Welcome new families!
No doubt you have many questions as you enter Peralta for the first time. On this page, we attempt to demystify some of the language/culture/procedures that have baffled others before you. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask someone! At the bottom you’ll find a list of “veteran” parents who may be able to help.
First Day of School
Drop-off and Pick-up
P.E.A.C.E. After-school program (Peralta’s Enriching And Creative Environment)
Snacks and Lunches
Classroom Volunteering and Field Trips
Meeting with Your Child’s Teacher
Lice and Friends
Lost and Found
Peralta Parent Teacher Group (PPTG)
Why So Much Volunteering and Fundraising?
PPTG: Peralta Parent Teacher Group. If you are at Peralta, you are a member!
PPTG-LC: Peralta Parent Teacher Group Leadership Council. A group of parents/caregivers that meets to set meeting agendas and who are responsible for school-wide rolls. More information…
P.E.A.C.E: Peralta’s Enrichment and Creative Environment (before and after school program). More information…
SSC: School Site Council. A group of parents, staff and teachers that meets monthly to review the school site budget. The school district requires every school to have a School Site Council.
CST: California Standards Tests. Standardized testing begins in 2nd grade.
The two Kindergarten and adjoining courtyard is referred to as the Kindergarten Pod, or K-Pod for short. It is just north of the school office. Each classroom has a sink and drinking fountain. The K-Pod has its own bathroom that the classes share. There is a small playground and garden just for K classes on the back side of the K-Pod. Kindergartners also use the full yard and larger play structures for recess.
Each Kindergarten classroom has a column in the courtyard where important information like snack and volunteer schedules, and field trip sign-ups are posted.
The office has mail slots on the wall to your right as you enter, where you can leave correspondence for teachers and staff, PPTG and P.E.A.C.E.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
School starts at 8:30 AM and lets out at 1:25 PM the first week of school. After that dismissal is at 2:45 PM every day except Wednesdays, when school lets out at 1:25 PM.
- A lunch box or bag (labeled with name) containing lunch and beverage OR tell your child they’ll be eating the cafeteria lunch. For the first week, don’t worry about sending money for lunch. The cafeteria staff will keep track of it and let you know if any amount is due once the free/reduced lunch paperwork is processed.
- A backpack big enough to hold a 9×12-inch Friday Folder.
Prepare your child for the fact that:
- You’ll come into class for just 5-10 minutes the first day. (If you say goodbye at the door the next day it is easier on all the kids.) The kids will hang up their backpacks and put their lunch in the lunch bin before class begins. Some of the coat hooks are pretty high, so you can walk them through the process the first morning.
- You’ll meet them at a certain spot after school; we recommend the courtyard. The courtyard is swarming with K parents that first day, so there is little chance of them slipping through to meet you anywhere else!
Prepare yourself for:
- A tired child, an untouched lunch, and spending an hour that evening going through the big packet of information they bring home so you can return it the next day.
Unless they are in before-school care, kids should not come to school before 8:20 AM, when formal yard supervision begins. However, the Peralta bell system may vary a few minutes late or fast. It’s best to aim on the early side to arrive by 8:30 AM.
When the first bell rings, all the kids (and parents too, please) freeze and stop talking. There are welcoming announcements. After that, the teacher on yard duty blows a whistle and the kids walk to their line.
The line numbers are painted on the blacktop outside the library: 2 is for Ms. Arbogast’s class (room 102) and 3 is Ms. Powell’s class (room 103). Teacher and/or teacher’s aid will come to the front of the line to lead kids into class.
Bells ring to indicate the start or end of class, recess or lunch. There is a different schedule for Kindergarten classes, lower and upper grades, so bells ring all day long and don’t always apply to your child’s class. Your child’s teacher will instruct them when it’s time to go to recess or back to class. Kindergarteners aren’t generally on the yard at the same time the upper classes are.
DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP
The entrances to the school are very busy at morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. There is a drop-off zone on Dana from 8:20-8:35 every morning; children should only exit your car on the passenger side when a volunteer is present to open the door and help them safely exit the car. Consider walking or cycling; there are bike racks inside the 63rd Street entrance. The North Street entrance is “walk in” only; please do not drive down North Street unless you are a resident. Please drive very slowly near the school and be alert for kids darting into the street. Please do not ever block or park in the crosswalks even momentarily.
There is not a security guard or sign-in/sign-out for the standard school day, as some parents are used to from pre-school. If your child becomes ill during the day, they will only be released to a parent or individual authorized by the parent. If your child is not going to the after-school program, you are expected to pick them up promptly at dismissal (or make other arrangements). Lower-grade teachers (K/1) will stay with children for a few minutes after the bell, or escort them to the office, until a caregiver shows up. However, dismissal time can be chaotic, so please be on time or make arrangements with another parent!
