Welcome to Jenny's Class
|Welcome to the Nido!
The Nido is designed to feel like your child's home away form home; a place that both encourages exploration and supports your child's ever-changing developmental needs. I look forward to sharing in this special time in your child's life. Please check this page for glimpses into your child's experience and updates on what is happening in our environment.
"The study of love and its utilization will lead us to the source from which it springs, The Child." ~ Dr. Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Jenny Lamble, Nido Guide
B.S. Family Studies, University of New Hampshire
MEd Montessori Education, Loyola University, Maryland
AMI Assistance to Infancy Certification, Montessori Center of Minnesota, St. Paul
The Children's House experience (2016- present)
May 25, 2017
It’s hard to believe we have already arrived at the end of May, a few short weeks before the end of the school year. May has been an exciting month of new acquisitions – a few have started crawling this month and a few are about to take their first steps. Each day, we are delighted by the many exciting developments the children are making.
While the environment remains very much a Nido, both in its physical set up and our daily routine, several of the children are exhibiting readiness for more challenging materials. New to the shelves are bead stringing (don’t worry, they’re large beads), a slotted box with chips and a basket of containers to practice opening and closing. Between 10-14 months, young children are often interested in putting things into other things and taking things out (think, removing tissues from a tissue box, pulling scarves out of an empty wipe container or dropping popsicle sticks through a slot in the top of an empty oatmeal container). These activities are good for developing fine motor control, understanding cause and effect, solidifying object permanence and encouraging repetition. These activities are easy to offer at home, but don’t head out to the store to purchase materials like these just yet. I would encourage you to look around your home to find something like this that your child might enjoy exploring – you probably have a lot of these materials in your own home.
In anticipation of Grandparent's Day, we baked muffins to share with our Grandparents and other special guests. The children assisted in stirring the ingredients and spooning the batter into the muffin tins. We are excited to welcome these loved ones into our community, to share a little treat with them and show them the many things the children enjoy at school.
May 11, 2017
Self-discipline is an internal process, different for each child and something that takes years to develop. At the Nido level, like the development of any other skill, we aim to prepare an environment that encourages this acquisition, on a path unique to each individual child. Within the first three years, children are obedient to their inner guides - the force, unique to each child, that tells him or her what to do, what to explore, how to develop, etc. During this time, we must work to prepare an environment that is safe, but also allows children to explore and learn about cause and effect. As the children explore, they gain an understanding of how things work, cause and effect relationships and, with this knowledge, they are able to start making some choices about their world.
So, how might this play out in everyday life? You're at the park with your child. She climbs onto the smallest climber and gets herself up to the top of the slide. You encourage her to slide down on her tummy, feet first. She chooses to slide down on her tummy, head first. You catch her at the bottom, making sure to keep her safe. Again, she returns to the slide. She tries to slide down head first. You say, "Try going feet first." and help her move into a position of feet first. She slides down and this time is able to place her feet on the ground when she reaches the bottom. She is able to get herself off of the slide independently, and choose to go again. Over time, and with repetition of this kind of situation, your child will come to learn the difference between sliding head first and feet first, along with the result of her choice - potentially landing on her face, or landing on her feet. With this knowledge, she is then able to make a true choice for herself in the future. Rather than operating on a whim, she exercises her will from a foundation of knowledge. It is in this act that she begins to develop self-discipline.
How can you support the development of self-discipline at home? Create an environment that allows for exploration, feeds your child's intellect, allows your child to make a choice. When giving choices to your child, make sure the choices are limited (not too many to overwhelm the child), make sure that you are ok with the outcome of either of the child's choices and allow your child to see the natural consequence of her choice. Make time to include your child in daily tasks - pulling dry laundry out of the dryer, helping to stir when you're cooking, feeding the family pet. There are many ways in which we can set up young children to start exercising their will, and with time, we begin to see glimpses of self-discipline within the first year of life.
