From the Principal's Desk

Gary Kunschaft  

Gary Kunschaft 

Hello DFS Families,

Spring has arrived, and maybe even a bit of early summer!  Our Kids’ Marathon is in full swing and the students are really enjoying the new Ga-Ga pit recently built by the DFS Fathers’ Club. In addition, the outdoor courtyard/classroom is beginning to show the fruits of our fall plantings; it’s as if students have access to their own private park!

Each year we strive to change and update 10% of our schoolwide practices. This helps ensure continual improvement across DFS and avoid the many pitfalls of resting on our laurels. Luckily, the overwhelming support we receive from our parents, PTA and Fathers’ Club also continues to improve each year. Our diverse parent population offers us unique access to a wide range of skills across many fields, and we strive to take full advantage of these talents. We consider our parents an irreplaceable component of our students’ total education.

Many of our newer after-school offerings such as the Kids’ Wellness Committee and Green Team are direct results of parental passion and background experience, a powerful combination. As we begin to peek ahead to the planning phase of the 2018-19 school year, we look forward to the continued flow of new ideas from students, staff and families. Don’t be shy; if you have an idea for improving DFS, please share it via email, phone call, or just dropping by the front office. Bi-monthly PTA meetings and coffees with the principal are also excellent venues for sharing your thoughts and collaborating with other like-minded individuals. Together we make continued progress and improvement possible.

Enjoy the warmer weather, and we will see you DFS!


Hello DFS Families,

Students are very excited to see the Kids’ Marathon motivational bulletin board pop back up in the hallway, offering hope of spring weather arriving soon!  Our PTA has done an outstanding job promoting this healthy-lifestyle program, serving as a leader throughout the district and state.  Daily exercise is a lifelong habit we hope to instill in all our students, so please promote participation in the program at home.  It is never too late to join in the fun!

Spring marks a time of growth, not only for the flowers and plants, but also students. Large academic and social leaps often occur during this time frame, as instruction and grade level maturity begin to come together. As various district program leaders visit our building, they often remark on how hard our students work, even when faced with difficult tasks that may require a few attempts before success is realized. Our teachers have built a growth mindset, with underlying grit to support the philosophy, which impacts their springtime growth.

At home, you can support your student to learn through mistakes by utilizing the following suggestions:

·        Acknowledge that you don’t expect your children to be perfect.

·        Let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes or lapses in judgment.

·        Don’t rescue children from their mistakes.  Instead, help them focus on the solution.

·        Provide examples of your own mistakes, the consequences, and how you learned from them.

·        Encourage them to take responsibility for their mistakes and not blame others.

·        Avoid pointing out their past mistakes.  Instead, focus on the one at hand.

·        Praise them for their ability to admit their mistakes.

·        Praise them for their efforts and courage to overcome setbacks.

·        Mentor them on how to apologize when their mistakes have hurt others.

·        Help them look at the good side of getting things wrong!

Enjoy the impending spring, and we will see you DFS!

February is an exciting month for many reasons, but #1 on my list is the annual One School, One Book program. While very simple in concept, it yields many positives that can become a permanent part of your family repertoire. The world has become a very fast-paced place, and one of the few times when you can slow things down is while reading.  Reading requires all your attention, with no room for drifting, unless your thoughts are directly related to the text at hand.  With the OSOB nightly pacing guide, you are gently forced to sit as a family and focus on an enjoyable undertaking that allows everyone to be locked in the moment; a relaxing, enriching time for all. Who knows where this will lead? Maybe you realize family sit-down dinners need a revamping, after school activities could stand to be reined in, or weekends would be better with less electronics and more outdoor time. We all fall into the same habits, but something like time spent together during OSOB can make us slow down in other areas of our lives.
The power of adults reading with children cannot be understated; if we all loaded up on broccoli like it was dessert, kids would follow suit, and reading is no different! As you read together each night, your children will be influenced by the model you set, and remember it always. We also find that students are happiest when creating, as opposed to always being on the receiving end. Active reading is a creative process between the reader and author. The reader has to bring their own background knowledge and inferences to make meaning with the words the author has supplied. This leads to different understandings and themes for each reader, which makes for great family talking points during OSOB. What better way to expand your child’s understanding of the world beyond Trumbull?
Please consciously take the time enjoy the OSOB experience as a family.  We know you will enjoy every word!