If your child is in an after school program, they will be supervised until 6:00 PM. Please check in with the program staff and use the sign-out sheet in Portable Classroom C (closest to Alcatraz Avenue) when taking your child home.
P.E.A.C.E. (Peralta’s Enriching And Creative Environment)
Peralta’s extended care program, P.E.A.C.E., offers enrichment classes and unstructured play time. Popular classes include gardening, origami, cooking and dance. You may submit an application for one to five days each week, morning and/or afternoon care. The P.E.A.C.E coordinator is Sherice Tyler, who may be reached at (510) 502-4138 or styler AT aspiranet DOT org.
On the first day, come by after school to show your child where to line up for the after school program, or arrange with another parent to help them find their way. It’s really busy with some kids going home and some staying, parents lingering and the after school programs getting underway.
SNACKS AND LUNCHES
Kindergartners have a snack mid-morning in their classroom. Parents will be assigned a snack day about once a month. Look for your assigned day on the columns in courtyard outside the Kindergarten rooms, or as a handout from your teacher. The teachers appreciate healthy snacks like crackers, fruit, cheese, water or fruit juice. Please prepare the food by cutting it up or portioning it out if necessary, providing plates, bowls and utensils as appropriate. The teacher has to distribute snack very quickly to the whole class, and there’s no time for food prep.
Peralta uses the multipurpose room as a cafeteria. Paying for the school lunches is flexible, often paid a few weeks at a time. Students can get lunch on credit if the family is behind on the payments, as long as they catch up later. Your child is not automatically served a standard lunch. They get to choose what they want from the available offerings that day. The official lunch menu is sent home monthly, but the actual menu may vary. School lunch offerings are moving in the direction of healthier fare (more whole grain bread products, low fat, etc.) The salad bar is available at lunch with offerings such as fruit, cheese, nuts and carrots. The salad bar is staffed by parent volunteers (and it is always hard to get volunteers mid-day, so if you can help, it would be greatly appreciated). You can visit your child at lunchtime to see the dynamic first hand – just sign in at the office first.
In 2011-2012, daily lunch prices were:
- Full-price $2.25 (includes salad bar)
- Reduced $0.30 (includes salad bar)
- Free $0.00 (includes salad bar)
- Milk without meal $0.40
- Salad bar only $1.00
Lunchtime is pretty compressed and is a time to talk to new friends. It’s not uncommon for packed lunches to come home untouched, especially the first week or so. They will be hungry when they get home. Kids in the P.E.A.C.E program will be served a snack (provided by the program).
CLASSROOM VOLUNTEERING and FIELD TRIPS
Before you can volunteer in the classroom, you need to meet Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) guidelines. First, register as a Supervised Volunteer online at here. If you need assistance or don’t have access to the internet, call Risha Riley in the OUSD Family & Community Office at ph. (510) 434-7765. As part of your registration, you will need a negative TB test. (TB test results are good for four years). Your regular doctor can do the test, or you can find clinics in the community.
Parent volunteering varies a bit from class to class but in general, your child will bring a permission slip home prior to each field trip (anywhere from a couple weeks to the day before). Field trips usually necessitate the kids wearing comfortable shoes for walking and bringing lunch in an easily carried disposable container. The permission slip will provide details. Sometimes transportation is provided by bus, and other times by parent volunteers in private cars. If your child is being transported in someone else’s car, bring a car seat / booster if necessary. If you drive on field trips, you’ll be required to carry automobile insurance.
MEETING WITH YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER
In mid-September there is a “Back to school night” for parents only (no school kids) to visit their child’s class and hear about expectations and schoolwork from the teacher. This is a great opportunity to get to know the teacher. In May there is an open house for parents and students; at this point you’ll know the teacher, so the focus is on seeing your child’s art and other schoolwork and even checking out the other classrooms to see what environment they’ll be in the following year.
There are parent-teacher conferences in December and March where you will meet with your child’s teacher one on one to get an update on their progress. At these 15-minute conferences you’ll receive a formal progress report. Final progress reports are sent home on the last day of school.
You may want to ask the teacher how your child is doing or raise concerns at other times. You can schedule an appointment at any time during the year. Call your child’s teacher, leave a message in her mail slot (in the office), or arrange an appointment at drop-off / pick-up. Another way to learn what’s going on, in between formal conferences and appointments, is to volunteer in your child’s class from time to time.
Each class needs a few room parents. Room parents start right off the bat to gather contact information for families in the class, set up Google or Yahoo! groups for parents (teachers may opt in or out), pass along messages from the teacher (e.g., dates for field trips), take up a collection for teacher appreciation day and year-end gifts, and plan and implement the class contribution to the Spring auction. If you like to organize people, this is the job for you! To sign up as a room parent, contact your child’s teacher the first week of school.
