Q&A for new TIS families

Here are answers to some questions that were asked at the New Family Playdate on July 25. You'll get a lot more information in the Summer Packet (on the web by Aug 3, in the mail to you by Aug 15) and at New Family Orientation (see details below.) Also please note that the first PTO meeting is Wed, Sept 16th at 6:30pm and childcare will be provided.

When can we meet our child's teacher and see his/her classroom?
You will be able to meet your child's teacher either the first day of school (Sept 9) or when you come for Registration & New Family Orientation. The PTO will be giving school tours as part of Orientation. (Teachers will be busy getting things ready, so they may not be in their classroom at Orientation time). At Registation you will find out your teacher's name and classroom location.  We will also mail that information to you the week before school starts.

Prek? Lowk? How do I keep it straight?
Many years ago, someone decided that at TIS, the entering 3-year-olds would be in prek, and the entering 4-year-olds would be in lowk. Perhaps PRE-K is pre (before) you even think about K(inder), and LOW-K is like K(inder), just a little lower.  Write to Linda at LBonder@intlschool.org with a better mnemonic device!

What and when are Registration and New Family Orientation?
All new families are asked to register in person and attend New Family Orientation. At registration you'll check your child's student record, sign it one more time, turn in the other forms that you'll be getting in the mail in August, plus have an opportunity to meet with after school program folks, PTO, etc. Please attend one of the following:

  • Wednesday, Sept 2 between noon and 3pm (Orientation will be at 1pm, you can register before or after).

  • Tuesday, Sept 8 between 9am and noon (Orientation will be at 10am, you can register before or after).

What should I expect the first morning?
Plan to arrive at school between 7:45 and 8:15am (hint - parking is easier when you come earlier). PreK (3-year-old) parents must always park and walk their child in. LowK & Kinder parents will have the option of curbside drop-off, but on the first day your child would love you to park and go to the classroom together.

Staff and volunteers will be all over campus to help direct you and answer questions. Your child's teacher will be waiting in the classroom to welcome you and your child. Please understand that the teacher's focus will be on the children, and she/he will not be able to have extended adult conversations. If you have extensive information to convey, please contact the school to set up an appointment with the teacher either before or after school starts.

Kiss your child, give a reassuring smile, and leave. (We do not recommend sneaking out - the children need to trust you and not be surprised later that you're gone.)

Some children will run or wander right into the classroom - after all, there are toys and other children to play with!

Other children will have some separation anxiety and may hold onto you or cry when you leave. This is always tough, especially for the parents. If this is your child, ask a teacher or TA for help.  He or she will engage your child in an activity or a hug allowing you to leave. It's always hard to leave when your child is upset, but most children are just fine after five or ten minutes. Prolonged goodbyes usually make things more difficult.

If you wish to find out if your child has stop crying, please call the office (Main Building 503-226-2496, Arthur 503-546-8932) and the receptionist can check how your child is doing. Please understand if it takes awhile for them to call you back, particularly in the main building.

If TIS is your child's first school experience, it may be helpful if the first day is only a half day.

What will the first day be like for our child?
Every class runs a little differently or do things in a different order depending on the teacher and class dynamics, but all classes will have certain things in common.

  • Your child may be given a name tag for the first few days until the teachers learn all the children's names.

  • Mornings often start with some relatively unstructured playtime to help children feel at home in the classroom. The teacher will generally have some activity prepared on the tables for those who are interested.

  • Circle time: the teacher will engage the children in a story or conversation. Circle time often starts with getting to know each other and the school, talking about the weather or the day of the week. The teacher will talk to the children in their target language; most of the children will talk to the teacher and to one another in English.

  • Snack time: TIS provides snacks for prek, lowk & kinder students in the morning and afternoon. Teachers oversee handwashing before & after any food event. If your child has allergies or other food restrictions please let the teacher know that you will be sending snacks for him/her.

  • Lesson times: just like the big kids, our prek, lowk & kinder students have age-appropriate activities in science, social studies, math, cultural learning and language arts, often all mixed together

  • Outside play time: playground! Rain or shine, please make sure your child is dressed appropriately. It is important that the children wear clothes that can get dirty or paint-splattered.

  • Lunch time: Parents must send lunch or sign up for one of the lunch options (www.intlschool.org/lunch). Each class has a microwave oven which teachers can use to heat student lunches.

  • Nap/rest time: each class has special nap mats, lights are dimmed, and everyone has quiet time together. Please make sure your child has a blanket and special stuffed animal if needed. Children are not expected to fall asleep, but they are encouraged to nap and rest.

  • Art, PE, Music: our prek, lowk & kinder students all do a lot with art, music & physical activity with their teacher. They also have class with art and PE specialists once a week, and lowK & kinder students also go to the library and have weekly classes with the music specialist. One of these activities may be on your child's class schedule for the first day.

What should I expect at the end of the day?
If your child attends half days. Please arrive between 11:45 and noon, park, and go to your child's classroom to pick him/her up. It is important that you pick up your child by noon due to teachers ratios. You are welcome to join the class for recess (right after lunch), but the teachers won't be able to be in charge of your child after 12:00.

