This week, the toddlers gave us a subtle reminder that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. There were some absences this week marked by illnesses, holidays, and the inevitable snow day, and the children conveyed their sentiments.
The children present were concerned about their peers’ absences and frequently asked about their returns.
Once we returned to our regular attendance, each child who was previously absent was welcomed with hugs, cheers, and the heartwarming, “Where were you? I missed you.”
It is remarkable to witness the development of language among the toddlers, and even more remarkable to see them openly express their feelings.
Reminder: Please remember to continue dressing the children according to the weather to ensure their safe and comfortable participation in outdoor recess.
Casa South: Order
When parents come into a Montessori classroom, they often remark on how neat and tidy the classroom is. It is a key element in cultivating a calm, peaceful place of serenity. It always makes me laugh to hear the children remark with such hilarity, when an object is out of place, "What?! Who put that there?!" So how is it that a classroom of 24 children can be neat and tidy when a home of 1 or 2 can be a constant source of messy headache.
Order can bring a great feeling of balance and peace in an adult, as well as a child. Knowing exactly when something is going to happen, who will be there, or where something belongs gives a great sense of fulfillment and comfort to a child. Developmentally, the child is simply trying to understand the world. Order and consistency allows the child to understand what is right and wrong. Spatial orders of the world are acknowledged: big/small, chairs on the floor, ceiling above, relationships between people. It is the framework for the intellect and essential for brain development. Establishing order in the world around you is a step towards understanding the world and getting a grasp on what is going on.
With all this mind, it is no wonder that the classroom gives the child a sense of relief. Objects have their specific locations and they know exactly where they belong. If we think of a toy box, in comparison, what a headache that must be for the child who is trying to find a specific toy.
Acknowledging this desire for order in the child can make our lives so much easier if we create an environment that allows order to happen. Baskets, trays, and small boxes can easily organize like items. Limiting the amount of toys, and having excess toys in storage and on rotation, allows for simplicity and re-excitement to occur. Having a designated spot for all the children's items allows for independence — the child will know where it goes and therefore, tidy up.
Casa North: As adults, we have developed somewhat of a stigma around work. We see it as a means to an end — to support our families, to complete in order to reward ourselves with a break, to get through until we reach the end. Children, however, innately and desperately desire work! This is why we don't say that the children are "playing" in the classroom, but rather that they are coming to "work" with the materials.
I am regularly reminded of the children's resilience, perseverance, and desire to challenge themselves. This week, I watched a child create a spill to sponge it up (repeating over and over again) for just under half an hour. This wasn't tedious or mandatory for him, but it was a clear example of how he was listening to his own inner need to refine a skill, contribute to the community, and do something. Another child received a presentation with the Dot Game (a math activity that requires adding four-digit addends together to introduce the tens of thousands as a new mathematical family). When I present the activity, I include 6 or 7 addends to provide a sufficient example of what we are doing. To my delight, this particular child asked, "Is it okay if you give me TWENTY addends?!" To which I responded, "Of course!" I love seeing how the desire to work can transfer from the three-year-old child to the six-year-old child when they are immersed in an environment that supports this natural part of their development.
Thank you for your dedication to the Montessori philosophy, and for sharing your beautiful children with us.
We spent another tremendous day with Peter and Tara of Studio on James working with a variety of cameras to capture the class in action through the work cycle, as well as some student testimonials. Some children discovered they enjoyed the technical side of lighting and camera angles, others loved organizing people and conducting interviews, and, of course, there were many eager to be on camera!
As we approach the term project presentations next week, Elementary students are busy editing their written reports for spelling (and legibility!), preparing visual aids, and practicing their public speaking techniques. For many of our younger students, this will be their first formal project and they are excited to share what they have learned independently about topics that truly interest them, including the solar system, prehistoric creatures, arctic animals, and even some favourite characters from the Pokemon world. The novel study group will be baking and serving refreshments related to their investigation of growing up in Toronto during the Great Depression through their reading of That Scatterbrain Booky.
With all the wild weather this February, students have been eager to return to geography studies of wind and water, and how they shape both the Earth and the human experience. We have looked at major rivers, topographic maps, and the insulating effect of the Earth's atmosphere.
Notes and Reminders:
Your amazing Elementary students raised $1325.00 during the MS Read-A-Thon! Incredible! Thank you so much for your help (and donations) in achieving their goals and developing their reading.
Elementary Scholastic orders for this month are due on Thursday, March 7. This is the last day before the March Break. We will enter all of the orders but will hold off on submitting it until Tuesday, March 19, when we return to school.
Please check your email for which day your child is presenting their project on, and please RSVP no later than 9:00 a.m. on Monday, March 4, if you can make it -- there will be refreshments. (Emails were sent Tuesday, Feb. 26, if you need to track it down). Project presentations are generally 5-10 minutes and length. We know that some parents have to work and will not be able to attend. For those that can, we ask that parents come and stay for all of the children's presentations that afternoon. They will be presenting from 2:30-3:30 (so please arrive no later than 2:25).
A few reminders and notices for next week:
On Tuesday, March 6, Alectra Utilities is installing new hydro poles on the east side of Cottage Avenue. Access from Aberdeen to Cottage and access from Cottage to the parking lot will be restricted. They expect the installation to last 3-4 hours and will probably begin sometime in the morning. Access to the parking lot from Mountain Avenue will not be affected.
Please remember that the parking lot is one way and Cottage Ave. is an entrance to the parking lot only (exdept on Tuesday, March 6); please do not exit the parking lot onto Cottage Ave. at anytime.
The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA), the body that accredits Montessori schools like Lyonsgate, is presenting two events geared for toddler Montessori guides and parents. The first is at Clanmore Montessori in Oakville on Wednesday, March 27, from 7:00-9:00, and the second is on Thursday, March 28, from 7:00-9:00 at Bannockburn School in Toronto. It is the same presentation on both evenings, and cost is $25.00. Click here for more info.
If you would like to attend, please let us know by Wednesday, March 20, so we can register the Lyonsgate attendees (you do not need to complete the registration form you will find when you follow the link).
Finally, please check out this opportunity from one of your fellow Lyonsgate Montessori parents: With the collaboration of community-based service providers in Hamilton, we are offering free online sessions for youth and families who are either waiting for mental health services OR currently receiving mental health services in the Hamilton area.