Doughnuts with Dads

Doughnuts with Dads

What a beautiful morning and afternoon together with the children and their daddies.  The children enjoyed time with their father’s in the classroom as they showed off their favorite works, ate snacks together and sat on the line and experienced the silent walk, sang a song and presented their father’s with a unique description of who they “thought” they were.  It was wonderful and very memorable for everyone involved.  Enjoy the many pictures that were taken to savor these precious moments!

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Fire Drills

Fire Drills

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This week we had the privilege of conducting our first quarterly fire drill for the school year and using the fire alarm system in the school.  It is VERY loud.  For the first fire drill of the school year we sit and talk with the children about fire safety, firemen and their responsibility to keep us safe and how they are not scary people even though they wear a LOT of equipment for protection.  We never hide during a fire drill, but when we hear the loud siren it warns us we need to get out of the building as quickly and safely as possible to ensure our health and safety.  It is important for the children to leave their work right where it is, even if they are in the middle of working, we do not change our shoes, (which is why it is important for them to have a rubber sole for their indoor shoes,) they line up immediately and once everyone is in line, we walk silently outside using the playground door, and out the playground fence to the back field to wait patiently for the fire to be put out.  When we practice these fire drills, we talk with the children about how important it is to practice this so we know exactly what to do if there ever really was a fire.  It is a very exciting experience.  Please talk with your children at home about fire safety and work together with your own family on a family safety evacuation plan in the event of an emergency like a fire.  This will help keep these ideas fresh for them in their minds and make more connections.

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Process versus Product

Process versus Product

The young child innately loves learning, simply the process of learning.  Children are so magnificent to observe.  The process of gaining knowledge is such a deeply sacred experience to a child and to allow yourself the time and space to absorb such beauty and revelation would provide great insight into the matter of importance to the child.  It is only through keen observation that one may peer into the true development of a child independently of their peers.

At some point during our educational process, we as adults felt the need to provide product in order to feel acceptance, meet expectations and gain approval.  It is understandable once you delve into the educational systems we are surrounded by within our public schools.  Educators today are not only teaching academics, testing, recording data, but are now stewards of children’s character and moral building as it is deflected from the home to the schools.  It is no wonder the process of observation has become a luxury.

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Observation allows for a sense of independent accomplishment, mastery, development and frustration.  This requires an adult to leave all skepticism and dependency behind as they begin to witness the process of learning unfold before them simply by building prior knowledge of the expectation within the environment and preparing a well-thought out, rich atmosphere for safe learning and safe failing.  Yes, that is right, I said safe failing!  Allowing the child to fail without running up behind them to save them, even from putting a shoe on the wrong foot, enables them to feel empowered, capable and independent.  They learn to SELF-CORRECT.  The Montessori environment provides this type of environment where a child does not get scolded for spilling or breaking.  The child does not get interrupted while struggling to reach a hook, or put on a coat upside down.  We give them power to succeed and feel confident with their own choices.

While a child is learning, she is not worried about bringing home a product for mom or dad.  She is engaged, focused, concentrated, confident and building independence.  We do not put pressure on them to complete designated tasks which is why the work cycle is a free moving environment for up to 2 hours.  The child chooses at-will what she impulsively feels intrigued by or drawn to.  The Head Teacher is trained to be keen on what that child is “sensitive” to, meaning we notice and take note as to what they are ready to learn and soak up.  Our small group and individual lessons are driven by the observations we make creating a completely individualized curriculum and pace.  Again, this process is impulsive, but the teachers notice the trends of the impulses and make necessary connections.  Throughout this process, the child is not made to “produce” but encouraged to work meaningfully.  Many works within the classroom do not produce a paper-product to take home.  Some do, but the child also has the option to keep or throw away their “product.”  It is the process that provided the gratification and engagement for them so the product is not as meaningful.

