The Parkside Montessori School
53 Norwood Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
NOTES    September
With the onset of October and as we end our fourth week of school, the children are continuing to accommodate themselves to the classrooms, teachers, classmates and schedules.  As young as they are, they already understand the routine upon arrival as they put their backpacks in their cubbies and immediately head for the hand washing sinks. Then they get to work, interacting with each other, working with the materials, and initiating conversations with their teachers.  There are far fewer tears (almost none) and moments of anxiety and hesitation. 
We are still working with our baskets of sea creatures and learning the habits of dolphins, squids, manatees, sharks, seals, etc.  The children are very attentive on circle as we introduce each new animal.  But October is here,  and so we will begin to discuss all things fall, including apples, pumpkins and leaves.  We will focus on the many different trees in our area and the leaves they produce.  These include oak, maple,  sassafras, gingko, beech, sweet gum and tulip.  We encourage the children’s interest in the outside world around them, and we give them the opportunity to observe and comment on the changes that each season, including this beautiful fall season,  bring.  On circle we will talk about the changes in the color of the trees and the grass, the falling temperatures, and the changes in the light of the sky. As we walk to the playground we will be searching for each kind of tree and look for the leaves from that tree.  Should you have any special leaves in your yard, the children are welcome to bring them in. 
We will also learn about the many kinds of apples, including macintosh, delicious, golden delicious, gala, and granny smith.  We have always had apple cutting this month,  but because of Covid restrictions, we will need to delay that until later in the year.   
A popular and fun October activity is bulb planting including the crocus, daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs.  We will plant them near the playground and our entrance with the children.  The bulbs will rest in their “cozy winter beds “ which we cover with pine straw to deter the hungry squirrels from finding, digging and munching on them.  Related to our planting, we will talk about nature’s preparation in the fall for our next season of winter,  including animal hibernation, bird migration, and the “winter rest” of our perennial plants and flowers.  
In our Practical Life area we will continue baby washing and fishing with nets and also with magnetic rods.  We will bring in table scrubbing, pumpkin scrubbing and napkin folding. In Language we will sort and match leaves and in Math count tiny leaves, pumpkins, and apples.  Of course our classroom libraries,  puzzle corners and art projects will reflect autumn themes.
For many children the highlight of the month is Halloween.  We have many Halloween songs and games to sing and play.  We will also be carving pumpkins at the end of the month.
Halloween falls on a Saturday this year.  The children should not wear their costumes to school on Thursday or Friday.  It makes the already exciting days of Halloween preparation a little too long for young children.  We do celebrate with treats, songs and games, but no costumes.
As parents and teachers we know that children thrive in a caring, loving and supportive community, and so each September and October during these early weeks of school we begin our year-long Peace curriculum which consists of a series of concrete lessons throughout the school year.  In its simplest form, Peace means being kind and caring towards others, staying busy, sharing, and feeling happy.  For our first lesson we explained our classroom Peace Corner.  When a child does something nice for a friend or teacher such as help with clean-up, share an activity, or comfort another who is upset, we encourage them to put a stone in our Peace Bowl which is part of our Peace Corner.  At first the children enjoy tossing many stones in the Peace Bowl because they like the noise the stones make when they hit the bottom of the bowl!  But gradually, through play acting on circle and with our suggestions and directions, they come to understand that each stone represents an act of good will or kindness, and they do seem proud of their kind acts.  In upcoming lessons in October and November we talk about how each of us has a “Love Light”  which shines when we feel happy, are busy, and when we are being kind and helpful.  Sometimes our lights get a little dim if we are sad or angry or tired, but they will always return to full brightness.  We use a flashlight game where the children tell us if their lights are shining or maybe a little dim, and they tell us the reasons for their feelings…good or bad.  We will hear that their lights are shining because they love their mom, dad or sibling, or they have received a new toy or book, or they went to a special place.  Just as often they will share their angry or sad feelings that usually relate to a problem with a friend or sibling, feeling tired, or just missing Mom and Dad.  Descriptions are of course very simplistic when we start, but gradually the sharing of feelings is something they become more comfortable with , and we enjoy hearing what they share.  Later in the year we will be talking about conflict resolution between classmates.  We use our Peace Flower which is also in the Peace Corner.  More about that next month. 
We would like to thank you for your cooperation during these early weeks of school which are for us very different than in years past.  But things are running smoothly for both our children and our teachers.  We have been very fortunate in the beautiful fall weather which has allowed us to be outside every day and has helped keep our spirits high.  Again, should you have any questions or concerns,  feel free to contact us.  
“If we are to have peace in the world,
then we shall have to begin with the children.”
                                                                                 Mahatma Gandhi
Nota Bene
School's Open
We have made a number of modifications in our classrooms, with our teachers, our scheduling and our playground.
We're looking forward to a safe and successful school year.
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