September 2019

Welcome to the month of transitions.  Children transition into a new school year, adults into new schedules, summer into autumn.  New students are adapting to the materials and routines, second year students are back into the rhythm of the classroom, and busy working with all their friends (quite a social group, these second year students).  Our way of informing families about what we are doing and what is up coming, is through a monthly newsletter.  A bit repetitive for families who now have a second, third or fourth child with us.  However, everyone is busy and it never hurts to have a little reminder.  Photo links are sent out every month and you can see a few of our projects on Instagram @ strathconamontessori (faces are never shown).

After Gradual Entry, classes start with Circle time.  Circle allows teachers to share and read stories, sing songs, demonstrate classroom materials, and discuss relevant issues.  It also allows children the opportunity to relay personal news and to share ideas.   Helping Hands of the day are selected, with names on rotation that will allow every child equal turns.  Helping hands introduce the calendar, with days, months and weather watch, and are also in charge of setting the table for snack (and perhaps the family table on Thanksgiving).  Our Helping Hand addition to Circle is a first time leadership exercise that supports confidence building.  After Circle, children are welcome to choose activities from the materials they have been shown demonstrations.  This is all done at an age appropriate level for all children, so the younger children are not overwhelmed and the older children are still intrigued.  It’s a delicate balance. Basic routines to each day allow a beginning, middle and end to each class, with a warning for transitions.  There is enough time to accomplish work, or place it on file to finish another day.  Routines are comforting for children as they come to know and expect what will happen.  Clear consistent boundaries creates an environment where children feel confident enough to move forward and take creative learning risks.

‘All About Me’ is the September theme.  Discussions are about our five senses, parts of the body, families, feelings, emotions, moods, and respecting friends.  This week we began discussions about autumn.  The harvest, apples, animal migration and other aspects of the season.  We also have a classroom nature tray, that the children are welcome to add an item to.  The tray has magnifying glasses to investigate each element.  The yearly calendar was sent home in each child’s file folder (themes are listed).  Although the general curriculum is pre-planned, we are always willing to add something that is of interest to the children, taking advantage of curious moments and sensitive periods.  Children are welcome to bring an item to class that enhances the theme we are working on.  Sometimes it’s a loan, sometimes a gift.  Either way, we are always appreciative.  We take great care with all items, but we ask that you do not send items that are delicate, dear treasures, or anything potentially dangerous.   We do our best to keep materials safe, and show them only at Circle.  The children use gentle hands or ‘touch with their eyes’, depending upon the item.  If you are traveling and have a spare moment, we may have a shopping list for you to enhance our cultural studies collections.

Your child’s Take-Home folder leaves with them on the last day of the week that they attend and should come back the first day of the week they return (emptied).  So many activities and free art help develop fine and gross motor skills. You may find in your child’s folder scribbles on papers and bits of cuttings.  Your child has spent a great deal of time and energy making these little pieces which strengthens their dexterity and concentration skills.  Please be gentle and sensitive with these precious bits and bobs that your child is so proud of.  It’s about process, not product.  Instead of looking at these little bits as mess, think … WOW!  My child has learned to use scissors!

Documentation is kept for every child, marking their level of understanding and building on that foundation.  Lessons are given in groups and on an individual basis. We have started the Sound Game with first year children and we are working on phonetic sounds and sandpaper letters with the pre-K students.  We stress the use of lower case letters only.  Quality children’s books will use lower case letters, with capitals only for names and sentence starts.  Please use lower case letters for everything except the first letter of your child’s name.  Use of lower case limits confusion, helping children with literacy and reading ability down the road.

Counting and tracing sand paper numbers is the introduction to math concepts.  A few math buffs are working on the teen materials already.  Wow!  More Practical Life exercises are going onto the shelves each week, and button sewing and stringing glass seed beads for ring making is in full swing.  All for fine and gross motor skills.

Thank you all for bringing in healthy snack items every week.  Thank you Aiden for bringing in a traditional Rosh Hashanah snack of honey and apples to celebrate the Jewish New Year.  The snack was thoroughly enjoyed, and the remaining honey will be used for baking.  Yum!   Shanah tovah!

Not everything should be shared.  We have introduced the proper way to cough and sneeze and reinforce these lessons.  Please phone the preschool if your child is ill, as attendance sheets must be maintained daily (we check the phone regularly).  It is helpful for us to know the symptoms of your child’s illness, so we may monitor the whole class.  It is extremely important to notify us as soon as possible if your child has a high fever or a contagious illness such as chicken pox or measles, as some children may be at high risk.  We notify all families if there has been confirmed cases, but with privacy and discretion.  When in doubt about symptoms, please check your ‘Sneezes and Diseases’ book that we are sending out this week as an attachment.  Illness protocols must be followed, with the number one as the ’24 hour symptom free’ rule.  If your child has not been symptom free for 24 hours, please allow them to rest in the comfort of their home.  These protocols are health standards, but may be new to you.  An illness protocol sheet was placed in every home file this month.  We have more if it has gone missing.  Outdoors is a part of the daily program at the end of every class, which includes all children unless the weather is too harsh.  Please make appropriate clothing choices to include outdoor activities.  We can always take layers off.

Information and forms for the Provincial Child Care Benefit may be found at the link below.  Every young family should at least be aware of what is available for you.

The Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre (Kingsway and Boundary Road) has a Learning Library with theme bags that can be borrowed.  Don’t forget about the Vancouver Public Library, which offers weekly Family Story Times and Baby Times, school age, tween and teen activities.  And lots of books (we love books).  Scholastic Book orders are due back this week.

Our friend Alice is returning to Tibet at the end of October.  If you have any children’s clothing looking for a good home, you can drop them off at the school.  The most needed clothing is toddler sizes to six years, in lightweight fabric (winter clothing is not needed).  Your donations will go to families in need, and be very much appreciated.  Alice makes a few trips every year to Tibet, east Africa and the Philippines.  Donations need to be at the preschool by October 15th.  Thank you for all of the donations … wow!  It takes a village.

We follow the main Vancouver school district calendar but do not close for every school closure.  If unsure, please refer to our calendar for dates, or simply ask.  We try to give reminders of approaching dates, so please make note of the following upcoming closures:

  • Thanksgiving – Monday, October 14th
  • SD39 District Closure – Friday, October 25th
  • SD39 District Closure – Friday, November 8th
  • Remembrance Day – Monday, November 11th

Things to note:

  • We can send out email requests for families seeking help with nanny shares, pick-ups, drop-offs, etc. If you know of an available nanny (or share) , we can have other registered families contact you directly
  • Please let us know if you have recently changed any personal contact information, or wish to add someone to the authorized pick up list. If you have a regular pickup change, please email the name and contact numbers to us, so we may update files
  • If you have any last minute changes for pick up or drop off, please phone the school (please do not email). We check for phone messages throughout the day.
  • If you have an abundance of fruit you can spare, feel free to send it to school. The children enjoy making jams, sauces and dried fruit chips, and snack on the fruits of their labours (pardon the pun).
  • Kindergarten Registration opens for SD39 – Friday, November 1st

Summer is officially over.  Autumn brings new beauty and new adventures.  Welcome to October.