August 26, 2018
Greeting Families!
From Our Dean of Students

Hello Families!

The staff is anxiously awaiting your arrival for the first day of on-campus learning! We are so excited for the year to begin and hope that you are, too! We also understand that there may be some other feelings brewing as we prepare for the start of the year: anxiety, hesitation, discomfort, and even fear are normal feelings to experience during times of transition, especially for our younger students who may be leaving their families for the first time!
While we can't prevent any such feelings from surfacing, we can learn to recognize them and support our littles (and ourselves!) through these "first day of school" feelings.

I have had the pleasure and honor of supporting families through these big feelings on the first days of school (and beyond!) for over three years. My social emotional toolbox is full! But recently, something happened that I'd like to share with you. Last week, my daughter, Lylah, started preschool. I thought to myself, "You help families through this ALL the time. It's going to be so easy!" Friends...it was not easy. It was HARD! I was the parent inside the classroom with sunglasses on to hide the tears streaming down my face. I was the parent who had a hard time separating. I was the parent who seemingly had an empty toolbox. It was PAINFUL. After eating a big piece of humble pie, I realized that this experience has given me the tool that I didn't even know I was missing from my toolbox. EMPATHY. I share this with you because I want you to know that ALL first day(s) of school feelings are welcome here. Happy, nervous, excited, fearful. We are here to support you in any way that your family might need. If you're thinking through ways to support your student the night before their first day on campus and during these first weeks of school, here are some ideas that have helped my little family, and countless others:
  • Take care of yourself! Unpack the feelings that you're having about this transition, and acknowledge what's alive for you. Then take the time to meet your needs and help yourself feel settled. Remember, kids are so intuitive--they read (and react!) to our energy.
  • Make a social story with your child!
  • Try to make sure the first mornings are as organized and stress-free as possible (ha!). Incorporating some extra snuggle or connection time can go a long way!
  • Speak positively about the upcoming experience with your child! "Your teacher is so excited to see you!" "You are going to play with your friends! What do you think you'll play during lunch?"
  • Make a plan! Does your child want to tuck a family photo in his/her backpack? Maybe purchase and read a copy of The Kissing Hand, or help your student create a signal they can use with their teacher if they start to have big feelings during the day.
  • Try not to linger. When you linger, children sense your hesitation and wonder if they are okay. It's okay to give a kiss and walk confidently away!
  • Be gentle with yourself and your student.
We can't wait to see you!

Things You Need to Know This Week
First Day for Students on Campus
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, August 27/28/29
If you'd like to arrive to school a little early on your first day, we will have a letterboard available for first day of school photos that you can snap of your kiddo! We will have the letterboard available before and after school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Morning Drop-off and Afternoon Pick-up Reminders
For Safety Purposes, Please Read Carefully!
Please read page 27 of the handbook carefully for drop off and pick up information! There's a lot you need to know, specific directions that traffic flows, information about where to drop off versus where to pick up, information for middle schoolers specifically, what to do if your child has a last-minute play date or will be picked up by someone other than their parent/guardian, and much more!
Also, please note: We know you may have indicated a list of emergency contact people we can release your child to in case of illness, emergency, etc. Please know this does not apply to spontaneous change of pick-up person. When we are releasing 200 students at a time, we are not consulting a list. We are matching a parent's face with a child's face. Changes in pickup must be emailed to the front office in advance or will be subject to delay until all students are dismissed and emergency lists can be consulted. Thank you for understanding! Safety is important to us!

Want to connect with other families and students on a more regular basis? Campus will open at 8:45 am this year!
We've decided to support families with connecting and time together by opening campus at 8:45am each morning, beginning August 27th. Between 8:45 and 9:00am, kinder-5th grade students MUST be supervised by a parent/guardian, as classroom doors will not open to welcome students until 9:00 am. (Before school, teachers prepare for the day and hold meetings.) If you would like to drop off your student without supervision, please do so between 9:00 and 9:15 am when they can head directly to their classroom. We are excited to extend this opportunity to families! We just request that 8:45-9:00 remain time teachers are left to plan/hold meetings, parents supervise their children and students put away any equipment they play with. Thank you!
Inner Explorer
For the past six years, we have been using Inner Explorer as a mindfulness tool in the classroom. This secular program teaches students breathing techniques and calming strategies and helps them reduce stress in a variety of ways. You can learn more about the program here. You can create a "community" account if you'd like to practice with your family on homeschooling days! You also might ask your teacher about the "Tune In" feature, that allows families to practice with their students remotely. As a school, we plan to practice at 9:30 am each school day. Please reach out to Kaitlin if you have any wonderings about this incredible program.
5th-8th Graders: Astro and Catalina Camps
Payment and medical form due Friday, Sept 7.
If your child plans on attending either Astro Camp or Catalina Camp and you did not attend one of the mandatory meetings on campus last week, please contact Kaitlin right away. Camp payments and medical forms are due no later than September 7th! Use this link to pay online (a convenience fee will be added to your payment by Event Brite). You may also pay in the front office by cash, credit card, or check (made payable to Da Vinci Schools).

Picture Request for New Families--help us get to know you quickly!
Kaitlin and Michelle try to learn student and parent names as soon as possible. If you are a new family and would like to send them a picture of your family or your child, please do! Their emails are ktoon@davincischools.org and mrainey@davincischools.org. This also helps with drop-off and pick-up during the first few weeks! (The pictures won't be shared or forwarded but will be printed in their office to help them learn names).

Our New Name
A quick note about our new name: You can read all about our name and why we chose it in Michelle's August 12 newsletter blurb as well as her introduction in the handbook. Please note that our abbreviated name is "Connect" or "DV Connect," but not "DVC." Da Vinci Communications (one of the three Da Vinci high schools) is abbreviated as "DVC," and we wish to avoid confusion. Thanks!

Coming Up...

No School or Homeschool
Monday, Sept 3
Enjoy your Labor Day holiday!

FAN Kick-Off Meeting
Wednesday, Sept 5, 10 am
Come join us for the first meeting of the year of our Family Action Network (FAN)! We will be discussing events for the whole year, so come see how you can get involved and build our community. For more info about FAN, visit the Parent Educator Resource Website and choose FAN from the "Family Connections" drop-down menu.

Comedy & Magic Club FAN FUNdraiser
Thursday, September 13, 6 pm
Join fellow parents and staff as we laugh and dine together! This is a fun night with limited tickets so read more here and buy your tickets before they sell out!

Next Math Workshop with Helen!
September 12th: 9:00-10:30 kinder-2nd grade, 11:00-12:30 3rd-5th grade
We're so glad you enjoyed Helen's workshop last week! She already created sign ups for the next one! Join her on September 12th by signing up here (K-2) and here (3-5).
Stay Connected!
To maintain connection with our community, be sure to check out our private and official group on Facebook!
Have a great week!
~Your DV Connect Team