April 27, 2017
In September, I spoke about the importance of communication with young children – how we do it on their level, how we are present for what they have to say, how we view all communication, including crying, as an opportunity to come together. At that point in the year, when the children were much younger, much of our communication with them surrounded trying to read their cues and meet their needs. As the children in the Nido have grown older, our communication style has changed a bit. Now, we are well acquainted with one another, fully understanding how to read and meet each child’s needs. The next step in the children’s path towards language acquisition is learning all of the words for the people, places, activities and things in their environment. Around 9-12 months, children realize that everything has a name and they will often ask for the names of everything around them. This is now the age of pointing, of ‘dis?’ and ‘dat?’. Sometimes a child's requests for words may be rather repetitive, but each time we answer his questions and give him the words for which he's searching, we feed his intellect. With a rich language environment, we give the young child a framework with which to form his thoughts, to understand his world and to, eventually, be an active participant in conversations with others.
April 13, 2017
Greetings! At the end of March, we celebrated Katie's birthday. Happy Birthday Katie! We enjoy celebrating each child's birthday by baking muffins. We encourage the children to participate - adding ingredients to the bowl, stirring and helping to scoop the batter into the muffin tins. Sometimes we even have an older guest from Primary help with the process.
The children love this egg-free recipe: Blueberry Birthday Muffins
2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. milk
1 c. blueberry yogurt (or vanilla yogurt, or mashed bananas)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. blueberries
400* for 20-25 min for regular muffins, but we use a toaster oven and mini muffin pans, so they're done in usually about 15 minutes for us.
With all of this warm weather, we have been enjoying lots of outdoor time. The children have been exploring the slide and sandbox, the big hill and the outdoor bells, the chickens and greenhouse. Please continue to send warm clothing outdoor, as well as sun hats.
March 23, 2017
We welcomed a trio of koi fish to our classroom environment. The children love having the tank right, literally, at their fingertips.
Next week is Spring Break. For the most part, Spring Break doesn't impact us, as most of your children will be joining us for their regularly scheduled days. However, during this week, the kitchen will be closed. This means that school lunch will not be served during the week of 3/27-3/31. Snack options may also be limited. Therefore, please continue to send a snack for your child each day.
With the days growing warmer, we will be taking the children outside more and more. Please continue to pack a warm hat and jacket and, when the weather gets even warmer, please send a sun hat.
March 9, 2017
The development of independence is something that, in a Montessori setting (and also at home), is supported and encouraged in the first three years of life, and beyond. It's easy to consider the many ways in which we can support a toddler's developing independence; after all, they often prefer to do things by themselves and for themselves. However, with young infants it's easy to overlook a child's independence, as we naturally do so much for a child. In the Nido, we view independence as a spectrum of sorts. In the beginning, when the children are very young, we do many things for the children - dressing and changing them, feeding them, rocking them to sleep, etc. As they grow, we start to do things with the children. Eventually, there comes a time when they are able to do many things for themselves, with little to no assistance. So, what does this look like at the Nido level and what can you do at home to support your child?
We offer an accessible environment
We show the child 'how to do it'
Provide your child the time to be successful
Suggestions of some activities and supports:
We might offer a rattle at a distance where the child must reach out to grasp it.
Allow your child to move freely, explore and to make choices between toys.
Give your child an open cup and/or a spoon to use/hold during mealtimes. And encourage self-feeding.
When dressing the child, hold the sleeve out so that the child can extend his or her arm through the sleeve. (Or, a pant leg for the child into which to extend his leg; pull down the neck opening just below her eyes and help the child to pull it down over her face.)
At bath time, give your child a washcloth to wash herself, a small soap dispenser for her own bath soap.
After mealtimes, allow your child to wipe the table. A small broom and dust pan for sweeping up the floor.
Provide a small chair in your child's bedroom for your child to sit in when dressing.
Why do we do this? Dr. Montessori said that education should be an aid to life. With these opportunities at home and at school, children learn about all of the ways in which they can be successful with life tasks. Along this spectrum of independence, they learn about their abilities and capacities, forming an understanding of what they can do for themselves, for their families, for their classrooms, etc. As children make these important acquisitions, they feel confident and empowered, knowing that they can do things and that what they do makes a difference. We know that self-esteem is established not through someone telling you that you're great, but by doing things. Over time and with repetition, the children have more and more successful independence, which leads to feeling capable, effective and accepted. Within the Montessori approach, we aim to give children supports and opportunities for developing their independence. I am excited to hear about what you're doing with your children at home to support and celebrate this independence, too.
