I am looking forward to another year of learning and growing together. With great joy I will share with you the stories about what we have been working on in the classroom and provide ideas that you can do at home with your child.
"The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction." Maria Montessori
Thank you for the great conversations during our conferences. I was happy to hear that many of you were instinctively implementing the Montessori method in your home and including your children in daily tasks. After all, they really want to be like us and mimic what we are doing.
The beauty of working with young children is that they change constantly. They have a need to test certain behaviors and see our reactions. Since the majority of the children in our classroom are just 2 years old and younger, we see a lot of experimenting behavior. And this week things started to change…There is more cooperation happening between the children. They have started to seek each other to help with dressing, showing how to perform activities.
Avery, who is an expert on putting on socks, was abruptly escorted to the bathroom by Noa, because Max needed help with putting socks on his feet.
The cooperation is also visible in the gym when it is time to put equipment away, everyone chips in.
During the first week of November, Shea, Max and TJ planted daffodils in the courtyard, outside of our patio. Since we had a lot of bulbs left we finished planting daffodils this week. Avery, Noa, and Maggie helped with placing daffodils in the holes I made with a bulb planter. I explain that the bulbs are going to rest in the ground during the winter and bloom in the spring. After I cover the bulb with soil, I pat the ground and say: “Grow well”. We kept on planting and one of the children said: “sleeping”. I asked “Is the daffodil sleeping?” “Yep!” and another child started to pat the ground and say:”Good night!”
We have started to talk about our Harvest Feast and Thanksgiving. We listened to the song “Thanks A Lot” performed by Raffi. We have a book under the same title and will be learning the lyrics.
Thank you so much for the new books purchased for our classroom during the Horizon Book Event!
During the last two weeks we have been incorporating pumpkin into our snack menu. The children made pumpkin muffins and enjoyed pumpkin smoothies. Last Thursday Anna and a group of children carved a Jack-o-lantern. Isla insisted on a scary Jack-o-lantern so Anna carved one scary Jack and one happy Jack. Children helped to scoop the seeds out and on Friday they helped to season the seeds with oil and salt and oil and cinnamon sugar.
Everyday we spend about 30 minutes to 1 hour outside. We usually get outside at noon and the length of the time outdoors per child depends on who comes in first for a nap. Usually our youngest children end up heading inside at 12:30. With the colder weather we made sure everyone was bundled up and temperature comfortable. We have quite the large collection of donated winter gear so the children had the chance to try on snow pants last week.
It is time to start sending snow gear! Please, label everything clearly with marker or stickers. Patagonia and Jack & Cat brands are very popular among families and we often end up with two or three identical items of clothing. Please, let me know if you would like us to send the snow gear home every day, at the end of the week or keep it at school and send it home at the end of the season?
Below is a short video presenting how to put the coat on “ Up & Over” way. Years ago one of the parents shared a funny anecdote about her daughter. When it was time to get ready to go outside, Kolette would throw her coat on the floor. The mother would try to help her put it on, and Kolette would protest because she clearly wanted to do it on her own, and every time she would throw the coat on the floor. Wise mom decided to inquire with me on the subject of this strange behavior and was nicely surprised how genius her own child was.
I am excited to talk to you about your children during our conferences!
We have been singing songs about pumpkins and Halloween and talking about decorations, costumes, and other symbols that the children may come across during Halloween. Showing children how holidays are celebrated in our culture helps them adapt to their time, culture and space. Adaptation to life is one of the goals of toddlerhood.
We have some simple books about Halloween and language cards with images of Halloween. Some Halloween images can be scary for a young child. Seeing a person in a costume or in a mask may upset their sense of order or they might not understand that the costume is not real. Sometimes your child may protest against putting a Halloween costume on, because of sensory reasons, the costume may feel too fuzzy, too ticklish, too scratchy or too bulky. Your child may not have enough words to express that they don’t like something which may result in screaming for help and looks like a tantrum. Sometimes children may be scared of animals and dressing them in a furry costume may be very distressing for them.
This year I decided to put a Halloween costume on the shelf for children to choose as a work. Noa volunteered to try on a ladybug costume during the group time and now the costume is available for everyone to try on. We also tried a wolf costume and an octopus hat.
Last year the wolf costume was too scary for younger children. This year older friends are interested in putting on only the feet and torso part, but not together with the wolf head. Payton who loves hats was courageous to try wolf head on.
We can help the children understand the idea of Halloween costumes by using vocabulary like: “Max is wearing a wolf costume, he is pretending to be a wolf, but he is not a real wolf. It is Max dressed as a wolf.”
I hope you are reading Waypoints each week and have synced our Family Calendar with your personal calendar so that you stay up to date on everything happening here at school, especially our learning opportunities that are designed for you. I’m especially looking forward to our book discussion on Thursday, October 26. Pick up your copy of The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies and start reading!
