Welcome to the new school year, the month of transitions. The children have adapted to the classroom and happy to see old friends and make new ones. Our monthly newsletter is a way of informing families about what we are doing and what is coming. Life is busy, reminders can help. If you have questions, please ask us.
Class begins with the children choosing activities and projects they wish to work on, or joining in with other friends. Demonstrations of materials are ongoing, and materials are changed regularly for appropriate levels for all children. It is a delicate balance ensuring younger children are not overwhelmed and older children remain challenged and interested. We have many activities that involve water (always a favourite). Children collect water from the sink and pour it back when finished. Spills are expected as this involves a lot of balance and concentration, especially for three year olds. With skill development, confidence blossoms. There is a basic routine to each class; beginning, middle and end, with a lot of freedom in the middle. Routine is 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 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, and moods. Respect for friends and 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.
Curriculum. Lessons are given in small groups and on an individual basis. Documentation is kept to record the level of understanding and to build upon that foundation. 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 use lower case letters only. If you look at 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 print at home, please remember to use lower case letters for everything except the first letter of their name. This will limit confusion and help with reading ability later. We teach phonetic sounds of the letters, not the names. Phonetic sounds promotes literacy.
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. Practical Life exercises are exactly that. Sweeping, cleaning, washing, pouring, etc. These exercises build competency, muscle control and confidence. Button sewing started from the first week with many morning and afternoon children, as well as stringing seed bead rings. These last two are amazing for fine motor skill development and concentration support.
Take Home Folders. Your child’s 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. 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. Try to remember that it’s 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. 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 and building skill levels. Comments on the process not product is the standard for the classroom.
Children need to feel they have some power and independence should be encouraged at home. Excessive supervision is counter-productive to 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”.
Please make a note of the school calendar and dates. We follow the Vancouver school district calendar. If unsure, please refer to your calendar hand out for dates or ask us. We try to give advance reminders of upcoming dates with at least a week notice.
- Thanksgiving – Monday, October 10th
- SD39 District Closure – Friday, October 21st
- Remembrance Day – Friday, November 11th
- SD39 District Closure – Friday, November 25th
Student Led Conferences begin November 14th. This is where a parents comes into the classroom for a 15 minute visit with their child as a tour guide. You will see the classroom through your child’s eyes. These will be held over a two week period. Notices and sign-up sheets will be available towards the end of October.
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 should be relayed by phone only. We check messages more often than emails.
- Follow our Instagram page @strathconamontessori
- We still have a few spaces in morning class. If you know of anyone looking for a wonderful preschool, please send them out way.
Basic Illness Protocols. It’s nice to share, but not everything. Basic illness protocol sheets have been sent home and the Vancouver Coastal Health Sneezes and Diseases book (PDF) has been emailed to all families Hard to believe but it is cold and flu season already. We have introduced the proper way to cough and sneeze and reinforce these lessons daily. Attendance sheets must also 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. The weather is changing and thought put into appropriate clothing comes into play for outdoor activities. Outdoor play is at the end of every class. Extra layers can always be removed. It cannot be stressed enough how important preschool is for social and emotional health in the very young. A child’s world is small and easily tipped. All of us want to maintain good health. It takes a village.