Sign in at the office when you arrive and sign out when you leave. Don’t interrupt classes and activities or visit the class unless you’ve signed up in advance to help in the classroom. Lunchtime is a good time to make a short visit. You get to know the kids in your child’s class and encourage them to eat. Lunch starts around 12:00.
Official communications and notices will come home about once a month with an update from the Principal and PPTG about upcoming events and news from school.
As mentioned, you’ll receive a folder filled with communications from the school administration and PPTG the first day of school. This is YOUR HOMEWORK! Read through it all, sign off that you’ve received it and put any forms needing to be returned in the folder. Send this to school with your child. Their teacher will collect it from them.
Parents often bring cupcakes/cookies for birthdays and stay to help hand them out. Let the teacher know ahead of time that you’d like to bring treats and find out when the best time is. Inquire about kids with dietary restrictions; if you aren’t sure what to bring for them, check with their parent. Parents of kids with special diets might opt to bring a special treat for their child that day so they don’t feel left out (be sure to give them ample notice). If you bring treats for birthdays, try to make them manageable — easy to distribute to 20+ kids quickly with a minimum of mess. Provide plates, napkins, cups, beverage, utensils, etc.
A word about party invitations: please be cognizant of the hurt feelings that may result if you or your child is handing out invitations and not every child gets one. It’s best to be discreet and hand the invitations to the parents or contact them away from school, unless you’re inviting a whole class.
LICE AND FRIENDS
Speaking of gifts, you will receive notices when a child at school has a case of lice, ringworm, scabies, chicken pox, pinworm, hand/foot/mouth disease, etc. There are several such incidents each year and the notice from the school will tell you what to look for and how to proceed if you suspect your child is also infected. The most common of all is lice. Please check your child’s hair and scalp for lice regularly. For more information on lice and and current health alerts, click here.
LOST AND FOUND
Write your child’s name on the tags of their jackets, umbrellas, backpacks, lunch boxes and other loved apparel with a permanent marker. Label label label. We could cloth a small nation with the clothes that collect in the lost and found by October. Unclaimed items will be donated once or twice a year. Walk by the “lost and found” rack frequently to look things you didn’t realize you had lost! It can be found in the courtyard outside the library.
Your child will have school pictures in Fall.
To opt out of photos, send a note to your child’s teacher or the school secretary a couple days ahead stating that you’d like to opt out.
Kindergartners take some basic “tests” (e.g., letter recognition and sounds) the first month, one-on-one with the teacher, to use as a baseline for showing their improvement by year end. Kindergartners do not take the California Standards Test (CST); that begins in 2nd grade. The CST is the basis for school rankings, Title 1 Award and Distinguished School Eligibility.
PERALTA PARENT TEACHER GROUP (PPTG)
When the PPTG was formed in 1982, parents decided to become an independent nonprofit, rather than participate in the formal PTA organization. This allows us to maintain our independence and avoid fees and other requirements of the PTA.
Even if you have little time to volunteer or little money to donate, come to PPTG meetings. You belong there! You are a member by dint of your child going to Peralta. There are no dues. Meetings are open to everyone and attending is a great way to learn about special programs, upcoming events, how PPTG funds are budgeted, district-wide matters and to hear from our Principal, Ms. Costello. You also get to meet other parents and put faces with all the new names you see. Dinner and childcare is provided.
A directory of students and parent contact information is compiled and distributed in late Fall based on information you provide to the PPTG.
WHY SO MUCH VOLUNTEERING AND FUNDRAISING?
The Kindergarten year is a big adjustment for both kids and parents and it can feel overwhelming at times. Parental participation can be very demanding, but it pays off both for the kids and for the social interaction among the parents. Volunteering is fun, lets you meet other families, shows your child that their schooling is important to you, models community activism and much more!
There is a big push with fundraising at the beginning of the year, and people have wondered why there are back-to-back fundraisers right off the bat (The Peralta Fund in September and the Walkathon in October). The primary reason is to secure funds for the upcoming year – payments that need to paid on a monthly basis, even when it’s not a fundraising month.
Once your child is a student at Peralta Elementary, you do not have to re-register them to attend Peralta for subsequent years. You can relax (about that at least) until they go to middle school!
If these veteran parents can’t answer your questions, they can refer you to someone who can:
Laura Counts laura DOT counts AT gmail DOT com
Julianna Phillips juliannaphillips AT yahoo DOT com
Janeen Mesa janeenps AT sbcglobal DOT net
Star Lightner starlightner AT gmail DOT com