As the year progresses and the works build upon themselves, there are more opportunities for products and when they come home, consider it a privilege.  As a parent, my suggestion would be to ask what works your child did during the day in the Sensorial area, the Practical Life area, the Math area, the Language area, the Science area or Cultural and Geography area of the classroom.  Understand that many of the works they may talk about will make little sense to you as they may use the proper names of the works, “I did Pink Cubes,” “I worked on the Sets Basket,” or “Today I poured.”  Encourage them by using concrete praise and mirroring what they discussed.  “It sounds like you worked hard on the Pink cubes,” or “You must have worked hard in the Math area today!”  When they do decide to keep their paper products and they are sent home, don’t make a big to-do, just start a conversation about their work.  Ask, “Can you tell me about your work?” “What is this a picture of?”  If it is non-representation still, expect anything!  This is such a fun process to witness as a parent.  Feeling acceptance at this young age isn’t as important as it is to encourage them to feel good about their own choices during their school day.  Remember this is their sacred time in their own space, their own environment.  Some children may feel a need to keep to themselves what they learned during the school day and others may not be able to recall what they did, which is why we encourage observation.  Take time to visit your child’s school for at least a 30 minute time frame to witness the goings-on within the environment.  It is ideal for their to be a private observation area, but it is not necessary to achieve an authentic observation.  Sitting quietly within the environment, not engaging with the children, will provide a very insightful experience for you!

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Grandparent’s Day

Grandparent’s Day

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Grandparents Day is a wonderful way to begin the year, as the children can share their environment with some of the people in their lives that they love the most!  Grandparents hold one of the most sacred places in a child’s heart.  They offer acceptance and unconditional love as they have reached a place of wisdom and truth through their life experience.  Children sense their hearts are pure and settled.  It is pure joy to see the room fill with so many happy, smiling faces, all so incredibly eager to share love, hugs, smiles and work space.

Thank you to ALL the many, many grandparents that were able to make it out for this special day!

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First Week was a SUCCESS!

First Week was a SUCCESS!

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What a wonderful first week back here at Montessori Children’s House!  We have so many new friends and families this year, the excitement and wonder is tangible.  The whole first week of school we focus on initial presentations such as how to turn a door handle, how to properly wash hands, how to use the mats and rugs, how to push in a chair, how to use walking feet and quiet voices, snack procedure, reading area procedure and how to use the Peace Rose to solve conflict.  The teachers and children do many “get-to-know-you” games, songs and activities to build social connections and bonds.  The exciting thing about this year is because it is our 3rd year, we have returning children in their 2nd and 3rd years so there are children now to model for the younger, newer friends!  It makes for a very successful learning environment within the classroom.

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The Peace Rose

The Peace Rose

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The Peace Rose is a common object used within the Montessori Classroom to promote independent conflict resolution. Children are modeled to by the teacher early in the school year and shown the proper use of the rose. The children are taught that if in the event they are feeling frustrated and need to address another friend due to an indifference or even an accidental occurrence that resulted in a child being upset or hurt, the child may proceed to the peace rose in the classroom and bring it to the other child involved. The two children work out their differences using their words, taking turns by passing the rose back and forth. Whoever has the rose does the talking. They pass back and forth until they have worked out their differences using their words and then they both place their little hands on the stem of the rose and declare together “FRIENDS.”

This process reinforces the need to work out problems with words, confronting the friend in question, and that hands are for helping not for hurting. The youngest of the group (the 2 ½ / 3 year olds) may need help with their words and that is where the head and/or assistant teachers may come in to play. As they are observing and guiding the classroom during the work cycle they may notice a child in need of some assistance. The teachers will never rush over, but rather, observe quietly for a moment assessing what help is actually needed. If, indeed, some assistance is required, the teacher may quietly move closer, ask if the child would like some help using their words and then proceed to assist if help is requested.

As the children grow and develop within the environment and discover over time the success they have with conflict resolution, the process is reinforced and also modeled by them to the other children in the classroom. The peace rose becomes a widely used tool and in great demand at times!

This tool may be carried over into the home as well. In fact, we highly encourage the children to go home and discuss this process with their families and many family’s will adapt this technique with their own children by using an object within the home designated for conflict resolution. A peace object is not limited to a rose, it may also include a peace bear or animal, a peace stick or other item the family all agrees upon, or no object at all may be required once the process is understood and practiced.

Amidst the turmoil this world is exposed to and is only ever-increasing, we can only do more good by reinforcing this idea of resolving conflict with words with the children we have stewardship over. The up-coming generation is who we will look to in only a few short years to lead our companies, communities, states and nations. May we continue the good work of raising a noble generation and do all within our power to promote peace.

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