The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
Nota Bene
As December begins and the temperatures turn colder, we turn our attention from all things fall (trees, leaves, apples, pumpkins, harvest) to the upcoming holidays.  It is hard to believe the holidays are upon us, but the days and weeks have been passing so quickly because our students are active and busy, and it is our job to continue to challenge them with new projects and exercises…keeping us active and busy as well.  Much of  the new shelf exercises will focus on holiday activities, gifts and art projects.
In Practical Life we will have bracelet making and tweezing beads.  We will also bring in funneling and making structures with pipe cleaners.  Of course all the exercises will be presented in holiday colors, as the children refine their motor skills and have fun at the same time.  In Sensorial we continue to work with shapes, both single and multi-dimensional, which we began last month.  The Geometric Cabinet will be brought in.  This is a large piece of equipment, and it contains 6 drawers of different geometric shapes in different sizes with cards to match the shapes.  The Cabinet is presented in stages and promotes the enhancement of visual discrimination.  In Language and Math new holiday matching, sequencing, and counting will be added.  We will also be cutting brightly colored garlands  into individual beads which the children can use to make a collage.  Also at the art table we will be making candy canes, menorahs, trees, wreaths, dreidls and ornaments.  As always the classroom songs, books, and puzzles, large and small, reflect holiday themes.
Now that we have completed almost three months of school, it may be helpful for you to know the daily classroom schedule.  Often it is difficult for a parent to get information from a child about what goes on in the normal course of the day.  This year because of Covid requirements,  we are using the same basic blocks of time in each room,  but they are scheduled a little differently.  But basically each room operates with the same overall schedule.  When the children enter the classrooms in the morning,  they immediately wash their hands, and then for a few minutes it is “ease into your day” time which could include a teacher reading a story, children going to the art table or puzzle corner or going to the shelves and choosing an exercise which is fairly short in duration.  Then we will have our circle which is our time of community.  We greet the children, talk about the calendar and the weather,  and we will often have a lesson on whatever concept we are working on that month (sea life, trees, dinosaurs, etc.)   Circle time can also be a time of demonstration of a new materials being brought into the classroom including whatever piece of Montessori equipment is being added to the shelves.  We try to keep the circles very interactive with songs, games and individual participation, and gradually they become a little longer.   After circle, we have work time where the teachers move around and quietly help the children choose an activity.  During this time we have the opportunity to spend time working with them on a one-to-one or in a small group.  This important period goes on for 45-60 minutes and allows us to have a special eye on the individual learning styles and readiness levels of each student.  After work time we clean up our classrooms,  wash hands, have snack and then go outdoors.  If we are unable to go to the playground, we have extra indoor physical activity such as yoga, simple exercises, moving games and some fun activities such as the indoor balance beam or a puppet show courtesy of Mrs. Walia,  After this time of physical activity either indoors or out,  we wash hands again, and then sing some thematic, seasonal or everyday songs.  We end the session with a story, and the students really look forward to this.  They will often run to our library shelf and choose 3 or 4 books they want us to read.  Story time is a calming and quiet time after a busy morning or afternoon.
Your children here at Parkside provide a wonderful distraction from the problems of our sometimes scary and ever-changing world of 2020.   As teachers we are grateful for the opportunity to work with them.  Their enthusiasm, resilience, affection, innocence and joy keep us focused and hopeful.  Our hope is that all of us in our little Parkside community stay healthy and find some quiet time to spend with those we love during the upcoming break. We wish you and yours a peaceful and wonderful holiday season and all the best in 2021. 
“The holiday season is a perfect time
to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways
to make life better for those around us.”
                                                                                                                                            Terri Marshall
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