Information for Parents – January Updates

Letters sent home to parents during the month of January:

Re: 1st Confession

The Importance of Tables 


and Welcome Back after Christmas Break

Dear Parent,                                                                                                                               22nd January 2013

Please talk to your child and find out what ‘job’ they would like to do in the Confession and Communion Ceremony.

There will be as many opportunities at both ceremonies as there are children. I hope every child will see the importance of participating in this way on the day.

As I said before, children will work in pairs, so that they can give one another encouragement and support.

We will be well practiced at these jobs, so everyone should feel confident at the ceremonies.

At Confession.

There are 12 readers needed (6×2) to read about the Lost Sheep. Each pair has two short paragraphs to read.

There are 6 singers needed (3×2) where each pair sing a verse of ‘Where ever I am God is’.

There are 8 children needed (4×2) to say a prayer for example; ‘Prayer for Forgiveness.’

There is 3 children needed to lead their classmates in the actions for the ‘Our Father’.

Please mark as many as apply.

My child _____________________would be happy to

◊ sing

◊ do a reading

◊ say a prayer

◊ lead the actions in the ‘Our Father’ (non speaking)

◊ bring up the gifts on Communion Day (also non speaking)

This will act as a guide for me. We will talk about this in class and I will be asking the children to volunteer. Singing is a popular choice and I will try to be as fair about this as I can. There will be further opportunities at communion. I will try to distribute the jobs fairly between the two ceremonies.

With every good wish, Teacher


19th January

Dear Parent

Clarification re ‘Tables Races’

Some parents asked for clarification regarding the results in the ‘tables races’ that I sent home earlier in the month.

This is a sixty second test. There are sixty items.

I don’t think it is possible that anyone would get sixty answers done in the time.

In case anyone in the class, would find the pace involved physically impossible

I did a ‘speed test’ , where I asked each child to put a circle round the higher number in each sum,

and the average score for this was forty items done in the minute.

The average score when doing the addition and take away sums is 24 at the moment.

The ‘tables race’ is useful in that it shows a child’s progress in learning the tables over time.

Where a child’s score over time looks very random, with dramatic improvements

and then disimprovements, it shows what I have said to you before,

that assessments are a ‘snapshot in time’.

If your child is tired or distracted, they may not do as well as they did on a previous occasion.

It is exactly the same sixty sums each time .

If a plateau is reached and a child is getting exactly the same score under each month,

it may be that with approximately fifty per cent of the school year remaining there is plenty of time to improve.

This involves learning one’s tables every night.

The Balloon Popping game on School Hub is helpful for doing this. The link is here

So are the 5 minute adding frenzy drills Here is a sample which we will do in school

and I will also send home next week.

When a child has ‘learning off’ to do,

often times, they do not think that homework is as important as the written work.

The opposite I feel is true. The most important homework I am giving at the moment is the tables and reading.

I know it is challenging, but please encourage your child to do both.

Hopefully, having to complete a maths drill, with help the children

not to forget to do this very important maths homework.

In Third Class in September, the teacher may do a little revision,

but then for the next two years, the focus will be on multiplication and division.

Multiplication is introduced as repeated addition, so knowing the addition facts continues to be important.

Just before the February midterm, I will do this ‘tables race’ with the children again.

I will be happy if there is a steady, gradual improvement.

I tell the children that each of them is trying to improve on their own score.

I am playing down any competition within the class, as much as I can.

I see children who find ‘rote’ learning difficult, making good use of ‘strategies’

which I have mentioned in the past.

Click on this link for strategies

I set up the Balloon Popping Game for each child to play each morning

and I see children using the ‘strategies’ then.

Using ‘strategies’ means you won’t be as fast but one very heartening thing

about the ‘tables races’ is that where a child completed a dozen sums in the sixty seconds,  

the answers were accurate.

A group of children know their tables well and they are getting different homework,

preparing them for learning multiplication next year for example.

Reading Homework

Currently I am asking the children to read the last four pages of the chapter

that we have done in class that day from their class novel ‘The Owl Tree’ by Jenny Nimmo.