February 23, 2017
Last week, we had our second Nido/YCC Parent Night Event where we discussed Fundamental Life Skills at the infant and toddler level. If you missed the event, here are some notes from the Nido portion.
At the Nido level, there are three primary areas of development that the children are working on: the acquisition of movement, the acquisition of language and forming attachments with others. In support of the acquisition of movement, we offer the children a free and unencumbered environment that encourages their exploration. We choose materials that are designed to meet, support and stimulate the children along the path from reflexive movements to intentional movements. In support of the acquisition of language, we offer the children a rich language environment, with a variety of language materials, including modeling language, conversations with others, books, songs and basic vocabulary enrichment materials. We also create an environment that shows the children that what they have to say is important, thereby encouraging the children's desire to speak. Finally, the children are working on forming attachments. At home, they have established strong attachments with you and your family. This sets the foundation for a child's ability to attach to her caregivers (and peers) at school. We support attachment by providing consistent, reliable, responsive and respectful care. Within the security of a strong attachment, children can thrive in other areas of development. Children feel the comfort and security to reach out and explore, practice their new skills and maybe try something new, always with the knowledge that they will have a consistent attachment (adult) to fall back on.
If you're interested in more extensive notes, or you'd like to discuss Fundamental Life Skills at the Nido level in more detail, please let me know.
February 9, 2017
The last two weeks have been a time of significant movement acquisitions in our classroom. We have observed many of the children becoming more mobile, rolling, pushing up onto their hands and knees, a few starting to crawl and pull themselves into a standing position and one child who is starting to walk. It has been exciting to watch, as each day we see the children make new developments. As we often observe, the children typically move to explore something or someone just out of their reach. As compassionate adults, we often step in to move an object closer, offer a toy or move the child closer to the item or area that he seems to want to reach. In the Nido, we try to give the children stimulation for exploration that requires some movement. At home, I would encourage you to slow down and join your child on the floor. Watch. Observe. Resist the urge to hand him the object. Sit on your hands, if you must. But let him try to reach the object and just watch. Encourage. Explain to him what he is doing or reaching. Acknowledge and encourage his efforts. Sometimes children cry out when they are struggling to reach or do something. Remember, there is a difference between struggling and suffering and it is through your child's effort that he develops and makes acquisitions. Sit with him and witness all he can do when he is given the opportunity to try. And enjoy this special time with your little explore.
January 26, 2017
Now four weeks into the semester, we have settled in well. The children are joyful and busy exploring. Several of the children have started crawling recently and it’s a pleasure to watch them move and explore every corner of the classroom. We have celebrated two birthdays in the last two weeks, each time baking delicious blueberry muffins with the children. Happy Birthday Rilla and Declan!
In the first year of life the child makes significant developmental acquisitions, perhaps the most obvious is that of the child’s movement. In a few short months, the child grows from a newborn, with only involuntary reflexes and the ability to track his eyes over a short distance, to developing coordinated, intentional movement. One of the most important aspects to the acquisition and refinement of voluntary movement is repetition. We see it all the time – the child who continually reaches for the bell mobile, enjoying its ring with each shake; the child who places the ball in the tracker, again and again, watching it fall to each level; the child who removes her socks and laboriously puts them back on, only to immediately take them off again. We see these examples of repetition all the time, but perhaps we don’t take a step back to consider what’s actually occurring. Within the walls of the Nido, we have a group of young scientists. They are experimenting, figuring out what they can do with their bodies, how things work, how others with act and react, building their intellect. We believe it is important to both protect and honor repetition, because it is through this process that the child works (often with her hands), correcting her errors, towards some sort of goal or element of exactness. Allow your child to remove and replace her socks for the 50th time today. Give her the time and space she needs to practice a task and sit back and observe your young scientist.
