"I need to tell you something" was the trending statement in the Toddler classroom this week. The declaration was often followed by facts that the children deemed were worth stating — food consumed for breakfast or plans for the weekend. They were seeking an authentic ear, adults who will show them that they truly care about who they are and what they have to say.
The children were given the platform requested to share their thoughts and, quite often, additional questions were asked to encourage critical thinking and demonstrate attentive listening.
By validating their statement, we encouraged open communication — and by experiencing early on that their thoughts, feelings, and opinions have value, they are more likely to continue to share these well into their later years. Because children model our behaviour, being attentive listeners ourselves increases the chance that they too will show the same respect and appreciation in return.
I want to thank you all for your generous contributions to our classroom — the books, flowers, snack, and plastic bags. The children feel a sense of pride as contributors to their community. Thank you. — Ms. Dee
Casa South: “There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)
The "Absorbent Mind" is only with a person for the first 6 years of life. The absorbent mind, and all of it's magical qualities, is why we put so much emphasis and focus on these formative years. I have to agree with Maria when she says these years are more important than university! The absorbent mind is in an active state of work but it is always unconscious. This is why it may take a few reiterations of a topic for it to sink in; it's always been there, it just may not be present. The absorbent mind is in a constant state of putting concepts and theories together to create a conscious state of being. The mind gathers information through repetition until it reaches a state of clarity and acknowledgment.
The absorbent mind is driven by an inner drive, a drive to survive. It gathers knowledge it absorbs sensorially and it does so without bias, judgement, no selection, and no fatigue. The unconscious mind does not register any of the difficulties we experience with regard to learning something new, it simply absorbs. The absorbent mind is dependent on the environment it is in, as the mind will only absorb what it is exposed to.
There is so much opportunity for gathering of knowledge during these first years. Our Montessori environments support these formative years with rich, stimulating, and scientific materials. The acquisition of language, for example, happens by the simple and pleasant interaction with our French teachers. Repetition presents a child that understands French, and responds in simple forms. So when you see your child working with numbers, phonograms, or putting together the puzzle map of Africa, you know knowledge is being absorbed.
Right now is the most opportune time for learning. Remember, what the child learns now will stay with them forever! — Ms. Moffatt
Casa North: The children in Casa North have been diligently practising how to engage in conversation with their friends. In the Montessori environment, we introduce everything with a presentation. This includes how to communicate. If the children are clearly needing some socialization, I sometimes encourage them to tidy up their work and help them to understand that having a meaningful conversation is also work.
As with anything in our space, there is freedom within limits. This means that the children are encouraged to talk with one another, or with a small group, but are also shown how to find a space that is appropriate for a conversation (i.e. not directly beside a friend who is focused on their work, or beside a new presentation). The children in Casa North seem to be really craving time in small groups, and it's been really wonderful to hear them communicating what the limits are — "Come over here, guys! Miss Boyle is in a presentation, let's find a better spot to talk!" I love being in an environment that not only allows but encourages this innate developmental need — it's one of my favourite presentations to give!
This week, we also welcomed some Elementary reading buddies into the classroom, which is a great experience for both age groups: the Casa children practise reading with other, older children with whom they can form new and different relationships, and the Elementary students realize how far they have come since they started their reading journeys while serving as examples to and mentors for their buddies. — Ms. Boyle
The Elementary environment is always a hive of activity, with the happy buzzing of student conversation, singing, and exclamations of discovery. The freedom of the students to verbally engage with each other and their work in different subject areas not only serves their social development but also motivates the refinement of reading and writing skills. At first, the children are encouraged by their own need to communicate and record what they have discovered. Later, they are fuelled by a desire to share their knowledge and demonstrate their abilities.
This week, many of our students prepared to serve as Reading Buddies for the eldest Casa students, or Story Tellers for the youngest, and their determination to do well at these tasks began with rehearsing and role play, before drawing them into formal work with the Elementary language materials. Word Study activities such as parsing syllables, defining prefixes, or finding the meaning of new homonyms help develop both reading and spelling skills, while exercises with adverbs, pronouns, and similes serve to boost expressive reading and creative writing skills. For the youngest members of our class, building their vocabulary with nomenclature activities, such as labelling the parts of a horse, are a fun and playful way to engage with language.
Despite some initial nervousness, all of the Reading Buddies and Story Tellers rose to the challenge, and enjoyed their time visiting the Primary campus and giving service to our younger students.
We wish you all a wonderful weekend! — Marissa
Also, Lyonsgate Elementary students started karate this week at United Family Martial Arts (UFMA). As a very gracious gesture, UFMA has offered to hold a graduation ceremony for your children on Saturday, April 20, at 2:00 p.m. The ceremony will consist of a short grading and the students will work through the curriculum they were taught in the sessions. They will receive a certificate, a uniform, and their first (white) belt. As a small token of appreciation for choosing to visit their school, UFMA is also offering Lyonsgate Elementary students the opportunity to come to regular karate classes for the remainder of the month. Please let us know (email firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested and able to attend the ceremony on Saturday, April 20, at 2:00 p.m. Thank you.
April is a quiet month in terms of events at the school. Things to remember:
- Easter Long Weekend: no school Friday, April 19, and Monday, April 22.
- Parent Education Evening: save the date for Thursday, April 25.
- From 3:30-4:00 the Toddler guides will be discussing and demonstrating the Practical Life area of the Montessori environment, both for your growing knowledge of Montessori and to give parents some ideas for the summer that will also help your children to thrive in Casa.
- From 4:00-4:45 your children's Casa guides will discuss the child under six being a sensorial learner, and how technology can be an obstacle to the absorbent mind.
- From 5:00-5:45 Elementary parents will have the opportunity to see how the Montessori geography curriculum works at the Elementary level.
- There will be childcare, with pizza. Click here if you'd like to register for childcare (registration required for pizza), and please do so no later than Monday, April 22.