrote to her teacher and principal last year than all the advocacy meetings my dh and I attended.

I agree with the previous posters that mentioning book titles rather than reading levels would be helpful. I assume that most teachers loved to read as kids, so if they know that there is a child in their class who likes to read really good books, there is a good chance of the teacher being inspired to differentiate for dc.

I also think it might be wise to leave out the perfectionism issue. You can always bring it up in a few months if you are still seeing it. I would worry that it might provide a reason for the school to avoid further accommodations - this doesn't make sense to me, but I have heard of this happening.

Good luck! I think its awesome you have already received your welcome packet. I know DD won't get her's until 4 days before school starts and its driving me crazy with all the "what if"s!
_________________________
Warning: sleep deprived

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#81457 - 07/28/10 08:12 PM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: Chrys]
onthegomom Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1743
One thing my daughter's teacher did this year made a big difference. The teacher suggested she take AR tests(not required till next year)and she would ask about the stories.

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#81476 - 07/29/10 05:30 AM Re: Writing a letter of introduction to new teacher [Re: onthegomom]
JJsMom Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/09
Posts: 921
When DS6 started K, I sent his teacher a small note, a paragraph, stating that DH and I wanted her to know that we are available to help her out in anyway possible. I let her know in a round about way that he was reading and doing math, and that he may, being a boy, get bored and act out. I wanted her to know that we were being proactive about any behavior problems instead of being reactive.

A week later is when I got the call from her wanting him tested to move to first.

I think if you "play it" as "we're here to help", being supportive of the teacher, she may be more open to helping you & your DD as opposed to becoming defensive. I'm not sure that makes sense, but that's what we plan to do with DS's 2nd grade teacher when we speak with her next week.

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