If I was to check that all homework was done by all twenty nine children in the class,

this would take me up to an hour.

We have so much to do, to cover the 2nd class curriculum,

I can’t afford an hour a day to do this.

Instead I do ‘spot checks’ with regard to the reading I have asked the children to do.

The fairest thing to do I find, it to set a question in advance,

the answer to which the child will find in those four pages.

In this way, no child should be worried that I will ask them a question

that they have forgotten the answer to, having done their reading.


At the beginning of the year I spend time in September/October

encouraging the children to develop a ‘homework habit’.

During this time, I check that the homework is written done fully and legibly.

I do spot checks from then on as time once again is a concern.

Checking that homework is taken down and completed takes away from time we need to cover the curriculum.

I find now, half way through the year, that I will have to give time to checking homework is written down and completed.

Thank you to the children who always do their homework.

I know you all lead busy lives too but I am asking for your help in this matter.

Preparing for Confession and Communion

With five weeks to go to the Sacrament of Reconcilation, we are preparing for the ceremony.

I will be looking for children to volunteer to say prayers from the altar, do reading and sing.

At the Communion ceremony I will also need children to bring up the gifts.

This seems to be the job that children find easiest to do.

I assign volunteers from the class in pairs to do all these jobs,

so they can give one another back up and support.

Last year I was told that some parents felt that being asked to do this

put undue pressure on the children and this meant they were nervous at the ceremony and did not enjoy it.

For this reason this year, I am asking you to ask your child, what they would like and fill in the attached form.

If I am oversubscribed, say for volunteers to sing (and this often happens) I will put the names of the volunteers in a hat.

I will also do this to establish, at what ceremony, Confession or Communion a child would do a particular job.

I hope this is acceptable to all,

With every good wish,


This letter will be going home on paper, on Monday.

Dear Parent

I hope you had a very pleasant Christmas.

The children from 2nd Class, Room 6 have settled back really well,

so in terms of work, we have ‘hit the ground running’.

We are still working hard on our tables.

Know one’s tables make learning methodologies and computation in Maths so much easier.

In a typical long division sum for example (taught in fifth),

a child will need to divide, multiply and subtract several times.

Working with fractions your child will also need the ability

to add, subtract, multiply and divide.

Knowing tables make things so much easier.

Not all children find learning by rote easy so in the letter

I sent home after the parent teacher meetings.


I detailed the strategies we use in class to help

and also posted a link there to a useful website.

Follow this link

I having been recording progress in tables by giving the same

one minute ‘tables race’ at the beginning of each month.

I am sending home their scores to date on paper on Friday.

I will be giving this assessment again before midterm, Easter and the Summer holidays.

The first score you will see is that of a simple test on the very same sheet

that I gave to the children to check that there was no physical reason

that would affect their speed in writing down the answers quickly.


We all learn at different rates and what I really love to see

is an individual’s steady progress over time.

I encourage the children to improve on their own score

and not to concern themselves with anybody else’s.


Reading Homework

In case of any mix ups:

We are reading ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark in class.

We read nearly a chapter a day.

I leave the last four pages for homework,

and am asking the children to practice reading these with expression.

An adult reading every second page,

may help if you find your child doesn’t have the stamina to read all four pages.


Homework: In the run up to Christmas, the amount of homework

I gave became less on account of my hospital stay.

I feel I have not given a lot of homework this week.

I just wanted to ease the children back in.

I realise the little I give may take some children a long time.


By the same token sometimes when I feel I am giving a lot of homework,

I hear on the grapevine that some children finished it in ‘five minutes’.

To me ‘learning off’ homework and presentation of work is really important.

Also remember that there are suggestions for extra homework if you feel

that your child is not getting enough, on the blog

Suggestions for extra homework

For Reference:

From the archives: November/December Updates

From the archives: October Updates

From the archives: September Updates

12 thoughts on “Information for Parents – January Updates

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  3. Pingback: If Only The Best Birds Sang … » Blog Archive » Information for Parents – February Updates

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