The highlight of our week was the community walk to Beulah Park, of course! I always get to hear wonderful stories about your weekend adventures at the park, and it was great to get a chance to experience that with your children.
The walk to the park was amazing — the children were astonished by the sight of houses, dogs, cars, flowers, and onlookers. This experience allowed the children to use their senses to describe what they were hearing, seeing, smelling, eating, and touching. The wetness did not stop the toddlers from enjoying their playtime at the park — the mud was the main attraction and their clothing serves as proof. We had a picnic, played hide-and-seek, ran as fast as we could, and of course utilized the playground equipment as much as possible. We ended our stay at the park with a sing-along featuring our current favourite song, “Jingle Bells,” while jumping in the mud. The children expressed their sadness about leaving the park and are looking forward to some more adventures with you!
Thank you to all the parents who reached out hoping to come along on this trip; we have such a wonderful community. We realized that post-trip, the separation would have been too hard for the Toddlers and decided that it would be best to have parents opt-out. We are grateful to Mr. Davis and four elementary students for accompanying us on our little adventure.
Ending this week feeling inspired, overjoyed, and grateful. — Ms. Dee
For your viewing pleasure, a photo sequence demonstrating the hard work of a Montessori Toddler:
Casa South: One of the most important tools available to Montessori teachers is observation. We observe each child, every day. Observation is a critical component in lesson planning and class management. Scientific observation allows teachers to gather information without judgement, describing only what you can decipher through the senses. Often, as humans, we make a lot of judgements based on past experiences. For example, there may be a child who grabs the Number Rods and starts swinging them around, hitting people as they go, and it only happens on one occasion; then, another child grabs the Number Rods and runs over to a friend to see how tall they are in comparison. The past experience can get in the way of a new, frankly magical one. We try and look at each day, and each moment, as an opportunity for your children. The children change everyday, and we change everyday!
It was through her observations of children that Maria Montessori discovered the importance of the prepared environment. She discovered it must be beautiful, simple, orderly, and accessible. She noticed it must provide freedom to work according to one's needs. It must also offer purposeful materials to understand the world around them, to qualify and quantify and coordinate. She wanted the classroom to offer opportunities for social interaction. Enjoy this great video on Maria Montessori's intuition.
The month of May is your opportunity to observe our classrooms and we couldn't be more excited. When you come to observe, notice how the children interact with one another and how they resolve conflict. How do they work with the materials, how they initiate "work" independently. Notice those indirect moments when they return their work to the same spot, when they replenish supplies, how they wait patiently for work to be available. Notice how when distracted they can return to their work. Notice those beautiful moments of concentration and absorption happening with the Absorbent Mind.
Casa North: Hello Casa North families! Wow, what a great field trip! We were thrilled that (despite the muddy terrain and misty weather) the children had a fantastic time. We got to see a police car (parked) and discuss safety, a bus driver stopping for a break, hear some birds singing, and explore a little creek before ending up at Beulah Park. The children love any opportunity to explore the world around them — a little bit of freedom goes a long way in their eyes. We are so thankful for our wonderful parent volunteers and hope you had a great time as well!
One of the things I have really noticed an increase of in the environment is the mentorship between the older and younger children. The first years have gained their footing and understand what the expectations of the classroom are, but are certainly more confident asking a nearby friend to help with an apron tie or the snap of a rain jacket instead of coming to an adult first. The older children are quick to offer help (sometimes when it's not needed!) as a demonstration of their self-confidence and assuredness in the environment. The third years have been spending more and more time with the Elementary students (visits to the park, Reading Buddies, and upcoming formal Elementary visits for those enrolled for next year) where they get the cyclical experience of being the little ones again. At the same time, the first years love to wave to the Toddlers as they pass by for recess and exclaim, "It's our Toddler friends!" with fond memories of being "so small!" It's a great source of pride to see how our little community becomes more and more self-sufficient as the weeks go on. We can't wait for you to be able to see for yourselves how amazing they are during your observations.
This week, your Elementary children had some opportunities to embrace their empathetic natures and engage with their communities. As you know, we began our annual participation in the Kirkendale Food Drive. Lyonsgate Elementary students headed out into the neighbourhood to deliver food donation bags to designated addresses in a few separate groups. These activities always fill the children with excitement. Their present developmental stage is marked by a need to understand their world in concrete terms — right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, and especially, as you may have heard, fair vs. not fair! When they learn about things that aren't fair, such as some people not having enough food to eat, their response is always one of shock, and a desire to do something about it.
This week also gave us a chance to discuss political engagement, activism, and debate. The general strike/protest that occurred on May 1, International Workers Day, led us to a discussion about differing political opinions and how different people express them. Ambiguity and subjectivity don't lend themselves well to concrete, yay or nay understanding, and it was very nice to see them start to struggle with trying to see and validate (at least) two sides to every story.
Finally this week, a number of our older Elementary students jumped at the opportunity to serve as volunteers on the Toddler children's neighbourhood walk. Watching them engage and interact with younger children is the most vivid illustration of the depth and strength of their wells of empathy. They are so gentle, patient, calm, and eagerly helpful; we're not sure who had more fun.
Parent Observations will take place in the Casa and Elementary Montessori environments between May 6 and June 4. Observations in your child's classroom are 20 minutes in duration and occur during the morning work cycle. Before your observation, please review the Observation Guidelines for Casa, and/or for the Elementary program.
Please click the relevant link(s) below to schedule your observation(s):
- Casa North: Click here to schedule in Casa North (Ms. Boyle).
- Casa South: Click here to schedule in Casa South (Ms. Moffatt).
- Elementary: Click here to schedule in Elementary.
May also has a couple of items to add to your calendars:
- Thursday, May 16: Toddler and Casa Show-N-Share (Toddler 3:30-4:00 | Casa 3:30-4:30)
- Friday, May 17, and Monday, May 20: Victoria Day long weekend. No school.