January 12, 2017
Happy New Year and welcome back to school. We were excited to welcome back the children to the Nido and to greet three new students. Jane, Emmylou and Luke, we're excited that you've joined us.
I hope you had a nice holiday break - that it was restful and filled with fun family memories. We are happy to be back and settling into our routine. The children seem happy to be back within these familiar surroundings. It has been fun for us to watch the many new acquisitions that the children have made - lots of rolling, sitting and army crawling. I'm sure we will have several children crawling by the end of the month.
As parents of young children who are likely experiencing new foods every week, I wanted to share some newly published information on peanuts and peanut allergy. The school maintains a peanut-free kitchen, but perhaps this will provide some information you can use at home.
Many of you are sending first foods, purees and finger foods from home. We are happy to serve these to your child while he or she is at school. There are also many school snack foods that would likely be appropriate for your child, such as bananas, avocados, steamed veggies, cheerios, yogurt, crackers, etc. Mealtimes are always a special time in the Nido. The older infants enjoy school lunches, while the younger infants join us at the table, usually on our laps, and explore a spoon, the occasional first foods and maybe even a sip of water. I hope you’re able to stop in to observe.
December 15, 2016
Why do we observe?
The holidays - a time of parties and gatherings, hustle and bustle, lots of preparation and planning and also, hopefully a time that you’ll be able to relax and spend some quiet time at home with your child. In this time with your child, I encourage you to observe your child for 5-10 minutes each day. What does this observation entail? Just a few minutes where you can sit back, watch quietly and take in all of the amazing things your child can now do. So often, as the helpful adults that we are, when interacting with young children, we step in or speak up when we otherwise could sit back and learn. In doing so, we inadvertently prevent the child from doing something for himself, from expressing something, from an opportunity for him to show us what he is learning, exploring, mastering, etc. I encourage you to take a seat on the floor, sit on your hands, take a deep breath and quiet your voice and your presence. Watch, just watch. At first, you’ll probably see some skills or behaviors you were expecting to see, but I would guess that within a few minutes, your child will surprise you with a few things you didn’t know he or she could do. It is through these observations that young children ‘tell’ us what they’re working on and what they need for their development. Observation is the primary source of information that we use to make changes in the environment or routine to ensure that we are meeting the needs of each and every child. This is the primary reason we observe – to learn about the child. I can’t wait to hear about what you see with your own child over the break.
December 1, 2016
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Last week at school, we celebrated the holiday by cooking a Harvest Feast. This included baking bread and making applesauce. The children participated in making the dough as well as peeling the apples (a hand-crank apple peeler/corer/slicer is an excellent and effective tool for this age group) and grinding them in the hand-crank food mill. This was a fun way for the children to see the entire process of prepping, making and enjoying some of their favorite foods. The feast, including bread, applesauce, steamed veggies and turkey, was thoroughly enjoyed by the children and we look forward to more baking in the future.
Cooking and baking projects are something in which you can invite your child to participate in at home. Young infants can begin to ‘participate’ by watching you prep food. By the time you child can sit, he or she can hold onto a spoon, or mix some ingredients in a bowl. Most of the time, when we prepare foods, we do so at an adult-height counter, with our backs turned to the room. To include your child in the process, consider doing it at their level (keeping safety with knives/potential hazards in mind). Perhaps your child has a small table that you can bring into the kitchen, or you can even turn a laundry basket over and use this as a work surface. There are other commercial products (check out the Learning Tower, or search for ‘DIY Learning Tower’) on the market that allow your child to safely stand with you at the counter. Talk to your child through the process; tell him about the foods you’re preparing, what you’re doing to them, where the foods come from, etc. Include your child in the process of retrieving the food – new walkers can walk with you to the refrigerator to retrieve a stick of butter or can carry an onion from the pantry to the table. Children also enjoy the clean-up process – give your child a wet washcloth or a small dust brush and dust pan. These tasks might seem mundane to you, but participating in this process provides your child the opportunity to conceptualize the process and it feeds your child’s intellect. Each step – washing fruits, peeling veggies, composting unused foods, cleaning up messes, washing dishes - is important and can be enjoyed with your child working by your side. Start small and give yourself extra time - maybe have this be a weekend activity, rather than a busy weeknight, and sit back and enjoy. You’ll be surprised with how involved your child can be, how much he enjoys the process and how good he will feel at providing real, purposeful work for his family.
