Welcome to the new school year and the month of transitions. Transitions for everyone and for nature. The children are adapting to classroom routines and making new friends. Our newsletters are a way of informing families about what we are doing and what is coming up. A bit repetitive to second year families, and parents who now have a second, third or fourth child with us. However, everyone is busy and it never hurts to have a little reminder. If you have questions, please ask us.
Every class begins with Circle and the daily selection of Helping Hands. Helping hands introduce the calendar, with days, months and weather watch. Names are rotated which allows equal turns for all. Helping hands are also in charge of setting the table for snack, so get your child involved with setting the dinner table every night. Being a helping hand is a first time leadership exercise that supports confidence building. Circle also allows teachers to share and read stories, sing songs and demonstrate classroom materials. After Circle, the children are welcome to choose their activities from the materials they have been shown, or are on the shelves for use. 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 interested. It is a delicate balance. We maintain a basic routine to each day allowing a beginning, middle and end to each class, allowing enough time to accomplish activities. The routines are comforting as children come to know the rhythm of the classroom and what to expect, as well as what is expected from them. Clear boundaries and consistency are key elements for helping children with transitions.
Themes. Themes are listed on the yearly calendar, and every year begins with ‘All About Me’. Discussions involve families, family relationships, parts of the body, feelings, emotions, moods, and respect. Respect for friends, respect for the environment. Summer is over and we now welcome autumn. Trees are changing colours, farmers are harvesting, animals are migrating, weather is cooling, and clothing is layering. Students are welcome to bring in a found autumn item, which will be placed on the nature tray. The tray may be used at a table on the floor with a magnifying glass to investigate each piece. Thank you Rye and Indigo for the sunflower from your garden. We will be using the flower to teach about the life cycle of the sunflower in the coming weeks, and the seeds to grow our yearly spring seedlings next year. Rye and Indigo also brought in freshly pressed apple juice for snack. Yum. Thank you to everyone for bringing in delicious weekly snacks.
Themes are preplanned, however we are always ready to add or change to a current interest, and take advantage of those curious and teachable moments. Children are welcome to bring an item to class that enhances the theme we are working on. Sometimes it is a gift and sometimes it is a loan, and we always appreciate both. Great care is given to classroom loans, but sometimes children can get enthusiastic. For this reason, we ask that you do not send items that are delicate, family heirlooms or very dear treasures, and anything potentially dangerous. We do our very best to have the children ‘touch with their eyes’ only. We like to keep items for at least a week so all of the children can be part, but please let us know if you need it back sooner. If you are traveling and have some time, we may have a shopping list for you to leave with.
Curriculum. Documentation is kept for every child, marking their level of understanding and building upon 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 sounds and sandpaper letters with the pre-K students. We stress the use of lower case letters only. If you look at your children’s books, you will find they use lower case letters. Capital letters are for names and the start of sentences. If you are helping your child at home (yay), please remember to use lower case letters for everything except the first letter of their name. This will help them with their reading ability down the road and limit confusion.
Counting and tracing sand paper numbers is the introduction to math concepts. We have a few avid fans of numbers working on the teen materials already. Wow! There are many Practical Life exercises out on the shelf, and Miss Lori has started sewing buttons with many of the morning and afternoon children, as well as stringing bead rings. All amazing fine motor skills.
Take Home Folders. Your child’s Take-Home folder goes home with them on the last day of the week that they attend and it is to be brought back the first day of the week they return. Children do many activities in class, as well as free art that helps develop fine and gross motor skills. When folders go home at the end of each week, you may find papers that may not appear to be much more than a few scribbles and little bits of cuttings. Your child has spent a great deal of energy, time and concentration making these works while strengthening their dexterity. Please be sensitive and gentle with these precious scribbles, and bits and bobs, that your child is so proud of. It is about the process, not the product.
The classroom experience and Montessori at home. Montessori teaching focuses on a child’s experience, through self-directed activity. The teacher acts as a guide, giving demonstrations, and moving about the classroom gently directing children and making helpful observations. Montessori philosophy encourages independence, and the classroom environment is tailored to this model. Independence will lead to self-confidence. Children who are self-confident take learning and creative risks. Seatwork plays a lesser role in a Montessori classroom in favour of physical activity and interaction. Through self-directed activities, children will make discoveries, and build upon their knowledge. Because of this organic way of learning, teachers will make positive and supportive comments based on a child’s efforts and self-motivation rather than constant affirmations. A child’s self-esteem is built through trying new things, building skill levels and doing them well. Comments on the process not product is the standard for the classroom, which is also a basic ECE principle. Simple greetings and goodbyes are a natural transition.
Independence should be encouraged at home. Children need to feel they have some power and micro managing them is counter-productive to their natural development. Age appropriate household chores and reasonable choices will bring about personal empowerment. Practical decisions could be parents choosing the food for dinner, but the child chooses how much he or she will eat. Age appropriate chores are setting the dinner table and helping load the dishwasher when dinner is finished. The Montessori mantra is “Freedom within Limits”. Good (and easy) books to read are ‘Bringing up Bebe’ or ‘Bebe, Day by Day’, by Pamela Druckerman. These books are about the French style of parenting which tends to adopt many aspects of the Montessori philosophy.
Illness Protocols. It’s nice to share, but not everything. We have introduced the proper way to cough and sneeze and reinforce these lessons daily. Attendance sheets must be maintained daily so please phone and leave a message if your child is ill or going to be away. It is helpful to know your child’s symptoms so we may monitor the class. Please notify the school as soon as possible if your child has a high fever or a contagious illness such as chicken pox or measles, as some children are at higher risk. We notify all families if there has been confirmed cases, but with privacy and discretion. When in doubt, please check your ‘Sneezes and Diseases’ book that we sent by email in September. The weather is changing so please make sure your child is dressed appropriately for outdoor activities. Extra layers can always be removed. Outdoor play is at the end of every class for all children unless the weather is too harsh.
Please make a note of the school calendar and dates. We follow the main Vancouver school district calendar but do not close for every school closure. If unsure, please refer to your calendar hand out for dates, or simply ask. We try to give advance reminders of upcoming dates with as much notice as possible.
- Thanksgiving – Monday, October 8th
- SD39 District Closure – Friday, October 19th
- SD39 District Closure – Friday, November 9th
- Remembrance Day (in lieu of Nov 11) – Monday, November 12th
- Student Led conferences is where a parent comes in for a short 15 minute visit with their child as a tour guide. These will be held over two weeks, starting on November 13th. A sign up sheet will be available at the front door the first week of November.
Things to note:
- We can send out email requests to other families for help with nanny shares, pick-ups, drop-offs, etc.
- If you have recently changed any personal contact information, or wish to add someone to the authorized pick up list, please let us know. Regular pick up changes must be informed in advance, with names and contact numbers so we may change the files
- If you have any last minute changes for pick up or drop off, please inform us by phone only
- Birthday party invitations must be handed out by parents outside of the school.