Thfriendship-clipart-9iRR8yyXTe Friendship Duka is an annual event organised by the Elementary Parent Network, (EPN).  Next Friday, 12th February, the event will be held during first and second break.  First, at 9.20am – 9.40am, in the three Quads, (EC/KG, Grade 1-2-3 and Grade 4-5), then continuing during the lunchtime break in the Grade 1-2-3 Quad only.

This day is an opportunity for students to acknowledge and celebrate friendship, before embarking on their half-term break.

The EPN would like to encourage every child to buy a gift, (ranging from TSh 500 to TSh 5,000), for a friend in their class.  Teachers will kindly help facilitate this, so that the friendship qualities found in each and every child can be appreciated.  Last year, a special thank you was given to the Lower Elementary teachers for assisting the children and making sure that all were included in the acts of giving and receiving.

Proceeds from the Friendship Duka go towards funding various EPN events throughout the academic year.  More than just a fundraising event, though, as parents and teachers we should keep to the fore that friendships are precious and vital across all ages.  As well as providing comfort, companionship and excitement, friendships enable a child to develop a multitude of skills needed throughout life:

  • Accepting others
  • Apologising to others
  • Asking for what one wants/needs
  • Asking questions
  • Complimenting others
  • Co-operating
  • Expressing feelings
  • Following rules of play; being a good sport, playing fairly, winning/losing gracefully
  • Helping others
  • Listening to others
  • Refusing to join others’ negative behaviours
  • SharingPooh-quote
  • Starting conversations
  • Taking turns

Parents and teachers play an important role in helping children develop friendships.  Through modelling, we set examples for children to follow through ways they manage relationships.  We are also there to act as coaches for children, teaching helpful social skills and talking through friendship issues to help with solving problems.   As children learn how to manage social situations, having opportunities to talk about friendships with parents and school staff helps children feel supported and develops their communication skills.  (Adapted from

Wishing everyone a terrific Friendship Duka experience and hoping to hear tales of a play-date, or two, taking place over the February break!

Student Support Plan (SSP) Meeting Weeks from 18th – 29th January 2016

For which students is an SSP meeting scheduled?

SSP meetings are only scheduled for students who are on the Learning Support Register.  

What is a Student Support Plan (SSP) meeting?

The Student Support Plan (SSP) meeting is a yearly meeting where a new SSP for your child is shared and developed in collaboration with you.  The new SSP will run from January 2015 to January 2016 and lists type of support, focus of instruction, accommodations (for all Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 Learning Support students) and individual goals (only for Level 3 and Level 4 students).  The reason the SSP runs from January to January is to ensure a smoother support for students through transition and into the next grade.

When is my child’s SSP meeting?

You should have received an email from your child’s Learning Support teacher before the December break with a date and time which you were to confirm.  You should also have received a reminder email sometime this past week.  If you did not receive this information or are unsure of your date and time, please contact your Learning Support teacher as soon as possible.

Should you not be able to attend for any reason, please let us know well in advance.  We have about 30 back-to-back meetings for these 2 weeks so it will not be easy to reschedule a meeting.  The meetings run for 1 hour and are on a strict schedule.  Please understand that, should you arrive late, we cannot extend your time as we will have another meeting planned straight afterwards so please ensure that you are on time.

Who will attend the SSP meeting?

For Level 2 students: the classroom teacher, Learning Support teacher (leading the meeting), the Counselor (if applicable), the EAL teacher (if applicable), the Student Services Coordinator (taking minutes)

For Level 3 and Level 4 students: the classroom teacher, Learning Support teacher (leading the meeting), the Counselor (if applicable), the EAL teacher (if applicable), the Student Services Coordinator (taking minutes) and an administrator (Principal or Vice-Principal)

For Grade 5 Students we have also invited the Secondary School Learning Support department to attend the SSP meeting as this will help with a smoother transition into Grade 6.

What do parents need to do?

Please bring with you any additional information (e.g. external reports) that you would like to share.  Think about your child’s strengths, difficulties and goals before the meeting.

You do not need to take notes at the meeting, as minutes and a copy of the SSP will be sent home to you within a week.  As we are reviewing the suggested SSP at this meeting, we need some time to make adjustments if needed.

Please remember to return a signed copy of the meeting minutes and the SSP, within one week of receiving them, for our files.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Learning Support Teacher or the Student Services Coordinator (Ellen Claessens: Search For Solution

For Optimal Development and Alertness – Sleep

Karibuni!  Welcome back to a new term and to a new calendar year!  It has been lovely to see so many returning faces and to hear the excitement in the children’s voices, as they recount tales of their school holiday to their friends and teachers.

Back to school means re-establishing the all too familiar routines.  Sleep, being one of them.