November 10, 2016
This month, we welcome three new students to our classroom, Jack, Thea, and Owen. Welcome new friends! We are excited that you are joining us and we look forward to getting to know you and watching you grow. Due to our expanding enrollment, some of our staffing has changed. I will be expanding my schedule to 3:30 Monday through Thursday (Friday will remain the same at 7:30-1:30). Jeanette’s schedule will remain largely the same, except for Monday and Wednesday afternoons, when she will stay until 4:30 for our children who are enrolled in Friend’s Club aftercare. Emily’s schedule will also remain largely the same. Sandra will continue to help us out in the afternoon and will stay late on Tuesdays (4:30) for Friend’s Club. We are also welcoming a new employee, Taylor, who will be with us on Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00-4:30.
We are pleased to expand our staffing and enrollment for the growing program. Your children will continue to see the same loving and reliable faces and continue to experience consistent care.
We have a busy month ahead of us. This Saturday, November 12th, you’re invited to attend Horizon Book Day, where you can purchase books for our classroom. I hope you’ll be able to join us for the Nido-YCC Parent Night Event “Making Sense of Our World” on Wednesday, November 16th at 6:00. We will celebrate Thanksgiving with our own lunchtime Harvest Feast on Tuesday, November 22. The children will help to prepare some of the food, including applesauce and baking bread.
October 27, 2016
Why the open cup?
Somewhere in the first year of life, young children start to learn about drinking from an open cup. At first, the child likely observes Mom and Dad drinking from an open cup, perhaps a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Within a few months, a child may enjoy splashing and exploring with an open cup in the bath tub (and undoubtedly taking a few sips of ever-delicious bathwater). And likely, somewhere along the way, the child is offered a few sips of water from a family member’s cup. In a Montessori environment, once a child is sitting at the table and eating meals of solid foods, we offer open cups with water as a routine part of mealtime. There are many benefits of offering an open cup, which I will get to in a moment, but first we must touch on philosophy. Dr. Montessori believed that education should be an aid to one’s life. With this in mind, we aim to give children information about, and experiences with, the many things that will aid them in life. An education, albeit informal, with open cups will lead to success with open cups later on.
Simply, we offer small open cups to young children because people use open cups and this is an important step in the child’s process of adaptation to the world around him. If we expect young children to grow up into older children and, eventually, adults who can use open cups, we need to provide them with opportunities to learn how to do this independently – with cups proportioned for their small hands. (The same could be said of offering spoons and forks with meals. Even if the child elects to not use the fork or spoon, or does not do so with obvious success, we still offer it. It is important that we are at least providing the opportunity for the child to use it, as we are supporting the child’s knowledge of how silverware is a normal part of mealtimes and over time, with repetition, he will perfect the skill.) We recognize the importance of spills, as this is a great opportunity for learning about cause and effect. As the child draws the connection between the cup tipping over on the table (or not quite making it to the child’s lips) and the water spilling, not only is his intellect fed, but we have also provided him with opportunity to become more aware of his movements. As he becomes more aware, he is able to naturally self-correct his movements, eventually, to the point of mastery.
