September 18, 2018

A Note from the Oak Room

The classroom has been very busy the past few weeks! It's been wonderful to see the children reuniting with old friends and getting to know new ones, but as wonderful and exciting as it is, the start of the school year can also be a little overwhelming for the children, especially those just joining the classroom.

Being sensitive to the fact that the children are getting accustomed to a new environment with new expectations, we spend much of the first few weeks of school learning things like how to use the bathroom, choose work, roll work rugs, communicate with teachers and friends, and follow safety rules. Typically these things are taught in group lessons or whole class lessons in our gathering at the end of the morning. The children have an opportunity to watch, practice, and learn community expectations. In our classroom, we emphasize four things: being safe, being kind, being respectful, and being peaceful. They are four very simple, yet also complex, ideas that we spend a lot of time talking about. Returning children also have the exciting opportunity to help new children learn how to do these things. This year, they take on the responsibility of being role models. We've talked about how important their job is, since they are now the experts of being in the classroom and know what the expectations are.

The first few weeks are also spent just getting used to being in a group/classroom setting. We have been using Grace and Courtesy lessons to give the children the vocabulary, steps, and actions needed to build awareness and ability to be responsive to others around them. These lessons include things such as getting a teacher's attention, waiting quietly instead of interrupting, inviting a friend to work with them, and walking around someone else's work rather than over it. These lessons are sometimes planned, but they often occur within a situation that may need some extra guidance and are always modeled by teachers and older children in the classroom.

The skills leaned in the first few weeks and through Grace and Courtesy lessons grow into skills like cooperation, team work, problem solving, compassion, and empathy. It's amazing to watch the children grow and develop these skills throughout the year to function not only in the classroom, but in the world outside of the classroom as well! We are all starting a new, exciting journey this school year and I can't wait to see where it takes us!

A Note from the Birch Room

Welcome to a new school year! It has been so nice to reunite with returning children and to get to know our group of six new children. Currently, we have a total of 17 children in the Birch room this fall. In the first week of school, the new children have been learning a lot about our classroom culture and routines, while the returning children have really jumped right in and gotten back to business, visiting with familiar friends and helping to orient the new children.

This time of year, I provide many group lessons on ‘grace and courtesy.’ These lessons are an invisible aspect of the Montessori curriculum in which adults and experienced children model procedures and social graces such as how to shake hands, how to ask for help, how to walk around another's work space, or how to hang up a coat. These lessons help to establish a "society by cohesion," a phenomenon observed by Maria Montessori and other Montessorians time and time again in which the children develop a sense of compassion and camaraderie for one another. Such lessons also support character development, offering children tools for becoming responsible and conscientious members of their community. As this community becomes established in the coming weeks, the children will naturally fall into their own rhythm of activity, freely choosing to explore activities and materials, joining lessons, having snack with friends, and engaging in social interactions throughout the classroom.

Some of you may be aware that I will be taking some time off in late September for my wedding and honeymoon. I will be out of the classroom on Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21, as well Friday, September 28 through Monday, October 8. Mid-October will be time for us to check-in about your child during parent-teacher conferences. Please keep an eye out for an email with a Calendly link in which you can sign up for one slot to meet with me. I am, of course, always available via email,, if you would like to ask a question or set up another time to meet before then. I look forward to another amazing school year!

 A Note from the Maple Room

Thank you for sharing your beautiful children with me this year! I am very fortunate to witness your children’s smiles and excitement each day.

Two weeks have passed, and the classroom is settling in. The first three weeks are usually a big challenge for new students, particularly those who have never been away from their home. I am sure it can be scary for them to learn to navigate a new space, people, rules, and routines all at the same time. However children are strong and courageous. This is their first journey to be independent and they are doing quite well.

In the Maple classroom morning work cycles are quite busy. Children are expected to choose their own work, practice, and clean up afterwards. Children must complete this cycle in order to help them internalize the sense of order and build self confidence. It is okay if a child doesn’t finish their work but they are responsible to clean up and return it to the respective shelf. A few children leave a trail of work in the classroom and  they are reminded kindly so they can build the sense of responsibility and respect towards the materials and the community. If the children handle the materials in a disrespectful or harmful way, for example, tossing, throwing, kicking, or any unsafe action, they are asked to refrain from the materials for the day. Children are expected to learn the manners through the grace and courtesy lessons to understand personal space, safety and positive communications. Of course the children take this huge workload one step at a time. We are able to practice patience and compassion while we recognize that every child develops at her/his own pace.

I hope the weather will become less harsh this month. (Oh boy, what heat we experienced in the past 2 weeks!)  Please make sure that your child gets enough rest at home.

Also please label your child’s belongings as much as you can. I see the  lost and found rack has been piling up!