As adults we can fully appreciate that a good day starts with a good night’s sleep.  Quite how much sleep each individual requires is not set in stone; however, an article on the UK National Health Service (NHS) website shares the Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic’s recommended number of hours sleep based on age.  (The Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic comprises qualified health professionals, skilled in nursing, midwifery and health visiting.  Their team of sleep consultants and experts have all spent decades working in the NHS, supporting parents with their children’s sleep, health and behavioural problems.  Since becoming an established clinic, the Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic has been delivering sleep training to NHS staff since 2007.)

Elementary School Children, depending on age, require between 9 hours 30 minutes to 11 hours 30 minutes of sleep each night.  The article provides information on how lack of sleep can affect children, stating that, “Younger children who are persistently sleep-deprived seem irritable and overactive, seek constant stimulation and don’t concentrate well.”

As we launch ourselves into this new term, which is bound to be one filled with excitement, new challenges and enriching experiences, it seems an apt time to gently remind us all that, “night time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children to develop.

Wishing each and every one of you a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead.

Wake Up Time for School girl waking up and stretching in the morning



Student Services Reporting

All students receiving Student Services will receive a regular classroom report.

Early Childhood (EC) and Kindergarten (KG) reports

The EAL and Early Intervention teacher will work collaboratively with the classroom teachers to write the students’ reports. EC and KG reports look slightly different and do not have a separate Early Intervention or EAL section.

EAL (English as Additional Language) Students Grade 1-Grade 5

Progress will be marked on the report continuum and further explanation will be given in the EAL section of the report.  As the report continuum covers up to 2 years below grade level, we fully expect some New to English and EAL students to fall below that, and will therefore have little (if anything) highlighted on the report continuum.  This will be explained in the teacher narrative.

Learning Support Students Grade 1-Grade 5

Only students on the Learning Support Register receive accommodations on their report.

We provide accommodations in any of the following areas:

  • Reading Fluency and accuracy
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing content and ideas
  • Writing conventions and skills
  • Communication
  • Math Number
  • Math Measurement
  • Math Pattern and Function
  • Math Shape and Space
  • Math Data Handling
  • PSPE (Physical, Social, Personal, Emotional)

If your child receives accommodations for any of the above listed areas, this is clearly marked by the triangular symbol on the report continuums.  Further explanation is given in the teacher narrative.

As we have some students working more than 2 years below grade level in some academic areas, it is possible that these students will have certain areas unmarked/un-highlighted on their report continuum.

There will be a sentence on your child’s report mentioning that your child has received Learning Support this past semester and referring the reader to their Student Support Plan for more information.

The reporting section of the Student Support Plan will be sent home together with the classroom reports for all Level 2, 3 and 4 students.  Individual goal reporting will also be sent home with the classroom report for all Level 3 and Level 4 students on the Learning Support Register.

We kindly ask you to return one signed copy of your child’s Student Support Plan Report to your child’s Learning Support Teacher as soon as possible.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact your child’s Learning Support teacher.

Visible thinking routines

Various grade levels at the Elementary school including the Grade 2 team and the Learning Support Department have begun incorporating a number of ‘thinking routines’ into the classroom. This is a strategy used to foster positive thinking and learning attitudes in children. It allows us to be able to document student thinking and be able to develop this further together. This is a culture of thinking introduced by the course ‘Making Thinking Visible’ by Project zero, Harvard University.

Using strategies to make thinking visible can be an incredibly powerful tool used in school and at home. These routines allow us to peek into the minds of the students, push them further, become curious about their way of thinking and then attempt various strategies in order to ensure we have a thorough response from the students.

Examples of these routines are displayed in the classrooms and students have begun using some of this terminology in their daily language. I felt it would be a good opportunity to introduce you to a routine that can be used by anyone and at anytime called the ‘See-Think-Wonder’ routine. Teachers have used this routine when showing students a picture or an artifact and then asking the students to begin by first telling us what they ‘see’ in the picture and then what they think about what they have just seen and finally, what it makes them wonder.

It is amazing to see the thought processes that are reflected in all these areas and how students begin to make connections from what they see but also from the thinking of other students.

Examples of when this routine can be used outside of school are:

  • When reading a book with a child and you come across an interesting picture or even part of a picture,
  • When your child asks you a question about something they see – your answer could be lets do a ‘see-think-wonder’ and think about this together
  • When out and about and you see something out of the ordinary

During this process, teachers also get involved and we are able to participate in the thinking routines together with the students allowing for inquiry-based learning to naturally occur.

These routines help us show the children that we care about their thoughts and we are interested in their responses. This feeling of importance is necessary for all children and is conducive to learning both at school and outside.

Experience Firsthand!

Could you imagine experiencing these challenges every day as you are learning new concepts and skills? 


Visual Distractions

Auditory Distractions



Recall and Understanding



Source: All Kind of Minds