April 12, 2018

Notes from Hailey

Happy Spring!

I want to thank everyone for taking the time to meet with me for our Spring conferences. It's always nice to see everyone and touch base in person!

It seems we might finally be getting some springtime weather! However, it is also the season for soaking wet outdoor gear, as I'm sure you've noticed.

In the classroom, we've taken this time to talk about our choices and the natural consequences that come with them. For instance, it may be very exciting to see all the big puddles accumulating on the playground and really tempting to play in them. We've discussed that if we make the choice to play in them, we're most likely going to get our coats and snowpants very wet and possibly our clothing underneath as well. Which is not always very fun or enjoyable. However, if we stay out of the puddles we won't have to worry about getting wet and uncomfortable.

This idea of natural consequences is something we apply to all areas of the classroom. For example, rushing or not carrying something properly could result in a spill or even the material itself breaking. This is a very simple idea, but natural consequences can also be applied to more complex behaviors, such as treating others with kindness. I recently read a great article about natural consequences in Montessori schools and homes that put it perfectly:

"a child who understands the natural consequences of his actions will learn to make responsible choices of his own free will, rather than to please you or avoid punishment. He will make good choices even when you’re not looking, because he understands the reason for them. And when he slips up, as we all do, he will hopefully see that the consequence is at least fair, if unpleasant." (you can read the article in its entirety here: https://www.mother.ly/child/montessori-at-home-why-punishment-doesnt-workbut-consequences-do/)

It can take a bit of time to see these kinds of results, but we have seen this work well in the classroom. Although, for now, I think those puddles are just way too tempting! Let's all hope for some warmer weather to dry them up!


Notes from Emily

Welcome, Spring!! We are all craving this transition of the seasons, especially the children, who are revelling in the earliest signs of spring-- puddles! This is the season of wet mittens and snow pants. If your child stays for lunch, we will do our best to dry outdoor clothes so your child is comfortable to go out to play at the end of the day. As the season warms, please prepare your child with layers so that they can wear a fleece or sweater under snowpants rather than a bulky coat on sunny days. Full body waterproof suits (the ‘muddy buddy’) are also great for this time of year and we encourage families to send them in if you have them.

This is also the sugaring season. The children have been learning about the maple sugaring process through pictures, stories, and opportunities to explore a sap bucket, metal tap, and some of my own homemade syrup. Earlier this week, the afternoon group trudged through the heavy spring snow with me and tapped a single maple tree with an old fashioned hand drill and metal bucket; we look forward to checking the bucket for sap!

The classroom feels very cohesive this time of year. I look around the classroom and often find all the children engaged in purposeful work at once. It is at this time that, rather than interrupting a child to give them a new lesson, it is my job to sit quietly and give the children the space to learn from their interactions with the classroom materials and their peers. While it may come as a surprise to see a guide or an assistant seated amidst all the bustle of a primary aged classroom, observation is paramount to the Montessori method. Observation informs us of a child’s readiness for particular lessons, and reveals what a child may be struggling with in a current lesson,  making it possible for us to ‘follow the child’ and create individualized lesson plans. Observation helps us to identify how to best design a physical space or craft group lesson of grace and courtesy that suits the physical and social needs of a particular group of children.

The practice of observation is also very humbling; so often, adults assume we know the child’s intentions/thought process, or that we have the best solution for a particular challenge. By engaging the discipline required to sit quietly and observe objectively, without interference, we give the children an opportunity to notice and correct an error on their own, and for spontaneous caring acts. The adult can learn to identify a child’s edge; when should we offer help, and when should we sit back and allow the child to experience healthy stress that they can learn from? Only by stepping back and giving space can a child experience the joy and satisfaction of accomplishing a task they didn’t think they could do for themselves. By observing, adults may witness the children reaching solutions to challenges we had not even conceived. How radical a thought that the children are doing just fine without our help and that it is the most important job of the Montessori guide to observe the children. I encourage you to bring this attitude into the classroom if you have signed up to shadow your child for the morning, and to bring your thoughts and questions to our upcoming conference!

Notes from Minori

I like the English expression , “ March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.” It was so true! We have had a huge snow storm in the middle of March that caused most Vermont schools to close. Even though we started to feel warmer sunshine last month, quite a few children got sick and had to stay home. We talked about proper hand washing, how to cough in “a chicken wing”,  how to use tissues and more hand washing! But we are all good now. Children seem to be happier with the warmer weather, smiling and enjoying themselves each day in the spring sunshine.

In March we started reading Dr. Seuss books at the gatherings to honor his birthday (March 2nd, 1904). Children enjoyed his unique writing style with lots of rhyme, special rhythms, and strange , imaginative creatures and new words!

Although we didn’t eat green eggs and ham,we celebrated March with lots of greens. In everyday living we practiced cutting green beans with scissors and we used them for our morning snack. We practiced pouring green water into glasses, and picked up green pom poms with Japanese chopsticks. Perforating a shamrock shape by using metal insets ( quatrefoil) was a favorite activity also. In the Math area, children practiced writing numbers in glittery green salt with a green feather pen!

Let’s not forget to talk about the spring parent observations. I appreciate each parent coming to class to spend time observing children in action. I hope this opportunity is helpful and can give them some insight of the Montessori philosophy. Children are working each day towards Montessori’s biggest goals which are “ Order, Concentration, Confidence and Independence.”