Happy New Year! Students, while sad to see their holiday vacation end, are very excited to be back at DFS with their friends and teachers. They didn’t miss a beat and are ready to continue learning in 2018.  Each morning, to set a positive tone, precepts are read on morning announcements. These “words to live by” are taken from 365 Days of Wonder, a follow up text to a past whole school teacher read-aloud of Wonder. The book was subsequently turned into a major motion picture in 2017.
Students look forward to the daily precepts as a time to stop, listen, think and reflect on words from people across the globe and history.  Many of their insights are quite remarkable given the age, and some are able to apply the precepts to their daily lives.  Moving forward, we’ve decided to “tweet” the day’s precept using our DFS Twitter account so that families may choose to reflect around the dinner table each night. Students really enjoy the discussion and will amaze you with their thoughts.
Perhaps Seneca best explained the value of a good precept over two-thousand years ago:  “Precepts or maxims are of great weight, and a few useful ones at hand do more toward a happy life than whole volumes that we know not where to find.”
Have a healthy and happy 2018!  Thank you for your support. Together we make a difference!


Hello DFS Families,

With the holiday season upon us, one of the highlights is our annual band, strings and 5th grade chorus concert. While conducting our in-school sessions, it is always a delight and quite interesting to watch our student audience naturally bounce and move to the rhythms of each tune, as if something was activated in their inner core by the music. It is a meaningful reminder that school is more than academics; our staff at DFS firmly believes that a well-rounded student is the best version of a future adult. 
Music is a medium that can be enjoyed without a visual; something that is growing more uncommon these days.Listening as a whole is on a downward trend that we are working hard to reverse at DFS.  In younger days I can remember falling asleep most nights to the Yankee broadcast on a radio my grandparents purchased for me as a birthday gift.  There was something exotic about having the sights and sounds of the Bronx brought to my home each night, and to this day Phil Rizzuto’s call of “Holy Cow”, quite often on a foul ball that he thought was a homer, is a staple of my vocabulary.  I could also almost “hear” Bill White, Phil’s radio partner, shaking his head in the background!
Just listening, to a family member, friend, radio, book on tape, or anything else you find interesting, seems to have the effect of centering and calming one’s thoughts.  It is also a lifelong skill that can be used to gain new information, process instructions, or just be a better friend.  So this holiday break, why not kick back and go anti-visual for a bit?  Kick back, turn up those ears, close your eyes, and enjoy the medium of your choice.  Who knows, you might establish some new family traditions that are low stress on the adults in the house!
Have a fantastic holiday break and enjoy the time with your family!
Thank you for your support.  Together we make a difference!

Hello DFS Families,
At our last “Coffee with the Principal” meeting the topic of vocabulary arose. Vocabulary is one of the five essential elements of effective reading instruction, the others being phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency and comprehension. Vocabulary is an expandable set of words of which students know the meanings and correct usage. These words come in both print and speech forms, with the latter being very important to reading success. Beginning readers use spoken vocabulary to recognize words in print, especially when they have to “sound out” a written word.  If the written word they are sounding out is not in their spoken vocabulary, it negatively affects their overall comprehension of the text.  So what can you do at home to strengthen spoken vocabulary?  Here are some simple ideas you can begin using right away.
·        Use grown up words in normal conversations
·        Let your child tell the story at night
·        Converse regularly
·        Play word games like Scrabble, 7 Little Words, Word Stack, etc.
·        Label household items for younger children
·        Provide known comparison words when students ask about an unknown word
In addition to having lots of conversations with your child, don’t forget the importance of nightly reading. The graphic below reinforces the importance of independent reading in a “just right” book which we shared at Back to School Night.  As with any endeavor that requires volume, it is very difficult to catch up once time has passed.

Thank you for your support.  Together we make a difference!

Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!


Mr. Kunschaft

Dear Daniels Farm School Families & Website Visitors,
I am very excited to kick-off the school year and welcome all of our DFS students and families back after a fun-filled summer. The first few weeks of school can be a challenging transition for students, so please provide a head start by helping your child(ren) get plenty of sleep and continue nightly reading. Our goal is to hit the ground running, ensuring all students reach their full potential by year end.
Should you have any curriculum questions as the year progresses, please feel free to contact me directly or attend one of our bi-monthly Coffee with the Principal sessions to share your thoughts.
Families play a major role in realizing all our school goals. Throughout the year, our teachers and PTA need volunteers for many activities that have a positive effect on our students, both academically and socially. The elementary school age child loves nothing more than seeing teachers and parents working together at school. Grab hold of this unique and fleeting time in your child’s life by taking an active role at Daniels Farm School. Our doors are always open and we consider parents an asset and a partner in the educational process.
Gary Kunschaft