The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
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December is a short but busy months as we focus on holiday activities, art projects and gifts.  The materials on the shelves in every area will all reflect the season.  We do not discuss the religious aspects of the holidays, but we will be painting, decorating, sponging and even punching Christmas trees, dreidls, menorahs, wreaths, reindeer and Santa.
In Practical Life the children will be busy with some fun projects that continue to enhance and strengthen their fine motor skills including  twisting colored pipe cleaners into candy canes, holiday bracelet making with beads in holiday colors and also holiday beaded garland cutting.   There will also be funneling using smaller and smaller funnels, and we will  be continuing basting with a smaller baster.  This is in preparation for our use of small dropper bottles in January.  With clementines so readily available this time of year at a fairly reasonable (?) price, clementine peeling and serving will continue.  Our students are absolutely loving this activity.
In Sensorial we have added more geometric solids to our baskets, and the children will be looking at cones, spheres,  cylinders, pyramids, cubes, and rectangular and triangular prisms. We have many holiday puzzles now in our puzzle area.  In Language and Math new holiday matching, sequencing, counting and stamping will be added.
As mentioned last month, our Peace curriculum continues with some lessons in conflict resolution.  We have placed on our Peace Table along with our Peace Bowl,  a small vase with a Peace Flower.  In the course of the day, difficulties may arise between the children usually related to sharing, finding a partner to walk outside, sitting next to a friend or waiting a turn to work on a particularly popular exercise.  We have a beautifully illustrated and simply written little book called “The Peace Rose” by  Alicia Olson which we read on circle.  We then do some dramatic play acting to illustrate the kinds of problems that may arise.  These problems are usually verbal in form and occasionally a child’s feelings may be hurt.  Our teachers are really aware of and sensitive to what may be happening between students to cause one or both to become upset, and they will gently intercede by suggesting a trip to the Peace Corner which is a little bit removed from the hustle and bustle of the classroom.  Here the two sit opposite each other and take turns holding the Peace Flower freely telling their classmate how they are feeling.  With our help (and sometimes we have to help the child put his or her feelings into words), not only are they able to express their own sadness, hurt or anger,  but they may also learn to hear what the other has to say.  Of course conflict resolution takes time, and the idea of the Peace Flower exercise is not only for the child to become an attentive and thoughtful listener, but also to have the positive experience of having his or her own words heard.  Hopefully the Peace Flower interactions will promote real dialogue between the children, and also sometimes between student and teacher.  Montessori is all about respect, respect for the individual personalities, learning styles, abilities and feelings of the children.  And so, as the children practice peacefully settling difficulties, they are also practicing respect for each other and for us as well.
We wish all of our families a happy holiday season where hopefully there will be some rest, relaxation, fun and peace.  See you in 2023!
“If we are to have peace in the world,
then we shall have to begin with the children.”
                                                                                  Mahatma Gandhi