Thursday, August 21, 2014

Homework and Planners

The first few weeks, I always focus on practical life skills, which are integrated in the Montessori curriculum from infancy to young adulthood.  We have talked about homework they can do that encompasses practical life that includes cooking, packing a healthy lunch, organizing homework space, following recipes, taking care of pets, and financial literacy.  Each student must record  what activities they chose for homework and get a parent signature in their planner each week.  Those who have turned in their signatures in their planners will be able to participate in additional outdoor environment, art, science, and music enrichment activities.

As the weeks go on, we will include other subject areas for homework and we are already seeing students completing quite a bit of academic work at home.  Our new planners arrived on Monday and most students have been pretty diligent in taking them home and returning them to school each day.  In these planners, students record work that they have completed during class time and in the final square of each day (labeled social studies) they are to record the work they do at home.  Students will receive extra guidance during recess as needed. It has been our experience that it takes 2-3 weeks for the homework habit to fully form.  

Many students have asked to complete their spelling studies at home and that is encouraged, particularly since we now have 20 spelling and vocabulary words to learn each week. In this planner, you will be able to see the work your child is completing on a daily basis as well as lessons given.  Because the students have been busy with multiple assessments, experiments, classroom conferences, and teambuilding, there are more empty spaces than you would typically see in a week's time.  If you have any questions, feel free to call or email us at any time. 

We thank you so much for supporting your child at home and preparing them to be wonderful learners each day.  We have enjoyed getting to know all our new families and witnessing the growth of our existing students.

Upper Elementary Curriculum Night

Please come to our Curriculum Hour on Tuesday, August 26, at 5pm.  You will learn more about our Montessori materials, activities and curriculum and how to support your child at home.  Free childcare is provided; please fill out the form sent home with your child.  We hope to see everyone there! 

Also feel free to email us with any questions at
We look forward to getting to know all our wonderful parents better, and making plans for a fantastic school year!

*Please Note: Curriculum night will be held 2 days earlier from the originally posted date  in the welcome letter, due to our Skate Night fundraiser.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Great Lessons of the Montessori Curriculum

This week, our classroom has been busy with learning the new classroom layout and materials, language and math assessments, and most importantly, the first Great Lessons.   Dr. Montessori coined the term, "Cosmic Education" to describe the lessons for grades 1-6.  This is because all subjects, including art, and music, are integrated with history, science, reading, and math, and the lessons are designed to nurture appreciation for the cosmos, and help children discover their role in the world, or cosmic task.

The first Great Lesson is known as the creation story, or "God with no Hands"  This lesson is designed to help children gain an appreciation for the size of the universe and the scope of the changes that occurred in forming the earth.  I always use the disclaimer that there are many creation stories from many different cultures and that even different scientists have varying theories.  This lesson is not meant to be taken literally as much as its purpose is to ignite interest in the world, universe, and other living things.  Maria Montessori wrote this story in a way to combine her scientific and spiritual beliefs in a way to spark children's interest in future lessons in science, history, geography, language, and math.  You can see a similar version to her original story here.

The next great lessons include, the Coming of Life, the Coming of Human Beings, Early Humans, the History of Language and History of Math.  In addition to opening doors to future learning, the lessons are designed to create an appreciation for those who came before us, or in other words, those who paved the way for the future we enjoy today.  We may not know who harnessed fire, or who developed the first alphabet, but we must be grateful for those unnamed people whose discoveries contributed to future innovations.  We explore these stories to create a desire within each child to do what they can to make the world a better place for their future.  More information on Cosmic Education and the Great Lessons can be found here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Daily Schedule and Other Announcements

In Montessori environments, children learn and work within 2 work cycles , one in the morning, and one after lunch.  It is important that children have this uninterrupted time to choose and complete work and conference with the Montessori guides throughout the day.  In this way, students are given the lessons that are most relevant to them according to their interests, abilities, and special needs. Montessori has a more fluid schedule than most schools, this allows for extra opportunities to fit in enrichment activities and mini skill lessons as needed.  Because of this, most children who are able to manage their time and choices and hold themselves accountable are able to greatly increase in academic, social, and emotional intelligence.

There can be a bit of a honeymoon period for those who are new to Montessori and used to having a teacher micromanage every block of time.  I assure you from my 12 years working in Montessori environments that in the end, with the right support at home and school, most children demonstrate tremendous growth in all areas of daily living.  Coming from a traditional teaching background, I find Montessori a superior method, both for gifted kids as well as children with skill deficits or special needs.  Please support your child by encouraging him or her to be prepared at home by doing  homework packing lunches independently (the first assigned homework), and encouraging them to be proactive problem solvers.  

It is also important that children arrive on time, with few absences and few interruptions during the work cycle, especially as we are getting to know your children and assessing their educational needs.  In early October, we encourage you to schedule an observation to see how the Montessori Method works in a typical day.  Our daily schedule is as follows:

Daily Schedule
8:30  Enter classroom, attendance, circle lessons, mad minute math

9:00  Work cycle begins

11:45 Clean up, songs or transitional activities

12:00 Lunch

12:30 Recess

1:00 Silent reading/writing, Literacy interventions and assessments

1:30 whole group geography, history, or science lesson

1:45 2nd Work cycle begins

2: 45 Cleanup, end of day music and games

3:05 Dismissal for sibling club

3:10 Dismissal for carline and After Care.


PE:  Wednesday, 9:40-10:40 with Mr. Glen, Friday 2:00-2:50 with Mr. Joe's class

Art: Friday, 1:00-2:00 

Outdoor Environment:  Monday through Thursday for one hour.  Day will vary, depending on individual child.  Fridays are reserved for students who have completed in-class work promptly.

Music:  Practice, and theory lessons will be mingled with academic lessons throughout each school day.

Library:  Tuesdays, 9:30-10:30

Before and afterschool enrichment and interventions will begin in September.  My goal is to make it fun and interesting. Please stay tuned for more details!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Happy First Day of School!

We thank you for your wonderful support at the start of this new school year.  We feel so loved with so many supplies and extras that make the classroom such a nurturing and creative place.  We appreciate all you have done and for entrusting your amazing children with us this year.  This class is so full of love and enthusiasm and we have enjoyed getting to know each new member of our learning community and also seeing the incredible growth of those we have known previously.  Please feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions or concerns. 

Water bottles
This time of year hydration is so important and since our classroom has a water cooler and not a drinking fountain, students are encouraged to keep a water bottle that can be refilled throughout the day as needed.  You can find water bottles at target and the dollar store for as little as a dollar.  Please do not fill water bottles with sugary drinks or tea, which has been known to make messes since we eat in the classroom.  We will ask students who bring such drinks to consume them at home.  

School Supplies
A big thank you to all who brought supplies and then some!  If you have not had a chance to purchase the supplies on the list, we really only need a one inch binder with a clear sleeve, and a graph paper composition book for each child.  Feel free to forgo the other items on the list.  I did forget to include scissors, so if anyone has a pair to contribute to the community supply, that would be great!

Group Snack
Please note that snack this year is different. Students will only be responsible for snack for 27 people, once a month, instead of bringing an individual snack.  This new system worked really well today.  Please look at your snack calendar to make sure your child is prepared for their day.  Your child will have the opportunity to help prepare and set up their snack on their day.

Thanks again for all your support in getting this school year off to a fantastic start!