We’re back everybody! And just in time for the sunshine!
Our light 4 day week was an excellent transition back (or to) school for both the children and ourselves. We’re going to split the summer into three themes: insects, birds, and sea life but for last week and much of next week the focus will be on routine, class culture, and sharing the lessons of what “safe, happy, and comfortable” looks like in our classroom.
We’re enjoying a few fun insect projects like exploring insect life cycles, making popping
We welcomed six new friends into our classroom last week and look forward to meeting two more in the week to come. It’s really wonderful to watch the “growing up” that returning children seem to do when they recognize that they’re no longer the youngest, newest, or least experienced. They give lessons, invite new students to share their work, and translate all out of a sense of personal competence and generosity. It’s amazing to watch.
Our summer curriculum is less academic than fall, with the emphasis being on play, exploration, and classroom culture but that’s the beauty of a Montessori environment; for many of the children who have been with us all year, the mere presence of the materials will ensure their use and for the rest the focus on culture and adaptation will put them in the frame of mind to take best advantage of the academic materials in fall.
I try to remember that the “secret” of Montessori education is shrinking the world down to the child’s size and then working to hand over the reins. Which is the hard part. One of the components of a Montessori Lesson that does the most to ensure a child is ready to work successfully is the concept of analyzed movement. When I give a lesson the most helpful thing I can do is spend a bit of time beforehand to think about what the child can see of my hands, which limited movements will be the most effective for repeating the sequence, and then to watch their attempt for feedback on what they were able to see and preform of my sequence.
One of the transition materials in the classroom is clothespin work where the children use clothespins to attach squares of felt to a frame. You’d be surprised at the concentration this can elicit, and concentration is my main goal in all the transition work. However, the material builds hand strength, fine motor control, and serves as indirect preparation for writing as tit’s one of many places where we promote a proper pencil grip.
Clothespins are rather unintuitive. That the open end is the closed end can be a source of frustration for a child. Finding the right movements were a source of frustration for me too! Some things that I try to think of when choosing my movements are:
☀ Counting my words: Especially with children under 4.5 I try to ensure that either my mouth or my hands are moving. Children this age don’t filter out so much extraneous information as we do and if they’re paying attention to what I’m saying, it’s unlikely they can follow what I’m doing and vice versa.
☀ Thinking about location: I tried to give a table washing lesson outside to four boys while we had workmen with long tubes and what looked like a fire truck on the other side of the yard. Hah! No amount of bubbles on a table top could compete. But the same is true for where we sit in the classroom, whether we’re facing a wall or a good friend. Children are not great moderators of attention. They have very little control of what catches their eye and much less ability to disengage when something has caught their eye.
☀ Speed: My trainers often told me to move as slowly as possible, and then slow down some more.
☀ Two hands: I was wondering at how often I would have to encourage the children to use both hands until I watched myself for a day–it’s amazing how much we do one handed as adults. And those scientists who observe us and imitate us do the same!
Aquariam Family Outing—August 17th, classroom opens at 1:00 pm
Wedgwood Montessori coordinates 2 “family outings.” The Pumpkin Patch field trip in October and our Aquarium trip in the summer. Our second family outing will be just over a month the morning of August 17th. We will meet at the Aquarium, spend the morning there (myself, chaparoned children & parents), have lunch on the pier and then meet back at school in the afternoon.
I’ll be sending out in email in the next two weeks with the time of our tour and payment information, this is a save the date. There will be no school until 1:00 pm on Friday August 17th. We hope every family can attend the outing but if you cannot attend yourself, please either make arrangements (and notify us in writing) to have your child accompanied by another parent, or find alternate care for the morning.
On the Horizon
August 17th–Aquarium Field trip (Classroom open at 12:30 pm)
August 24th– Summer Session Ends