Open cups present opportunities for fine motor development and coordination. They are also effective with promoting more mature oral-motor patterns that are helpful with mature swallowing and later language skills. Certainly, there are times when using an open cup isn’t convenient, such as in the car. Perhaps this is the time for a straw cup. However, we must remember that alternatives to open cups (sippy cups, water bottles, etc) were created for adults, not children (to keep things clean and dry). I would encourage you, whenever possible, to offer your child an open cup to explore. Remember, repetition is key. And if you’re interested, I have several resources for small cups for children. Have fun with this new stage
October 13, 2016
"Movement, or physical activity, is thus an essential factor in intellectual growth, which depends upon the impressions received from outside. Through movement we come in contact with external reality, and it is through these contacts that we eventually acquire even abstract ideas." Dr. Montessori, The Secret of Childhood
In the Nido, the evolution from instinctive, reflexive movements to purposeful, directed, voluntary movement is one of the most significant and obvious changes that we are able to observe. The child enters the environment around 3 months, able to lie on his tummy and hold his head up, or to lie on his back, and occasionally make contact with a mobile that hangs above him. Yet, in only a few months’ time, he is able to roll, then scoot and slither, crawl, cruise and eventually walk. It is truly impressive to watch each child coordinate his motivation and effort around these acquisitions. In reverence for this important work, in a Nido we create, as in every other Montessori environment, an environment that encourages free and unencumbered movement. As such, we avoid using ‘containers’ (ex: swing, Bumbo seat, exersaucer, etc) with the children. Placing children into these products often puts them into a position that they cannot get into, nor out of, independently and may not yet be developmentally ready to be placed in that positon.
Instead, within very clear boundaries (for instance, not standing on tables for obvious safety reasons), the environment is free for their exploration. The materials are designed to encourage your child to move – kick the mobile to make a bell ring, slither across the floor in pursuit of a rolling rattle, cruise along the kiosk and bar to explore what’s in the cabinet, climb a stair to look out the window, etc. There are areas for younger children, with materials aimed at encouraging them to move. There are areas for older children, with materials aimed at encouraging them to explore and expand their motor skills. For children over 12 months, we use floor beds for sleeping – so that the children have the ability to go to their bed and leave their beds when they are ready. Overall, the children choose where they want to go and what they want to explore, and by doing so, they choose what they want to learn about, what experiences they seek, what skills they want to acquire, what interests them… At every stage, your child’s education is individualized, self-selected, unique to his particular interest and needs, keenly tuned to his own individual path of development, all within a promise to support, facilitate and inspire your child’s motor development.
One of the most important things that we establish in a Nido is communication. It is important for us, as adults, to have clear and open communication. However, it is also important for us to foster clear and open communication with the children. Communication with young children is often times a dance of cues – carefully observing, listening to each child’s unique voice and message, trying to sort out what each child is trying to communicate. Some children sign, some have beginning words, everyone cries from time to time. There isn’t a ‘good’ communication, nor a ‘bad’ communication. Crying is the language of the young child and, rather than view it as a negative, we view it as an opportunity to learn what the child is trying to convey. A cry can convey a myriad of messages, but always it is an opportunity for us to come together, to make a connection, to get to know one another better.
As we all know, communication is about so much more than words. We are cognizant of our bodies – with the aim to communicate with children on their level by kneeling, crouching, or sitting at their height. We use physical cues, such as pointing and gesturing. But possibly the single most important tool that we use to facilitate communication with young children is our full attention. To be present, ready, open, eager and waiting for what a child has to ‘say’ – this conveys a level of respect to the child, both that he is worthy of listening to, and that his message is also important. Everyday, we aim to do this with your child.
September 15, 2016
Hello Nido Families!
Welcome back to a new school year. We have had a great start to the year. Each day, we enjoy watching your children exploring the environment, making new acquisitions and getting to know each and every one of them. I would encourage you to observe the environment whenever you can, but especially around meal times, as this is a special time of sharing and community. The observation room adjacent to the classroom is always open.
In continuation of our conversation at Back to School Parent Night, I would recommend visiting the Aid to Life website. This site is deigned for parents of children ages birth through three and is put out by AMI USA. There, you'll find some great information and many suggestions of things that you can do at home to foster your child's growing independence, communication, self-discipline and motor skills. Check it out at aidtolife.org. Additionally, we have Aid to Life DVDs available if you'd like to borrow a copy to watch at home. Please let me know if you're interested in this and I can obtain a copy for you.
Finally, I hope you can join us for the Nido/YCC Social on Tuesday, Sept 20 from 5:00-7:00 here at the school. This will be a potluck style gathering. Please bring a dish to pass (but please, no nuts), your own tableware and beverage. We look forward gathering with all of you.