It was good to see everyone at Jacob’s Farm. Since our picnic, I have noticed more children interacting with each other at the playground. With last week’s summer weather we’ve enjoyed being outside! Brian showed the children how to rake leaves and they have been making leaves piles everyday. We also made the first batch of carrot - apple - celery juice. There were many helpers peeling carrots and chopping apples. We hope to add making juice a part of our weekly routine.
The children are still talking about the turtle that visited our classroom. My Hermann's Tortoise Diego spent Tuesday in the closet waiting for his doctor appointment after work. Although Diego only made a 15 minute presence in the classroom, it apparently made an impact on the children. They have been asking everyday if the turtle is at school.
In the last classroom highlights I wrote about the independence of dressing. Today I would like to share a few ideas on how to support this independence at home by creating space for your child.
At school, when the children enter the coat room they are expected to hang their jacket and backpack on the hook, place the boots neatly on the floor, under the jacket, place the hat and other clothing items in the cubby. They are very capable of doing it because it is very natural for young children to crave order in their environment due to the sensitive period for order they are going through. At home you can support their independence and need for order by providing a low hook on the wall in your entryway. Make sure that the jacket has a loop easy to slide on the hook. You can tie a piece of ribbon to the tag or to the loop which is too small to handle by the child. Designate the area for shoes/boots: a basket works well or a mat on the floor. Add another basket for hats and mittens. The last important item is a small chair for the toddler to sit on, while changing the shoes. Keep all the extra clothing items in the closet. Here are some more ideas on how to organize the entryway for a young child.
Take a look at your child’s bedroom. We tend to store the clothes in the closets that are too high or offer too many choices. Think about a low dresser or a child sized armoire, where you can offer only two choices of each item: two t-shirts, two pairs of pants or leggings, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, two dresses. Allow the child to make choices and dress themselves with as little assistance as possible. The tall vertical mirror on the wall would be helpful for the child to see the final step of dressing effort. The clothes might end up backwards or insite out. It doesn’t matter as long as the children did it by themselves and are feeling comfortable. Having two legs in one pant leg may not be safe for walking but instead of pointing out that something is wrong we can simply state: “I see that you have two legs in one pant leg. Does it feel comfortable? Let me help you take one leg out…” There can be similar conversations about shoes which are not matching the right feet.
The school year started with a few tears but after three weeks the children are settling into our new routine. We started off with some nap time issues, but we have changed our daily schedule and nap time is going more smoothly now.
Our YCC community is officially named Dandelion, which is such a special plant to young children. In the spring they love to pick up yellow flowers, and later, they love to blow the seeds in the air. Dandelion is also an easy name to pronounce.
Avery and Jett turned two during the last two weeks. We celebrated their birthdays with citrus cake and zucchini muffins. During the birthday celebration we light the candles and sing “Fire’s burning”. The children often reflect on the birthday celebration through their play and make cakes in the sandbox. Yesterday Max made a candle out of the jello tin and sand and we sang “Fire’s burning” in the sandbox. You can also hear us singing : “Making cookies with Mama”, with Maggie leading the chorus. We have been listening to a Kathryn Christian CD “I’m a Michigan Kid” through the whole summer, trying to learn the words to our favorite songs. I learned that you can find Kathryn’s songs on Spotify. It is so precious to see the children clapping and dancing to the Michigan Kid song. Check it for yourself!
I am focusing my attention this year on helping children become more independent. Independence is one of the main principles of Dr. Montessori’s method. Since the subject is very broad I will touch on different aspects of independence in my Classroom Highlights.
Today I would like to write about fostering the independence of dressing themselves.The first step to the success of the child is offering the clothes that will be easy to put on: stretchy fabric, loose fit, velcro and zippers easy to manage by the child. Show your child how to put on a piece of clothing by breaking each action into steps and slowing down your movements. Give your child verbal guidance followed by gestures, but make sure that the child is working with you, paying attention and not looking somewhere else and talking. Children learn through practice and need to be allowed to struggle with it a little. Sometimes I see a child trying very hard to pull the pants on the back over the diaper. The child may make a frustrating sound, but I stop myself from intervening, and later when the task is accomplished the child beams with pride. He accomplished the task by himself!
It is important to incorporate dressing into a daily routine. Wake up your child early enough so you could spend time together getting ready, instead of rushing and dressing your child yourself. Evenings are usually more relaxed and also can be a good practice for taking clothes off, and putting pajamas on. Allow for simple choices between two possibilities: Do you want to wear a blue t-shirt or green t-shirt.
You can get more ideas here from my favorite blog “How We Montessori”.