Dear Casa 2 Parents,
We are all settled in to the school year, and are busy creating new friendships and building on old ones. Fall is, without a doubt, in the air! With the cooler temps, falling leaves, and talk of costumes, we know Halloween is right around the corner!
I am so looking forward to visiting with each family at fall conferences and to discuss your child’s progress thus far. An online Sign-Up Genius has been sent out to parents this week. Please take a look and sign up for the date that best fits your schedule. We have times available during the day on Friday, October 30th, and in the afternoon/evening on Monday, November 30th. I recommend that new families try to get a slot on October 30th, and returning families on November 30th. Of course, this schedule will not be able to accommodate everyone, so please choose what works best for you and your family. Please note, JMS is closed both of these dates. However (new this year!), we will have a staff member here to be with your child so they can do fun activities outside the classroom while we visit. J Please sign up as soon as possible, as spots do fill up fast!
Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, and JMS is closed on Friday, October 30th for Parent Conferences. So… we’ve got a fun day planned for the children on Thursday, October 29th! In lieu of costumes and the typical Halloween festivities, we will instead celebrate autumn with a Fall Festival and a variety of activities… including face painting, baking, crafts, pumpkin carving, songs and stories. * If you prefer your child does not participate in the face painting, please notify me before this day so we can plan another activity for them.
We plan to set up small “stations” within Casa 2 for all of these activities, and we are looking for PARENT VOLUNTEERS who would be interested in being part of this fun day! We could use three volunteers during the morning (approximately 9-11 am), and we will assign activities based on your interests, talents, and comfort level. Grandparents are also welcome!
Would you like to participate, but October 29th doesn’t work for you? No worries!! We plan to do something similar as we near Thanksgiving and December holidays! Tentative dates are: Thanksgiving Fest (Tuesday, November 24th) and Winter Fest (Tuesday, December 22nd- First Day of Winter). Please consider joining us for one of these special days in Casa 2! If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know!
With the majority of our class staying until 3:00 this year, lunch has been a hot topic in Casa 2! The children are starting to get the routine down and are working on each step of the lunch process: set up their lunch spaces, go outside to play, come in to enjoy a nutritious meal, and then clean up and wash dishes afterward. The children prove to have large appetites by the time noon rolls around! They are engaged and working all morning and lunch is one of the most essential components to their day, as it fuels them to get through the afternoon of work, play and conversation. It is vital that the children have a well-balanced meal each day so they have the energy to keep on going! We’ve been quite pleased with the lunches that are coming to school each day. I’ve received some feedback from parents (and children) that they would like to mix it up a bit so they aren’t packing the trusty ham sandwich and carrots five days a week. Are you feeling this way, too? We encourage children to bring home any leftovers they might have, rather than throwing them in the trash, so parents can see what has actually been consumed each day. If you notice the same foods coming home, you may want to try something new now and then. J
I’d like to share a great blog I found, “Tips For Packing Healthy School Lunches Your Kids Will Love.” Here, Autumn gives nine rules that are great reminders when packing lunches for your child. Click here to read about her rules in greater detail.
#1. Establish what you want to make for the week to have on hand. Yesterday’s dinner makes a great lunch! Unfortunately, we do not have a way to heat up the children’s lunches, so please send items that can either be eaten cold, or try heating it up in the morning and putting it in a thermos so it will stay warm until noon. We have several families who use thermoses every day for soup, pasta, etc. Per licensing, lunch boxes must go in the refrigerator each morning, but thermoses can be left out so they stay warm.
#2. Always make a grocery list. If your child is writing, encourage them to help plan the meals and help make the grocery list. Have your child accompany you to the grocery store so they can have some input on what goes into their lunch each day. Children who help pack their lunches DO tend to eat more!
#3. Meal prep for my child like I meal prep for myself. Please prepare your child’s food at home just as they might want to eat it at school. For example, if your child likes apple slices as opposed to a whole apple, please cut the apple at home. We do have butter knives available for the children’s use, but butter knives are not safe for cutting hard foods such as apples and carrots.
#4. Lunches should always have one fruit and one vegetable. You can always change it up by doing simple things like putting together fruit kabobs (bite-sized chunks of their favorite fruits on a stick) or including a small amount of dressing to dip vegetables into.
#5. Always include a protein source. Please ensure that every item in your child’s lunch is peanut and tree-nut free. This includes granola bars, cookies and any other item you might send. In the past, Casa 2 has been a gluten-free classroom. Because gluten has negative effects on so few children this year, we are no longer a gluten free classroom, but instead provide gluten free items to those specific children at snack time. Lunches DO NOT need to be gluten free. If your child has a sensitivity or intolerance toward certain foods, please let me know right away. Protein sources include hard-boiled eggs, chicken (including rotisserie chicken!), lean ground beef (put sloppy joes in a thermos to stay warm, then include a bun in their lunch box), quinoa, edamame dip with veggies, fish, and Greek yogurt.
#6. Limit dairy. There is much controversy around the discussion of how much dairy is good for each child (and adult, at that). I believe there is no correct answer that fits every person. Everyone digests dairy differently, so please do some research and know the symptoms of what happens when one has too much dairy in their diet. We’ve seen an increase in intolerances over the past few years, and have several children with loose bowels, constipation and/or stomach aches. Just a slight change of diet can have a very positive impact on how your child feels each day. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s dairy intake.
#7. Healthy carbs are a must. Whole-grain breads and cereals, brown rice, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy are all great additions to your child’s lunch.
#8. Make them feel like they are getting a treat. Please limit the amount of sweets your child brings to school each day. We do encourage (but not require) children to eat their nutritious items before eating their dessert. I’ve seen it work successfully where children view their fruit (because of the high sugar content) as their dessert… and they LOVE it! J
#9. Increase water intake. We provide 1% milk and water at lunchtime. There is no need to pack a drink for your child, as these options are available to every child, every day (unless allergic/sensitive). We especially try to stay from sugar-filled drinks, such as juices, chocolate milk and soda.
Above all, know that you ARE DOING A GREAT JOB, and you are not alone if you are having difficulty packing lunches for a picky-eater. It is a common struggle and there are thousands of great articles online for more ideas and information on nutritional health in children. Have you tried something and your child loved it? Please share it on our Casa 2 Facebook page so other parents can benefit, too!
If you haven’t received a phone call from me yet, please rest assured that I have not forgotten about you! I prefer not to call families as it nears dinnertime, as that is a time that should be reserved for you and your children, and many of you get busy with games to attend and other after-school activities. That leaves a very short window to make calls each day, and I always forget how long it takes to get through the whole class! Phone calls will continue into next week, and conferences are right around the corner, too! I look forward to checking in with all of you soon!
On the Calendar
Friday, October 9th Picture Day
October 15th & 16th No School: MEA
Tuesday, October 20th Jazz for JMS Kick-Off event @ JMS 6:30-7:30 pm
Thursday, October 29th Fall Festival in Casa 2 – Volunteer parents invited!
Friday, October 30th No School: Fall Conferences (Session 1)
It sounds like many of you already have visited (or are planning to) local apple orchards and pumpkin patches. We love hearing all of the stories of these family outings! We hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Taryn & Mindi, Casa II