I can’t thank all of you enough for the past few weeks. Again and again through conference conversations, at our Spring Gathering, in random chats, and during your various and beautiful drop-off rituals you all have further impressed upon me the awesomeness of parental love. Any teacher will agree that the compassion and generosity of spirit one finds in preschool children is what makes this work compelling but that abundance of love and humanity is a reflection of the cocoon of warmth and security in which children exist.
Montessori writes about “the child’s work and “the adult’s work;” theirs to reflect the environment to build a person of their time and place and ours to build the environment. The work you do every day, filtering the fast-paced, commercial, and often frightening environment of the “real world” to create the people who have thoroughly bewitched myself and my colleagues, is remarkable. So, thank you.
In the Classroom
I always remind myself that preschool is about process rather than product, but so close to the end of the year its hard not to revel in the children’s growth and adaptation to the classroom environment. I stopped Janet in the doorway the other day to point out that in that moment we were totally unnecessary–the ultimate goal of a Montessori teacher. Older children gave lessons and sat in clusters assisting one another with workbooks and weaving projects while our younger friends polished, built, cut, pinned, and colored their way to motor and sensorial self-perfection. Sure, they were ephemeral minutes of total group independence and all too soon we were called back in to help as only an adult can help but it was such a clear indication of how much growth the past 8 months have brought our small community!
May has been an exciting time for us, so far. While we dove into plant life last month, dissecting tulips from our garden, tracing puzzles, making booklets, and reading–so much reading–this month we get to dive right into our own bodies. And the children are loving it so far. We’ve brought out a giant board book that doesn’t seem to stay closed for longer than 20 minutes or so. An incredible treat for me was when I opened the curriculum box to find the model brain, heart, and kidneys my mother gave me when I was 8 and convinced I wanted to be a doctor. I’m looking forward to using those as props for stories about the nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems but for now the children are fascinated enough by the sight and feel of anatomically correct body parts.
The official title of this month’s theme is “Exploration of the Self and Others.” We study the human body because children are sensorial creatures and the body is their point of entry to the concept of “self” and “other.” We explore the body in general because that builds upon the concrete understanding of their personal body and this serves as a bridge to talking about others, their experiences of body and feeling.
The Hop-A-Thon–aside from being a ton of fun–is important in this conversation. In preparation for the event we had conversations and spent time watching MDA videos that focus on what bodies can do and the limitations children with Muscular Dystrophy face. How they are similar to the children participating in the Hop-a-thon in so many ways except the one highlighted by the event itself–freedom of movement. While the children hopped we all cheered them on, chanting “hop-hop-hop in the hop-a-thon, help-help-help muscles be strong.” What blew me away was when one of our many extraordinary hoppers, winded and red in the face, told us how he’d “hopped a lot to help the children who couldn’t hop.”
We will be accepting Hop-A-Thon Parent Packets through May 18th and will send home a card with your child’s hop information at that time or upon receipt of your family’s packet. While we are pleased to support the MDA in sending children with Muscular Dystrophy to summer camps, I will say here what I’ve said in one-on-one conversations which is that the Hop-A-Thon is first a curriculum component and second a fundraiser. We welcome and applaud your efforts but participation is not contingent upon sponsorship and everyone will receive their child’s hop information card.
We’re getting ready for Friday’s Mother’s Day Tea. As always, we’re crafting, baking and singing in preparation for your visits and the children are full of anticipation for their chance to welcome you into their classroom. Please double-check the sign-up sheet at some point between now and Friday to confirm your time.
♫ ♫ Music Notes ♫ ♫
In May we’ll be listening to and learning about Beethoven! We’ll listen to the major themes from his 5th and 9th Symphonies, the Coriolane Overature and the Moonlight Sonata and talk about his deafness, his temper and his crazy hair!
We’ll continue our work with percussion instruments and spend the month reviewing and singing our favorite songs from throughout the year. It’s a treat for me to spend this last full month of school with one of the all-time great composers!
On the Horizon
May 11 Mother’s Day Tea Party (Sign up will be posted)
May 28th Memorial Day ( No school)
June 15 Father’s Day Picnic (Sign up will be posted)
June 21 Graduation & Multi-Cultural Potluck (6-8 pm)
June 22 Last Day of School
July 2nd Summer Session Begins