If your child attends full days, school ends at 3:15. (Hint - parking is easier if you arrive early.)

  • If you arrive before 3:15, you can park and wait outside your child's classroom until the teacher opens the door.

  • If you arrive between 3:15 and 3:45, you can park and go to the waiting room where your child will be brought at 3:15 (see Parent Handbook for details). Arthur Street parents must always pick up their children inside the building.

  • If your child is in the Main Building and you arrive between 3:15 and 3:45, you can do drive-through pick-up.  It is important to have your pick up card ready to handle to the TA. (See Parent Handbook for details)

How can we find people to carpool with?
You can put a free note in InTheKnow classifieds looking for a carpool family. Just send your information to ITKEditor@intlschool.org. You can do that any time this summer or after school starts.  In mid-September you will receive an all-family directory with a family list by zip code which may also be of help.

How can parents help children at school if the parents do not speak Spanish/Chinese/Japanese? Do I have to learn my child's immersion language if I don't already know it?
TIS teachers expect that most parents do not speak, read or understand the language of instruction. Notes for parents will be written in English. In grades where homework is assigned, all students are told when they can get help from the teacher with homework (often at 8am, after school, or during a specific part of the school day). If homework comes home with Spanish/Chinese/Japanese instructions, parents are not expected to help.

Another thought on this:  the reason that you're immersing your child in another language now is because his/her brain is primed for language learning. With that brain readiness plus 4 to 7 hours per day, five days per week living in that language, your child's language skills will soar. Sadly we adults do not have the same time or capability to absorb another language. So although language classes could be fun, it's always great to learn, and it could give you insight into what your child is doing, parents shouldn't expect to keep up with them!

What kind of support is there for English learning in prek, lowk & kinder?
We know that some parents are nervous about their child's English literacy development. Please rest assured: nearly 20 years of TIS experience and a whole body of scholastic research demonstrates that when children develop literacy first in an immersion language, they quickly transfer those skills to their mother tongue and catch up to their non-immersion peers. To support this transference, the TIS English department and Library Media Center provides tools and guidance  for parents to use at home. Click here to access some of these English Literacy Development tools.

School supply questions

  • Should I label my child's school supplies? In prek & lowK, most supplies are shared among all students in the class - so please do not label supplies or send favorite items that will be hard to share.

  • The lists are fairly specific. Do I really need to buy Crayola & Fiskars brands? If you will be buying the supplies on your own, please follow the list as closely as possible. The teachers have requested specific brands or models when they find that those items work best. It also works best when all the children bring the same supplies.

  • Who do I ask if I have more school supply questions? Please contact Linda Bonder, Marketing & Communications Director, LBonder@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x104.

Who should I contact if I have questions during the summer?
Academic questions: Principal Maria Abad, MAbad@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x122

Admissions / misc : Admissions Director Jan Williams, JWilliams@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x209

What to expect / misc:

  • PTO New Parent Liaison Kirsten Lee, MsKirstenLee@gmail.com, 503-577-1797

  • PTO President Kathy Guilfoyle, pto@intlschool.org, 503-528-2903

  • Marketing & Communications Director Linda Bonder, LBonder@Intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x104

School office, calendar, contact information / misc.

  • Main Building receptionist Ellen Savaria, ESavaria@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x0

  • Administrative Assistant Jhoanna Co, JCo@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x103

Overall school strategy, feedback, questions: Head of School Alfonso Orsini, AOrsini@intlschool.org, 503-226-2496 x109

What is the first day of school?
September 9.

What other information will I get / need before school starts?
The "Summer Packet" will be live on the web site by August 3 and in the mail to you in hardcopy by August 15. It includes the Parent Handbook (full of information), sign-up forms for lunch options, after school daycare, the school calendar (also on the web site now), info on volunteering, class web pages, drive-through pick-up card, the door code, and several reminders.

In addition, please check InTheKnow every week (posted Mondays at 2pm) for updated information.

How do I find information on the benefits of being bilingual & brain development?
Check the web site at www.intlschool.org/news-clips/articles/ and at www.intlschool.org/about-tis/languages/.

Where do TIS students go to middle school? Will TIS have a middle school?
See www.intlschool.org/parent/beyond-tis/ for more information on today's middle school options for TIS grads.

In addition, as part of the recently adopted TIS Strategic Plan, Head of School Alfonso Orsini will be leading the research and plan development for a TIS middle school option.

Do the children interact with children in other language tracks?
In all grades, TIS students interact in the hallways and playground. That is the children's first exposure to the two other languages and cultures, since teachers talk to their own students in the immersion language, even in the playground. As the school year progresses, the teachers might plan activities for two classes of different tracks to do together, and/or the teachers do lessons about their language & culture for the other classes. The students also have opportunities to watch their peers perform in festivals celebrating each culture.

Starting in first grade, students in different tracks are mixed for English class, and often for art, music and PE as well.

What options are there for after school activities & daycare?
We have a great on-site after-school provider and many after school classes. Please see www.intlschool.org/about-tis/after-school/ for details. (This year's options will be on the web site by August 3.)